A couple of factors have gone into a significant lack of blog posts over the past two weeks. Once I arrived in Baku, life immediately became busy, which really is not unusual to me. Most nights, though, I can hardly keep my eyes open! Another factor is deciding what I can put on here or what I should wait to share in a personal conversation with someone. For this post, I will pick a few highs and lows of my new home to share with you all.
The Commute: Each morning and evening, I walk to the end of my road and hope to catch a bus as it comes by my street. Many times, the bus will stop whenever you hail it down, so that has been nice, but in the past few days, they have tightened the rules regarding stops. I have started walking about three full blocks down to a bus stop to catch the bus now. The bus generally costs 20 qepik, which it about 25 cents USD. It does not matter where you go, it is still 20 qepik, so I spend about 50 cents a day to get to and from school. The bus is the most common mode of transportation for the “working class,” so they can sometimes become very crowded. A couple of times, I have been on when you have to push your way on, then you are in very close proximity to everyone around you. Personal space is not generally taken into consideration. Chivalry, however, is very much alive. Despite the constant feeling of men staring at you, their respect for women is quite obvious. If a woman gets on the bus and a man is sitting, then he will more than likely give up his seat for said woman. When I get off the bus, it’s right before this wonderful (this term is used loosely) meat shop. I have the joy of walking by large animal carcasses, headless poultry, and those yet to reach their fate hanging out at the end of the shop. So far, I have seen 3 loose sheep and 7 free turkeys when walking by the meat shop. More on the meat shop in a future post, I think. It’s always an amusing jaunt.
Grocery Shopping: Most of the products here have Russian labels, which is great and all, but I really only know “sour cream” in Russian type for some reason. I have a wonderful friend, though, who gave me a tour through the closest market, so I can at least remember where things are located throughout the shop. I am still kind of terrified to buy meat. It is silly, I am sure, but there is something so intimidating about buying meat at one of these markets. Maybe that will be one of this week’s adventures!
New Friends: Wow! Many of you know about the family I was connected with before leaving to come here, and they have been a blessing beyond what I could have imagined! In addition to that very wonderful family, God has blessed me with friends in the teachers at school, the parents of my students, and several other acquaintances. I even have American neighbors one road over from me! Some days are hard, very hard. I’m surrounded by sweet new friends who are so helpful and friendly, but I find myself in a prolonged state of loneliness. I miss my home and friends so very much, but I am also so grateful for the way God has provided these new relationships. I know He is taking care of me in ways I can’t even recognize, yet. My hope is that as I continue to adjust to life in Baku, God will open my heart to really love and invest in these new friends.
School: Oh school, how you exhaust me so! I spent half of my 4-day weekend last week rearranging the room, hanging up new rules, planning how to restructure the classroom, and hoping my 20 little balls of energy would take well to the changes. Fortunately, they did! By Friday afternoon, though, we were all so exhausted. I’m sure they’re sleeping hard this weekend! I’m starting to see all of their feisty personalities and attitudes come out each day. They sure know how to wear us out each day! Daily, I am impressed by each of them! The parents I have had the pleasure to meet over the past couple of weeks have been very encouraging and helpful, so that is a great way to start things off! Today, I heard from an administrator that at least one parent has come in to praise our class, which was so very encouraging. My prayers lately revolve around school, for obvious reasons. I am praying for my students’ minds to be receptive to all the new things we are learning each day, for parents who are excited to help their children, continued support from my fellow teachers, and the energy to survive each day. Things are truly going well, and I look forward to sharing more with you all soon!
Hope you all are well,
[P.S. Check out some pictures from the past two weeks!]