"Please discontinue the use of all electronic devices..."
Those are the eight words that every hardcore business traveler hates to hear. You just boarded the plane after a long day(s) on the road and thousands of thoughts pop into your mind, all of them turning into tiny little to-dos on your growing list of responsibilities. But not only does the flight attendant tell you to "Please discontinue the use of all electronic devices," but he/she then goes on to list every possible electronic device you might have: laptops, cellphones, iPods, iPhones, Blackberries, pagers, headphones, gaming devices, pacemakers (okay, I have never heard that one but I wouldn't be surprised). Rattling off this laundry list of electronic umbilical cords just heightens the anxiety around disconnecting for a period of time, even if it is just until we reach an altitude of 10,000 feet.
Yet strangely, one of the things I am most excited about this trip involves hearing those eight words loud and clear. What usually would fill me with anxiety and nervous twitching is instead creating a sense of anticipation and hope. A wise and dear friend reminded me today that "it's only when you truly disconnect that you are able to fully reconnect." Sage words that ring true as we begin our journey. This trip is a chance to fully reconnect on so many levels: reconnect with our families; reconnect with friends old and new; and reconnect with God in ways that are personal, authentic and new.
It's the promise of reconnection - and what will happen in the process - that has me so excited to "discontinue the use of all electronic devices." That means no email, no voice mail, no surfing the internet, no Facebook, no nuttin'. Yes, this may sound hypocritical coming from the person who has agreed to blog on behalf of the group! So to keep my commitment, I have borrowed a computer from a friend (thanks to Lenevo for making the x300 so light and small!) and will only have internet access, when available, and a Word processor. No temptation to check email on my own machine, no using the flight time to get caught up on work, no wasting time seeing who had what for breakfast on Twitter. Truly going into the wilderness, at least from a technology standpoint. Liberating...and a little scary...
Speaking of flights, the journey we are taking is no easy travel task. We truly will be experiencing planes, trains and automobiles (in the form of a bus!).
The Journey to Russia - Planes, Trains and Buses
The process will start on Saturday as we gather at RDU for our early afternoon departure. After a short flight to JFK, we will be on our way to Moscow. The flight leaves in the early evening in New York and we arrive at 10:10 a.m. in Russia. Moscow is seven hours ahead of us, so it will feel like 3:10 a.m. EDT. After clearing customs, we will spend the day in Moscow, getting our bearings and being tourists. Our sojourn will likely include a visit to Red Square, Saint Basil's Cathedral and maybe even a visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Christ the Risen Savior Church. We won't have long as our overnight train to Kirov leaves around 6:00 p.m. local time.
About 12 hours later (hopefully with some sleep behind us), we will arrive in Kirov. No rest for the weary as we will quickly have breakfast and begin our shopping for the last bit of supplies for the orphanage. We will then board a bus for the 40+ minute ride from Kirov to Slobodskoi (or Slobodkoy, depending on how you like to spell it). It's at that point that we will finally get to our hotel and be able to shower...just about 40 hours after we leave RDU. After a quick shower and a little relaxation, we will get to the orphanage at 5:00 p.m. local time for our first meeting with the staff and kids. As tired as we might feel physically, there is no doubt that we will be wide awake and energetic as we meet our new friends.
So that's the travel plan, give or take a few details :-) It's amazing to think of all the hard work and effort put in by our team to get us to this point. The running around on last minute errands is almost done, the bags are almost packed. All we need now is to hear those familiar words, "Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking....welcome aboard." Although we are keenly aware that the Captain of all Captains has been in command of our flight...and our plans...from the very beginning.
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