Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!!

New Year's Tree in Moscow

Here in Russia the big holiday celebration of the year is New Years. Last night Tom and I put up our New Year's Tree and other decorations in anticipation of our guests coming over tonight.

We have people coming over after the AA meeting. So far it looks at if there will be about 9 of us. I am still cooking and we need to mop the floors again before everyone shows up. This will be a late night for us... we don't expect to get to bed before 4am!! At least that is when we hope our neighbors run out of fireworks to shoot off!!

Have a safe and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Past and Future Presidents

This weekend on one of the news programs that Tom and I were watching on Russian TV, there was a correlation drawn between Obama and Putin. Obama was declared to have a presidential look... like Putin!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Whose name do you associate with Russia??

Alexander II

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Catherine the Great

Ivan the Terrible

Vladimir Lenin

Dmitri Mendeleev

Peter the Great

Alexander Pushkin

Alexander Nevsky

Joseph Stalin

Pyotr Stolypin

Alexander Suvorov

Do you know all 12 of these noteworthy people? You can click on a name to learn more about that person.

Tom and I had to look them up!! He only knew 8 of the top 12 and he did not know the winner. In a program similar to 100 Greatest Britons, Russia voted for Alexander Nevsky as the Name of Russia. Tom cast his votes for Dostoyevsky and Pushkin.

The show was not without it's controversy... there were those who were not happy with the way the votes were counted for Stalin.

For those of you who can read Russian here is the original website:

English readers can check out this link for more info:

So tell us... whose name do you associate with Russia?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Making Sushi!!

Last Thursday at MOPS Joyce came to teach 14 of us the art of making sushi... born and raised in Japan she is our resident expert!!

Joyce explaining how it should look when it is cut... all the ingredients should be in the middle!

Olya, Alyona and Sveta tasting the ginger and the wasabi!!

It was such a joy to participate and to watch the process! Many of the moms were making sushi for the first time. Most of them had only seen it in stores. Joyce took the time to explain each step and they eagerly wrote down the recipe, asked lots of questions for clarification, and some of them even drew pictures of where each item should be placed!!

We will take a break for the holidays and start back up again on January 15th. Please keep our group in your prayers as we now feel ready to start inviting women from the neighborhood to join in!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tom enjoying the boys

Tom definitely misses having Nathan and Spencer around. Every chance he gets to rough house with a little one he takes it... Ruslan and Gabriel were more than willing to play with him!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

computer woes...

Once again our computer crashed... we are looking into purchasing a new tower or Tom is even considering buying an Apple. We never thought we would head that direction!

We are grateful to Brennen and Stephanie for the loaner while they are away!!

Thanks also to Mom, Dad and Nathan for the huge box! The snacks inside were a major hit at the seminar today. Especially the chocolate covered pretzels!!

For Tom's session this morning we had 15 people. Our women's group after Tom's lecture is growing in numbers and the sharing there is deep. It is truly a safe place to open up and to learn from the experience, strength and hope of another. Tom is teaching on Adult Children and today he presented the concept of a Family Tree, explained the common characteristics of an AC, and helped us all understand the chemistry behind addictions.

He has one more teaching in this series and then we take a break for all of the holidays coming up!

Glad to be back online, Alida

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thought for today

"Today let's take inventory of our health habits.  Are we eating properly? Getting appropriate levels of rest and exercise?  If we have been allowing our careers, families and the holidays to stress us out, let's take time out just for ourselves...Give yourself permission to be well.  A happy, relaxed person is a healthy person, which is the best present you can give to your loved ones and yourself!"

Carleen Brice, from her book Walk Tall

As I write this Tom and I are planning a New Year's Eve 12 Step gathering at our place.  We are cleaning the apartment, making shopping lists, writing out the invitation in Russian and so on.  I know that we are not the only ones attending parties, planning parties, shopping, working, going to school, and trying to get it all done on time.  My desire is to be a healthy person in all aspects of that word...physically, spiritually and emotionally and this quote from Carleen helped me to remember that I shouldn't give up on these goals just because of the business of the holiday season!  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


These tasty meat filled dumplings are a new favorite of ours.  It is a dish from Georgia... the country not the state. They are normally served with a little butter on them and some herbs.  I used dill, but parsley works well too.  Tom likes his with sour cream or ketchup.  

