Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Left with Peace


Some people always seem to get lucky. Do you know what I mean? Good things always fly in their doors and they seem to unknowingly step on all the bad that tries to sneak in. I’m not one of those people. David was here 2 years before he ever got stopped by the police. The first time they stopped him, Steven and I were right there with him. Today, on the day we were supposed to have a ride home, on the day that it just happened to be -6 degrees outside (yes, I’m talking Fahrenheit), and on the second day in history Steven and I have walked home alone, we had to run into the police...again! If you don’t know the story behind our first stop by the police I encourage you to look through my blog archives, I wrote about it when it happened during our first week here. But that was in the past, I’m sure you want to know about today.

Today was a busy day. We got up early (early for us is 9:00am, which is early if you consider what time I got to bed), and Steven actually woke me up early due to some morning skyping and his mega-loud skype voice, which he knows angered me quite a bit, but as the lesson 2 idiom sections states, let bygones be bygones, whatever that means. I made lemonade out of it anyways. So we woke up early in order to go to the girl’s apartment for some lunch. We had to take the bus. I’ve decided that buses make me nauseous. We waited for over 30 minutes for a bus that never came and then waited another 10 minutes for a bus that would come. I hate the buses here. When we got on the bus this nice guy leaned sideways so I could squeeze in the seat next to him. The seat was next to the window and the windows were frosted over, it was cold and I knew it was going to be a long bus ride. But, wait, oh yes, a nice, big babushka was getting on the bus and I breathed a sigh of relief that I wouldn’t have to give up my seat because I was in a corner. (A babushka is an old grandma and in Kazakhstan you give your seat to the babushkas or suffer the consequences). What I had overlooked though was the fact that the guy I was sitting next to was a gentleman. Even though he was not a youngling, he quickly got up and offered his seat to the giant babushka. She politely accepted and said thank you and sat next to me. Her giant body squashed me up against the cold window and allowed me no personal space, after all who has ever heard of such a thing as personal space? So I sat there and scraped some ice off the window so I could have a little peephole and make sure I was getting off at the right stop. Every time I wiped the ice off of my peephole, my glove would leave a tiny layer of moisture which would again freeze within seconds. I sat quietly in my little space with the babushka’s body pressing against mine, getting more and more carsick/claustrophobic by the second. I sat there praying to God that He would not let me vomit on the bus, or worse, on the babushka! I told myself that it was just a couple more stops until finally, it was my stop and I was able to get off the bus and walk through the brisk winter air. Nausea didn’t feel like leaving though, not even during lunch, but I ate anyways. The bus ride back certainly didn’t make me feel better although I had to stand the whole time with different bodies pressed against me. So I tried to buy a pepsi, but all the little shops were either unmanned or wouldn’t give me change for a 2000 tenge bill. 2000 tenge is not even a lot of money! I was frustrated. But, I arrived at my center, prepared quizzes and weekend assignments, and met with my private tutee (that’s a funny word, but I don’t know what else to call him). So then came time to go home and here is probably the only part you care about.

It’s Wednesday. Normally one of my older students (who also happens to be the conference treasurer) gives us a ride home every Monday and Wednesday and then Yelena (my boss) is always there to walk home with us on Tuesday and Thursday since she lives one street down. I’m not afraid to walk home alone, but I have to admit that I sure don’t mind having Russian-speaking company or better yet a 4-wheeled contraption that has heating inside. Yesterday, Emily got really sick and Yelena had to substitute for her so it was a Tuesday and Steven I walked home alone. No bother though, everything was fine, but we were sure looking forward to the ride home tonight to escape the -6 degree weather, but I knew that there would be a problem when I saw Oleg (my student) come in late and out of his formal work clothes. Anyways, we began the journey back to our apartment and everything was fine, the cold was hardly a concern as long as we kept our legs pumping. As we ventured through the park we turned the corner and saw a group of camo-suited men and a big, but muzzled, attack dog. Steven and I knew the drill and stopped talking immediately as we tried to make our way around them. But, sure enough they started talking to us and walking towards us so we had to acknowledge them. They began talking to us and Steven uttered, “Niet Ruski” (No Russian) to which I added “Ya Nie Govarru Paruski” (I don’t speak Russian). Of course, they asked for documents, but Steven and I had our certified copies ready, we were completely legal this time, although we’ve learned that doesn’t really matter in this country. They inspected our documents as well as our bags and began questioning us on our business here and where we sleep. I always love when they ask where we sleep because we never understand them and they resort to playing charades and put their hands together and rest their head on their hands while making a snoring sound. It is quite cute coming from camo-suited men. But they continued to talk in Russian and they ended up saying, “Payom” (let’s go) and I was wondering if they planned on walking with us all the way to our apartment, but one of the men managed to say “Station.” Oh yes, we were going to the police station. Without hesitation I said, “Pachimoo?” (Why?) and they said, “Computer.” I inferred that they meant they wanted to check our documents on the computer. I quickly came to grips with the fact that we were going to the police station and without any fear, prepared myself while stubbornly refusing to offer any sort of bribe. I pulled out my dead cell phone and was getting ready to call Yelena to inform her of our upcoming adventure. Either the constant praying in my head punched in or the cell phone scared them. They probably assumed Americans with certified copies of their passports had some connections in the big leagues, although we don’t. They gave us back our papers waved us and said, “Go.” I thanked them in Russian and told them to have a good night in English. We walked away and I just smiled as the adrenaline pumped through my veins. “That’ll make a good story,” I thought to myself. While my heart was pounding and I had to fight to keep my knees from knocking together from the cold, and while my adrenaline was shooting and my nerves were tense, I really can’t say that I felt fear. I was actually annoyed that it had to happen on this night, when I had to go to the bathroom. Bathroom or no bathroom, annoyance or no annoyance, I probably should have been frightened and I probably should have offered the rest of my lunch money, but I remembered some words that were articulated by an incredible Guy. He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” [John 14:27] Those words set in tonight and I was ready to go to the police station. I knew that all would be okay, because I had peace, not just any kind of peace, but the kind of peace that Jesus gives.

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