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Being a kid

I was looking at pictures that a girl from the orphanage had posted on a social networking site, and was seeing this weird dichotomy, but couldn’t put a finger on where it was coming from. The pictures represented her as your average teen girl who aspires to be on a magazine cover…13 going on 30.

I guess I wouldn’t have thought twice (though it makes me sad) if I hadn’t known her in a different context. This was the girl who dreamed of being adopted. She had a loving grandmother, but the grandmother was getting older, and put her in the orphanage.

Lena desperately wanted to go visit an American family for Christmas. She had been interviewed and was on the list, but she didn’t actually find out until the last minute that she could go.

Fast-forward to a few months later, where I saw her again in the orphanage, and this time she had an album full of memories of her “American vacation.” I guess I have mixed feelings about whether or not these trips are good. I’m always glad to hear that …

Lessons, Part 4

On falling in love with a child...

While I loved David from the start, I do not remember feeling “in love” with him during the early days. In the beginning, he felt like a stranger. He didn’t seem to know me, and I didn’t feel like he was my child. It wasn’t like I felt unprepared and was expecting his “real” mother to show up. I just didn’t feel very bonded. However, when he seemed upset or in danger, I definitely felt a motherly instinct kick in, and I guess that’s how I knew that I loved him.

People talk about cherishing those first moments and snuggling with the baby a lot. Well, he was not very able to be snuggled for the first week, as he was in the NICU. We were actually allowed to hold him, but it wasn’t the coziest environment. And we had to “scrub in” each time, wear a smock, etc.

Once at home, it seemed like he wanted to EAT all the time. Whenever he was done eating I would generally hand him off, because I was afraid that being near me would make him want to eat again! Sup…

Lessons, Part 3

On "survival mode"...
Seems I used this analogy not too long ago. To medicate a cold, or not to medicate? Either way it will heal in about the same time.
Well, this time it’s about new babies. As it turns out, the same rule applies here. You can either try a myriad of remedies, or you can wait until it goes away. This is true about things like post-partum healing, learning to breastfeed, learning basic newborn care, and baby sleep habits.
-Once you’ve figured out how to sit comfortably, you’re almost better. -Once you’ve found the perfect nursing garment, you’re used to doing it in regular clothes. -Once you’ve figured out how to entertain the baby while changing his diaper, he’s not scared of it anymore.
And then with sleeping, babies seem to be ready at various ages for sleeping longer stretches at night. Do all the routines, swaddling, “sleep training,” and other advice make a difference? 
It was really helpful to hear about newborn babies not being susceptible to "…

Explain that again?

Advent! After drawing up some ideas, my husband executed a Jesse Tree banner from the felt we had bought together. I’m glad he did such a good job because now we can use this every year. In fact, we are thinking of making more for other times of year because we like the look of the felt banner so much. (The emblems are another story as painting on felt has proved to be difficult...we may need to make new ones next year)

Andrei asked a good question, though: Why did they choose these specific passages?

As I mentioned before, I don’t like Advent readings that aren't obviously related to Christmas. So what does the call of Abram, for example, have to do with the Incarnation?

To me, the typical Jesse Tree passages that I've seen in reading schedules are just bursting with the harmonious thread of the Gospel that runs throughout the Old Testament. I remember the first few times doing the readings with my then-roommate Jenya, and just being newly in awe about how God fulfilled His …

Lessons, Part 2

Another thing that was surprising was how many times I had to hear certain pieces of advice in order for them to stick.
One example was when people would say that my main job was “to feed the baby” or “keep the baby alive” or something similar. It took me weeks and weeks to be able to adjust my daily expectations.
The problem is that I kept thinking my plans were fairly modest and reasonable.
Was it too much to ask to be able to brush my teeth before noon, take a shower every once in a while, cook a simple meal? Everyone was saying “no (new) mother can do it all.” Well, I wasn’t trying to do it all. I thought I had planned pretty simple activities, and they were still too much to handle.
I have to admit that social networking played a role here. Mothers, I’m not blaming you, but the newborn photo shoots are hard to look at! Not the photos themselves, but the idea of it. You got the whole family dressed and dolled up and maybe even out the door to a studio somewhere, and the baby beh…

Around the Table

Andrei and I purposely sought out an apartment with a kitchen that was big enough to SIT in. Of course, in Russia, people will squeeze into a kitchen of any size-that's where the best conversations take place! But here we have an actual dining area. We have a living room, too, but often just end up in the kitchen. Maybe it   feels cozier.


