God has really used the process of getting our South Sudan visas to remind us that He is in control and we just need to trust Him. It’s kind of a funny story now, but in the moment we were stressed, which just showed us that we weren’t fully trusting God with it.
To say it mildly, we have hit a few obstacles to getting our visa to get into the country. We couldn’t do it before we left on our trip because you have to get it within three months of when you’ll be there. So we were planning to get the visa in Bangkok or Uganda where they have South Sudan embassies. This hasn’t worked out for us. We could not get in touch with the embassies in Bangkok or Uganda. So we tried the embassy in Germany, but they will only issue visas for German residents. We then realized this may be the case in Uganda as well (but they have not answered their phone ever, in the weeks we’ve been calling). The folks in South Sudan also do not answer. And we have not been able to successfully communicate with the embassy in Kenya either. We were calculating if it was even possible to overnight our passports to Washington D.C., get them to expedite the processing (from 2 weeks to 1 week) and have them shipped back to us in Germany – all with the holidays and before we flew out. After calculating it every way we could think of, it just wasn’t going to work.
We were getting rather concerned at this point. We were really stressing out, and had to stop and remind ourselves that this is God’s trip and if He wants us there He’ll make a way.
The day before Christmas we learned that there is an embassy in Brussels (where we already happened to be going for NYE). And they actually answered their phones and said they issue visas to non-residents of Belgium. But timing was tough… it’s typically a 5 day process… with the holidays, they were closed Christmas through the 29th, and then may be closed for the new year and we needed to fly out on Jan 6. We completed their online application, only to learn a couple hours later that it no longer works. We must go in person and it takes 2-3 days.
We went early for NYE and dropped off our passports. They agreed to try to expedite our processing to make our flight, but no promises. We already had our flight purchased at this point so we were committed. We had friends praying for us though, and felt much calmer knowing God had it in control.
We planned to return on January 5th to pick up our visas and passports, less than 24 hours before our flight. We arrived at the South Sudan embassy with big smiles, knowing whatever the outcome, it was God’s doing. And we were met by very friendly staff who told us happy New Year and handed us our passports with the visas in them! We were beyond excited! What a great journey to begin our journey to South Sudan.