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Meanwhile, back in Massachusetts...

Well, I got my Christmas miracle...

That is, I made it home in the midst of snowstorms in Europe and before the snowstorm hit here (not that either of them were huge, but they certainly affected air travel).

After a long journey, I was paged at the baggage claim to let me know that my baggage was still in Paris. But on Christmas morning the AirFrance guy showed up with my suitcase, just in time for me to wrap my gifts!



We'll see what happens next week when I try to fly out of here...

Adjusting expectations

I should have been on a plane last night instead of in my bed in St. Petersburg!

But...I was glad to not be stranded in an airport somewhere.

It all started with the snow in Europe. As usual, I didn't pay much attention until I realized that it might affect me personally.

The timetable didn't show any changes, but when I got all the way through security and up to the check-in desk...2 hr delay. Okay, I'll deal with it. Then they asked if I was sure I wanted to check my bags all the way through. Were things THAT bad?

I weighed the consequences: a) get stuck in London for a few days with no change of clothes or b) have to lug my suitcase around everywhere and possibly recheck it during my increasingly short layover.

I decided I would rather be grubby and just buy whatever essentials I'd need if I got stuck. Computer cable+Kindle recharger in my suitcase could spell potential boredom and frustration if lost, but I just did not need my carry-on to be any heavier than it w…

The Russian President and I

Is it possible that I actually agree with Medvedev on something? (not that I watch his every move)

Every once in a while, I'm alerted to something in the media that gives me hope that Russian orphans are going to receive some justice.

A ministry serving orphans in Moscow published a translation of Medvedev's recent comments to this effect.

"Unfortunately, in our country there are still 130,000 children remaining without family care. They have neither parents, not guardians, they are deprived of what's primary – the warmth of the family. And there is still very much left to do to make sure that the very concept of "throw-away" children is removed from our life. There should be guardianship/foster organizations focused on placing children with families and supporting those families. In general there must not be children in our country that are "nobody's".
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"The so-called 'correctional' children's homes are faced with such …

No bargaining

I opened up a magazine (delivered from the States recently) and was shocked to see the words "Negotiating with Evil."

My first thought was, we do not bargain with Evil.

I really had a flash of end-times panic as I pictured Americans "negotiating" for their souls. The Bible is pretty clear that we are not to have anything to do with Evil.
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them." (Eph. 5:8-11)Then I looked up the author online, and my feelings changed...
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It turns out that there is a book called "Negotiating with Evil: How to Talk to Terrorists" by Mitchell B. Reiss. I believe that these kinds of books are written more out of fear than from love for mankind.

The production description explains, &q…

How I decorated for Christmas

I know it can be boring to look at someone else's Christmas decorations, but you also find ideas in there, so I thought I would post a few photos and explanations of what I have around the apartment.

I haven't lived in one place for long enough to warrant buying specific decorations, but I like to use the little treasures I've collected over the years. No Christmas tree here as we wouldn't put presents under it anyway. But the ornaments I do have help me feel more at home and excited about the season.

Step 1. Removal

The first thing I did was take down a lot of the pictures and other decorations that had been hanging in my bedroom. I was thinking about even using the frames and replacing the images with Christmas pictures for this season, but I haven't gotten much of that done. Still, it's nice to have a different look for now. more/-

Step 2. A little hardware goes a long way

My roommate is quite handy and put up a shelf on our kitchen wall. It immediately mad…

Advent opposites

I've read a lot of uplifting personal reflections on Advent this year. Cultivating Advent traditions seems like a great way to help kids (and enthusiastic adults) find meaning in the period leading up to Dec. 25th each year.

Of course, as we get older, we realize that it's not about the presents, or the yummy food, or even the beauty of the decorations. We start to listen to the words of the songs we love so much, look up the meanings of the candles, maybe abstain from the more materialistic aspects of the present-day holiday. We meditate on themes like darkness and light, God's love and glory, the circle of life.

And we find that that the period of waiting actually holds plenty of joy, itself. But what does this mean for daily life? I've been musing about the following:
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The Wait

While some Christian denominations may fast somberly during the Advent period, I find it to be a joyous time, even if toned down with thoughtful reflections.

I was watching the "Na…

More nuggets from Russia

The things you learn while living in Russia! A few ideas I've encountered lately have been eye-opening.

