Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas limbo

My husband and I are both sort of on "vacation," yay! The last week of December, people are still working. But then they have a break until Jan.9th or so. I wouldn't want to need a doctor or anything during this time (lots of people out of town), but it's still nice to have time off.

Andrei and I sat looking at the clock yesterday evening and realized that it was only about 7:30 pm and we were both already home and had eaten and didn't have any work to do. He had stayed up until 2 or 3 a.m. for the past I-don't-know-how-many nights.

We played a board game, had dessert, looked at the clock...it was still before TEN O'CLOCK. So amazing.

It's nice that Christmas and New Year's are on weekends this year. When Christmas is in the middle of the work-week, it just doesn't feel right! This year, we had a Christmas concert on the 23rd....

At rehearsal earlier in the week.
For once, the songs were thematically-appropriate! Our concerts intended for Christmas and Easter often end up getting postponed and the songs lose their relevance, but we were "on time" this year. continue/-

On Christmas Eve, we gathered with some other families to have a meal. It was typical of parties here: taking turns around the table in the small apartment, more and more food appearing out of nowhere when you were expecting a simple meal...catching up with friends.

Then Andrei was up most of the night preparing the sermon for Christmas morning, which I hear was (not surprisingly) excellent. Unfortunately, I was sick.

The Sunday school put on a Christmas play. I just love, from the pictures at least, how everything turned out. Sometimes it is good (and healthy!) to know you're not needed. I helped out at rehearsals a little bit, but putting on plays (in a directorial role, at least), is not my thing. And then I couldn't actually attend the performance. It was great to hear that everyone worked together and it all came together well in the end.


My dear friends!

And I just LOVE the little star, our youngest congregant!



So now we still have New Year's, which I have always sort of regarded as a non-holiday...and then Russian Christmas, also rather ambiguous in the light of having already celebrated.

But, nonetheless, Merry Christmas!

Admiring the newborn King...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thanksgiving

Oh dear, another month went by! Well, I can at least write about how my document saga ended up.

On the day after (American) Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law and I headed back to Immigration. As usual we had run around making photocopies and paying fees at the last minute.

It wasn't my last chance; I still had a Friday or two left before my deadline. But I didn't want it to come down to the last minute.

Nina (my mother-in-law) went in early to get in line so I could rest a little at home and finish getting ready. There were even more people than before, so we were pretty far down on the list. She convinced me to stay home for a few more hours.

Eventually I headed over and we waited the last hour or two together. One of the guys from the previous time was there and raising a ruckus again. He had almost gotten into a fistfight before. We all held our breaths as he barged into the office and argued about something with the Inspector. Then a few people took issue with the schedule posted in the hallway, and the Inspector actually came out, stunning everyone into silence, and read the schedule out loud at the top of her lungs.
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So, fast-forward to us finally getting into The Room. I believe it was "lunchtime" at that point, but she took us anyway. My mother-in-law tried to make the situation more personal and tried to "get acquainted" with the Inspector. But the Inspector would not give us her name...I guess she thought we wanted to write a complaint! It is so hard to be compassionate when people are pitted against each other like that. A name, a little personal information...it makes it easier to think of another person as human, but in the bureaucratic system that is taken away.

I had some mistakes on my application and I knew that I wouldn't get in again today if I had to leave and do it over. But she let me just write in the corrections. I also had to add a paragraph to the "explanation," and she let me just come back in and drop it off, without waiting in line.

Then there was ripping, and stamping, and...approval!!! Free until next fall.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions about the future, and I don't fully understand what happened THIS time. The Inspector said that my report wouldn't cut it, if I were to apply for a permanent residency permit. How, then, will I fill in the missing pieces?

But for now, I got to celebrate Thanksgiving after all, and began the Advent season with a glad heart.