Wednesday, February 28, 2007

keeping in touch

I have written before about the joy of email. Today I was excited to hear from Zhenya. She oversees the Women's Department at the BLTC. It was great to hear from her and feel connected to the women there in Krasnodar while we are away for a bit. It is interesting that while in Russia, Zhenya and I communicate in Russian. My Juno account won't accept Russian letters so I have to write in English... thankfully, Zhenya is fluent in English!

Please pray for the upcoming session in April... I know that the women who will attend are going to be blessed and will bond even more with one another.

Spencer and I went out to find a "pay as you go" phone. We found several at Walmart and then started thinking of how we could have a cell phone here in the states and still say money. We decided to check out buying a SIM card for my Russian cell phone. As long as you have an "unlocked" cell phone it should work anywhere you travel. At Cingular the SIM card was free and all I had to pay for was the minutes.

Now I need to go to Radio Shack and see about a converter to be able to plug in my phone charger... it has a European outlet!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Nathan can build

Nathan put together his new desk for his room! He said he wanted to do it all by himself and then wanted to know why I was not in there taking pictures because as he said "you love this kind of stuff" I do love to record our family milestones... I was just trying not to get in the way!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Watching the Oscars

Jennifer Hudson quote from her acceptance speech:

"Oh my God, I have to just take this moment in. I cannot believe this. Look what God can do. I didn't think I was going to win," Hudson said through tears of joy. "If my grandmother was here to see me now. She was my biggest inspiration."

To hear Jennifer give her speech was a highlight for me. I pray that she continually holds onto God as she has so far... her roots in the church and her faith run deep.

She can give a testimony to young women that is powerful. She didn't win American Idol like she wanted... yet two years later she is an Oscar winner! Only God knew that was part of the plan for her life. She kept on working and doing what she felt called to do. And though she did not get the accolades she wanted from American Idol her Oscar win leaves no doubt about the gifts God has given to this incredible sister in the Lord.

Let Jennifer's win inspire you to keep on going after a defeat or disappointment... you never know where it might lead!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

interesting article

Court Rejects Russian Schoolgirls’ Lawsuit Against Darwin Theory


A Russian court on Wednesday threw out a lawsuit brought by a 16-year-old student who said that being taught the theory of evolution in school violated her rights and insulted her religious beliefs, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Kirill Shreiber, whose daughter Maria’s complaint had prompted the suit in December, said he had expected the decision by the St. Petersburg’s Admiralty District Court, and promised to appeal the decision.

“Our task remains the same: to dethrone Darwin’s theory. People should not eternally believe in the complete nonsense of Darwinism,” Shreiber told The Associated Press. “Man is the result of God’s creation, and many scientists share this point of view.”

The court judge announced the verdict in a short hearing, and said an explanation for the ruling would be released later.

Maria Shreiber claimed the 10th-grade biology textbook used at the Cervantes Gymnasium was offensive to believers and that teachers should offer an alternative to Darwin’s famous theory. Her father told the AP that she dropped out of school at the beginning of January, after receiving low grades that he blamed on teachers who were prejudiced against her.

She now works in the Dominican Republic at a tourist company he declined to identify.

The suit was the first of its kind in Russia.

In the United States, several lawsuits have been filed challenging Charles Darwin’s theory that says humans descended from apes. Many anti-evolution groups have pushed an idea known as “intelligent design,” which states that living organisms are so complex they must have been created by some kind of higher force.

Friday, February 23, 2007

first impressions

Our first impressions being back in the states after two years in Russia:

*there are too many choices in the stores

*people are speaking a language we completely understand

*people give each other more personal space than we are used to... there were a lot of empty seats on the shuttle bus to the plane and people stood far apart.

*there are too many choices in the stores!

In Vienna at the airport we were able to purchase magazines and books in English. Then at the airport in D.C. there were two Borders Stores. There were two Starbucks.

The Passport control in D.C. was not any faster than in Moscow and only slightly more organized. The workers were just as sarcastic with people!

