Yura insisted that I sit next to him in worship. The strong smell of glue overpowered the strong smell of sweat and dirt. Neither is appreciated. On a weekday, I might need to make the difficult decision of asking Yura to return when he was sober - but it's Sunday and it's worship and high or not he's here and his presence is ultimately good for him and for our community.
The songs are familiar and I'm grateful for that. With the language barriers some days few things seem familiar. Even parts of the sermon come into focus - my Russian is getting strong, but I'm still easily confused.
On Monday I'm thankful for the safety net of Dima and Yana. As I talk with their parents my tired tongue forgets to roll its Rs. My weary lips forsake grammatically correct endings and press onward to the point. Occasionally, mid-sentence, I realize I'm in too deep. I started out in the wrong tense and would have to switch all the endings in forms I don't remember to finish the sentence. I look to the Kabakov children and, with "that look" in my eyes, I finish in English while their parents wait for translation. I'm getting closer. Soon I'll be able to capture the full meaning.
I'm working on writing and typing in Russian and Ukrainian. I learned audibly, and my spelling is atrocious. Facebook status updates and large-font signs are turning Cyrillic. Good friends gently correct the misshapen words as they appear.
About once a week I have one of "those" conversations. One of those interactions that makes it all worth while. I talk with a kid about why he's sad. I laugh with an old lady about some funny anecdote. I share in worship with young believers.
Because, ultimately, I'm learning for those Sunday mornings when I'm sitting next to someone who smells like glue. I pray for the day when those difficult conversations become a little less murky. I pray for the day when I can make a difference.