Monday, October 31, 2005

Best foot forward

Tom has not been feeling well. He had something in his foot and has not been able to walk for about a week. On Sunday he called a friend who is a nurse and asked if she could come over and take a look at it. She had just returned from Kiev, Ukraine and was drained. She told him she couldn't make it outside her door! So, instead we sent for the nurse at our church who only speaks Russian. I wrote a note in Russian and Spencer delivered it. He brought back the nurse Tania and a translator; Valodya's daughter Sasha. They took a look at it and went out to the pharmacy and got some antibacterial gel for it and dressing for the wound. Tania wanted Tom to go to the doctor.

On Monday Tania, Tom and Natasha went over to the hospital where Tania works. They greeted the people at the front desk and just walked on back to the surgeon's office! No charge and no checking in or waiting.

Tom sent me a text message at school letting me know that he was fine. And that all he needed to do was keep soaking it in warm baths and go back if it gets worse. There is no infection. But, when our friend the nurse asked about him.... I said "he had to get to the doctor, he really can't walk very well and I dont know how he is doing right now! I am still waiting to TALK to him!" ( that was all true I just left out the part about the text message!) Tom was thrilled. This meant she was primed for a practical joke!

I sent her a text message later in the day (at his request) asking her
"What do you know about AMPUTATION?"
Immediately my phone rang!
"AMPUTATION?" she says...
"yeah, let me have you talk to Tom"

So he laid it on thick! "They didn't really amputate your foot?!"
"I can't feel anything because of the antiseptic!"
"if they amputated your foot you would be in the hospital for about eight months..."
"Oh, should I go back?"
"How much of your foot did they cut off?"
"I dunno. Whatever the doctor said. All I see iz a bloody bandage."
"How much of your foot did they remove?"
-- long pause - no answer --
"Tom?"
"Huh?"
"How much of your foot did they remove?"
"Oh. You better talk to 'Lida again."


Like she said the logical part of your brain says, "Tom is a joker; he must be kidding" but the other part says "this is Russia and they do things differently here!" When Tom put me back on the phone I spilled the truth. I was laughing so hard I could not keep it going! However, for about 3 minutes there on the phone Tom got her!

His grandfather, Charlie, would be so proud!


Saturday, October 29, 2005

Post-KGB Russia truly dysfunctional

Ex-agent: Post-KGB Russia truly dysfunctional
By Jack Markowitz
FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, October 30, 2005

Want to do business in Russia? Hire an ex-KGB man. Nothing like good old-fashioned experience in the secret police to keep Russia's criminal gangs out of your shop.

Such is the implied advice of 73-year-old Moscow businessman Victor Cherkashin -- by no surprise an ex-KGB man. Even "prominent liberals," he claims, agree that the KGB produced "among the least corrupt members of the new society."

Cherkashin doesn't hide that he regrets the breakup of the KGB and, indeed, the evil empire itself.

He blames the reckless flirting with freedom of ex-President Mikhail Gorbachev, "overcome by praise" from then-President Ronald Reagan and then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Even Gorbachev's drive against the national weakness of alcoholism -- a public relations winner, you'd think -- proved "immeasurably harmful." Less vodka came from the factories, Cherkashin says, but more people died swilling "samogon," moonshine. And the Soviets' top domestic source of income dwindled.

Cherkashin has issued a book, "Spy Handler," with American journalist Gregory Feifer, highlighting his glory years in counterintelligence in Washington. It was he who "handled" two of America's worst traitors ever -- the CIA's Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen of the FBI. (Both left enough clues that the CIA and FBI should have caught them, but they're too "risk-averse," says the Russian. Public criticism, firings and scandals scare them.)

Retiring in 1991, Cherkashin badly needed a second career. He opened a leather company spun off by the government, but soon left it -- too many Communist functionaries kept butting in. He tried buying and selling surplus military uniforms, gas masks and imported cigarettes, then became security chief of First Russian Bank, set up with "an American partner," unnamed.

Mafia-type gangs were specially targeting banks that grew fat on the profits from give-away sales of state property. Bankers regularly were gunned down. Police were no help -- they were shaking victims down themselves. Only men with intelligence backgrounds had the skills needed to neutralize the Mafias. Cherkashin's security force grew to 150.

"We often feared for our lives," he writes. A man hired to negotiate with gangs was shot dead in the office. The bank had to turn to a government "special services" group in the SVR, successor to the KGB. Ironically, First Russian Bank failed anyway, due to "siphoning" of depositor accounts, including $70 million from an oil company. By then Cherkashin had formed his own private security firm, which today employs 100 workers -- many of them ex-KGB -- at shopping malls, offices and film studios.

As for current business conditions, the Russian cautiously observes: "Stability doesn't necessarily mean rule of law."

