Saturday I was returning to Karaganda after spending most of the day in Astana. I had met a group of believers from Hungary who are looking at sending missionaries to K’stan. After a good visit and an equally good lunch, I said my goodbyes.
Before going to the bus station I stopped at the Ramstore in Astana. It does not have the selection of American products that the Ramstore in Almaty does, but I was out of salsa so I bought a couple of jars. Praise the Lord I stopped since I had been looking for cumin as well, and they had lots, so I was able to stock up. While I was there I purchased a Time magazine in English.
After purchasing my bus ticket I had to wait about 20 minutes before the bus would begin loading. I had never noticed that there were assigned seats on the bus before. But I quickly found out as I was sitting in someone’s place and had to go find my seat. Fortunately, no one was sitting in my seat and so I sat down. Right before the bus was to take off, a young man asked if the seat next to me was free and he sat down.
We never really spoke and I wasn’t looking for conversation after my last incident on the bus. So I took out my Time magazine and began reading and quickly dozed off. After a short nap, I woke up and since there was still some daylight, I began reading again. However, soon the sun set and I could no longer read.
After a few minutes of sitting there, the young man asked me a question in English. I didn’t understand the question so I asked him in Russian to repeat the question. He asked me again if it was getting too dark to read. I answered, yes, in English this time.
So began our conversation. We sat for the rest of the trip, which was about 1 1/2 hours, and spoke in English. He asked where I was from. That is always the first question when they find out I am from America. I answered that I live near Dallas. I always tell people this since they never know where Fort Worth or Wichita Falls is. He then asked me if I lived in Fort Worth. I was in shock. No one has ever said that.
So, of course, I had to ask him how he knew about Fort Worth. He shared with me that almost 2 summers ago, he lived in Denton County and worked at Camp Summit. (Does anyone know of this place or been there?) He worked as a counselor with physically challenged people of all ages.
I had lots more questions for him and we sat and talked about life. He now works for a joint venture in western Kazakhstan for an oil company. He works one month there and then has a month off, so he was traveling home to a city about 500 km from Karaganda. It is in the middle of the steep and there is no direct route from his hometown to where he works, so it takes about 3 days of traveling to go between the two places.
Towards the end of our conversation, I tried to turn it to a more spiritual nature. I told him that I do not believe in chance meetings, that God ordains and works things out and that it was predestined for us to meet on the bus. Here was a bus full of people, the bus was almost full and he chose to sit by me, probably the only other English speaker, and certainly the only native English speaker!
What were the “chances” for us to meet in a situation like that? I had tried to get on the 5:30 p.m. bus but it was already full and had to take a seat in the 6 p.m. bus. I had sat in another seat and had to get up to let someone have the seat I was in. Several others came on the bus after I sat down, but no one sat in the seat next to me. Only when it was almost time to leave, did he come and sit by me.
We exchanged mobile phone numbers and e-mail addresses. I invited him to lunch or dinner when he comes back through Karaganda to go back to work in a few weeks. I don’t know where this will lead, however, I believe in a God that does. Pray for Alibek and for me that God will give us another “chance” at meeting and discussing God’s eternal love for him.