Warning:  when you cut into them they will squirt!!  

Monday, December 15, 2008

sights from Sunday

I wish I would have had time to whip out my camera!

Tom and I were on a marshutka (public van that follows a specific route) on our way to Krasnaya Ploshad (a large mall here in Krasnodar).  I was looking out the window and I saw a man tending his sheep in a field not far from a large housing development.  

Seeing someone with sheep or goats is not unusual.  But seeing someone holding a staff in one hand while talking on his cell phone was quite a shocker!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

celebrating 27 years today!

Today is the first of a three part series on Adult Children.  I usually bake cookies to have with tea at the end of his teaching time before we transition into our small group time.  To commemorate our 27 years together some of the cookies are heart shaped and to go along with Tom’s topic some of the cookies are people!   I baked, Tom decorated… being able to function as a team is one of our strengths as a couple.

We are grateful for the example that our parents set for us with their commitment to their marriages.  My parents have been together for 51 years and Tom's for almost 47!!  

Thursday, December 11, 2008

sights from the city

I am always amazed at the things we find as we walk around in the downtown area.  I had no idea that Century 21 was here in Russia!  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thought for today

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?  It came without ribbons.  It came without tags.  It came without packages, boxes or bags.  And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.  What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.  
~Dr. Seuss

There is so much wisdom to be found in the words of Dr Suess.  He has always been one of my favorite theologians!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Alida’s Persimmon Bread

Fuyu persimmons are plentiful in the outdoor markets here.  If you are like me and tried persimmons once but didn't like them... be brave and try them again!! After an unsuccessful online search for recipes with ingedients that I had on hand... I made this up from things I had in my pantry!  

1 cup brown sugar

4 eggs

½ cup vegetable oil

1cup persimmon-apple butter (recipe to follow)

1 tsp baking powder

1½ cups flour

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

½ tsp salt

½ cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease the bottom of a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl whisk together sugar, eggs and the oil.

3. Stir together persimmon-apple butter and baking powder in a small bowl.  Add to the brown sugar mixture; mix well.

4. In another bowl, combine flour, pumpkin pie spice and salt.  Add pecans.  Fold into persimmon/egg mixture.  Pour into prepared pan. 

5. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Alida's Persimmon-apple butter:

1¼ cups apple butter

3 Fuyu persimmons, diced

Place both ingredients into a medium sauce pan. Cover pan with a lid and simmer on the lowest setting for 1 hour.  Then remove lid and simmer until desired thickness is achieved.

This should yield two cups of persimmon-apple butter that you can save for another loaf of this tasty bread!!

 ***I make my own apple butter, but store bought should work just fine.


Monday, December 08, 2008

joyful noises!

I put together a small collage of photos that Tom took during worship... here you can see children dancing, people singing and an instrument called a bayan being used for the first time as part of the worship team!  

Sunday, December 07, 2008

What did you hear at church today?

"What is the purpose of your life?"

Overheard from a child in the Mother's Room:
"I like ta move it, move it! I like ta...move it!"

Thursday, December 04, 2008

a MOPS morning...

Alyona's son Elijah came in to join his mom... he sat quietly on her lap eating a snack while we watched a film this morning.  

Today was our second meeting and Zhenya did a great job opening up with a circle time the for moms and kids. We had 11 mothers, 9 children and 3 childcare workers.  After singing as a group the kids were excited and eager to go upstairs and see the surprises that the childcare workers had for them.  This was an awesome "No Tears" transition!!

We opened with an icebreaker where each mom had to tear some toilet paper off of a roll; each one taking as much as they wanted.  After each person had theirs, they were told that they needed to share one story for each piece of toilet paper they were holding.  It was fun to hear the various anecdotes from the moms in the room!  We watched a filmed lesson followed by discussion time.  When the morning ended everyone pitched in to help with clean up.  

