Skip to comments.Russian Immigrants give thanks to America
Posted on 11/25/2003 11:35:05 PM PST by djwright
My wife and I have lived next to a Russian church for about 4 years. We have been acquainted with some of the pastors but have never attended any services. Sometimes living next to the church can be an inconvenience. The parking is bad and they block our drive almost every Sunday. Also sometimes when one of their youth groups has a late night function they can be a little loud as they leave.
Anyway the church has been aware that they can be a tough neighbor and have given us gifts in the past to thank us for our patience. But tonight was more than I could have expected.
They invited us to a youth program. We had heard them practicing in the evenings for some time and my wife had always wanted an excuse to try some of the Russian food so we planned to attend.
I, being the supportive husband, agreed to go without really knowing what the evening was about.
When we arrived they had us put on name tags and almost everybody we passed shook our hand and introduced themselves. Most of them had heavy accents but their English was quite good.
We sat near the front and waited for the program to begin. It was a little after 7 and they hadn't started yet. The youth pastor who was running the show came over and introduced himself. He told us they had invited many people from the neighborhood and looking around we saw that we were practically the only ones there. He asked how long they should wait to start (not knowing the American custom) and my wife said maybe 15 minutes.
At precisely 7:15 they started the program. A small choir sang a couple of hymns. They sang Amazing Grace in English and repeated it in Russian. That moved me greatly as I have always said Amazing Grace is the best song ever written and now I have heard a Russian version to prove my point.
The had a small youth choir come up and do a couple of songs. It was fun to see how teenagers are the same everywhere. You could tell they were a little uncomforable but they put their heart into the songs.
Then they had an American teacher from their school program come up. She gave an amazing explanation of the origins of Thanksgiving. It was touching to see the Russians listening and absorbing the story of the pilgrims and their struggles in a new country, not that unlike their own struggles to come to this country.
Then the pastor came up and made a short presentation. The whole night was really about giving thanks to America for accepting and welcoming them. As the only none Russians there many of the comments were directed directly towards us. He said that most of the congregation were refugees from Russia, Ukraine, Belorus and the former Soviet Republics. He told us that he and many others there had been victims of persecution in the USSR for their beliefs. His father had been imprisoned for being a Christian and his uncle spent time in Siberia.
He talked about his pride at becoming an American citizen and how his whole view of the country changed upon taking his oath.
Then the lead pastor came up to give a closing prayer. They thanked the neighbors (us) the city, even the people who gave them the building permits to build their church. They prayed for President Bush, the House and Senate and the Judicial branch.
I am not a very religous person but I have a deep belief in this country and to hear these recent immigrants express their love and appreciation for this country brought a tear to my eye.
Afterwards we talked to many and ate some great Russian food.
I explanied to some that I have always thought that America is an idea not a place. They just nodded. They get the idea and I think better than many who were born here. They are true Americans and I welcome them to their new home.
What a nice story. Thanks for sharing it.
And this is all we ask, therein lies the key
When I was growing up, my favorite holiday was Russian Orthodox Easter, with my grandmother and all of my mom's relatives. The ceremony and church customs were very moving. There was always entertainment with a Russian flair. And, ahhh....the feast.
The only difficult thing was that grandma would insist we crack open her hand-painted easter eggs.
These are the kind of immigrants we want to allow in, the ones that follow the rules....
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.