Friday, April 1, 2011

Train Ride

Yesterday we picked up our paperwork and then were driven to the train station by our drivers.  They wanted McDonalds', so we had McDonalds also.....   tastes about the same.  A couple differences: they had "country fries" which looked like steakouse fries in America.  Difference number 2, they had curry sauce for the chicken nuggets.

We were bundled into the train (first class) and away we went.  We will be met at our seat by our facilitators in the new city. 

We have had very good care taken of us by our facilitators.  We could not have done this without them.  We are more or less completely helpless.  We do not speak more than a handful of words in the native tongue.  Some people speak English, but they are a minority.  While we can spell out words and occasionally recognize a word or few - that only goes so far because we have to sound words out a letter at a time - like a kindergartner learning to read.  The German and Spanish and Latin I know are essentially useless here also.  We don't understand the language, we stick out like Americans regardless of where we go or what we do, we don't understand the culture, and we are a long way from home.  If we have the internet, we can mind things well enough and have things translated.  On our own - I feel like an infant.  It is an extremely humbling experience. 

Our church has a large population of refugees from Burundi.  This trip has been eye-opening for me - we have traveled to a country that is still part of "The West".  People have computers and iPads and MP3 players.  People have cars and planes and trains. Technology-wise, the gulf between home and here is not large.  This culture has enough pop icons and music from our own.  We even know some of the language and can read (albeit slowly).  All in all, the differences between home and here are not great and it still feels very alien to us.  Our refugee friends have had to make a far, far bigger jump.  I have far more empathy for these refugees now that I am experiencing a small part of their culture shock.

I find myself sincerely envious of their rail system and found myself wishing America had a good rail system.  Amtrak does not count in any significant way - their rail system is more comparable to our interstate highway system.  The trains are electric, so that allows centralized emission control.  It is nice to be able to sit or sleep instead of forcing myself to stay away for 14 hours to get from A to B (especially when we are already tired and unfamiliar with the countryside. 

We spent our time before going to sleep working on baby names.


  1. Just a quick piece of advice... Get those baby names ready because you'll be asked spur of the moment when you least expect it and required to make an immediate decision, whether you're ready or not... I've seen it happen several times :) Praying for you guys!

  2. Yes, we needed them as soon as we got off the train. Fortunately we had reached a decision before we got off the train.