We have lived in our new home for almost a week now. Our comfort zones are widening as we explore and experience life in St. Petersburg. Coming home from a visit to outside of the city today, our temporary apartment started to feel like a home base. What more have we learned this past week? Here’s a recap:

Shopping. Our teammate, Priscilla, and I (Diana) visited the farmer’s market, called the Ree` nok, in the city center on Saturday. Markets of other cultures are some of my favorite places, and this was no exception. I enjoy browsing the fresh produce, cheeses, and spices. Prices were a bit lower than in the large “Okay” grocery store. Priscilla steered me through the bustling crowds and narrated her experiences. This was invaluable, since I had no idea which “fruit lady” has the best reputation. I was pleased that my Russian was good enough to make purchases, but Priscilla was there to bail me out when I got stuck on anything more than simple transactions.

The Internet. Lyle had a true Russian experience this weekend in trying to get Internet hook up at the apartment. He took along Lydia and Kerith for the Metro rides with the intent of visiting the DSL store to pay up the account and get it activated. Of course, it wasn’t that simple. The Metro line was closed for 3 stops, which he didn’t know until he arrived at the station. No problem, just go around the closed stations with a few extra rides, and then it will be all smoothed out. Right? Wrong. After a very circuitous route, my three heroes found the store, but it was closed! The bright spot of the journey was a huge container of wild raspberries purchased to keep hungry tummies happy. The price? About $2.50. In the US, the same amount would sell for no less than $10.

Kids. Lydia has now played twice with a girl, Nastia, who she met at the nearby playground. This pleased Lyle and I greatly, and makes Lydia feel that “Russia isn’t so bad.” Today (Tuesday) she met a few more girls on our outing to the country when we visited a Russian pastor and his family. Lydia is very motivated to speak, and her good ear with music helps her with proper Russian pronunciation.

Kerith and Simon just play with kids. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that there is a language barrier. Simon walked right up to a boy at a park on Friday and asked, “Why don’t you speak English”? Kerith is good about saying “thank you” and “good-bye” in Russian, and, in fact, he picks up on many words and surprises us later by translating at the dinner table.

Outing to the country. On Tuesday we tackled the Metro as a family on our way to visit the Igor Sokolov family. It’s about a 25-minute walk to the Metro station from our apartment, but the stroll allowed us to see another part of the city and enjoy the many beautiful buildings and canals. After a few station stops, Igor met us with his van for the rest of the trip to his house.

Igor and Angela have three lovely girls, the eldest 11 and the youngest 3 ½. Lyle had met Igor in VA at a coaching conference and then again when he visited St. P in March. I have been looking forward to meeting this family since then. We had a wonderful visit and found many similarities in values and goals, including education and ministry. It’s exciting to see how God has brought us into relationship and where He will lead.

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