RUSSIA UPDATE: I WILL TEACH THE WEEK VIA SKYPE.
"You must go to South-Africa and apply in person there." Good bye.
I will share the good news first. Today is Friday. I got in at 4:30am this morning. I drove to the train station twice on Wednesday. While I was driving the first time in the morning to buy my ticket for the evening train, I had an entire conversation going on in my head.
First a scripture popped into my head. Prov16:9 "A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps," and then "you planned to go on the train because it was from Me." From what was going on in my mind, I understood that I would be sitting with someone with who I was to share the Good News.
I also felt that I had to take my small travel bible to give to this person, which in the end I forgot to pack. What a bummer. I feel sad writing this point, because even on my second trip to the train station, the same thoughts came to me again. God was preparing me to be on the alert!
I boarded the train and soon a man came to sit in the seat opposite to me. He did not talk in the beginning, but then I heard his accent while he spoke on the phone. The conversation with myself this time, went something like this: "He sounds like he is speaking my tongue when I pray! I cannot believe what I am hearing!" I thought: "It sounds like Arabic but it is not. It sounds like Farsi, but it is not. I must ask him!" I then wondered if he was Muslim and if that was the reason God told me about the person I was to encounter.
It took about an hour after the train jerked away for me to talk to him. Our phones stopped working because of the mountains and tunnels. I asked him: "Where are you from?" His reply: "Israel" Oh, ok. I just smiled. Inside of me it was different of course. Another set of silence passed, and then we started talking about.... I cannot remember.
What I remember is that we did not exchanged names for hours and that came about in a funny way. What also surprised me is that he did not ask me what I was doing in Thailand until the next morning. He was obviously not into the normal small talk. That was actually very refreshing. No visa talk. No work talk. We did talked about food because soon after the train rolled its wheels, the "chef" came and gave menus. I passed. He passed. It was when those who ordered their food received their meals, that the man said: "I cannot understand how people can eat so early."
The man said, while pointing to his watch "It is only 7pm. Who goes to bed at 7pm? I laughed (and even if you don't know me very well, you will know this fact that Sarah goes to bed between 7-8!) I said: "I do!!" We both laughed. The man blurted something about joining him in the train restaurant later but I ignored that for quite a few reasons.
Right after that, the lady who came by to set up the beds for us to sleep in, pitched up. I was on the top tear.
I climbed on and then realised the man left us. I suddenly felt God prompting me quite strong to go and eat with the guy. I never do things like this, but I knew if I did not do it, it would be wrong to go to sleep.
I sat down (as if I have know him for years) and we ordered food. He made a joke, looking for common ground in a very friendly and well mannered way.
He said something about why one should not marry woman and marriage is only for you know what. The straight shooter that I am, blurted out without thinking two times about tone or manner, said: "I do not agree with you" "Marriage is sacred and not for sex, it is a byproduct of covenant. People should not divorce. Our generation is misusing God's grace."
His eyes nearly popped out. Because I knew he was a Jew, I had ample ground to stand on. He of course, is also from super hot culture, and it was such a refreshing conversation, yelling at each other over the table. The window in the "restaurant" was open and we could barely hear each other. He seemed a soft spoken man by nature, so don't get me wrong but we gunned for it in hot super direct culture. Yes, in Israel and South Africa, hot + direct goes together!
I told him early in the conversation when he mentioned something about drinking that I have never been drunk and that I have never slept with a man. He said "You are Mother Theresa" To which I ofcourse said... no! I am not.
Then I told him the miracle that happened with my mom when God pitched up through a radio broadcast (in an area where there was no radio reception) and the words that came out of the radio was Dr. James Dobson on Radio Pulpit: "Never leave your children with the legacy of divorce"
I sensed that what I was saying, was refreshing to him. He said: "You are correct, our generation lost it all" Then our conversation lead from "what do you live for?, to, how as a Non-Messianic Jew do you attain salvation?, which of course lead to... Jesus from my part. I wanted to give an illustration using his name about something and that is when I blurted out - hey! I don't even know your name! We both laughed. It was wonderful to have a difficult conversation with a mature and also well traveled person. We also talked about getting sick in India but we both agreed it is a place to visit at least once, regardless.
The restaurant closed and we had to stop talking because the chef came round telling us to leave. But I will not forget... In the middle of our conversation, I said something good about Israel that completely took the wind out of his sails. He said: "Tonight when you are sleeping I will want to wake you up to ask you more questions!"
We made small talk in the morning. Enough food for thought was shared the previous evening. I regret not bringing my small little grey bible to give to him because I know that I know, God is pursuing him.
Back to reality: THE BAD NEWS.
From the information I gathered, I knew that as a South African passport holder, 1. I had to reply in person, 2. that I had to have a one year visa for Thailand, 3. and have the invitation letter I told you about in my previous news. I was all set.
I made it to the Russian embassy. The lady asked me if I could stay for one year in Thailand without leaving. I said: "I have a one year visa but I have to do border run every 3 months and I will be on my way to South-Africa in April." Again she asks, quite firm now. "Can you stay in Thailand for one year without leaving?" No, I replied.
"You must go to South Africa and apply in person" Good bye.
She slid my document back to me from under the glass that separated us... And I turned around and left the embassy. On the way back to to train station, I was wondering why the person, who granted me a letter of invitation, for R1200, did not, in our many emails to one another, asked me about my visa.
THE SAD NEWS OBVIOUSLY IS...
I will not be teaching in Russia. The team will have to make a plan with another speaker on this topic.
Yet... Some good news somewhere in between is. ... the fact that I was invited on this topic, and compiled a good resource to teach from. I will post it to them so that, just in case it become one of hose horrible DTS scenarios where you invite a speaker on such a topic (that need lots of pre-preparation) and the speaker cancels last minute, that they are not completely without notes and practical applications.
I feel so many mixed emotion as I wait for my train.
- Positive - I made a resource that took intense time to create. I feel I can teach on this topic now where as before, it was quite intimidating. I was actually so excited!!
- Negative - how much did I lose on my ticket? I hope they can refund me.
- Positive - I got to share with a Jew about Jesus the Messiah... This is such a positive for me that it out weighs all the negatives at this moment.
- Negative - I feel sad I have to email the team in Russia. They are still in pioneering phase. I was going with the hope to help them on anything they needed.
- Positive - life continues, mistakes can be corrected, and seeing that I am visiting South Africa soon & more often, I might just make it next time.
Few more pics I took on the train. I will strongly consider doing this train ride again. It takes 16 hours but is way cheaper than flying and so relaxing!