Thursday, January 31, 2008

language helper

Thursday, January 31, 2008

I started working with Lena R. this week as my new language helper. She is Valodia's wife and Sasha's mother. Sasha is in Germany for a few months so her mom asked if she could help me out. Lena knows Russian grammar very well and is an excellent helper for me.

Tonight we worked on my current lesson from language school and after that I read aloud for her the first lesson in the Women's Bible study that we will start next week. Lena helped me with putting the stress marks above the words so I would know how to correctly pronounce them if called upon to read aloud. I am praying this doesn't happen but if it does I want to be ready!

We also decided that I should write out my answers to the study questions in Russian and then on Mondays she will look over them for grammar mistakes so that I can make corrections before the group meets on Tuesdays. That way I can feel free to share my answers and take part in the group discussion.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dallas fans plus Tom

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It was the final night of the conference,
some had planes to catch the next day,
so what kept these guys up until 4am?

through something called a sling box
and highspeed internet these guys were able
to watch a live football game.

they were creative enough to turn a table on it's side in the conference room and project the game onto that surface making it a big screen TV!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

internet woes...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Yesterday our high speed internet account was depleted and none of us has been able to make it over to the UTK building to make a payment so that our internet access could be restored. Just for today I am using an internet card that I purchased at the supermarket so that I could do this post and check email!

Today we officially kicked off Women's Ministry at KBC (aka Open Door Church). We have a team of women who are willing to lead and we start with our first Bible Study, Jesus Cares for Women next Tuesday. This study is just a 5 week commitment and is a great place to start.

I was asked by a woman at church today if I would walk through the 12 steps of Al-Anon with her. If her husband is willing to watch her kids we will start meeting on Wednesdays.

Tom is doing well... he and I attended an AA meeting to help plan an AA Forum, which will be held in November here in Krasnodar. The AA group would like to include Al-Anon and Al-ATeens as well. We are excited to be a part of the planning.

Spencer has been meeting with his language helper and is back to the books doing his home school work as well.

It is minus 2 today, no snow and we are very grateful for that!!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

heads or tails?

Saturday, January 26, 2007

Recently, I got a call from our Russian ministry partner asking me to go over and meet with a couple of women who are working at a Rehab center here in town. I called Joy to go over with me and boy am I glad that I did!

We had a great conversation with these gals, while they were preparing a meal for the residents of the center. They showed us around the center. There is one bedroom for Lena and Olya, one bedroom for all the men, and a living room where some of the men sleep on the floor. There is one bathroom for all the occupants of the house. Olya and Lena make 3 meals a day for about 10 men. They do all the laundry in the bathtub and they keep the house clean. They are worn out!

The kitchen that they have is in the entry way of the house. And when you stand at the stove or the sink which are side by side you have to move out of the way whenever someone wants to go in or out of the bathroom. There is very little counter space... Olya was slicing the hard boiled eggs, and chopping onions in the bedroom just off the kitchen. On the front of the stove there was only one knob for adjusting the temperature all the others had come off. Lena had to move that knob from one burner to the next to adjust the temperature.

Lena was making a huge pot of fish soup (she is from Siberia) and she wanted us to taste this dish the way she makes it in her home town. As we drank our tea and chatted we watched her add the ingredients for the soup.

Chopped hard boiled eggs (fried in Butter)
Chopped onions (sauteed fried in vegetable oil)
Three cans of fish (heads, tails and skin included)
Fresh Parsley

We tried to get up and leave without eating (we did have a meeting to attend at the BLTC) but Lena was insistent that we have at least two spoonfuls of her soup... she meant two ladles full! Joy told her that we would share a bowl. Our bowl contained a fish tail and thankfully no heads! As we were eating Joy leaned in to me and whispered in English "I draw the line at eating the tail!" I tried not to laugh out loud.

The kicker is I hate fish and Joy knew it... I am very grateful to her for eating the bigger pieces of fish in the bowl and allowing me to eat the smaller ones!

So where do you draw the line... heads or tails!?

Friday, January 25, 2008

views of Cyprus...

Friday, January 25, 2007

Check out some of the photos of our trip here:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Tom!

Thursday, January 24, 2007

Today is Tom's 45th birthday!