1) Opening your mouth outside when it's cold can make you sick. I observed a mother on the street telling her crying child to close his mouth because it was cold outside! From what I figure, it's pretty annoying to have dried tears, etc. frozen onto your face. And I guess it's not very good for your vocal cords to be breathing cold air a lot. But I don't know if it really makes you sick per se.

2) You're not supposed to rub your belly when you're pregnant because it could squish the unborn baby or traumatize him or something. I didn't really understand the explanation, and I've never been pregnant, but sounds kind of silly to me. Anyone?

3) Changes in barometric pressure make people feel yucky and depressed. read more/-

I had just finished a shower singing session when I heard sobs coming from my flatmate's room. Worried that someone had died…

Freedom!

Well, after getting my residency permit and registration (which I never did finish writing about), I went right away the next week to apply for an exit visa. I wanted to get everything over with so I wouldn't have to see that office again for awhile.

This time, I didn't have to get in the registration line. This was a different category. How refreshing! I went in on a Friday when there was almost no line. In fact, it was a "live" line and I had to negotiate with everyone verbally to get into the office, but it worked out.

The lady gave me a two-sided application form and a little list of requirements including photocopies of passport pages, and passport photos. I left the building, planning to return the next week with the forms.

Wait a minute.

This was easy stuff, compared to what I had just done the week before. And there was no line. I kicked into "rush" mode, found the nearest photo place, filled out the form, and was back at the place just before they c…

Some of my characters and their destinies

I've probably mentioned before that there are a few kids at the orphanage that are rather skittish and seem afraid of me. This is probably a combination of the trauma of being orphaned, teenage angst, and apprehension about practicing English with a native speaker (not that I push them too hard, but maybe they expect it). Whew.

I'm often drawn to shy kids because I can identify with them, but there are times when you recognize fear and not just a quiet nature. With the boys especially you long to see them sitting up straight, making eye contact, finding something to be confident about.

There are a few teenage boys that have slowly gotten used to interacting with me over the years. One of them seems quite wounded and childlike sometimes. I've written about him before. The good news is that a family in the States is potentially adopting him and his younger sister. I'm excited that they'll be able to stay together, and that they'll have a home.

But there are other…

First day of winter in the northern capital

The view I see when walking home at 3 pm...


It's unusually cold for this time of year, but a little frost is much preferred to slush!

Shedding light

The beginning of winter feels like a roller coaster. On the one hand, I'm falling in love again with the beauty of the low winter sunlight reflecting on the snowy city. A Russian kind of winter wonderland.


On the other hand, there is the depression of the darkness. Were our bodies even designed to live this far north? Everything in me screams "no" each time I prepare to go outside. Every day during the daylight hours (from about 10-4) I force myself to look out the window or maybe take a little walk if possible, just to remind myself that daytime still exists.

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But on a positive note, I find it a gift to prepare for Christmas in this part of the world. Maybe Christ wasn't born in winter in a cold climate, but it makes waiting for the Light so meaningful when it is dark outside. Maybe my life isn't shrouded in spiritual darkness, but the metaphor works. When it is dark, we feel miserable. Therefore, I can imagine the feelings of despair when one has not y…

On my last legs

Date: October 18
Number of Days until registration expires: 1
Status: Sick in bed

(Click to read previous episode)

Two thoughts had occurred to me. The first (spoken by others until I finally accepted it as truth) was that I had to step up my energy to a new level and FIGHT. This I had already realized during the previous week, but as the working hours drew to a close on Friday and I saw how difficult it was to maintain one's place in line, I realized the gravity of the situation.

The second realization was that I didn't have any strength left. Of course it's pretty bad if you need to fight and don't have any strength, but I realized that now was the moment when I needed to lean on others. I had wanted to do as much as I could by myself, mainly because I live here in this country and need to learn some survival skills. But that didn't mean there was any shame in asking for help. continue/-

Especially when I was near the point of total collapse. Everyone prayed for me…

The month that wasn't?

Today marks one month since I fell ill while the processing of my temporary residency permit was still underway.

It feels almost as though the month didn't happen, although that can't be true. There were plenty of blessings along the way; friends' birthdays, special visits, etc.

I learned a little more about tonsillitis and about the medical system, and was scared enough of the thought of a tonsillectomy to get serious about getting better. So I've been on "house-arrest," drinking concoctions and scheming about various ways to create a special atmosphere this Advent season.

