Friday, February 29, 2008

where did he go?

I used to get my shoes repaired at this little kiosk... until they came and carried it away!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

trip to the pharmacy!

Often we communicate with one another through text messaging. It is cheaper to send a text than to make a phone call and it keeps us from having to speak in English in public places. Tom sent me a text message today asking me to pick up some sinus medicine on the way home. I was coming from my prayer time with the East West gals which gave me the opportunity to check with Joyce about how to ask for sinus medicine in Russian.

I went in and told them that my husband had "pressure" in this area, while demonstrating where the sinuses are. The young lady quickly led me over to the medication she thought would work best and suggested something for his immune system as well. I had my language helper session right after this so I showed Lena the medications that I bought. Turns out I got all the right stuff! She told me that the medicine I bought for Tom works really well, would help with him fight off this virus and should get him to feeling better soon!

We have many people from the church who are sick right now... our pastor, Lena's husband Valodia came by to tell us that Mia, 4 years old, she is the daughter of Alla... who led the Women's Bible Study last week. Mia was just admitted to the hospital with a high fever. She has already been sick for over two weeks. Please keep us all in your prayers... this seems to be going through the church!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Letters From Iwo Jima

The Island of Iwo Jima was located between the American armed forces and the mainland of Japan. General Kuribayashi and the young soldier, Saigo, stand tall and face the battle with courage, strength and dignity. I don't normally enjoy war movies but this one was well worth watching!

Prayer request:
Both Tom and Spencer are sick... Tom has not gotten out much this week. He felt good while the guys were here watching the football game on Monday but after that he took a turn for the worse. I made soup and we have lots of orange juice so he is being taken care of!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Week Four

Joyce did a great job today! I truly admired her courage... she taught us in Russian. Russian is a very complex language and although she made a couple of mistakes she was a great example to me about the importance of not worrying about doing something perfectly, the important thing is to "just do it".

She taught about Mary of Bethany from Mark 14 who anointed Jesus "with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head."

Joyce reminded us that it is more important to have Christ value what you are doing for him than it is to be concerned with what onlookers have to say about what you are doing... the people watching Mary of Bethany's act of worship toward Jesus rebuked her for the amount of money she wasted. And yet Jesus praised her, saying... "She has done a beautiful thing to me...she did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

Next week is our last meeting with this study... thanks for praying us all the way through!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Super Bowl Monday...

Tom had a few of the guys from school come over to watch the Super Bowl. Yes, of course we know the game took place already but the DVD from Tom's dad just came on Saturday! Even though we all knew the outcome it was still fun to watch.

Spencer and I watched mostly for the commercials... I sat in the back of the room and let the guys who actually wanted to see the game have the good seats!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Men's Day

You can read more about this Russian holiday here:

or here:

I went out early today to get presents for Tom and Spencer. I realised as I was picking out presents that I was buying Spencer his first "grown up" gift. I gave him cologne. He has never had any of his own before. It had a great impact on him and I am glad that I followed through with that purchase!

Tom invited Dima B. over to watch a new Russian film with us. It is called Kiss Not for the Press. And it is loosely based on Putin's life. It was great to have Dima here to explain some of the cultural references to us. He truly added to our enjoyment of the film.

I made lasagna for dinner and was pleased to find out that it is Dima's favorite food from his time spent in Canada years ago. Dima left with movies he borrowed to watch for the long weekend. He is our only male teacher at the Language School. Men's Day is one of the official holidays that people will get to take off work for. So we don't have school on Monday.

I believe that Tom and Spencer had a great day today... at least they had full tummies and they smelled nice!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Teaching English... I can do that!

The BLTC was asked to provide English lessons to the employees of the OVIR's office....which stands for Office of Visa, Immigration and Registration. They decide who can visit our area, who can live here, and who can be deported from Russia for up to 5 years. This is a very important relationship to develop... the administrator recognized Spencer and Tom from their passport photos as she has processed our paperwork many times before. She was delighted to meet them in person!

In English they shared about themselves, their families and practiced dialogues from the lesson about meeting each other. There were 5 OVIR workers, four of which will probably start the twice a week class beginning in March. Today's meeting was simply a preview of what the lessons will look like.

Tom enjoyed being able to teach the letters of the Alphabet "as speaking English is within his area of capacity". (his words not mine!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

the weather...

Snow, snow and more snow! This woman is one of the people who take care of the grounds around the apartment building... Tom was able to get a photo of her hard at work.

