Friday, September 29, 2006

Day Trip Cancelled

Our church had a baptism scheduled today in the forest near a river. Spencer and I got up and got dressed and were over at the church precisely at 7:45am. We waited along with the others for about a half an hour. I was curious as to why the bus was not already there but I just thought that the bus was late. Around 8:20 the rain started to come down pretty hard.

Around 8:30 Volodya called us all into the church for a meeting. He told us that he had been calling all evening to find a replacement vehicle because the bus we originally scheduled broke down. Late last night he found another vehicle. The driver arrived at the church at 7am and called Volodya to let him know he was there. At 7:30am Volodya went over to the church and the driver was not there. Volodya called to find out what had happened. He found out that our driver had a heart attack. He tried to find a replacement driver all morning with no luck.

So our trip was cancelled. Please pray for the driver and for those who were going to be baptised. Some of the young people have parents who don't want them attending church. Nathan says that there was a debate last night at youth group about obeying parents. How long is that supposed to last and does it apply to all situations? If some of these young people were to obey their parents they would not be in church.

Sometimes people can be superstitious. I pray that noone takes this as a sign that they are not supposed to get baptised and go to church.

Sharp Family Mailing Address

Lost marathon is over!

We finished season two last night. Tom and Nathan stayed awake to watch all the bonus material as well. We can hardly wait to see season three!

Spencer is over at Andrew's house. Tonight is Bill's birthday party but Tom and I couldn't make it. Today was a hard day for me. The weather is changing and when that happens my fibromyalgia acts up. Today the left side of my body was very achy. Tom said his knee hurt on Tuesday... aren't we a great pair? But, at least we can tell what the weather is going to do!

Nathan is at his youth group. He says that there are new people attending now. Which is good. I don't think Spencer will get involved with the youth until Nathan leaves. They try to give each other space when they can.

We got a phone call tonight asking us to attend a baptism in the forest tomorrow. We have to meet at church at 7:45am. It may be a little early for Tom and Nathan but I think Spencer and I will go. It would be good to get pictures and be part of the fellowship.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Lost Marathon Season Two

Last night we had a marathon of watching LOST. We didn't finish all the discs yet. It was hard to go to bed knowing that we were only on episode 14 and still had 10 left to go!

We all went to bed around 2am last night and this morning Lena was here right on time at 10 am. We were all awake and worked with her!

P.S. Happy Birthday Bill!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

There is a first time for everything!

While we were in Ukraine, it was common to see a grandfather (dedushka) pushing a child in a stroller. After living in Russia for 17 months, we finally saw a grandfather out with a little one. That doesn’t mean it never happens here. It just means we saw it for the first time today. When asking Russians about this we have gotten different answers. “Maybe the grandfather is an alcoholic”, “maybe the grandfather is dead” and so on. It was interesting that in Ukraine the men seemed to live longer there than they do here. On a daily basis, older men are not as visible here as older women are.

The little guy who was out with his gandpa today looked very happy. And grandpa appeared to be very patient with this little one.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ice cream

When we were out on Saturday we saw at least 6 ice cream stands along the street we were on.

Here in Russia one of the beliefs about ice cream is that if you eat it when it is cold outside it will make you sick.

Saturday was still warm enough that noone seemed to be worried about getting a sore throat from eating it!

Monday, September 25, 2006

City Day!

Spencer and I went strolling down on Krasnaya Street on Saturday. We enjoyed the sights and sounds of the day. Many people were out eating ice cream, watching the concerts in the parks, and shooting off fireworks.

Tom had his AA meeting on Saturday and I baked a cake for him so that he could celebrate his 19th year of being sober. I used a box cakemix that we had on hand from America and Tom said that one woman was insistent about getting my recipe! I was glad that it was well received... sometimes Russians don't like cake if it is too sweet!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Marilyn Murray celebrates her 70th birthday!

Marilyn is here to teach level two of her training. She had just finished up teaching at a university in Moscow and is here in Krasnodar for the next two weeks.

Joy put together a great party for her consisting of her teaching team here in Krasnodar and a few fortunate friends (like us!)

We had food, fun and great fellowship. It was exciting to hear Marilyn speak of all the work she has been doing and of her future plans.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could bottle her energy!

You can see more of her party on the photo blog starting here:

Friday, September 22, 2006

Christmas List

Last year I just did this list in the sidebar of the blog. This year I thought it would be nice to spice it up a bit...

We have three cake mixes left and half a container of vanilla frosting. We like vanilla frosting on cinnamon rolls... yum!

