Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Reformation Day or Happy Halloween!

Spencer and I just returned from a Harvest Party. There had to have been thirty kids at the Watsons house! Joy asked me to take pictures. So I was busy the whole party.

Becky came up with all the games, my favorite was when the kids were shucking corn! There was a pile of corn set in front of each team and they raced to see who could finish their pile first. Next time I buy corn on the cob I am going to invite some kids over!

I have some photos from the party and of Yanna today,but, Blogger is not letting me load them as fast as I would like. On top of that I loaned my camera to Joy because Hannah has a program at school tomorrow and Tim has their camera in America with him.

We had Yanna today for four hours while her mom was at the doctor. She is two months old now.

Nathan had a really bad headache today. He spent the entire day in his room. Their teacher's mother is in the hospital and their class was cancelled for the day... but they have to make it up on Friday!

Monday, October 30, 2006

a wonderful monday!

More packages! Thanks to Del and Marge for the movies... we just finished watching Monster-in-law and really enjoyed it. Thanks also to Mom and Dad. We received the box of goodies and have already divided things up. The pop tarts worked out to just the right number!

I used some of the pumpkin today. Mom reminded me of the recipe I used to use all the time when we still lived in California. It took a little work but I found it.

Monastery Pumpkin Bread

3 1/2 cups sifted flour
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 4 eggs, beaten
1 cup oil
2/3 cup water
2 cups solid-pack pumpkin
Walnut pieces

Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.Combine eggs, oil, water and pumpkin, mixing well. Stir into dry ingredients. Turn into 3 greased 9x5-inch loaf pans and top with several walnut pieces. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 1 hour or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool before slicing.

Enjoy!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

sunday, sunday

Alexei spoke in church today. Our whole family went to support him and to hear his message. We didn’t understand everything that Alexei spoke about but we got the context and overall meaning.

We understood:
He was reading from the book of Judges
He talked about Gideon
Sometimes God gives us difficulties in life
Fear affects our ability to serve God
Difficulties cause us to turn back to God
God was merciful to Gideon and gave him a miracle when he asked for one.
What we go through in life affects our faith

As we gathered in small groups to pray our family came together and prayed in English. It still amazes me that around the church several different languages are present. Russian, English and German to name a few.

The needs mentioned this morning were:
Weather changing is causing many people to be sick
Volodia Rajabov and Tim Watson leaving for America today. They will be away from their families for three weeks
The church’s neighbor has a bad attitude towards the church being next door to him.
Three different people are having surgery this week
One person is going to Pakistan to have a heart transplant... he wanted to have it here in Russia but that did not work out.
Our church’s soccer team as an outreach tool
A new teen group is meeting at the church
For us as a church to not just hear God’s word but to obey it.

Last year Maj-lis had to tell us what the prayer requests and announcements were and this year we understand better for ourselves. We pray that each year it will get easier and easier to understand what is said...including the jokes that we miss now!

As the service was ending, Pastor Vadim spoke about the importance of cleaning your shoes before coming into the church. He wanted all of us to notice the shoe cleaning area outside and to “get acquainted with it!” He said that if we couldn’t clean our shoes then to use a pair of house shoes that the church provided or bring some from home. Keeping the floors clean is serious business here in Russia!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

online friends...

Nathan got a package today from an online friend that he’s known for over 4 years. He was expecting something small like a music cd. She sent him a late birthday present, the cds and some sugar cookies! We like Ruth’s cookies... Nathan treated each of us to one cookie. Thanks Ruth!

Nathan was able to pick up the package by himself with no problem. He showed the package slip and his passport and she went to get the package and handed it over. As we were on our way home from the post office, he says, “Now you have to believe that my friend is real!”. I acknowledged that I do believe that Ruth exists. ‘I do believe in Ruth, I do believe in Ruth!”

