Step One: Get organized (4 months before the trip)
- Gather your group
- Make sure everyone understands everything on this section of the website—the costs, the conditions, the necessity of being reasonably healthy and in good shape, etc.
- Have or obtain a passport. It must have an expiration date that is at least 6 months later than your dates of travel. It must also have 2 blank opposing pages.
- Check with the mission office in Modesto about available travel dates. It’s best if large groups do not overlap.
- Determine your own travel dates. Also decide whether any members of your group wish to have a layover in Seoul.
- Have each group member obtain a letter of recommendation from the pastor and/or a background clearance. In some cases, this may not be necessary, so phone the mission office to check.
Step Two: Start the paperwork (at least 3 months before the trip)
- Complete the Traveler Invitation Form on this website. Also, scan the picture page of your passport and save it as a jpg or pdf. For the scan, your passport should be open, showing the picture page and the adjacent signature page.
- Email the Traveler Invitation Form + your scanned passport pages to the mission office. These will be forwarded to Fr. Myron. He will use them to apply for your invitations into Russia.
Step Three: Make your airline reservations.
Please read the following information thoroughly.
- The Airline: Each traveler procures his or her own air transportation. You will likely fly from the United States to Incheon, Korea, then on to Vladivostok, all on Korean Air. Air Canada also flies from Vancouver to Incheon. If different travelers in the same group are coming from several different cities in the US, they should all make sure they leave Incheon and arrive at Vladivostok at the same time.
- Online Reservations: If you are not doing a layover in Seoul, you can make your reservations online at www.koreanair.com. Note that departure times might be slightly after midnight, so the day’s date has just changed. So be sure that you arrive at the departure airport on the date before the departure date.
- Layover in Seoul: If you wish to layover in Seoul for a few days on the return trip, or if you prefer not to book online, you will need to have a travel agent make your arrangements. We strongly recommend that you contact Barbara Garcia. Barbara is a friend of the mission and has made travel arrangements for many, many mission trips. Barbara can be reached at Barbarhouplingarcia@aaa.win.com or at 425-369-2604 and can sometimes find better rates than are advertised online.
Step Four: Obtain your visa (4-6 weeks before trip)
Before you can obtain your visa, you must have your official invitation from Russia. Fr. Myron will use your scanned passport pages and your Traveler Information Form to obtain the invitations. He will send your invitations back to the mission office or directly to you. The invitations are usually 2-page pdf documents.
To obtain your visa, you either apply to one of the 5 Russian consulates in the US or you must go through an agency that will submit the paperwork for you.
NOTE: Visa requirements change often. They may also vary somewhat from consulate to consulate. To obtain your visa, go online and work with one of the consulates, following its particular instructions. The mission society cannot help you with this part of the process.
Step Five: Gather items to distribute in Russia
Before their trip, most travelers ask the mission office about items they can bring and donate to the Church or to needy individuals. Vicky Trevillyan, Fr. Myron, and Fr. Dan provide them with a “wish list.” Travelers work with their friends and parishioners to gather these items. Wish lists might include such things as kids’ winter gloves, dental floss, or sugar-free instant pudding.
Travelers usually bring 2 checked bags with them. One bag is packed with these donated items while the other is for the traveler’s use.
One Very Important Thing
To make this the most spiritually and temporally rewarding experience, may we suggest your team meet at least once a month before your trip to:
- Pray and attend Mass together
- Learn about the mission (watch the Vladivostok DVD and PowerPoints together),
- Go over paperwork and questions as a group
- Get to know one another
- Read a book such as The Way of a Pilgrim or With God In Russia to further prepare you for your mission.
- Hear invited guests speak about our call to serve as missionaries, about vocations, or about how to handle stress in unusual situations.
We have found pre-mission bonding to a priceless investment towards everyone’s mission experience. Teams who spend time in formation before their trip vs. those who do not have quite a different experience. All in all, meeting regularly as a team is very important.
Mission experience in Vladivostok is a spiritually enlightening and wonderful experience. May God bless you on your journey.