Friday, March 28, 2008

comfortable

God is so good. There have been a few days that are just . . . days. Ya know? But then there are days when I'm just overwhelmed with how good God is and how blessed I am. I had those moments last year a lot. I've had a few already on this trip.

I missed my train yesterday. It didn't bother me too bad because I actually had reserved my hotel room for the extra night in the beginning and the lady at the train station had mentioned to me that I could use my train ticket anytime, not just the time that was shown. So...I had contingencies in place without even trying really.

And then today, of course I made the train this time. When I asked about where to get on the train, the attendant simply said, "platform 5". Ok...that much was easy enough. I found Platform 5 but there was no one directing traffic. My ticket didn't have a seat number or even a car number. There weren't many people on the train so I just went in and found a 6 seat compartment and made myself comfortable. I didn't have to check my backpack or anything...there was plenty of room in my compartment for it.

After about an hour, the train stopped at the FYROM Border (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). Fortunately I had read already in one of my guidebooks that my passport would be taken and I could retrieve it by following the crowd at the border. Which I did. No problem.

We arrived in Skopje about 2 hours earlier than I thought we would. I was still in my compartment completely engrossed in a John Grisham novel when we arrived. I was probably the last person off the train because I didn't realize we were there already. I had to ask someone if we were there. They laughed at me!

I got off the train and made it to the street. I said a quick prayer and approached the 2nd cab driver I saw and told him I was looking for an inexpensive hotel. He got some translation help from a waitress that was working a nearby sidewalk cafe and then told me to hop in his car and off we went.

So here I am. At the Hotel Kapestic or something like that. It's a little pricier than I wanted (about like staying at a hotel in Wiggins or something). It's comfortable and quiet and has several English channels on the tv and it has wireless internet. It's within walking distance of a couple of restaurants- I got a pretty sorry hamburger and fries with mayanaise and ketchup. What's up with that?

And so I had these thoughts: Who am I? Who gets to do this stuff? I got off the train and felt like I was imbued with 9/10ths peace that passes understanding and 1/10th just don't really care. I was pretty much completely at-ease doing all this crazy traveling. Last year, arriving at the new places was one of the most stressful situations that I experienced. I guess it's different when you feel responsible for a bunch of other people... when you know they're looking to you to know what you're doing. On this trip I don't know what I'm doing and it really doesn't matter. If I screw up, I just backtrack. Worst case is I find a dark place and unfurl the sleeping bag.

Tomorrow my taxi driver is coming back to pick me up and take me to the train/bus station. I don't think there'll be any problem getting to Pristina and Peja. I have contacts waiting for me there and I'll get to go to church (presumably English speaking) on Sunday. I'm excited about that. I can already see a lot more English language/western influence here in Macedonia...the result of thousands of NATO peacekeepers that have been here for several years. That's good and bad I suppose. Makes like easier for me but they are not without their warts. Google it. Their presence in this part of the world was/is major fuel for the sex trafficking that's so prevalent in this region.

4 comments:

Janet T said...

Hi Clinton, hope all is going well with you and that your sore back and infected finger are improving. You mentioned them on facebook but didn't give any details (no fair, by the way!), so how did you hurt your back and finger, and are they getting better yet? I looked at your latest pictures today, I just can't get over all the amazing things you are getting to see and experience. Thanks, Clinton, for sharing all of this through your words and pictures, it's the next best thing to being there yourself! Seriously, your travels this past year or so have made each place you have traveled through more "real" in a way. I don't really know how to explain it, but I have a greater interest in what is happening in these places now than I used to. I guess maybe hearing about the places and the people that live there from someone close to you (who has actually been there) gives you a feeling of connection to that place somehow. And caring more is always a good thing, right? Anyways, I love you as always, am praying for you every day, and can hardly wait to hear more about your journey! Take care, get well soon (and stay that way!), stay safe, and have fun, love always, janet

Hairston Family said...

Clinton,

Hi from Reagan. We got the postcard from your Dad along with a nice note. Cool picture - is that the Parthenon? The address problem is you have the street as Remington. The correct street name is Victoria Circle. Everything else is OK. :)

We miss you.

Reagan

Hairston Family said...

Clinton, Hairston here. We had a banquet last night at BVBC in support of the new sanctuary. It was a very nice catered event. Dessert was not as good as your huge chocolate egg looked, but it was decent bread pudding. The good news is the pledges are up to 624K. Put that with the 1MM already raised and we're over the half-way mark. Hope we have all the money before you get home - we may be digging around in the dirt. God is good!

Looking forward to following your posts now that we know where you are.

Hopefully my heathen kids will also keep up with you.

Running out of room - will continue..........

Hairston Family said...

Continued.........

I'm certainly envious of the places you are able to see, Clinton. I badly want to see, for my family to see, the ancient places where Paul first established the Church. Also want to see the old holy sites in Israel and surrounding areas. The teens are not quite old enough for me to be comfortable in a bad situation there, so will wait a few years to make the trek. Another option is to take a group of men from BVBC in a couple of years - then bring the womenfolk and teenagers if we can keep them safe.

Would be so cool to meet you there.

It was wonderful, and encouraging, to hear from you via your Dad today.

Keep your chin up, but head down, if the bullets start flying over there.

God be with you, and those who give you shelter.

Warmest regards - Hairston