Andrei is a big fan of the works of Francis Schaeffer and of the L'Abri idea. Our small group has been meeting at our place recently, but it's been a little disjointed. Out of the many members, only a few show up each time, and it's a different few. We're happy to see those who come, but where is everybody else? We're not really doing a formal study at the moment. Either we read a book of the Bible and have some free-form discussion, or sometimes asks a question about faith in daily life, and we discuss that. And then pray.

I'm inclined to enjoy the moments when the group is small and each person gets to speak his/her min…

Lessons, Part 1

Some surprising (to me) observations about the parenting experience…

After a baby joins the family, the mother will go through a certain emotional reaction. Of course the father has his own emotions, but all the hormones and everything are happening to the mother.

Soo…a few weeks after a baby has been born, the mother may experience the “baby blues.” For me this was a feeling of intense sadness mixed with disappointment that my status as a heroine had dwindled and that all energy now needed to be focused on the baby (just quoting my journal here).

Lots of crying. New parents may feel emotional for different reasons. What surprised me was that I began to think a lot about death. While struggling with feeling like I had been abandoned (though surrounded by loved ones 24/7), I began to think about future milestones in the baby’s life. I think partly I was trying to give myself some bright moments to look forward to.

I pictured him growing up and going to school and going off to college a…

Our Advent

We got to church today (over a snowy terrain) just in time for Andrei to open the service by lighting the first Advent candle.
From the back of the room I saw a seat up in front occupied by a friend of ours who just finished his year of compulsory army service (it was 2 years back when Andrei was serving). His mother entered the room a few minutes later, beaming with joy. What a blessing for him to be home.
Looking around, it took me a few minutes to realize that about 50% of those in attendance were children, and also that I didn't know many people in the room. Nope, I wasn't at the wrong church service. A local Christian children's shelter had arranged to visit on this, the first Sunday of Advent. A few of the kids did a little musical act and their counselor later did a presentation on how their ministry is going. And other people were just visiting, I guess...I never did find out!
In front of me, two boys (non-visitors) were fooling around all through the worship and …

People

I was trying to figure out why I had time for blogging while in Estonia, and I remembered that we didn't really know anyone there. Back in Russia, there is lots of visiting to catch up on.

For example...

1) We had another family over, who got married a month or two after us and had a baby about 6 weeks after us as well. Of course that gives us things to talk about, but to tell you the truth, I love spending time with people of all ages and life situations, so that wasn't really the main draw. We actually had an interesting conversation with them about church fellowship.

2) On Wednesdays we have our "small group" Bible study meet here. I guess it is sort of a "young adult" group, pretty large, but this time we had only 2 guests. Secretly I like when very few people come, not that I don't miss the others. My mother-in-law has come over a few times to help with David so I can catch a bit more of the discussion.

3) My in-laws come over about once a week an…

What are you doing?

It’s time to think about Advent!
I would love to hear what you are doing this year. Of course I will share what we are doing, if we ever decide! J I think my favorite idea so far has been the Jesse Tree: a trip through the Bible (via selected readings) and God’s promises in one month, with a neat visual presentation.
Out of this category of ideas, the most eye-popping one I tried was the circular calendar. And then of course, there was the interesting tree I sculpted one year at my parents.’ One year I simply made a calendar with little paper pockets and left surprises for my roommate. That was fun, though not necessarily Christmas-related. We had a reading schedule for spiritual content.
Of course there are ways to observe this time of year that require less preparation: readings, candle-lighting, bringing out the figures of a nativity scene out one by one, opening the windows of a pre-made calendar… I’m hoping we will at least find a good reading schedule. I like ones that don’t re…

They are 8

Maybe I've mentioned this before, but these two girls were born the fall I moved to Russia. Every once in a while I look at them and think, that's how much my life has changed.

While they were being transformed from infants into the savvy schoolgirls they are now, I did a lot of growing, too.

When they were babies, I was a college graduate in a strange land. The one on the left is Nastia; her family lived near one of the orphanages and I would visit them sometimes. My Russian was limited but the young mother would always pray with me. They had very little money, but she would always feed me and it was always delicious. Their family has become very dear to me and they recently had a baby in the spring, who shares my name.

These two were once the littlest pupils and we made a special Sunday school group for them. Now they are with the big kids.