Day 4 of antibiotics, Round 2...hopefully this will take care of it!

Strange medicine

First the green stuff, now this...I just couldn't resist taking a photo of one of the concoctions I was told to gargle with. We'll see if it helps!


If not, I could always use it for dying Easter eggs. ;)

Wounded

When my dad and I took some kids from the orphanage out last week, the counselors whispered to us about the backgrounds of some of the kids. Well, they didn't really whisper; it seems more accepted to talk about kids' behavior right in front of them. But a few of these facts were more personal and they meant it for our ears only.

The kids said "Thank you very much" after the meal. Most tried, with prompting, to say it in English. And then the counselor explained what great progress that was for many of them. I hadn't really thought about it since I see them regularly, but it really is a challenge for them to look an adult in the eye and say "Thank you." And of course, trying it in a foreign language showed special courage.

One of the boys the counselor pointed out was new (I actually hadn't met him yet), and she said that he (at 11 y.o.) witnessed the murder of his mother by his stepfather, perhaps over the summer. I saw how he held himself: not rud…

Racing against the clock

I've been back-tracking a bit to explain the process I went through to receive temporary residency. After waiting almost 6 months I got the permit, only to learn that there was another packet of documents needed for registration, and not much time...

Date: Friday, Oct. 15
Residence permit: Received
Registration: Application in progress
Old registration expires: Tuesday, Oct. 19th
Working days left: 3
The line: Miles long


On Thursday, I had done my best to pull together the rest of the documents before finally going to bed around 4 am. Then I was up by 7 the next morning to try to get to the office when it opened.

I had already signed up the previous day, but you can never be sure...
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The office was open for four hours that day. Things were progressing at a snail's pace, and I was still waiting for my friends to bring the rest of the documents I needed. They called me to see how things were going, and I assured them that there was no rush.

I sat and sat and we continued goi…

Days with Dad

My dad has been here for the past week and we have been visiting with friends. Maybe he will send me some of his photos.

In the meantime, here are some taken when we went to lunch with some girls who grew up in the orphanage together. They're on their own now but still love to do things in groups, especially when friends from abroad come to visit. We always have a fun time with them.



A Russian care package

My Russian friends who are from up north often say they have to "meet the train," and this means that their relatives have sent a parcel on the train via a traveling friend or acquaintance, that now has to be picked up.


The contents usually consist of something edible: canned goods like jam and pickles; berries, etc.

Well, my roommate had been complaining about missing foods from "home" (up north), and then the other day we got a parcel containing salami, smoked fish, and pressed deer meat.

My roommate showed me how to take the head and skin off the fish before eating it. I like the taste, although I'm not sure I like the process...

New beginnings

I'm determined not to go to bed again without blogging!

I'll finish up my little bureaucracy tale in the weeks to come, in case any of you are sitting there biting your nails. But I'm trying to move on, little by little.

The stress wreaked havoc on my immune system and I've been sick on and off for the past 3 weeks with back-to-back episodes of tonsillitis. And no, I'm not planning on getting the surgery anytime soon.

I was going to write that I'm waiting to get my life "back." But in fact, all of this IS life. I do hope to return to a few activities that I had to set aside while working on paperwork. And I look forward to the coming weeks.

Advent starts in less than a month! :)

The moment of truth and an identity crisis

A Fatal Error?  (Continued from this post)

The lady at the fingerprinting station had told me to check EVERY LETTER very carefully. Those words would come back to haunt me...

For the rest of Tuesday and all of Wednesday I was thinking about the fact that I had chosen the spelling that was in my current visa. After all, that was the most authoritative document, right?

BUT the spelling which I had written on my residency application (under a different visa) was totally different... and to be honest, preferable.

To make a long story short, it probably didn't make sense for me to be a resident under one name and have my fingerprints registered under a different name...even if it was a matter of transliteration. continue/-

What to do, what to do? Did it even matter, or would no one notice? There was no room for error, as I would need to pick up my permit on the first try and would not be able to run around the city changing things.