Second-term President Vladimir Putin "has done much to shut down individual purveyors of influence under his predecessor (Boris Yeltsin)," he says, but "corrupt insider politics (has) grown."


Jack Markowitz can be reached at jmarkowitz@tribweb.com

Agriculture Minister Blasts Russian Press


Agriculture minister blasts Russian press over bird flu
28/10/2005 11:53

CHEBOSKARY, October 28 (RIA Novosti)-Russian Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev criticized the Russia media Friday for sensationalizing the bird flu situation in the country.
"This subject will be closed and forgotten in a week or two," he told journalists.
He said he thought that there had been too much unfounded commotion in the press about bird flu and called the media's response to the scare "unprofessional".

Friday, October 28, 2005

Tuesday!!!!!

Okay, so the oven is here and Tom moved it in to the kitchen. However, Ervand is sick. So he cannot get Alexei the tools he needs until Tuesday. The dream I had of having a completed kitchen by the end of the week is no more. I have a great looking Bosch oven sitting in the kitchen.... Oh well. It won't go anywhere!

Lena came by for a tutoring session today. Spencer went to work at the Children's Home. Nathan was sick and Tom took a much needed nap. So it was just Lena and me. I was thrilled. We worked on my school work and then we listened to a worship CD in Russian and she helped me with a few words that I could not quite get. Did you ever do that back in highschool? You know, listen to a song over and over until you know all the words? Try doing it in another language it is a hoot! I finally have the words to four of the 16 songs on the CD. I made her a copy of the CD and now she can go home and listen to it. So next week when we work on it she will already know all the words. She will just be helping me figure it out!

We put in a request for funds today to buy Russian New Testaments for the Rehab Center. They have wanted them for awhile but could not afford them.

I think in about six more months I should have the language skills to start an Al-Anon meeting here. We will then put in a request for funds for literature. I am excited to be able to understand more and more each week.

Lena is asking for prayer. She has been asked to teach at the BLTC next year. Tom and I are very excited for her but she is nervous. We think she is an excellent teacher. She will teach on The Woman's Role in The Church.

Before Lena left our home today she heard Tom snoring.... he was asleep in the livingroom while we were working. She wanted me to get my dictaphone and make a recording of him! She said Alexei had done this to her once. I told her I didn't know where my dictaphone was! I didn't want Tom to be upset. We are pleased that she is getting so comfortable with us that she would even suggest something like that!

We helped her send a text message to Alexei. He is up near Nalchik doing a seminar and won't be back until Monday. Since she was writing to her "sweetheart" on my cell phone Tom made sure she signed HER name to it. He didn't want Alexei to think it came from me!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

these lessons really work!

Spencer and I went to stock up on food today. We have not really done a big shopping trip since we returned from Ukraine. So today was the day. Which meant a taxi to come home. I have gotten a taxi before but I have at times felt slightly uncomfortable because they might ask me something I don't know or I cannot quite tell them how to get to our house. Well, thanks to Lesson 12 I can now tell them exactly how to get to my house. I told the driver my building number and then my apartment number and I saw the confused look on his face. You know "the where is that?" look. I told him it was not far from Sograt and he understood. Then when we got to the right street I was able to tell him to keep going straight and where to turn. I could even tell him which entrance number was mine. I learned the word entrance in lesson 12 "podyesd" we live in Podyesd number 1. So when he stopped at number 7 I didn't have to do sign language I could say "Nyet nomer sem. Mwee zhivoot podyesd Nomer Odeen!" (Not number seven. We live at entrance number one!)

Spencer was relieved.... at first when we moved here I would have the taxi drivers drop us off at the grocery store about a block and a half from our house. Now I can direct them to our front door! If only I could get them to bring the groceries up the flour flights of stairs!!!!! Oh well, we have teens with us for at least two-three years!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My oven is here... kinda

I have an oven in the house.... right here beside me in the hallway. At least the dostofka (delivery) men brought it up the four flights of stairs. But after that we have no idea what they said to us. I spoke with him on the phone and could not understand him so I handed the phone to Lena. Lena got off the phone and said SHE could not understand him either. Four hours later when they finally show up Lena is not here and neither Tom nor I know what in the world this guy is saying so he finally just said "dosveedonyah" (goodbye) and left. Which brings me to where I have an oven sitting in the hall right in front of Nathan's doorway. Hopefully, tomorrow Alexei (Ella's husband) will show up and cut the counter tops to install the oven and sink and the kitchen will be complete.

I have learned the meaning of the Apostle Paul's words when he says "I have learned to be content..." I am ok with how we are living right now. I would love to have the kitchen finished but I know of greater trials others are going through and I can be content knowing that I do have a water source and a way to cook. We are clean, fed & housed and that is a good thing!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Watch what you say!

