It is officially Spring, although Moscow hasn't gotten the message yet. Temperatures range from 20's to low 30's. We are still walking to the office on snow covered sidewalks.
We had a bad leak in the apartment when we arrived that got progressively worse. Dave enlisted the help of the young office elders, missionaries from USA who speak Russian, to set up a time for the plumber to arrive. When the plumber arrived, he spoke to Dave in Russian which, of course, Dave didn't understand. Dave went through the landlady, Jana, who speaks a little English, when we needed the electrician in for some repairs. The electrician didn't say one word the whole time. Dave pointed to what needed to be fixed, he fixed it and out he went.
We have been practicing our Russian at the Renok where we buy our fresh fruit and veggies. Today after making a request in Russian, the lady smiled as she waited on us and then in clear English said, "Thank you." We have noticed that the Russian people do seem to appreciate the efforts you make to speak Russian to them.
We decided to check out the television. We have two of them in our apartment. Maybe there were some English stations? Nope. But we did see the Smurfs and the Simpsons both speaking away in Russian.
Many of the Russian people are very somber. As we have met people on the street they avert their gaze away from us. Even the children do this. The same on the bus or metro. They won't meet your gaze.
One exception was at the bus stop when I was trying to read a sign. There was an old Russian lady waiting for the bus and she was observing and listening to my attempts to make out this long word She started chattering away in Russian and laughing. When she got on her bus, I waved and she waved back.
We attended English Club which meets every Wednesday night at different wards (congregations) in the Moscow area. We were in a conversational class with two Russian men who wanted to improve their English. (I can't remember their names) One was a young 30ish man, a graphic computer designer who spoke pretty good English. The other understood more than he could speak. He is a professor at an elite college in Zelonograd. He was kind of shy.
A sister missionary was leading the group and we were encouraging them to tell us about their work and so on. It was very pleasant. I asked the college professor if he was going to come back (because he had seemed uncomfortable there) and he said yes. I reached out my hand to shake his hand, he took it and made a little bow. I found it quite charming. I learned that a man will not offer his hand to a woman, but will shake her hand if she offers it first.
On Thursday we attended Senior Missionary Council. It was held at the Central Building in Moscow. It was my first experience on the famous metro. It took us a bus ride and 2 metro rides and a short walk to arrive there. (about an hour). We met 11 other wonderful senior missionary couples who are serving in different capacities in Russia (not just Moscow) Humanitarian, leadership, CES (Church Education System, office (us), welfare, each with their own responsibilities. They are a lovely group of people dedicated to serving the Lord in the great land of Russia. We look forward to getting to know them better as we meet each week with them.
Dave attended Church last week without me because of the leak in our apartment. (the water to be emptied every three hours). Because I am directionally challenged, it made sense that Dave go with the Naegle's, who have been showing us around, so we could go together this next week. The meetings were all in Russian, but the missionaries translated for him. the people were friendly and received him well. It was interesting to sing the Church hymns in the Russian language. He also gave our first fast offering contribution to the bishop. It took about an hour and a half away by bus.
And last but not least for this week.......I would have never guessed that I would have a chance to use my shorthand after all these years. President Sorensen seemed delighted when I mentioned that I had been a stenographer (40 years ago). Instead of emailing me his comments for a couple of letters, he asked me to take them in shorthand. Wow. It has been a LONG time, but I was thrilled when I was able to do this. I think this is going to be a regular occurence - me taking his letters in shorthand and then typing them. (hmmmm - I can't remember some of the things recently learned on the computer, but my shorthand has come back to me after all these years. Go figure. :0)
Dos Vidonya and Boods Darove. Until next week........