If you have never traveled internationally I can highly recommend it! You will need to bring your sense of humor and a lot of time for waiting, thogh, so make sure to pack it in your carry-on!
Just recently most of our Moscow based team went to a conference in Holland. We took various modes of transportation (metro, bus, car, plane, train) to arrive at the final destination spot - the International Leadership Forum 2006 for International Teams.
Traveling as a team was a wonderful time to share all the inconveniences, joys, new challenges and thrills of translating airport signs, road signs in German, road maps with non-existent 'short-cuts' and money exchanges. So how much should a bag of licorice really cost?
Before I go into the wonderful experience, I have to ask - does anyone know why in international travel the traditional way of standing in line is thrown out the window for the seemingly more confusing way of bunching-up-to-one-another-horizontally? Just curious, and it is driving me a bit bonkers!
Our time in Holland was all about learning - opening our eyes to the ministry around the world. With representatives from literally around the world, we were priviledged to hear stories about the ministries taking place in their local areas. I was overwhelmed by the joy and excitement of answered prayer.
Not to mention that being in such an international environment, with believers from around the world, was a huge encouragement to our team. My roommate, Natasha Kazimirova, kept saying - "Can you believe we are in Holland? All these years never being able to leave, and now we are just walking about in Holland!"
The Russian delegation was challenged and motivated to continue the prayer for mobilizing Russians to go out as missionaries themselves. If others from poorer nations can do it, why can't such a resource rich country like Russia send out missionaries?
"We were capable and effective as a nation to send out people to develop communism and be its agents, to infiltrate and penetrate culture. Yet the Russian church of today says that they are not 'ready' to be sent out. What an irony!" commented senior pastor and missionary Simeon Borodin. That really struck me.
I was also very struck by the dedication to prayer. During sharing times, seminar sessions and in between there was a consistent laying aside of time by the whole delegation to pray. Along one way hanging up were the names of nations on fabric strips. Prayer over the countries they represented was done throughout the conference. When during part of the experience an overwhelming burden for Russia was felt, a few of us went over to pray and weep over this nation. What a testimony to my heart this ministry of prayer was.
Our team came back from the time enriched spiritually and more challenged to continue on despite the hardships. It was a great opportunity to be refreshed and invigorated. And even the airport lines weren't that bad!