Week Three

This week was Alla's turn to lead... she did an awesome job teaching us about the woman caught in the act of adultery.

Alla sat on the couch with her 4 month old son on her lap teaching. She didn't seem the least bit distracted and had the full attention of everyone of us in the room!

Attendance was down from 17 to 10 due to sickness and the snowfall... public transportation practically comes to a stand still when the weather is bad. When I arrived at the church Tim was blessing us ladies by shoveling the walkway and the stairs. It was truly a welcome sight to see his servant's heart at work.

Thanks for praying for the women who are attending... many of them have obstacles to overcome each week just to get there and we have two more weeks to go!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

where did the time go?

On Friday I made the Apple Butter which Spencer and Tom totally enjoy... and then on Saturday I managed to get the bread baked to go with it!

Saturday I watched Yanna while Olya and Eera spent time at the mall together. On Sunday Spencer and I were both sick. Somehow Tom has avoided getting sick... so he was the only one to make it to church and then bring home Orange Juice and Kleenex for the sickies in the house.

So here it is Monday night and I have Bible Study tomorrow and have not even started translating the words I don't understand from the new lesson... as I was looking up the Bible verses I thought where did the weekend go? Normally, I get my study done on Sunday so Lena R. and I can go over it during my time with her on Monday afternoons.

Tom had Lena look over his schedule for the next seminar he will be doing at the church. She fixed a few grammar mistakes and then changed the wording on a couple of the titles so they sound "more Russian". It has been an adventure learning what goes over well when translated and what doesn't... we live and we learn new things here everyday!

***Please pray for Lena R. as she handles everything with the three kids at home while her husband, Valodia, is in Daghestan leading a seminar on prayer. Pray for him as well... he had a car accident there and he needs various insurance documents sent to him so that he can take care of the damage to his van.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Tom was the only one healthy enough to leave the house today... Spencer and I are both nursing colds. Not fun! I am hoping to feel well enough for school tomorrow but I think Spencer would like another day at home!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Crock Pot Apple Butter

Crock Pot Apple Butter
12 cups of apples, peeled and cut into small pieces
4 cups sugar
1/3 cup apple juice
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp each, ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves

Mix spices in with the sugar and then place apples, sugar mixture and juice into crock pot and turn it on low and let it cook all night.

In the morning, there will be some liquid that came out of the apples as it cooked. Dip the fruit & liquid out by the cupfuls and place in a blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Be careful not to put too large a batch in the blender at one time and, because the mix is very hot, do not place the lid completely on the blender, but allow space for steam to escape. After blending a couple of cups from the crock pot, place it in another large bowl. After blending all the contents of the crock pot, return mixture to crock pot.

Cook on high with the lid off until the apple butter is as thick as you want it to be. Place in clean, hot canning jars and place lid on immediately. Tighten jar lid. Place the jars upside down until they are completely cool to help them seal better with all the heat against the seal.

*** I just wanted to add that Tom took a jar over to the rehab center for the guys along with some bread. They sliced the bread and put out the apple butter with it. One of the men decided it was better to eat by the spoonfuls!!

I guess this recipe is a keeper!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tom came to meet me at school today, he had purchased some tulips for me and that totally impressed our teachers! We had planned to have lunch together because on Thursday nights he is now teaching at Transformation Rehab center.... which means that I knew he was coming to pick me up at school but our teachers didn't!!

It was suggested to us to go to a place called Wok. That sounded good to both of us... so off we went. When we got there we found out that all of their tables had been reserved. I was shocked because this is not a holiday that Russians traditionally celebrate. Obviously times are changing!

We went to Heavenly Dragon and had a great meal there. We both love Chinese food and this place was worth the bus ride and the short walk to get there!

Tom is now at the Rehab center teaching, Spencer is not feeling well so he went to bed early, I am sitting at the computer and just heard from Nathan that he is still sick... please pray for he and Spencer to get well!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Week 2

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Today it was Lily's turn to lead and she did an awesome job! Her take on the woman with the issue of blood from Mark 5:21-34 was fascinating. Lily is from Uzbekistan, she shared with us from her own experiences and from her excellent grasp of the type of culture this woman lived in. Lily helped us understand how she would have been treated by the community at large and what she would have thought of herself.

