Sunday, September 30, 2007

catching up

Sunday, September 30, 2007

We have been caught up in many activities since I last wrote:

We still have guests here
Spencer is healing nicely and is back at work
our classmate's wife had their baby
we had Valodia and his family over for lunch after church today
this weekend was the 214th birthday of our city
we had a few days with no hot water
today's church service was great

We have another busy week ahead of us and I will try to write when I can!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Spencer on the mend

Thursday, September 26, 2007

Spencer had an accident yesterday... he was running home to make sure that he got Chuck and Vicky to their meeting on time and he ran into a metal post. He cut his leg. He limped home, got them to their meeting and then came back home and crashed.

He didn't want to get stitches. He cleaned it out really well and we got him bandaged up. He is walking fine and is doing much better today. He stayed home from school to rest and so did Tom.

Tom was tired from school and from two meetings back to back. Since I was in class by myself today I only had to be in school for an hour and a half.

We took Chuck and Vicky over to see the Orthodox Church and do a little shopping. Sasha came over to help us with our lessons and I was also able to convince her to eat dinner with us as well.

Please keep Tom and Spencer both in your prayers!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

another day in Russia!

Wednesday, September 25, 2007

Our days have been full and our brains are overloaded!

Yesterday morning Sasha came over to help us Tom and I write out in Russian a presentation we had to do for class. We had to present a Bible verse in Russian and then explain the verse. We were on the topic of gossip. We also had to tell a story about ourselves that we heard from someone else. It went well as Goar was able to understand the stories we all told.

We took Chuck & Vicky to school with us, then right after class they went with Jason to help out with his English class in another part of town. It was good for them to experience being in a foreign language class and then in a class where they understood every word from the teacher’s mouth.

When we left our school it was pouring down rain! I didn’t have an umbrella because when I left home earlier in the day it looked like it would be sunny. I made it most of the way home before stopping to buy an umbrella. I stopped into a small local store not far from the bus stop. The sales girl laughed at herself when she was doing her sales pitch… she realized that it didn’t matter if I had a pretty umbrella or not, she focused instead on telling me how strong it was, which was good because it was coming down pretty hard!

Monday, September 24, 2007

back to school

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Yesterday was a back to school day for Tom and I. Spencer served as an excellent tour guide for our guests.

He took them to our large mall here in the city and they were able to eat at the only McDonalds here in the city. Coming home on the bus they were speaking to one another in english and were over heard by a young Russian man who had recently returened from a four month period in America as an international student. He asked for a recommendation for a church... it will be interesting to see if he turns up on Sunday.

Lena and Alexei

Monday, September 24, 2007

Yesterday after church Tom, Chuck, Vicky and I had the opportunity to go over to see Lena and Alexei’s new apartment. It is about 3 kilometers from the mall that we shop at called Krasnaya Ploshad.

Serene, quiet, fresh air, few neighbors… it is a great location to begin a new region. There is still construction taking place all around their building, they are the first ones to move in. Single family homes and two apartments buildings should bring over 200 new people to the neighborhood when construction is complete.

Alexei and Lena have one large room with a balcony that extends the full length of the apartment. You can walk down the hall to the bathroom and turn the corner and you are now in the kitchen, where a walk to the other end of the balcony would take you back into the large front room.

The walls and floors are still cement, there is no running water yet and most of their belongings are still in boxes. In spite of all that, Lena had cold drinks for us all following the 15 minute walk to their place after getting off a hot, bumpy marshutka ride. She followed the cold water with tea and cake. I helped her with the dishes and getting things set up for tea and while we were doing that she apologized for not having a sink… I reminded her that she helped me wash the dishes at my apartment in the bathtub after we moved into our place; we did that for two months before her brother installed my kitchen sink!

We are very excited for Lena and Alexei and we believe that they made the best choice of location for their first purchase, as our city begins to develop, the area they have chosen is slated to become the center of town.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

10 year anniversary!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Church of the Open Door is celebrating it 10th anniversary as a church!

We had a great time today with a picnic, swimming, volleyball, and so much more! I posted just a taste of my photos because I am really tired after a long day in the forest.