I asked a few people their opinion and most felt that …

Unusual missionary jobs

At some point I was in a biography mood while Kindle-browsing, and decided to download a few missionary volumes. One of these was about Gladys Aylward, missionary to China.*

I'd heard of her before, but only briefly, and I was interested in reading more of her story. It has turned out to be quite a page-turner even though I feel like I'm reading something I might have read in grade school as far as the reading level.

It always amazes me when I read about someone who may have been similar to me but had a totally different calling. Maybe my life would have seemed intimidating to Gladys, but I don't know how I would have survived in her situation. I like this book overall, but I had to take a break after it gave me some violent dreams.

This passage blew me away the first time I was reading it: click for more/-

'So,' continued the mandarin, looking rather proud of himself, 'the government has given me a problem. I need someone to be a foot inspector. A man would not…

Where I left off

Another day in the life of a foreigner in Russia trying to get a residence permit...

Date: Tuesday, October 12
90 days in the country are up: Tuesday, Oct.19 


Time is ticking...

Friday (Oct. 8th) had produced another "no" answer; meaning, the local immigration office didn't have me in their file. They kept telling me no sooner than October 23rd, even though the other office had told me September 23rd. Who was bluffing?

Monday was spent trying to get some answers by phone. The central office confirmed that my results had been "sent out" and that they had done their job. The local offices didn't answer their phone. The next day, there were working hours at the local office, and Andrey and I went in once again to see if there was any sign of my residence permit. continue reading/-

There were long lines as usual in the immigration office. As we were discussing our plan of action, a young woman was sitting nearby, eavesdropping.

We went into the waiting area/corri…

Enemies?

In Russia there is a lot of waiting in line. There are some rules of etiquette that go along with it, which I've discussed before.

Sometimes the waiting seems normal and bearable, like at the grocery store or the bank. But there are a lot of more critical situations, like at Immigration or the doctor's office, where every minute that passes seems like torture.

In recent experiences I found that it wasn't so much the waiting that was the hardest part (although it was truly challenging). What I found most disturbing was the way that people turn on each other. I can include myself in this; although I didn't do anything punishable, there were certainly times when I thought to myself, Why can't they all just go away? How can that man be so stupid? Didn't he read the schedule? How could that woman show up this late and think she could get a place in line?read more/-


I found to my horror that these people whom I didn't know were becoming my "enemies." Af…

I think I'm alive

Pretty soon I am going to write about what it took to get two stamps in my passport. One thing it did take was a lot of energy that I didn't have, so I've spent the last week recuperating and letting my immune system replenish itself (if there is such a thing).

I'm thankful to be able to legally stay in Russia and not have to worry about counting 90 days out of 180. It makes me appreciate anyone involved in an immigration/refugee situation.

I'm thankful for God's faithfulness, and I'm also thankful for friends who remind me of His faithfulness when my own hope is wearing thin!

10 months later

Lots of waiting, and it came down to the last 20 minutes on the last possible day.


As you can see, my temporary residency permit was approved...on September 23, the date that they had promised. 5 months after submitting my application. But I didn't know it was going to be "in limbo" for the next 3 weeks...something I will be warning other applicants about!


The work's not quite over; I have to submit another round of documents in a very short amount of time. But at this point I am in! Praise the Lord.

Detour

I was walking home one evening a few weeks ago, and my road had been torn up during the day, just like that.



That's my building (the one in the middle of the photo) across the street. How would I get home? see more/-

Turn right and go past the building materials...



Turn left and trot over the bridge(s). They built the right one first and it was quite a feat to get over! The second one is MUCH better except for in one spot where there is sort of a half step because they didn't space them evenly and there was too big of a step at the end.


Just what are they doing?

This explains a lot

I tutor a young woman in Business English. She's quite fluent but needs to work on a few skill areas, especially for work. We did some talking about cultural differences in the business world, since she works with both Europeans and Americans in addition to Russians.

A recent homework assignment asked the student to rate her native culture on a scale between contrasting behavior traits. To be honest I couldn't make sense of all of the terms that the textbook gave.

One pair related to time perception. Is your culture "monochronic" or "synchronic"? What did that mean? I offered an approximate definition, but promised to find out more. A search yielded the table you can see below (after the jump).

I can think of a few situations with roommates and such where these differences were obvious. For example, a Russian friend would notice something dirty (shoes, the stovetop) and stop immediately to clean it, whereas I would put it on my to-do list to take care of w…

Getting a package slip

I check our mailbox in the entryway a lot and it usually contains a flier or notice of some kind. And the notices are for the landlord or his mother: a registered letter, something from the pension fund, etc.