In class today Madina told us that we are not supposed to say "I want you" In Russian this does not translate well and has a sexual connotation. She gave us a different phrase to use. After giving us some scripts to use she had us role play calling each on the phone but asking for a family member who was not in the room. When it was time for Janet and I to role play she told me to call and ask Janet if I could speak to Patrick ( Janet's husband). Janet looked me in the eye and said " you better not be using the wrong phrase!" Our teacher laughed so hard it took several minutes for our class to get back on track. When we finally regained composure I made sure I asked for him correctly! I don't want to cross her!


********
Later: After school a group of us went to the zoopark. It was a small one but very clean. It is strange to be in a zoo where you are so close to the animals. And the signs posted tell YOU not to frighten the animals! The only animal not really able to get near people was the crocodile. And I was grateful for that. The amount of blood visible in his cage showed the size of bunny they had just fed to him! Nathan thought that the falcon eating a bunny was pretty cool so he wanted me to see the no-headed bunny laying in the bottom of it's cage. I have that visual stuck in my head now. Thanks a lot Nathan.

I took only two pictures of the guys standing in front of the zoo sign with Liza and Natasha. They are around 21& 22. They told Jody they wanted to get their photo taken with the guys. Because they thought that Nathan and Spencer were very beautiful! Just what a mother wants to hear..... I can understand them being interested in Nathan he is close to their age. Spencer is only 15. Back away from the young one Devoshkee! (young women)

************

Language Mistakes:
*I told Lena that a my pie crust recipe had moohah (flies) instead of mookah
(flour)
*Janet asked her nanny for smetana (sour cream) instead of salfetki (napkin) to wipe her daughter's face.
*And Nathan was trying to correct me when I said Caputsin monkey incorrectly. He said I was saying kapusta (cabbage) and that Kapusta is Ketchup. I said "um... Nathan it's ok if you correct me but make sure you are saying the right word. Kapusta is not Ketchup. It's Cabbage...."

Nathan: "OH! Sorry, Mama!"

Monday, October 24, 2005

Школа!

Школа! School. Monday is normally a difficult day back and yet suprisingly everyone had a great day! It was nice for Tom and Spencer because their class was just the two of them with their other classmates out of the country right now.

Nathan and I only had half a day of class and the other half the director came in to speak with us about how we are doing so far.

We asked questions about culture and school lessons.

I asked why someone would call Spencer a помидор? (pomidor, tomato) He was wearing a red coat and it was one of the puffy ones. Tania said it was a joke! She said that it is perfectly acceptable for someone his age to wear that type of jacket.

I found out why people think I am European. It is my clothing. I have completely changed the way I dress. Most of my clothes were purchased here. I slip an American piece in occaisionally. But I look like I come from Great Britain or France. And now with cooler weather and my regularly wearing a hat... definitely French is what people are saying! Besides, people here assume that no Americans would come here because it is so far away.

Tom has decided he wants a fedora hat. He is already wearing a black leather jacket. Tim said to Tom "you know what you need to look like the Russian Mafia? Nothing! You already look like the mafia." I told him if he gets the fedora he will look like the Italianskya Mafioso!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Plita, Halelujah!

oo menyah yest plita! I have a stove! Finally. We went out to Krasnaya Ploshad and found a reasonably priced Bosch. We got a partial reimbursement on our expenses in Ukraine. And that gave us enough to purchase the last appliance for the kitchen. Tom can call the plumber out and we will have a full working kitchen ... maybe by the end of the week?!

When we purchased the plita we picked up two DVD's and some conditioner for the iron. We went to the front desk which is what I thought I understood we were supposed to do. Wrong. They brought out the plita and the range hood. Whoa.... we cannot get that home on the bus. When I saw it I made my eyes get big and looked at the poor guy bringing it out and said "dostofka nada" Delivery is needed! He told me to go back to the other department and arrange for delivery. Whew... that was a relief. Tom kept saying "gestapo" and I was trying to ignore him so I would not forget the word dostofka! He is so helpful.... sometimes more than others. On the way home he changed gestapo to mufasa. I told him that was at least closer!

****************

On the way home Tom was looking out the window and motioned for me to look out at this taxi driver who was standing beside his taxi eating an ice cream cone. Tom said "it's Harry Belafonte driving a taxi and eating ice cream!" Honestly, that is what it looked like!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Prayer concerns

Every six months we have to leave the country for visa purposes. Once a year it will be to renew the visa completely; like we just did in Ukraine. The other time it will be just to get the passport stamped and come back. Our resources were strained severely when we had to stay in Ukraine for an extended amount of time. We are looking ahead to March and are concerned about whether or not we can afford to make it to WorldVenture's Leadership Conference in Johannesburg, So Africa...

That trips hits at the time when we have to leave the country to get our passports stamped. It is not a renewal time. We will need to leave the country in March. At least for a day.

