Posted by: ritagone | September 5, 2012

The Ambivalence of Travel


It happens every time I’m getting ready to travel:  I feel funny.  Physically, mentally, emotionally strange.  I notice little aches and pains that are not normally a part of my body.  I begin to wonder if this isn’t me coming down with something.  Will I be sick on the trip, or, worse yet, on the flight (or in the upcoming case, flights) to where I’m going?  I’ll let you in on my worst nightmare: getting on a plane and, in the confines of that metal tube hurtling through space, getting ill.  My second worst nightmare is getting sick abroad, being in some third-world country where the medical facilities are less than wholesome and having to describe my symptoms to a doctor (hopefully – as opposed to a custodian in what looks like a doctor’s uniform – and yes, I’ve seen that too!) who doesn’t speak my language and isn’t as well trained as my doctor back home.  Winding up in a hospital and being at the mercy of people I don’t know, helpless in the worst possible ways.

And the more I think about these things, the more my breathing gets shallow and my symptoms increase.  And I worry and fret that perhaps this trip isn’t such a good idea after all….

You see, this coming Sunday Michael and I are leaving for Russia.  Now, considering that I get woozy traveling by car to Newport Beach, you can imagine what my psyche does when contemplating a trip to Moscow!  Needless to say, I’m anxious.  I have anticipated everything that can go wrong, both with the plane, the pilot, the connections (one in Dulles, D.C., one in Frankfurt), the arrival (will someone pick us up when we get there, or will we wander around Domodedovo Airport in Moscow like Tom Hanks in “The Terminal”?). You know, secret information can be obtained from the enemy by threatening (or actually doing it) to pull out fingernails with pliers; we’ve all seen those spy movies where this is so, and thus it must be true.  For me, I’d talk if you just threatened to put me on a flight somewhere.

Where’s my faith?  Out the (plane) window.

Where’s my trust that God goes with you wherever you go?  I know those Bible verses; don’t bother quoting them to me.  But in my heart I know that Jesus is sitting in my comfy chair back home in Westlake Village waiting for my return, watching my television, reading my books, eating my M&M’s, while I’m wondering if I’m going to hyperventilate in the Coliseum.  Or the Hermitage.  Or in front of the Queen.  If I ever were in front of the Queen.

Every trip, I promise myself that this time it will be different.  I gird up my loins (no small undertaking), pray without ceasing weeks before the departure, and talk to myself in the mirror.  I guess I’m not listening.  Because every trip, it’s the same story: I wish I were staying home.  And my digestive system agrees.

Why in the world are we going to Moscow, you might be asking.  Well, we’re going to do a marriage retreat for 25 Russian couples and 10 single people who are venturing beyond their own comfort zones to come join us.  It’s getting more and more difficult for Christians to gather together in Russia, thanks to Mr. Putin’s idea that Christians “think too much” and are therefore dangerous when assembling in packs.  In fact, it was almost impossible to secure a conference center for the marriage retreat to take place, if not for the quick thinking and planning ahead of Sergey, our Russian colleague and pastor, who had signed a contract months ago as a back-up plan, you know, “just in case.”

And, strangely enough, that’s what’s enabling me to go.  Oh, there will be some wonderful sightseeing on the trip.  We’re going to spend a few days in St. Petersburg, one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  We’ll be in Moscow again, and Ryazan, and this is perhaps our last time in Russia, so I want to savor each day we’re there.  That’s what I keep telling myself to counter the fear and the dread I always feel when I get ready to fly anywhere, to leave the comfort and security of home.

But the main reason I’m getting on that plane is to meet with those couples and those singles — brave and intrepid souls, they, who want to learn how to be married before they’re married! — who, in a country with a 75% divorce rate, want to make their marriages better because they believe that’s what Jesus Christ wants them to do.  They want to be obedient to their God.  How can I, then, not also be obedient to Him in spite of the fluttering in my heart and a nervous tummy?

I’m going to try to send out at least one blog from Russia, a report on not only the marriage retreat (September 14-16) but on some of our adventures and travels as well, just to let you readers know that I’m safe and sound.  Because, truthfully, I always do make it home safe and sound, despite my misgivings and fears beforehand.

I would very much appreciate your prayers for not only myself but our entire group as we travel and as we present the truths of what makes a marriage strong to these great and brave people who will be with us in Russia.

Truly, the Lord does go with me, even when I don’t choose to recognize Him as my traveling companion.


  1. Your speaking my heart Rita. Also, I think what in the world am I doing leaving Trey, etc, etc. God be with us!

  2. You are a funny lady.

  3. body{font-size:10pt;font-family:arial,sans-serif;background-color:#ffffff;color:black;}p{margin:0px;}

    Rita, I can relate to all those feelings, and they get worse with age. We use to go anywhere, anytime; never even bothered to purchase insurance.   I always do enjoy your “Ramblings.”  Have a wonderful time and, yes, God does go with us!  

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