After a week of walking across the sandy/rocky parking lot, down sandy/rocky paths to catch a mini-van or purchase some groceries, I was longing for smooth sidewalks. The sand got in my shoes. The rocks hurt the bottoms of my feet.
This was complicated by the cultural expectation for people to be wearing shoes that look nice when hiking boots with steel toes would be more effective. (Mark polishes his shoes every time he goes out so they’ll look appropriately good.)
The uneven path required constant attention. This made seeing what was around me rather impossible. If I didn’t stop to look around, I missed everything but the rocks and sand. Having my camera in hand gave a more legit excuse to pause and take in the sights. Whew. Did I mention the rocks?
Funny thing is, I LOVE rocks (as many of you know) — but I was about to end my admiration after just a week of walking about in Ulan Ude.
I know this sounds a bit like whining. Fine, it is. And let it be clearly understood that I would go again and endure again — sand and rocks are not a deal breaker.
So why, a week later with my feet all happy once again, am I blogging about uneven paths? I suppose my most obvious reason is to say that this is one of the things I find myself praying about these days. As I walked on smooth sidewalks from the paved parking lot where I parked my Jeep at church on Sunday, I prayed that God would keep Mark and Charlene safe as they navigate those uneven paths of sand and stones as they move from place to place.
I prayed, too, that they would be filled with strength and grace to not let this physical reality inappropriately distract them from knowing the joy of walking with Christ. One of the challenges of living (amplified in living cross culturally, I think) is not being distracted by the stuff around the edges.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity I had to walk a few miles with them in Ulan Ude so I can be more diligent and motivated in my walking with them through prayer.