the problem with long lapses in posting is that i feel obligated to recap everything i missed because of not posting in so long...and of course i can't think of everything i missed, so i put it off longer and longer thinking that i will remember and be able to organize my thoughts, but it never happens and its a vicious cycle. so, with all that said, i'll just begin with where things are these days.
it's July now and the white nights have passed - i can already tell that the days are growing shorter again. i'm working quite a lot right now. there is an intensive class that i teach 3 nights a week. this class is offered in the summer and students take class from 7-10pm 3 nights a week, instead of the regular 2 nights a week and can therefore finish a course in 5 1/2 weeks instead of the normal 8 weeks. i'm also teaching an evening class at Lenta (basically Russian Wal-Mart) for their corporate business people. so i teach the intensive class on M W F and Lenta on T Th. i also have individual students in the morning/daytime on M W F. things are great with teaching. i still really enjoy it and my students seem to enjoy my classes as well, so that makes me happy. i have been able to have some great talks with one of my individual students, Eric. he is in his 50's and owns his own international shipping business. we have a wonderful time talking in our lessons twice a week. He loves to talk and we never have a shortage of topics to discuss. we have had some great talks about Jesus, in particular. we've talked about sin, about God and i've been able to share the gospel in short as well. please pray for Eric. he is so open to hearing about the Lord. he is very interested in the things of God. for those of you who don't realize, the USSR banned religion and it was not allowed to read the Bible and hear the things of God, and people were told again and again that God didn't exist. Eric lived through this time and when the USSR broke apart and Russia opened up, things like AA came to Russia. this is where Eric first was challenged and presented with the idea that God did indeed exist. he told me that although he's not a Bible-reading or church-going man that he knows God is powerful because even just allowing himself to believe that God was real, changed his life. he hasn't had a drink in over 17 years. pray that Eric will continue to be challenged by God to more than mere belief in His existence, but that he will take the next step and surrender his life to him. and if God wants me to play a part in that in any way, pray that i will be attentive and aware of the opportunities He presents.
Sam passed all his exams and is now doing his practical work at the hospital. he has a certain number of hours he must complete during the summer. he is assisting in the hematology and transplantology departments. he has been changing IV's and learning other things and finally getting the chance to put his theoretical knowledge into action, hands-on.
We have been married for just over 11 months now. it's amazing how fast this year has gone by. so yes, next month is our first wedding anniversary. we're hoping to get out of Russia for a little time to celebrate, but we aren't sure about my visa registrations situation. i had some difficulties when i came back from Estonia at my 6 month mark, because although i have a year long visa and was registered for the first 6 months of that, the visa rules changed during this time and now, not matter how long your visa is for (unless you have a student visa or work visa, which I don't) you're only allowed to stay in the country for 190 days out of the year. it's being dubbed the "3 months in, 3 months out" rule by the foreigners here. well, anyway when Ala, (the lady who helps with my visa stuff) went to get me registered for the rest of my year, they refused to register me because they said i had already used up my days and had been here illegally. the short version is basically that we were able to finally register me, we just had to go through someone else and i had to pay more. thats Russia. but now that we want to go out of the country there's a fear that i won't be able to come back in, or if i can come back in that i wont be able to register, which would effectively mean i'd have to leave. so we're weighing our options. if getting out of Russia won't work, maybe we'll just take a trip inside Russia somewhere, maybe go to the South. the 2014 Olympics will be in Sochi, in the South and i hear it's nice there, so it's at least an option if all else fails.
i have posted pics on my Flickr. hopefully those of you who are faithful readers on my ramblings here have seen them. if not, you can check them out now - including the pics from our 3 weeks without hot water, to our first dinner guests, and the sun shining at 11pm.
in random news:
Zenit FC - St. Petersburg's football team (soccer for the Americans out there) won the Champion's League Cup. and let me tell you, people are crazy about Zenit here. you can always tell when there's a game because everybody wears their blue and white and wears their Zenit scarves and you see people with painted faces on the metro...you always can tell when there's a game. see, unlike Moscow, St Petes only has one football club, so everyone supports them and it kind of brings the city together. the people in this city as a while tend to seem rather individualistic and self-focused, but Zenit is the one thing that seems to unite people. After they won the Champions League Cup, a spontaneous celebration broke out on Nevsky when people poured out into the streets and waved their flags and set off fireworks and sang and shouted and celebrated into the wee hours.
then Russia made it to the semi-finals of the Euro Cup 2008, but they lost to Spain, (who eventually went on to win it).
back in May, Sam and i went to the VE Day parade on Nevsky and that was kind of fun. it was another really unifying thing. WWII is a very important war here and VE Day is a huge holiday, with numerous parades and celebrations and festivities around the city (and the country for that matter). later I will try to post some pictures that I took. but as for now, it's almost 1am and i should pull this to a close.
my apologies for the lapse, and i'll try to remedy it over these next few weeks!