We made a long drive of hundreds of miles from Moldova to Yalta in Crimea. We stayed in Odessa where we carried the cross by the Black Sea. We bought a quart of Beluga caviar for only three U.S. dollars. Have you ever had a meal of caviar, tomatoes, and bread? We had to eat it all in one meal.
The road now turns east along the Black Sea area and is closed to passing traffic. Everyone said there was no way to get through, but we went anyway. Whenever we stopped people would make signs for us to go back but we drove on. We got gas by getting people to siphon the gas out of their own cars!
The Crimea is almost an island with just a small strip connecting it to the mainland. It is now trying to break away from the Ukraine and join Russia as most of the people are of Russian origin. The Russian Navy fleet is headquartered here. We arrived at a big police roadblock. This was where we expected to get turned around as the highway into Crimea was closed. We were praying as our entire crosswalk to the east was in jeopardy. I got out with our map and asked directions to Yalta. We acted totally dumb about any problem. I lay the map out on the hood. They were all impressed with the color map and its good detail. God did it! He melted their hearts and turned the impossible into the possible!
They showed me how to avoid the closed roads and take small roads off the map and get in. They did not ask for any papers, they were only smiling. We turned off on a dirt road drove a few miles and parked in someone’s yard for the night. Wow. Jesus did it.
We were in desperate need of gas for the Land Rover and of course, there was none for sale in the country. I saw a man parked beside the road with a gas can. I thought he was selling gas. Denise usually does the negotiating but I said, “Let me do it.” With great enthusiasm I launched into the deal. I had a piece of paper to write the price per liter. I started off at 20 rubles. He agreed, and then I went lower, he agreed until the price was at 3 rubles, that’s almost nothing. He went and got his can and bought it to the Land Rover empty! I did not understand until Denise began to laugh she said, “He wants gas, he thinks you are selling it to him, that’s why the price kept going down!’
Yalta: We had a wonderful time carrying the cross in this area. We stopped at a quite decent hotel. The manager later asked to see us, “How did you get here? The police want to know. You have no entry stamp.” I said we walked and drove here. “Yes, we know, but where is your auto permit?” “We have none,” I said, “no one ever asked for it.” I continued, “We do have a visa for a few Russian cities, could they extend it a month more?” Everyone was so confused about how we had made it so far with no papers they left us alone and gave us another month in the five Russian cities! God did it. This area could well explode in war, as the tension is very great between Russia and Ukraine. Oh, Lord, give them peace.
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, Tadzikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Siberia and Russia.
Jesus did it. All glory to God.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt