Friday, August 28, 2015

Smiles and Drinking Water

I kind of gave away the post with the title there, but I wanted to start from the end of our trip when we'd already come back to Russia.

Visiting the UK was like visiting the West for me. Sure, British and American culture are not one and the same, but when compared to Russian culture they are very similar. I even ate most of my favorite foods while in London. Yum.

I know the "smile" thing is controversial, but upon return to Russia, I realized that I had enjoyed the friendliness of Great Britain. You can analyze whether or not smiling and being friendly is "natural," but since it was instilled in me from an early age, I feel like I'm myself when I can make eye contact with strangers and greet them, or make some random comment in commiseration, or even crack a joke. Suddenly it turns out I'm not so socially awkward after all. I saw an article recently about expats who turn into introverts while abroad, but I didn't even read it since I consider myself an introvert to begin with. And yet...there is definitely a goofy side of me that doesn't come out unless I'm reeallly relaxed.

So now I'm back to the old dilemma of how exactly to be a polite and gracious individual, while living in another culture! If I behave like a friendly American, I might actually win someone over, but I wish I could be culturally-appropriate, like the young lady that came to visit today bearing a bouquet of flowers and some cakes wrapped in a box with a ribbon. What is selflessness? Does the Golden Rule transcend cultures? Is it better to be stiff and follow cultural norms, or let go and just be your clueless, bumbling self? It is so relevant to missionaries and other cross-cultural workers, as we often put passion into serving people the way we know how, acting with completely pure intentions but a moderate degree of naivete.

And the other item, the drinking water. How nice it was to just put a cup under the tap and have water to drink. Like a small wedge in my pie chart of daily stress was lifted. When I don't have drinking water with me, I worry about being thirsty suddenly, being stuck on hot public transportation or walking somewhere without water...or getting a migraine, or feeling sick to my stomach. On one of the planes we were on, we hadn't purchased water again after security, and David was thirsty already when we were boarding. He kept asking and asking for water, and we had to wait. I was more careful after that to always buy some. That is one of my hang-ups, I guess. I have to add, though...I had some intestinal troubles while traveling. So perhaps I was TOO casual about the tap water, but it was nice while it lasted!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Summer in the 11th hour

Earlier this month, we were traveling in the U.K., so fun! Even though traveling is challenging, I have to admit it was quite nice to go somewhere a little bit closer. No overnight flights or jet-lag or anything like that. I'll be giving more details in some upcoming posts.

It's been harder to motivate myself to blog since I joined Instagram. You can look at my photos even without signing up. I've been trying to post there every day and it reminds me of the regularity of blogging and of the journal aspect that used to be more prevalent. Like those "Day in the Life" photo projects.

It's been a very mild summer and just in the past week it's gotten close to 80 degrees a few times. That's a hot sun, so I tend to wait until evening to go out walking with D. I feel like we've been attacked on all sides by various insects who have just been waiting for the perfect moment to party summer-style. I realized that it's not as much of an issue when it's light at night both outside and inside. But now that the evenings are darker, the bugs gravitate toward whatever lights are still burning. Not having screens on the windows makes for a pretty populous kitchen ceiling when I'm in there late at night!

David has been sleeping horribly, so obviously we have, too. I'm still kind of waiting for him to be a good sleeper. Lately he wakes up in the middle of the night and announces that he's "all done." No idea what happened there. Crying fit and eventual surrender to sleep. Then he wakes up still too early for our liking, has meltdowns all day, and cries hysterically at naptime. He had tummy issues last week and I suppose the flea bites (neighbors with cats...) are bothering him now, but I can't help feeling there is something else. I'm realizing that this is making its way to the top of my prayer list. We're tired, and Andrei will be teaching again, potentially in less than a week.

More trip stuff and news soon.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Looking Back and a Heads-Up

I've got a pretty old printer. It works fine, just takes its time. So I thought it might be fun to crank out a blog post while each page prints. :) I think my printer probably has me beat at wpm, though.

I've been pretty frantic (to say the least) over the past few weeks with trip preparations. Since it's more of a "destination" (UK) holiday, there has been a lot of general information gathering to do. Even though there will be onsite activities, we also don't want to pass up chances for sightseeing, but with 22 people it requires some initial scheduling if we are ever going to actually get anywhere!

And now I'm printing it all out, and we leave in...less than 18 hours. Very exciting.

Even though we've had lots to do (and trip preparation has taken priority), we've tried to make time for family lately, too. Andrei and I celebrated our anniversary this week, and went on a little date, finally! So for that day we were more focused on celebrating and not doing anything else.

It's been a whirlwind though, and we've been planning for a year practically, so needless to say expectations are high!

We'll be seeing my parents, all of my siblings, and their families. David will get to see his 6 cousins.

I did want to mention, though: I'm not bringing my computer this time around. Trying to cut down on baggage. Check out my Instagram (link in the sidebar) for photos, or contact me via email. But blog posts probably won't be happening until we're back, unfortunately.

See you in two weeks!

5 years later

 After my latest  weird dream sequence , I found my mind wandering to an alternate scenario where our church never split up . I did the math...