III. Is it Yesterday or Today?

by valerie shultz

July 14,2011

2104 hours Poland time

I still haven’t slept other than cat naps on the plane and an hour between meetings today. I’ve been up since Tuesday, never having slept Tuesday night since we had to be up at 2:30am to get ready to leave for the airport and our long journey to Europe. Was that yesterday or today?

The flight to Germany was bumpy. I woke up several times to my brain jostling against my skull. The flight went by surprisingly quickly, though. We watched the sun set. We watched the sun rise. We were over Dublin when the sun rose. On my right side the moon was still shining brightly, almost blindingly so, against the pure black sky. On my left side, I could see the sky turn orange as it was burned by the kiss of the sun. It was surreal. The city lights were visible below us. Looking simultaneously at the black night and the orange morning at the same time with city lights on the horizon…. Is it yesterday or today?

What I do know is tomorrow. Tomorrow we have orientation. I’m getting excited. Well, more excited than I have been. I spent some time talking to David Fiala about how he came to be a missionary in this part of the world. I was fascinated and intrigued, and a little appalled. I want to travel, and I want to explore, and I want to witness different cultures and hear different languages. But I want to go back home. Home. The United States. The red, white and blue. Land of the free, home of the brave. Only I don’t think I’m brave enough to move away from my home forever. But David was. Not that he can’t go home and visit, but I get homesick after two days and want to dive bomb my own bed and snuggle into my pillow, looking out my window, into my backyard, and see my Arizona clouds above me. David is doing extraordinary things. In a place that is no longer foreign to him, but is foreign to me still.

Here, I can’t shower without burning my hand on the pipes because the shower is so tiny that I keep grabbing the pipe for leverage, forgetting every time that the pipe is going to burn my hand and that really, I don’t think I can fall over as I try to lift my leg enough to shave it, because tipping over would just mean leaning against the other wall because it is only a few inches away. I wonder how it is possible for the pipes in Poland to be hotter than the pipes in Arizona, where you can only get hot water no matter which faucet you turn because the relentless sun bakes the pipes under the ground.

There are three mission teams here. After orientation, we will all go our separate ways to serve our purposes. But today we talked and got to know one another. We congregated in the hallway of the hotel, some of us checking email or facebook, some talking, some trying desperately to fend off the eyelids that were growing heavier and heavier from fatigue. Others of us played spoons with crayons right there in the hallway while we waited for dinner so we could fill our bellies before finally giving into sleep. I brought out Tanner’s favorite monkey, who he allowed me to take to Poland to do some photo-journaling with, and he gets used as a pillow.

Eventually spoons with crayon proved to be too demanding, as at times our tired minds struggled to keep up with our tired bodies, and at times our bodies couldn’t keep up with our thought processes. Were we supposed to be grabbing crayons or cards? Or were we still passing cards around? Wait, I want that five back I just passed along!

Prayer at dinner was short, courtesy of yours truly, and I heard there was a dessert, but I didn’t see it. As far as I know, all the missionaries decided sleep was calling them far more strongly than any sugary treat.

We’ve all traveled a very long way and are lacking the necessary rest for even semi-decent cognition. Words are spoken disjointedly, sounding like a sentence to the speaker but coming out randomly with some of them getting lost between brain and mouth, and they come out like a code that needs to be translated instead. Luckily fatigued minds seem to think alike and we understand one another, or least we think we do. I shower, wash my face for the second time today because between the airplane funk and sweaty grime I feel as though something toxic may be starting to grow on my face. Regardless of yesterday and today, I’m now ready to sleep and see what tomorrow brings.

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