Everyone brought food and we laid it all out together and shared everything with one another. I took a salad, some Edam and Cheddar cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, granny smith apples and trail mix. Everything was a hit especially the trail mix... I took a large container full and it was all gone before the meal was over.

Chuck and Vicky, our guests, and new friends visiting from Henderson Hills Church in Oklahoma, brought some marshmallows and it was a first for many of the children and the grown ups as well. Some ate them plain and some were roasted over the fire. We went through two bags and they wanted more!

We were near the river in a city called Gariachi Klutch, Gariachi is pronounced like mariachi! In English that means "hot key" the forest area is up in the mountains. And it was well worth the hour chartered bus ride to get there!

Friday, September 21, 2007

busy, busy, busy

Friday, September 21, 2007

Today we have guests coming in from the US, we have a meeting with Joe W. from East-West, this is the 10th anniversary of our church and we as a whole church are going to spend the day in the forest on Saturday, and we have church on Sunday after church, Alexei and Lena want us to come out and see their apartment afterward....

That made me tired just to type it all out!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

to sleep or not to sleep!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tom is laying down to rest before we leave for school… he is still feeling the after affects of his surgery. It is taxing for him to do more than one thing a day.

Tom now has the church key and is responsible for locking up after the AA meeting on Wednesday night. That meant that yesterday was a long day for him. He had school from 1:30 to 5 and then we came home ate dinner and he had to be at the church at 7. He came home after 9 and was pretty wiped out.

Spencer is also feeling the affects of working long days. He is up each morning at 6am to do his home school assignments. Then on Monday and Wednesday he needs to be at work at 9:35 am and on Friday at 9am at KIS, the new international school here. He is helping out with the pre-kindergarten class. When he finishes work at KIS he has to get over to New View Language School for our Russian lessons. He yawns a lot but does not want to quit any of the things he is involved in.

I just hope he is not taking on his brother Nathan’s philosophy… “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

That is so unlike their dad… even before he had surgery his favorite part of the day was nap time!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

tale of the butter dish

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

For the past two years our housekeeper Olya, has been sticking the butter dish in the fridge when she comes over.

We would try to hide it from her and we tried to explain that we liked the butter to be soft and not hard.

Finally, last week I wrote a note in Russian and placed it on top of the butter dish. It was a simple note all it said was; "Please, do not place in the refrigerator, Thank You".

Olya had been in the kitchen for awhile working and she told me that she had placed her hand on the dish to put it away, and realized there was a note and brought it to the living room to show me. She asked if the note was for her. I said yes! She asked why we like to leave it out and I explained once again that we like the butter to be soft for toast. Olya said that she kept putting it in the fridge because she thought we were just so busy we were "forgetting" to put it away!

We were able to laugh about it and now the butter dish can sit peacefully on the counter until we are ready to use it.

Her sister in law Lena, saw the note when she and Alexei were here for lunch on Sunday and:

#1 told me that I did a good job writing it... it was grammatically correct
#2 that it is an old Russian mentality to always keep butter in the fridge.

She said that butter used to not last for more than three days outside of the fridge so they were always careful to only keep it out when needed.

so there you have it... the tale of the butter dish!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

news flash

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The weekend ended and we expected to be without hot water once again... but it is still on! I hope it lasts while our guests are here. They get in tomorrow and it would not be fun for them to have to take a cold shower after such a long flight!

Monday, September 17, 2007

langauge acquisition

Monday, September 17, 2007

We had a leadership meeting at church tonight, Tom didn't make it to the meeting because he needed to rest after spending the afternoon in class.

It is still difficult to sit through a long meeting in Russian when there is still so much I don't understand. Of course I had a general understanding of what was being discussed but now and then words were used that I didn't know. I could hire a translator but the danger in that is becoming dependent on having things translated for me.

At one point in the meeting Tim asked me if I wanted to share my desires for the church... I appreciated that. And yet, I felt like I was working so hard to understand the discussion that I didn't have the energy to formulate my own thoughts on the subject.

