Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Tender Moments

January 14, 2004

Candle light gives the large room a warm, intimate feeling. We are sitting around a rustic wooden table in a restaurant in the heart of Old Town, Tallinn. There is no other light source except the candles which light every table here as well as grace large wooden chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The smell of warm wax and spicy food fills the dining hall. Our menus include such entrées as "Bear, Wild boar, Elk, and Lamb done Mountain style". Old Hansa, the name of this restaurant is famous for its medieval atmosphere and spicy cooking. Pickled vegetables of every kind, roles stuffed with savory spices and nuts, our food comes out on large wooden platters in huge portions. Spiced beers and ciders compliment the various dishes. We were lucky to get a place in this three story restaurant, packed to its capacity on this cold wintry night. The servers are dressed appropriately in medieval costumes, while musicians stroll around entertaining the guests as they feast. I look around the table at my loved ones, wanting to capture this moment in my mind. Thank you Lord for the gift of good fellowship and good food!

Our time in Tallinn with Aaron's parents was a time I will cherish in my memories for a long time. We were blessed to stay at a small hostel situated above a restaurant in Old Town. We walked the small enchanting alleys of this beautiful city, gazing at the lovely Christmas displays, stopping in for a hot cup of coffee or tea and a pastry at the local coffee shops, or just enjoying our time walking through the Christmas Bazaar in Market Square. Evenings were spent playing cards and fellowshipping in our rooms. Aaron and I event went out on a much needed date while Grandma and Grandpa watched Timothy. That also was a delight to watch as grandparents and grandson became reacquainted with each-other. For the first time in years, I felt like we were celebrating a true season of Christmas, brought to this family from across the ocean by loved ones.

"We have to go over that?!" Donna, my mother in law, looked questioningly at the filthy highway divider separating us from our destination. I nodded, apologizing for not warning her. She smiled and gamely hiked her long coat to scramble over the thigh high barrier. We were on our way to a large bulk food's store called Metro to do our weekly shopping. Two large back packs rested on our shoulders, ready to receive the load of groceries we intended to buy. I had done this so many times before, I forgot to explain in detail exactly how we were going to "go shopping". An hour away by public transport, Metro was still the best place for us to go to find an abundance of high quality imported and domestic foods. Because of its size, it also boasted the lowest prices around. An hour and a half later, we struggled out of the store weighed down with our purchases, a bag in each hand as well. The wind was blowing snow in our faces as we waited by the highway for 20 minutes as one after another of the rout taxis passed us by, full, and unwilling to stop. I could feel my own strength starting to falter and wondered how Donna was doing. Finally a rout bus pulled up and let us into its overcrowded but warm interior. By the time we reached home, both of us were exhausted.

Sometimes I don't think anymore about the reality of living here in Russia without the convenience of a car. Everything that Aaron and I purchase, we bring home by bus, metro, taxi etc. We carry everything on our backs or in our arms, including our 26 lb son. Often times we walk for miles every day, to the bus stop, from the bus stop, to the nearest metro station, or just out to take baby for a stroll in his stroller. We meet all sorts of interesting people as Aaron flags down cars for us to get us to one place or another.

The other day, we met a gentleman driving a BMW who had his own business in "weak" alcohol. We were once again on our way home from "Metro", loaded down with our weekly purchases and had decided to take a taxi home. He was from Dagestan and was playing Arabic music as loud as his good quality speakers could play. After glancing in his mirror at my pained expression, he asked if the music was too loud. I smiled and said just a little. He promptly went into a long dissertation on the woes women could bring and ended up nearly in tears as he told Aaron how he had just been spurned by the love of his life, a Russian woman who "Did not know how to love" as he put it. He pulled out her picture and showed us her face, shaking his head at remembered pain. "What should I do?" He asked Aaron. "I didn't mean to fall in love with her!" Aaron replied he had no words to say. In the end, they traded phone numbers and shook hands as we said goodbye. I don't know if he will ever contact us, but God never just puts us in the path of others without a reason. I have been praying for this man since, believing that God has the answers he needs. The truth is, no man or woman can truly love if the love of the Father in not in him.

Aaron and I attended the first Couples meeting at our church last night. It was a precious time as we shared amongst ourselves the troubles and triumphs we were going through in our relationships. We are going through the Bible, studying the reasons God created marriage, as well as what His purpose is for a Godly marriage. Because we have agreed to keep all things shared confidential, there is a much freer atmosphere to be honest in our sharing.

I believe strongholds will be broken and freedoms gained as we study God's word and pray and intercede for each-other. Pray for this group. It is rare that good Biblical counseling is available for Christian couples here in Russia. We will be hosting this group in our home next week. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will be there in the midst of us as we explore what a Godly marriage relationship entails.

May the peace of God be with you and in your hearts.