Walmart is huge... Borders and Starbucks are everywhere!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

travel time

Tim picked us at 2:15am. Our flight left at 4:55am. We left Russia on February 22nd and we lost 14 hours as we traveled. We have been traveling for 28 hours... Tom says that this is the longest day of his life!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

tickets are here!

Our tickets arrived by DHL yesterday. We are almost packed and ready to go. It is not easy to pack for four months. We know that we will be purchasing things in the states. But, planning what to wear in the cold and also in the heat of summer is tough. Gathering up school supplies so that we can study while we are gone is also a priority... part of the bulk in my suitcase is our lessons!

We have a 24 hour journey ahead of us:
Krasnodar to Vienna, Vienna to Washington D.C., Washington D.C to Albuquerque

Each of us hopes to pick up some reading material in Vienna. They have several stores where you can buy magazines and books in English.

Please pray for us on our journey back to the states and for Goar and Katya as they stay here and take care of our home!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

russian cuisine update

I got an email this morning from Russian Cuisine. It describes a fascinaing week long holiday that is celebrated here in Russia. If you ever get the chance to see the movie "Siberian Barber" there is a scene that shows the festival there as well.

Pancake week
The first day of the Pancake week is called "Meeting". The people of one village went to visit those from another one and to show themselves. People gathered at highlands and ice hills. The fire was made and pancake songs were heard far away from the holiday place.

The second day is called "Play beginning". The main show is the noisy and merry siege of snow fortresses, horse race and other joyful competitions. Masked people "Riajenyi" were walking around a village singing funny songs and greeting Maslenitsa. Maslenitsa can be a simple straw sheaf that was decorated little by little while visiting different houses.

The third day is "Sweet tooth" (Lakomka). All the village ate blini (pancakes) with such delight you can't imagine. Sour cream, butter and strawberry jam was kept on a large table right in the center of the village. The mother-in-law invited her son-in-law and daughter to be treated with her most delicious blinis. Everyone praised his blinis. Pot with pancakes was with you all the time and every neighbor was treated with your mouth watering "golden suns".

The fourth day was named "Large Thursday". The revival of sunny days was celebrated by our greatparents. At the same tine Maslenitsa sheaf was left on the hill and everyone added more straw to it. The fifth day is "Mother-in-law's evenings". Just married couples treated with blinis their parents. And kids had fun on ice hills.

The sixth day is the "daughter-in-law's parties". Young daughters-in-laws welcomed all the husband's relatives. The good cheer was accompanied by gifts and warm words. From this time on, the daughter-in-law became an equal family member. This holiday serves as a pretext to find peace of mind with everything and everyone. And at the end, late in the evening, Maslenitsa farewell was celebrated, the fire was set and Maslenitsa was burnt. Bye. bye, Maslenitsa!

The seventh day of Maslenitsa is the "Forgiven Sunday". You should beg pardon to each other for any hurt feelings. Don't forget about this wonderful tradition.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Nathan Goes Away Party

This is Nathan

This is Nathan playing Twister

This is Nathan watching Hannah spin the dial

Where is Nathan? This is a Going Away Party... Nathan has gone into the other room!

We had great food, great friends and a great time! Nathan was celebrated and prayed over and questioned about his plans for the future. We are grateful to Joy for pulling it all together. And we are thankful for each guest that came out to see Nathan off on his new life adventure!
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Imagine sitting through a two hour service entirely in Russian when the only words you know how to say are "thank you" and "hello". Two years ago when we first arrived we needed a translator with us everywhere we went.

*Today in church the songs, the prayer requests and the sermon were all understood. Yes, we still have words that we make note of to look up after the service... that will always happen.

*Spencer gave a birthday card to Valentin and he wrote out the greeting himself in Russian.

* Nathan had a friend pass him a note about his going away party he was able to write back and forth in Russian... hmmm, I am giving him a compliment regarding something he should not have been doing!

