Two of my very favorite ladies here are Raisa, and Nadezhda. I spoke of Raisa before, so today,(Thursday the 23rd on my calendar)I will tell you about one of the funniest and sweetest ladies in the church, Nadezhda.
I had the privilege of having tea with her and her daughter, Jane. We arranged the tea thru Raisa who is a dear friend to her. When we arrived at her flat, Raisa was already there and Jane greeted us as if we were long, lost friends. Jane lives with her mother in a small flat near down town Dneper. She does not go to church with her Mother so I was not familiar with her at all.
The tea was set up on a small round table. I felt like the Queen of England with all the plates and cups and saucers...you know...regular 4:00 tea time set up! Jane greeted us warmly at the door, and made us feel right at home immediately. She was so thrilled to meet the lady from the USA who she heard about non-stop!
Nadezhda was reclining on her small sofa-like bed in the corner of the living area. The beds here are much like the fold out couches I remember from my Grannies trailor when I was a child. She was wearing a beautiful bed jacket that complimented her sweet face.
Some memories I have of her are her quick laughter that is so contagious. She is so willing to laugh at silly situations that others might take the opportunity to be "offended" at. She is more than willing to participate in childrens games that include relay races, baloon popping games, and funny hat competitions.
In fact, I have such fond memories of a picnic that took place several years ago on an island in the middle of the Dneper River. We all were taken on "a three hour tour, a three hour tour" (couldn't help myself, Sharon!) down the river in an open tour boat. The weather was hot, but not too muggy. Old Helen, (vs. 'young Helen' her grandaughter) was already on the island cooking over an open fire for the whole group. They planned some games (see above: silly types of games) and a Funniest Hat contest. She was SO creative in her efforts!
The look on her face when she realized that she had completely forgotten about the contest...it was not irritated or sad...just determined to use whatever she could get her hands on. The hats, of course, had to be shown off in a "runway" hat/fashion show. There were so many cute hats out there, from big sun hats with native flowers from the island on them, to baseball type caps with grass growing from them. It was hilarious just watching what people came up with.
As people began to create their masterpieces Nadezhda began searching for hat making material. Seeing that so many were decorated with grass and flowers, she decided to go ultra simple! I couldn't believe it when I turned around and saw her creation.
She had simply folded the edges of a brown paper bag into a cuff...and pulled it down over her ears! We laughed and laughed. She was very surprised that we thought her hat was so funny. She looked at us, and told us "you do what you have to do and you make do"!!
I don't remember who "won" the contest, but everyone had a marvelous time.
Nadezhda turned 90 years old on her last birthday. She doesn't get out much any more because of the difficulty she has in walking and seeing things, but I know that she misses the fellowship that she used to have with everyone at the church. She kept repeating over and over how much she appreciated us coming. It was definately my pleasure and honor to visit with such a lovely saint in His army.
By the frail appearance of her physical body, I am not sure I will see this sweet lady again this side of Heaven. But one thing I look forward to is her smile and hug and welcoming me to join her for some fellowship!