Monday, July 14, 2008

Me in Moscow with a Gold Am Ex card....Dangerous!

Here's my 1st post from Moscow. I'll never forget the panic!!!! Read on....

Dear friends & family - Well, the day started out bad and went downhill from there! First, at the Murmansk airport, I missed the bus to the plane. You don't just walk onto the plane there, you have to go way out onto the tarmac to board the plane. The bus was jam-packed full and it looked like some people got off, so I figured there would be anothe plane. Well, it got closer and closer to take-off and no more buses. So I went up and asked a wizened old fellow with some of his teeth if there would be anymore buses. He immediately started shouting to the crowd "pon glisky" which basically means "does anybody here speak English". Everyone stared blankly at me. Finally a woman approached and could at least understand that I was supposed to be on the plane WAY, way out on the tarmac. The old man looked startled and pushed me along & we walked, ran, walked, ran all the way to the plane. I made it on time and thought, well, that's that. Boy, was I wrong!

Got to Moscow o.k., praise God, even though I'm sure the plane was older than me. Handed in my passport at the hotel, emailed Larry and thought I would settle in for lunch. Then I got a call and had to go to the front desk. Apparently I didn't have a certain form which proved that I had checked into a hotel in Murmansk on the 16th. So, they decided that I was in the country illegally and would need to go to the police station. Well, I balked at that and was insistent that I had entered legally and had indeed stayed at a hotel - I showed them the bill and everything! I told them "what do you think, I've been wandering the streets for 4 days?"? But I didn't have the special form. They repeated again it was "a rule", but couldn't tell me what the form looked like, and suggested the police again! I wasn't looking forward to spending the afternoon (or worse) in a holding cell in a Moscow jail while they figured everything out. At this point, I called Larry in a panic and got HIS blood pressure up (might as well share the stress, right?). I think he was ready to call the Embassy or just come get me; but both of us were determined that I was not leaving the hotel with anyone! So, I prayed, "Lord, I don't know what this form looks like, but You do. Help me find it, please." I then took my purse, my backpack, my suitcases and dumped them out in the middle of the floor in my room and went through every scrap of paper I had with me. I finally found the form - it had slipped out of my passport and stuck to the back of a photograph of the family at Jessica's graduation that I had been showing everyone. Triumphantly, I presented the form to the desk clerk and suggested politely (sort of) that the next time they wanted someone to give them some paperwork, they should at least have an example of the stupid form (since it's in Russian) so I would know what in the world I was looking for! They love forms and stamps over here, and make a big deal even out of a cash register receipt.So, that was my big adventure for the day.

I tried to find stamps for Letsa, but believe it or not, the main post office was out of stamps! Unbelievable! (I shouldn't be surprised - the hotel in Murmansk didn't have any water one day!) The day was rescued when I went to TGI Friday's and had fried shrimp and french fries! Also, I did a little shopping -- well, a lot of shopping -- well, really a tremendous amount of shopping. Perked me up pretty good, I must say. Sightseeing on the agenda for tomorrow, then an early start home on Sunday. I'll be leaving Moscow at 1:00 a.m. on Sunday morning Atlanta time, and set to arrive Sunday afternoon in Atlanta. Somehow I think Larry will be glad to see me. Thanks to all who have been praying for me - almost there, so keep it up a little while longer.

Last Post from Moscow:

Dear friends and family: I've had the most amazing day. After yesterday, I just wanted to pack up and come on home early, but for some reason I knew I shouldn't try.The main worker here for the adoption coordinators, Amrex, is Tatyana. She and her husband, Nic, have a 25 year old daughter, Maria, who also does some guide work and translation work. Maria and I did some sightseeing today. One of the first places we went to was the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. She didn't go in, because she said she's seen every church in Moscow 100 times! Anyway, I went in and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the cathedral.

I looked around for a place to pray, but it was mainly filled with tourists, looking around. Finally, I went to a corner and began to pray. Suddenly I realized that my prayers had been full of "me, me, me" all week long. I asked the Lord to forgive me and to allow me to somehow share His glory in Moscow. When I went outside, Maria mentioned something about religion, asking if I was religious, and said it in a way that swung wide the door to explain my beliefs. When I told her that I wasn't religous, because "doing things" to try to work your way to heaven was useless, she was dumbfounded and curious. I referred to Isaiah and said that we were filthy before a holy God, no matter what we did on our own. I told her that I much preferred having a real relationship with God through Jesus, His Son. She said she had never heard of such a thing and asked many questions. For well over an hour today, I was able to answer her blunt questions, including the typical "why does God let bad things happen?" and I was grateful that the answers were not my own, but given to me. With her every question, I was able to refer directly to scripture, and let her know that the Bible was written to guide her to heaven, and that was God's plan for her! She said she had never read the Bible, and didn't think she could understand it.At the end of our day, I had to go up to the hotel room to get cash to pay her and the driver. (I had spent too much of my money - sorry, Larry) I invited her to go up with me. I had with me our Sunday school literature and a copy of the new HCSB New Testament, both of which have written the plan of salvation much like I had explained to her. I knew she liked magazines, so I compared the Sunday school literature with a magazine, showing her the articles in it. I don't know if she'll read any of it, but she seemed insatiably curious about it all.

When she wanted my email address, I wrote in on the back of an index card where I had written verses from Jeremiah - because I had told her earlier that God has a special plan for her life, and that He will be found if she truly seeks Him. She was curious about why I had Bible verses written on index cards, and I explained that doing so helped me to learn them and meditate on them. Please pray for the seed that was planted today.

How gracious is God that when we ask of Him, like I did in the Cathedral, He will open the doors for us to share His glory!

You won't be getting any more emails from me -- and you may be glad of it! Thank you for sharing my journey with me. Thank you all for your friendship and for the many prayers which were lifted up for me. My flight for home leaves at 1:00 a.m. "Bulldawg" time, and I shall see my precious husband and family soon.~ Dos vadonyas ~ "Good bye" JUDY

Blessings to all -- JUDY

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