Sunday, September 4, 2011

Church in Russian

My Kazakh friend, R., is Christian, and attends a small non-denominational church with its headquarters in Almaty, and most of the congregation is of Korean descent (yet Kazakhstan citizens & Russian speaking).

Yes, most Kazakhs are Muslim, similar to how most French are Catholic--it's part of their ethnicity but they don't necessarily practice. (It's incredibly rare to see a Muslim in full Muslim dress -- burqua etc. In fact, you're just as likely to see a nun as a woman in a burqa.) However, for the few Kazakhs who have converted, it has been a big deal. It took some time for my friend to convince her family that she's still a good person, even though she's a Christian.

I attended service with her once; it is one hour of singing and then one hour of preaching. The children are pulled out during the preaching part for more kid-friendly activities. Sophia thoroughly enjoyed that hour, despite it being in Russian, and has asked repeatedly to return.

My friend does not mind driving her, and so I have let her go several times (as often as logistics work out). Last spring they had a small "Children's Fair", where they sang and danced and played games, and they bought prizes with "talents" -- tickets earned by answering questions correctly during Sunday school. The children also each got a present and a nametag with a special nickname. I was quite pleased to see that Sophia was remembered--her nickname was "Angel" and her present was a picture frame. She was quite happy.

So this year she has asked to go again, and she went this morning. Today they have "homework"--a worksheet with Bible verses and other activities, which she is completing with her friend.

But I won't let her off the hook for Catholic church, at least not completely. There are times when I go to the Russian-language Mass in the mornings, at the same time she goes with her friend to her service. But there are also times which we go to the English-language Mass in the evenings. She is quite content to attend church two times. And today is the second time that her friend is going to both. In fact, she pretty much begged her mom to stay with us, even if that means going to church twice in one day.

I think it's amusing that my child and her friend beg to go to church twice in one day. I know it's not so much for the church as for the friendship, but still. I'm glad they're willing to go twice. And I hope that the exposure to a friendly Russian-language environment will help her with her Russian. I'm amazed at the difference between our friend's church and our previous school--both Russian speaking environments where Sophia was different. At our old school, she was excluded, and the teachers didn't try to appear as if they cared. At this church, she is included. The kids are very friendly and accepting, and the teachers work hard to make sure Sophia is included. It's a nice environment.

No comments:

Post a Comment