Posted by: ritagone | December 1, 2010

Six Degrees of Separation


I love the rich entanglements of relationships!  It’s like playing that fascinating game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” which is the trivia game of six degrees of separation, based upon the fact that if you dig deep enough, any two people can be found to know one another and be linked to each other in some way.

And you know what?

Sometimes it’s true!  And sometimes those two people find themselves halfway around the world…in my living room, for example.

This past Sunday, Michael and I hosted an Open House in the afternoon for Sergey and Katia Pokrovsky and their friend Anna Istomina, who were all here from Ryazan, Russia, visiting Southern California on their last stop cross country – which started in Washington, D.C. —  seeing churches and visiting people who support their ministry.  They had spent the last month in meetings and lunches and breakfasts and dinners, talking and showing pictures and answering questions.  It was time well spent.

This occasion, however, was for a different purpose: it was to allow people who had donated to the fundraiser we had held over Labor Day weekend in September to raise money for the marriage retreat to come by and say hello to Sergey and Katia.  There were people who had met them in previous visits and people who hadn’t, so it was an opportunity to just sit and visit.  It wasn’t a fundraiser or a support raising afternoon; it was just a gathering of people who wanted to be together and say hello.

One lady who came over was Alice, who is on the Russian Missions Committee at our church.  This faithful woman has been dedicated to what Sergey and Katia and others like them have been doing for many years, carrying on the work begun by her husband since he went home to be with Jesus.  She brought with her a woman named Lena, born in the Ukraine, in Kiev (where my mother was born in 1917 or thereabouts, since my mother left Russia with no birth records during the pogroms of the early 1920’s with three siblings on their way to Chicago, paid for and sent by an uncle who had already emigrated to that American city a few years earlier).   Lena used to work at Oaks Christian School, where my son-in-law now works as a choir teacher.  Lena was a math teacher but had to quit and go on disability.  Ed, my son-in-law, is now in France with his choir and an orchestra and will soon be in Aix-en-Provence with Dominic and Hilary Rivera and Teal and Megan Rapp, performing a Christmas concert in their church in a few days.  (Are you following this thread of connections?)

Anyway, another woman who showed up at our house Sunday afternoon is Vera, whose husband is the pastor of the 2nd Baptist Church of Moscow.  A mutual friend here in the area introduced us via email a few months ago, and we’ve been email buddies ever since.  Vera comes to this area from Moscow as often as she can because her daughter lives in the area and teaches chemistry at a local private school.  Sunday was the first time she and I actually met face to face, which was a real treat.

At one point I looked around the living room and realized that there were a lot of Russians sitting around, and there was a lot of Russian being spoken!  I noticed also that Anna, who had come from Ryazan with Sergey and Katia and who was very shy and quiet, was deep in conversation with Vera, the pastor’s wife from Moscow.

It turns out that Vera’s husband was Anna’s teacher in Moscow when Anna was studying there in seminary a few years ago.

Now, if that isn’t a small world, I don’t know what qualifies!  Here are these two Russian women who came halfway around the world to meet one another in my living room and who are connected by knowing the same man back in Moscow!

Did I mention that I have been debating hiring a tutor to study and learn conversational Russian so that the next time I go back, I will be more adept with the language?  And that Lena, on disability, is a teacher looking for something to do and some way to bolster her income?  And that as we talked, we realized that it was a “God thing” that had brought her to my house that afternoon, through Alice, so that we could connect and make arrangements for me to study with her starting next week?

I wonder if we took the time and trouble to talk to people we pass during our days would we not find more connections with them than we realize?  Would that “Kevin Bacon thing” apply more often than we know?

Anyway, the Open House was a wonderful afternoon, with great conversations, much enjoyment of Sergey and Katia and Anna, and people coming and going until it ended at 6 p.m.

I know it was a success because the next day, when we were getting ready to go to our Monday night Growth Group, many of whom had been at the Open House on Sunday, one of the ladies who was there on Sunday called and asked if we could bring Sergey and Katia with us to the Growth Group meeting.  She and her husband had enjoyed them so much, they thought it would be fun to have them join the group that evening.  I had to break the news that they were not available and alas could not join us.

You know you’ve had a successful gathering when people want the guests of honor to join them again the next night!

The interesting entanglements of relationships.

Don’t you just love them?


Regards, Rita

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