On Saturday we were able to book train tickets for Sunday to travel from Kyiv to Warsaw, Poland. The goal: receive “D” visas that begin the tedious process of temporary residency. I was actually looking forward to the trip because Jim and I would have HOURS together to read, to pray, to talk, to simply be together. No internet. Minimal phone reception. Typically when we take one of these adventures we purchase some food and drink for the train and enjoy our time in our 2-person coupe.
Jim called on his way back from the train ticket office to say that HOORAY we were able to book ourselves on the next day. BUT, [insert a long pause], there were no more coupes for just two people. So we were traveling with one extra person. Poor guy…he had hoped to have the couple to himself! We often travel in 4-person coupes (though preferably NOT on these 17-hour trips), but three ‘beds’ on one wall? Really? So much for time to ourselves. Adjust. Adjust. Adjust.
We boarded the train and our ‘new friend’ (NF) was already on board. He had his computer out on the one table and his very large suitcase was placed blocking the fold-down seat on the opposite wall. Oh, man. We looked up — waaay up — to see the top bunk and were quite relieved to see a real ladder to assist in the climb. We sat down at the foot of NF’s bed. He was content with his earplugs watching a movie. I fell asleep off and on leaning against the wall, and Jim attempted to get some work done on his computer. He went in search of an outlet, discovered none, began folding the cord to put it away, when our NF opened a cabinet and pointed out the plug outlet! Hooray! We thanked him in Russian AND Ukrainian, but he went back to his movie.
NF spread out his deluxe meal on the table and enjoyed eggs, sandwiches, coffee, whatever. As he was completing his meal, we reached up for our plastic shopping bag with our recently-purchased treats for the train. We weren’t exactly sure what the best plan for eating was — we certainly didn’t want to spill on NF’s bed! But, much to our surprise and delight, as he put his things away, he removed the computer as well, and offered us the table to use for our own meal. Sooo kind and sooo much easier for us.
Not that we had much of a spread: crackers, sliced ham, sliced cheese, DARK CHOCOLATE, bananas, and wine. NF left the coupe to have a smoke and we enjoyed the dinner hour at our table for two.
Afterwards, though, it was time for the dreaded bed-making. It’s not difficult to make them, but with three beds on one wall, once we lifted the back rest to create the third bunk and hung it in between the top and the bottom bunks, well…no one would be able to sit up for the rest of the trip. And where in the world to you attack the ladder to securely climb up, up and away?
Again, after many confused looks at the ladder and the third bed, our NF came to our rescue. He totally knew how to attach the bed AND how to use the ladder. Hooray! Thankful again for a knowledgeable traveler in our coupe!
I took the top bunk — you know, the one with the light at just about eye level — and Jim took the middle. And somehow our NF was able to sit on the edge of his bed and lean forward onto the table to be able to watch movies and play video games. Couldn’t be the most comfortable way to travel but he was at it for HOURS!
We were thankful to get some shut-eye before we hit the Ukraine-Poland border — scheduled for 1:30 a.m. and we would be there for two hours. So NOT looking forward to meeting the border patrol with an expired visa AND we had overstayed our permitted time in Ukraine by about a month.
We each prayed as we stretched out on our beds…Lord, please let us find favor with the guards.
Ah, the life of a missionary. Can be unnerving. Always surprising. Thankful to serve the One who is not at all surprised by our circumstances and the One who can calm our nerves AND has everything under His control. No worries.