Friday, July 6, 2012

Train day 6

This day started with a 7:15 am departure from Ulaanbaatar.  Today's post will be kind of scant on details.  There simply is not that much going on.  We are on a Chinese train with no A/C.  It is almost the same type as our previous East German wagon car.  We are headed south on the final leg to Beijing, China.  This leg will take us through the Gobi desert.
Camels in the Gobi Dessert
It looks a lot like the southwestern corner of the US.  The crossing into China was memorable.  As we pulled into the Chinese border station the Chinese anthem was playing and soldiers lined the track standing at attention.

Just before I left for this trip I stopped by my local christian book store to pick up some reading material.  Those of you who know me, know I don't care too much for fiction.  There are enough amazing true stories in this world I don't care to occupy myself with make believe.  For this trip I chose the book “Kisses from Katie”.  I had the privilege of meeting Katie two years ago in Uganda.  What struck me the most about her was her age.  When I met her, she was 20 and had adopted 14 orphaned Ugandan girls.  She entered the mission field at the age of 18.  What an amazing story of hearing and obeying God's calling for her life.  I spend a lot of time with students because God has called me to student ministry.  I couldn't help but compare her life to the young people I know.  I asked myself if I could envision one our students doing what she is doing.  Sadly I could not honestly answer that positively.  This is my fault and a completely wrong outlook.  I should never underestimate what God can do in the life of any student (or in my life).  I need to look at every student with the potential God gives them and then do everything in my ability to help cultivate and encourage that potential.  This book exemplifies that nothing is too big of a sacrifice in comparison to listening to God's calling.  This is an absolute fantastic read and truly amazing story.  I encourage all of you to pick up a copy and read about the amazing things that are happening through Katie and in Uganda.

Today and tomorrow's train stops include:

Chojr: 152 miles (245 km) - The Chojr station has a statue of VVT Ertvuntz, the first Mongolian cosmonaut. The town was an airbase during the Soviet period. Chojr is right in the middle of the Gobi Desert.  This was my last step on Mongolia soil.

Dzamin Ude: 441 miles (709 km) - This is the Mongolian border with China.  While confined to the train I waved at a small boy and girl.  They laughed at me and were excited I responded.  It always amazes me to think that our two lives intersect at this single instant.  It was a fantasticle moment.

Erlyan’ (China) - This is the boarder town in China.  The train cars in Russia and Mongolia run on a wide gauge rail, the same as in the US.  In China they run on a narrower gage, like in Europe.  We will not be changing train cars.  At the boarder we pulled into a long building and they lifted all the train cars and changed the wheel carriage bogies to the narrower gage.  During the border crossing we are not permitted to exit the car until the last half hour.  The entire event took about 5 hours.

Datong (China): 733 miles (1180 km) - This is a large industrial city with a population of over 2 million. The city is known as an industrial center and is home to numerous coal mines. One of the main attractions is a group of Buddhist cave temples – Yungang Grottoes.

BEIJING  (China): 964 miles (1551 km) - Beijing is the capital of China.

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