Christmas Caroling

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I was all ready to head home after a long day practicing and performing our Christmas musical.  We had been there since 2 pm trying to pull the musical together before guests arrived at 5pm.  After the musical we all breathed a sigh of relief, somehow we had made it through.  This gave us comfort that our second performance, the next night, would be okay.  It usually happens that just as I am preparing to go I catch wind of someone inviting people over or people getting together to go do something.  Tonight I figured out that a group was going to go Christmas Caroling.  It didn’t matter how tired I was, I was going!  So we hung out and drank tea for a few more minutes while the church kind of cleared out.  Then I saw people putting on their costumes over their coats.  Oh, cool, we were going to go “Biblical times” style.

After serenading some innocent passer-byers, our group of about 20 people made it’s way across the street to the apartment buildings.  Sasha rang random apartment numbers to ask someone to unlock the door.  Soon we learned it is better to ask the youngest female member of our group to do this task, when the people hear her sweet voice the door is opened without hesitation.  We all crammed inside the first floor (and halfway up the stares) and knocked on the doors.  When people answered the door we said we did not want any thing just to praise God and sing for them.  We sang one or two songs and then gave them a New Testament and invited them to our musical the next night.  Even though we asked them not to give us anything some of them began stuffing money in our belts and shoving candy into our hands.  It was very surprising to me that people were insisting on paying us and that it seamed everyone had candy to give us.

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After a few hours we could not climb one more stare so we dragged ourselves back to church for some tea and candy.  I’m not sure if anyone that we invited came the next night but they have the Word of God in their home’s now and an open invitation to the church across the street.

10 hours of wedding

ImageBefore I begin on the events of the wedding I must introduce you (if you aren’t already acquainted) to Kolya and Elyosha.  They are two young men who have recently accepted Christ as their savior.  I met Kolya (middle) last December and spent Christmas with him and some other friends.  This year we have become like siblings so to see Him trust in the Lord has been such a joy for me.  Elyosha began coming to church in the fall.  He came for a few months, asked a lot of questions and was seriously looking for God.  The whole church watched the process as he slowly trusted in God more and more.  These two young men are great friends and I hope will help each other as they learn more about God.  Pray for Elyosha, his parents won’t let him come to church because they are Orthodox.  I think this difficulty is making his faith stronger, as he is respecting his parent’s wishes but also seeking hard after God.  

So, the wedding… this is how a wedding in a Russian Baptist Church goes.  (This is not a typical Russian wedding, I hear that they would be a lot longer.)

The ceremony was supposed to begin at 11am, so that is when I arrived and found a seat.  Everyone was talking in whispers and waiting in anticipation.  Vasya (the groom) walked down the isle, then the best man and the maid of honor, then the flower girl and ring bearer.  That was it for the wedding party.  Then the bride walked herself down the isle to meet her groom.  The pastor stood off to the side so we could all clearly see the bride and groom, I liked that a lot.  The pastor gave a little message to the couple and then he asked them the questions for the couple to answer, I will or I do.  The second or third question to the groom was apparently unclear because the groom said, right into the microphone, “could you repeat that?!”  The funniest part is the question was about being faithful to only his wife from that day on!  

After the ceremony the bride and groom, family and a few friends go all over the city taking pictures.  This is what everyone does for their wedding, so on weekends if you go to famous fountains or parks you are bound to see a wedding party or two come around to take pictures for a bit before they are off to the next spot.  While they were gone (2 or 3 hours) we completely transformed the sanctuary into a banquet hall.  Every table had beautiful silk tablecloths and and mounds and mounds of food.  I love this.  A buffet is a very strange concept for Russians.  They just portion out food among all the tables, they always eat family style.  It’s brilliant!  

When the wedding party returned from their photo shoot the MC’s took over.  They instructed the bride groom that for every step they take toward the head table they have to say something nice to the other or a promise.  They finally made it all the way and then we ate!!  🙂  And what a feast it was!  So delicious.  

Then there were skits, games, songs.  I sang in two groups and was in a skit.  And while there wasn’t anything going on we just visited with each other.  At some point they cut the cake and we had tea and sweets.  It was so nice to have so many people that I love in one place!  Around 7 the festivities began to die down, and it was time to put the sanctuary back the way we found it.  Which did not take too long with everyone who pitched in.  

I finally made my way to the bus stop around 9 pm.  I was tired but really enjoyed not rushing anywhere, just being with my friends for a full day of celebration.