He didn't want a party. He wanted a quiet evening at home. Brennen came over to watch The Simpsons movie and Stephanie sent over fresh baked Cinnamon rolls for Tom. Which made him very happy. And of course he ate them before eating the borscht that I made him for dinner!

As we were leaving our meeting earlier in the day several of our Russian friends sang Happy Birthday to Tom in English it was so sweet! Then we stopped off at the Language school to pick up our passports from Tanya. (she had them to register us again in the city) The teachers also wished Tom a Happy Birthday.

Despite the fact that it snowed today and Tom is not a big fan of snow he says he had great day!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

back to work...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tom and I had a meeting at church yesterday and then today, tomorrow and Friday we have meetings at the BLTC. It is time to do planning for Social Ministries in 2008.

Please keep us all in your prayers... this will be a busy week!

Monday, January 21, 2008

first trip into town

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The 12 of us went into town together on the bus... each time we went out as a group whatever adult was near a small child just made sure that one was safe.

Tom has Gabe's hand and as he was walking to the beach I saw that Brennen was getting a shot of them!

Gabe is Brennen and Stephanie's youngest.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

checking out the water

Monday, January 21, 2008

I cannot sleep so I decided now would be a good time to post a few of our photos...

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around our hotel

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view from our hotel room

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finally home!

Sunday, January 20, 2007

We are finally home... tired and stinky.

Lena and Alexei cleaned our apartment before they moved back to their place. It is so nice to come home to a place that is cleaner than we left it. Lena makes her living as a housekeeper and as a language helper so her job of cleaning was more professional than mine!

Spencer is charging his iPod so I cannot post my photos yet. I hope to do that tomorrow!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

having a great time!

Thursday, January 17, 2007

We are truly enjoying the peace and the beauty here in Cyprus. I have alot of great pictures to post when we get home. We have been to Lemosos, Paphos, Lefkara and a few other cities. We have seen Aphrodite's birth place, the mosaics in Paphos and a Neolithic village and so much more. History is not boring when you see it up close and personal!

The East West Conference was exactly what we needed to renew us spiritually. And the extra time here in Cyprus is the perfect mental health break and a respite from the cold winter of Russia!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

changing of the hotels!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The hotel that the EastWest conference is in was doing some remodeling so the first part of our trip had to be spent at a hotel that is next door to the one for the conference.

Today was the day that we were able to make the switch over. After finding out what time checkout was at the first hotel and what check in time was at the second, we all packed our bags and walked next door!

Our team mates from America and from various countries throughout the world are arriving today and tomorrow. We are truly looking forward to the time together and getting to know each other better.

Many of the East West staff including our president John Maisel have arrived and we enjoyed dinner together at a British Pub!

Tomorrow is the first day of our conference... so I don't know how often I can post over the next five days!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

trip into town

Tuesday, January 8, 2007

We found our way to the city of Larnaca today. In the city we found fast food heaven... KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Hagan Daus and Starbucks.

I am having to keep my posts short because of the expense of the interent service. So I won't go into to much detail about what we have done here.

We did find a castle, that became a fort and then a jail. The last hanging was done there in 1945!

Tom and I toured the city for bit. We were not able to go into the Orthodox church because we were both in shorts!

I do have pictures to post when we get home... my favorite sign we saw today said:

It was on the front of a garage. I assume it means that they don't want you to park in front of their garage!?

Monday, January 07, 2008

We are here!

Monday, January 7, 2008

We had a two hour flight to Cyprus. There are 12 of us here from Krasnodar. And our other team mates from East West will join us before the end of the week.

Our hotel is right on the beach and from the balcony in our room we have a lovely view of the Mediteranean Sea!

Last night for dinner we went out to a little place called Mama's across the street. Most of us had pizza, Tom and Brennen had the kebobs in pita bread and Stephanie had a cheeseburger. The food was good and not too expensive.

We have not decided what today's activities will be... today is Orthodox Christmas so many attractions are closed. There are many museums and archeological sites we hope to see.

Tom and I walked the beach yesterday and it was very relaxing. When we left Krasnodar it was minus 15C degrees... here it is 61F degrees! Such a contrast but a welcome one!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

December Newsletter

Saturday, January 5, 2007

Technical difficulties prevented us from sending this out from our website so Tom wanted to post our December newsletter here.

