Our trips to Russia were somewhat arduous.

After a 13 ½-hour trip from Kennedy International in New York City to Moscow, we had before us a 17-hour train ride. We rode the train because we didn’t trust Aeroflot.

On my first trip to Russia, I was jet-lagged and culture shocked. During the flight, I read all three of the magazines I had brought from home. When we boarded the train, I noticed newspapers and magazines in the little compartment, but was sorely disappointed when I found they were (of course) all in Russian. I learned there was some similarity of Russian to Greek, since they’re both inflected languages, but there were many things that were dissimilar, so I contented myself with looking at the pictures.

After we arrived at our destination, one of the women of the church prepared a very sumptuous feast for us composed of several courses of meat. Anyone who has been to Russia knows meat is very expensive and that most people only have it once a week. This good woman sacrificed nearly a month of her meat supply just to feed us. It was an enormous gift worthy of great respect.

If a person is somewhat overweight, Russians assume that one is “a big eater” and will want a larger portion. Since I carry around a few pounds more than my fellow laborers in the kingdom, it was taken for granted I would eat more. But when our hostess came around with a fish plate (that smelled quite strongly) I was so jet-lagged I felt I would throw up any minute. I couldn’t eat it. I hoped she wasn’t offended.

A subsequent trip wasn’t as traumatic. I carried more magazines and books and wasn’t even the tiniest bit sick when we arrived.

I still fly on occasion. I flew back to Tennessee in early April for my mother’s funeral. I plan to fly to Oklahoma City in July for a lectureship. Except for the security nonsense at check-in, it is still a pleasant way to go anywhere.