*Please pray that we will be wise in how our resources are used.

*Pray that if we are supposed to go to the Leadership Conference that the support will be provided in such a way that the answer will be clear to us!

*Pray for us as we will be undergoing testing these next few weeks over everything we have learned at language school for the past 13 weeks.

We appreciate everyone who comes here to read...

There have been over 4000 visits to this blog since July. Thank you and may God bless you richly!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Yah oochoose Angleeski yahzeek

I teach the English Language! Tamara asked me if I would teach her fifth graders a song. I decided to teach a song from the Wizard of Oz. As I walked into the room with the DVD a few of the boys said "that is a kids movie" I said "oh no it is not!" I let them know that EVERYONE in America knows the words to 'Follow the Yellow Brick Road'. Because it is shown in America on TV every year. That made a difference.... "everybody in America?" "Yes, everybody!"

I had to sing it for them first and they all clapped loudly and they were ready to sing as soon as I was done. We sang it through maybe 10 times. Then Nathan & I judged their poetry. It was interesting that we chose the same three winners that were chosen in the official contest!

Spencer went back to work at the children's home today. He says they have a new boy who is having some problems.

Tom was not able to go to the Rehab Center to work today because they could not find a male translator. He is not allowed to take a woman down there with all those men!

We had Tim Watson and Dave Henderson here for dinner. It was good to see Tim for the second night in a row. Joy had sent some goodies for us. A CD for Nathan and Spencer and yarn and beads for me and Tom! Tim and Joy won't be back here until May. Joy is having surgery. Please pray that all goes well and that she will recover quickly.

Dave's wife Shari is ill too. She will be having some tests soon. It is not easy with recovering from the Dengi fever they contracted while in the Philipines. It has been good to meet Dave. He is our field superviser for Russia. He lives in Moscow. He will be back to see us in January and hopefully Shari will come with him on that trip.

Lena came over today and we had a great language time. I didn't work on the lesson. We just talked. And she told me that I just need to work on grammer and sentence construction. I am still using English word order with Russian words and that doesn't work. I will get the hang of it. She told me how pleased she was with both Spencer and Nathan's progress. They are both talking more. Spencer is asking her questions now in Russian and Nathan is having conversations. She hit her brother yesterday (Nathan told me) because he was talking too fast. He is hard to understand when he talks fast. It is her younger brother.... She made him slow down and talk to the boys so they could understand him. I saw him at her house on Tuesday when I had lunch over there. He was talking fast and had his mouth full. Only Lena makes bliny ( Russian pancakes)like her mother so his wife Olya doesn't make them for him! Anyway, I kept asking him to repeat what he said so I could answer his question!

Tom had a good lesson with Lena too. She gave each of us individual attention this week. We all needed it. I could hear her working with Tom she was drilling him on verbs and how to conjugate them. She is such a good friend and teacher.... God is so wonderful to us. It really could have gone south and not worked out for our friend to work with us on language. I think she is naturally gifted. She really cares about us learning the language so she puts her all into it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rakovina

We have a kitchen sink now! Somebody call a plumber quick to come and install my new sink! Tom and I skipped out on a session with Lena to go and get a sink. Both things were important but one was a little more urgent...

We found a great deal on a double stainless steel sink and two mirrors. One mirror for the bathroom and one for the hallway.

Now seriously somebody call the plumber!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Lesson 11

Do Quail come in flocks? As I rode home on the bus today I saw a flock of quail and a chicken out on the side of the road. Do you think the chicken felt like an oddball?


Nathan & I are on lesson 11 of 150. We can now invite someone out to eat. We got divided into pairs to role play. Nathan was paired with our teacher Madena. Nathan then asked Madena if he could practice with Michelle (the only single girl in class). When Michelle agreed to go to dinner with him Nathan did a classic Napolean Dynamite hand gesture; you know the one where if you score a goal you put your hand in the air as if you have grabbed something and then close your hand into a fist and then excitedly whisper "Yes!" He apologized to her later in case he embarrassed her. It was a great stress reliever for all of us to laugh so hard.

Janet was shocked that:

1) Nathan would ask someone older than him

and

2) that he would do it in front of his mom!

He said it wasn't 'for reals' so it didn't count! Jody asked Nathan if it was an excuse to get his "mack on" Nathan denies having "mack" but Janet's husband Patrick was quick to quip "I have a Mac!"

(as in MacIntosh computer) and together we can all groan.....

Monday, October 17, 2005

Back to School

Oi! School is hard enough in English... imagine being 42 years old, looking at the board and seeing Russian letters in cursive and trying to decode them in order to transfer them from your brain onto the page in front of you in print! Ochen Trudnah. very difficult. Figuring out how to print again seemed like a foreign concept. The Russian was easy to understand. But, the teacher wrote in cursive and I wanted to print... how do I do that?