DECEMBER 2007 Christmas greetings!

Dear family & friends,
We wish to extend to you the warmest & richest greetings during this Christmas holiday! We pray that you are warm & healthy & can count many intangible gifts from God as among your Christmas presents. We thank you for your prayers, packages & financial support this past year. Together, with your partnership, we are making a difference in people’s lives & strengthening the people in Russia. Thanx!

Looking back at 2007: We passed a few milestones this past year…mainly a change to East-West Ministries International as our sending agency; getting Nathan situated in America with his Grandparents; & successful gall-bladder surgery for Tom. Alida, Spencer & Tom have all progressed in their Russian language abilities & comprehension, & Alida & Spencer are on target to complete Language School in late spring 2008. Tom, well, he considers it a miracle he can speak ANY Russian!

Visa challenge possibly resolved: Every year we’ve been in Russia has seen some kind of change in the law & Visa requirements for foreigners. This year was no exception. However we are in the process of changing to a Work Visa which would eliminate the previous law requiring us to leave Russia every 6 months for registration, plus it would enable us to bypass the new law that only allows foreigners to live in Russia for 180 days of the year. All of the necessary government medical testing has been completed for Tom to apply for a Work Visa in 2008. (There are quotas in each region regarding the number of foreigners who can receive Work Visas.) Under the new Work Visa, we should be allowed to stay in Russia for up to 3 years before we need to leave for visa renewal. We think we have successfully maneuvered every hurdle at this point, however this is Russia & things can & do change quickly. We will keep you posted.

More about Spencer’s plans: At press time, this is Spencer’s plan: finishing the Russian Language course in June 2008, then starting a 6 month Discipleship Training Course at Youth With A Mission’s Kiev, Ukraine school next September. His plan after YWAM’s DTS is to return to Krasnodar & start classes at Kuban State University, focusing on Russian language studies in order to become a translator.

Tom’s teaching series winding down: Tom will complete his 8 week teaching series at ‘Church of the Open Door’ in Krasnodar on Sat, Dec 29. He has been teaching on consecutive Saturdays with themes along the lines of ‘Shame,’ ‘Forgiveness,’ & ‘Character Development.’ The teachings have been well received & very beneficial for the people who have attended. (It’s been great to teach again – as we are ‘living the dream’ that we moved to Russia to fulfill!) The attendees have been a combination of Russians & Americans, people from the local community & from the church, & area professionals like social workers & psychologists. It has been a huge job translating the weekly PowerPoint presentations into Russian, & ‘Russify-ing’ examples so they make sense culturally, but we’ve had good translators for the PowerPoint & for the teaching sessions. We will be planning Tom’s 2008 teaching schedule after Christmas, & are considering the needs of the community & church. It’s possible that Tom will provide parenting classes, marriage & relationship workshops, and communication sessions at ‘Church of the Open Door’ & also the Biblical Leadership Training Coalition. The BLTC is changing from being a seminary to being a resource center for Russian churches & pastors.

East-West Conference in Cyprus: January 2008 brings a conference on the Greek island of Cyprus for all personnel. We will miss the Russian Orthodox Christmas celebration which is Jan 7th, but will be landing during the Greek Orthodox Christmas. We look forward to visiting this historic place & enjoying some time of relaxation. This trip will also serve as our 6 month registration trip as we are still under the old Visa law.

1st Anniversary of Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at Krasnodar’s ‘Church of the Open Door!’ It was this time last year that our ministry partner Alexei P pioneered a new A.A. meeting at our church. There is a strong core group at this meeting with lots of long-term sobriety. Among three principle group members, there are 20, 15 & 9 years of sobriety, a combined 44 years! This is very rare in Russia. The meeting continues today with plans of starting an Al-Anon meeting soon. (Al-Anon is for family & friends of alcoholics.)