The online world is great for meeting people that you might never have met otherwise... even though you live in the same area. Nathan, Spencer and I have all met people online. My friend Joan is a woman I met online from my days on the original Starting Over message board. She actually lives in the same city where two friends of mine used to live. I think Sadie may have lived just a few blocks from where Joan is. I drove there plenty of times... did we ever see each other and not know it? It is possible. I look forward to meeting her.

Andrew is here playing video games with Spencer. The rest of us are trying to stay out of the living room and not embarrass Spencer. It is so tempting to go in there!

Friday, October 27, 2006

the adventures of public transport

Spencer and I went to hear Jill and Stuart Briscoe speak for the ex-patriates in town. We decided to take the bus over to Shane and Melissa's house for the event. On the way over there we ended up taking two buses. Which is no big deal because we have bus passes. It was a big deal to those who did not hear the announcement that the bus was going on break. So it only went as far as the University and then stopped. When one young man realised that he was going to have to pay to ride another bus he started yelling at the conductor. She yelled back at him and finally got out of her seat and walked up to the front of the bus to get away from him.

He would not stop yelling so the driver stopped the bus and got out of his seat to come and yell at him. The driver yelled that "everybody heard the announcement" and that the young man needed to listen better. That was when pandemonium broke loose. Several people joined in the argument saying that they didn't hear the announcement either. Spencer and I seemed to be the only people that actually heard the announcement as soon as we boarded the bus. It ended with the young man writing down their names and I.D. numbers to report them.

Spencer and I enjoyed the time with Jill and Stuart. Hearing their stories of life in ministry and their world travels was inspiring. They have gone to teach in places where it is illegal for Christians to gather.

I think the thing I will remember the most is Jill saying that "you have to unpack your bags into the situation or you will always have regrets". She was referring to a young wife who had spent two years on the field of a four year term and had not unpacked her bags and was ready to give up and go home. It applies to literal bags as well as emotional bags. It is difficult to move forward in life without having fully unpacked all that you brought with you.

We met some people with Campus Crusade who are here in the city attending school and serving. It was nice to meet some new people. One of the young ladies is from California. I talked to her even though she was from Berkeley!

On the way home Judi B. joined us. The soccer game had let out and there were six drunk young people who were singing a Kuban cheer over and over and louder and louder. And playing the music on there cell phones loudly. It is interesting to note that when people are drunk they sing "La La La" a lot!

As Spencer and I were getting off the bus Judi whispered to me to be careful. Spencer and I walked slowly along the path to let that group get ahead of us. And then came safely on home. If they chose to harass anyone along the way it was not us!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

why did the Sharp men stay home from school?

Nathan was feeling ill. He felt sick to his stomach. Spencer had a stuffy nose. And Tom wanted to stay with me while I babysat for Yanna and Ira. (Eera)


Ira was only here while her mother was shopping at the outdoor market. She showed up with her little raincoat on and her little yellow umbrella in her hand. She and I read some books together. I have a book called "The First 1000 Words in Russian”. All the language students have it. It is an Usborne book. I read to her in Russian and she repeated after me. It was cute. After about an hour her mother called and was ready for her to come home. I got her dressed to go outside and Spencer walked her home. He said to her “give me your hand” in Russian and she had her umbrella in one hand and Spencer’s hand in the other!



Yanna and Tom took a nap...Yanna on our bed and Tom on the couch. When she woke up I got her bottle ready and then Tom fed her. Spencer and I took a few pictures of her wearing a hat I crocheted last night. She is such a joy! The boys marveled at her little hands, feet and face. We just sat and held her for two hours until Olya came to pick her up. She was trying her best to talk to us. Each of the boys took a turn talking with her and holding her. Plus since she is just 7 weeks old we could speak to her in English. What a great way to spend a rainy day!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

did you know?

Spencer asked Tom about Russian history. Tom gave Spencer the book "Russia, Belarus & Ukraine" which is an Insight Guide from the Discovery Channel, and a second book “Midnight Diaries” by Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin was the first president immediately after the fall of communism in 1991.