The other day I grabbed the usual assortment and started to put it in the pile to give to the landlord for when we actually make contact with him (it's already the 6th of October...he does want the rent, right?). But then I looked a little closer and noticed that it was MY name there on the slip. I had received a...banderole? Hmmmm. Something between a letter and a package...

There was an address of a "pick-up center" I needed to find in order to claim my "banderole." A hassle, yet at the same time I remembered back to the college days, when we received those yellow package slips with joy, even if we knew the package would contain something we had ordered ourselves. It was such a treat to get mail! Continue/-

And now, who knew what surprise was waiting for…

Bureaucratic phone calls

The quest for a residency permit continues, as my 90-day visa gets close to expiry...

I suppose the possibility of deportation is enough reason for anyone to get motivated to make some phone calls. :)

Since I last wrote about needing to make progress, nothing had happened. Last week was spent "trying" to make a phone call, which meant that pretty much every day I "intended" to do it, but put it off due to the fact that I either 1) didn't have time 2) didn't have a working phone 3) didn't have the right phone number.

It's imperative to call during work hours, of course.

I know that a lot of this was due to my own procrastination, but it didn't seem possible that SO many things could go wrong when trying to make one phone call! 

Then there was the weekend...continue/-

Monday

This morning I woke up and picked up my cell phone to see that the balance was 3 rubles (about 10 cents). Not again! Then a friend came to my rescue and put some money in m…

The green stuff

Medicine is such an interesting concept to observe in another culture.

I don't think I have written about chicken pox on here before.

But before I get into that story, I must acquaint you with a staple of Russian first aid: the green stuff. It's a popular antiseptic here that is BRIGHT GREEN. In fact, its Latin name translates literally "Brilliant green." And it doesn't wash off right away. Before I knew this, I thought Russian kids really liked to play with markers...

I didn't want to embarrass anyone I know by taking a photo, so I swiped one off the internet...

And that brings me to the chicken pox. A friend of mine (a college student here) recently became infected, and we went to visit him after church, since we'd all had it in childhood. Hospitalization is more common in Russia, but our friend also lives in the dormitory, so that made it even more necessary for him to be quarantined. continue/-

The hospital is one of the bigger facilities in town, and…

Into the furnace

The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (I always liked saying those names) is one so familiar from the Sunday school days. But even now, I'm amazed each time I read this testimony of the Lord's power and favor.

It struck me recently that the story isn't only about what happens when we trust in God, it's also about what goes through the mind of someone who does not yet believe. And that's a perspective about which I sometimes lack understanding.

While reading Daniel 3, something made me examine the king's point of view. This isn't a fairytale-God gives us examples in the form of humans who really lived and experienced real emotions that we can relate to. It might be obvious who the "good guys" are, but the "bad guys" sometimes aren't too far off from our flawed selves. Here is a king, full of power, grasping at human answers to a problem that only God can solve. more/-

King Nebuchadnezzar has already been shown what will be in …

A new bundle of joy

A year (+ a few days) ago, I was attending my sister's wedding, and crying over visa woes.

Yesterday, my sister gave birth to her first child, a boy! His name is Benjamin. :)



Hooray for this miracle of life, and thanks be to the Creator!

Refurbishing

The table (AKA my workspace) in my room was peeling, and I didn't really feel like repainting it...too time-consuming and boring. Then I was looking at an "IKEA hack" site and got the idea of decoupage. I liked the idea of having something personal and unique, and some scrapbook paper did the trick. Who cares if it clashes with the other furniture? :)


To paint or not to paint the legs?

The return of the red tape

It's mid-September, and that means it's time for my residency permit! Time to go from "passive" to "active" bureaucracy mode.

Last week I went to the regional authorities to try to ask some questions. I thought if it wasn't ready then I could at least get some information in advance. My prayer was to get just one bit of helpful information.

Well...does finding the building count? Thankfully, I had checked the website and it said "entrance via hotel." Otherwise, I would not have guessed that the windowless door under the hotel/cafe sign would lead the way to a government office. It surely did not look like it had anything to do with passports or citizenship. Yet, beyond those very doors, people were taking care of  important-and even life-changing-matters. read more/-

The hallway/waiting area was blissfully uncrowded. Too good to be true. As usual I was too shy to break the silence by asking who was last in line. So I played it cool and pretend…

Notes

I have a new roommate...

