We slowly chug into the last stop into Zahoney, Hungary's eastern frontier city on the Tissa River which is the border between Hungary and Ukraine. I'm waiting for the conductor to come and help me make the quick switch to the other train. I try to open the door to the outside. He's not there, so I try to open to door into the darkness outside The door won't budge. All the people (and there weren't many) have gone out the other end of the car. The conductor is nowhere in sight. I'm going to have to get out of the train all by myself and frantically haul all my things in two loads to the other end of the train car. I get them down onto the darkened platform where I see an older railroad worker. I speak to him in Russian and ask where the train to Chop, Ukraine is. He helpfully tells me to go all down all the length of the train, cross the tracks to the left and the train should be there. He was the first Hungarian who gave me clear instruction and told me exactly where to go. After I reached the end of the train and looked to the left there it was! The train to Ukraine! A Hungarian border patrol was in front of the train and asked for my passport. He passed it on to another official. They stamped it and I got on the train that I should have been all along. It was a deluxe InterCity express with nice white head covers on the seats which I should have been on. Instead I was on the slower train for the locals that was dirty, but I enjoyed being the local crowd and my conversations with Renata and Melinda who helped me get to the right place was pleasant.
After getting on the train it began to move in three minutes and started crossing the Tissa River bridge into the darkness of Ukraine. I had barely made it and thanked God for doing so. I have been up almost two days and it would have been a nightmare to be left behind in Hungary and try to figure out how to get across and then connecting with Ivan Yurishko who I knew would have been waiting a long time. This connection had always been problematic. The one time in all my train connections from Hungary to Ukraine in 13 years of travel on this route went it went smoothly was last summer when Bev and I had Katherine and Kassie with us.
The rail yard of Chop appears in about ten minutes and we get off. Only one train car is on the train now. I never sat down and guard my four items in the doorway. All the people get up and stampede over me and off the train. I'm the last one off and walk into the dark waiting room to go through passport control and customs. The room has had little improvement since Soviet times. Bev and I have gone through this years ago and there has been nothing done to make it look more welcome. Tiny little forms are handed to us to fill out with tiny little type that is virtually unreadable in the dark. I find a muted light in one part of the hall and fill it out and sail through passport control. I then come to the customs table. Here they take great interest in me as roll my wheelchair by. I see Ivan waiting in the doorway.
The large customs lady asks me who the wheelchair is for. I tell her that I have no one in particular, but will make it available for someone needing it. She tells me I have to have someone in particular. I guess she was worried I was going to sell it. They are always worried that you are going to make a profit. I explained to her that I was a pastor and that we had an affiliate of LifeNets in Ukraine since 1999 and that we distributed our aid that way. That satisfied her. She asked if I had anything else. I pulled out the bag with 70 pairs of reading glasses, most of which were given to me by Jane Pacelli in the Lafayette Church a few weeks ago. She got them on sale at Target for 50 cents apiece. The customs official took one pair out. I told her to try the plus 1.25 size on. She did and smiled. I told her to keep the pair. I even picked out a more stylish looking pair for her that I said made her look chic. She thought that was cool and waved me on through to Ivan Yurishko and his two sons were waiting for me.
Hugs for Ivan and his sons Ivan Jr. and Vladik. A beggar was asking for my used train ticket. I guess they fix them up to look new again and re-use them. We kept on walking to Ivan's new van. I was so glad to make it!
We were going to stop and visit Vasyl Polichko, but it was 9:30 PM and we thought best to come tomorrow, Friday, but I did talk to pastor Polichko on Ivan's cell phone.
We drove a little about an hour and a half back to Khust catching up on all the things that have been hanging since last summer. I wanted to know about printed literature and other things. We had lots of talk about relationships and family as well as our projects to help people. We stopped by Ivan's office at his place of business called Sturmer which sells copiers and also provides printing services for the people of Khust. I called him the "Kinko's of Ukraine." I was able to see the literature that was printed for us. 3000 copies each of lessons one through four of the Bible Study Course and 1000 copies of the Swedish booklet Road to Eternal Life. I had not seen the Swedish booklet yet and it was a joy to see it finished. I can't wait to get it up to Paul and Kira Spenser in Sweden.
We arrived to Ivan's house shortly after 11 PM. Nina got up and, of course, it was time for dinner. It's always time for dinner no matter how late is. Their little two month old baby Serhiy was asleep. I gave her the gifts from Bev and Katherine. She loved the little blanket that had Serhiy's name stitched on it by Susan Durnil. She said she would not use it, but save it for him special so that he could remember us when he grew up.
Before turning in little Serhiy was making noises and Nina brought him down and showed him to us.
After midnight I was completely exhausted and slept through till 9:30 am on Friday morning. Our plan is to go to see pastor Vasyl Polichko and his wife Irina at noon.
Crossing into Ukraine
Friday, January 12, 2007