We all met our new teachers today. Tom and Spencer have Tonya. The teacher that Nathan and I had. And Nathan and I have Madina. The teacher that Spencer and Tom used to have.

It was so good to see our friends again. Lots of hugs and "glad to see you again" went around! Mike and Kathy have to leave for a month because Kathy's dad has to go into a nursing home. Robert and Ann will be gone for two weeks to take care of their visas. Judy B. has to leave for a women's retreat and a meeting. We just came back and our friends have to leave!

**********
correction: Kathy's Dad is ill not Mike's and Kathy has to take a month off of school. Learning Russian is difficult and to miss additional weeks of school (on top of visa trips) makes it even harder; please pray for them!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Baptism

A cold cloudy morning on the side of the lake was the scene for our church baptism. My thought when it started to rain was "maybe summer is a better idea". I didn't get to vote!

The five gals who were baptized seemed thrilled. Klaus and Valodya got it done fast and we all went back to church for lunch. Nathan and Hannah (18 & 9) talked about how neat it was that the church rented a bus and drove eveyone to the park just for the event. It was exciting to celebrate this as a family. And we enjoyed being back with our family to experience it all.

Make sure to check http://www.sharpmomphotos.blogspot.com for the photos from today!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Radiator drama

Spencer really should tell this story. Today when we woke up (ok so it was about two this afternoon) we just got back from a 23 hour bus ride remember! So what happened was this... Spencer notices his wall is leaking... then he notices his ceiling is leaking so we start moving really fast to get his belongings out of the way so nothing gets ruined.

Tom calls our contractor Alexei who takes a while to show up so Spencer stands there holding a bucket to catch the water that is pouring out of the pipe in the ceiling and Tom is handling a leak that is a huge bulge in the corner of the ceiling. Tom has a great attitude and is keeping everything in perspective. He keeps telling us this is not New Orleans. It will be ok. I found as many towels as possible for the guys to clean the floor with. And then I left for the bank and other errands that had to be done. On my way out I called Valentin and he came by when he got off work. Alexei got here at some point and they got the water turned off for the building and that stopped the flooding in our place! Everything will be repaired tomorrow (maybe!)

Valentin said that there was a notice on the news today for people to stay home because they were going to fill the radiators with water. And that someone should be home in case of leaks.

Friday, October 14, 2005

New photos posted

Make sure to check out the new photos at www.sharpmomphotos.blogspot.com

Glad to be home!

When we got back to Krasnodar I actually did not recognize the city. I have only been to the bus station once and not being a morning person I don't remember the ride there. Tom got us a taxi in the pouring rain and we made it home.

Our friends Lena and Olya were at our house waiting for us. It was so good to see them. Spencer called our home to see if anyone would answer the phone. When Olya answered I knew that there would be food waiting for us! And she did not disappoint! Chicken and rice and hot tea was such a treat after being on a bus for twenty three hours...

Lena was so happy that we had kept in touch by text message with them. It was worth the 8$ for the new chip. I can save it for the next time we go to Ukraine! She especially liked the message I sent about making a homemade water bottle. Alexei will fill a bottle with water as hot as you can stand it and put that in the bed to warm it up. There are no "hotwater" bottles as we know them here. I remembered his story and used a half liter water bottle to make a foot warmer..... it kept my feet toasty until I fell asleep!

Now we have all eaten and watched a movie and even though we need showers we are ready for bed! We are safe and warm at home.
*******************************
Due to the incident in Nalchik there was an increased police presence along the way. The bomb sniffing dogs were out to sniff the cargo hold of the bus and the bag I was carrying for Tom. Rebels use women to carry bombs now! So my "bag" was sniffed in our group and noone else's! This was our first experience with passport control after a major event. Nothing really happened out of the ordinary...

On the final passport check point before entering the city the officer there came on board with a rifle. He checked every ID and then left. We are safe and glad to be home.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

going home Slava Bogu!

We have our new one year visas in our hands. We will go back to the bus station tonight and get on the bus and finally head to Krasnodar!

We have so much to take back with us....

Books to deliver for Keith

A package to mail for one of the pastors, Alexander.... his might not make it; there is peanut butter in there!

gifts for friends

warm clothes

new books!

We came with four small bags and are leaving with 4 small and 2 large. Plus each of us has shopping bags!

So until we are back at home pray for clean toilets and a safe journey all the way!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Face that can STOP Traffic

Do you know if you have a face that can stop traffic. I mean if you decide to cross the street just anywhere you want .... will the traffic stop for you? I have watched various people and examined the faces they make. Young men do not have the face. Children, young ladies and babushkas do! They are able to cross the street any where they please and traffic will come to a complete stop for them. Young men must stand there or dodge cars to cross.

