Mr Beaver - It has been an eventful day (actually about 34 hours... and counting), filled with God's graces and tests of my faith and faithfulness.
First and foremost, God worked out getting all the travelers (Mrs Beaver with the 3 Bible Bee finalists to Chicago, and me to Moscow) safely to their destinations, and mostly on time. I'd say that's a miracle in today's travel environment! Thank you, Lord, for Your incredible kindnesses.
Having said that, I desperately miss my family... all 13 of them! I don't mind traveling, as it always holds adventure, both physical and spiritual. But I so prefer to share those adventures with my best friends, Mrs. Beaver and the kids. Nevertheless, God's grace was upon me as He kept driving me back to His word for comfort and vision. I spent much time in the Psalms, seeing how paltry my light affliction is compared to that of David. And I've been reading the gospels straight through, trying to renew a sense of wonder that comes from just 'watching' Jesus challenge, encourage and lead His people and those who should be His people.
My day started with a departure from home at 4am on the 10th. When Denise and I flew to Russia for the court trip a couple of weeks ago we did not arrive at the airport 90 minutes in advance to check our bags and we were appropriately chastised. I wanted to be sure I arrived by 4:30 for my 6am departure, as they had been very grace-giving in their prior correction. When I showed up at 4:30 the airport wasn't open yet! They opened the doors at 4:40am... oh well, what matters is that I was prepared to submit to my authorities... they just weren't ready for me to do so. No big deal!
My flights through Minneapolis to Atlanta and on to Moscow were all blessedly uneventful, landing me in Moscow at 11:15am on the 11th (2:15am at home). Even the passport control people were reasonably pleasant... that's not usually high on their list of strengths!
Unfortunately, my flights were not so uneventful for my bags. After watching everyone else get their bags I asked for help in very broken Russian and was blessed with some very nice Delta representatives who had been expecting me. Apparently the US Delta people had sent through a communication that my bags had missed one of my flights. They informed me the bags would be here on the very next flight... which is tomorrow, so I pray I'll see them tomorrow afternoon.
To arrange for delivery of my bags to my apartment, I had to go through the dreaded 'Red Channel' of customs. There was no one else in that strict area, so I got a little 'extra' attention. After about 45 minutes of questioning and checking my triplicate forms... repeatedly... they gave me the blessed stamp of approval and I was released to go find the driver that was to meet me and take me to my apartment.
When I left customs, I found there was no one there to meet me. Back to my broken Russian to call and ask for help. I discovered that my driver was stuck in a massive traffic snarl coming from Moscow. That massive traffic snarl is actually the norm here in Moscow. Again, after a pleasant 45 minute wait during which I learned that nearly every taxi driver in Moscow wanted to take me to the city, I met up with my driver and headed off for Moscow. By the time I got to my apartment to check in I think it was a little after 3pm.
The apartment where we'll stay is plenty nice enough on the inside, but characteristically scary in the lobby and hallways. I discovered the apartments we'll be staying in as an extended family when the gang all gets here are in this building and the building a block down the street... interesting. I think I'll get my exercise escorting kids between buildings.
Anyway, as I said the apartment is actually nicely refurbished inside, as you'll see by the pictures below.
We also have a million dollar view being up on the 22nd floor of the building.
After getting settled, I needed to do some shopping.
First, I was getting to a point where even I couldn't stand to be around me (we're now talking about 26 hours after waking up) - I needed some clothes. But because we're staying in an apartment rather than a hotel, I was on my own... no concierge to ask about where to find men's clothing. I looked out our 22nd floor window, got a general sense of direction and headed out on Noviy Arbat street. I walked for quite some time without seeing any men's clothing shops amidst the hundred or so women's clothing shops (some things transcend international boundaries), so I finally dropped in to one of the women's clothing shops and once again embarassed all of America with my plodding Russian to ask for directions to a men's clothing store. I seemed to get my question across as I quickly received about a thousand word description of where to go. All I really understood was that I would find one a little further down the street, but that sufficed. I found a second floor men's clothing shop tucked away about half a mile further down the road and found just what I needed... assuming I only need to manage one day without luggage.
Then I needed to scout out supplies to feed hungry kids. I found a "prodooktie" (ie grocery) store just behind our apartment building! This should work out great for at least breakfast and some other meals while we're here.
Finally, I went back to the apartment to meet one of the apartment managers who handles 'registering' my passport. This is a left-over vestige of the Soviet era where the government not only needed to scrutinize you at the border, but also needed to check on every major stop you made (as represented by hotels, or in this case, apartments). I imagine no one realy knows why they do it any more, but it does feed the local economy by keeping people employed, so they continue doing it.
Finally, now I'm wrapping up my day and preparing for bed. The kids will be here tomorrow at 7am, praise be to God! Unfortunately, and I have nothing with which to entertain them since my luggage held all the games and toys (I don't think my language skills count). Should be interesting. They go through medical exams in the morning, and then I think we're free until Monday when we start the embassy paperwork.
I covet your prayers that I will do well with the kids. This is a brave thing they are doing, leaving behind all they know and trusting themselves to people they hardly know. The little one is especially frightened as I understand it. Please pray that they would see Jesus in the way I interact with them and with others. The mission starts now!
Trusting in and Fearing Him Alone!