Friday, March 31, 2006

I know your husband!

Tonight after the Women's Conference a woman came up to me and said "I know your husband" then she whispered in my ear that she met him at an AA meeting. I cannot tell you how many times this used to happen to me in California. I used to tease Tom about this being my favorite question; "are you Tom Sharp's wife?". Tonight, however, when she said this to me I was choking back laughter. We moved 9000 miles away from where Tom is best known and it is still happening to me!

I paid 100 rubles to attend the conference. That is roughly a little over 3 dollars. We had tea. And here tea is not just tea. It is open faced sandwiches, cookies, little pies filled with potatoes, and so on. Then we had registration and I was given a notebook, pen and a program. Then we had worship and the speaker. After the speaker there was a time for questions and answers. After which we were fed dinner. Chicken spaghetti and some pickled veggies. We also had dessert. Tomorrow they will be feeding us four more times. I have never been to a conference where we were given so much food for so little money!

The pastor who spoke tonight talked about:

It was unbelievable to hear a Russian pastor speaking about the equality of men and women! Then he told about the differences like how men use 12, 000 words a day and women use 25,000. Men are more logical and women more emotional. And so on. He ended with talking about all the ways women MAY serve in the church. He listed everything except preaching. This was very PROGRESSIVE for a Russian pastor to think this way.

Tom was concerned about me attending for fear of how conservative the speakers might be. He noticed me getting ready to go and saw me change clothes three times before I settled on an outfit!

When we sat down to eat dinner many of the women wanted to know where I was from. And when I answered them in Russian they looked suprised... I think they were expecting Lena to translate for me. I told them I have only been here for 11 months and they were very gracious letting me speak and not laughing at my poor grammer. One woman said that she wished she could speak English as well as my Russian after only 11 months!

Lena said that she didn't want to correct in front of all the women. We talked about my mistakes as we were walking to the marshutka (a van that is like a taxi but not as expensive). But, first she told me how proud she was of me for giving my prayer request in Russian and then praying in Russian! She was just so proud of me for trying! She said that the womens faces lit up when I gave my prayer request in Russian. And they mouthed "malodets" to Lena... which means excellent!

Tom's products were on display and I don't know if anything sold but they got a lot of attention. There were also products from the big Christian bookstore in town. Lena didn't like where Tom's things were located so she complained about it and got them moved to a better location!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Women's Conference Part Two

Yesterday Lena Beliah (Lena White) called me on my cell to ask if Tom and I would be home at two. I told her yes and to come on over. She is helping with the Women's Conference and wanted to be able to sell some of Toms' jewelry to the ladies who are coming. She said she was thinking about ways to help us! She took some crosses, pendants that would be considered christian symbols (like doves, crosses and such) and she took several necklaces. We set her up with three black velvet necklace stands and showed her how to pin the pendants on them.

Lena was one of Tom's best customers before New Year's. She would take orders and came over about twice a week to make purchases and see what new things Tom had done.

How wonderful it is to have Russian friends!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Chicken is Back!

Our supermarket has not has chicken for the last three weeks. Yesterday it was back in the store.

If you could read the Russian on the label it is "faithfully" declaring this chicken to be Bird-Flu Free.

Of course we had to get a picture of it. And guess what?... it was the best tasting chicken we have had in a long time!

Women's Conference

Lena has invited me to a Women's Conference. Even though we both know that I won't understand everything she thinks the fellowship with Russian speakers and getting to know other believers in the city will be good for me.

I think networking is always good. I will get to meet Russian women who are leaders here in the city. It will be helpful with getting recovery support groups going if the women from various groups already know me.

I was at the meeting for the BLTC last night. I understood more than last month!

Zhenya had us do an icebreaker where she passed around a bag of M&M's and told us to take as much as we wanted. The bag went around twice. After we had taken our M&M's then we had to ask the person on our left questions for each M&M we took. I had 11! I was able to ask (in Russian) only seven questions... my person was Oksana. I found out her name, where she was born, how long she has lived in Krasnodar, where she went to school, her favorite food, her favorite tv show, how old she is and that she comes from a small family. And then I had to tell what was interesting about her to the group. Thankfully, I survived the ice-breaker.

Tom is diligently working to catch up to where his new class is. He is doing great. Right now he and Lena are in the living room working.

Spencer and Nathan are playing a video game. And for once they are playing nice!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Daylight Savings Time part two

Here in Russia we changed our clocks this weekend. In America you will not change your clocks until April 2nd. Don't worry if you thought you missed it... you still have time to get ready.

Some students were taking bets on who would be late for school. And of course those who were not able to make it to church yesterday were late for school today! One family who had their computer set on Russian time thought that something was wrong with their computer!

We had a new teacher observing in two of the classes today. She will be starting in April. Her name is also Tania. So there are two Tania's and one Tonia. Got it?

I am going to a meeting for the BLTC women today. I came home and watched a few episodes that Joyce loaned us of Law and Order. I think I am ready now for a two hour meeting in Russian.

Nathan is in his room. Spencer is reading his comics and Tom is napping. Just a typical Monday here in our house.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

daylight savings time

We thought we were going to be on time for church.

We were an hour late!

Lena and Alexei had just walked in and sat down about 5 minutes before us. Then Olya and Vova showed up... and then one of our teachers from school, Nellie, about 20 minutes later. It seemed as if today was the fastest church service we have ever had!

Tom had a lesson with Lena today. He is being moved into class with Spencer. So he has 11 lessons to catch up on! I will be moving into Nathan's class. And right now they are one lesson ahead of where Spencer and I are. I have already started working on it. Our class will get that lesson on Monday and we should be caught up by the time the change takes place.

So the new classes start the first week of April.
Tom and Spencer together.
Alida and Nathan together.

Thanks Dad for the special treat. We had a family meeting and we watched your video. The boys realised how much they missed you when they heard you singing!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Day in Krasnodar

Here is a collage I made with scenes from around the city. Yesterday, Tom and I taught Spencer how to use powerpoint. Spencer has said that he might become a pastor so he will need that skill someday. He put together a collage of the city also with his photos and a quote from Lenin. Hopefully, he will post it on his blog for all to see.

Today Tom and Michelle went down into the sewers to see how the homeless people live. Michelle is interested in coming back here to work someday and she has a passion for the homeless.

When they came home Tom was covered in filth. Michelle was realitively clean. Tom was clearing the path for her and went first down into the sewers. He got to meet the cobwebs and crawl over the pipes to find the way down there.

I think Michelle was pretty brave to go down in there... it is not something I think I will be doing.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Welcome Rob & Donna

On Saturday Janet held a party to welcome Rob and Donna to Krasnodar. We ate, laughed and filled out surveys about life here. Janet was concerned with how Tom might fill out the survey.

Tom answered the questions pretty simply. When answering "what do you do with your language helper? ... he said "Mud Wrestling". Spencer filled his out using some cartoon and movie quotes. Our family just cannot follow directions!

Rob & Donna are here from Northern CA. Rob recently had to fly back to the states because of the death of his father. We pray for his family and look forward to him being back with us soon.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Tom and Alida Scrapbook Picture

Getting things figured out!

Aleksey and his mother
Lena in the kitchen
Nastia is serious.

These are from Aleksey's 40th birthday last year in May!

Beautiful Young Lady

Home Alone

Tom, Nathan and Spencer all went to school this morning. I needed the sleep I guess... noone woke me up. I went to bed with a bad headache last night so I think they were all being kind.

I was frustrated yesterday with trying to figure out Adobe Photoshop. Spencer says "let me try" so he has it all figured out now. I will have to have him show me how to use it when he gets home.

We got a package in the mail from Mom and Dad. I finally have the ingredients to make "The Walmart Cake".

Here is the recipe:
1 box Pineapple Supreme- Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Cake mix
1 can of Coconut Supreme Frosting- Duncan Hines Creamy Homestyle
mix cake mix according to package directions before baking mix can of frosting into batter. Bake in a bundt pan.

Looks simple so I think we will try it out later today!

We watched "Pink Panther" the other day. We already have it on video here! We had Mich come over and watch it with us yeserday. The funniest scene for all of us is the scene where he is working with an accent coach and he is trying to say "I want to buy a hamburger" with an American accent. It reminds us of sessions with our language helper. We have had to rewind it and watch it over because we enjoyed it so much.