Thank God for how far we have come over the course of two years!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Russian Al Anon materials arrive!

We finally have the materials that my home group from California sent! We are excited that the new group can move ahead and start meeting... and yes, since we are on our way back to the states soon they will begin without me but that is okay.
This package was sent out in November and just reached us on Thursday!

packing and cleaning

Today was not much fun... we were cleaning and packing and packing and cleaning. Goar and Katya are coming over on Saturday to check out the apartment. They will live here and take care of the place while we are gone for a few months. Goar is one of our teachers and Katya is the former roommate of another teacher... plus she is a househelper for Tim and Joy so it feels safe to us to have these young women stay in our home. They need to learn things like; how to use the washing machine and how to turn on the TV and DVD player.

Spencer's room is all cleaned out. He has changed his furniture around and it looks a lot bigger than before. Nathan gave a piece of furniture from his room over to Spencer and now Nathan's room looks bigger too.

Tom and I have Nathan's boxes in our room. The guys worked again today to pack and weigh boxes. The plan is to pack his boxes in our suitcases to bring Nathan's stuff back to America.

The reality is setting in for each of us that we are actually leaving next week and it feels as if there is so much to be done!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tom's turn

Tom fed Yanna when she was here on Tuesday. It was my turn to take the photos! Yanna is five months old and heaven knows what she will be able to do when we get back here... right now her favorite trick is turning over. By the time we return in July it will be sitting up by herself or something very grown up like that! Valentine and Sveta's little girl will be a year old by then and another young couple at church will have had their first baby. Life goes on!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentines Day!

We wish you love, laughter and the ability to listen to one another!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Nathan's moving day

Nathan taking inventory on his belongings

Spencer and Tom helping Nathan pack

We finally can say that we have tickets purchased for our trip to America.

We were advised not to miss out on a major transition for one of our children... so that means we are all coming back to help Nathan get settled into his new life. He is very eager to learn to drive, his driving lessons were interrupted with the move here. He is ready to get a job and make some money for himself, he didn't have an opportunity here in Russia to work for pay.

We are supporting Nathan in this new phase of his life as much as we can or as he wants us too... although it is not easy for me as a mom but I clearly recognise that I cannot keep them little and dependent on me forever!

Monday, February 12, 2007

writings on the wall

graffiti is showing up all over town in various languages... we saw this on a garage near a friends house in a different region. In our region the Apple Crew is tagging everything in sight.
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Sunday, February 11, 2007

60 years young!

Celebrating is one thing that we all love to do! One of our Social Ministries team members turned 60 this weekend and we all got together to celebrate! Tom M. is an inspiration to us all. He has been studying Russian at the same school we attend and he did all of the speaking at his party yesterday in Russian... it gives us young ones hope!
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Speaking of parties...
if you notice in the side bar there is a notice about The Ultimate Blog Party!
March 2-9th. I hope that you decide to check it out and see who participates. I'll be there!

Friday, February 09, 2007

beth moore and anna nicole

Two women completely unrelated surprised me on Friday. I woke up and got online only to find out that Anna Nicole Smith was dead. Knowing that she was only 39 years old and had a baby girl the same age as my neighbors daughter that I spend so much time with knocked the wind out of me.

During the same internet session I had logged onto someones blog and discovered that Beth Moore has a blog. Reading her and her daughter's posts about Anna Nicole helped me make sense out of how I felt. I did feel Anna's brokenness. Tom and I have discussed some of her emotional wounds. I see young women here and am reminded that women around the globe are using their bodies to give them a sense of power. These young ladies end up showing the world how vulnerable they are instead. Like Beth Moore said in her post:

"Anna Nicole Smith publicly fought and lost the same battle of insecurity that you and I privately fight. Had we had money, access, and opportunity, no telling what lengths we might have traveled to feel a little better about our broken selves. "

I pray for all the Anna Nicole's here in Russia and around the world. She made the news here today... how many young girls are yearning to look like her or be famous like her and will go to any lengths to try and get it? There has to be a better way to fill the hole in the souls of these women. May all who seek come to find the One who can make us whole!