We are still in the beginning stages, meaning that we are in process of ironing out all the wrinkles, but I believe that we are off to a great start!! 


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

thought for today

Spencer has 6 roommates that I want to introduce to you!

Alexei- Kyrgyzstan

Igor, Ukraine

Vitalik, from Tajikistan, or Vito as he is affectionately called.

Tom posing with Slava on the left and Pasha on the right, both from Ukraine.

Senya, also known as Slavik- Ukraine

Spencer's team planning their project

Singing hymns with Pasha's family after dinner was a major highlight of our time in Kiev for both Tom and I.  

We went shopping at a bookstore downtown not far from this old church:

Tom and Spencer

Alida and Spencer

YWAM base in Kiev where classes are held.  Tom and I spent 5 nights in the hotel on the second floor and this is the place where I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for Spencer and the guys!

Home at last...

It is actually after midnight and we are glad to be off of the train! Pictures will follow in the morning!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Enjoying our time in Kiev

Tom and I have been enjoying our time with Spencer. However, we all agree that we miss Nathan!

Thanksgiving was fun but I don't have any photos... the guys devoured the dinner I made. I made dinner on the boat for 9 people. We had two baked chickens, apple-cranberry salad, peas, corn, and stuffing ...that was about all that I was able to accomplish with a small oven and one working burner on the stove!

For dessert I baked a pumpkin pie. There were no leftovers... it was hilarious to see these guys eat pumpkin pie the way our Nathan does. They covered it with whipped cream. Normally, sweet desserts are not welcome in this part of the world. But these guys said that the pie was the best part of the dinner! They were able to take home leftover chicken and stuffing... which they ate for breakfast the next morning.

We introduced them to the tradition of sharing what you are thankful for. As each person shared it brought tears to my eyes to hear the things that were important to them. They have 3 weeks left in school. Then they leave for their outreach work. They were all thankful for their time at the school and getting to know one another.

Tom and I will be traveling overnight by train back to Krasnodar. We leave here at 10 pm and will have about a 22 hour ride ahead of us.

I will be able to post photos when I get back... I am trying not to use up all of the megabytes on Spencer's internet account.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!!  We are enjoying our time here in Kiev and will be back in Krasnodar next week.  No matter where you and your family are traveling to be safe and have a great time with one another!  

Note to Nathan: we wish you were here with us... we will eat stuffing and think of you, buddy! We love you, miss you and pray for you each day!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thought for Today

Looking out the window on the other side of our church I noticed this outdoor shower. I am grateful that no one was in it at the time!!

What conveniences do you take for granted... is your water always piping hot in your shower? Is is always clear? There are times here when we don't have water, times when there is only cold and of course times when they turn the water back on and it is a lovely shade of muck! I am grateful that our shower is modern and comfortable and indoors!

Remember to be thankful for all of the blessings in your life... large and small, hot or cold, indoors or out!!

We should be safely in Kiev today!! Thank you for your prayers!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wild Mushrooms

Tom got a call from a friend of his asking if we wanted to eat mushrooms for dinner! Sasha went out and gathered them for us and brought them over and told me how to cook them.  Wild mushrooms must be cooked right away so I cleaned them up, cooked them according to his directions and we ate them that night.  Tom, is our mushroom fan, and he loved them!

***Today we are packing and getting ready for our short trip to Kiev.  I am taking my cookbooks with me because I am certain that I will be cooking a meal or two for Spencer and his 6 roommates while we are there!

Please pray that we have a safe trip to and from Kiev and that we are able to purchase tickets to get us back here.  I was able to purchase our tickets to get us there but we have to buy the return tickets in Kiev!  

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sights from Sunday

This lovely young lady and her dad treated us to special music during the service. If you like the song "Rise and Shine" (also known as the Arky, Arky song) then you would have loved hearing it sung in Russian accompanied on the accordian!