The other movie we have enjoyed recently is "Everything is Illuminated".
There is only one native English speaker in the movie and the other characters are speaking Russian. It is translated in subtitles. We enjoyed it because the movie goes from America to Ukraine and we saw places that we have been. It was great to see the McDonald's in Ukraine that we actually ate at! There is a quick view of the Potomkin steps and the large train station too. Nathan likes the guy who plays the translater. If someone says something not so kind the translater says something Completely Different that is more polite! Too funny.

Tom went out with Olya last night to meet with the woman who owns one of the stores where his jewelry is being sold. She had sold six pieces so she took several more. Tom said that one of her workers was wearing a necklace he had made. He was excited to see that. He got paid for the pieces he sold and gave Olya her commission for helping him. She has all the business documentation needed for Tom to be in the stores here. She didn't want to accept her cut. She tried to give half of it back. Tom stuck it in her pocket. He doesn't usually take "no" for an answer!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

powerpoint scrapbooking

I have played around with this late into the night and the best I could do was take a picture of the screen to get this posted. It is easy to put things together using powerpoint but hard to figure out how to publish. Or maybe it's just me.

I have several other collages that I have done and I printed them out to put into a scrapbook. But since I am low on ink this one cannot be printed tonight. Tom and I worked on this and I am getting pooped! Posted by Picasa


Spencer and I went with Vova, Lena and Nastia to visit Befania Church today. It was a three hour service but we probably sang for half of that time! I really enjoyed it and thought it went by fast. Spencer is resting he thought it was a very long service.

Tom went to our church KBC. He sent me a text message that Valodya spoke in Russian, using a German map and was speaking about Italy. Tom said he had jet-lag when the service ended!

Nathan has a slight cold so he stayed home today.

As we were coming home in the car Lena told me that Slavic had to go to Ukraine to help out their mother. He had to kill the cow and then sell the meat. The cow had just given birth a few weeks ago and she had been sick ever since the birth. So they decided to put her out of her misery and then make some money.

It seems funny to know someone who had to leave the country to go kill a cow!

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Amazing Race!

Yesterday we drove to Ukraine and back! This photo is from when we were there in September. But if you notice the ramp in the photo that is what I wanted to talk about. As the ferry reached the port people came down and filled up this area to be the first ones off the ferry. People were running so fast they were tripping, dropping things and leaving family members behind. All in an effort to be the first one in line at Passport control. There is barely a comprehension of forming a line here. So even the late comers found ways to go under the barries and push to the front. It was amazing to watch.

The water was filled with ice floes. Not clear and clean like in this photo. We were not sure where the ice came from. Tom thought that was where they dumped the ice and snow that they cleared of the city streets and trucked out of town.

Spencer looked at me before we disembarked on the Russian side to return home and said "we are gonna have to run soon!" I said "nope, Vova is going to wait for us no matter how long it takes, I'm not running!".

Sure enough Vova was there with a great big smile eager to know how the crossing went and if we thought Ukraine was beautiful. He is from Ukraine!

When Spencer was being looked at by the Passport control ladies on our return to Russia they were giggling over his passport photo. They told him how cute he was when that photo was taken. He has lost 40 pounds since we have been here and in his original photo he has chubby little cheeks. That baby fat is all gone now.

Nathan and Spencer both did a great job of filling out their own paperwork this time. So now they each know how to do it for when they have to travel without us. They can read the forms now so that helps! That seemed to me to be a benefit of traveling with teenagers. I didn't worry about where they were or what was going on when they were out of our sight. I knew they knew the routine and they did great. Nathan told me he was asked to take his hat off and look at the woman straight on. They were able to answer whatever questions they were asked and move on to the next station. The guy in front of me was yelled at for filling out his paperwork incorrectly so she was very sweet with us since ours were perfect!

We did see one of the guys who was keeping watch over the lines being very rude to an Asian woman. I have heard about how poorly they treat Asian women here but had never witnessed it before. He yelled at her and she didn't seem to understand what he wanted her to do. She was just standing in the line like everyone else. I am very grateful to have no incidences of prejudice to recount.