Lily had us turn our attention to Leviticus 15:19-27 and after reading that passage she explained to us that this woman would have lost her husband, friends and due to her being unclean she would have been looked down upon by those in her community... she may have even seen herself as unclean and possibly thought of herself as a sinner. Her compulsion to touch the hem of Jesus' garment would have stemmed not only from her desire for health but her desire to be free from sin. Clean and whole in the eyes of God, her neighbors and herself!

I can hardly wait for next week!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Happy 100!!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Spencer and I have finally made it to Lesson 100 of the 125 lesson course that we are taking at New View Language School!

It is amazing that we have come so far...I keep thinking about when we first arrived here in Russia... we didn't even know the alphabet. And today Spencer talked on the phone for a few hours with his Russian friend and I sat in the living room with my friend Lena R. working on our Bible Study material for tomorrow!

Praise God with us for this progress!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mother, son and Mr. Goat!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I received an email today from Stephanie with the photos she took of Spencer and I in the mountains. Mr. Goat checked us out for food and then took off down the mountainside!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

fun in the snow!

Saturday, February 9,2008

These photos were taken by Spencer with his cellphone!

Yesterday Spencer and I were able to go on a trip to the mountains with the Language School. Skiing, snowboarding and sledding filled the day. Spencer and I rented two sleds (6$ per sled per hour) and had a great time enjoying flying down the slope. There was a breathtaking scene at the top of the mountain… we could see other snow covered mountain tops in the distance.

Spencer tried several different ways of going downhill on the sled. He seemed to enjoy the thrill of going face first the best! I wiped out my first two times down the hill… the first time I flew off the sled and as my body rolled to a stop all I could think was “I hope my glasses stay on!”

After counseling with Stephanie on how to ride the sled correctly I managed to stay on the sled all the way down to the bottom of the hill each successive ride. I thought that was a major accomplishment! Stephanie, Joyce and I had fun racing each other down the hill!

At the first slope we were on they wouldn’t turn on the rope pull for the skiers so we had to get into the bus and go to another hill. Before leaving those of us with rented sleds had to turn them back in. I had rented the sleds for 3 hours thinking we would spend most of the day there. So I was due a refund. I was originally refunded an hour since we had the sleds for an hour and a half. I was content with that… but not our director Tanya M., she negotiated with the young man to give us back the other half hour as well!

Our bus driver was not interested in going further up the hill. And after hearing that only 7 out of 10 buses successfully maneuver one of the curves on the way to the top I understood his hesitancy. According to Tanya a bus overturned back in January and people were killed. Our driver did great on the turns going up and coming back down. We clapped for him each time. On the way down he smiled after making that turn… it was the first time we had seen a smile from him all day! Perhaps after the bus getting stuck in the parking lot and the guys having to shovel snow to get us out, he may have been relieved to get his last "hurdle" out of the way.

At the second slope Spencer and I were too tired to try any more sledding, so we were content to watch everyone. As we were standing there with Stephanie waiting to see Brennen ski down the hill and watching Joyce, Hannah and the others sledding... along came a goat. It just walked right up to us looking for food.

They live up there in the mountains and go from person to person begging for food. Can you imagine having to watch out for other skiers, snowboarders, sledders and a herd of goats as you ski down the hill? At one point there were about 8 or 9 of them crossing the slope seemingly unaware of the people sharing their space!

Before boarding the bus to go home Joyce and I decided to go to the bathroom so we wouldn't have to use the bushes or the field on the trip home. It was an outhouse with what I call a squatty potty... no toilet just a hole in the ground. Even though the holes were covered with wood and cut in the shape of hearts it was still an unpleasant experience for this city girl!

For another peek into how the day went please check here:

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Prayer meeting

Thursday, February 7, 2008

On Thursdays the gals from East West meet for an hour and a half for prayer. I don't know what I would do without this time each week... it truly keeps me grounded and focused on what God is doing and can do!

When I had my quiet time today I chose to pick up an old favorite devotional book.... My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. I found this quote truly speaks to what prayer is all about:

“The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer.”

My prayer for each one of you reading right now is that you would take time to meditate on that statement. I have found that the time spent in prayer with these women over the past 5 months motivated me to spend more time each day with Him!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Back when we were in Cyprus Tom and I saw this sign when we were strolling about the city during our free time!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Jesus Cares for Women

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Today was the first day of our five week study. We had 17 women turn up for a study in the middle of the day. We had heard that women might not be available because so many work but the turn out was great! We were able to break into 3 small groups for discussion and then pray in pairs afterwards.

