We arrived in Mariupol bearing gifts. Each of us had packed half of our suitcase with American candies, Alaskan souvenirs, and wedding favors. We are so thankful that we did. There just aren't enough ways to show people that we love them and have been thinking of them. Giving an unusual taste of America is somehow soul soothing when there aren't enough words or hours to share our hearts. We make sure to explain that we don't bring Sprees, Sweettarts, and Pop Rocks, because we believe they are better than the delicious Ukrainian candies, but because we know they are different. However, the face of Ukrainian consumerism is changing. Since we arrived, I have been amazed to discover very American products popping up on the shelves: oreos and vanilla flavored coffeemate, for example. Yesterday, during our afternoon free time we visited the new Super Walmart type market, "Amstore." Soaring Costco height ceilings and aisles of every kind of product from barbecues to crossants. People are able to use "credit" for the first time in their life and are excitedly buying cars, apartments, and furniture without paying upfront and in full. James and I can't help but feel a little worried for the new craze, but it's leading to exciting changes. With Alyona as a translator, James taught the morning youth class on Tuesday's theme: Hope. He did a fantastic job of teaching. He started with a game which offered hope of a reward (Tootsie Rolls), then had them play a game without any hope of reward. The kids were so enthusiastic about everything, it almost didn't work as an example! Then he talked about Jacob and Rachael and their hope for marriage after Jacob's seven years of work, then of their disappointment (and Leah's). Then James talked of the hope that doesn't disappoint. I think it went really well.
After a delicious potato soup lunch at Tim and Mina's, we went downtown, past downtown, and out of town to Amstore. We came home just in time to go to Emma's, where we had made arrangements to go on Sunday. She speaks a little stilted, mumbled English and has a bad hearing aid. She made boiled chicken and cucumber-mayonnaise salad for us. For dessert was a delicious and beautiful loaf of sweet bread swirled with nuts. We enjoyed talking with her in a mixture of Russian and English and learned a little about her fascinating past. At the end of the evening, she pulled out a faded photo album. So much history! We said goodbye at the door, then she walked us home. It was so sweet of her, but I couldn't help feeling a little babied. I think it's sometimes hard for some people to see someone who stutters your language as a fully functioning adult. Oh well. It was a beautiful summer evening walk.