We had to pay a "FEE" for Vova's car having tinted windows. The policeman who stopped us wanted to see everyone's face and match it up to their passport. Tom was out of the car with Vova and the rest of us just sat in the backseat. Tom was telling the guy "this is my wife" and the guy's response was "customs does not care that brought your wife". Nathan heard him say it. So when he started laughing I asked him what the guy said. He told us and that became our favorite phrase of the day! We were expecting to have to pay for whatever they thought was wrong but this was 1000 rubles. (about 35$). Usually they will ask for 200 rubles or so. On the return trip that same policeman just smiled and waved us through. Vova called him a "bandit". The police here only make 4500 rubles a month so they look for ways to boost their income.

My biggest trauma of the day was over the bathrooms just as I thought it would be. Instead of the normal cost of 5 rubles for using the bathroom it was 10. The bathrooms were squatty potties. Just holes in the ground. There were stalls there, thank goodness, and the floor was tiled around the holes so this was a NICE public bathroom. My fear when I was in there was holding up my purse so it didn't touch the floor and not getting my shoes wet while I was using the facilities. Needless to say the balancing act was not fun and I apologise if my little tale grosses you out.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Wichita St. KOs Seton Hall in NCAA Opener

Okay, so I cannot sleep and I was reading the news. I know that there are Wichitans and former Wichitans that read my blog so this one is for you all!

We leave in a few short hours for Ukraine. Crimea to be exact. This is a short trip... there and back in the same day. We are paying Vova to drive us to the ferry and then cross the Black Sea and then get our passports stamped and get back on the ferry to cross the Black Sea and drive us back home.

It will be a long day, Vova told me to bring plenty of music for the car and FOOD to eat on the road.

The only thing I am not excited about will be the bathrooms between here and there. OY!

Name Changes

We are learning genitive case now and it is interesting that some names change and some names don't.

Here are the names of our family in genitive case:
Алиды= Alid-i
Натана= Nathan-a
Спенсера= Spencer-a
Тома= Tom-a

Janet is a foreign name that does not change. And neither does Michelle. Bill was Bil-la.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

First Time as a Translater

Last night I introduced Olya to the new students. Donna needed a language helper and Olya wanted the job. So I got them together. I did well until I started to get tired. We talked for an hour and half. Towards the end I was speaking to Donna in Russian and Olya in English! We all laughed each time I did that. Olya did a good job correcting my grammer but she understood everything I was translating for her. I am glad they hit it off!

I just got home from Olya's. First I got a phone call from Sveta. She is 22 weeks pregnant and tired of sitting at home. She wanted to come over to visit but she forgot where I lived. So she asked for someone to come and meet her at the supermarket. Nathan went down to get her and she visited with me for a while. She was so happy that I can understand her better and she said that my Russian was very clear. She asked me about how Olya was doing. Olya is also pregnant she is around 18 weeks. So they are a month apart. I asked her if she wanted to visit with Olya and she did. I called and let Olya know we were coming. When we got there Lena was there too. Sveta was so excited. She got to see three girlfriends in one day! Her husband works long hours so she is alone a lot. she and Olya made a date to go over to the mall and price baby items. Once I get a list of what they need I will post it.

While I was at Olya's I was asked to translate an English email she had received. I was excited that she asked me. She understood A LOT of it already. It was a very long email longer than this post! I only had to translate three sentences that had some medical terms she didn't quite understand. Wow! I was very impressed with her reading in English.

On Friday we will be making a quick trip to Ukraine. Every six months we are required to leave Russia. It is a new law. So we will have Vovo drive us to the border cross over on the Black Sea on the ferry get our passports stamped and come right back!

Pray for us since Vovo wants to leave at SEVEN AM! and anyone who knows us knows that only Spencer loves that time of day!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ring Tones

We saw a young man on the bus today. He was impeccably dressed. Dress shirt, nice slacks, good looking coat. And then we hear his phone ring and it was Fifty Cents "Just a Lil Bit". Tom and I just looked at each other and tried not to laugh!

On the way home from there was a very drunk man who had fallen down while he was walking. Tom tried to help him up but they guy was too drunk to stand. Everyday we see drunk people. The alcohol problem seems huge somedays.

