Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The economic crisis gets personal

The "crisis" has come around to my little corner of the universe. I'm going to give some background information, but if you know all this, scroll to the end for an update.

August 2007- I receive my usual 12-month multi-entry business visa (charity purposes) with no restrictions.

October 2007- New visa law is passed, but is a bit vague. Will I have to leave in November since I got my visa in September? Will it apply to our kind of work, since we're non-profit? Are there going to be any amendments?

Late 2007- Looks like it applies to us, although my current visa is still good under the old regime. Time to start looking for options before it runs out.

June 2008- I found a place that will get me a work visa sometime in October 2008. I just have to get a 3-month visa for the gap period.

August 2008- 12-month visa is expired. I'm in the U.S. getting another business visa, 3-month this time since I can't stay any longer than that.

September 2008- enter Russia, start new job.

October 2008- no work permit yet. That's okay, I still have another month.

November 2008- 3-month visa is expiring. They are saying December now for the work permit. I'll go to the States and wait it out.

December 2008- Now I'm hearing February for the work permit.

January 2009- I won't have the work permit until April, so I'll have to get another 3-month visa until then. But am I allowed another 3-month visa before the 90-days are up?

And here's the latest:
-we have lost our clients due to the economic crisis. There is "no work" for our teachers right now.
-no work means no work permit. No work permit means no work visa. It's back to square one!
-I need a work visa or a student visa. Or I can come and go every 90 days. I've begun Googling "work for missionaries in St. Petersburg" yet again. My own blog comes up. Not very helpful! Working had seemed like the better option since I've been teaching anyway. However, with the lack of job opportunities I am not sure anymore. Hopefully there will be clarity soon...
-In another month (end of February-beginning of March), I can get another 90-day visa to Russia and try to figure things out while I'm there.

You know, maybe it's a good thing that I didn't get a work permit. It would be kind of useless with the job loss.


  1. If you are interested to work at the orphanage on Ribatskoe (the one I mentioned about a while back) I can try to get you in touch with them. They always need help. I am not sure about all the logistics, but who knows what type of jobs/invitations they can offer. You can reach me here:

    Also, the way I understand it, the government, under the incitement of the orthodox church, has decided to make any, and I mean any, western religious activities illegal in Russia. I am sure you know this. They have a pretty good system put in place that helps them recognize who comes as just a business person and who comes with some sort of religious activity. I will not be surprised if your blog is being read by an FSB agent on a daily basis. He/she can be someone who is trying hard to become your friend. I am just saying.

  2. Hi Vitali, I will ask my friend who works at The Ark if they give work visas. If not, I am not sure if I would be able to work there, although maybe as a volunteer if I find myself with free time.

    I try to maintain a little anonymity, but if anyone really wanted to find me, maybe it wouldn't be too hard. There aren't too many people "trying to be my friend," and I don't think you, Andrey, or Annie is going to arrest me. But I will try to be careful. Thanks for the warning.

  3. Yes; I was going to isn't maybe it is Vitali!

    Honestly, though, my friend who ministers in Ivanovo said pretty much the same thing. He feels he is being "watched" now unlike previously.

    I feel so dismayed....I am Catholic. I relish the zealous faith of evangelical Christians, well - ANY spirit-filled Christian! Yet, I know some amazingly good and holy Orthodox people, and have felt the presence of the sacred at their beautiful, reverent services. I wish we could all "get along" as they say. Perhaps, see other Christian churches as part of one whole, rather than as adversaries?

  4. I wanted to add, that I don't think the visa laws are targeting missionaries. I do think that the Orthodox church is trying to shut down some operations, as Vitali mentioned.

    I'm often watched at the orphanage, but no one has ever accused me of doing anything illegal. I don't know what that says about the effectiveness of my ministry!

    Christian unity is definitely a broad topic. I don't blame Russia for wanting to get rid of false religions. Yet I don't agree with the criteria being applied! Maybe I will write about this sometime soon.

  5. Было бы лестно, если бы сотрудники гос. аппарата почитывали этот журнал. Авось, они стали бы верующими :)
    На самом деле, есть огромное количество политических проблем, которые для них, вероятно, важнее религиозной темы. Я сильно сомневаюсь, что кто-то отслеживает контент журналов, посвященных христианству. Тем более, англоязычных.


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