Thursday, February 08, 2007


He fell to the floor with a loud thud, a few people turned around to look. One man helped him up, gently setting him down in the rear of the bus. A kind old babushka picked up his hat, handed it to him and went back to her seat. One or two passengers in front of me turned to peek at the drunken man then turned around as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

The pretty, young cashier was highly agitated with the man at her counter. He asked her questions that had nothing to do with making his purchase... and she was in no mood to small talk with him. He reeked of alcohol. He slurred his speech. She rang up his groceries, put them in a bag, laid his change down in front of him and started to wait on me all without a word. As he left the store, the cashiers closest to her began to laugh. One of them commented on being able to breathe again.

Everyday, we see people who drink too much. Everyday we see people affected by those who drink too much. Everyday we pray for those around us to realize that only a Power greater than themselves can help them stop drinking.

babies and stuff

Taking care of a 5 month old is exciting, draining and fulfilling. Each time I get a chance to care for Olya's daughter Yanna is a complete joy.

Yesterday Yanna was here all day. She took two naps and Olya had to wake her up to take her home. Olya and Volva had errands to run so Yanna stayed with us and they took Ira with them. Ira was not thrilled about that arrangement she wanted to be with Uncle Tom and Aunt Alida too!

Afterwards, Olya and Tom went over to the store where he jewelry was being sold to check on the inventory. Tom took back all the items he had for sale over there... it appears that the location of the store may be changing as the owner of the building may be tearing it down to build something else. Tom still has pieces at Garmonia (Harmony) Bible Store here in town.

We heard that our ministry partners out at the rehab center are new grandparents. Mother and baby are doing well. Angelina was born five minutes after her mom got to the birthing house. She is 47 centimeters long and 2.5 kilos.

All has been quiet on the southern Russia front this morning. Spencer is at school. Nathan and Tom are still asleep and I thought I would pop online to read the news and decided to stop off here as well.

I hope you have a great day!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Read All About It!

Opening up email is one of the highlights of my day. It is exciting to see who is thinking of us, what is going on in the world, read my online magazines or Bible study. After all, we rarely get letters in our mailbox here... not even junk mail!
That means that opening email for us is like you opening your mailbox!

I received an email from Black Purl Magazine saying that my Pray and Crochet blog is the featured blog right now. Seeing our family photo was quite a thrill. Please check out the magazine when you get a chance! There are great articles on various crafts and patterns are also available.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

totally blessed

A clean refrigerator done by Olya

Dinner prepared by Tom

Dessert prepared by Spencer

being able to come home and not have anything that I had to do.... priceless!

Monday, February 05, 2007

New CD's

Nathan made individual Cd's for each one of us. The one he made for me brought me to tears. It has different kinds of music on it. Classical, Rap, Show tunes, Video Game music and more. It is all music that he listens to that he thought I might enjoy. Tom and Spencer each have one tailored to their personalities and what Nathan wanted them to remember about him.

We sat and listened to mine together... the song that brought me to tears is from The Little Mermaid. It is "Kiss the Girl". It is one of my favorite songs from that movie. I sat there remembering that this was the first movie we ever saw together in the theatre. He was three when the movie came out and he absolutely loved being big enough to go and see a real movie!

Where did the years go? How does he know each of us so well?

His gift is one that I will cherish always!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Front Door

Walking home in the snow after church, I was cranky because I knew that I had a meal to prepare and not much time to get it done. I was not thrilled that Tom had invited someone over right after church. I love having guests... I just like having some down time after church.

Our dinner guest today was someone from Tom’s AA meeting. This person has been sober for 2 ½ years and had many questions about why we are here. We were asked about church and if it would be okay to attend. Now that there is an AA meeting at the church, there may be others who will be interested in the church. Not all churches here are supportive of 12-step recovery. Yet, as I recall the words Rich Buhler spoke at our Fundraising Auction in California, I realize how true they are. He said, “12 step ministry is the front door of evangelism”.

