Anyway, in my 45 years of living here, I have never ever set foot inside this church. But it's a local landmark, and it's used in directions quite a bit:
'Go down past the Russian church and take a left.'
Anyway, it is close to where I work in the summer, so Dasha has seen it quite a bit, and every time she sees it she asks if we can visit. This past Sunday we did.
The inside of this church is exquisite enough to warrant a visit by everyone in Salem. It's gorgeous. The service was long for Dasha, but almost exactly like the service I had attended in Siberia. Liturgical, moving choral music in Russian, incense, lots of babushkas praying in their head scarves. Very moving.
Dasha really wanted to attend, because she wanted to go someplace where everyone would be speaking Russian. I don't blame her: after just a week in Siberia on my first trip, I nearly tackled an American family when I overheard them speaking English in a coffee shop. I was desperate for my mother tongue. Those of you who are well-travelled can commiserate.
So, after the service, we were led downstairs to the coffee hour. There was a toy corner and Dasha hid herself there for a bit. One of the pastors started introducing me to families. One woman, 'Elena' from Ukraine, was particularly kind. She came and sat with me in the toy corner and filled me in on her obvious love for her church. The conversation came around to Dasha.
Elena: "So, you are adopting her? That is wonderful."
Me: "No, I can't . I would just love to, but Ukraine no longer allows single parent adoption."
Elena: : "But look at her, she adores you. She obviously belongs with you."
Me. "I know, and we love her very very much, but there is just no getting around this law unless I get married." I laughed, so she would get that this was not an option.
Elena whips out her cellphone and starts dialing. "I know the perfect man for you...hello, Sergey? Yes, there is an American woman here who needs a husband..."
And before you know it she is handing me the phone to speak to Sergey.
Elena: "Go on, talk to him. He's short, so your age won't bother him. He's had trouble meeting women..."
Before you start laughing...hear this: I ended up with no less than FIVE phone numbers of Ukrainian men being shoved in my pocket before coffee hour was over. I kid you not.
And Dasha heard everything, as it was in Russian. And boy did she have the biggest smile on her face.
As we left the church, she was walking cheerfully back to the car holding my hand.
"See, Mama? I told you God would find me a papa! Now we have FIVE!"
When we got home, Nastia met us at the door and started interrogating me.
She asked me who Sergey was.
"What??" I asked incredulously.
" Some guy Sergey keeps calling our house asking to meet you as soon as possible. I told him you were at church." she said angrily.
Ahh, the Russians and Ukrainians do not mince words or actions. If I let them, they'd have me married by the end of the week:)
Note: Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.