Today, my last day in Moscow, is drawing to a close. Tomorrow I will drag my tubs and bags to the airport, answer lots of questions, check my bags, grab my ticket, say my goodbyes and walk through the barrier.
Tonight I'm babysitting for a few hours. I've made American mac-and-cheese, spread peanut butter on bananas and fed my three nieces. We played the quiet game while we ate and talked about the movies we watched today, namely, "Tangled" and "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs".
After dinner I sit down on the couch to work on a blog post about my recent visit to a mosque, but it's not right. I can't find the right words to express the subtle, gentle, but deep way it affected me.
The older two girls bug me to "do something fun", a tradition I created for when I babysit them. It usually consists of a special game or craft or movie. I reluctantly leave my "work" to search for a new craft online.
The baby needs more food.
I check my email.
The girls are loving on me, climbing and tugging. It's sweet but not practical with a computer in my lap. I grumpily brush them aside, find a craft and give them the materials and instructions, relieved to finally have some peace.
After a brief interlude my middle niece climbs up beside me to ask questions again...I only half-listen to her, giving her brisk answers.
Finally I catch myself....this is my last night with them! Is this the parting memory I want to leave, a distracted, grumpy aunt? I look down at the small face cuddled up against my arm.
"Am I grumpy?"
"Yes," she answers decidedly.
"What does grumpy mean?" the oldest one asks.
What is making me so grumpy tonight?
I put the computer aside determinedly and grab Kaela, then Abbie for a spin. Their delighted laughter lifts my spirit. I plop back down and just watch. I watch the girls leap around the room playing with the space ship I made them out of a toilet paper roll, construction paper and a few Werther's wrappers. They speak in their high-pitched play voices, happy as queens...or maybe happier.
I watch the baby maneuver around her sisters' antics, babbling to herself, experimenting with new sounds. She is learning so much, so fast, changing every day. I retrieve a stray marker top from her possession. I chuckle a little at her angry cry and pick her up to cuddle. Her indignation is short-lived; she gleefully pulls away from my embrace to climb on the couch, practicing sitting down and standing up, chattering happily all the time to me. I wonder what she is telling me all about.
All of this sends shards of pain through my heart. I will miss them so much!
And not only them...I realize I've gradually come to love it here.
~Studying the people on the metro and praying for them
~Practicing my (extremely) limited Russian.
~Understanding the culture/Knowing how things work here.
~ Eating hatshepurri!! (A Central Asian bread with cheese and egg topping. Very oily and cheesy and soft and soooo yummy! btw, I have no idea if I'm spelling it right.)
~All the fresh, soft, yummy bread!!!
~Hanging out with my awesome big sister!
~Watching my nieces grow up.
~Being with the people I've met and grown to love here.
~The different perspective on life I get here from seeing people begging, people working so hard to please a God they barely know and living in fear of Him all their lives, people who haven't bathed in so long you can't stand within ten feet of them, people trapped in a religion they were born into.
~The new level of dependency on God.
~The way I can take a step back from myself and my own problems here.
~Knowing that I am serving God in a practical way in everything I do here. How useful and productive I feel.
~The way I can enjoy the simplest things here like: a yummy meal, Coca-Cola, any and all outings, laughing with my nieces, chatting with people from home, making my little sister laugh at my craziness, reading a book.
I've learned that your home is not confined to a place, even a country.This place has become part of my home.
So tomorrow, as I walk through the gate that will separate me from this new piece of my home I will more than likely be fighting tears for all I am worth, but in the end I can be nothing but grateful. I have made such rich and precious memories. I have met such wonderful people. I have experienced things others only dream of. But most of all, I have been changed.
I only hope and pray that these fresh and still-delicate impressions will not be forgotten or erased with the pressures in America. I pray that I will keep the things I have learned here, treasuring them and pondering them in my heart. That God will keep my heart tender towards Him and towards the people here..and everywhere!
(Note: You made it all the way to the end! Hoorah! Thanks for putting up with the long, rambling post...I wrote it late at night in a very sentimental mood...something I try never to do but it happened and I've decided to keep this one no matter how choppy and unpleasant it may be to read. It expresses some true feelings that I don't want to forget. So...three cheers for you faithful reader!! Thank you for your perseverance!)