I called Joy after I got home and told her how I felt about the meeting, she told me that there are four steps in languge acquisition:

1) the ability to Understand
2) the ability to Read
3) the ability to Write
4) the ability to Speak

I felt encouraged after that conversation. I know that two years ago I could not have sat through a two hour meeting period. Tonight I understood about 75% of what was going on. It is easier to comprehend one person at a time then it is a large group!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

lunch with friends!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

We had our friends Lena and Alexei over for lunch today after church. I am so glad that we did. I didn’t realize how long it had been since the four of us had been together.

For lunch we had a shrimp salad that I made last night.

1 package frozen shrimp
1 package frozen broccoli
¼ cup pine nuts
1 T. butter
6 cups of macaroni, cooked
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 ½ T. fresh dill, diced
Mayonnaise according to your taste

After cooking the macaroni I combined the pine nuts, shrimp, dill, cream cheese and butter in a pan and cooked it until all the butter and cream cheese melted. I poured that mixture over the macaroni and then added the frozen broccoli. I mixed it all together and put it in a bowl in the fridge. You can add the mayonnaise just before serving. I put it to the side so each person could add as much or little as they wanted. I served it with some fresh veggies that I sliced after church.

Alexei was so happy at how “healthy” our lunch was. I was happy that it all tasted good and that they ate quite a bit.

They asked how our studies were going at school. I mentioned that on Wednesday we learned the word “КОТОРЫЙ” (kahtory). This means ‘which” or “who”. I told them that I had typed out all of the ways that word changes (declines) and it added up to 36. Lena didn’t think that was possible. So I showed it to her. Words change based on gender and number. In Russian a word is masculine, feminine, neuter or plural. Each noun and adjective can also decline that many times…. Can you imagine how hard this language is to learn?! Especially for those of us who don’t enjoy studying grammar!?

After that Alexei kept working in the word ‘katory” into the conversation. He would say things like “Lena drank tea which she tried for the first time” or “there was this man who I met the other day...”

If you had the chance to meet Alexei you would know that he has quite the sense of humor and he can keep up with Tom pretty well!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

moving day

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Spencer and I helped the Parhomenko's move today. It was an interesting cultural experience.

Apparently, women and teenagers are not allowed to lift heavy things. I am not sure of the exact reason why, but it seems we are more at risk to injure our spines.

Spencer picked up a box that Lena knew was really heavy and she had already told him four times not to lift the heavy ones... since he didn't listen to her she punched him in the arm! I told Spencer "she has 5 brothers, remember!".

I was allowed to help clean the apartment. I did the kitchen, bathroom, all the windows and then I dusted. Lena was doing all the rest. We started at eleven and finished at one. I had planned to go shopping with Tom but as I was walking home I decided to stop and get some fruit and veggies at the outdoor market...I started walking slower and slower, I finally realized how tired I was after working so hard!

Spencer had invited Seth over and now he, Seth and Vlad are listening to music. They played basketball for a bit and they all seemed wiped out!

***Congratulations to Erin and James on the birth of their second daughter!

Elysia Joy

Sept. 14th 2007
6:05 am
8lbs 8 oz

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday, September, 14, 2007

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Cars have been speeding through our neighborhood this week due to the major repairs on the main street near our apartment. This means that children and cars are occupying the same space….which makes for some scary moments here and there.

Sometimes we can hear two drivers yelling at each other because they are both trying to go down a narrow lane in opposing directions… who has the right of way? There don’t seem to be any clear cut rules. Car horns honking, boys and girls squealing, parents and grandparents yelling for little ones to be careful were all part of the Friday night excitement!

Our hot water only works on the weekend when they quit working on the apartment building that is going up a few buildings over from us… they shut down all the hot water for the entire block. We were given no warning and have no idea how long it will last. So think of us during the week when we are taking cold showers and fighting traffic just to walk two blocks to church, to the bus stop, or to the market!

***thanks to everyone who was praying for Ann. Her surgery went well and she should be able to leave the hospital on Saturday.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

the weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Our weekend starts tomorrow morning since we don't have school on Fridays! It has been a hard for week for Tom getting back into the swing of things at school and at church.