We met some of the new students today at school. They will start in a few weeks. We have more Californians now. Their names are Rob and Donna. They are from the San Francisco area. Now if the Texans try to take on the Californians at least we are gaining in numbers and I don't think they can lick us!

Right now we have spring like weather... sunny and a little windy. I got a copy of Melanie and Jody's newsletter and they are from the other side of Russia and they have three feet of snow! Oy!

Monday, March 13, 2006

It's Monday!

It is never easy to get back in the swing of things.

Spencer had guests over yesterday. His friends Tobias and Andrew came over to play video games. They were pretty loud there for awhile.

We decided to watch Hotel Rwanda last night because Spencer had not seen it yet. After it was over we all needed to do something else to get our minds of the movie. Just as we were deciding what to do Erin called! It was great to hear news about her and her family and I totally forgot about the movie.

Nathan and I belong to the same message board now. We are both going to It is different for both of us to be in the same place. But, having things to talk about that we each have opinions on is pretty fun.

Tom and I both had a good night's sleep for the first time in months. We switched mattresses with Spencer and he likes the soft mattress. Our old backs were grateful for the firm one! O to be 15 again...

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Today the conductor that Spencer and I had on the bus was not the most patient fellow. As soon as Spencer got on the bus he reached for his bus pass. The conductor walked up to him and started yelling "Young man, I have waited a half hour already!" ummm... excuse me we just got on the bus! He also yelled at this poor old man who took a long time to sit down and then he finally reached for his bus pass. He wanted the man to move faster. Maybe he was having a bad day!

sightings- a man carrying a beer and a Barbie Dream House

a babuska in fishnet stockings

3 drunk guys sleeping on the bus. Maybe they were not drunk, perhaps they just wore alcohol cologne!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Valera & Ludmilla

Last night Tom's friend Valera came over with his wife Ludmilla. We had a nice visit. They stayed just over an hour. they came over to chat and have tea. Valera spoke a lot in English and his wife only spoke Russian but she understands English. Their youngest daughter can speak Russian, English, Greek and French. Their grandaughter who is four years old is learning English.

It was very interesting to spend time with them. Many people we have met here find it important to tell us the history of the country. Valera and his wife did the same. It must be a part of the culture here to never forget one's history.

I told Valera that Spencer and I went to the Maslenitsa concert and had bliny and vodka. He told me that the bliny represents the sun of spring. I asked what the vodka represented and that was when we got a history lesson on how the soldiers of different wars were paid in Vodka. Vodka is ingrained in the culture and was developed by a Russian chemist. Who, by the way, Valera believes was an alcoholic!

They were very curious about why our children are studying Russian. And overwhelmed by how many books we have! If they only knew that we gave away or sold more than half of what we owned in California.

Valera is interested in visiting our church. He finds religion very fascinating and had never heard of our church "The Open Door". He knows about the Orthodox and the Baptists here. But, had never heard of the church we attend. Tom will invite them to come to church the next time he speaks. Valera will enjoy that because he can listen to Tom in English and in Russian.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Fight between winter and Spring

On Monday our teacher told us that for the month of March winter and spring will be fighting to see who is going to win! Yesterday after several days of nice sunny weather we had SNOW! It definitely felt like winter won yesterday's battle.

We have a thin layer of snow on the ground and it is windy out there. So it feels a bit nippy. I think most of us will stay inside today.

Later this evening one of Tom's friends from AA is stopping by. He can speak some English and since we can speak some Russian it should be a good visit. Unless his wife comes over I will most likely just serve them tea and let them talk. Valera is a well respected man here in the AA community. He has 13 years of sobriety. Last night when Tom and Valera set up a time for him to come over they agreed on 18:30. After Valera hung up he called back within just a few minutes. When he had gotten off the phone his daughter told him that in America they don't talk that way about time! He wanted to make sure that Tom understood that he was coming over at 6:30 PM. Fortunately we go to a Russian School and Tom understood perfectly what time Valera meant!

