News from Uzbekistan – Day 3

TASHKENT TO SAMARKAND AND BACK AGAIN

This morning we were picked up at 7:30am with our passports and rail tickets to go to the railway station. There were six of us; the four who came from Seoul and one of the women who interpreted from Korean to Russian, and one of the family leaders from Kazakhstan, who has known Jin Young Kim from when he was working here. He as been with us all along and is a terrific bloke. He has a prophetic focus and has contributed some very sharp images and messages as we have weaved our way through the various meetings. He also has a great sense of humour and we are able to crack jokes about each other and have a good laugh.

We took the fast train from Tashkent. It is one of those trains that gets up to 230 kph. The 300 km journey takes just two hours. Its a bit like a plane journey with people coming and bringing snacks and drinks. And all for around $25 return journey. The countryside was pretty flat for most of the way and there were just a few spots where the train had to wind back the speedometer and negotiate a few curves and hills. It reminded me of the Russian plains that you see in Dr. Zhivago. There were different kinds of farms with black soil and houses that all looked exactly the same.

We were greeted by some more wonderful family members when we arrived. They took as for a look at a very spectacular Islamic Madrasah called Registar Square. It was built during the fifteenth century and is truly spectacular with its huge buildings and amazing mosaic work. You can check it out on the web if you are interested. Samarkand was pretty much the central location of a bunch of roads that joined to the famous Silk Road, from the Middle East to China and Asia. It is significant to the work of our “family” as it forms part of the “back to Jerusalem” challenge.

We met up with another bunch of family leaders here. We had a Samarkand traditional lunch – a dish called Borsht. It is a meat and rice dish but has a combination of meats including horse meat and quail. From our point of view that doesn’t sound like much of a combination. But it tasked good. I wish I could show you a video of the local family leader rolling the meat and rice in his hand and eating it. Everyone was impressed. We were also told to pick up the quail and eat with our hands, so that simplified the matter somewhat.

The meeting with senior family members heard stories of great hardship and struggle. Much more in this part of the country than where we have been staying. The pressure doesn’t come from the laws but from the conservative community members. They are amazing people to keep overcoming all struggles that confront them. And they are happy people who know how to stay focused and encourage one another. We told some of our stories as well and then we were able to share blessings on one another before we left to catch the train back to Tashkent. We all slept for more or less of the journey.

When we returned to Tashkent we walked to a Korean restaurant where we ate the evening meal with members of the family here. They just love being together with us and we love being together with them. The agenda is being together, sharing our hearts and our jokes. It just goes from one story to another until we are pressed by time to leave.

In this case we are facing a five o’clock start as we head out for the border crossing and the drive to Shymkent – about 130 kilometres away. We will be there meeting other family members over the next three days.

The photo of Andrea carrying the blue bag is funny. It is an Australian wollies cooler back with a zip top. We have been using it to haul our money around since 1 USD equals around 2500 Uzbekistani Som. There are always a lot of notes to count for every transaction.

 

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