They both got to be flower girls in various weddings. By the time I was getting married, Uliana (on the right) had a little sister. We …

A family affair

This year's bureaucracy season is coming to a close, though we will have to continue on in our quest of getting David and me the proper documents to stay here long-term.

The final pressing need was for me to pass inspection for my temporary residency permit. The whole family worked together to help me pass.

My father-in-law Vladimir walked my mother-in-law Nina to the metro as soon as it opened in the morning, so she could go get us on The List. The Immigration office hadn't opened yet, but lists were forming. Then she was the List-Keeper for the next few hours as the office opened and they began letting people in.

Andrei, David, and I got there about 30 minutes after it opened and it was already our turn! As we were getting close, I had this feeling that I was going to either pass out, throw up, burst into tears, or something similar. I half-hoped there would be a new inspector because I have so many negative associations with the usual one.


Andrei stayed with David and the s…

I'm 4 months OLD?

How did THAT happen?











A Glimpse of Christian Youth in SPB

It's been several years since I participated in any sort of street evangelism, Christian skits, camp sessions, etc. I look at something like this and think "I'm way too old," but whether that's an issue or not, my eyes fill with tears as I see these Russian believers (young or not) trying to reaching their city for Christ via a flash-mob.





This is a Protestant effort; I would be curious as to what kinds of activities young Orthodox believers are involved in.

On another note, I heard that the government wants schools to implement a new "Patriotism" program.....

Tests and a resolution

I don't know why it had to be so hard. Of course, "hard" is relative and it could have been a lot worse. But our recent trip to Estonia felt like it brought test after test. We had days with endless solution-seeking that felt like waves of labor pain (I'm allowed to say that now) with no baby in sight.

David's visa was due to be ready on Friday, and we were planning to leave that very day. We thought out all the possible scenarios. The city where we were staying (Johvi) is just a few hours from the border, but we had to go into Tallinn first for the visa and then go back the same way we had come, toward Russia.

So in order to fit this all into one day, we needed to take the 6:00 am bus again. But we had done this several times already and knew the drill.

That is, until we had the complication that nobody counted on...

A SNOWSTORM???
Those of you in the U.S. that were hit by last year's October snowstorm may be able to relate. But for us this was yet another …

Good shepherds

This time in Estonia has been a journey of "good news/bad news"!

Good news: they gave David a visa.
Bad news: It's only for 30 days.
Good news: We can apply for another kind.
Bad news: It will take another 2 weeks.
Good news: It will be ready soon.
Bad news: Andrei has to leave Estonia before David's Russian visa is ready.
Good news: The Estonian authorities extended his visa.

The nice thing is, the Good Shepherd has constantly provided us with shepherds who look our for our needs.

-Our pastor in St. Petersburg made sure David and I had a ride for one leg of our trip here
-Missionaries in Tallinn drove us the rest of the way and let us stay with them
-Another missionary friend provided us with a place to stay while waiting out the visa
-The local pastor got us a stroller to borrow while we're here
-Someone gave us a ride home from church on Sunday

These acts of kindness were all unsolicited, just brothers and sisters in Christ responding to our needs!

While taki…

Birth Story

WARNING: Gynecological-related language.

Introduction:

When I was "preparing" for childbirth, the main books that helped me were "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" and "Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds." I read lots of information and changed my mind several times. And of course, there were many aspects of labor that were different from what I had expected.

At first I read a lot about natural childbirth, and it turned me off from the way hospitals handle childbirth. I started to get nervous that my labor would stall as soon as I set foot on hospital grounds, and that I would be subjected to various procedures against my will.

Then I ran across some stories about "home births" gone wrong, and I decided I would feel better being in the medical setting of the hospital, even with its sterile environment. As it turned out, David needed help breathing when he was born, so we did need medical intervention. But then again, who knows if m…

How I left for 10 days and stayed a month

It has been quite a week!

Last Tuesday, we learned (at the end of the business day) that David was approved for a 30-day tourist visa instead of a 3-year. Slight difference there! The woman at the visa agency had not done a good job of checking our documents, and we had thought we were one week into a 15-day processing time, only to find out that we were ineligible.

We spent all day Wednesday making phone calls and discussing various options. Going back and forth between the visa agency and the Embassy who keep giving us different answers. We are staying 2.5 hours away in another city, and the Russian Embassy is only open from 9-10 a.m....

