Monday, May 31, 2004

Things I Will Miss About Russia

As our time here nears an end, I think it only fair to mention the things I will miss about Russia, just as I mentioned those things I long for in America. America is, and I suspect always will be, my home in this world, but I have come to appreciate a few aspects of life, both spiritual and temporal, in this part of the world:

1) The bond of the brotherhood. Just as we do in the United States, the brethren here publicly pray for each other, but their prayers are different. They are specific and broad at the same time. By specific, I mean they pray for people taking exams in school, battling difficult personal circumstances at home, struggling to persuade their adult children to be faithful, etc. And by broad, I mean they pray for everyone and everything. Topics that we in America would consider too "sensitive" to air in a public prayer are written openly on prayer lists circulated throughout the congregation before every worship service here. Our brethren in Russia seem to fully appreciate Paul's teaching that we look out not just for our own interests but for those of our brethren, while too often in America we don't even like to talk about our interests with our Christian family. What a shame.

2) The frequent Bible studies. As in the United States, the classes are not as well-attended as they should be. But the Christians who do attend the classes cannot seem to get enough. This week, we have added classes on Monday and Tuesday to the normal Wednesday, Friday and Saturday routine. And we're also hoping to have that second lecture in Dzerzinsk on Wednesday. A normal week probably doesn't result in much more time together than we have as a church in Centreville because the church in Nizhny has only a worship service on Sunday morning and does not meet in the evening. But I have been greatly encouraged by brethren who meet four days out of seven to discuss the Bible -- and who clearly study their Bibles diligently on their own time because they know the word of God. They are a great example.

3) The simplicity of life. Many people grow their own food here. The landscape is dotted with small farms that exist because people might not have food otherwise. The sisters in Pavlovo talked yesterday about how they garden and can vegetables. Jeff noted that it had been a good week for farming, but Valentina reminded him that they farm regardless of the weather. They have no choice. Then I had to admit that we didn't even plant any vegetables in our measly 12x12 plot in the backyard this year because we're always too "busy" to weed and tend it. If only I didn't have to commute three hours round trip every day.

4) The healthy lifestyle. I may have lost a pound or two while here, and not just because my money belt has fewer rubles in it now. Russians just eat healthier than we Americans. It's not like I've gone hungry, either (except briefly on the nights when we were expecting dinner and got only tea and sweets). Masha feeds us not three times a day but usually four or five. Russians also are prone to lecture Americans about our diets. Masha more than once has asked about our eating habits. And on Saturday, Sergei asked why Jeff and I ordered Cokes with our pizza instead of orange juice and tomato juice like he, Tom and Masha. I don't think I'll be drinking tomato juice with pizza when I get home because just the thought is repulsive to my taste buds. But maybe I won't eat pizza and fried foods so often ... for a week or two anyway.

5) The clean air. We've had absolutely beautiful weather most of our trip -- blue skies, puffy white clouds and spring temperatures. The air was quite cool when we arrived in Moscow, and I left my windbreaker in Virginia, but by last Monday, it was warm enough to wear just short sleeves. It's cool again today because overnight we had our first real rain of the past two weeks, and it's still raining now. What I've loved most about the weather, though, is the lack of smog. I think I expected Russia to be more like Guatemala, where the polluted skies are the norm because the poor, indigenous people have open fires going much of the time. But Masha had no idea what smog was when I asked her if they get it here. If it's not rainy, you can see great distances, both upward and outward, because of the clear skies. The weather can get hot and humid in the short summer season, but most families here don't have air conditioning. The cost no doubt is a factor, but Masha said they don't really need air conditioning anyway.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's me Kimberly,

I was planning on taking you and Jeff out for Outback or Golden Corral on Sunday afternoon, I guess since ya'll are eating so healthy now I won't offer:-)

Danny, Anthony loved your post.

Also, we are home now. I was getting homesick and Doris had so much to do to get ready for their trip to Mexico, that I decided to head home a little early. Not to mention Elli has been asking to come home for a week now. Anthony on the other hand hasn't stopped asking when we're going to see both sets of grandparents again. I guess we can see who the homebody will be!

Mark was back home and tired, but doing well when we left on Tuesday. I haven't talked to anyone since we just got home, but I'm sure I would have had a phone message or something if everything wasn't okay.

I'll talk to you later.

I love you,


12:22 AM  

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