Yesterday was all new to us... and full of faith-stretching reminders of God's presence with us.
First, we had all slept very well after our long journey from America. For those unacquainted with overseas travel, I can't overstate what a blessing this was, as the body often gets so confused by jetlag that it can't produce sleep even when you're exhausted. The Lord spared us this and provided a great night of sleep in a lovely hotel.
|The hotel grounds had many statues of Arabian horses, which are revered here|
We started the next stage of the journey at 8:45am enroute to a noon flight from this very cosmopolitan city. The airlines always recommend checking in 3 hours early for international flights, and after pushing that boundary once we now do everything we can to comply. We entered a nearly empty terminal and were one of only two groups checking in at the time. I wasn't terribly surprised, as we're not exactly going to the vacation hot-spot of the world.
In any event, we stopped at an airport restaurant to load up with bottled water, not knowing when we would have the chance again. Notice how empty the world famous restaurant was? It was due to the religious holiday here.
|Yes... we only bought water here... much to the surprise and chagrin of the operators|
Upon arrival, we knew we had entered a new phase of our journey, as all of a sudden we were clearly in the 3rd world. Security was tight and passport control was serious. And Jaynie had to don her head-covering out of respect for the local culture.
Nevertheless, while we were waiting, we were blessed with a reassuring wave from a familiar face on the other side of passport control. Jake, the head of one of Jaynie's host families had come to greet us and escort us to our lodgings for the night. Just when we needed the encouragement, God provided it in Jake!
After passing through passport control we joined Jake who ushered us through additional country registration requirements and helped us gather our luggage. Praise God that again, all our luggage arrived safely. Throughout our long, long, long journey, God has granted timely planes, safe passage and luggage that stuck with us to the end!
Jake escorted us to a waiting car that had been arranged to take us to our local lodgings and we were soon on the streets of this interesting city. Joe commented that he had never experienced quite the wild-west feeling of a drive like the one we experienced on the way to our lodgings... Jake said we hadn't seen anything yet!
|We're not in Kansas anymore!|
|Gates to the building where we're staying|
|Our lodgings the first night in-country|
After fellowship and dinner together (served family style), Joe and I helped with kitchen clean-up while Jaynie got to know her host family better. Then Joe and I hit our international travel 'wall' and collapsed into bed for the night.
Once again, the Lord provided good sleep for Jaynie and Joe. Although I had more trouble sleeping, I got some good rest and arose early to see our new surroundings and to read my Bible.
I was able to get some pictures from inside our lodgings and then Jake pointed out that I could also go to the roof and take pictures. As you can see the city if fairly large, very 3rd world and, at least this morning, choked by smog. Later in the day, Jake explained that this city is surrounded on 3 sides by mountains, making it a smog trap.
But perhaps most poignant of all was the sight I had when I pulled back the curtains in our room. I was struck by this sight after having read Psalm 4 this morning.
|View out the window in the room where Joe and I are sleeping|
"In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for YOu alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety."
Praise Him from whom all REAL peace comes!