On Thursday Andrei and David and I set out at 5 a.m. to catch a 6:00 bus to Tallinn. We brought with us a new invitation, for a guest visa. First we had to go to the visa agency and cancel David's tourist visa in person in order to get his passport back to start a new visa application. We didn't get any money back for the 30-day tourist vis…

Quick break from bureaucracy: bilingual parenting

Back before we were expecting David...let's see, that was actually when we were engaged-I downloaded a book to read called "Bilingual By Choice: Raising Kids in Two (or More!) Languages," by Virginie Raguenaud.

Reading it on my Kindle made it harder to flip through and mark my favorite sections and take notes. I regret never having written that book review, because I really enjoyed the book.

The author writes from her own experience. She grew up speaking 3 languages and is raising her twins in French and English. I loved reading about her childhood memories, as she did her homework in one language and then would check her answers with her parents in another language.

I think the book's title (Bilingual by CHOICE) is key. Any family could promote bilingualism in their children, but it takes planning and intention. Although kids are resilient and learn fast, they can lose a language just as easily if they aren't given a chance or a reason to use it.

At the end of …

My little Russian

I think David looks like his American side of the family in the previous post, but when I put this little hat on him, he turns into a Russian baby!


I can't stop taking photos of him while he's sleeping because it's just SO cute!

Andrei is joining us in Estonia on Saturday and we will be a complete family once again!

David's visa journey

Introduction

The changing Russian visa laws over the past several years have required missionaries to make tough decisions about continuing their work in Russia. Whether choosing to live in Russia only part of the time, leave for good, or get a different type of document, it all changes the way we do ministry.

For me, choosing to pursue a residency permit has been a long journey that has left me unable to spend so much time doing the same things I did before. It's affected me physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, and has taken hours and hours of time. But for me, fighting to stay in Russia was what seemed right.

Now, we've come full circle as visa laws are being "relaxed" once again. Will missionaries start to come back? Is there work for full-time missionaries in Russia, or is that era ending?

Over and over again, getting certain documents processed has caused a chain of events that send me on wild goose chases, trying and trying and trying and tryin…

Blogging from Estonia (on a visa run)/The new Russia/U.S. visa agreement

David and I are in Tallinn!

I was reading a blog entry I wrote after the last time I got a visa in Tallinn. I'm really glad I have that record, but a lot of that information is outdated now!

So I'll be writing a new set of instructions this time around, and it might help someone in the near future, although it could change again very soon.

If you have Russian connections you might have heard that there is a new visa agreement between the U.S. and Russia. Though I haven't spoken with any Russians applying for visas to the U.S., this certainly can affect travel plans from both sides, hopefully in a good way!

David might not get Russian citizenship for 6 months or more, and up until now I could only get a 30-day tourist visa for him, so we're talking several months back-to-back of traveling and renewing visas. However, the new 3-yr visas have just become available, so we were able to apply for one for him.

The length of stay with the new visas is 6 months (maximum) in a …

Making plans

Soon after writing the previous post, my husband and I sat down and looked at dates and realized we couldn't get him a visa to Finland as planned. Most Russians we had asked had told us it was much easier than getting into Estonia (people get a Finnish visa and use it to enter Estonia). Come to find out, a Finnish visa takes nearly a MONTH to process.

Bottom line, I still have to leave Russia with the baby on Sept. 30th, but Andrei can't go with us. We can't extend David's Russian visa, nor can we expedite a visa for Andrei to enter a neighboring country.

I have missionary friends living in Tallinn (Estonia) currently, and the wife is traveling back to Tallinn from Russia on the exact date we need to leave, so we can even get a ride with her, and her family has graciously offered to help out me and David.

Other friends offered us their flat to stay in as a family, should Andrei make it into Estonia.

After making a new round of phone calls and inquiries after ruling ou…

Nerves

I feel a bit apprehensive about the approaching Bureaucracy Season. I have to keep telling myself that the God who got me through it before will be with me and sustain me.

Two years ago, I was battling sickness as I turned in my residency papers just in the nick of time.

One year ago, I stood in line while in the throes of morning sickness, nibbling on my crackers and hoping for a miracle.

This year, I have an infant, himself holding tourist status. I don't know how I'm going to work out standing in line for my own documents in-between feeding and caring for him. And then next year, I'll be doing it with a toddler. Each year the mountains seem too high, but now I have my little David to remind me of how a man of God defeated Goliath. I have to believe it will happen for us, too.


You can read about my journey with Russian bureaucracy in the posts mentioned below.

