Friday, 7 November 2008

Renewing our Visa in Madrid

This was our second trip to Madrid to renew our visas, since Russia requires us to leave the country every 90 days to get a new visa. It takes at least two weeks in most Russian Embassies for an American to get a visa renewed, but Madrid still offers us a quick turn around. Missionaries in St. Petersburg are able to go to Estonia for a two-day renewal visa, but anywhere else it is taking longer. Some missionaries have gone to Stockholm, Sweden, and have had to wait as long as three weeks. Others have gone to South Korea and have experienced a similar long wait. This has been such a hardship for the Church not only in expense but in loss of time of service. We have had one of our humanitarian couples in Sweden for six weeks helping with the missionaries waiting for visas. Two other humanitarian couples have helped with the visa renewal stays for missionaries in South Korea and have been gone as long as 18 days at a time. Of course, while they are away from their assigned mission, no humanitarian projects are getting done in their area.

Walking to church in Prague, Czech Republic,
where we stayed overnight on our way to Spain.

We left Moscow Saturday, November 1st, and flew to Prague where we hand delivered a few passports that will be picked up with their new visas after the traditional two-week interval. These passports will be taken to a country where the missionaries can pick them up and return to their assigned mission with the hope of avoiding these delays.

Returning to our hotel in Prague after church
we saw this cute statue (a nice change from
the traditional man on a horse).

Fall foliage in Prague

We had been in Prague in May to renew our visas; but their policy has changed and now they require the two-week wait, so we flew to Madrid Monday morning.

LDS Temple in Madrid

A bonus we get by going to Madrid to renew our visas is being able to go to the temple there. The MTC is by the temple, and President and Sister Hill make us feel so welcome as we join the young missionaries for a meal or a visit.

Looking down from the 6th floor of the MTC
onto the temple grounds where some men
were planting petunias.

Monday the temple is closed, so we thought we might take the express train to Segovia for a day of sightseeing with Clark & Renee Mason, who also were in Madrid renewing their visas. However, we missed the morning train by a couple of minutes; so we took that trip on Tuesday instead, and on Monday went to the Cathedral Almudena opposite the main entrance of the Royal Palace (which we visited on our previous stay in Madrid).

Cathedral Almudena in Madrid near the Royal Palace

View from the top of the Cathedral Almudena

Tuesday we visited Segovia, north-northwest of Madrid. (The next blog entry will include photos of Segovia, which was a very interesting old city.) After returning to Madrid, we visited the famous Prada art museum (which we had also visited in August).

The old city wall in Segovia
(Renee, Narene, and Clark)

Wednesday we went to two sessions at the temple, ate lunch at the MTC, and then walked through the huge Retiro Park with its numerous monuments, fountains, and two palaces. When the Masons returned to their hotel, Sam and I walked back to the Hotel Convencion doing more sightseeing on the way.

We took the red-eye flight back to Moscow, leaving about 11:30 p.m. and arriving in Moscow about 7:30 a.m. As tired as we were, we went to the office to catch up on things coming in while we were away and stayed until 5:00 p.m. It was a good trip, but we were glad to get back to our apartment in Moscow and appreciated a good night's sleep.

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