We actually had a great day. Some friends of ours offered to get us a hotel in Bratislava because we had a very early appointment at the Czech embassy and the embassy is about 4 hours from where we live in Czech. So we got great rest last night and the hotel provided breakfast so things were going good.
Bratislava is a beautiful city, especially in the downtown area. There are a few embassies right in the center of town (including the USA!) and we trekked our way by some incredible buildings. We got to the embassy on time and we had all of our paperwork in order so it went smoothly. Of course we had our good friend Jitka who could help us translate just in case. The lady at the embassy was actually very familiar with Josiah Venture missionaries, so it made the whole process roll along just fine. Start to finish it was about an hour of time and we were on way to make the 4 hour drive home. It’s a lot of work for such a short amount of actual work time, but visas are vital to our ability to work, live, and do ministry here so you really don’t think about the trouble to make it happen.
We lingered around the town square for a little while after the embassy because there was a small playground for kids and even a McDonald’s where were grabbed something to drink. It was fun to people watch because there were a number of tour groups for all parts of the world making their way through the square. I even caught a picture of a man laying down and praying just outside of McDonald’s (photo below).
Shortly after Bethany took the photo below of the beautiful sunflower fields, we got pulled to the side of the road by the Slovakian police. Everyone was actually getting stopped. It was kind of like a police check point that they built on the highway today to make sure everyone had the right licenses, permits, and things like that. I had no idea we would actually be stopped and then pulled to the side of the road. I thought we would be waved through just like most of the other cars, but then the police man said something to men in Slovak which I just stared at him blankly and that’s when Jitka started talking to him from the back seat (Slovak and Czech are very similar languages, so they can speak to each other pretty well).
Basically what happened was we didn’t have a Slovak driving sticker for our car and we were driving in Slovakia. We really had no clue that we needed that thing and were really nervous. Jitka talk to the guy for a while and finally we had to drive to the next town, get Euros out of the ATM, then drive back to the freeway check point and literally (and I’m serious here) walk onto the freeway and pay the police in the middle of the highway. If you can imagine walking on the 5 freeway and paying for a ticket–that’s what it was like. He lowered the ticket price for us, which was a blessing, but we definitely learned a lesson: get the right permits when you drive to another country. Lesson learned.
Our little law breaking moment made us hungry so we opted for a little taste of America: KFC. By God’s grace the rest of our trip was pretty uneventful and for that we’re thankful. Our new car did great, the kids did well, and now we’ll just wait to hear back about our visas. Tomorrow our appliances we will be delivered, and if all goes well our shipping container should be here Thursday. Lots going on this week, but God gives us enough grace for every day…even when we break the law by accident.