Has it really been 15 months since we arrived in Russia? I have had a relationship with the girls in the prodooctee (convenience store) which is a two minute walk from our apartment, since we arrived. Almost every time I have walked in to get some fresh bread or eggs, Zarina has been there. Our relationship went from cordial to friendly and comfortable. Initially, Zarina was with Margo, a pleasant older woman from Armenia. Then, one day about 5 months ago, Margo was gone and Lola had taken her place. Lola and I clicked right from the start. Despite the language barrier, a friendship blossomed and we have always been comfortable with each other, speaking in our prospective languages and nodding to each other as if we understand. (and sometimes we do). They are both so helpful, even carrying my grocery bag to the counter once it is full if I am still shopping with a second grocery bag.
I have learned that Zarina is married with two children and I have briefly met one of Lola's little boys. Zarina and Lola and I pass each other as I am on my way to the office and they are on their way to the store. The girls both know we are missionaries and that our "raboata" (work) is on Muravskya Street.
A few weeks ago Zarina told me that she was going away on vacation and wouldn't be back until after we had left to go back to America.
Today was the day I said goodbye to Zarina. I was surprised by how hard it was to say goodbye to this friendly young woman who has become my friend.
Today I gave both of my friends a Book of Mormon in Russian along with a pamphlet about families. They were both pleased with their gift. I was pleased to by their response. They know I care about them. They have known from the first we met that I am a missionary and sometimes Zarina would call me Sister Sutton and other times, just Barbara.
I will miss her.
There are more goodbyes to come, but for now, I will take it one new friend, or one sweet missionary at a time.