We made it home last night and went to bed at 10 pm Central Standard Time. That was 30 hours from the first moments when we woke up, dressed, and left for the Kemerovo, Siberian airport! I know I slept 45 minutes on the longest flight and nodded off a few times on each of the other flights but never more than 10-15 minutes if that long. So we got about 1.5 hours of sleep in 30 hours and were zombies when we saw our family in the airport.

Mary, the children, and my parents greeted us with signs at the baggage claim so that was really cool. We hardly smiled out of fatigue and were just grateful to have help carrying bags and driving us home. I dozed on the 30 minute car ride home almost the entire time while listening to Mark Jr tell details about the trip to everyone. He had a great time and I did, too.

We slept 11 hours last night and I didn’t think I could wake up then – this Saturday morning. I asked Mark Jr how he felt and he said, “Weak like I can’t do anything well.” Fragile is my description. Mary mentioned going somewhere I just said, “I can’t go anywhere today.” I need to be home near a bed at all times. Having eaten and showered, we feel a lot better. I showered first thing last night, unpacked, and crawled in bed.

We had so much grace undeservedly given to us by God on this trip! On the longest, 11 hour flight, we sat in the 3 middle seats and the stewardess said the plane was not full so she had the guy in our row MOVE OVER so that Jr and I could have two seats with one between us! Extra room, it was awesome! That was when I took a 45 minute nap, laying my head down in the middle seat on pillows. It was great and so nice of her. She was Russian, had a wonderful smile, and her forceful way moved that guy right out of our row!

I watched the Argo movie and other than the language, it’s a great movie based on the true story of the Iran hostages in 1979-1980. Action-packed movie rated ‘R’ so don’t let your children watch it.

Artyom helped us get to Delta in Moscow. We flew together from Siberia to Moscow on the first, 4+ hour flight. We played Risk again since Artyom had learned how to play it on the previous flight. He had practiced on his laptop while in Siberia after learning on the flight over. He took Jr out early and then I eventually ended up winning and dominating the world, getting Russia secured as early as possible, of course. Fun to be playing Risk while actually flying through some of those countries. Even better to win!

New York customs was not a problem. We had short layovers, thankfully. In fact, so short that they were already boarding each time we arrived at the gate in NY and Atlanta. We sat on the runway for 45 minutes in NY which was the worse part of our trip: not moving. But we had a nice young man from Memphis who lives and works in Tuscaloosa at the University of Alabama. He was on our Moscow flight so we had that in common to talk about. Tried to talk about spiritual things but he was not going there.

We did not “flash mob” to the “Symphony of Artyom” in Moscow because Artyom had to hurry to his flight home to Kiev, Ukraine. He was scheduled to be home with his family by the time we were just getting into the air from Moscow with still 23 hours remaining on our trip. Yes, we were glad for him but kind of jealous, too. Godly jealousy of course!

Artyom really made the trip enjoyable other than his task-master ways. We needed his push because our flesh was tired and weak and sleepy most of the time for the 2 weeks. He pushed us saying, “Time to get up. Let’s get moving people. Let’s get this show on the road.” And other nice sayings like that (wink!). Those phrases are in the Symphony…just wait til we get the pics and that song matched together and put on our Truth in Love Ministries YouTube channel. It will be well worth your wait.

At home, today, my youngest son wanted to play ping pong with Jr and I so we did for a short while. Let me just say that my ping pong skills are through the roof. You do NOT want to challenge me to a game right now because I will destroy you. Hate to be that honest but it’s true. Our time in Siberia was like the Rocky movie where he went to Russia to train to fight the Russian. I think that was Rocky 4 and if you haven’t seen that movie, then you need to stop what you are doing right now and watch it. Nothing is more important! So that’s how I trained, only not for boxing but for ping pong, while in Russia. My muscles are so ripped right now that I look like Sylvester Stallone in his heyday (sorta). I am thinking about training for the Olympic table tennis team in America since I have already been competing internationally now for over a week. I’m ready.

Ok, enough with all of that. Bottom line: God is awesome. He gave us a great trip: no real problems, no diarhea, great food, travel mercies, and a multitude of great memories. We proclaimed the Gospel and ministers from churches all over Russia were equipped to serve the King of Kings more faithfully with the WORD of God while relying upon the Holy Spirit alone to transform hearts.

-Mark (restfully yours)