Thursday, July 4, 2013

the final countdown

So I know that I should officially wait a few more weeks before using that title, but since I thought of it now, I'm not sure that I'll remember it later, and technically it's still appropriate.

The Final Countdown began last Friday when we took Karma and Ella to the vet to get the proper shots and the vet's signature for their pet passports so that they can return to the US safe and healthy. It was actually much easier than last year. Poor Karma did not like traveling on the bus though. I guess she's comfortable with cars, but any other form of transport freaks her out a little. And perhaps the car freaks her out too, but to a lesser degree.

I will rewind a little and state that both the middle of last week and the middle of this week, Daria has spent out at Gorkovskoe. Last week she was there with her dad and grandparents helping with the repairs. This week she went out to focus on a few things she needed to wrap up before my family gets here. So she returned last Thursday so that we could go to the vet on Friday, but then Saturday we both went back out to the dacha where we were put to work. One of the main things that was done to the house was the installation of an indoor toilet and a septic tank (others included a camp-style shower, and an indoor sink) to use at night instead of walking through the trees to the outhouse, or if it's raining. Our job was to cover the piping and fill in the ditch connecting the tank to the house. We also put together the sink, and helped with other small items. Much of this work I did in my swimsuit since we also went to the pond a few times to cool off. This resulted in my getting sunburned so I guess summer is definitely here. But the dips in the pond were wonderful.

So I lied a few weeks ago about my final sermon. I ended up leading the service again on Sunday and delivering my now final sermon. The topic: free will and the freedom to follow God or not. Honestly, I didn't decide to do it until the last minute, but once I read the readings it came quite easily and I hashed it out on Friday night in just a couple hours. Sunday morning was not so easy. Nobody had the keys, and when we finally opened the outer door, we had to scramble to get everything put together. It was frantic chaos, but all worked out well in the end. Sunday afternoon wound up being a lazy day.

Speaking of churchy things. While we were out at the dacha on Saturday, some local LGBT organizations had a rally on Mars Field here in SPB. It did not go well. It lasted only about 15 minutes before it was shut down by a City Hall official who had a hastily drawn up cease and desist order to counteract the original permission because a woman had complained to the city that it violated the No Propaganda law of Russia. Moreover, nationalists and other anti-LGBT people were there as counter-demonstrators and threw rocks, eggs, beat people, and other violent tactics. Overall a lot of LGBT protestors were arrested and only one counter-protestor was arrested. Furthermore, and why I said churchy things, is that a couple of Russian Orthodox priests were out there supporting the anti-LGBT protestors and supporting the violence. I'm sorry, I understand that the ROC thinks homosexuality is a sin, and while I disagree, that's one thing. However, the Church is there to support the oppressed, the weak, the powerless, and absolutely is NOT there to encourage violence. Jesus stopped the violence of stoning people and took the violence himself. The ROC on Saturday did not embody Christ. They embodied the religious leaders of Israel who stoned sinners and they embodied the Roman empire as the crucifiers. Unacceptable.

Monday, well now, there was a fun day. After the Russian notary told us they wouldn't stamp my paper for my bank troubles a few weeks back because we didn't have a translation, I made an appointment for one of the few times the notary is open at the US Consulate. It rained cats and dogs on Monday and I got pretty drenched going to the Consulate. We also took the pet passports to a translator and I should be able to retrieve the translations today. I got my thing notarized, the pets' stuff taken care of, and walked to work, but completely soaked in the process. At work I dried my shirt on a hanger and kicked my shoes off to dry. There were some casualties though. A couple other papers in my backpack, my phone had to be dried out, my book got a little damaged, but not bad; however, worst of all is the little red Russian-English lexicon I've been using that was my dad's from 1958. It still functions, but it suffered some considerable water damage. Not cool. Not cool at all. And worse off is that most of the storming happened while I was outside and when I went into a building it stopped. That was a cruel jest.

Tonight is my final class with my upper-intermediate class and Monday reigns in the final class for my intermediate. It's a sad time and I'm going to miss my students. As I stated at the beginning of the year, I am blessed with my students and I know that not all the teachers have as good of students as I do. I really have had some great classes and I really am going to miss them. My own Russian lessons have been over for a couple weeks. I wanted to extend them to the end of June, but I couldn't afford to pay for it as my teaching hours had been cut. I miss my lessons as well.

As for this week, it's been heating up slowly and tomorrow is supposed to be the peak before it starts cooling as we enter next week. I've also suffered waking up ungodly early yesterday and today (had some nappage yesterday; hope to repeat today). While the days are getting shorter, today was a sunrise of 4.45am and sunset of 11.20pm with a whole 2 minutes 7 seconds less light than yesterday. The truest testament of the countdown though is that my parents and brother arrive tomorrow and my cousin on Monday. Totally excited, but that means 3 weeks from Sunday we're flying back to the US. It's a bittersweet countdown.

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