“Mom, what should we expect when we arrive at the bus station in Kazakhstan? Who are we going to meet and where will we be? ” I asked repetitively.
“Mom, you haven’t answered my questions every time that I asked you, what are we to expect in Kazakhstan?”
Soon enough, my question was answered through a phone call.
“Don’t worry about coming to my house, my father and my husband will come to the station and pick you up. My father is Korean and my husband is a tall Dutch guy with little hair. You should be able to find them among the crowds, ” a female voice spoke through the phone told my Father.
Throughout my journey on the Silk Road I had experienced a lot of unexpected surprises– missing trains, random acts of kindness from strangers, being invited to stay at stranger’s homes, etc. were all unexpected surprises we never anticipated nor dared to think of; but through my adventures in Kazakhstan I have learned to put my trust in the Lord and expect the unexpected. Through my unexpected stays at the Korean language center and unplanned meeting of friends, I now know that the Lord truly and plans and provides.
The Lord planned the impossible through the meeting of our cyclist friends in Almaty, Kazakhstan. We first met our Polish cyclists friends in Vietnam in the beginning of January at a bus station in Hanoi. When we saw them loading up their bicycles on the bus, we were very exited since we host a lot of cyclists in China; after seeing their bicycles and understanding their route, we invited them to come and stay in our home in China if they happened to drop by on their bicycles. To our surprise, they sent us an email a few months later telling us that they would arrive at my city within a few days and asked for directions to come to my home. We were so happy to host the cyclists at our house for two weeks, providing housing, information, and much needed rest. When it was time for them to continue on their journey, we bid them farewell and joked to see them again in Poland when we start our one-year trip along the Silk Road. Shortly after a month since the start of the trip, we received a message from the Polish cyclists that they were coming to Mongolia from Japan just a few days before we leave the country. We were able to meet up with them in the capital of Mongolia Ulaanbaatar on the same day they arrive and the day that we leave! This amazing encounter occurred again after a month. As my family traveled through Western China and Kyrgyzstan they were cycling through Russia and Mongolia. One side is backpacking and the other cycling, two travelers on a different journey; but yet in Kazakhstan Almaty our roads crossed again! What was amazing about the Polish cyclists is that we managed to meet up with each other again and again unknowingly and unplanned! This repeated coincidental meeting of friends against all odds was something that only God could have planned on this journey.
The Lord provided food and stability through the Korean language center. Before coming to Kazakhstan all my father’s efforts to find a place to stay was fruitless. We found no suitable place online, no acceptance from couch surfers, and no affordable place that corresponds to our budget. Despite these setbacks, to my family and my own surprise we were able to get a contact and a place to stay through one of our friends in China. This 4-story house is a language center run by Korean that is comprised of a school and dormitories for teachers. The result of this arrangement was an extremely wonderful time in Almaty through two important aspects: food and community. The Korean language center is a community that housed many teachers and staff; the outcome of this was a set three-meal course of fusion cooking everyday. Having set meals and eating Korean food was a major treat for my family– after being away from home for so long it is always comforting to the mind and body to have something routine and food that tastes of home. Being back in a community was an excellent way of recharging my physical and spiritual needs. When traveling, it is very common to invest in the people around us particularly non-believing backpackers who are searching for their faith. However, it is always nice to be supported by people who are similar to you. I really enjoyed being able to have communion and interactions with other Christians, something that is hard to do on the road. The experience that we received at the Korean language center was something no couch surfer host nor hostel nor AirBnB can provide nor replicate, something that only God can plan so perfectly that continues throughout our journey in Kazakhstan.
Through the unplanned meeting of friends and the unexpected stay at the Korean Language I know that the Lord is always planning and providing for me and my family. With the entire trip in Kazakhstan completely unknown and entirely, I was completely caught unaware how much God has done for my family and I. God works in people’s lives in ways that we don’t see, but it is up to our own choice to choose to see His plans. Always expect the unexpected, and see what not known.