Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Bevens' Last Day

This past Tuesday our friends Eddie and Lisa Bevens returned to the U.S. after nearly two weeks of non-stop sightseeing all around Moscow.  Over the span of 12 days we wore them out and got them sunburned (who would have thought that could happen in Russia??), but we had a blast while doing it.  Most days comprised of heading out around lunchtime to visit different spots around Moscow, getting home around dinnertime and collapsing with a bowl of ice-cream and strawberries (we REALLY take advantage of the fruit produce during the Summer.... you'll find strawberries or raspberries in our refrigerator at ALL times).

I may try to post pictures of the entire week, but I wanted to at least touch on one of the days we spent out on the town.  On their last day we took them to Новодевичий Монастырь (Novodevichy Monastery) -- the third most popular tourist spot in Moscow, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and ironically, a place I had never heard of.  How sad is that??

Beautiful domed cathedrals.

A wall where prayers are written.  I noticed one large inscription in particular, praying for an apartment in Moscow.

View from across the pond.

After our trip to the convent, we met up with Vasya and Masha and we went to a new (and first authentic) Mexican restaurant in Moscow, "Amigo Miguel."  Vasya's girlfriend Vika is a personal assistant/translator for the head chef Alfredo.  The food was INCREDIBLE.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How's the Weather?

One of the questions we get often is the usual "How's the weather?"

It makes sense why we would be asked that.  Russia usually is described as a cold, snowy terrain with little greenery.  But the country is much more bucolic than many suppose.  While Winters here are long and harsh, the Spring and Summers are just about perfect.  Mostly clear skies, thunderstorms here and there, warm tempuratures, and so on.

But for the last month or so, most of Russia has been hit by a drought and heatwave.  Temperatures have hovered around 90, and rain has been extremely rare.  I know 90 doesn't sound so bad, but not only do we not have A/C in our apartment, but we do not have a car to get us where we need to go.  We feel at times like there's no escaping the heat.  And prices of fans and A/C units have now skyrocketed-- the smaller desk fans are selling for around $90!

And according to the above article, this is one of the worst droughts/heatwaves since Russia began recording the weather over 130 years ago!

Sadly the heat has been more than just a problem of comfort.  In a recent AP news article, hundreds of people have drowned since the heatwave began.  The basic gist of the problem is that people seek relief in the countryside during free time, and while trying to stay cool by lake-swimming they also stay pretty inebriated.  The results have been over 400 drownings just since the beginning of July.

We promise we're not trying to complain or garner sympathy.  It's just been a really strange and hot period.  We've never drank more water.  We've never scoped out where to go based on whether or not they have air conditioning (the Dunkin Donuts on Novy Arbat, I must say, has the most astounding A/C we've encountered) until now.

So far there has been no sign of relief.  It looks like temperatures may slowly drop by next weekend, but until then most of Moscow will remain perpetually sweaty.

Friday, July 16, 2010

House Church

This past Sunday Beth and I had our first house church/bible study in our apartment.  Organized and led by Jon Barr, this is the first of hopefully many weeks where we are able to gather with friends to worship and fellowship.  We hope to continue these throughout the Summer and into the Fall.

This week we talked about charity.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Grandmothers' in Town

For nearly a month now Beth and I have welcomed our mothers as guests.  Beth's mother, Barbara, arrived June 3rd and returned home June 24th.  My mother, Adele, flew over on June 18th and will be leaving July 3rd.

Barbara with Liam.

Adele with Liam.

Barbara was here for the delivery!  Unfortunately she was not able to be up in the delivery room, but we were so glad that she could be here for the before and after.  She walked with me every day to and from the hospital (she was so willing to do anything and everything!), and was always there to help in any way possible.

Since this is my mother's first time out of the country, I've tried to balance the time between Liam and sightseeing.  We've spent time out around the town, but also made sure that most of the allotted time is spent with Liam.  It's been so great to show her special places all around Moscow.

They have been such an incredible help at this particular time.  More than they can possibly know.