This week began with tears. You see, every Monday evening I have my Russian lesson which I absolutely dread. I don’t know exactly why I dread it. My teacher is kind, patient, and very sweet. But Russian is hard and I hate feeling stupid, which is exactly how I feel during 95% of my lesson. Currently I’m working on word endings using present tense verbs. For one of my practice sentences I wrote, “I don’t want to study.” It was a joke, okay? I wasn’t serious…well…not completely serious. At first when my teacher read this, she laughed. Then she said, “Elizabet, pacheemoo(why)? Pacheemoo, Elizabet!?” I told her that Russian is hard and she responded by saying that I’m only on the third lesson. What she meant was “ of course it is hard…you’ve only just begun.” What I heard in my already emotional, overly sensitive head was, “you idiot. You’re only on the third lesson and this is hard for you?!” So I cried. I just burst right into tears in my living room in front of my Russian teacher.
She tried to change the subject and get my mind off Russian so I would stop crying so she started talking about how it must be hard being so far away from my family and friends. It was a noble effort but if she wanted me to stop crying, that was definitely not the thing to say. More tears.
So suffice it to say, the week did not start off in the best of ways. Ever since returning from our Thanksgiving adventure in Estonia, I’ve struggled with feeling homesick and inadequate. I hate to admit it, but in the past couple of weeks I’ve thought on multiple occasions, “what on earth am I doing in Russia?”
Then last night I was emailing with my best friend, Katie and we were sharing the latest happenings in our lives. She is preparing for her own big adventure… studying abroad in Australia for a semester. I remember what I was feeling as I was preparing to come to Russia…excitement, uncertainty, anxiety and more excitement.
This morning I was thinking about this some more and I realized I have forgotten why I am here. My excitement has been replaced with discontentment; I’ve traded joy for apathy, and gratitude for longing.
I am in Russia! Let me say it again, I am in Russia!! In difficulty and loneliness, I have forgotten the answered prayers and gift God has given me in the opportunity to be here. I have forgotten the love he has given me for these wonderful and sometimes difficult people. I have neglected to see the beauty in each day. God, forgive me for treating your gift like a burden.
So as the holidays present many opportunities for me to long for home and miss my family and friends, I will choose instead to focus not on what I am missing, but what I’ve been given. I will love my new home and be thankful for my own little Russian family and friends. This year not only have I been given the gift of a savior, but also the opportunity to share the hope He brings with group of people that live in hopelessness. I’d say Christmas of 2009 has the potential to be the best one yet….