One of the hardest things about living in Russia is the language barrier. When we arrived we really couldn't get by at all. Jon lived in Moscow for a summer as a college student but he only knew "touristy" Russian......that barely got us by. We took language lessons together twice a week for a total of 4 hours a week and that was it plus the fact that our teacher went away with her mathematician husband to a speaking engagement in Scotland in the month of November, only two months after our arrival. But we did our best to learn as much as possible. Svetlana, our language teacher, was a feisty older woman who came to our home which was extremely convenient. She also spoke perfect English and we learned a lot about the Russian culture from her.
Here we are in our home with her. She had us over for tea
Here's Jon, Jojo, and Judy (Jon's mom) in
front of Svetlana's house in the forest.
We had to rely a lot on the help of other Russians who spoke English to get by the first few weeks in order to buy all the stuff for our home. One time I got really sick with a high fever and severe pain on my side. I actually ended up being hospitalized and this was only weeks after our arrival. All I could really say in Russian was "My name is Natalia" and "I don't understand Russian." Boris, Jon's translator had to accompany me in the ambulance to the hospital and translate for me with all the doctors. They thought I had appendicitis and were going to operate on me but thankfully all my blood counts were normal and other tests didn't show any signs of an appendicitis. Boris couldn't stay with me the whole time so I ended up in a room with 6 other women not being able to communicate anything. I was terrified of course but in all honesty those women were so nice and caring for me. They nurtured me and treated me like their daughter. After 24 hours I was feeling much better but the doctors wanted to keep me in the hospital for several days to "observe", thankfully our language teacher showed up and demanded that I be released. I wish I understood everything she said to the doctors but she was really letting them have it and was able to get me set free after I signed a letter.
I also remember every time that I had to go to the grocery store I would get so sick to my stomach. It was awful, I had to really psych myself up just to get out the door. There are so many other "funny" situations with the language barrier that first year. I don't know how we did it but we did. I suppose I used a lot of sign language and our trusty little translation book. I really learned to depend on the Lord and trust Him in all things.