Monday, December 27, 2010

From Russia With Love

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13

Thirteen years ago today (Man, that seems like a LONG time!), I married a Russian college student whom I had known almost six months. Our first date had been on June 30th, when I took him fishing at my grandpa’s pond. We caught lots of sunfish that day. He cooked me spaghetti a few nights later, literally spaghetti and sauce, and we ate it at his college apartment out of margarine tubs. I told him about Hamburger Helper. He asked me to go shopping with him.

While at the grocery store I introduced him to things like yogurt, cottage cheese, and sour cream. He’d known all these things before, but didn’t know the name for them in English. I also told him about whole milk. He said that’s what he’d wanted, but didn’t know what the red cap meant. I offered to cook him a roast with potatoes and carrots, and the next thing I knew, we were getting married.

Some people said he married me for his Green Card. I think it was because I could cook and he couldn’t at the time. Russian men usually have a woman to take care of them.

We went to a pawn shop in Galena, Kansas, and bought my wedding ring for $140.00. It had been welded together at one time and then ripped in half and had a jagged edge and a small chip in the diamond. We bought his ring at the Miami Coin Shop for $40.00. The shoes he bought to get married in cost $46.00. My dress cost $50.00 at the going out of business sale at the Miami Bridal Shoppe and my mom made my veil attached to a headband of fake pearls we bought at Wal-Mart.

We had $110.00 in our checking account that first day we were married. And that was pretty much it in the way of assets between us. Of course, there was the harvest scene couch he’d bought at a garage sale that you had to be careful when sitting down on because a nail might poke you, but aside from that, our checking account represented all our worldly possessions that had value to anyone else besides us.

He didn’t tell his parents he was getting married. His mother would call in the middle of the night screaming and crying. My husband is an only child.

Needless to say, I went over like a lead brick. They wanted to know what color I was, was I pregnant, and what was my name? I passed on all accounts except they didn’t like my name. We sent pictures after the wedding and his grandma decided that I was too pale so I must be sick a lot, I was too thin so I must not know how to cook, and I was older than him (2 ½ years) so I must have MADE him marry me.

Then the paperwork began! YEARS of paperwork to be exact. I didn’t make enough money so my uncle had to co-sponsor my husband with me, making the both of us financially responsible for my husband. My dad wouldn’t do it. My husband would finally receive his Green Card just after we purchased our first house, three years plus after our wedding day. He would become a US Citizen when our first child was eight months old.

Eventually I won over my Russian in-laws. I guess they got used to the idea that my husband wasn’t coming back. And that maybe not all American women were what they thought they might be. They eventually gave me credit for my husband graduating from college, for him getting a job, for us buying a house, for our first child. Before she died, his grandma even decided that I looked a little like their Northern people. What a turnaround I’d had!

I cannot fathom that there would have been any more perfect a person for God to have chosen as my spouse. My husband gets my sense of humor, he’s smart, and cute, and all that, too. He’s even keeled when I freak out, and he still likes my cooking.

It is strange to think that my husband didn’t even speak my language until he was 15 years old. It is strange to think that he had to travel halfway around the world to get here. It is strange to think that he ended up going to the junior college in my town because his test scores were too low to stick with his friends and go to the college where they went. It is strange to think that he ended up unloading the truck with me on Saturday mornings at Arby’s in my hometown.

What a logistical nightmare for anyone else but God! I guess I was a hard order to fill!

Happy Anniversary to my big strong Russian husband!

He loves it when I call him that!

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:19-20


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