Tom tried one day to hail a car to the eye clinic to pick up some medication for Spencer. The one car that finally stopped for him just gave him directions and continued on. I can hail a car very easily when the kids are with me. Single mothers always garner sympathy! I can hail a marzhutka alone or a taxi. I think it depends on the mood of the driver. It also depends on how full the vehicle is when it comes your way!

Before you travel abroad you need to start working on your traffic stopping face.... or borrow a child whichever is easiest!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Our time here is almost over!

We can finally see the end of our time here in Odessa! We left Krasnodar on the 19th of September and by the time we return we will have missed a month of school.

Odessa is a great place to relax and recover from the faster pace life of the bustling city. Odessans place a high value on laughter.

I was trying to take pictures at the Stress conference so I could post them when we get home. One of the PASTORS saw me and kept getting in the way by acting like a gorilla scratching himself...

I asked a question in English on the first night and one of the PASTORS turned around and said "now ask it in Russian".

Sasha was translating for Lee: Lee was talking about the Garden of Gethsemane, however, he mistakenly said Garden of Eden. Several of us called out "Gethsemane!" and he turned to Sasha and asked him to translate the correction. Sasha said "I already did!"

Jokes have been going on all around us. Some by us and some by others... Nothing is sacred!

*******

Today Spencer and I went out to the small Christian bookstore here in town. I was praying for something that I could read. I found a book and tape of Russian and Ukrainian worship songs. Then I found a Bible Study that looks exactly like the material we were using at Capo Beach in the women's group when I first started going. Only it is in Russian. I got so excited. I should be able to translate that book (over the next few years) back into English!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Brownie update

Our dog is doing well at home. She is being taken care of by Robert and Ann. Robert says that she still remembers where she lives. She tries to go there sometimes when they go out for a walk! She will actually make it home before we do. Robert is going to take Brownie over to our apartment and Lena's brother Slavic will start walking her now. He has been staying at our home while we are gone.
*****
Today at lunch Leta told Nathan he could "eat or not eat"! He has been waiting a month for her to say that... She told him last night that babushkas are supposed to make sure kids eat! I told her American babushkas (grandmothers) do it too.

She has resigned herself to the fact that no matter what he eats he will not get fat! Somedays he can eat more that others... Just ask his Tadah; she has seen him pack away pizza & her blonde brownies!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Breakthrough!

This Sunday morning at church was a breakthrough for me. I finally heard a complete sentence and was able to write down something the pastor said. I heard "kazhdee chelovek ochen ochen vazhnee". Every person is very very important. I was shocked that I actually understood a complete sentence.

Tom said he got something this morning too. The final speaker was a cross between the Oxy Clean commerical guy and the Crazy Gideon electronics guy from LA. Tom drew a picture that illustrated his thoughts!

It was good to hear a sermon in English. Lee Hotchkiss also spoke through a translator. We heard our first English sermon in 6 months. That was very refreshing.

Nathan and Spencer got to see Eden and Arwen. Everyone said their goodbyes. We leave here on Thursday and will most likely not see them again for a while. We are making deliveries for them as well as for the Prestons.

Tom was able to attend a Recovery meeting after church. That makes three countries now where he has been able to attend a meeting! It is good for him to make connections. Now this gives us more people to network with. He will attend another meeting tomorrow night also.

Today we were trying to decide what time to have dinner. I asked Tom what he wanted to do he didn't really care. Neither did Nathan or Spencer so I asked Leta what time was best for her "shto vrema loochee?" what time is best? I also wanted to say 'for you' but I could only think 'para ti' which is Spanish! I knew that wouldn't work!! She didn't care what time either... So Tom finally decided on six. We have time to be here at the Internet club and then get back for dinner.

I think Leta believes Nathan is a hopeless cause. She has tried very hard to fatten him up. She even stands over him and says "kooshat, kooshat!" eat, eat! He tries.... he just can't! She is Ukrainian; she has no concept of how much food is too much food!... and she keeps giving him too much food no matter what anyone says to her!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Stress Filled Morning!

Last night and this morning we attended the seminar on Stress. So our time was stress filled... get it? Okay, so it was not that funny.

Anyway, Tom and I had the great joy of attending a conference that was taught in English but translated into Russian. The power point was in Russian totally so unless we heard Lee say it in English our notes are in Russian! Lee offered to make us a copy of the power point in Russian. There is no English copy; only his personal notes are in English! We are going to take him up on the offer. He was using specific terminology that Tom and I will eventually need. Some of it was hard for Sasha to translate. I don't yet know the Russian word for inadequate... but I heard Sasha say "incorrect" and I knew that was not right. I leaned over and told Tom that Sasha had just translated that wrong. Fortunately, another attendee whose Russian is MUCH better than mine, Keith, was also there and he heard it too and he was able to get Sasha back on track! It is interesting to me this language to language tranlation stuff. It is so complicated and delicate that one word can really make a difference.

