At the Pavliys' for dinner, we sat with the men in the front room while the other ladies ate elsewhere and brought in the food. It felt very strange to be sitting there with no other ladies besides Bev, but it was more traditional, I was told, and also there wasn't much space. It still felt odd.
Dinner was delicious. We had borscht and another soup; bread (of course), tomatoes and cucumbers, potato salad (with lots of sour cream), cabbage rolls (with some sort of sauce), and some sort of meat--beef patties, I think. It was the most confusing dinner to me, with everyone talking (but mostly to Victor, because we couldn't speak the same language) and simultaneously shoveling food onto my plate. At other places I had been encouraged to eat, but here it wasn't even spoken--it was just put onto the plate!
By the time dessert was placed at the table(fruit, little multi-layer cakes, and candy), we were so full we could barely move. So we sat and talked for quite a long time. For a while, all of us were more-or-less engaged in conversation; I showed my pictures of home and family. Ivan Pavliy gave a thumbs-up to the picture of Chris, and said that he could see just by looking at him that he was a man of God.
Anna Pavliy, looking at the pictures of my boys, said that her granddaughters were the same ages, and teased that perhaps we should arrange a marriage. We all laughed, and Bev said that she didn't think the girls' mama would like them to move to the United States. So I said perhaps the boys would move to Ukraine instead.
Anna showed us pictures of their family--weddings and such, primarily--for a while. Seeing that the conversation had drifted more to private conversations (the men with Victor, the women amongst themselves), Bev and I were able to just talk amongst ourselves for a while. I have to note that this evening will stand as one of my favorite times of the trip. Free of the stress of trying to communicate through anyone else, it was a joy to just sit and talk with Beverly. It was very pleasant, sitting there in a house that reminded me (not so much in looks as in feel) of my grandfather's house in the hills of Tennessee. No one seemed to mind us, talking away to one another in lower voices, and it was a relief to just...communicate, and have the feeling that what one really meant was getting through.
At long last, though, Bev reminded us that we had another engagement to go to. The Romans, surely, were waiting for our arrival for a late tea. Regretfully, we took our leave, and I was sorry, because I had felt so at home there. We took a few last pictures and bid them goodbye.
Roman welcomed us and invited us into their home. I noticed the Lord's Prayer--the Our Father--on a plaque. I wished that I could find one to take home with me, to remind me always of this day and of this church and this people.
We went upstairs and Anna Roman served tea. Also visiting were two Sabbatarian refugees from Tajikistan; they had resettled with their whole church of believers down by the Black Sea.
Roman had nice things to say about my singing voice. He said that it was very artistic--and I hope it was a compliment. It was nice to be referred to as "Our Sister." Even if it is only a conversational convention, it was hard not to feel claimed and welcomed by such a phrase.
Anna had set out a lavish tea, but I had already eaten far too much to enjoy it. The tea was a fruit tea, dried fruit steeped like tea leaves. It was unexpected, but very good and sweet.
Klassen (?), one of refugees, told us about the conflicts in Tajikistan, and about the fighting that led up to their entire church community fleeing in the nick of time. Sadly, we were unable to stay long enough to hear the whole story. Again regretfully, we said our goodbyes.
We drove to pick Kassie up at Sturmer, where she was with Ivan's family. Happily, they had met up also with Vitale, the young man who had translated for us at church, and he had translated for her. Volodik (?) rode with us back to Golubaya Shayan, where we all hurried to bed to enjoy too few hours of sleep.