Bukhara: The people have been very friendly in this desert area. Here the world’s longest irrigation canal runs for hundreds of miles parallel to the highway. I feel a bit like I’m at home in the Mississippi-Louisiana Delta were I was raised on a cotton farm. There are miles of cotton fields here. I carried the cross through thick dust today as a hot wind is blowing. The local men gather about but it’s difficult to find anyone that speaks English. The people now look Asian or Arabic and wear very colorful clothes and headgear. This is the area of the old silk route to China. There are also lots of sand dunes. Had to use a pontoon bridge to get across the Amadar Ja River.
We got to our first ‘real’ border. It was in the desert between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. We did not expect it. The head official wanted travel documents. We gave him our passport, then the Land Rover title, then our AAA International driver’s license, then U.S. driver license, finally the Russian visa. This he could
read and he saw it was for only five cities in Russia nothing for Asia. He began demanding a visa for Uzbekistan. All the police were out and waving for us to turn around and go back. Again the walk into Asia was almost stopped. I was already considering going back and just driving through the desert away from this border point and then come back on a road miles from here.
As we prayed and delayed, Denise rushed to the Land Rover and got out our photo album of places we’ve been. Then the man saw me with Yasser Arafat, he smiled, got up shook my hand and waved us through the border! Within one mile we had to go through two more checkpoints with roadblocks but Jesus got us through. It’s a struggle at every border and roadblock. The Devil is fighting but we are walking with the 12-foot cross and driving on. As I walk in certain areas the people
welcome the gospel materials and really like the little red Jesus stickers.
Today someone showed up with a cold Pepsi, I bought it!
During much of 1992 my wife, Denise and I carried the cross through Russia and all of the former USSR. The USSR was just breaking up after the fall of communism. We only had a tourist visa for two weeks in Russia and no permit for the Land Rover and no visa for any of the other countries! Jesus got us through all the borders and checkpoints with no visa or permit. We made it through over 250-armed roadblocks. God led us to places to fill up with gas, as only a few gas stations were open the entire trip. We went from extreme cold and snow to the desert heat all in one historic and glorious trip. The impossible had happened. The cross was carried in all the USSR. All glory to God. Many were saved as the cross was carried in all of these nations.
Denise drove the 4×4 Land Rover. She would drive up the road a few miles and wait for me to arrive carrying the 12-foot cross. I would have something to drink and eat and then walk on. In most of these nations we would drive part of the way and then carry the cross a few days or a week or so. We had Bibles and gospel material in Russian and local languages. The Land Rover was also towing a small trailer with food and the gospel materials. We carried many cans of gas on the Land Rover and inside was a stove. We slept in a pop-up tent on top the Land Rover. When we left England we drove and went by ship to Finland. We crossed over to Estonia and made a complete loop around the USSR and then drove back via Poland and back to England. We drove almost 11,000 miles and I walked many hundreds of miles in the USSR.
In order we carried the cross in the following countries:
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Trans-Dnestr, Moldova, Crimea, Abkhazia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Siberia and Russia.
Jesus did it. All glory to God.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt