I wasn’t going to write a post today but I’ve gotten quite a few email with requests for specific information. I will try to address them completely and briefly.
Weather – It’s not been much over 70 degrees fahrenheit for the whole trip here. Most of the time it has been in the middle 60’s. The weather can change dramatically in a matter of minutes. For example, sunny and calm to knock-you-over windy and raining.
People – The people are generally friendly but not in an American kind of way. Once they get to know you, they are very nice and smiley. But, when walking down the street, buying something in the store and the like… don’t expect a smile or even a greeting. Even eye contact is not typical (unless you aren’t looking.) They are quite good at catching glances when you’re not looking. If you offend them, they will give a pretty nasty glare.
Russia in general – Since the fall it’s largely Western, e.g., Cell phones, western and Russian music, and western clothing.
How do they handle the fall of Soviet Union? It seems to me that this is like a really young country. There are many following the status quo. They are starting to challenge the old ways and especially in terms to politics, and taxing seems to be considering the implications of the democracy that they have. The honeymoon is wearing off.
Has Annie had a chance to mingle with other Siberian women, either associated with the seminary or not? Yes, she has spent time with two deaconesses who went to Seminary in Fort Wayne plus with one of the translators. Most of her time is spent relaxing and talking with the other seminary wife.
Is the Seminary associated with only LCMS or with ELCA too? Officially, I don’t believe its in association with either but the Russia Project at the Fort Wayne seminary has been helping them with teachers and financial support for at least ten years.
What do you do at night? We watch TV, study, visit with classmates, visit with Russians, and experience the culture. Tonight we’re attending the ballet “Don Quixote.”
How is class? Class is fine; it’s just hard to focus in these intensives. We’re dealing with one topic (Ethics) for four and a half hours a day. Our class meets from eight to 9:30, 11-12:30, 1:30-3:05. The class is intense, and the first break is chapel/tea, the second lunch.
How large is the church in Russia? The church is largely in the rebuilding stages. We were blessed to be a part of the ordination on Sunday. I’m not sure of numbers… twenty-five, or so churches are in this organization but there are many more Lutheran churches (German pietist; for example) without association. There are a couple congregations in Novosibirsk but all small (60-100 members).
Are you learning Russian? Not really. We’re getting the hang of please, thank you. That’s about it. Unfortunately, their students know enough English to be dangerous and we’re too busy. We’ll try to pick it up later since we have an idea about pronunciation and Cyrillic characters from listening to Chapel.
How are the prices? The prices are cheap here. A relatively high-end dinner eating out is less than $20 for the two of us. We’ve spent maybe $100 on groceries for the two weeks plus our more than occasional consumption of Russian liqueur with friends and comrades. Another example is the bus which is $0.40.
Are there lots of kids there? Have you visited any schools? No… there are very few kids relative to America. The birth rate is around one per couple. Apparently, they have promised to pay people to have kids but there isn’t a payout yet. They say eight of ten marriages result in divorce. Yet, those kids we see smile… perhaps this is because they are post communism?
That’s it for now. Class will be done soon, and then we’re off to downtown Novosibirsk for the ballet.