-The adventures began about when I started this blog back in 2007. We were required to leave the country every fe…

Post-Soviet Pediatrics

I find the cultural differences in approaches to medicine so fascinating! The "common cold" argument attracts a lot of discussion, but there are other aspects, like sterilization, that are very interesting to compare. I read a book about Soviet medicine that I reviewed awhile back and it explained a LOT. Let me know if you can recommend any other sources on this topic, because I just find it interesting in general!

Meanwhile, I had a taste of culture shock taking our son to the Russian pediatrician for the first time! Here are my quick American observations: 1) They want to fix everything. 2) They don't give you a choice. 3) You have to go to see specialists for things that a general practitioner in the U.S. would take care of. 4) Private clinics like to milk all the money they can get out of you!

We went to a clinic that a friend had recommended; in fact, she even gave us a ride!

When we went through all the Russian rituals of taking off our outer clothing and putting …

Your thoughts?

So the deal with blogging is that most of my computer time nowadays happens one-handed. While I compose interesting emails and updates in my mind, they're just not getting written. I've been trying to schedule in five minutes of writing time each day just for sanity and creativity's sake, but most posts are longer than five minutes' worth anyway. "Maybe tomorrow" is my current motto.

In the meantime, feel free to post here links to any reading material or even audio content that you think I'd enjoy checking out. If you're a mother, is there anything in particular you do/did while nursing? Or was it all about the baby?

-blogs?
-websites?
-sermon audio?
-Bible commentary?
-language learning?
-books on Kindle?

I like missionary and "mommy" blogs, but I try not to get into a comparing myself rut, so I aim to keep a good balance. Just anything uplifting that you'd like to share, I'm open to! (Ugh, just butchered the English language)


A little bit of green

Our apartment complex is fairly typical, but there's a bonus: we have some green space!

Normally a plot of land doesn't stay empty for long and in other courtyards you might see a preschool, grocery store, playground, or at least another dumpster or parking lot! I don't remember what the story is, but whatever was supposed to be built here didn't get built.

There aren't any benches, but I've come to regard that as a good thing, as they attract loiterers; smokers and the like. That means less noise as well as less trash. Here it's just people going to work or school, or simply taking a leisurely walk. The long, paved sidewalks allow for bikes, rollerblades, and strollers. While dogs bring their own messes, it's fun to see them frolicking on the grass.


Beyond the next building, there's a playground, teeming with kids and their parents and grandparents; a mother snapping at her daughter (tired after a long day?). Maybe I'll have to take my turn th…

Bureaucracy Season

It’s that time of year! Actually, I will have to start thinking about my documents in October, but September is the time for David’s documents.
He is currently registered in St. Petersburg as an American tourist. Yep, it’s true. We get until the end of the month to figure out something more permanent (preferably dual citizenship) and then I will have to exit with him into another country and get a new visa for him.
My heart hurts for families who have to be separated for short or long periods of time because of citizenship issues. What if I chose Russian citizenship in order to be in Russia with my husband without threat of deportation? Then I’d need a visa to go back and visit my parents!
I have to admit that I have a little bit of a double standard in my head. I don't like having to wait in line and go through the same processes as all those other foreigners (who came here for silly reasons like making money to support their families). And my marriage is a real marriage, so sh…

The Summer of David

My husband and I were reflecting on the summer, or rather, I was probably worrying about something and he was trying to get me to see the other side.

There was soooo much I didn't get done. Printing wedding photos (from last year)? Getting together with friends? Taking the baby with us to the park on a picnic? Introducing my husband to more of my favorite hometown people and places? Blogging???

"This was the summer of David," my husband said. It wasn't the summer for any of those other things. I had to take care of my health, then we had to travel to the NICU, then we had to (try to) resolve breastfeeding issues, while tackling medical insurance details and obtaining all the papers that David would need to travel to another country at 7 weeks of life.

There was essentially one thing I could get done each day-one phone call, one form, one e-mail. Other than that, each break consisted of taking care of the basic tasks I needed for survival: This is the break when I ea…

Along the way

At church last Sunday I realized that I hadn't been in a "corporate" worship setting in a long time. It had been a rough night, but we decided to go anyway.

I hadn't made it to church the last few times before David was born, and the times we did show up with him, I went to the nursery right away to feed him. That meant I pretty much missed the worship time but was able to listen to the sermon.

