A week in, though and you start to access things in a different light. Our move here, of course in some ways similar to when we moved to St Pete's 4 years back, in other ways is so very different. One small interesting thing is of course how much more Western it all is. Today in our post box, we received what was probably our 6th leaflet from the various electronics shops here, trying to sell us their TVs, laptops, computers, cameras etc. In St Petersburg, I don't recall receiving one of these in the post in all that time.
And we are aware of how much more things cost - some of that being because there is more available, some just the like for like cost is higher here, in the Euro zone, as is normally the case now, sadly.
From experience, and this time is proving no different, the first year, certainly the first 6 months, costs more after any move. There are one off costs (50 euros for ID cards, for example, today) and you are still learning the best shops - where to go for the things you need. This takes time, and straight after arriving, you tend to (have to for lack of local knowledge) buy things from the only place, or two, you know. In time, efficiency comes. The budget settles down. You adjust. But the first few months can hit hard.
And into this backdrop is the pressure to find work. Last time round (as well as not being legally allowed to work) we didn't have that pressure. And though we said we'd take this first week to just settle in as a family, inevitably (and when spending money!) I've been thinking about where to start to find teaching work - and quick! This I will start looking into next week - please pray for amazing favour and open doors, as I literally just approach businesses and ask if they currently, or soon intend to, have English language lessons. I'll need a lot of grace!
Tonight we had Barry and Brenda Mitchell around. He is the Pastor of the church we've already connected with here. The night went really well, they said how they are not often invited anywhere so that was special to be able to welcome them as our first guests. They've been here 20 years this year and know just about the whole church community, so hearing their stories and offers to put us in touch was great - I might even do some shooting with him, though will draw the line at sky diving! He was keen to put me in touch with a number of other pastors so pray that these open up many new relationships in our new home city.
One final thing to pray about. Whenever you move on, you leave one place behind, of course. For us that was our wonderful Hope Church. We don't stop thinking about them once we've left, but now they do really need your prayers. Having seen us leave last week, sending us off in a great way, this week something unexpected and challenging has happened. Our great friends Dave and Hannah, who we moved with and first started with in the summer of 2008, are needing to leave. Dave seriously hurt his back last Sunday, and the scan they took revealed a 'mass' on the spin that might also need an operation (the slipped disk itself requiring work). This is very sudden and of course unexpected. He is being flown back to the UK by air ambulance tomorrow for this operation and they are moving out of the flat, as we are talking months, not weeks. Clearly for them, this is a very unsettling time. Please pray for them as they make this swift transition. Please also pray for the church that it would come through this season stronger. The team will have gone from 4 to 2 in two weeks so that puts a huge strain on Hansie and Slava, who need your prayers too in this time. One thing we're considering is whether I look to travel back a little while I still have my visa, just to encourage and help out - please pray that I have wisdom with this as we are obviously not yet settled here.
Thanks for praying and walking with us on this journey.
Posts so far in this series;