I am glad that we were all in the kitchen while I cooked. I can look back and think about what a special time that was. The kitchen is an important place in Russian culture. We shared pictures, food, tea and laughs and it was wonderful to get to know this person a little better.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Old Soviet Bus Stop

If you want to see more of these check this link:
Thanks Misty for posting about this... Tom and I got a kick out of seeing them.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Baby abuse alleged at Russian hospital

Please keep these items in your prayers...

Baby abuse alleged at Russian hospital

By MIKE ECKEL, Associated Press Writer
Thu Feb 1, 11:11 AM ET

Prosecutors said Thursday they are investigating allegations that workers at a central Russian hospital taped infants' mouths shut to keep them from crying, in a scandal that has sparked widespread outrage.

In a second incident, prosecutors in the Far Eastern city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk said they had opened a criminal probe at a kindergarten where an employee gave unauthorized injection to children to help them sleep. According to some news accounts, all or some of the babies were orphans.

The alleged mouth-taping at Hospital No. 15 in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg, about 900 miles east of Moscow, has received wide coverage in the Russian media.

According to a statement posted on the prosecutor general's Web site, investigators found that hospital workers allegedly used tape or adhesive bandages to shut the mouths of infants on several occasions to quiet them.

Regional prosecutors were conducting a criminal probe into whether hospital workers could be charged with dereliction of duty or child abuse, the statement said. It was unclear when or if charges would be filed.

Earlier this week, Russian TV broadcast video reportedly taken with a cell phone that showed a crib with sleeping baby who appeared to have a pacifier taped to its mouth.The Interfax news agency on Tuesday reported that Yekaterinburg city health officials had reprimanded the hospital's chief doctor and its chief nurse.

Russia's health and welfare institutions — including hospitals and orphanages — fell into disrepair after the Soviet collapse as government funding dried up. Though government revenues have risen with world oil prices, many welfare institutions remain woefully neglected, as often as not victims of corrupt officials, and employees are often paid miserly wages. In Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, on the Pacific island of Sakhalin, regional prosecutor Tatyana Kutuzova said that investigators had opened a criminal probe into whether a worker injected children to calm them down or to help them sleep.

She told the NTV television network that the worker lacked the necessary training and qualifications and should not have been working in the kindergarten.Lyubov Kuritsina, a regional education official, said the worker had been fired.

In another recent incident that caused widespread shock, an infant in southern Russia had to have her arm amputated after an injection for a routine illness caused a blood infection.

***** just a note on the article*****
This last children's hospital mentioned is the one here in Krasnodar where Ira spent last week. It is in horrible condition according to Olya. And although there had been a news story announcing the scandal and claiming that the head doctor had been fired... he was in fact quietly rehired.

giving directions

Today there was a women’s luncheon for students from the language school. The women have been getting together once a month since last year. This luncheon was the last time that Ann would be there. Ann and I decided that if it were going to take two buses to get there we would share a taxi.

My job was to have a taxi pick me up, go to her house and finally to the restaurant. I know there is a motion verb “to pick up” or “to stop by”. I could not find exactly what I was looking for in our 501 Verb Book. I decided to explain to him what I needed to do. I told the driver that I needed to meet my friend at her house first and then go to a restaurant. I gave him Ann’s address and we took off. When we got to Ann’s building, he asked me which entrance. I answered him using a feminine ending for “second” and I should have used a masculine ending because the word for entrance is masculine. I corrected myself and then apologized to him for my Russian. He told me that he did not speak any English at all. He assured me that no matter what I wanted to say to him as long as it was in Russian he would understand! And he did. We did not have the exact address for the restaurant but knew about where it was. We made one wrong turn and had to double back but we got there.

I appreciate that the people we meet here are grateful that we try to speak in Russian with them even when it is not perfect. Every now and then, you might get an impatience cashier but for the most part people are patient and understanding.