We are in our new home. And our furniture is here too!!! J
For pictures that go with this story, click here http://www.chmiels.com/gallery/our_home/home16.jpg.html and then keep clicking on "next"
Dear friends, thank you so much to all of you who have been praying for us. We felt your prayers in a very special way just this last week. We went to the Czech Republic to pick up some last things from Tomaszís parentsí house and we also went to Poland to get furniture for our apartment. Furniture in Ukraine is very expensive and usually you have to order it and then wait for about a month for the company to custom make it for you. So we decided to go to an IKEA in Poland and get our furniture there. We had three days set apart for this trip (going to Czech and getting furniture in Poland). We traveled from Ukraine by train and we had a friend who was willing to take us back in his van with a trailer.
Our hope was to go to IKEA first, purchase all we needed, then go to Czech, get our things and then on the way back pick up the furniture. But when we called the IKEA store we were told that it is not possible to purchase your furniture one day and pick it up couple days later. That complicated our plans because we knew that we would not have enough time to buy everything the day we were driving back to Ukraine. We prayed a lot about this whole trip and when we came to IKEA in Katowice we asked the manager if it would be possible to store some of the purchased furniture with them for two days. He told us that normally they do not do this, but he would let us fill two carts and store them in the back for two days.
We came back the next morning and started to fill our two carts. One of the IKEA helpers (God sent!!!) started helping us gather what we needed and also started organizing our two carts for us so that we would be able to fit everything in them. Soon it was obvious that everything would not fit. So we thought that we would have to leave the rest for the day we would travel to Ukraine. But this IKEA helper said he would ask his boss if we could store a little more. And his boss said yes! At first he agreed to one extra cart but in the end he allowed us to put all our furniture boxes on couple of those big wooden pallets used in warehouses and leave them there until Saturday (the day we were leaving for Ukraine). That way we were able to get everything ready and could only pick it up on our way back to Ukraine. We paid for our furniture and made it to the Katowice train station just in time to catch our train to Czech. That was definitely God taking care of all the details for us.
In Czech we did some more IKEA shopping (all the little things like dishes etc) and we picked up what we had stored at Tomaszís parentís house. Saturday morning, our friend brought his van and trailer and we were ready to go. When we went through our receipts we realized that we forgot to get two beds that were on our list. So while loading our trailer, we went to get those two beds and found out that they also had one thing that we needed and they did not have two days earlier. They told us that it would not be in stock until the end of August. And here was one more! One last one! Was it not for going back for those beds we would not have found it. God is good!
We also hoped to buy our mattress at IKEA but they did not have any firm ones so we decided to get the mattress here in Ukraine and when we loaded our van and trailer we saw that it was just another example of Godís leading us in all this. There was no way we could have fit the mattress in with all the boxes!
With the van and trailer loaded we set out for Ukraine. Everything went well but when we got closer to the Ukrainian border we saw this HUGE long line of semis and trucks waiting to cross into Ukraine. The disturbing thing was that there were some vans with trailers waiting there too. When we saw that, we felt like giving up. If we had also belonged to that group, there would have been no way we would have been able to cross the border that day!
We felt discouraged and we prayed in the van for God to help us get to Ukraine somehow that day. Then we went to the Polish border officers and asked them if we can go with the cars even though we are a van with a trailer. They said that if we are only bringing personal items, which we were, we should be able to. But they also hinted that on the Ukrainian side, the Ukrainian officers will probably expect us to pay them a bribe to let us go in with the trailer.
Even before coming to Ukraine, we had decided that we would never pay anything that would not be 100% legal. Even if it was a small amount and it would make life easier for everyone. So knowing that we would not pay a bribe we were expecting to be either sent back to the end of the huge line of trucks or be asked to take out everything out of our trailer for inspection and in order to pay Ukrainian taxes (even though it was all our own things for personal use) .
There was no problem with the Polish officers. Then we came to the first Ukrainian border officer and he started asking about what we had in the trailer. We told him that we were moving to live in Ukraine long-term and that was all things and furniture for our apartment. We also showed him a document from the Ukrainian Lutheran Church saying that we were officially invited to work with the church in Líviv for many years. So he sent us to the next passport and customs checkpoint. The passport check went very smoothly but when we came to the customs officers they again started asking about what we were bringing. When we said it was all stuff for our new home, they asked how come there is so much of it. We told them that we would be living in Líviv for many years and again showed them our documents. They had us get out of the van and wait for their boss to come review our documents. The boss was standing right there talking to his friends not doing anything but he still let us wait, pretending not to pay any attention to us. Maybe he thought that if he let us stand there long enough, we would consider a "little financial gift." After a while of waiting, we saw another one of the bosses coming in our direction, so we approched him and showed him our documents. He probably did not want to be bothered so he told us to just go. So we hopped in the van and you can't imagine how quickly we were out of there :)
We thought we were done with the border but after driving a little farther we came to the last checkpoint. It was the one where you are supposed to turn in your little slip of paper with your vehicle information. When we came to that very last border officer he was just supposed to take that slip but he again started inquiring about our trailer and our stuff, not liking that there was too much of it. But before we were able to explain everything again, his cell phone went off and he had to answer it so he told us to go. It was so obvious that God is still in the business of miraculously answering prayers. Our prayers and YOUR prayers! Thank you so much for praying.