She is given to creative outbursts, but I guess I'm not one to talk.

When she asked me if she could post something on the refrigerator, I thought it would be fine...I like the refrigerator to display little snapshots of life.


And then she elaborated..."I have to remind myself to go to the woods to gather pinecones." :)

Back to pedagogy

Before I even had time to think about fall activities, an opportunity presented itself. Someone contacted me to ask if I would like to teach Business English part-time to some corporate clients. It seems like a good fit: reasonable pay; a reasonable amount of hours; a sound contract.

I'll be starting up at the orphanages again this week and next, and private lessons are underway.

I was nervous that I'd lost my skills over the last year as I was more of a student than a teacher. But as I begin again, I can feel inspiration rising and the lesson planning machine whirring to a start in my brain. :)

Here's to a new semester...

Not vacation anymore

I'm still here...sort of.

Unfinished repairs+the beginning of the school=CHAOS! Life is not dull at all around here.

For instance.

Saturday, 9pm

I arrive home and ring the doorbell. Instead of my roommate, a man (a friend from church) lets me in, covered head to foot in grease and grime from working on the plumbing. My roommate is at the hardware store.

 I can't find paper to print the handouts for Sunday school. more/-

10pm

My roommate arrives. She unrolls a large piece of paper to begin making a poster for Sunday school.

The other Sunday school teachers decide to start calling each other and editing major portions of the lesson. Could I type up the new version?

I found some old handouts...maybe I could print on the other side?

Midnight

Our plumber friend is getting a taxi home. We have cold water, but no hot. The bathroom looks like a war zone.

1am

It's past my bedtime. My roommate decides she isn't feeling well enough to go to church the next day, but is feeling well e…

Back to school

We did some shopping with kids from a local orphanage. I met the two oldest girls shortly after I moved to St. Petersburg in 2004. Coming up on the 6th anniversary! :)


Making progress

Thank goodness for good friends! Some girls from church came over and helped me with priming and spackling.

No need to judge, we're only amateurs...:)
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Home sweet home?

I think my room needs a little more work...


The truth about taking offense

Only a friend can betray a friend
A stranger has nothing to gain
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain

-Michael Card, “Why?”
This isn’t meant to be a sad post, just some reflections on conflict in relationships.
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Jesus was betrayed by Judas, a friend. Anyone could have done it; He had plenty of enemies. But God chose a friend.

It’s painful to reflect upon, and yet at the same time, an indicator of how Christ lived his life. Knowing He would be betrayed, knowing His time was short, He still sought deep, meaningful friendships.

Only people close to us may betray us, yet there is a positive side to the vulnerability, for it means that we have truly loved. They will not all betray us, but they may hurt us in a number of ways during the process of getting to know each other.

There are times when seemingly harmful words from friends can be upsetting, and we wonder what it was that made us so sensitive. But the fact is that the same words from someone on the s…

Whitewash

This is a message from the Lord through Ezekiel to the false prophets. It compels me to test my heart and my witness. Do I speak the whole truth, or do I gloss over serious situations? Do I offer advice that is rooted in this world rather than eternity? How will I be able to face the people I led astray? And how will I be able to face the Lord?
" 'Because they lead my people astray, saying, "Peace," when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, "Where is the whitewash you covered it with?" -Ezekiel 13:10-12

House-calls

Sometime last week I got a call to go sit in a friend's room until some guys came to deliver new furniture.

I've never ordered furniture in the U.S., so I'm not sure how the timing of the delivery usually works out. Here, you sometimes get a specific time and sometimes just a general window, like 10-2 or 2-6. This can apply to deliveries, doctors' house-calls, maintenance jobs, etc.

My friend kept calling and calling until she got a more specific time from them. Then she called me,"They'll be there in an hour." I was still at home.
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She had drawn a map, and luckily it was accurate, because I had very little time to spare. I found her room in the communal apartment and made myself "at home."

The callbox rang and I answered it.

"Something something furniture." (I can't always understand Russian by phone or intercom). I let them in.

It was just one guy, with pieces in boxes. He left them and then I left, too.

A week later, t…