Last summer our whole family enjoyed a week in the village of Shabur, about 2 hours drive from Ulan-Ude. Actually, we were only in the village about half of the time–the rest of the time we were out in nature with the kids.
Our boys have fond memories of hiking along the dusty road and across meadows to places where we pitched tents and cooked over open fires. But all that seems long ago now that snow is on the ground.
One Saturday in October Alan had plans to go back to Shabur and begin a monthly time of archery for youth. But you can’t get to Shabur on Saturday. You can’t even leave Shabur on Saturday. At least not by public transportation.
Faced with the option of either being gone from Friday afternoon till Sunday evening (the local bus schedule) or borrowing a car, Alan asked a friend if he’d like to drive to Shabur and see how the archery program works there. With this arrangement made, Alan was able to fill Friday and Sunday with other activities.
About 7:15 Saturday morning the phone rang. Our friend was not going to be able to go to Shabur, but his car was still available. Alan hung up and turned to me. “Do you and the boys want to go?”
Half an hour later, Darin, Ryan and I were finished with breakfast and ready to leave for the day. At first the boys were sad to have Eric stay home, but when they saw how much space there was, they knew he wouldn’t have fit. Eric, for his part, was happy to stay home and visit his best Russian friend Valya.
The car we rode in is a very small type of Russian car known as a “Zhig-ooh–lee“. Sometimes the boys call it a “jig-ul-ee.” We did feel jiggled and we were really packed in with archery equipment filling the trunk and down the middle of the seats as well as bags on our laps and under our feet. Still, it was a memory-making family time and fun to get out of the city.
When we arrived in Shabur, we were just five or ten minutes ahead of the time that the youth were supposed to be showing up at the “sports hall.” Still, the pastor’s wife quickly poured us steaming cups of tea and it was hard for Alan to get away without being fed.
By noon the “sports hall” was set up and ready. Many of the youth had shot before with Alan and remembered the routine. The dusty, untreated boards of the floor creaked under our feet and our breath was freezing in the air, but everyone was having fun.
After two hours the young people wanted to keep shooting, but I was glad for the brief lunch break. We returned to the warmth of the small kitchen at Pastor Oleg’s home (OK, it is spelled with an O, but it should more like “Ah-leg”). Luda, his wife, served us steaming bowls of borscht, a traditional vegetable soup with cabbage, beets, potatoes and whatever else is on hand. Luda and Oleg laughed that if we wanted really good borscht we needed to come back tomorrow because it is always better after it has sat for a day.
The afternoon passed quickly with lots of fun shooting. Luda joined us and found out that archery is very much to her liking. As the afternoon warmed, the gym felt warmer, too. It is heated by a small pipe with hot water that runs the circumference of the room. I think I will wear a few more layers next time we go!
After all the equipment was put away, we had tea once more with Luda and Oleg. Their daughters–Galya and Dasha–are age mates for Darin and Ryan and had a lot of fun together. When it was time to head home Darin went out and said good bye to the goats, chickens and pigs, but not to the unfriendly guard dog.
The ride home was filled with happy talk of a fun day and how we would all like to go again. Once we have our own vehicle this will be more possible–and ours will not be a car too small to fit our whole family. For now we just wait and see how the next trip to Shabur will work. And we know that plans may always change at the last minute!