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IMG_4070There are certain places I visit where I feel comfortable, especially countries where English is spoken. I am generally happy in locations I have visited previously, given the need to find my way around without too much difficulty. Vienna is a good example. I know very few words in German, but when stepping off the plane in Vienna it is simple to locate the train to the city centre, purchase a ticket, and even navigate the Vienna Metro system. Visits to France pose few difficulties because of my familiarity with the French language, even if I am nowhere near as fluent as I used to be.

This year I have faced a different challenge: The Cyrillic alphabet and business trips to Kiev and Moscow, where very little English is spoken. I read on the Internet that it only takes about an hour to learn the Cyrillic alphabet and that doing so makes getting around in places like Ukraine and Russia a breeze. I duly spent an hour and more doing my best to learn strange letters while remembering that some Cyrillic letters that look the same as those in the Roman alphabet are completely different. It was hard going and I guess I managed to learn about half the letters, almost all of which I have forgotten already, although I can still recognise certain words.

P1020814Wondering around Moscow one evening I made every effort not to get lost. I planned my route and I used the GPS on my phone, but even the mapping programme on my phone used the Cyrillic script! It was a huge relief when I finally found a signpost in Russian and English. It was an even bigger relief when I finally made it back to my hotel having walked five miles. Moscow definitely did not feel like home! I guess that is because Moscow isn’t home, but then neither is the small English town where I have lived for the last thirty-four years, or any of the places I lived prior to getting married. Nowhere on this planet can ever be home, because I don’t belong here. In the words of Larry Norman from back in 1973: “I’m only visiting this planet.
 This world is not my home
, I’m just passing through.”

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:9-12 NASB)

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