I boarded my plane in Moscow, headed for Orenberg at 18:30. Our plane was hot but we were to leave soon and the cabin always cools off once in the air. The woman sitting next to me obviously couldn’t tell if I was Russian or something else. I think she noticed my mesh sneakers and continued to look at me periodically as if she were changing her mind every time. I never said anything until the end of the flight so it’s possible I was her sole entertainment for the flight. I wondered what she finally decided before she heard my speak. She had plenty of time to guess; however, because our flight was delayed around 2 hours. Their was no reason for it and the steward was having an impassioned discussion with another customer who didn’t like the fact that their was no reason. Nonetheless, we waited, and the cabin got hotter with us in it. I had not had enough to drink and was seriously afraid of losing consciousness as I was sleep deprived but not sleepy and the heat was becoming so unbearable that I was losing my ability to hear and see. I just kept quietly pinching myself every so often to make it until we left the terminal.
AT LAST, we backed out and took off, once again behind schedule. We did make up some time on the way which was nice and I had finally made it to Orenberg, “fortress near the Or.” I walked from the plane to the main gate where family, friends, and drivers were waiting. Because of my continuous delays, I was never able to finally confirm a pick-up from the Mission which I wanted to do, but I was sure I would be alright and if at worst no one was there to see me, I remembered the address of the missionaries (luckily). After aimlessly searching the crowd a few times over a man got in my way and stared at me, so I stared back. After a couple moments… it was Peter, one of the German missionaries. He was very enjoyable company and extremely pleasant for having to wait an extra hour and a half for my plane to arrive. It was now 12:30am.
I found out that I was not to go to the house in the city at first. We were going directly to English camp which I was helping with which took probably over an hour to get to outside the city. The roads were rough but serene in the clear night sky and I was feeling good. When we arrived, most of the students attending the camp were still up playing games in a log commons/cafeteria room. I was immediately greeted by a friend from my college who happened to be helping with the camp as a mission trip with his home church (super small world, huh?). He introduced me to some students, but most of them introduced themselves. They had all, apparently, been anticipating my arrival and were ready to meet me….so I stayed up to talk with them.
I got a few hours of sleep and got up at 7am to get myself ready for the day and proceeded to go to the leaders meeting at 8:30. Peter and the American missionaries, Steve and Joanna Tinsley, had filled me in on a couple of things the night before, but most of the day, the week, and really even beyond that was still up in the air. I was ready to find out where I could fit in.