We have found peanut butter here and of course we could always use more poptarts and popcorn! Looks like I forgot to add poptarts and popcorn to the list... oh well!

Nathan and Spencer have other ideas about what should be on this list but Tom and I reminded them that this was for items we cannot find here in Russia and it won't be a waste of anyone's money if we get more than one of each item... it will get used!

blame the French!

Hard, rough, uneven sidewalks...

cause us to have to either buy new shoes or get them repaired. I have several pairs of shoes that need to have the heel repaired and Spencer needs to have the sole repaired on his tennis shoes. We started with one pair of my shoes.

When I showed up at the little kiosk (pictured here) to give the guy there my shoes, well, um, they were dirty on the soles from the last muddy day I wore them and lost the heel of one shoe. At first he was not going to accept them because they were dirty. I apologised and said I didn't realize that they were so dirty. He wrote out a claim ticket, I paid and then left.

At five o'clock I went back to pick up my shoes and he was there smiling! I thanked him for the shoes and he said "in French it is Au Revoir right?" choosing not to correct his thinking that I am from France (I get that a lot) I just smiled and told him he was correct and said "Au Revoir" in return and left. When I got home and told Tom what had just happened he said "that's great! Then he can think that the French have dirty shoes and not Americans!"

so there you go... blame the French!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

a grip on reality

Joys of the big city...crowded buses, expensive taxi’s, fast moving cars on the streets and people everywhere you look. This is true of many large cities in the world. In Kiev, my phone was stolen on a very crowded marshutka. (a public van) It was so crowded on the ride that day that people who were standing nearest the door had to get out of the van so others behind them could get off if they needed too. Most of the riders were standing because there were not enough seats for everyone.

I ran errands that day with Spencer. We were still trying to get everything sorted out with our visas. When we finally got back to the boat, I was going to text message Tim and Joy to let them know we needed additional funds to cover the new cost of the visas. That was when I discovered the phone was gone. I honestly did not want to believe that the phone was stolen. I believed that I had lost it. The rest of the time we were in Kiev, I kept searching various places in our room. I just knew that a monster inside the couch had eaten it or something.

Today I have to deal with the fact that it was indeed stolen. Lena told me that she heard from Judi H. about my phone. She decided to call it anyway. A man answered. She asked for me. He told here I was not available. This makes it official. The couch monster I was accusing didn’t eat it. I didn’t lose it in our room. It was swiped from my pocket on the marshutka.

Lena asked me if I was sad. I said yes. I felt out of touch with the world around me. I couldn’t send anyone a text message or call to chat. I missed Judi, Lena, Erin and Joanie. These are the people I usually text message or talk to on the phone. I still cannot communicate with people unless I borrow a phone from Spencer, Tom or Nathan. Lena noticed that I was calling her from Nathan’s phone. She asked me if I was going to get a new one. I am. Right now, our passports are with Madina. She is getting us registered again in the city. Without a passport, I cannot get a new phone. Everything sold in Russia has to be registered. Even the small alarm clock Tom purchased last year is registered!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

pictures are up!

You will have to check out my photo blog to see our memories from our trip. I think this photo is self explanatory... Spencer is being Spencer and Nathan is spying on me!

We all returned to school today. Tom and I were unable to attend the seminar that was next on our schedule. So we trooped off the school! Our school day started with a meeting of the second year students and the founder. It was good to see Diane again. We attended the hour and a half meeting... Ran over to the supermarket to get some food and got to class on time at 1:30.

This weekend is the 213th anniversary of the city. All over the city repair work is being done to pretty up the place for the weekend. Next month the Kuban Cossack Choir will be performing again and this is their 195th anniversary. I don't know if Nathan and Tom will go to the concert but Spencer and I are always ready for a show!

Before school began I got a call from Pastor Vadim at our church and he wanted to borrow our copy of the church video. I made arrangements to leave it at Olya's house. She is home with 3 week old Yana and 2 year old Ira. Spencer and I went down to her apartment and saw Yana. She has one of the most beautiful faces I have ever seen. I saw her smile and I don't believe it was gas. I was in a hurry so I didn't get photos. Yana is a brunette and her older sister is a fiery redhead!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

here they come!

I took this photo as we were waiting for our taxi to the train station. This is the front of our apartment building. We didn't have much luggage... thank goodness there was a washing machine on the boat!

Monday, September 18, 2006

home at last!

