Jalalabad - the one in Kyrgyzstan

Trip Start Sep 04, 2008
1
16
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Trip End May 19, 2009


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Flag of Kyrgyzstan  ,
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My childhood seemed to be filled with me asking my dad, "I've got good news and bad news, which do you want first?" His response was invariably "bad news first." So in honor of you dad, here's the bad news first.
 
Being in a country where no one speaks english really starts to drain you out... or maybe its eating nothing but bread and water for 3 days... or maybe both. Whatever the case, I'M TIRED! I'm really craving some New China, Chipotle, UDF, and good Home Cookin - does that make me homesick? I think it does. Plus, I miss all my brothas from anotha motha back home. I also miss the internet... I live on the internet, and its eating me alive to go for almost a week now without it. I can feel my extensive vocabulary slowly slip out of my mind as I speak in half english, making sure not to use any words over 2 syllables, so others can understand me. I have even caught myself making a "z" sound when zee word calls for zese letters - "th". Did I mention that I took an 11 HOUR DRIVE yesterday in an early 90's VW passat with 4 total strangers, and we had 2 flat tires? Did I mention that I get to take that same drive again tomorrow!!!
 
I'm sitting in my newly downgraded hotel room. Even though it only saved 20 dollars, I just couldn't get comfortable in the presidential suite with the 180 degree balcony, five piece sectional sofa, king size bed (in it's own room) and wardrobe twice the size of my closet in Westerville. Sure sounds comfortable doesn't it? There's something about visiting orphans all day that makes it kinda hard to live with yourself when you end the day in a hotel room like that.
 
But, now its time for the good news.
 
The 11 hour drive here was far and away the most gorgeous drive I have ever been on in my entire life. We started out in Krygyz flat land, and after making our way out of the city, we pulled a lefty 90 and went straight at a mountain range. We drove through the valleys, along a creek bed, until we were deep in the range, and then drove mountain switchback all the way to the top. As we descended the other side, I could see straight across another open plain with a small village, and a giant mountain range on the other side. We drove up and through the next range, which was packed with gorgeous mountain streams and snowcapped peaks. We eventually got to a large river through the mountain, which was dammed up for hydro-electric power, and on the other side was a large beautiful reservoir with a beautiful mountain backdrop. We eventually descended to the lush foothills of the mountain range, where fall was setting in, and trees were showing some color. PERFECT WEATHER the whole way.
 
Today I went door to door evangelizing through an apartment complex. Obviously I just stood their like a big tall awkward American idiot who didn't speak Russian and shoved a camera in your face, but I think many people were still very open and receptive to what we had to say. It seemed like most apartment doors were opened by kids who were done with school, but their parents were still at work... I just kept thinking to myself - I don't think I would be opening the door for everyone that knocks if I lived here.
 
After evangelism, we took a taxi about 15 minutes out of town to a rural kyrgyz town, where we spent the afternoon at an orphanage. I took pictures of an english lesson, and some sports ministry. The smaller children really warmed up to me after a few hours, and they loved posing for the camera so I could show them their picture. One little guy was munching on an apple, and when he came over to see his picture he smeared his apple on my lens... that wasn't to great, but I just swapped the UV filter off the zoom lens and kept shooting. (I should admit that I was stupid enough to use my lens cloth to try to wipe off sticky apple gooop - of course it made it infinitely worse.) I got some video of kids playing "extreme rock paper scissors" which was awesome. I got a picture of a cow in the middle of a basketball court with mountains in the background. Overall it was a truly incredible experience. It differed greatly from the urban orphanage in Kazakhstan, but one thing remained the same - the kids were all smiles when we showed up - relationship building really is a good strategy.
 
People here love music, which is awesome, because I love music. Everyone's blastin music from their car, phone, house, shop, or whatever. Alot of it is even in English... they just like the beat. Music you could dance to is far and away the most popular. Kind of a euro-madonna-justin timberlake-akon-timbaland-devo-daft punk-ace of base-spice girls sound (assuming your head is capable of blending all of that into an actual genre of music :-)
 
Anyways, despite the fact that I'm sick and tired, I'm having a great time.
 
Stephen.
 
P.S.
Mark Jackson bestowed upon me one simple tidbit of wisdom before I departed... and the minute I deviated from the path set forth by that wisdom, I came down with a stomach flu... the man obviously knew what he was talking about. So that you all can learn from my mistakes, I will pass his wisdom on to you.
 
Remember my important travel lesson called "The 3 rules of P."
-Peelable
-Packaged
-Piping Hot
 
...or don't eat it!
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