‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Homesickness Rears Its' Ugly Head

I promised myself I would be as open and honest as possible in this blog. Sometimes it's tough, because I fear my honesty shows an ugly picture of who I am. I feel shamed admitting how homesick I am. It's like a disease. I don't want to feel this way, but the feeling keeps coming back, and it's sometimes debilitating.

The homesickness is worsened when Nastia and I are ill-treated. It just makes me miss the daily kindnesses we take for granted in America. Right now I am staring out my 4th floor window which overlooks the dumpsters to the most expensive residential building in all of Kemerovo. There is a parade of homeless  people that eat from these dumpsters every morning. I am tempted to run outside every morning and deliver them a hot breakfast, but as Nastia keeps telling me, " Mom, we cannot save all of Kemerovo. Remember who you came here for..."  And I hate to admit she's right.

Today I watched a very old woman try to hike herself over the side of the dumpster to get at the good stuff. She sat/stood in this dumpster for well over an hour picking out plastic bags and stuffing them in her pocket....choosing food that met her approval, and eating it....all while standing in a dumpster. Another man, encased in oil and soot, all black from god-knows-what  walked away with three bags of trash and a kitchen sink. I took photos . I'll post them later.

Nastia and I have sadly experienced our share of people going out of their way to be rude. Crossing a very busy street, we waited and waited for a chance to go. Finally a car stopped for us and the man waved us across -- until we were in front of his car. Then he lurched forward while leaning on the horn, which sent Nastia screaming, and he drove off laughing.

I don't even want to share the countless other stories we have like this, because #1, they are depressing and #2 they only serve to put this country in a bad light. I'm looking for goodness, I am. Svetlana has it is spades and I cannot even imagine being here without her help. But on the whole, people are wary, rude, abrasive and do not even want to acknowledge our presence. Neighbors included.

We comfort ourselves with tending to the homeless kitty population,  which seems to have its headquarters outside our building. We feed them scraps at night. They really are cute to watch. This is Nastia's #1 past time right now.

as for Anya, you may wonder why I have not said much about her. She is as well as is to be expected. she is struggling mightily to adapt to 'family' life. She does not understand about preparing for tomorrow -- only today. therefore, I am having to do what I did when Nastia came home -- only buying enough food for that day. If I try to buy for 2, 3 or 4 days at once, the food will be gone by morning. No amount of explaining will fix this. I've tried. The fear of going hungry is too deep.

She and Nastia have hit a wall this week, and are sending more time apart than together, but it is all part of the adjustment. I just try to have infinite patience with the process. I am slowly trying to introduce Anya to the concepts of sharing and also individual ownership. Also, slowly trying to get her to have better self-care habits ( teeth brushing, hair washing) but that is slow going at best. She is deeply depressed, and it is obvious. There is not much I can do but pray and love her, and hope I can find a great Russian-speaking therapist when we get back to the US.

guess that's enough for now. My toes are tired..lol. ( I have to stand tiptoe to reach any wifi out the window off the apt!)

Keep us in your prayers...


  1. Thank you for your blog. We have experienced the rudeness and behaviour that you are talking about. In a much smaller dose while in Novo. It is sad and mind boggling that this doesnt seem to be a rare phenomena.

    Keep looking for the good, being the light that you can be and focus on your purpose.

  2. Wow! I love hearing your stories. You are a brave mom, and I can only imagine how home sick you are :-)

  3. I wonder if it's because you're obviously American, or if they treat any stranger the same way?

  4. Stop being so hard on yourself. What shame??
    Why wouldn't you be homesick after all you're seeing and going through there, million miles away from your home and everything you're familiar with!? You're a human being and they experience emotions. Of course you aren't happy for being ill-treated!! Of course you're sad when you see so much misery around you.Thank God, it just proves everything is all right with you! :) You must remember who you're there for and focus on that. Forget shame! Afteral, you're the only person here who actually got out of her comfort zone to do real things. You're a hero here. A human hero but still a hero!

  5. I hope you have been feeling a little less homesick the past few days! Although, I wonder--if you are feeling God calling you to maybe stay in Russia. . . could it also be some spiritual struggling you are experiencing, with maybe a little premature grief thrown in? Part of me hopes you feel God call you to live back in the States, where you can be near family and the places you hold dear. That's certainly what I would want for myself! BUT. . . it sure seems like you would be an AWESOME "city on a hill" for the people of that area. . . and the thought of you running some community/children's theatre. . . we know how playacting can be cathardic. . . everything you have shown us so far about that area of the world indicates these are people who could use a) some laughter, b) some healing introspection, c) some healthy escape, d) some wisdom, e) a chance to express themselves creatively (but positively, not like the men hanging out and drinking under your window!), f)the feeling that they are cared about. Even, of Lord, the knowledge that they are Loved.

    Theatre could give them all that. I'm just saying. . . ; )

    Your blog is now one of my favorite daily reads. It is better than any book--it is real, and it is happening NOW. In fact, I have been meaning to blog for some time about the idea of every life (and every family) telling a story, and choosing to make it a great story. Yours is a great story--can't wait to see how it all ends up! Which I guess means you will just have to keep blogging for years and years and years. ; )

    But speaking of stories--there is a blog that you and I both read, which you have linked from your sidebar: Special K's Journey (and its sister blog Life in the Grateful House). That family's story is also so moving and urgently important--but the mom has made it private recently. I am a stranger to them, so maybe I don't have the right to be reading their story anyway. But if you are one of the allowed readers. . . I dunno, I guess I wondered if you were, and if you know if they got K into a safe living situation, and how L and J are doing to recover from those last tragic weeks. . . I have been praying for them, and it is a little sad to not know if K is getting the help she needs. If you know, and if you feel comfortable just saying very broadly (no details, for privacy of course) whether or not they are doing better, I would appreciate it!

    I hope you have a great rest of your week. : )


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