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October 24—Saturday

At mid-morning Fr. Zurab came by and took me downtown to buy the mobile phone for Fr. Otari. When we got to the store we wanted to visit, it was still closed, and so we looked for others, but they were closed also. We drove by the first one again, and it was opened. We got out of the car, and Fr. Zurab asked me if we had black people in America, since one had just walked by. I said, "Oh, as many as you like!" We went into the store, and there were two more. They were buying something and paying with American dollars. I heard one of them speaking Russian. I was tempted to ask him if he was from America, but I saw another man paying with American money, and he was obviously Georgian, so I figured they must get American money from other sources than from being from America.

We got the phone we had looked at before, got it registered (we had gotten Fr. Otari’s internal passport from him by a little deceit, since we wanted this to be a surprise and needed his passport to register the phone so it would work), and then we went to the University to see about finding a Georgian grammar book. I thought we would see a bookstore like they have here in America in schools, but all it was, was a desk in the main hallway. The lady had to go inside the desk and pull out all the textbooks before she actually found the one we wanted. Directly across the hall was a newspaper stand with every kind of newspaper, plus a few books. There was even a thin prayer book, which we bought.

We then returned and picked up the Metropolitan and went to Fr. Otari’s mother’s home for dinner (Fr. Andrew was still not up to going anywhere). Fathers Gelasi and Alexander also came. Fr. Otari would have had us at his apartment, but because he lives on the sixteenth floor and during the day the electricity is usually off, it would have been impossible for the Metropolitan to go up all those stairs.

Fr. Otari’s wife and mother prepared the meal. As usual, the amount of food was enough for twenty people. They literally stacked plates of food upon other plates of food. When we finished eating, we sat and spoke for a while, then the Metropolitan wished to go back to the apartment to rest for a while, since we were supposed to be at church at 4:00 for Vespers and Matins. Fr. Zurab took him back. I stayed behind with the rest of the clergy, and at an opportune time I took Fr. Otari aside and gave him the mobile phone. We were expecting him to possibly resist, as he always does when someone wants to give him something, and he did, a little, but not too much. He is a very modest person and has a hard time handling people giving him things without himself
The table at Fr. Otari's mother's place. And this is only part of all that was put on the table!
having earned it. He was quite obviously both embarrassed and deeply moved and simply asked, "Why for me?" I gave him various reasons and was glad I didn’t have to "fight" with him to accept it, because, like most good Georgians, he can be as stubborn as a bull.

When the time came, we went to church and had the service, where a fair number of people came. One of the young ladies kindly videoed parts of the service, which saved me from the embarrassment of having to walk around myself and do it.

After the service, Fr. Zurab took me to his apartment again to check the e-mail and look at his fax program, and to type out something in Russian which the Metropolitan has dictated to me for the clergy. One of the boys was very ill; he had a high temperature and nausea. Fr. Zurab told me he cannot handle seeing the children sick, that women are good at that, but only men are capable of making the decisions (Georgia is still a man’s country!). Matushka made something for us to eat, and then Fr. Zurab took me back.

October 25—Sunday

Asya Lubovna came to the apartment early, as she was going to make us dinner, which she and Matushka Manana’s parents also helped with. We went to church a little before 10:00 (Fr. Andrew came this time and served at the Liturgy, which was to be the last service we would be attending there). The Metropolitan did not serve again, as he was not feeling well, though he decided he would give the sermon. The same young lady took videos again. At the end of the Liturgy, the Metropolitan read the prayers for installing an abbot over Fr. Kyrion, who came to church there as he was requested to do.

After the Liturgy, we all went to the apartment, including Fr. Kyrion and one of the novices who accompanied him. Again, we had a very large meal. Matushka Manana’s father, who is obviously from the "old school," got up in the middle of the meal and started making traditional and emotional speeches and toasts. One (and the last!) toast he wished many years and health "to all your housewives". We all kind of looked at each other, and Fr. Zurab whispered something in his ear, obviously telling him that we did not have housewives, and he tried to cover up his mistake and said, "Eh, to the housewife of this house!" and that was the end of his toasts.

At 3:30 we again went to church for the question and answer session. They set a chair in front of the royal gates for the Metropolitan and another to his right for me to translate. Fr. Gelasi sat on the other side and helped with anything that did not come across clearly. A good number of people came, and they asked various questions, most of them quite intelligent. But it seems there were not all that many asked, mainly because we dwelt on the individual questions so long, that it took up most of the time. One man started out by assuring us of their love and bond with us, that we are truly like one family. But, he said, it seems it would be very necessary to have a bishop from among themselves, since (and here he quoted the Metropolitan) we are clear on the other side of the world, and visiting the flock once a year simply is not sufficient. The Metropolitan said, "That is precisely what I have been telling the clergy ever since I came here. You have to have a bishop from among yourselves, who can speak your language, knows your customs, habits, character, etc." Everyone was obviously heartened by this attitude, knowing from these words that the Metropolitan has no desire to be absolute ruler for the faithful in Georgia. As he said, even with the modern means of commu-nication we have, the flock still cannot be properly guided and cared for this way.

After a few other questions, we adjourned, and in the side area of the church, they set up a table and had a meal; first the men ate, then we departed, and then the women ate. We returned to the apartment, had some tea and retired.