It was exciting to me that a few women who are new to the church are now attending their first bible study...

Please keep us in your prayers each Tuesday for the next four weeks!

Monday, February 04, 2008

back at language school

Monday, February 4, 2008

Spencer and I were back in class first thing this morning. We were both awake and dressed and ready to go right on time! Spencer even had time to scramble some eggs for us so we could have breakfast before we left. He is such a sweetheart!

Today in class we were working on the prefixes that go in front of the motion verbs... our lesson lists 13 of them. As I was working with my language helper she said not to work on memorizing the table, but to focus instead on paying attention to how they are used by the Russian speakers around me. So for the rest of our session each time one of those verbs came up in our conversation she called attention to it. Lena R. is truly a gem!

Tom went back to school today as well... only he decided to play a practical joke on his teacher. Just as he reached the front door of the building he called her to tell her that he was not coming. She asked him why and he said because the weather was so nice he was going to stay home and she told him that he was a grown man! He told her again he wasn't coming... as he approached the door to the school office he could hear her saying "guess who just called and says that they are not coming to school?!" He opens the door and all of the teachers busted out in peels of laughter! I think our teachers got a great American culture lesson... don't you!?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

practice, practice, practice!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Big Mama’s Butterhorn Rolls
1 yeast cake, blended with 1 Tbsp sugar
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
2 tsp salt
3 eggs, well beaten
1 c. warm sweet milk
4 cups sifted flour

Mix in order given:
Yeast cake, butter, sugar, salt, eggs, milk and flour. Let rise well; spoon down. Let rise again. Roll to ½ inch thick. Cut into shape of pie wedges 2 inches wide. Roll from wide end. Leaving point tucked under. Place in well buttered pan. Set pans over pans of hot water to rise. Bake at 315 degrees until brown. Butter and cover until serving time.

This is a copy of my grandmother's recipe as it appears in an old cookbook put out by her church in the 80’s. I remember watching her make these rolls for special holidays and family dinners when I was a child. I don’t remember her using measuring cups or spoons. She knew how many scoops of this or pinches of that were needed in everything she baked. Knowing that means that the recipe above is just an approximation of how she made them.

I sent an email to my Aunt Bev asking her to talk with Big Mama and then let me know what sweet milk is. Aunt Bev wrote me back informing me that sweet milk is “just an old school way of saying whole milk”. Aunt Bev told me to practice on the rolls so that when I come back to Kansas I can make them for a family dinner!

Today was my first practice run. I used about 5 cups of flour… after 4 cups the dough was way too sticky to work with by hand. In Russia we don’t have yeast cakes so I had to look online to find out the exact amount needed which is 2 ¼ teaspoons. Since our yeast here in Russia is not as strong I had to double that amount. Our eggs are very small compared to an American egg so I used an extra egg as well.

The result was pretty close to what I remember. Somehow I thought that they were sweeter than how mine turned out. And that may very well be true... our sugar here is not as sweet as American sugar. However, Tom thought they were VERY good and that is what matters most to me since he is the main person that I cook for. I plan to try them again and then add them to our holiday table in the future!!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

hanging out with the girls...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Tom and I were able to sleep in for a bit before Olya called needing to run some errands. She dropped the girls off and we had fun watching Finding Nemo and Shrek 3 in Russian! When her mom called for us to bring them home Eera didn't want to leave because she heard me say that Tom was going to the supermarket. She wanted to go to! Just like her mom she loves going out and when it was decided that we would go "shopping" she was willing to get dressed to go "out"!

DyaDya (uncle) Tom and Totyah(aunt) Alida took the girls out to buy candy and a Disney magazine before taking them home!

In this photo big sister Eera is commenting on the action in Shrek 3 while little sister Yanna is chilling out on the couch!

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Friday, February 01, 2008

lunch guests

Friday, February 1, 2008

Last week Tom invited the teachers over today to see a slide show of our photos of Cyprus and eat lunch with us. All of the teachers showed up except for one who had to attend a class at the university.

We had a great time. I made a huge pot of white chili; the teachers brought over bread, drinks and of course a cake. It was fun for us to have them all over. They really enjoyed the chili many of them went back for seconds... and of course I had to give out the recipe.

After looking at the photos from our trip we had to get out our family photos at their request. They loved seeing Nathan and Spencer as little boys but they really got a kick out of seeing our Class of 1981 year book from high school!

Great fellowship, great food and great fun... what a day!