Midterms are over! Thankfully, I think most of my tests went along without too many foul-ups. Apart from studying, I have not been up to much. Still filling out grad school apps (so time consuming!), trying to do a better job keeping up with learning Russian, and classes.

So two weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to go and visit a Teen Challenge center here in Moscow. I took the metro, then met Marina and Roman (who help run the TC center), who picked me up and drove me to the center. They gave me a little tour and I got to meet and talk with the guys, sharing our respective stories. God’s doing big things there. It was an awesome time and I’m very thankful that TC is here to help those that need it. After hanging out at the center, I rode with Marina and Roman to the church they attend for service that afternoon. The whole thing was in Russian, so I missed most of what was said unfortunately. Afterwards, however, they had a little reception, so I got to meet a bunch of Roman and Marina’s friends. Some of them wanted to practice their English, but they quickly got tired of that and we switched to Russian. They were very welcoming and kind, I hope I get to go back there before I leave Russia.

This past Wednesday, a friend from the dorms and I went to the US Ambassador’s house for a concert and reception. Its really crazy that I was invited to this thing, I certainly did not feel like I deserved/belonged there but there we were nonetheless. The music was, without a doubt, amazing. They had this guy, Joseph Malovany, who is the Chief Cantor of the 5th Avenue synagogue in NYC, come and sing with the Moscow Male Jewish Capella. It was a great privilege to spend the evening listening to such a great group of musicians in such a weird setting. Oh yeah, I got to pet the ambassador’s dog!

On Sundays, a friend and I have been going to this restaurant after church, which is probably the most Russian place I have eaten at thus far. It is somehow connected with the Orthodox Church, there’s tons of icons inside and many of the patrons do the really intense Orthodox sign of the cross as they enter and as they leave. The food is incredible! Great, hearty, comfort food. I think it tastes even better now that its getting cold out. Hot water for tea out of a samovar, fresh baked tvorog buns, its heavenly…

Today, four of us went to the other side of Moscow to a flea market to do a bit of souvenir shopping. This place is a treasure trove of awesome and weird Russian stuff. Fur hats, scarves, old samovars, millions of matroshki dolls, $2 USD bills, old Soviet coins, wooden knick-knacks, all sorts of cool stuff. There’s even a lady walking around selling tea and coffee, so I promptly bought a cup since it was pretty chilly out. I think we made out with a few good buys, but the most valuable thing I think was the practice haggling with the sellers. And of course more practice speaking Russian.

Well, that’s all for this week. Off to do some algebra and practice some Russian.