But this time, there were a few worship songs at the end. When I began to sing, I realized that I hadn't been able to sing in that setting for what seemed like a long time, even if it was only a month. There is something powerful about being able to proclaim those words of faith. And I have to admit, they sometimes reach deeper in one's native language.

There was a girl there who had just lost her mother that week, but she was singing to the Lord.

Blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering; when there's pain in the offering, blessed be Your name...

The…

Biggest little boy in the NICU

Going backwards a little bit here.

Little David was born with a SPLASH of meconium! I think everyone attending the birth got a little shower, never heard of that before. There was no "delayed cord cutting" or "skin-to-skin" bonding that are the trend in birth plans nowadays. When they broke my water, they saw meconium and knew that he would need to be checked out as soon as he was born.


Up at my end of the bed, I was barely aware of what they had actually done with the baby once he was out.

 I saw the pediatricians standing around the warming bed working on something, so I knew he had to be over there somewhere.

At some point a little later, a member of the staff explained that the baby would be transferred to another hospital that had a CPAP machine, a special ventilator not available in our hospital.

They put him on antibiotics in case of infection, so his first week of life was spent in the NICU.

To be continued...

Coming up for air

Baby David was 1 month old last Thursday. Not that I was waiting for him to be a month old to write an update or anything like that, just finally finding the time.

Please, please, please, little boy, stay asleep so I can finish this post.

There are many new and interesting experiences that we have been through in the past few months. Of course I would love to write about them, but find more and more posts staying unfinished. I think I will have to come up with a new system, perhaps taking 5-10 minutes a day to write just a short update.

The other day I was thinking about my English students from this past year; recalling their faces and personalities and the interesting conversations that we had. God only knows if I will see any of them again. Lord, will you bring any fruit out of it? Will any of them be saved?

And of course I can't reminisce about special people without thinking of the orphans. I can picture their mannerisms and the way they did their homework with me-some caref…

Happenings

It is too hot to do a lot of exploring these days, but we have had some interesting fellowship. Last Saturday we had a visit from my college friends. During the week we attended a church potluck, visited friends, and had an "international" dinner with some people my parents have been reaching out to. A few evenings ago we attending an art opening and heard an interesting lecture.

It's funny noting how many people are connected to Russia in some way, at least when the topic comes up.

A family friend came over to notarize some documents and shared how he and his family had lived in Moscow one year.

If it's someone from the church where I grew up, then many members or at least someone in their family went on one of the trips we took over several years.

Yesterday we celebrated Andrei's birthday! So far the baby has missed sharing his mother or father's birthdays. But that's okay as it isn't his due date yet. July 6th is his (Russian) grandfather's b…

He's here!

...my husband, that is, not the baby!

There were supposed to be a whole bunch of posts between this one and the last one, informative and thought-provoking. But those ones are stuck in my drafts folder.

Since arriving in the U.S. on May 15th I've been doing a lot of resting and preparing for Baby's birth (I don't want to turn this into a pregnancy blog, but for anyone who's curious, flying at 32-33 weeks along was totally fine). There is a certain quietness here as opposed to St. Petersburg. However, there is no running from bureaucracy: medical forms, health insurance, citizenship and spellings of last names are all of a part of the deal.

My sister, mom and friends threw me a baby shower, which was fun, and then once Andrei got here last week, we took a childbirth class and toured the childbirth center.

I've been going to the doctor every week and have met everyone in the practice. Overall the staff have been very friendly. I have to admit I have a slight aversio…

Just a pic?

Spring is here! Well, it's still a bit chilly, but so light outside!




For the record, I'm 7 months pregnant in this pic...just in case you thought I looked a little rounder.


Wearing the cross

I arrived at the orphanage not long after Easter and walked into a "conversation" between a counselor and one of her charges.

The boy wanted a cord or chain for a cross pendant he had come across. He felt this would solidify his Christian status.

The counselor, a Muslim (ethnically) had apparently had it with Christianity. Or with Orthodox Christianity. Or with Christian holidays...something had ticked her off. And here she began to rant...about the cross.

It (the cross) didn't mean anything; Christianity didn't mean anything. 90% of "Christians" just went to church to light a candle and say a prayer, then go on with their hypocritical lives.

I could feel the weight of the cross necklace I had put on that morning. I don't wear one regularly; it just feels right sometimes. But I felt awkward to be wearing it at that moment.

If I had heard the comment from a random person on the street, maybe it wouldn't have bothered me. But this counselor is someon…