On Thursday, Stephanie went with Kathy to Hinckson Christian Academy (HCA) and helped with school work. From tutoring to grading papers, she supported the teachers well.
Patrick and I jumped on the metro at rush hour for the 90 minute ride to Russian American Christian University (RACU). (See Steph’s post for the rush hour metro culture.) The ride was crowded but I felt what it was like to be a Russian as I had to literally push people into a train so that the door wouldn’t shut on me. If I did that in the US, I would certainly be staring a fight. In Moscow pushing is just a way of life.
Once at RACU, I was in a 2-hour class with Patrick. His class was an advanced English class for Russian students who were learning the English language. Always eager to talk to an American for practice, I was their fresh meat for the day. I spent the first hour answering questions from them. “What was America like?” “What is the craziest thing I have ever done?” It was good conversational practice for them. It was also a reminder of the slang that we use everyday. The 2nd hour we looked at a couple of current worship songs, and explained word that they didn’t understand. We wrapped up the class singing some of the songs. I suggested that we take a picture and they all headed outside for a snapshot with the pale American.
An open tea was scheduled. They hung a poster saying that there was an open tea with the bald American at 2 PM. Pat doubted that anyone would come. He blamed his pessimism on the lack of promo. I blamed it on the lack of appeal of one albino Hoosier. At 2PM we went to an office and set up a few cups of tea, just in case. Eventually we had about 10 people crammed into a small space sharing tea and snacks and asking questions. I was fascinated as I asked questions about what it was like to live in Communist Russia. These students did not have strong personal memories of communist times. However, their parents and grandparents experienced Soviet Russia first hand. The conversation was amazing. I had to step back and take it all in. Here I am, sitting around a table with a group of Christian-Russian students, talking about their real experience with the USSR. It was thin.
I was impressed with these students. Many of them travel over 1 hour each way to school. Some of them are sacrificing all they can to be in school here. They find it tough to work, because of the class schedule, homework, and commuting hours. They find their living expenses are extremely high (a one bedroom apartment in Moscow can rent for as much as $1600-$2000 per month). As we ended the time, I asked if I could pray for them. It was an honor to talk and pray with such a high caliber of people.
Patrick and I jumped back on the metro and headed back to his place. We were met by Tim Patterson who invited Steph and I to dinner. We had a great evening with Tim, Dawn, and their daughter, Catherine. Tim is the brother of exchanger Betsy Brown. Betsy is the wife of exchanger Larry Brown. You may know Larry as part of the worship team (you know, the hip keyboard player with the white beard). After dinner, we caught an electric bus and headed back to the Black’s apartment. An exhausting but wonderful day.
Above: Last two words in the fist box. That’s my name. I’m really big in Eurasia.
Above: On the steps with some Russian students from Patrick’s Advanced English class. I was “Professor” for the day. Stop laughing.
Above: Steph and I with Tim and Dawn Patterson.