Monday, April 27, 2009

Didn't see that one coming but I'm happy to see it

So Kristina came in yesterday morning and told me she was going to church with me. Since it wasn't my weekend with the other kids, I gave her the choice:
  • We could go to the Russian Orthodox, Russian-language church up north.

  • We could go to my English-language Episcopalian Church of the Ascension, where she would understand and be familiar with the service.

  • We could go to my Spanish-language Casa de Celebración, which is also where Kinya's friend Daniela and her family go to church, and where the worship band is bar none the best I've ever worshipped with...but where the services are en español, which Kinya doesn't speak. But for the last choice I did offer a compromise: we could leave after the forty-five-minute opening muscial worship jam session, so that Kinya wouldn't have to listen to an additional forty-five-minute sermon in a (to her) incomprehensible language.

Rather to my surprise, she chose the last option.

So we went to la Casa (or, rather, to the Marriott where la Casa has been meeting since Ike rendered the church building unusable) and got there while the band was still doing sound checks. We said my buenos díases and then wandered downstairs, killed a little time at Starbucks, and gave Kinya a chance professionally to criticize the fact that Starbucks, unlike Java Dave's, buys their whipped cream already whipped instead of whipping it in-house. I amused Kinya inordinately by telling her about how last week Pastor Juan Carlos's dad tried to impress me by saying howdy in Russian, but unfortunately chose to do so with an enthusiastic, "Do sfidániya!" -- which is to say, "Good-bye." Then we walked back upstairs, where the party was in full swing, and Kinya filled out a first-time visitor's card...a bit tricky for her since it was in Spanish and she didn't know how to answer because she couldn't understand the questions; but I helped her out with that and the card got filled out successfully. The head usher came over and offered to sit with us and translate, but I explained that, for this Sunday at least, we would be leaving after the music.

And then we went on in, and I sang along whenever I could understand the lyrics (I follow the sermons okay but it's harder for me to piece together sung Spanish through the music than to decipher spoken Spanish, even when there's lots of audience participation in the sermon, as is definitely the case at la Casa), and Kinya watched somewhat bemused and amused and wide-eyed but (as it turned out) most especially VERY impressed with the quality of the drum set and the panache with which the handsome young drummer employed it.

The music ended, and everybody sat down, even including us -- because I knew we weren't quite to the sermon yet. Then the head usher took the mike and explained, in Spanish followed by a careful English translation, that there were two people in the congregation who had never been here before. So she introduced both newcomers, including of course Kristina -- and then, again to Kristina's astonishment, the service came to a halt while all fifty or so people in the congregation got up, came over to Kristina and to the other gentleman, and one at a time shook her hand and smiled and welcomed her to the church.

As everyone returned to his seat, and Juan Carlos took the mike, Kinya and I got up quietly and walked out into the hall. As we headed for the door, Kristina seemed deep in thought.

And then she asked, "Papa, can you help me learn Spanish?"

So the upshot of it all is that I'm going to add Spanish to Kinya's home-school curriculum, and for the time being at least our ordinary Sunday routine will be very similar to my current one, except that now Kinya will join in for part of it:

1. I'll get up and go to 8:00 Rite I Eucharist at the Church of the Ascension.

2. Then I'll eat breakfast with everybody else at Ascension.

3. Then I'll go to Sunday School at Ascension, which will end around 10:15.

4. Then I'll go pick up Kristina and her laptop.

5. Then we'll go to la Casa for the music.

6. Then after the music is over, Kinya will take her laptop to one of the little cafés in the neighborhood and do some schoolwork or play WoW or just drink tea and people-watch, while I listen to the sermon.

So I guess the upshot is that, in answer to a couple of years of praying, Kristina has decided to start going to church with me every Sunday morning -- but at a Spanish-speaking church, of all things.

I'll guarantee you this: in this life of ours, I long ago stopped trying to predict what was going to happen next.