Dec 13, 2010

My Big Fat Orthodox Experience

Scott's brother, Steve, joined the Peace Corp once upon a time.  He committed 26 months to serve in whatever country they needed him.  He ended up going to the Republic of Georgia.  Not the southern state where you eat okra and grits but the country formerly included in the USSR.  I think there was some relief he didn't go to Siberia.

Steve taught English in a village school.  He did quite well for well over a year.  Then he got a hole in his lung.  Apparently, this is a bad thing and Steve came home for a painful surgery.  Once repaired, the Peace Corp wouldn't take him back.  Something about being a liability.  We all told Steve how sorry we were but his mother was secretly ecstatic.  Steve then informed us all that he needed to "tie up some loose ends," packed his suitcase and flew back to Georgia.  He then called his mother within the next 2 weeks.  She could hardly hear him through the background noise of a very loud, very Georgian party.  Toasts, laughter, vodka, and - what was that - ?  Oh.  It was just Steve's wedding.  Did he forget to tell us about Leila?  We did wonder why he packed his suit.

A month after leaving, Steve returned home with his real, live Georgian bride. Did she speak English?  Would we understand her?  Would she understand us?  Fortunately for us, Leila was very westernized.  Not only did she speak fluent English but she also spoke American Humor.  She was also a bombshell.  Steve did well for himself.  Smart and beautiful.

Five years later, Steve and Leila (finally) gave me a Georgian nephew.  I am quite smitten by him.  He bears a strong resemblance to a couple of my children only with darker coloring.  In Leila fashion, she had no problem with my odd sense of humor.  I walked into her hospital room after she gave birth to little Luka, took one look at her and spouted off, "Holy cow!  When did you get those hooters?"  Her retort was something like, "About two months ago they just popped out of nowhere and now you can call me Daisy (the cow)."  Ahh.  I like Leila.  Even if she has bigger boobs than I do.
 (My daughter, me, Leila, and Mia the godmother)

Leila's mother immediately booked her flight to see her first grandchild.  She doesn't speak a word of English.  I tried to teach her that my name is pronounced Her Royal Highness but it didn't fly.

Anywho, thanks to little Luka and our extended Georgian family, my homogeneous culture was extended.  Luka was baptized in the Christian Orthodox Church in Salt Lake City.  With all the chanting, singing, pomp and artistry, the priest gave explanations of each part of the ceremony for those of us who are not Orthodox and also those of us who grew up in a communist country where churches were converted to dairies.

Little Luka yelled angrily for much of the ceremony then suddenly stopped.  He'd gone to sleep.  Unfortunately, the actual baptism was about to occur.  I knew this because the priest explained it and then informed us that the Orthodox church practices baptism by immersion.  I suddenly remembered Nia from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and the scene where her fiance is baptized in a kiddie pool in the Greek Orthodox church.

Want to know how to piss off a two month old baby?

Later that night, my family met at my own church where the girls were in a special Christmas choir program.  We sat on the hard folding chairs for an hour and a half and enjoyed the Christmas music.  They were magnificent, by the way.

As I tucked my 5 year son into bed that night he informed me that "Today was a boring day."  I found it to be quite fascinating and then entertaining.  He clarified, "We spent so much time in church today!"

I didn't have the heart to tell him he'd be doing more time tomorrow.


Tonia said...

I love kids. We can take mine to a carnival and on the ride home they would comment that it was the most boring day of their lives. I think they have the memory of a goldfish except at inconvenient times.
Loved the story. Beautiful family on all sides!

June Freaking Cleaver said...

When I was in sixth grade, our Sunday school teacher took us to different churches in our town - it was a great way to learn about other denominations and traditions.

I think everyone could use a little education, perhaps we wouldn't judge so much.

I tried to introduce The Boy to other churches when we moved to KY (another state where complete strangers ask if you have a home church) the end of the service, he stood on the front steps and announced, "Well, THAT was a complete waste of time."

I think the lesson went well...

CountessLaurie said...

That Luka is a cutie pie. Congratulations auntie! I imagine immersing a sleeping infant would irrate him, just a little.

marianne said...

It's been a long time, since I've been here. You make me laugh. I wish you were living next door and we could be best friends who talked everyday and shared chocolate and good stories. I would be lucky to have you as my best friend. With your crazy life, I could feel better about mine :)....I hope you are laughing and know that I'm joking with you. You really are an amazing writer. Are you writing anything? You really should you know. Loves to you and Merry Christmas to your family.

M-Cat said...

Great story! Love story, babies, and baptisms - all together!