All of us face challenges. In America, our challenges are usually not as difficult as people who face civil war in South Sudan, where children walk miles each day just to find a safe place to sleep. Yet many people think life is easy for Americans. I say, not true. Which do you think was more difficult for this American (Lonna Lisa Williams) to do:
1. Leave my California home in October, 2010 for Russia to teach English because I could not find a job in my own country even though my grandfather graduated from Yale University, was a professor at UNC, and handed the torch of education to my teacher mother and to me. Endure a long winter where I wore chains on my boots to run across the ice that coated every surface. Teach English to 13-year-olds only to end up speaking and reading in Russian because no one really wanted to speak English and hated America. Even though my grandmother was Russian, I learned their alphabet and simple words as a child, and I look Russia, most people avoided me because I was the “Amerikanka.” Discover that Vodka is easier to get than good tea, Russian food is bland and full of potatoes, and everyone shares alcohol and violence in the 3rd-class wagons of the Russian train from Samara to Moscow. Endure the 17-hour journey with 50 bunks to a wagon, accidentally stepping on a sleeping Russian woman who screamed when I descended from my top bunk. Cry on the trash bin in the back of the wagon. Kiss a Russian stranger between the wagons, in that blessed cold, dark connector, as snow fields slipped past and a full moon shone on frozen rivers. We, Russian and American, kissed without words, like lovers from a war movie who will never meet again, showing how tragedy is really, really Russian and American.
2. Escape Russia in April, 2011 (when snow still brushed the train tracks and no leaves adorned black trees) to fly to Istanbul (abounding with flowers and spicy food); learn a new language; adapt to another culture; teach English again; marry a Turk; cover the 2013 Freedom Protests; get attacked by pepper-spraying police; lose a job for being a Christian (but walk around the corner to get a better one at another private language school); get threatened with death for being a Christian; teach at a Turkish university; and leave for China just before Turkish police showed up to arrest me for a photo I’d published. Later I wrote 2 journalistic-style Kindle books about Turkey which have not had much recognition. Continue reading →
Journeyaroundtheglobe nominated my Blog for the “Best Moment Award,” and I’d like to thank this adventurous writer and mom who has seen so many places and who cared to follow my own travels. I’d also like to thank my children Jessica and Jonathan, who are always inspirations for my Special Moments.
I held Jonathan’s hand across a New Zealand suspension bridge above a raging river when he was 8. The water roared down from glacial mountains, and he looked up at me with eyes the same color as the river. He squeezed my fingers tight and trusted me. Now he’s almost 18 and about to graduate from high school. I haven’t always led him to the safest places, but I think he will never forget our adventures in New Zealand.
I snorkled with Jessica among brightly-colored fish in a Kauai coral reef cove when she was 8. She jumped out of the aquamarine water and screamed, “There are fish down here!” I held her trembling shoulders in my arms and promised her safety. Now she’s 20 and finding her own home in California while I teach English in Turkey. I miss her and her brother Jonathan and am trying to write my way home to visit them.
The moments we shared will always live in my heart, and I am grateful to my children for walking with me. I am also grateful to my Blog readers who care to read about my adventures, and to the Creator who imagined such transitory beauty in far-off places–and in a child’s eyes at home.
I took a ride on the tram (like a trolley car on tracks) that goes through the busy Taksim district of Istanbul, Turkey. This local boy, with some friends, rode on the back for free–a kind of Turkish Joyride. Taksim is amazing, with old buildings and trendy shops. Come visit me in Turkey!
I merged a portrait of a Russian grandmother with the distant landscape of the Samara Freedom Statue. It was a rainy day, and the gray clouds and wet concrete also contrast with the colors of grandma’s umbrella. What do you think?
What’s wrong with this photo? Before I left to teach English in Russia nearly 2 years ago, I stayed a week in San Francisco to get my Russian visa. While sightseeing in an upscale shopping area of the stylish city built on hills above a lovely bay, I walked by this homeless couple, asking for food money as they traveled together. Not many people stopped to give them something.
Also notice that the woman is pregnant, and they have a little dog. See the cup lying discarded on the street.
I journeyed by car, foot, and boat to find snow-topped mountains above water, where waterfalls cascade down green slopes in the South Island of New Zealand. This is Milford Sound in Fijordland. I captured this waterfall from a boat. To me, it symbolizes “growth” because without water, growth is not possible. Notice the little tree at the bottom right of the waterfall. It is happily growing. Jesus said, “I am the water of life; if you believe in me, living water will spring up from your soul.”
For those of you who liked my story about visiting Anitkabir, Ataturk’s Tomb in Ankara, Turkey, here is a video with more photos. I spent all afternoon walking around the amazing complex (in the snow) and was amazed at views of Ataturk’s life: his clothes, books, cars, boat, swords, pens, and historic photos of Turkey.
For those of you who liked my Chanakkale, Turkey post, here is the video that goes with it. Enjoy photos of the castle by the sea, the museum, and the memorial. I teach English in Turkey and discovered Chanakkale with one of my students. You can read more about my travel adventures in my new book, “Fire and Ice.”