Friday, May 28, 2010

May Day, Russia in May

God knows just what we need, when we need it - and, He gives it to us!  Goodness, can there ever be a doubt about His Love for us?  Amazing, really!
It seems to me that most of the time what we need is each other - real conversation, real heart-felt and filled time spent.  If it is true that God, the Holy Spirit lives IN us, if it is true that where 2 or more are gathered He is there in our midsts, then HIS LIFE is found as we live and share and talk and eat and work . . . together.  
So many times I have been a part of groups of Believers and we begged God to meet us in a certain place, in a certain way.  I know now that we were wrong . . . He was with us, He is always with us.  For goodness sake, He promised He would never leave us!  
I am learning to rest in God and listen to God and watch for Him . . . I’m learning to see Him at work and to move with Him. 
I have to say, this is way more fun than I could have ever imagined. And, you know what resting in God (instead of “working for” Him) has brought?  - - LOVE.  I see and know so much more clearly how He Loves me and Loves others.
Amazing . . .  
A week ago I was invited to go to “May Day/Пирвомайский” to be the “native English speaker”  for a few English classes.  God knew just what I needed . . . He is so good to me!
Here is a little history of the village . . . 
It is a work settlement - which means it grew from a factory.  There is a glass/crystal factory and the workers live all around it.
It has been a part of several countries/kingdoms - Lithuanian, Polish, Belorussian, Russian, Soviet Union, was occupied by the Germans during WW II, and is now, of course, a part of the Russian Federation.
It was part of the “Pale of Settlement” - which means there were lots of Jews living in this village at one time.  In fact, I was told that the factory was once owned by a Jewish family.
If you haven’t read about the “Pale of Settlement,” I highly recommend this article.  It is a sad, fascinating, and horrifying part of history.  
Have you seen, “Fiddler on the Roof?”  It is about this time in history.
You may remember that I blogged about our family’s trip to Lubavitchi, the center of the Hassidic Jewish world.  Lubavitchi is just down the road from “May Day.”
Isaac Asimov, the famous writer, was born not far away.  His family escaped the Pale just after the Revolution and this surely saved his life.  
All the Jews that were left in this area during the German occupation of WW II were either sent to camps or shot by the local “polisi.”  
Despite its long history of survival, “May Day” is dying now.  
There were once 4 ovens in the glass factory, now there is only one.  The government subsidizes the workers - there are more administrators than workers employed today!
The children of the village grow up and leave - go to university or technical school in Smolensk or Moscow. 
“May Day” is a village of little babushkas in little wooden houses with little kitchen gardens.  Chickens run the streets.  Goats great you with bleats from behind their wooden fenses.   People stop and stare as you drive through - wondering who the stranger is visiting.
There is a Russian Orthodox church and a Russian Baptist church.  
I was visiting the Baptist church.  It started just a few years ago when a couple of women invited a pastor from the larger town down the road to meet with them in Bible study.  Later, a sponsor helped them buy a little house, some Americans came and built a children’s swing set/play area, and now, this little church of 6 members, has their own missionaries.
Yuri and Irina Efimov are Russian missionaries living in the village “May Day” and serving in the small group of believers. Yuri is from Smolensk and Irina is from Moscow.  They met at Bible college.  They both have interesting stories about how God found them.  I hope to interview them for my blog later - so you can read some of their Life.

The Efimov’s have been serving in “May Day” for about 2 years.  During this time they have seen very little interest in God among the villagers.
Yuri is the one who told me all about the history of this area.  He says that the people here are hardened to the Gospel.  He believes that the reason the land is barren and the people are spiritually dead is directly related to the sins committed against the Jews who lived and died here.  He has invited the Rabbi in Smolensk to come to “May Day” and be a part of an official Repentance ceremony.  
To support themselves, Yuri and Irina have classes for the young people of the village.  Irina teaches English and Yuri has computer classes.  
When I got there, we had a sharing time with the members of the church.  I shared a little of how God has been at work in my life . . . 
And, then, as always, the real Life and Fellowship happened over tea.  We laughed and talked.  I especially was blessed when several shared how God found them and brought them to HImself.
Soon, it was time for the English classes - 3 wonderful groups of young people.

Irina is doing such a great job with the groups.  These younger ones love to sing and must have sang at least 6 songs for/with me!

The older groups ask so many great questions.  One I couldn’t answer - maybe one of you can:  “Why are the Western states in such square -ish forms?”  
This group has 2 who are going next year to the Smolensk area boarding school for exceptional students.  The school is in Smolensk and, so, I gave them my telephone and hope to meet up with them while they are here.
I asked, “Do any of you plan on living and working in ‘May Day’ after you graduate?” In unison they answered, “NO!”  
Yuri and Irina told me that during the summer “May Day” will be a village of young people because so many will come to spend the warm months with their grandmothers.  They asked if our church in Smolensk would come to help them Love these children this Summer.
It was such a blessing to be with this young couple.  For many years my husband and I have been praying that God would give Russia lots of Russian missionaries - and Russian Believers the means to support those willing to go where there is little means for income.  How blessed I am to meet these willing to leave the big cities and live without so much to share God’s Love!
Please pray for the people of “May Day” - that God’s Love will bring healing in their lives.  Please pray for Yuri and Irina - that they will live in God’s Love, that God will live through them, that they may know HIs Provision every day!
I am thankful to God for the visit to “May Day”  - His People always feel like HOME!  
He knew I needed a trip Home . . . 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Trip to The Doctor’s and The Russian Art of Standing in Line