Last night there was confusion over "loss of control". The reference was to control over outside circumstances but the meaning most Russians picked up was not being able to control themselves. And this led to interesting questions for Lee to answer... Thank God for Keith. He was able to clear this up and Lee addressed it first thing this morning! Keith has spoken Russian since age 12. English and Russian go together hand in hand for him.

Tom and I had lunch with Sasha afterward he told us about just having graduated from law school here in Odessa last year. A lawyer was doing the translating for a pastor/psychologist!

Sasha translated last year for a basketball coach from Mississippi. He said that guy did not speak English... he spoke slang! It took him a week to get rid of that guys speech pattern!!

Friday, October 07, 2005

King Lear

Before I get to attend the seminar tonight I am heading over to Grace and Keith's house to drop the boys off. They are going to watch the movie King Lear with some kids from Arwen and Eden's school. The English Literature class, taught by Grace, just finished reading King Lear and now they get to watch the movie. Nathan and Spencer have not read it but she thinks they will still understand the movie. She said she chose a clear version! Shakespeare.... clear? I hope they like it!

Tonight's seminar is being led by Lee Hotchkiss. He was supposed to get here yesterday. However, he got stuck at Dulles airport in Washington. The connecting flight was coming from Tampa and had mechanical problems and he missed the plane to Ukraine! He will get here today at 2pm. His seminar starts at 7pm. For all of you who speak or who teach you will appreciate his predicament. He is teaching on STRESS!

I love God's sense of humor!!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Women's Meeting

Women seem to find each other all over the world. I attended a group that had been meeting for over 11 years. Not every woman has come for that amount of time. The longest attendee has only been around for 9 years. Women come and go but the group has been available for those that want the fellowship for the past 11 years. It is a place to share what is going in your corner of ministry. There is no competition. I met a woman who is involved in a street ministry for children. She had been out on the streets last night looking for children who were homeless. She was "protecting" a new team member who had just arrived. She said it was not safe for HIM to go out alone! They offer medical care and schooling to all children who go home with them. They just exist to get kids off the street.

Another woman I met is here with her husband who is an Executive with an major manufacturing company. He was sent here to help work at the port in Customs. He thought he was going to be a consultant and then found out he was head of the project.... then he found out they were moving to Ukraine. They will be here about 5 years. She is putting her talents to work teaching art in a local school.

Each woman had a story... a family... a heart for the work she is involved in. They meet once a month and are reading a book together. I am looking forward to a similar group that was just forming when I left Krasnodar.


********

When Denise was dropping Grace off at her home Nicole's boys came running out to the car. They had just recived a package from their grandmother. They had brand new light sabers!!!! Stone(4) was waving his high in the air to let Denise know where she should park the car to come and get him. Don't tell him... but, I think maybe she had been there before and knew where she should stop the car!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Head coverings

Just pondering the head covering issue this morning here in Odessa....

On Sunday I noticed that most of the women who had the coverings on were also wearing wedding rings...

I had been told that the covering was a symbol of a womans submission to God...

However, women who are single, divorced or widowed do not have to cover. So who is the submission to? I already know I am to respect my husband. But now I have to wear a head covering to show my submission as well?

The younger set of women seem to be taking this in stride. I noticed the size of the head coverings varied! Some were simply headbands. Some women had brightly colored scarves... floral patterns, various colors were blooming around the room... Only the women over 60 had plain coverings on that were tightly bound to their heads.

I crocheted mine after church last Sunday. I was taught by my church growing up not to offend another believer 'in order not to cause them to stumble' so I will abide by the "rules" while I am here. My covering reflects my personality. It is approved of by my husband. He loves bright colors and intriguing patterns. So I made a scarf of lime green, torquoise, orange, mauve, royal blue and purple. I kept my head covered the whole time. The older women nodded their approval and I was kissed many times by several dear old babushkas after service. They were so happy to see us back at church. One women gave me her testimony about how she had gone to a baba (shaman) and was told that she would be healed in four months. She showed me her scar on her leg. She said that God had healed her when she started coming to church. She gave all the glory to God's healing power and not to the baba.

I am grateful to my grandmother, Maxine Shorter-Summers and the people who formed my sprituality when I was younger. I think about the women like Bertha Woodson, LeMoine Ralston, Jurline Brown and Hattie Crockett who were and are ladies of faith. I know how to behave no matter where I go because of the example they set for me.

I am grateful to have a husband who allows me to be me...
and who knows that whether my head is covered or not I respect and love him and our Lord dearly.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Russian Consult

Today we filled out the applications for our Russian visas... they should be ready on Thursday of next week! We were excited to see the DHL package waiting for us when we woke up this morning. We took a walk to the post office to mail postcards. Went to get more photos taken for the visas. Got some cash for the application.