Spencer is getting high school credit working as a teachers aide at the new school. He has had a few days where he has been very tired and struggled to stay awake in class.

We have been asked if we like studying in the afternoons. Tom and I are night owls... so being up late is fine with us. We can sleep in and still get to school on time!

Our new lesson at school is about bad habits. Most of the habits in the dialogue are more serious than just popping your knuckles or cracking your chewing gum. The main dialogue in this lesson is about smoking and drinking.

In class today we each had to take turns naming our bad habits... I admitted to popping my knuckles, Spencer admitted to chewing too loudly and so on. Tom was not there today, he went home not feeling well. But, he shared that he hates to exercise!

***Please continue to pray for Tom as he recoups from surgery. Pray for our friend Ann as she has her surgery today.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

what a day!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Today was a long day for us all. Spencer got up early to go to his job as a teacher’s aide at Krasnodar International School. And Tom and I had dinner and a meeting at Tim and Joy’s right after school.

We had a wonderful evening conversing with Tim & Joy W., and Sasha & Tania Sherevlenka . We had not seen them in over 6 months and it was good to spend time with them all again.

Tania started a womens group in her village called Harmony. And she asked me to come and speak to the group about codependency. We decided on the title “Life in an Alcoholic Family”. I will be speaking on October 7th so I have time to prepare. Fortunately, I will not be expected to speak in Russian. Tania has a translator already lined up for me!

The day that we are going out to the village is the day before their daughter’s birthday. They are going to kill a sheep and have a barbeque. This will be our first birthday party in a village. I expect that we will have a lot of fun!

Joy baked and decorated a cake for Tom’s Sobriety birthday. He has been sober for 20 years! It was very sweet of her to acknowledge this day for him. In Russian tradition you say kind and beautiful words to the person you are celebrating. They all took turns saying things to Tom. Joy told us that when she let the kids know about Tom’s holiday, TJ asked if we were celebrating Tom passing his kidney stones! I guess we will have to plan a party for that day as well!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Not being in America we have not heard about the anniversary today. We do pray for all the families who still feeling the affects of the tragedy of 9/11.

It was a good day in class. We all did well. Tomorrow is another day and we have a new lesson to work on. This one is about getting things repaired.

Why is it that we get topics like this one after we experience them in real life!? We have had the toilet worked on, the washing machine, and the computer. We need to get our couch repaired and the first estimate we got was very expensive... so we need to call another master to come out and look at it.

We are still going without hot water during the week. Our classmates live in a building not far from us and they are experiencing the joy of not having hot water and of their not having electricity. so I suppose we have something to be thankful for... our electricity has only gone out once since we returned to Russia!

I didn't hear from Nathan today... otherwise, I would have written something about him. I think he is happy though whenever I say his name. Isn't that right, Nathan?

Monday, September 10, 2007


Monday, September 10, 2007

After church yesterday Tom and I headed over to the mall to pick up a few things we needed for the apartment. We shopped for a bit and then decided to get something to eat while we were out. After spending a half an hour in line at McDonalds we had lunch. Currently there is only one McDonalds in Krasnodar. And it is always jam packed on the weekends!

Spencer was also in line with a few of his friends. He came by with Tobias and Seth. After getting money from me for food and for the taxi home, he tried to avoid running into us there in the mall. But somehow we kept turning up in the same places. By the time we got home however, Spencer was there with three of his friends playing video games.

Tom and I decided to watch a movie after the guys all left. First we watched Little Miss Sunshine. Then we watched Dejavue with Denzel Washington… what a breathtaking movie. I could not relax until it was over!

Today we will all be together in class. Not sure how that is going to go. We will have a full class of 6 people. Tom might need to do some reviewing with one of the teachers like I did at the beginning of the year. He will be skipping about 13 lessons and there is a lot of grammar to cover in those lessons. How well I remember!

Nathan, I hope that you are happy with this update... we are doing more than just eating sausage!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Italian Sausage Recipe

Saturday September, 8, 2007

Here is the recipe I used for the sausage:
2 pounds ground pork
1 1/2 teaspoons each cilantro and dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon anise
1 large clove garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper

Use a mortar and pestle to grind all the spices together then add to the ground pork mixing all the ingredients together with your hands. Allow to sit in refrigerator 8 hours before using.