Russian New Years is a big holiday… Since Christmas in Russia is traditionally celebrated in January, the biggest bashes are New Years celebrations. This holiday combines the gift-giving of western Christmas, the costumes & masks of Halloween & Mardi Gras, plus the fireworks of the 4th of July! What a celebration!! Most Russians gather with family or friends late in the evening on New Years Eve to eat together, donning costumes & fantasy masks. Then, there is a traditional Russian comedy film that many people watch. President Vladimir Putin is on national tv at midnight, & once his annual address is completed - the fireworks begin! We typically have fireworks in our courtyard, on the soccer field, even out of apartment windows & balconies & off the top of buildings! It’s very wild! The fireworks will continue for several hours. Russian tradition also calls for family or friends to stroll the streets outside, taking in the fresh, brisk air & chatting - with many people arrive back home around 5 or 6 am!

Many businesses & organizations are closed from New Years until after Russian Orthodox Christmas in early January. Some will remain closed for up to 2 weeks as ‘Old’ New Years (following another calendar) is celebrated the week after Russian Orthodox Christmas! Some use this time as a reason to excessively drink & party the entire two week period. As the years go by, more & more businesses are remaining open during this two week stretch.

Thanx for your support: In spite of a weak US dollar combined with the annual inflation rate in Russia we are holding on financially. A weak dollar means a lower amount of support once the exchange rate has been factored into the equation. We thank you who have provided one-time monetary gifts & extra support. And we also thank our regular donor partners as well. We couldn’t be here without you!

If you who would like to send a care package, here’s our Christmas wish list & address:
Chocolate chips
Chocolate Kisses
Blank CD-R’s
Pure Vanilla
Spices: Cream of Tartar, Fennel Seeds, Anise, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Sage, Taco Bell Taco Seasoning, etc.
Cake Mixes,
prepared frosting
Instant Pudding
Scented Candles
Thank you notes, note cards, stationary (anything like this)
Gift bags or wrapping paper
Assorted color copy paper or card stock
Computer software with PowerPoint templates
Reality TV like The Amazing Race!
Women’s socks white
Men’s socks black
English language magazines (sports, politics, current events…most anything English!)
HP black inkjets #131
Laker or NBA pro basketball games on dvd
Popcorn (not for microwave)
We are also needing to replace our desktop computer soon. It’s a dinasoar at 4+ years old already!

Care packages take 2 to 6 weeks via mail (depending on size & weight) & can be sent to:

Sharp Family
Kraznix Partizan D.75, kb. 8
Krasnodar 350012

We wish you a great, peaceful & wonderful holiday season! May you experience God’s Christmas presence all year round!

Tom, Alida & Spencer Sharp

Friday, January 04, 2008


Friday, January 4, 2008

Yesterday when we were out shopping with friends we found Banana juice... I made the silly mistake of saying "I wonder what that would taste like" of course the answer they gave me was "bananas!"

Spencer wanted to try it for making smoothies so we bought some. This morning in the blender I combined the banana juice with two fresh mandarins. It was very tasty! If we see that juice again we will definitely pick up another carton!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

a mighty wind is blowin'

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Tom just walked over to the window to see what the thermometer has to say... it is -14. The wind is blowing pretty hard and it feels even colder. Cyprus is looking really good right about now. We leave for the East West Conference on Sunday.

We hear the temps are in the 60's there!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

We celebrated New Year's Eve by eating a late dinner and then watching a movie as a family. We stopped the movie at about 11:45 to hear Putin's address to the nation. He came on at 11:55 and went off at midnight... although it seemed as if they suspended time on the clock for a few more seconds past midnight for him to finish his speech!

As soon as his speech was done our neighbors started up with fireworks. Many of our neighbors have gotten wealthier over the past year... the fireworks were bigger than ever! We had a beautiful view of all the goings on and truly enjoyed it. We could see the fireworks from our region and from a neighboring region with our great balcony view.

With as loud as it was it almost felt like a war zone. There was a small fire down in our courtyard from one of our neighbors sending a Roman candle off their balcony. Thank God it put itself out very shortly after beginning.

We finished our movie and then tried to call our neighbors and friends to wish them all a Happy New Year... I was able to get through to Olya and Vova. We were invited to come right over. So we bundled up and headed out! The girls Eera 3, and Yanna 1, were wide awake and they were ready to party. Olya had plenty of food, salads, duck, candy, and juices. We ate what we could, only to be polite because we had a full meal before going over there. They had several guests show up while we were there. It was amazing to be at someone's home at 1 am and people were still calling and ringing the doorbell.

May God grant you peace, health and abundant love in 2008!