There are many good things about the Russian health system.  
First on my list is home visits!  Yes, doctors here still make house-calls.  If Sophia is too sick to go into the office or if she has a temperature, we call the clinic and our doctor will come to visit us sometime that day!  As a mom, I rely on and appreciate this service.  Those of you who have ever had to get a sick child dressed and out the door to the doctor’s office can appreciate this service, too, I’m sure!
When Sophi had chicken pox our doctor, Svetlana, came to visit us twice.  Each time, Sophi was anxiously waiting for her.  She loves her sweet doctor!
The last, post-chicken pox, visit we made to the clinic.  
Here it is, our clinic - just a 10 min walk from our apt building.  (See that pole right there in the parking lot?  One time I backed the car into it and got a little fender scratch - but that’s a whole other story . . . )
Sometimes, on “baby day,” the font of the clinic is covered in baby carriages!  Seriously, there will be more baby carriages than cars in the parking lot!  Come to think of it, they should just make a carriage lot out there - complete with lanes and everything!  
I remember at our clinic in Moscow, we (Moms) all had locks for our carriages.  If by chance, you didn’t have or forgot your lock, you could give the security guard a few rubles and he would keep a special eye on your carriage for you.  You may think this is a little over the top - - but carriages are some kinda nice here!  It is nothing for a baby to be riding in a $200 -$400 carriage - and in Moscow it can go up to $1,000!  SO, please watch my carriage, Mr Security Man!  
Sophi is modeling the must-have for all medical facilities in Russia.  These are called “bahili” in Russian. In English . . .  well, I’m not sure what we call them - anyone know?  Maybe just plastic shoe covers?  Sophia and I bought these, 5 for 5 rubles, at our neighborhood pharmacy.
You aren’t supposed to be able to go into the Dr’s office without these over your shoes.  But, of course, there are people who break the rules.  
I have to be honest and say that these are a real pain for a 4 yr. old to keep on.  They kept breaking and ripping open as Sophi maneuvered the halls in search of playmates.
She even got some snacks off of one mom and her little girls waiting in line.
Ok, at this point I need to stop and explain a little about the great art of waiting in Russian lines.  There needs to be a book written about the “rules” and all the amazing experiences and unbelievable human behavior that are a part of the line waiting universe.  It is that, you know, a whole world of it’s own, complete with different cultures (depending on where the line is formed), language, and rules.  I’m telling you, a book needs to be written!
First step in line joining is to ask the question - out loud, to everyone waiting -  “Who is last in line?”  Then, you wait for the answer, “I am.”  You must go to that person, look him or her in the eye and make sure they see and know you, and you must say out-loud, so that person will hear and all the people around will hear, “I’m behind you.”  Then, you wait for a confirmation, out loud, from that person, “Horosho” or “Ok.”  If you miss any of these steps . . . you don’t exist to the line dwellers - you are a non-line-person and will not be included in any of the line activities.  “Vso” - that’s it.
If you do complete the necessary steps, you are a line dweller and may leave the vicinity of the actual physical line, go do something else for a while, even go join another line if you want to!  When you come back, as long as you haven’t missed your turn, as long as the person before you is still there, well, you’re still in the line!  
These rules are hard and fast and if you break any of them you are at serious risk of the whole line turning against you.  And this, my friends, can be dangerous.  
I’ll never forget the terror I felt as a line of about 50 people turned against me at the Smolensk train station ticket counter.  It was horrible . . people screaming. . . pointing. . . even my dear friend frowned at me for being a line rule breaker.  This is serious business.
At the time of the train station incident, I was still new to Russia and didn’t fully appreciate lines.  But, I do now . . . I’ve waited and waited and waited  . . . in all kinds of lines and I now understand.
That, is why I took the next picture.
See that couple standing in the background, hovering near the doctor’s door?  
The woman is looking a little “shifty-eyed” isn’t she . . . 
They are hovering for a reason . . . 
They are about to act without the authority of the line - they are going in “biz orcheridi”/without the line.  
They are about to face the wrath of the line dwellers in full force.  
(Most of us had been waiting for over an hour.)
And, they don’t care.  
In fact, as they left the doctor’s office, I distinctly saw smirk of triumph on the man’s face.
Disgusting . . . despicable . . . line cutters.
Even now as I write this, a well of emotion is springing up in me  . . . the shear audacity of the line cutters still gets to me!

We did finally make it in to see our sweet doctor.  She works so hard and such long hours.  On this day she was without her nurse (who keeps all the records - everything is hand written - there isn’t a computer in the clinic) and feeling overwhelmed but was still so sweet to Sophi!

Every child/person has a health book and every entry into that health book is hand written - everything - by the doctor or her nurse.  
I felt so sorry for our doctor on this day - even thought about offering to help write for her.  
Sweet Dr Svetlana is overworked and underpaid - - but she cares for my child and even takes time to play a little with her.  She is a good doctor in this way . . . and I am thankful for her.  
Even if we did have to wait over 2 hrs  . . . 
in line  . . . 
to see her.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...