Well, yesterday (December 27th) marked four years of marriage for Cristy and me. This year our anniversary was a little bit different. We hadn’t “forgot” that our anniversary was coming up, but the reality hit us Christmas night when Cristy said to me “So, do you have anything planned for Thursday?” What followed was a deer in the headlights look and roaring laughter from both of us. It turns out, my response to her question was a relief to her rather than an insult. We laughed and discussed the matter, noting that both of us had been so preoccupied with just getting a Christmas together over here, that both of us had failed to plan anything for our anniversary. That’s not entirely true though. On January 16th we have to leave Russia for a week to re-register our visas, and we’ll be in Berlin, Germany for a week. Cristy’s parents are flying over to see us, and we had already decided that we’d take a night out for ourselves in Berlin while the Grandparents kept Isaiah. But the question remains, how did we mark the day?
We decided that we’d have a family day out. Since the weather is less than quaint this time of year, our “outing” needed to be sort of “inning” but somewhere other than our apartment. On several occasions we’ve found a retreat in a place called “Mega.” “Mega” is just that, it’s mega…a huge mall. There are two of them in St. Petersburg, one on the north side of town and one on the south. Both of them have the same basic layout and stores. We can get to the one on the north side in about 45 minutes from our apartment. We hop on the metro near our apartment, ride up five stops and then take a free bus for about 10 minutes to the mall. Mega, has become a nice place to go not necessarily because we have to buy a lot of stuff, but because it’s new, clean and well-organized, three things typically lacking in Russia. Rarely does one find all three. In essence, it’s a little bit of home.
In addition to all of the overpriced little stores that most malls have, there are two main reasonably priced huge stores that are part of the mall. One is a “Hypermarket” called “Ashan.” Ashan is like Wal-Mart on steroids. We bought our Christmas tree there. We’ve also found a number of things for Isaiah there at 50-75% less than at the baby stores in St. Pete, making it a good place to go when we need a bargain.
The other store is called “Ikea” which some of you may be familiar with. There are a good many Ikea stores in the U.S. Typically they are huge blue buildings, and the inside is a long winding trail that leads you through the showroom floor. Ikea specializes in everything for the home, and one of their main advertising points is that they have something to fit any price range. We have certainly found that to be true. We found Isaiah’s baby bed there when we first came for an incredible price. Also throughout the store there are bins of stuff at super discount prices that one can find. Frying pans for $3, a twelve piece set of dishes for $10, and what’s amazing is that, while the stuff is cheap, it lasts like quality items are supposed to (which is another foreign concept in Russia on the whole). To top the whole experience off, Ikea has a really good restaurant that’s cheap, two plate dinners with soda, soup, dessert, coffee and food for Isaiah all for about $12. Even the Russians rave about the deal.
We arrived at Mega at about 1PM and headed for Ikea’s cafe and had lunch. After that we meandered through Ikea looking at all of the new, clean well-organized displays. Modern looking rooms filled with bright colored furniture, chairs, sofas, bookshelves, etc. We found a few small items during our trip, but our “anniversary” purchase was our new lamp. Since we’ve moved into our current apartment here in St. Pete, our front room has always been rather dark and dull. Especially this time of year when it doesn’t get “light” (if you want to call it that) until 10AM, the dullness of our front room hasn’t helped our persistent sleepiness any. So as we rounded the corner into the lamp section we began looking. We saw lamps priced over $100. Way too expensive. Then we noticed them a little cheaper, and a little cheaper. Bingo, 400 Roubles, about $16. Our front room is now aglow with mellow brightness and now eases the Russian study sessions at the front room table. We came home, fed Isaiah, put him to bed and celebrated our anniversary with Pizza takeout from a little place just down the street from us. All-in-all a relaxing day.
So that’s how our first anniversary in Russia went. We are just thankful for some time to relax and enjoy being together as a family. We thank the Lord for bringing us together as a family to serve him in this place.