Yesterday, Spencer was coming up to us and saying things like “did you know that Gagarin went into space in 1961? Since we have been here in Russia and have traveled to Ukraine his fascination with history has grown.

Nathan went over to pick up our mail from Olya’s and we got three movies from Marge and Del. Thanks so much for the treat! We truly appreciate you thinking of us.


Class today was just me. Judi H. was ill. I spent and hour and a half being drilled non-stop by Madina. She was very excited at one point during the class. She looked at me and said “Alida! That was 10 minutes! You just talked about your faith and spirituality for ten whole minutes.” It is amazing that we have learned enough spiritual vocabulary to give a testimony about why we go to church or what we believe.

The joys from yesterday:
Hearing Stuart Briscoe speak for 3 hours on Titus 1:1-6. (it was amazing!)
Talking with Erin on the phone.
Receiving an email from my cousin Hilary.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

pumpkin time!


Yesterday, I spent the evening cooking, pureeing and then freezing a 8.5 kilo pumpkin. That is 18.7 pounds! Judi H. had gotten 3 cups of pumpkin puree from her pumpkin. Our pumpkin yielded 16 cups. I found a recipe for pumpkin pie and one for pumpkin bread and they both take 2 cups of pumpkin so I packaged up eight bags of 2 cups each.
It is hard for me to believe that something like this actually occupied my evening...
In America with cable TV, movie theatres and malls to keep us entertained, I would have just bought canned pumpkin. However, here in Krasnodar, it is so different. I cannot jump in my car and run to a Quik Trip or 7-11 the night before Thanksgiving and buy canned pumpkin. Thanksgiving is a month away and I am planning what to have. Nathan & Spencer want a pie and Tom wants pumpkin bread. So, I had to cook a pumpkin to accomplish those goals.

Spencer and I tackled the project together. I cut it in half and he scooped out the insides. Then I baked it and he helped me to scoop out the cooked pumpkin into a container and set it in the window to cool before going into the blender. Since living here, we have learned to make things from scratch. We have learned to plan. I realize that there are homemakers all over the world who do these things. But, for us coming from Southern California that was not our lifestyle. Microwave food, McDonalds and flying by the seat of your pants was the way we lived. Part of our culture shock came from slowing down.

We read more. We watch movies and not TV shows. We all have hobbies... Nathan writes and draws, Spencer collects medals and takes pictures, Tom does jewelry, and I crochet, knit and take pictures. Daily life in Russia is different from daily life in Costa Mesa, California. It is not bad or wrong just different!

Monday, October 23, 2006

best laid plans

I set my alarm to get up and go hear the Briscoes before school. I woke up, turned off the alarm and laid back down for a few minutes... 2 minutes before the seminar started this morning I woke up again!

I was up late having a discussion with Nathan. That was worth missing out on the seminar this morning.

Update:

McDonalds has a new billboard up here saying "Coming Soon".


McDonalds was supposed to be here this summer... we are still waiting!

Great Reads:

if you find a copy of "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgarov then read it! Tom and I both finished it and it is great at helping understand Russian culture, religious beliefs and it is just a good well written book.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

church with the Briscoes!

We got to church and had a nice treat this morning. Stuart Briscoe spoke. He and his wife Jill speak all over the world. I found their website here:http://www.tellingthetruth.org/

Stuart started off by telling us that he and Jill learned three Russian words the last time they were here:

Amen,
Alleluia,

and Coca-Cola! just say them with a Russian accent and you can speak Russian too!

I have a favorite quote from Stuart this morning:
"God gives you the absolute right to be totally wrong!"

He and Jill will be here teaching at the BLTC from 9-5 all week and on Thursday night they are speaking just for the ex-patriates here in town.

I spoke with Jill briefly after church and told her that because of my father being in the military I was born in Chiseldon, England. She said that her Aunt lives there and that it is a very lovely city! She encouraged me to visit there when I can.

Being at KBC (Krasnodar Bible Church) reminds me of when we were in Pasadena, California and many of the teachers and visiting professors at Fuller Seminary came to speak at Lake Avenue Congregational Church. We attended Lake Avenue during Tom's time at Fuller.

Church was full this morning because of people being here in town for the seminar. We had people from Dagestan, Salihardt and various cities here in Russia.

After church we went to have lunch with Tim and Joy. Tim was given a duck for his birthday. So we ate it today. Joy made orange sauce and it was very tasty. The duck was grown at farm (the rehab center) in Artirka. Joy and I are going to put together a Thanksgiving Dinner and I am looking forward to that.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

saturday morning

Last night we watched a movie that Spencer has called "HULK". It was interesting how different it was from the tv series that Tom and I grew up with.

I got home around 7:30 from a meeting with the BLTC women. We divided up into serving groups and I ended up on the worship team. That's great. I have led worship before.

However, once I got back home I realized something... I will have to lead worship in RUSSIAN!

The two people on the worship team (Becky and myself) are not native Russian speakers. Becky has lived here a lot longer and she is fluent in Russian. She also fluent in Greek (she is an MK who grew up in Greece). I could make a joke about it all being Greek to me but, I won't!


It was a productive meeting. We heard about the new childcare center (detsky sod). We are getting a librarian for the women's library. We decided what things would be done monthly, quarterly or semi-annually. We met for an hour and a half and all the serving groups were formed and one seminar was decided upon. I like it when meetings are short and to the point!

Friday, October 20, 2006

195th Anniversary


Last night we were out late a concert. This is the 195th anniversary of the Kuban Cossack Choir. We really enjoyed the evening. The costumes were new this year and the event was held in the Music Theater instead of the Choral Hall.

Spencer and I went with Lena, Alexei and the Havens family. Judi and Michael had to leave early... Mikey was a trooper tolerating the first half of the show!


They sang national songs from the Kuban area and from Ukraine. The choir will be going on tour and are gearing up for the big anniversary in 5 more years. The children's choir had not been seen for about 4 years. (according to my neighbor)It was a treat to see them last night.

As Spencer and I were walking home we met one of our neighbors. She said that she recognised Spencer from him walking his dog everyday. She saw my program and we started to chat about the concert. Then she asked if she could walk with us. She said repeatedly how afraid she was to be out so late alone. It was around 11 o'clock at night and it was dark and not many people were out walking. As we got closer to our building she asked which building we lived in. It was then that we discovered that we live in the same building. We live in the first entrance and she lives in the 9th. (near our friends Olya and Vova) Spencer walked her the rest of the way home and saw her safely inside. She invited us to come over and have tea. I think we will bake a cake and go over sometime this weekend. It will be great to get to know someone outside of our normal circle of aquaintances!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

warm in our house

We woke up this morning to the feeling of warmth in the house. The radiators were turned on at some point and we didn't know in advance this time.

Last year, a few weeks before the radiators were turned on, they did a test. They had the water go through the piping to make sure it was all clear. We know for sure that they did this because the pipe in Spencer's room had a leak and water poured down from his ceiling until they got the water turned off for our building.

This year the radiatiors came on without warning and without incident. Having the radiators on reminds us that this winter will be cold... hopefully, we are ready. Last year the 35 below zero temperature caught us off gaurd after coming from sunny southern California!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

4 hours

Tom and I were a part of an intervention group last night. The meeting lasted for 4 hours... it was a difficult meeting. I personally didn't want to go. I keep thinking they need Tom and not me. But, when I got there and saw that the wife was the only other woman present I saw my purpose for being there. I know and understand that this will not be the last meeting of this type we attend.

I cannot write any details about the event. We learned a lot. Saw some cultural differences and had to realize that being vulnerable has a different meaning in each country. Body language and spoken language are only part of it... we also need to understand culture.

We have further motivation to master this language. It is important that our words be understood and that we understand what others are expressing to us.

Monday, October 16, 2006

back on line


I didn't get to post a photo of Yanna yesterday so here she is... I had to take the photo with one hand. Remember, I had to be touching her with the other!

Yesterday was a little frustrating. Our internet card ran out of time on Saturday and there was no place open in our region to buy another one. So I had to wait until after school today and I picked one up near the bus stop not far from the school.

It is hard on those days when we don't have internet access... we feel out of touch with the world!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

aren't you supposed to sit on the baby?

Tom woke up and saw that Yana was here. She is six weeks old. Her mom wanted to go out and run some errands and I had told her that I was available if I was not in school.

I thought she would use me during the week and that this morning I would be sleeping in! Yanna got here at ten and stayed until 2. She is a sweet little girl. She is a lot like Spencer in that she wants to be touched all the time. If you lose contact with her she cries. So either Tom or I held her the whole four hours she was here. When her mom came to pick her up she was waiting to hear our complaints...

we didn't have any. She is only six weeks old. It is normal for her to want to be held. Maybe since Tom and I have done this before we don't see baby quirks as over demanding and frustrating. If she were 8 or 9 years old and needed constant holding that would be a different story!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tribute to Miriel

I want to take the time to acknowledge the passing of my best friend's grandmother. I had a lot of respect for Miriel and enjoyed the times I was in her presence. I met her about 12 years ago when Erin and I were studying at UCIrvine together. She was a very vivacious woman and it is hard to believe that she is no longer with us.

I wish peace, love, and healing to her surviving family.




Miriel Ring-Roberts
RING-ROBERTS, MIRIEL Born Miriel Mary McCall on February 16, 1921 in Denver, CO. Except for the few weeks following birth she lived in the state of California all her life. She moved to Beaumont, CA in 1954. She was active in the School PTA's during her children's school years and she was a charter member of the Pass Players. She worked for five years as secretary for Beaumont Presbyterian Church and she worked for 25 years as an administrative assistant for the Beaumont Library. She was active in the community, a member of the Beaumont Women's Club and a board member of the Laura May Stewart Foundation. She was an avid bridge player and belonged to the Inland Valley Duplicate Bridge Unit #534. She is survived by her husband, Morgan Roberts; her sister, Peggy Fought of La Crescenta, CA; her daughters, Connie Ring of Beaumont and Rexanne Ring of S. Lake Tahoe, CA; her granddaughter, Erin Ring-Howell of Stamford, CT; and her great-granddaughter Rhianna Ring-Howell of Stamford, CT. She is preceded in death by her husband Rex C. Ring. Mrs. Ring-Roberts passed away in her home on October 6, 2006. The memorial service will be held at Beaumont Presbyterian Church on Thursday, October 12, 2006 at 4:30 pm. Banning (951)849-4527



Published in the Press-Enterprise on 10/11/2006.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tax Day

not American taxes... Russian. Our tax bill went to Alexei's mother's house in the city of Maikop. She paid them for us because any delay could cause additional penalties. Lena brought over all the receipts for the payments her mother in law made. And I gave her money in return. The bill was a grand total of:

307.00 RUB

307 Russia Rubles = 11.3940 USD


I paid 11.39 in taxes for the year on our apartment. How many of you would like that for property taxes?!

Lena stressed several times how important it is to keep the receipts because it is common to get more than one bill for the same year. And we must be able to prove that we already paid it. This happened to the church property. They paid a penalty double the taxes because the paperwork was misplaced.


Alexei is registered as a citizen in Maikop and that is why our paperwork went there. It went to the address of his registration. He is registered here in Krasnodar only for medical services. Before the purchase of our apartment he had to go to Maikop for medical care and Lena had to go back to Ukraine. Since we purchased the apartment they were able to get medical services here. If you live in a city other than the one you are registered in you cannot qualify for medical services and other benefits unless you own property. We had other couples ask us if our apartment could be purchased in their name. However, since Alexei and Lena are our ministry partners we choose them.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

shoes

Sometimes the interesting thing about watching people is the unexpected things that you notice. In the past the day to day uniform that people wore included either black or brown shoes. Today I saw many different colors adorning the women's feet here.

gold high heels
blue leather
purple plastic flip flops
sandals with straps that wrap around the leg
stillettos in various colors

However, the highlight was a little girl in her school uniform:
white blouse
black skirt
pink hair ribbons

with
pink patent leather tap shoes.

She was a cutie!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

who killed???

We found a few documentaries from BBC Timewatch:

Who Killed Rasputin?
Who Killed Stalin?
Who Killed Ivan the Terrible?

If you enjoy "who dunnits" and history you will enjoy these shows!http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0273026/episodes#season-2

Monday, October 09, 2006

What is on TV?

We have been watching a few new movies:

The Mistress of Spices
The Road to 9/11
Les Miserables in Concert

and each day Nathan, Spencer and I have been watching a TV series that Nathan's friend Trevor sent him.

Dr. Who

Nathan chose not to watch the 9/11 show with us. I don't blame him... it originally happened on his first day of highschool. Tom and I thought it was very interesting. They did a good job of taking you through the journey of events leading up to the tragic day and they did not dwell on the footage that we are overly familiar with.

Les Miserables in Concert is stunning to watch. The music is superb!

The Mistress of Spices gets mixed reviews from our family. I enjoyed it while Tom thought it was predictable.

Dr. Who is a long running series that started over 40 years ago and was recently brought back to the tv on BBC. It is clever, weird and funny. If you have access to BBC give it a try!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Serenity Prayer in Russian

Tom got a copy of the Serenity prayer in Russian at his AA meeting last night. We have been trying to find it online with no success. Now it is there for anyone who is interested in learning it.

you can find it here:
http://www.sharps4russianrecovery.com/index.cfm?id=6291&fuseaction=browse&pageid=48


If you have never heard of it here it is in English:

Serenity Prayer (short version in English)
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.
Amen!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Russian Grammar

Today Sasha Rajobov came over to help me with grammar. I missed a few lessons while we were in Ukraine and needed to catch up. She was explaining:

В always goes with ИЗ

НА always goes with С

К always goes with ОТ


В ИЗ НА С К ОТ if you put the letters together they spell "Business Cat". At least that is how Tom remembers it and he shared that with his class. One of his classmates told that to Sasha... so she asked me if I was familiar with it. Tom asked her where she heard about it and she told him. Anyway, after an hour with Sasha I know how to say who I am going to see and where I am coming from or to afterwards. Oh I could say it before but now it will be grammatically correct!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Al-Anon Literature in Russian






Both of these books are available in Russian. The One Day at A Time Daily Reader is 12.00 and is invaluable! I read from it regularly.
The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage is great too and is 7.00
It would be exciting if there are Al-Anon groups who would like to purchase literature for starting a group here. Let me know if you are interested!
You can see a list of all of the available literature on the World Service website:
Thanks for letting me share!

Teacher's Day


Yesterday Spencer got a phone call from Mari at school about giving the teachers gifts today. I only go to school on Monday and Wednesday so I picked up a very cute flower arrangement for Marina yesterday. She was so exicted. It was a complete surprised to her and the flowers that I bought matched her outfit!

Tom went into school today with a gift for Madina. He took in some white chocolates and she immediately hid them under her desk... Tom said there was no opening it up and sharing!

So here's to Madina, Marina, Arina, Dima, Goar, Tania and Tania:

Happy Teacher's Day! You all are great!


I guess we missed Columbus Day. Not being in America means we miss out on celebrating American holidays. I was chatting online with a friend about 4th of July. I would love to be in America for the 4th of July but it was a blast to be here in Russia for New Year's! It was unlike anything we had ever experienced!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Recent Events

A young man, around college age, boarded the bus today wearing a shirt that said on the back:

Supreme Authority

and on the front:
FBI
KGB


Interesting, huh?

Tonight Tom and I went to a party where we met 4 people who are here from a church in Oregon. They shared their testimonies and talked about how they serve their home churches and communities. Jeff, Bruce, Diane and Mindy all had different stories but they each had a story that others could relate too.

Lena, Alexei, Valera and Andrei also shared their testimonies. What stuck me the most were some of the commonalities between Lena's testimony and Mindy's. Both of them grew up in Christian homes with loving parents and were persecuted for faith while attending school growing up. 4 of the men shared stories that included alcohol and/or drugs. Some things are the same no matter where you are in the world!

One interesting cultural observation that Mindy commented on was about when the plane landed in Moscow. Everyone clapped! My thought on that is that it is not just a Russian thing but a European thing. It happened when I landed in Italy too. I saw it as a sign of being grateful that we landed safely!

Last night we had a meeting that was very serious and very long... It involved pulling together a treatment plan for someone here who is wanting to get sober. Tom was explaining about how serotonin works in the brain and Joy was translating for him. It was getting late and everyone was tired. Joy mistakenly said serotonin in Moscow instead of serotonin in the brain. In the brain is "V Mosgeh" and in Moscow is "V Moskveh". It took a few minutes to get back to the seriousness of the meeting because we had to wait for everyone to stop laughing!

At the meeting last night one of the men was telling a story about several years ago... it involved going out to the garage with a friend to have some beers. One of the other men shared that for many Russian men the garage is a "Russian Mecca". All the men go there to drink and relax with friends at some point in their life!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

thoughts about Sunday

Since it was Communion Sunday we also had an open microphone time. It was interesting to hear testimonies and be able to understand most of them.

One of the girls who was to be baptised on Saturday has parents who do not want her coming to church. She didn't come to our church after the big Seeker camp that was held this summer near the Black Sea. She choose another church because they had an evening service that she could attend. Her parents thought that churches only meet in the day time. So they had no idea she was attending!

Sasha (Volodya and Lena's oldest daughter) shared a story about eating macaroni for a more than a week. She lives with another girl from the church. They both work and go to college but they were very low on money. They were excited when there were invited to eat with someone from church and guess what was served...MACARONI! Finally, one of the girls was given some money and was able to buy some food. They were grateful to God for that provision. As I listened to her talk I thought of when Nathan was little and how we made it to the end of the month and didn't know where food was going to come from. We would go to church hungry and get invited to someone's home for lunch. It is great when you see God's hand at work like that!

Monday, October 02, 2006

looking for something new!

Pumpkin
Flax
Olive
Corn
Sunflower
Grape
Walnut
What do these things have in common? They are all oils that I found today at the supermarket. I was looking for coconut oil. I got an email from a friend telling me about the health benefits of coconut oil. There are health benefits in these other oils as well. I may go back and get the pumpkin oil. Partly out of curiousity and partly because I read about how good it is!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Communion Sunday

For over a year we have been taking grape juice to church on Communion Sunday. The practice here in Russia is to use real wine. We go to church with several alcoholics (Tom and Alexei included) and we asked for this to change. We were told that it was possible that we would be the only ones who want juice so we would have to provide our own.

Each month we noticed that more and more people were choosing the juice instead of the wine. Yesterday, I remembered that today was the first Sunday of the month so I purchased two containers of grape juice for the service... we took them with us to church this morning. Tom was told that they were not needed because juice had already been purchased by the church secretary!

The juice and wine are put on separate serving trays and of course you can smell the difference between the two. Once again the juice tray was the first one empty! (The people who requested it were served first)

Today Tom, Alexei and Valentin were called up front to bless and serve communion. This was the first time Tom was called up front to help serve. Usually, Volodya will just call on the Russian men to help. Don't ever think that just because "it has always been done this way" that people are not open to change. Our pastoral staff just needed to see the needs and the desires of the people!