Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Thorndike and Mitina
As we settle into life in Mitina, there are So many differences...
In our ward back home in Ludlow, MA, we have friends named Pat, Sue, Lucy and Erica.
Among our new friends in our new ward in Zelonograd are Natasha, Soosha, Galia and Kateeya.
Back home we have friends named Ralph, Jim, Fran and Bob.
Here we have met Victor, Dimitri, and Alexsai and Ivan.
Back home, we have friends with the last name of Welliver, George and Reed or Vancour.
Here, their last names are more likely to be Martyanova, Frolova or Boikov.
Back home, there are towns called Pittsfield, Amherst and Belchertown.
Here in Russia Skolniki, Rechnoy and Lotoshino are the names of some of the towns.
Late at night as we lie in bed:
Here in our apartment in Mitina, a suburb of Moscow, we hear sirens and dogs barking and people talking.
Back home in Thorndike, MA, we hear crickets and silence.
Looking out the front windows:
At home in MA we see a little country church with a red door that is always lit up at night. We can see kids on bikes and mothers walking their babies in strollers.
In Mitina we see people rushing to catch the bus, cars speeding on a very busy 6-lane street (or as Dave refers to it, the local drag strip), kids on roller blades, mothers walking their babies, men walking their dogs.
Thorndike is a small quaint New England town where the girls in the little post office know you by name and know your post office box number without looking.
In Mitina, we haven't even seen a post office. We don't even know our address. Our mail is delivered to the mission office where we work. We don't know how other residents get their mail. We've never seen a postal truck or mailman and we have seen a small amount of what look like mail boxes but definitely not enough for the hundreds of people who live in our apartment building alone.
In Thorndike, we live in a two story condo.
In Mitina we live on the 10th floor of an old apartment building surrounded by many other older apartment buildings, all over 10 stories high.
In Thorndike, our car is used almost every day to get us around.
In Mitina, we do not drive. We walk, take the bus or the metro. (or as the youth do, ride bikes or roller blade) Roller blading is definitely big here!
In Thorndike, MA, USA,we are free to come and go as we wish.
In Mitina, we are guests in Russia and as such must always have our identification on us. We use what is called a kanga pouch around our waist to keep our passport in in case we are ever asked to show it.
In Thorndike (Palmer) our population is in the thousands.
In Mitina there are over a million people who live here. Moscow boasts 15 million people. WOW.
In Thorndike, we keep our money in a bank, write checks and use our credit cards.
In Russia, it is a cash-only society. ATM's are used to withdraw cash and purchases are made in rubles.
In Thorndike, you can find McDonalds, Burger King, Nike, Hyundai, Subway
In Moscow, you can find McDonalds, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway, Adidas, Rockport shoes, Yves Rocher....you get the picture?
In Thorndike, when I ran out of a food item, I'd zip to the store to get it.
Here in Mitina, we are grateful for the little prodooktees on every corner (of our apartment as well) and vegetable and fruit trucks). Every Friday we generally go do our "big grocery shopping" for the week. We take our little bob cart (picture coming next week) and our sturdy grocery bags and lug our beans, tomatoes, rice home.
In Thorndike, I can find anything I need or want.
In Mitina, that is not true and I have had to learn to make do or substitute. Whoever would have thought that I would wash out the few ziplock baggies a friend gave to me? They are worth their weight in gold! And what I wouldn't do to be able to find almond, rice or soy milk! No luck yet in that department.
In Thorndike, so many of our dairy are in the refridgerated section.
Here in Mitina eggs, whipped cream (or equivalent) are not refridgerated. Most milk is shelf-stable as well and bread is brought in daily and has no preservatives.
The Russian people are clean, industrious, family-oriented, dog-loving (you see owners and well-behaved dogs everywhere). While some of them are reserved and won't make eye contact with you, that's not true of everyone. The people we see every day on our way to the office are more "receptive" to at least meeting our gaze now that they recognize us, women with babies smile when I look at their baby and sometimes we will get a nod on the bus if we smile first. Since they are such a reserved people, it is delightful when they smile or even speak to us as we pass by. (I wonder if they can tell we are Americans by our accent as we attempt to greet them in Russian?)
Wherever we go in this big world there will be differences, but there are so many things that bring us together that are the same. How grateful we feel to have this chance to be here in this great land of Russia.
Until next week dos vidonya and boods darove.