Once again this morning we slept way later than we ever do at home after a slightly better night's sleep than we'd had the night before. We haven't pushed ourselves during these two days of "leisure" because when our "work" begins as we embark a train for the region where our new children's orphanage is and for the capitol of the region where we'll go to court, the rest of the trip will be all work and no play. The gift of rest now is helping to prepare us for what is to come.
When we were finally up and going, we revisited the Arbat (pedestrian mall) for lunch at MacDonalds (spelling intentional--it's the way the Russians say it).We have continued to be amazed by what a hot spot the restaurant is for the young adult crowd. Mr. Beaver waited in line with about 50 people to place our order. I scouted for a table but the only seat I could find was a stool at a counter which I shared with six strangers. When Mr. Beaver arrived he stood next to me as we downed our first meal today. I took a couple of photos before I was asked by a security guard to stop--security guards are plentiful here! Yesterday we got lost in an underground mall as we were trying to find a Metro station in the Red Square area. Again, the location was swarming with young people and guards were visible everywhere.
Here are a couple of photos of the MacDonalds (Mr. Beaver is on the far right in a tan coat in the second picture):
After lunch we went shopping for gifts for all our children. All of us have come to appreciate the beauty of hand-painted and hand-carved Russian crafts. We are a family that is truly dual-cultural, and it is a joy to the two of us to be able to bring some bits of Russia home in the form of gifts for all of our children in the U.S.
Many of the shops on the Arbat that sell Russian handcrafts employ high pressure sales people but we found a beautiful shop with helpful-but-not-pushy saleswomen. Natalia (right) and Anna (center) were great to work with. When we told Anna that we have nine children, she said that her mom has given birth to five and has cared for 20 orphans.
While Mr. Beaver checked out, I took a few photos of the museum-like store. Color is everywhere in Russian handicrafts!
The mythical figure "Father Christmas" is prevelent in Russian fairy tales and children's stories. Although I'm no fan of Santa substituting for the baby Jesus at Christmas in our country, I loved this giant carved and painted version of Father Christmas that sported a sweet family scene.
After shopping we retired to our hotel room. Again, we're trying to conserve energy for the next stage of this unusual trip. Our hotel, the Golden Ring, is the tall building in the center.
The hotel's lobby looks like this:
Across the street is a small shop open 24 hours a day that sells juices, yogurt, bread, meats, cheeses, and the ever-present alcohol.
It's sort of like a cross between an outdoor market and one of our convenience stores without the gasoline.
We investigated the store in case we end up staying at this same hotel when we return to the country to bring our adoptees home in November, Lord willing. The three children will be brought to Moscow rather than us traveling on the train back to their region to gather them. The five of us will then spend 8-10 days here in Moscow waiting for offical paperwork to be processed so we're eyeing the city for the kid-friendly spots. This is truly a concrete metropolis that has given little attention to what would make travel easier for kids and parents. Thanksfully, we know we'll have God's grace surrounding us and His wisdom to guide us as we navigate this mega city that has it's roots in pre-medieval times.
Once again we finish the day tired, but exhilierated by the knowledge that we are never alone or forsaken while so far from everything familiar. God IS with us!