the final night

And so it ends.  Or maybe it begins.

This is our last night in Moscow.  Not long from now we will grab some sleep and awake to a long day of travel back to the US.  On a 12-hour flight to Atlanta, I will try to come up with an answer for the question most of you will be asking: "So, how was the trip to Moscow?"

I will be unable to give you an adequate answer.  Perhaps because there is so much here.  Perhaps because I will again hit the culture shock of the US.  Or perhaps because I do not know how trips such as this effect me until time has gone on.  In small moments my mind will fly back to an experience here.  Something that has burned on my soul but has not yet caught fire.  Later I will smell the embers and remember the experience.

Here are some things I do know for certain:

  1. Pat and Cathy Black are amazing hosts.  They treated us like family.  Cathy was an exceptional cook and Pat a fantastic tour guide and friend.  Note:  I realize the overuse of adjectives here, but these guys just flat out rock. 
  2. The Black family is solid.  Rebecca, Andrew, and James are impressive young people with a love for Jesus.  I would be proud to call them part of my family.
  3. The Black’s are a GREAT investment.  If you are a supporter of them (and MCC is), know that they are getting the job done in Moscow (Pat at RACU as an English teacher and worship coordinator and Kathy as a teacher at HCA).  How effective are these guys in cross-cultural missions?  Check this:  Tonight several friends of the Blacks dropped by.  At one point in the evening, a couple of American’s (Steph and I) were drinking tea brought from England while enjoying a french pastries.  We were talking in the living room with Rebecca, Andrew and James (Americans growing up in Russia), along with two Russian women.  In the other room were two African Christians who had moved to Moscow as missionaries.  It is just a taste of the life here.  Multi cultural.  
  4. The melting pot at HCA is incredible.  HCA (Hinckson Christian Academy) is the English speaking school for children of missionaries.  From 1st – 12th grade, there are 15 nationalities represented.  It’s like a UN of short people.  These students have a cultural world view that I have never seen.  It is compelling.
  5. The students at RACU (Russian American Christian University) are the real deal.  The are dedicated lovers of God.  One RACU student, Christina, came to translate for us during one afternoon of shopping.  As we left, Steph had a hard time saying good-bye; and she had just met Christina.  It is amazing how quickly you can connect with a person.
  6. Less is more.  This week we had 7 people in a two bedroom apartment and all shared one bathroom.  The kitchen was tiny (with no dishwasher) and we every breakfast and dinner together.  This is normal in Moscow.  We were not crowded.  Do I miss my space to stretch out, my yard, and my cars?  Oddly enough, I do not.  Confession time.  When we arrived and Patrick showed us the small apartment, I felt sorry for them.  Leaving, I feel sorry for us.

Time for bed.  Maybe I will write more later as I smell the fire.

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Above:  Steph, Christina and I.

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Above:  Hard Rock Moscow.  Note to Darel:  I had every intention of getting you a shot glass but spaced it :<  Bad brother.

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Above:  Create your own caption.

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Above:  The crew:  Steph, James, Rebecca, Andrew, Kathy, Pat, and myself on our final night.

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