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Moldova 2000
The Flight

Getting there is half the fun


They say that getting there is half the fun. Before going to Moldova, I checked the Internet to learn a little about the country. One of the interesting facts that I learned was that the entire country of Moldova boasted a total of 26 runways - 8 of them with pavement.

Even though we were going to Kishinev and therefore to one of the paved runways, there are obviously no direct flights from South Florida to our final destination. This meant that we would have to do some transfers.

The flight had been delayed at takeoff and we landed the next day at Amsterdam an hour late. There used to be an old commercial with a famous football player running through an airport. The three of us did that same run and I can now tell you that the Amsterdam airport run is a very long run. We arrived at our transfer plane only moments before they shut the door. Our total time in Amsterdam was only 15 minutes and our luggage, which had been checked in, did not make this transfer on time.

We were now in a smaller plane which took us from Amsterdam to Budapest. The Budapest airport is considerably smaller and patroled by serious-looking military-style police in kakis.

A sailboat; Actual size=240 pixels wide

When it came time to board the plane to Moldova, we went to the gate for departures. There were two medium-sized jets at the gates on either side and a much smaller jet parked way out on the runway. As we went through the gate, they had all of the passengers board a large shuttle bus. I joked to Tom and Ron that there might be a smaller plane past the small jet. Sure enough, our van headed toward the smaller plane and then suddenly turned the corner. Down to the end of the line of planes and around another corner to take us behind the airport. Here was a line of even smaller jets. We passed the first and then the second. Hidden between these small jets was a little two-prop plane. As the van pulled up, we saw the tiny letters on the side announcing Air Moldova.

I didn't notice at the time, but on the way back, I looked out the window and checked the tires. There was tred on only one of the tires - the other was as slick as a cue ball.

If our trip really did involve a single location, we may not need an itinerary page. Instead, we'll describe all our experiences on one destination page.


Old Friends and New

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the other visiting professor was Greg Shipley, an old classmate of mine from my days at Florida Bible College.

baby1.jpg

Pictured from left to right are Tom Mason, Greg Shipley, John Stevenson and Ron Helton.

Greg has a Ph.d. in Church History and is a regular at the seminary, coming in 3 times a year to teach classes. He has a wife and three children. He has been asked to take over as the president of the seminary, but has declined because one of his children is an adopted black boy. There is a huge prejudice in Moldova against blacks which far transcends anything that you will find in the United States. One of the seminary students is black and he was arrested and held by the police for 5 hours last month. The charge? The color of his skin.

Greg comes to the seminary to teach several times a year - it isn't so expensive coming from England - and he is able to make it back by Sunday morning. He also makes regular trips to southern Moldova where the conditions make Kishinev look like wealth and luxury - no electricity at all and living conditions that sound primitive.