I ARRIVED AT THE SUBWAY STATION. While I waited for my friend, I saw a sign with prices and told myself, "I can do this ..." I approached the window and in broken Russian asked the woman for a subway ticket. Giving her 20 rubles, I was sure I could get a one-way ticket and still receive 3 rubles back. (The sign said 17.) Instead, the woman asked for a 50-ruble bill! When my friend arrived, I told her I had bought my own metro token but thought I had paid too much. I asked her what was written on the sign, and she graciously explained that it was referring to a one-minute fee on a cell phone. Not even close to what I had thought!
I probably never would have had the opportunity to visit St. Petersburg, sometimes called "the Venice of the North," without the selfless efforts of some Christian Scientists—a dear Austrian friend and her American husband—Hildegard and Bill Arnesen—and another American friend with a Russian heart, Marie Helm. The ten days I spent on Russian soil taught me more than I had ever learned in books about their culture and history. And I learned what grand results a love for Christian Science can bring to individual lives and to a community and eventually to a whole country—as well as to several neighboring countries.
But to start at the beginning: According to records, in 1901 Mary Baker Eddy heard that the famous Russian writer Count Leo Tolstoy had health problems, and she mailed him a copy of her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Tolstoy must have been the first person in Russia to read Science and Health. Although no one knows firsthand his response to the book, a scholar, Fumiko Davis, has seen his copy of Science and Health with notes that Tolstoy made.