I took this photo on the way to Kiev. This is the inside of a Russian train. After just completing a 24 hour journey we are all glad to be home! Thanks for your prayers. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 17, 2006

On the road again…

As we rode the train to Kiev from Krasnodar several vendors got on and off the train to sell their wares on the different cars. We saw people selling:

Ice cream (two different women)
Tools (one man was selling a complete drill set)
Coloring Books
Fried Pies (meat or potato)
Hot Water
DVD’s and VHS videos
Art supplies

We board the train in Kiev this evening at 11 pm and it will take 24 hours for us to reach Krasnodar. It will be fun to take note of who boards the train this time… and what they will have to offer. The guys joked about someone coming through selling pets, cars or houses. The possibilities do seem endless!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

where should we go?

This is our final day to sightsee and enjoy the beauty of Kiev. Spencer and I are having a hard time deciding where to go. There is still so much to see!

Tom is on the boat studying his Russian lessons that he has not had time to look at for the past two weeks. He and Nathan are staying on the boat today to enjoy the quiet provided by Spencer and me leaving!

Friday, September 15, 2006

delayed until sunday...

Our new visas are dated for the 17th of September so we cannot enter Russia until that date.

We had to go to the train station and stand in one line to wait for information on where to change tickets... then a second line to get a refund for the old tickets and a third line to purchase new. We lost about 12 per ticket in the refund and the new tickets were about 10 dollars more per ticket. So we came out okay.

We leave here now on Sunday at 11 pm and get to Krasnodar shortly after midnight on Monday. Or you could say Tuesday morning!

That is life... always adjusting and redjusting!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Family Night

I found this photo on the internet... it is a path not far from the boat we are staying on.

Tom is speaking at tonight's family night service. So he is back on the boat preparing (taking a nap). Nathan, Spencer and I are venturing out to see a few more sights beofre we leave.

Last night we had dinner again with Sharon, Bayassa and his wife Miga. This time Jillian joined us as well. Bayassa and Miga cooked so we had Mongolian food. They made three types of little fried pies that had meat, veggies or just mashed potatos inside. Bayassa and Miga say that Mongolian Bar-b-que is an American thing. There is a new restaurant that opened up in their town that sells Mongolian Bar-b-que and it is run by an American.

Jillian asked what our favorite food was that we had been served by the students. I said it was difficult to answer that question because we have had such different meals. We have eaten, Mongolian, Korean, Ukrainian, Russian and American (one group fed us pizza). How do you compare and choose which is the best?

I can answer which dessert has been the best... vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit for topping. yummm! That was Sharon's contribution to our mongolian dinner!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

People watching??

Going for a stroll on Kreshatik Boulevard is always an interesting experience. Languages from all over the world can be heard. English is spoken with many different accents and for us as English speakers that seems to be the language we hear the loudest. Are English speakers actually louder than speakers from other countries? It is hard to say. Americans seem to be the loudest to our ears. We can spot them in a crowd anywhere.

Yesterday Spencer and I decided to sit down on a park bench and rest. We got into watching the crowd as they milled by. People were eating icecream, smoking, laughing and talking. We sat down near three guys with monkeys on their shoulders. They were getting people to stop and have a photo taken with a monkey for a fee. One man seemed to be trying to pick up girls with his monkey. At one point we saw the monkey pat himself all over as if to look through his pockets and then pull a cigarette out of his diaper. Who would want a cigarette so bad that they would accept one from a monkey's diaper? Well this young lady did.

People watching.... interesting!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


We have several postcards addressed and today we need to go out and find a postoffice. Last year our trip to a Ukrainian post office was pleasant. Much nicer than our experiences in Russian post offices. This year the difference is that many of the official forms and offices around here have switched over from using Russian on all documents to using Ukrainian. Unfortunately, we cannot read Ukrainian.

As we listen to TV programs we are realizing that they are not using Russian words we have not learned yet. They are speaking in Ukrainian. We tried to watch a movie that was originally in English... you could hear it in the background. And then it was dubbed into Russian. And then it had subtitles in Ukrainian. We gave up because it was too confusing!

Yesterday, felt like such a somber day. Spencer and I went down to the conference room after everyone had cleared out and we figured out how to getthe big screen TV on CNN. We watched the memorial services that were held around the world. Then we tuned in to BBC to watch news.

Right now we are watching TV and we can see Oprah. Normally, this would excite me since this is a program I watched faithfully since it's inception. However, since it is dubbed into Ukrainian we cannot really enjoy it! Oprah speaking Ukrainian... I wonder what she thinks of someone else's voice coming out of her mouth!

Monday, September 11, 2006


Five years ago today was Nathan's first day studying at Biola in the homeschool coop program STAR. We arrived at school on time and a little harried from having to actually fight traffic for him to go to school.

