My Journey by Rae Hussey – Chapter 2

Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it? As I look back over twelve years, to the time before I left for overseas service, I appreciate the lessons I learned then. But, at the time, I wondered just what the Lord was doing. I did not know that He was going to open the way for me to go to Belarus long-term. I was very happy to have been once, and be looking at visiting camps in Russia annually. My heart was full.

We sometimes assume, that if the Lord calls us to a task, the road will be easy. We expect that He will remove all obstacles, smooth the ruts and fill the potholes. We expect that He will provide whatever is necessary to do the job. The Word of God promises that He will provide all our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). I believe that with all my heart, but it has been my experience that He does not always provide in the way we expect. He often makes a way for us to meet our own needs, and at times, uses others to do so.

My first visit to Belarus is a fine example. I held a very good job as a teacher and was well able to afford an airline ticket. Before going to the travel agent to book my ticket, I had stopped at an ATM for an account balance. I held the receipt in my hand as I went in to the travel agency. When she had worked out the flights, she gave me the price. $1934.00. What was printed on my ATM receipt? $1934.00. The Lord did provide, through my wages. However, I had then paid for two fares to Europe within twelve months and that had certainly stretched my savings to exhaustion.

The Lord gave me the opportunity to go again the next year as part of my long-service leave, but for that, finances would have been really tight. Early in the morning, the day after I arrived home from that ‘visit without invitation’ to Belarus, I talked to the Lord about funding the next trip. Later that same morning, as I sat waiting for a wedding to begin, a friend called me outside. “Are you going to Russia again?” he asked. “If you do, I will pay for the ticket. Just let me know how much.” What a miraculous provision that was. The Lord used the faithfulness and generosity of a friend to meet my need.

So the plans for long service leave fell into place. Firstly, lead teams to a camp in Russia. Secondly, take a short visit back to Belarus to meet again with prospective teachers for their Christian school. Thirdly, fulfil a long-term dream of travelling across Russia by train to visit a missionary friend in Khabarovsk and speak at a conference for children’s workers. Three months in countries I had come to love.

The first six weeks was spent in a little blue wooden house, at Camp Unost, near to Saint Petersburg. I stayed with interpreters, and teams came from Australia each two weeks to work with us. My interpreter had come from Minsk, and in her luggage was an invitation for me to visit Belarus. I had learned my lesson and thought I was well prepared.

Disaster awaited me! I expected to be issued with a visa when I entered Belarus. What I didn’t expect is that there are no border crossings between Russia and Belarus. We boarded a train in St. Petersburg, and woke the next morning in Minsk. I had my invitation in my bag, but had arrived in a foreign communist country without a visa! What would I do? Leave immediately by train? I couldn’t. To buy a train ticket, I would need to show my passport with visa attached. Report to the police? I didn’t need to.

The next morning there was a knock on the door. The police had found me. Sergeant Timofey took my passport so that I could not leave over the weekend, and told me to report on Monday. I did! An officious woman told me many times over the next few days that she could throw me in prison if she wanted to. I was very aware of that truth! Three days of sitting outside her office interspersed with visiting other officials in other offices finally resulted in my being sent to the airport to obtain a visa.

The taxi driver proudly told us that he was taking us the short way to the airport. We would save ten minutes! Who cared about ten minutes?

At the airport a border guard greeted us. She spoke English, which was a miracle in itself. She had my passport, and on looking through it told me proudly, “That’s my signature. I issued your visa last year.” I prayed she wouldn’t remember the circumstances. She went off to ask her boss if I could have a visa. “He usually refuses, but I will try because you are my friend.” A few minutes later she came running back down the stairs. “Follow me quickly,” she said. “My boss said that if I can do this before the next plane comes in, you can have a visa. Quickly, we have ten minutes!” Who cared about ten minutes? The Lord did and gave me those ten minutes.

In communist countries, there are myriads of people in uniform. For the next few days, as I travelled around Minsk, I jumped each time I saw one of those people wearing a uniform. I thought they would arrest me. As we left on a mid-night train for Moscow and the seven-day journey across northern Russia, I was sure I would never be allowed to visit Belarus again. The Lord had miraculously taken care of me, supplying all my needs, and I was grateful. I still did not know that in little more than a year, He would call me to uproot from Australia to become a resident of that tiny communist nation where I now had two very dark marks beside my name in the immigration department records.