Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia, with Humanitarian Missionaries

The country of Georgia has been in the headlines daily since fighting broke out in that country August 7. We were in Tbilisi, Georgia, just five days before the conflict began. We had gone to Tbilisi for training meetings with the Larsons, a couple who had recently arrived in Georgia to do humanitarian work. We also met the Jacksons, another missionary couple who had been doing humanitarian projects in Russia, but who had been reassigned to Tbilisi when their Russian visa wasn't renewed. Little did we know then that both couples would be evacuated within the next week. They are currently in Armenia, but the Larsons are hoping to return to Tbilisi soon and know there are humanitarian needs there more than ever. The Jacksons will be going to Prague.

Gale & Joyce Larson and David & Stacey Jackson

We arrived in Tbilisi the afternoon of July 30. Our plane was almost an hour late arriving, but the Larsons were waiting for us at the airport. We went by taxi to the hotel to leave our luggage and then went with the Larsons to eat at a Chinese restaurant.

A main street in Tbilisi.

The next morning we met at the Larson's apartment for the humanitarian training. In the afternoon, we went on a walking tour of Tbilisi. Following are some of the photos taken as we walked with the Larsons.

A cobbled-stone street.

Artists selling their paintings.

An old fortress wall.

Mtkvari (Kara) River.

This little girl was asleep on the sidewalk.
A couple of men were a short distance away,
and we hoped one was her dad.

The Larsons bought fresh bread from this man.
We watched him get the dough ready to bake.

He slapped the circles of dough onto the sides of this
brick oven to bake until done. I was surprised
they didn't fall off during the baking.
The Georgian bread is tasty.

We had a good continental breakfast at our hotel Friday morning where I tasted the Georgian flat bread. The Larsons had a nice lunch for us and also invited the Jacksons to come that evening for another meal together; but unfortunately, by noon my stomach was reacting to a bug I had apparently picked up somewhere, so I was unable to eat. Sam enjoyed the food and the Georgian bread, though.

Yes, there is a McDonald's in Tbilisi.
We didn't eat here, though.

This is a Marriott, but it isn't where we stayed.

We thought this was a comical monument.

This photo was taken from the taxi window.

The highway to the airport is named the "George W. Bush Highway," and a large billboard has a picture of President Bush. We didn't get a photo of this, though. The highway was named because President Bush had visited Georgia a few years ago. Before his visit, they had painted the buildings and added flowers along the street where his car would pass; and a big crowd gathered at Freedom Square to hear him talk.

Freedom Square. If you click on the photo,
you can see in the background
the "Mother of Georgia" monument.

On Saturday, we had to leave our hotel at 2:00 a.m. to be in time for our 4:10 a.m. flight to Istanbul, Turkey. In Istanbul, we met with the humanitarian couple, Richard & Joanne Loosli, at the airport during our four-hour layover between flights. From Istanbul, we flew to Madrid, Spain, where we renewed our visas. (My blog on 15 Aug 08 tells about our visit to Madrid and Toledo.)

Except for the upset stomach I had, we enjoyed our visit to Georgia and appreciated being with the Larsons and Jacksons. They continue to be in our thoughts and prayers during their unsettled time.

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