“And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.”
Luke 10:2-3 NASB
You’ll notice that I’m being fairly cryptic in these posts. You won’t see city or town names, and the names of the people are changed. I have purposefully omitted pictures that could be used to distinguish our location as much as possible.
We left Northwest Arkansas on Friday morning but the long flight and layover put us at the hotel just after midnight Sunday morning (local time).
I slept on the bed near the window and I peeked out that first night, but it was rainy and a little foggy so I didn’t pay attention much about what I was seeing.
I slept well that first night. A full five hours. The bed and pillows were comfortable and clean. I really enjoyed the hotel and all the room amenities. Our host company man had picked out the hotel, so I didn’t know what to expect.
With the currency conversion as it is, you can get in a really nice hotel for a good price. We took advantage of that on the nights we could because we didn’t really know where the agenda was going to take us.
The big window in the shower was only slightly creepy since there was a huge highrise next to us. And yes, it had a full height toilet. But, the bathroom door was frosted glass and faced the sleeping quarters. So, only marginally awkward.
The alarm went off that first morning at 6:30. I planned with Yazoo to get a workout in before we started our day. As I looked over to check on Yazoo he was already up trying to make some coffee with his little instant coffee packet he had in his kit. The room had a kettle to heat water quickly, but not a proper coffee pot.
We both had kits set up for each day. With hindsight, I overpacked kits. I probably had over 20 pounds of daily kits created. I was preparing for village life with no real understanding of what the word village meant. I eventually ended up leaving several of the Premier Protein bars in the office in another city were the FS office is located.
The temperature outside was nice for a morning workout, probably 55 degrees Fahrenheit. We were located in an area that is like springtime temperatures year round. It is a mountainous region and the elevation in this big city was higher than Denver, CO. However, because of the numerous high-rise buildings, we could only see those beautiful mountains when we went on the roads that looped around the city.
We did a short 30 minute body weight and jogging workout in the parking lot of the hotel. This is when Yazoo informed me that hocking loogies and spitting them on the sidewalk is encouraged in some countries for health benefits. After the workout I washed my hands vigorously even before jumping in the shower.
He also later told me that they use grey water pumped out of big trucks with sprayers to water the hedges. Thanks, brother. I’ll do my pushups with more vigor next time.
Our host company man, who we will call Switzer, didn’t join us for the workout so he showered before we returned to the room. Yazoo offered to let me go next. When I was done he offered me some electrolyte powder that he had brought with him. Yazoo said his super buff fitness loving friend who doesn’t eat carbs told him about it. So, I grabbed a complimentary bottle of water, poured it and the powder into my over-sized double walled stainless steel water jug, and took a few sips. I’d be keeping this container filled up anytime I had the chance.
After showers we learned that we would be staying in the same hotel for the next two nights. So we transferred some items around between our rolling carry-on and our backpacks. Then we headed down for breakfast at the hotel. I didn’t know they had breakfast so I had eaten a Premier Protein bar.
The breakfast at the hotel was excellent. It was also very different. There was a type of bacon on the buffet, but I’m not sure what animal it came from. I ate it anyway. I had more coffee and a few other local foods including a version of yogurt. Which I surmised was a good idea to help get my intestinal flora ready to deal with all the local foods.
I also ate a steamed bun. Which has an odd translation to English when you look at the description next to the steamer. There were many different kinds to choose from. But the one translated as “bacteria sachet” really caught my eye, and I had to have it.
After breakfast we waited for the taller company guy, who we will call Fulmer, to pick us up to get our day started. We had the privilege of being accompanied by two company men most of the week. And I am so thankful that I was able to meet them and build lasting memories while experiencing the providential hand of God throughout the process.
Fulmer’s home base was in the big city we were staying in. He and Switzer are both full time with the company in the big Asian country. They each have their family with them and have been there for several years.
Now Switzer was staying with us in the hotel and was home based in a city about three hours fast train ride north west of where we were. But, he was good friends with the regional leader over Starbucks locations in the region we were in. And he enjoyed reporting back about every store he visited. We had coffee at Starbucks almost every day and sometimes twice.
I’m not generally a huge Starbucks fan, but when in a large Asian country where you don’t know what anyone is saying and can’t read the menus, I am a huge Starbucks fan.
You wouldn’t know unless you’ve been outside your home country, but when you enter a place that reminds you of home it brings comfort.
Because I live in a smaller city back home and I don’t frequently visit big cities, I had never heard of a Starbucks Reserve store. In this large city, there were three. And folks, this was good coffee. The first couple trips in I played it safe, but Switzer kept getting some reserve beans/roasts. So, I ventured out eventually and ordered some coffee that they make in this contraption that I’d identify as only ever having seen on that show Breaking Bad. Yep, it was really good!
After getting our coffee on that first day we sat out on the Starbucks patio for a few minutes and discussed operational security for the company. Switzer told us that we would probably be awkwardly stared at and that was perfectly normal. He told us to just imagine that we are dancing bears on a ball or something weird like that.
Switzer then drilled us on our story in case we were taken into custody. Yazoo is an international business owner, really, and was there on business. I was simply a tourist and was tagging along with Yazoo on his business trip. All true. We all got a company polo with the logo embroidered on it. Fulmer had gotten a good price so we each had two to wear.
This is the point were I found out that we would have access to a washer and dryer during the week at Fulmer’s place if needed. I over-packed. And this will cause a little regret later on when I had to choose not to purchase a few gifts that I wanted to bring home because of luggage space. I did end up leaving a pair of dress shoes there with my new friend, Kevin from Asia, who you’ll meet in Chapter 3.