Friday, July 15, 2011

My Near Death Cycling + Uzbekistan Family Experience

This picture was towards the end of my cycling experience today with my dear friend R. We started out the cycling on our bicycles, going down the roads of his part of the city of Perm. Where he lives is a bit more easy-going and pedestrian friendly than the city centre I have been living in. I told him I didn't want to die today, thinking that it would just be hard for me to cycle for a long period of time. That wasn't really the hard part. We did bike for 3 hours, and ended up going for about 18.8 km (11.75 miles) in all. But the course we took was grueling and advanced for someone who has never seriously mountain-biked before. R told me he was impressed that I made it through, and I was too, to be honest. The hardest parts were the 3 times I ended up crashing because of ditches or pits or big hills that I couldn't get down or get back up. I crashed into trees, bushes, and gravel. Ouch!

It was really incredible though. It's an experience I will never forget. Think of zooming in and out of tall forest trees, the smell of pine thick and strong all around you, beautiful wildflowers boldly displaying their bright colors as you pass by, the Kama river glistening in the sunshine on your left over the cliffs and hills as you try not to look so long to where you drive yourself off the path to the beach below. Some of the paths for our bicycles were so narrow, and I was being hit with trees and branches and leaves on both sides. There was one part at the end of our cycling route where we went at "high speeds" as R called it, and everything whipped past in a blur- the trees, the damp ground, the nature all encompassing around us. It was majestic. I felt such peace as the cool Russian air was hitting my face and my skin, and I was in awe. Awe of God's beautiful creation, awe of his strong directing and guiding hand, awe of how he has brought R and I together in this world, an Uzbekistan-heritaged Russian boy, and a Fort Worth, Texas girl. By divine providence alone he has allowed me to share my life with him, and I am beyond thankful for the opportunity.

The ride wasn't the only great part though. I was beat tired afterward, and as the Perm city was shutting off their water this evening, I was offered a shower at R's apartment. This might have been weird or awkward, but I thought that I'd rather shower and be clean than smell and be dirty as I was for the next two days until they turn the city's water back on. We cleaned up and were cooked some amazing Uzbekistan food. His mother made us a plethora of amazing dishes, including plov, winter salad, and a homemade pie with sweet milky custard in the middle. Not to mention some of the best tasting coffee I've ever had. She kept showering me with food and gifts, giving me a Russian dancer ornament (knowing I was a dancer) and also giving me a beautiful handmade kitchen towel with a matreshka woman on it, telling me to give it to my mother when I got back to Texas. It was one of the kindest, most hospitable places I've ever been. I was thankful beyond words, and the food was the best meal I've had in Perm!

I've been reading through Acts while in Perm this summer, and the things I have read and been learning have been so good for me. Thank God for his examples through the apostles for their boldness and urgency and passion to fulfill the call and to tell people about the wonderful love of Jesus and of his resurrection and salvation for all who believe!

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