We chose to be wise stewards of our salary and to do the normal processing it was 600$. We are grateful to our supporters and when we calculated the expedited cost versus paying for room and board and the normal processing time.... Tom figured we would save almost 400 dollars. So we will stay here another week. It is okay with all of us since we now have an end to our time here in sight!

Todays sightings...

A man who looked like he had just rolled out of bed was walking toward us with big red puppy dog slippers on. The kind with the floppy ears and a tongue!

We found the street Russian Consult on Italianskyah Street!

Todays correction:

There are many legends, fables and stories that grow larger than life.... we are not saying we were lied to about the Potemkin steps.... that would not be correct. But when Tom and I were reading together last night we both noticed the dates of when the steps were named and who they were named for! Not a poet, not even the General Potemkin... but Prince Potemkin who was here and was very gracious. The steps were dedicated to him in 1905. There used to be 200 steps and now there are 192.

So no matter who the steps are named for and what romantic legend surrounds them... they are part of the gateway to the city & I climbed those suckers in my high heels!!!!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Weekends were made for:

Spending time making new friends...

We went over to the house of some people who were very popular in Krasnodar. And once we spent just a short time with them we understood why! We had lunch at the home of Grace and Keith. They have a son at Wheaton College and two teenage daughters at home with them. They are very personable,have a great sense of fun and it is easy to laugh with them.

Grace and Keith are linguists. They helped translate the Old Testament in the Phillipines. They had intended to work in Indonesia but they never got the needed documents to go. They ended up in Russia. And what a suprise. Keith learned Russian at age 12. His father said it was either that or piano... he chose Russian.

Keith gave us a copy of his book The Rats of Hamelin. He cowrote it with his son Adam. If you love good fiction please rush out and buy this book! I loved it. I finished it in one sitting. I had to get to the end and find out..... well, get the book!

http://www.ratsofhamelin.com/

http://www.christianbookpreviews.com/christian-book-detail.php?isbn=0802467016

His next book will be written with his oldest daughter Arwen. She is 17. She had Nathan have a lot in common; both love fiction & analyzing characters and when they got to talking about story ideas for so long Eden (14 ) and Spencer (15) slipped away.

Arwen and I talked about having unusal names... she told me she hated being called Edwin or Erwin or anything else someone could think up! I have gotten Anita, Alidia, Lydia, Arleta and so on! But here in Russia and in California people got it right.

If you are a Lord of The Rings fan you should get her name right!

Anyhow, I am going out on Thursday with Grace to a women's meeting. It should be fun to meet other women in the city of similar interests doing various types of social projects around the city of Odessa. The networking should be mutually beneficial. Tom and I are eager to get to work when language school is over!

Tom has been invited to a Workshop by Lee Hotchkiss. It will be this weekend.

Barnabas International
Lee Hotchkiss, executive director
P.O. Box 11211 Rockford, IL 61126
Phone: Fax: E-mail: Web:
(815) 395-1335(815) 395-1385
barnabas@barnabas.org

www.barnabas.org


A pastoral care ministry of encouragement, enrichment and edification to national church leaders living overseas. Offers workshops, retreats, conferences, individual and team counseling, consultations and pastoral residencies ministries.



Perhaps, there divine intervention is in our visa renewal being delayed.

We are here at an opportune time!
*******************
Note to All Lord of the Rings Fans and friends of Arwen... I corrected the spelling of Arwen's name!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Gateway to Odessa

Yesterday we decided to be tourists. We went to the Potemkin steps. Potemkin was a famous Russian poet who decided to end it all one day by taking one final walk down these stairs and into the sea...

When you see my photos you will wonder why anyone would look at such a view and decided that life was not worth living. It is a mystery to me. I had to dress up for this trip because we were also planning to go into an Orthodox church which is out on the peninsula. I needed to be in a skirt and have a head covering. So I climbed the stairs like a Russian lady in HEELS!!! I was not the only one that day. It was funny... there were these two young girls talking about me. I heard them clearly say that I was a foreigner but they could not tell where I was from! Maybe America, but they did not think so!!! One of them guessed France and the other England. I keep getting the same two contries. The boys get Canada sometimes... yesterday someone asked Nathan if he was from Ukraine.

After going down the stairs we out the peninsula to the Art gallery and then the church. I took some photos of a few brides and a FEW INSIDE the church. Nathan says I will be "smote" for doing this someday! I don't think God works that way. Tom put on his cross just in case!

After our excursion we decided to eat out at a little Italian restuarant. It was very good! We are enjoying the relaxing time here in Odessa. Hopefully, we will be going home next week and will be hitting the books and getting up early each day for school... and you all know how much Tom and I love getting out of bed before noon!