Monday, September 28, 2009

It's getting colder...

...and I'm getting ready!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hello There, Weekend

Cookies are in the oven, our flat is clean, and in a few hours we will host our first Bible study. It will be interesting to see how many students choose to actually come. Our invitation was met with varied responses. Some rolled their eyes and laughed. Some asked for more information. Others promised to see us Friday evening. So truth is, we could either have two students show up or a hundred. Regardless of how many students decide to come, it is sure to be an adventure, as most things seem to be in Russia.
Our most recent adventure involved our toilet deciding to stop flushing. We spent a good week and a half to two weeks walking to McDonald’s to use the restroom. It is certainly doable because McDonalds is only about a five minute walk from our flat but let me tell you, it is a problem when you wake up in the middle of the night and…um…need to use the facilities. Thankfully two (fairly attractive) plumbers came on Wednesday and saved the day. We now have a working toilet and we no longer need to walk to McDonalds to use the bathroom or pee in the shower…

Wait. Did I just say that? ;-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Much Farther To Go

It is approaching midnight but for some reason I’m finding it difficult to sleep. I just spent the last ten minutes staring out my kitchen window, eating cornflakes from the bag and drinking milk from it’s carton. It is reasons such as these that cause me to abandon all hope of coming home a few pounds lighter than when I arrived. Oh well.

It is raining outside. Pouring, actually. Across from my building is another apartment building and I feel like I know the inhabitants because I often see them living their lives from the view from my window. The man on the end smokes out of his window often. One apartment never seems to turn their light out. I like to look at it when I get up for work in the morning and my roommates are still sleeping and I’m tired and cold and I know that my family and friends are ending their days, possibly unaware that a new day is beginning for me.

I feel like life is moving along so quickly. Perhaps sometimes I need sleepless nights to gaze out the window and watch the rain fall. I need time to allow myself to swallow reality…or at the very least, taste it. There are moments when I feel as if I hold the world in the palm of my hand. But tonight I feel like a little girl staring out her window, into a great big world. Strangely, I suspect both feelings hold their own level of truth and beauty.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Reflections of the Week

Well life has gotten busier as I have started teaching. My first class was on Thursday and I taught a full day today. This past weekend we had the opportunity to sightsee a bit. We walked around Nevskey Prospekt and got some business things taken care of such as purchasing cell phones and sim cards. On Sunday we attended a Russian Calvary Chapel church. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I recognized one song and sang along in English. Lucky for me, the sermon was translated into English. After church my roommates, a couple other Americans, an Australian and I all went out for Georgian food. It really was a wonderful weekend.

Though I've only lived in Russia a little over a week, I have made some observations. Keep in mind these are initial observations...they may change over time. But here is what I have so far.

-Russian women are warriors. They wear the skinniest, highest heels on a daily basis. I wore heels all day to teach in today and I would like to chop my feet off. I honestly don't know how they do it.
-Just because you found something you liked in the grocery store yesterday, doesn't mean it will be there today...or tomorrow...or next week. You just never know.
-A lot of russian men really like women and alcohol. I'm not stereotyping. They'll tell you this openly and honestly...even as part of a class assignment.
-It's best to maintain a straight face on the metro. Better yet, look a little pissed off.
-If you need/want something like an ink cartridge or...I don't know... a hair straightener, you need to know where to look. Things like Walmart and Fred Meyer just don't exist. It is more than likely you'll need to go all over town to check off your shopping list.
-Yes, I am and American and yes, I like McDonalds. But so do you, okay? Give me a break.
-Want to mix patterns? No problem! The busier the better. (This applies to clothing, house decor, etc.)
-Walk with purpose. No, actually it's more than that. Jog a little.
-Carry small bills or prepare yourself to be yelled or at least glared at by the cashiers.
-Drink the juice. It's delcious. Any kind.
-Just because it looks like something you recognize, doesn't mean it tastes like something you recognize.
-People rave about St. Petersburg. They have good reason. It is wonderful here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A day of firsts...

First day of teaching...check.
First day of riding the metro solo...check.

I consider today a success.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Lesson in Contentment

As I write this, I am sitting in the living room of my flat in St. Petersburg, Russia. Let me say it again. St. Petersburg, Russia. Months of planning, prayers, and preparations have finally paid off and at last I am here. I'm not sure the reality of it all has fully sunk in yet.

It is strange knowing that while I am here, life continues on in the states. There have been multiple times already when I have had deep longings to be back with the people I love, in the places I know, doing familiar things. I wish I could sit in starbucks, enjoy a seasonal drink, and soak up fall. I wish I could talk to people and know they understand me. I wish I could eat a home-cooked meal. I wish I could go to the grocery store and buy whatever I like and know exactly what I'm buying. And yet...when I was home I did such things and really thought nothing of them. They held little meaning to me and rarely did I stop to thank God for them. I fear unless I am careful, I will live my entire life in such a way.

When I first returned from my time in Ukraine I felt completely alive. I appreciated the little things, as I had realized how big the little things can seem when you have to do without them. A glass of ice water. A hot shower. Time spent alone. Time with people I love. Food that you're not scared to eat... I appreciated them all. Yet, it wasn't long before my thankfulness turned into forgetfulness and discontentment. It is dangerous because it is so easy to do. I could tell you all of the things I'm thankful for now that I don't have them, but I suppose that would be missing the point. My life is different now but there are no fewer reasons to be thankful. Perhaps there are even more. So I when I struggle with feeling homesick, or wanting conviences I may lack- when I long to understand or be understood I will remind myself to be thankful. I am thankful for answered prayers and new adventures. I am thankful for roommates and relationships that are still to come. I am thankful for the beautiful new city that awaits me right outside my door. I am thankful for this brand spankin' new day.

Life feels a little newer, a little scarier, and a little closer to what, perhaps, it is supposed to be like. Thank you, God.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Goodbyes are hard.