Nathan has a young peoples group meeting tonight. The group that Nathan goes to is mostly college age. At 18 he is the youngest member of the group. There is talk at church about starting a group for the younger teens like Spencer and Tobias. There really isn't much for them right now. The childrens program does not fit them and the group Nathan is in is too old for them.

Spencer is looking forward to a group that he can get involved with!

At my last meeting with the BLTC women we talked about the curriculum we are developing for the incoming female students. We have planned a retreat for all the leaders in June. It has been great getting to know these women and it certainly stretches my vocabulary to sit in on meetings in Russian. I just hope that by June the fight between winter and spring will be over and we will be having summer!

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Today we are going to watch the Academy Award winning movie "Crash" as a family. It has an R rating and Tom and I have already seen it.

We know that there are a few questionable scenes... but, that is why we are going to watch it as a family and discuss it afterwards. The main point of the movie is racism. Everyone in the movie is a stereotype. Whether they are white, black, hispanic, persian or asian. Every race is stereotyped.

Tom and I could see why it won BEST PICTURE OF THE YEAR. It made both of us think. Especially watching it while we live in another culture. One could easily stereotype Russian behavior. In fact several movies I have seen do exactly that. Not all Russian men are in the mafia.

If you decide to watch Crash, know that there is a sex scene, a lot of language and some difficult racial scenes to watch. Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Angela Bassett, Thandie Newton, Larenz Tate, Jennifer Esposito, Brendan Frazier, Tony Danza are all a part of the ensemble cast. The movie is well acted and thought provoking.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

International Women's Day

I have heard the guys talking about going out to get flowers. Right now they are fixing the light fixture in the living room. It is about to fall down. It is good that Tom noticed it before it hit someone on the head!

To learn more about Women's Day you can click on the link below.

Tonight we are scheduled to have dinner with Alexei and Lena. Alexei is cooking. There is no Mother's Day here so this day is the big day for Women.

The teachers at our school are all female so the school is closed today! Tom was wondering why they didn't close the school on Men's Day...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

day off

Tomorrow is Women's Day so we have the day off from school. We are grateful for the break.

Many of the students have been sick and some are still dealing with bronchitis or pnuemonia. This weather has been hard on many people with allergies sometimes it is hard to tell if you have allergies acting up or if you are catching a cold.

Joyce B. is back from her trip to Malta. She tried to come back sooner but she got deported in Moscow at the airport! Joyce had all of her paperwork filled out but didn't take it over to the Embassy for processing. She went straight to the airport and flew from Malta to Moscow. She had to return to Malta right away. Joyce has such a great sense of humor and can make just about anyone laugh. She kept us in stitches telling us about her adventure during the break. We heard about a snail in her salad, the trolleybus strike, and how much the taxis cost since they were taking advantage of the bus drivers on strike!

Now we know how to get a vacation. Just don't get your paperwork processed!

Monday, March 06, 2006

10 Commandments of American Culture

1) you can't argue with success
2) live and let live
3) time flys when you are having fun
4) shop 'til you drop
5) Just Do It!
6) no pain, no gain
7) enough is enough
8) time is money
9) rules are made to be broken
10) God helps those who help themselves.

Diane Thomas, the president of the Language School gave a talk today about these points. We talked about the values that Amercans, Canadians or Germans might have versus the values that Russians have. It is hard sometimes to identify with all of the values that "Americans" are supposed to have. But, I did have to catch myself when Daine was talking about how here it is normal to wear the same clothes over and over. People wash them and wear them again the next day. I mentioned that I noticed as soon as Diane walked into the room that she was wearing the same outfit that she had on the last time I saw her two days prior. So Russians would judge her for wearing different clothing everyday and I (an American) judged her for wearing the same outfit within a few days. We talked about how that is a judgement that many Americans make. Why do we value wearing different clothes everyday. Why did I find it important to mark on my calendar what outfit I wore when I spoke at a church?

Because of the value that is placed on success we equate what people wear with how successful they may be... or what they drive or where they live. Adjustments have to be made when you enter another culture. It is not about how people act... it is about what people value.

Do your actions show what you value?

Do you change your actions according to what the culture around you values?

Do you expect others to change their actions based on what YOU value?

Each of us will have a chance to meet with Diane and discuss our concerns about cultural issues and the school itself.

