Friday, June 21, 2013. We had our actually Temporary Residence Permits in hand. We got those on Thursday. The woman at the OVIR was very nice and rushed the process so we could have a chance to leave for L’vov on Saturday. We just needed to get a stamp from the immigration office. (Background: No one has every explained the entire process and I cannot find any kind of law or written document that describes how to apply for and receive temporary residency permits. Our approach is to start the process and do what we are told by the various offices.) The immigration office that we needed to go to was not open on Thursday, so we needed to wait until Friday. We wanted to be first in line so we arrived at the office at 8:00am (they opened at 9:00). We were third in line – no problem. Here is our bus route.
We waited an hour. While waiting we recieved a call from the OVIR. They needed one more document from the seminary. I called the seminary and they said the document could be ready in the afternoon. The door opened, we walked up a flight of stairs into a hallway of eight doors. We needed office number one. After waiting a few more minutes, we went in and she was very nice. We explained where we were in the process. She looked at our documents and then said that this is not the last step but close. She made a copy of our permits, wrote our information in her registry book and then had us write a “statement” requesting that the stamps be put in our permits. We wrote the statements, she put a note, a stamp and a signature on them and sent us to office number 7. We thanked her and went to office number seven. There we waited in a line for about a half hour. The woman in this office, at first didn’t understand why we were sent to her. We also didn’t fully understand. She took our document and went back to office number one. When she returned, we explained again that all we needed were the stamps. She said she understood, but that wasn’t her job. However, we did need more documents from her. She took our statements, made another note on them and said that we need to take these to the boss. She said that if we waited in line we would be there all day so she would help us. She said, “Follow me and say nothing.” We followed her passed a line of people into the bosses office. He was in a large room, at a desk helping another women. He also had a TV on across the room with a Mexican soap opera playing. We waited. She showed the boss our statements and he said, “Where are the signatures and the dates?” We quickly signed and dated them. Then he made another note on them and signed them. We left the room and the woman said that her part was done. Now we need to take our statements to another immigration office in the north part of the city. There we can get our stamp. We thanked her and left. We were cautiously optimistic – it was only 10:00am. We got on a bus and went north. Here is our route.
It took us a little while, but we found the office. There were four doors in the hall and none of them were labeled. We asked around and found the lady we were looking for. I explained that we needed the stamp in our permits. She took one look at the documents in our hands and said that copies meant nothing to her. She needed a card from another office (called the passportist). I explained that the pasportist doesn’t work on Fridays and she said that we need to go there when they work. We were getting nowhere, so we decided to see if the passportist was in her office. This time we walked.
Our initial reaction was sadness and disappointment. However, after some time we came to our senses and knew that this was no surprise to God and it is really a very small setback in the grand narrative of the Kingdom of God. We said goodbye to Joseph on Saturday and now we hope that Tuesday we can get our stamps and be off to join him and the team on Wednesday.