Okay, the title of this blog post is a lie–there’s no such thing as too much tea. (#amiright) 😉 As of six days ago, hubby (Mr. Ninja) and I returned from visiting Tver, Russia.
I’m back in Hobbiton–ahem, I mean the U. S. And like Sam, I’m missing Frodo and Gandalf and my other friends who live across the sea. However, I’m also content in the Shire. (That was just a geeky way of saying there are both joys and sorrows to being home.)
My heart feels split down the middle–like it’s unsure where home really is. I supposed that’s the ache of having citizenship in heaven–no place on earth is truly home. I have a constant longing to be with all my brothers and sisters in Christ, but I won’t ever fully be with them until we’ve all left this earth. It brings me sorrow, and yet it brings me joy because God had prepared us a permanent place of fellowship and reunion. Someday, I will never have to say good-bye again.
It reminds me of the aches Parvin felt in A Time to Die–when she was trying to understand death. And how it’s really just a temporary separation.
This trip to Russia was beyond anything I could put into words or even a blog post. The most I can give you are tiny snippets. To talk on a deeper level about what God did while we were there, you can always send me an email.
Living off of tea and one-eyed-sams (or whatever your family calls them–toad-in-the-hole, eggs-in-a-basket, etc.)
Learning new Russian words like umbrella, puddle, weather, pothole, eggs, good job, and dwarf.
Combining my broken Russian with their (far-less) broken English to communicate and share life.
Eating traditional Russian shashlik cooked over the fire on a beach. (nomnomnom) And then getting hailed on and running to the cars for safety and–once the hail passed, leaving a funky icy flood in its wake–we all ventured back down to the beach and cold sashlik and…ate it anyway. 😏 (nomnomnom)
Taking an over-night road trip to Saint Petersburg and sleeping in the car. #worthit Then exploring Saint Petersburg in purple ponchos and doubled T-shirts because apparently there are only 30-50 sunny days there a year.
Visiting the Anastasia ballroom. (And yes, Mr. Ninja made me dance with him.)
Eating a macaron for the first time (yes, in Russia. No, not in France. 😛 ) And then learning that a macaron is not the same thing as a macaroon. (Who knew?)
Playing baseball in the name of Jesus. (p.s. I hit a double and played first base!) And watching the passion and excitement of these teams as they take the American sport very seriously. I couldn’t help but join in their pride.
Being guests at an English club held in The Milk & Honey, where several Russians gathered to practice their English and hear our stories.
Their buildings are so colorful–pastels and old bricks and white window frames. Though many Russians said they were embarassed for the state of some of their buildings, and said they were strashnaya (ugly), I found a beauty in them.
Walking into our room at the hostel, we were greeted by this sunny window scene. I frequently sat in the deep sills and watched the life bustle by below me. We opened the windows at night to let in a breeze and listen to the city sounds. I feel like this photo captures how I feel about the people of Tver. <3
During the last two days of our trip, we hopped into a car and drove 8 hours through the night to Saint Petersburg. We arrived early morning, stretched our creaking bodies, and then went adventuring through the Catherine Palace (there are a million ways to spell this, so I’m going with Catherine. There is no standard.) before the other tourists clogged up the gardens and pathways. We pretended we were Russian royalty and tried to imagine what it would have been like to live with perfectly manicured a garden the size of a small village at our disposal.
Some say blood is thicker than water, but I say spirit is thicker than blood. We will always be connected to Sasha and Alyona through spirit. They have hearts for shalom. They are family.
We saw so many other friends and met so many new people. I felt the language barrier more than ever when I wanted to express how much I cared for them and will be praying for them, but didn’t know enough Russian. Good thing the Holy Spirit is multilingual, eh? 😊
I cracked my heart open and left a giant chunk with the people of Tver. And I don’t regret it at all. Our hearts were meant to be given away in pieces.
A final aspect of this trip was book research for a future book idea. I took copious notes, walked around with experts on some of the history of Russia, jotted down descriptions and learned more than I ever dreamed I could. I can’t wait to fold it all up between paper and ink and–hopefully someday–place it in your hands. 🙂
If you want to know more about the trip, shoot me a message!
I’ve spent days trying to journal out the moments and memories from this trip. And I keep coming back to hubby’s favorite verse:
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. [Deut 4:9]
Basically….don’t forget. Don’t forget the things God has done. So, as Samwise Gamgee would say:
What’s a favorite memory from your life? –a trip, a moment with friends, an epiphany…
If you could visit Russia, what would you want to see/do?