When you live in Siberia with three kids, you spend a lot of time thinking about hats. Are our hats warm enough? Are they too warm? Are the kids’ ears fully covered? Do the hats slip down over their eyes? And the time-honored: “It’s time to go. Where are your hats?”

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We have a different hat for every season. Now that we’re officially in Siberian spring (which still often involves snow but doesn’t usually stay below freezing for long), I’ve had my eyes peeled for spring hats. I noticed that one of our neighbors always has really cute hats.

I’d already been praying for this neighbor, so I saw this as an opening: I got into a conversation with her one day, and found out that she makes her hats herself. What perfect timing! She came over and let my kids help design their own hats.

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So, we now enjoy made-to-fit hats that cover the kids’ ears perfectly and never slip down over their eyes. But more importantly, this neighbor is becoming our friend. She’s joined us at our daughter’s holiday performance, snuggles up with our pet rat and gifts us plants.

She’s been over to our apartment several times, and we’ve had some good coversations about prayer, and the similarities and differences between the Orthodox Church, Russian Old Believers and our little Baptist church.

For years, our family has asked the Lord to guide people into our path. Of all the people in our apartment building, the two I’ve felt most drawn to are this hat-making neighbor and a teen-age young lady. Over the winter, I helped the teen learn an English song for her college class. As it turns out, they are mother and daughter. Our neighbor might create hats, but God Himself knits together our lives and relationships!

Told by Jami Gustafson in Siberia