I realised today that I value flexibility and maturity. I got upset over the actions of people whom I considered to be inflexible and immature. I realised that other people value personal comfort and change can make people uncomfortable.

When our values clash with someone else's we may get an attitude of superiority. Our values are not superior to another person or people group... Our values are just different and different is not the same as wrong!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

What did he say?

Today at church Maj-lis had her family with her. She was translating the service for them from Russian into Swedish. Nathan got up to give his testimony and had Natasha translate for him from English into Russian and at the same time you could hear Maj-lis translating it into Swedish! For awhile there it was hard to know what to listen to.

Nathan did a great job getting up and speaking at the church. He was nervous but he did it anyway. Klaus and Valodya told Tom and I how proud they were of Nathan. Klaus was the first one up to give Nathan a hug after he spoke. He wanted to do it while he was talking but he waited until Nathan was done. Klaus has been very impressed with how well Nathan can read and speak Russian. We are proud of him too... It feels different to hear Nathan or Spencer speak or pray in public. I am used to hearing Tom. But, when one of the boys does it I start to cry with joy. It is overwhelming.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Pancake Day

Pancake Day is a part of Shrovetide. I remember in Liberal, Kansas they had pancake races during this time. click here to read about Pancake Day.

Did you know?

The eve of Lent is also known as the butter festival or maslenitsa. During this time Orthodox Russians eat pancakes. Some people celebrate the occasion by breaking holes in frozen lakes and rivers and swimming in icy water.

Today we had a chance to eat pancakes and drink vodka... Bill and Judi thought that the vodka smelled like rubbing alcohol. I thought it was interesting that the vodka had a smell. I thought vodka was odorless and that's why alcoholics like it. We were given a shot of vodka each. I noticed that at the bar there were sodas and water and other things to drink. The vodka was cheaper than the water! Now we know why it is so popular. The kids were not allowed the vodka and Spencer chose not to although at 15 he is old enough (here in Russia). Click here to read about Russian Celebrations of Shrovetide.

We watched a concert that told the story of Shrovetide/maslenetsia through songs and dancing. I sent a text message to Nathan about the dancing bear and a response back came from Tom. It said "too much vodka!" I didn't know if he meant me or the bear!

The costumes were traditional Cossack clothing. The men in red suits with black sheep skin hats on and the girls were wearing dresses and had their hair pulled back in scarves. Both Spencer and I forgot our cameras so I don't have any pictures to show.

We met Maj-Lis's family. They are here from Sweden. They don't speak much English and they don't speak Russian. We just smiled at each other alot!

Friday, March 03, 2006


Wallace and Gromit, Casa de los Babys, and the Honeymooners. If you need a laugh break Wallce and Gromit or the Honeymooners will provide some laughs. If you want to see something more dramatic then Casa de los Babys highlights private adoptions in Mexico. It is half English and half Spanish... you'll need the English subtitles if you don't speak Spanish.

Tom and I were at Krasnaya Ploshad last night and were able to see where the new McDonald's is going in. It should be here sometime this summer! McDonald's is not one of the places I miss but my guys are all excited. Although, Nathan really wishes it were a Del Taco!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Assessment Results

The rest of us finally have our assessements back. Tom is Novice High, and Spencer, Nathan and I are all Intermediate Low. It is typical for women and children to learn faster than the men. Which is why the kids and I are all at the same place. For listening skills Tom, Spencer and I are Intermediate Low and Nathan is Intermediate Mid. Spencer and I seem to listen and speak at the same level while Tom and Nathan both understand more than they can respond to.

It is an interesting process to have your language skills evaluated. No one ever assessed our English skills. Some of us speak faster or more clearly than others. Some American students have accents from the south and some don't. And then we have students from Canada and Germany and they have accents too. We are all trying to speak without our native accents and our poor teachers have to sort it all out!

All of our handwriting still looks foreign. After years writing of in English it is not easy to make one's handwriting look less foreign. Some of us need to learn to write in cursive on a regular basis. It is so much easier to print. However, it is easier for Russians to read cursive.

We don't have to do this again until next year. When we reach lesson 75 or so. We just started lesson 35 today.