When I cooked the sausage today it filled the apartment with a wonderful aroma that was so familiar to us all! I will make pasta tomorrow to go with the sausage... this recipe was so easy that I am sure that I will be making it frequently!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Italian Sausage

Friday, September 7, 2007

One of the things we like to eat but cannot find here is Italian Sausage.

While back home in the states my mother in law and I found a recipe. Today I made my first batch. It has to sit in the fridge for at least 8 hours for the flavors to blend together. If it tastes good I will post the recipe that I ended up using!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Russian History

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Our new lesson is filled with dates and names and really hard words... for some reason it is Spencer's favorite lesson. Sometimes our lessons begin with a dialogue and sometimes it is a short text. This time the text is 7 paragraphs long. I have Sasha coming over tomorrow to help us through it.

I brought home a copy for Tom. He will be joining our class on Monday. It should be interesting to have all of us in class together... I hope our teacher is ready for us, I'll be praying for her!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

it is written...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Spencer and I have been reading t-shirts just for fun… here are a few of the English ones we have seen:

Just Do It
I Love My Attitude Problem
Born to be Blonde
Bring it On
Feel the groove in your legs
USA girl forever
Baby Girl
Imagination can change the world
Baby Phat
Really love Sunday morning
Ask me if I care?
Boundless Energy
Republic of Juicy
I’m the king of the world
Grow your mind
Feel the music and Rock forever
Uncle Sam
Smile just a little bit
Shopping makes me feel better

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Skipping school

Tuesday, September 4,2007

Tom and I went over to the school today to give gifts to the teachers that we had purchased in America. They were so excited over each gift we gave them. After spending time visiting with them Tom wanted to go shopping.

Tanya, the director gave me permission to skip school and spend time with Tom. We were able to get curtain rods so that Tom can get our curtains hung.

That was all Tom was able to do today.

One shopping trip wore him out! It is not easy here… in America we hop in a car and go wherever we want to go. We look for the closest parking space in front of the store.

Here we have to walk to the closest bus stop or phone a taxi. Going shopping is a major ordeal. Once we finish shopping, we have to decide on the best way to get the items home. Sometimes we take a taxi if we have a lot of bags. Today we came home on a marshutka, a public van that holds about 12 passengers. Tom placed the curtain rods in the aisle and we are grateful that he didn’t hit anyone on the head as we got off at our stop!

*** the hot water only lasted the weekend... we are back to cold water again!!!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Tom is home!!!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Tim W. went to pick up Tom from the airport. Along the way he stopped and picked up a surprise for Tom… Alexei!

Tom was so excited to see his friends. It amazes me that Alexei was willing to get up and go to the airport at 4am knowing that he had to attend the first day of a two week intensive session of Biblical Studies at Kovchek today.

I got up at 5 am to be ready to answer the door as soon as they knocked. Tom woke up Spencer and the three of us spent the next 4 hours talking about Tom’s travels, his surgery, our trials with appliances and generally having a great time catching up with one another.

In the states the holiday is Labor Day, but here in Russia we decided it is “Daddy coming home day!” that just means that we skipped school to stay home and be with Tom!

Tom came home with only one suitcase… no he did not pack light, one of his bags got lost. Hopefully, it will be on the next flight and we should get it in the morning.

He had a 32 hour journey home, he is very tired and is now sleeping. He plans to sit out of school this week and will get back into the swing of things next week!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

First Bell!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

September 1st is when the first school bell of the year is rung. It is always a big celebration here.

Children from our church were a part of this mornings ceremonies at their schools. We can say "pozdravlaio" (congratulations) to a few special kids:

Pavel R. and his sister
TJ W. and his sister

I pray that God blesses this school year and that each of you enjoyed the morning festivities, celebrating with classmates and friends!

****news update****
and on the fourth day, we were blessed with the return of HOT WATER!
Tom leaves the states today and will be here on Monday!