Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Women of our Host Countries

When I saw on the calendar that it was my turn to post this weekend, I immediately thought of International Woman's Day and how OF COURSE I would post on some topic celebrating womanhood... Then I remembered that this holiday doesn't even exist in much of the world, despite it being an "international" holiday. If you were here in Russia on this day though, you would definitely think that everyone on earth MUST be celebrating. It is a huge deal. Everyone gets the day off of work, women everywhere are walking around town with bouquets of flowers in hand, there are gifts, chocolates, dates, cards, celebrations, store discounts, billboards... Women are given the most royal of treatments on this day.

I love this holiday in Russia because I think Russian women are truly amazing. Many of them have been dealt much hardship, but on the whole, Russian women are strong, brave, beautiful, and deep. I wanted to share a few things with you that I love about Russian women, but my main hope for this post is that you will share with the rest of us about the amazing women in your host cultures. Let's celebrate the incredible women that God has created around the globe, and tell about the wonderful qualities that He has instilled in them. I'll start by telling you a bit of my impressions of Russian women:

Like I said, Russian women are strong and brave. Given the recent history that today's women have lived through, Russian women have fought to protect their families and to survive and thrive amidst many challenges. One such example is that there are many broken homes due to alcoholism. This has left many many women as the primary breadwinners, caretakers of their children, and often even the caretakers of their parents too. Many women sacrifice so much in order to care for their family.

Here are a few of my strong, beautiful Russian friends carrying a bunch of heavy bags 30 minutes to a train stop just as it starts to rain.

Russian grandmothers are incredible. I love babushkas. They know how everything works (or should work...and aren't afraid to let everyone know!). They are resourceful and frugal. They are incredibly independent and strong despite their age (I am in shock every winter watching babushkas walking over ice-covered sidewalks with their groceries each day). One thing that I think is so amazing about Russian culture is the responsibility that many grandmothers feel in the care of their grandchildren. They will often live with their children while their grandchildren are young so as to help care for them during the physically taxing years of early childhood, or if not living with the family, they will often times live close by, taking the grandchildren for the weekend, helping to take them to and from pre-school or school, watching them on the playground, and taking them on special outings.

Our sweet neighbor, Babushka Anya (whom I met a number of years ago helping cross the street while carrying groceries through a snow storm!)

Russian women in the church are a tremendous source of life and wisdom within the congregation. There are very few male believers in Russia, so the women have to take on many responsibilities for the livelihood of the church. On the whole, these women are faithful, amazing, and yet humble servants. Given the hard history that the older generation of believers especially has endured, these women have persevered and become solid pillars of faith who have tremendous wisdom to pass down to the younger generations.

I could continue on for a long time about the beautiful qualities of Russian women, but I want to give each of you a chance to share! Please share in the comments one or two (or more) things that you admire about the women in the culture where you serve!

Happy Women's Day, my incredible missionary mom friends!! I praise God for creating each one of you and for the incredible ways that you reflect His image. As we celebrate International Women's Day here in Russia, I am celebrating YOU!

What do you admire about the women in your host country?

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