Our 6th day in Krasnodar, and no luggage yet!

Suddenly our door tweeter whistled. We had our first visitors. It was one of the Russian translators, Genada, who told Lorretta and me that the new school in Maykop wanted us to come to Maykop and teach. I would be their first full time teacher.  We politely declined because none of our books had yet arrived from America and I needed supplies for preparation: notes, books, and computer etc.

Genada thanked me and said that they would be by on Saturday Morning at 9:00 A. M. to pick us up. It was then that I realized that my English must have been as bad as my Russian. I was positive that I had said that ”we would not be able to go to Maykop until the supplies arrived.”  He thought l said, ”we are ready to go teach right now, please come by and move us to Maykop.” We were going to learn a lesson that translated almost daily into our lives in Russia.

Servants do not call the shots on where or when will they serve

In all actuality, this was a wonderful provision from the Lord. We would vacate the apartment and the two young ladies who had to move in with us would then be able to have the necessary room for their readjustment to the Krasnodar area.  They had been moved into our apartment because their apartment had be rented to two groups at the same time and they needed a place to stay while this was being worked out with the owner of the apartment. We would be in Maykop, living in a wonderful Russian home with the young director of the new College.

We repacked our suitcases for the 9:00 Saturday appointment with whatever transportation would take us the three hours to Maykop.  Passports, money, my library of books [two Bibles], English to Russian Dictionary came with us, thus we had all the essentials.

Saturday came quickly; our supplies from America had not arrived so we waited for our ride.  We were told that Russians did not always arrive on time, so we relaxed and waited. 10:00 A. M., 11 :00 A.M., 12:00, Noon, 1 :00 P.M., 3:00 P.M., 5:00 RM. dinner, 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00.  It was then that we discovered the word “dzaftra”, freely translated, it means, “tomorrow”.  This word, when used, was much like a word heard in Southern California ”manana” It may not really be tomorrow, it for sure isn’t today! And it can be used in place of the word “never!”

Lorretta, announcing that she was not going to stay up any longer, since they were obviously not coming, went to bed.  I decided to wait up a few minutes longer.

At 9:45 P.M. our doorbell whistled and our chauffer stood at the door, our chariot had arrived.  Lorretta got out of bed, dressed quickly and we began our Russian/English hand signs.  They made gestures as to what had happened and we believe that we interpreted the gestures correctly. The vehicle had broken down, was repaired and loaded with different supplies for the school.  We brought our suitcases down the three flights of stairs and looked for a place to load them.

It was a vehicle much like a VW van.   The front seat was occupied so Lorretta and I would sit in the area, which usually has a middle seat, however not true tonight.  The area was now home to approximately ten sacks of flour.  Behind us was stacked, floor to ceiling, the sugar.  And behind the sugar was a couple with their small child. We never saw them, however we heard them talk from time to time.  No one spoke English, and we were in our third week in Russia, which meant that all of our questions would be asked to each other!  This would indeed be a unique trip into the night.

Uncertainty along the Journey 

Our driver, Benjamin, unable to understand even the slightest words of English, was a wonderful, sweet spirited man. Our gestures were working, so we were O. K.  I guess that the only question that came to my mind is:  “Were these the people who were supposed to pick us up?”  Once we were in the van, we slipped off into the night, heading, we hoped, for Maykop.

One hour into the trip, the van came to a stop. We were in the absolute boondocks. As Benjamin stepped out of the van, he looked at us, crossed his arms in the form of an X and said, ”Petrol”.  That was certainly a universal gesture and made complete sense to us. He stepped to the rear of the van, opened the door, and we heard the shuffling of people getting out of the van and bags being removed.  Soon they produced a can, which looked to be about a 5-gallon can. He poured the ”Petrol” into the tank and within moments, we were on the road again.

That was a relief.  It was getting quite late now, and we still had a long distance to go. I was supposed to preach at the church in the morning and I had no idea when we would get there, so, we traveled that dark evening toward our goal.  At approximately 12:00 midnight, the van stopped again. Benjamin got out of the van, crossed his arms again and we had our second intelligent conversation, ”Petrol” and with a shrug of his shoulders, he walked across the dark and extremely deserted highway. (1 should interpret the word highway in Russian for the reader, but there is no Russian word for ”Cow-path” available).

I did know this. We had been on the road for over two hours and that meant that at the closest we were over an hour away from Maykop.  It was very dark and deserted, we were out of gas again, and the local gas station (another necessary phrase needing interpretation) was not available. Benjamin walked across the highway, into a farm area and got the farmer out of bed and brought some gasoline back with him. By 12:30, we were on the road again.

I was desirous to see the highway upon which we were traveling, but Benjamin was driving with his lights off, using that old American song, “By the light of the silvery moon” for his navigation system. I crouched as low as possible behind the flour, hoping that what ever Benjamin decided to hit head on, without his lights, I would somehow be able to protect Lorretta and myself with the bags of flour.  If there were such a collision, we would suffocate in flour long before they could get us out of this pre-baked bread delivery truck. Of course the sugar behind us was to be contended with, if we did stop abruptly!

It was nearing 1 :00 A. M. and surprise of surprises, we stopped again. Benjamin and I were on a roll, this time I crossed my arms and said “petrol” and he seemed genuinely pleased that we had learned a Russian word. He nodded and held up seven fingers. I knew it was not the time, so I assumed we were about 7 Km from our destination.  Benjamin stepped in front of the van, and began his walk to town. He was still within sight there in the light of the silvery moon, when a car came by.  It was the first car we had seen in over two hours of driving. It stopped, Benjamin got in and they took off for town. Within one half hour, Benjamin returned with the Associate Pastor of the new church, Ellia, who was to become one more of our wonderful Russian friends.

The trip was simply a matter of deep Russian trust in a God who provides all necessary things.

He did not have gas, but he attached a rope to the bumper, put us into the back of his vehicle and with the van in tow, he took us to Maykop.  We arrived at Sergi and Luda’s home just before 2:00 A. M and were escorted into the room where we would occupy the couch, made into one twin bed, for our three week stay in Maykop. Were there some lessons in this for us?  The trip was simply a matter of deep Russian trust in a God who provides all necessary things.

  1. On break down on the way to Maykop, we were not accosted by road criminals.
  2. The first gas challenge was in the van, the second gas challenge was at the farmers house, the lone car on the road came by at the right moment, the pastor had no gas but had a strong rope and he was available to tow us into town and God came through.
  3. No griping about running out of gas, no discussion about the breakdown during the day, no concern about safe arrival, no problem about crowded conditions, no amazement as to God’s presence, no surprise as to God’s providing gas, wheels, repairs, towing or protection.

Yes, they were twelve hours late according to human plans, but their faith and trust in a God who brought His will and His timing to pass, was clearly on time and up to date!

And I was there to teach them?

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