Nathan still remembers being sent home to pray. They gathered all of the students in the auditorium and recounted the events that had taken place in America that morning. As we sat listening I was in disbelief that the Pentagon had been hit. As the daughter of a military serviceman I was taught that this was impossible.

We pause to pray again for the families and people affected by this tragedy. It is strange not to be in America watching the memorials on the news with millions of others. Or perhaps participate in one. We can only read online and remember.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Orange Revolution

We had a very busy day yesterday. We went out sightseeing again with Igor (sounds like eager). We saw St. Sofia's and St. Michael's churches. spencer and I have many pictures to post when we get home on Sunday. We also went to the site of the Orange Revolution. It was awesome and overwhelming to be in this square where this incredible stand against the injustice of a "stolen" election took place.

Igor told us he was there during those days. Last night at dinner we found out that everyone at the table had been there too. Lena, Igor (different man) and his wife Olya were also been there. They had no idea what the outcome might be at the time. They didn't know if tanks would come to send them all away or if they would be arrested. But, it was important to each of them to take part in this revolt. Many people around the world were praying for the people of Ukraine back in 2004. Tom and I were part of that group.

Tom has vivid memories of watching the news while we were still in America. He knew where we were yesterday when he saw the angel on top of the column. He remembered from the news reports that this was that same historic spot.

We never expected to ever be standing in that square. We will never forget yesterday and we will always be grateful to God for the places we have been allowed to travel to.

Friday, September 08, 2006

What do you have for sale?

Riding the subway is an adventure. Today there was a guy selling band-aids. Yesterday there was a man selling magazines. I have never ridden the subway in America but I am sure this must be a common sight. After all you have a captive audience and if it is a good deal why not?!

I didn't want to open my wallet in public otherwise I would have bought the band-aids... he was selling them for a great price... 1 greeven, which is basically 20 cents for a package of 20!

Last night we saw the graduation of the DTS students from YWAM. Discipleship Training School last 6 months. These young people had done the complete course and then they went out for practical in the field training. One group went to Moldova and the other group went to Armenia. I have never been a geography whiz so I didn't realize that Mount Ararat is in Armenia. Seeing people atop the sight of Noah's ark was awesome. And so was hearing the testimonies of the students. The did youth camps, went to an HIV clinic and to a nursing home.

The did skits for us and led worship. It was a great evening. It was fun to sit at the back of the room and yell out the English words the translator was searching for. He did great translating from English into Russian. But,when he had to go Russian into English it was much harder!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Motion sickness

The motion of the boat is finally getting to Spencer and I. Last night the water was choppy and we both woke up not feeling well. Spencer has had problems with motion sickness since he was little, bless his heart, and he is really not feeling well right now.

Nathan, Spencer and I are spending the day out sightseeing and shopping for postcards and gifts. We are taking a break from the rolling and rocking of the boat. Right now we are at in an underground mall about three stories down in an internet cafe. Nathan is happy that he finally got to have a strawberry shake at McDonalds on the way over here. And we may end our time downtown with a stop at 31 Flavors... it is conveniently located right next to this cafe!

Last night Tom and I had dinner with the ladies instead of the guys. The guys went out to the soccer game. We enjoyed the evening with: Sauleah from Kazakstan, Jillian from America, Larissa from Ukraine and Nina from Russia. They laughingly call their apartment "IHOP". "International House of Prayer"! Sauleah speaks English, Russian and Kazak. Larissa speaks Russian and English. Nina speaks Russian and understands some English if you speak slowly. Jillian only speaks English. There were times when I translated for Jillian and times when Sauleah translated for Nina. The ladies are looking forward to going back to their respective countries and are seeking God's guidance on what to do when school is over.

This actually applies to all the students. They have invested six months learning about Addiction Behaviour Counseling. When school is over they have to put what they have learned into practice. Please keep them in your prayers.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006



We went in, the man checked over our paperwork and then gave us a reciept to take to the cashier. Spencer and I got excited when the man mistakenly told us it would be 500 dollars cheaper than the price he quoted yesterday. Both of us did well not reacting in his presence. The eagle eyed cashier caught the guys mistake and called him to come in and show us the correct price. He apologised; we paid and left. Nothing eventful to report.

Tonight we are scheduled to have dinner with the "boys" of the school here. There is a group of young men rooming together and they are going to prepare food for us. Tom and I are betting on pizza but we don't know for sure. On Monday we had dinner with Sharon from South Korea, Miga & her husband Bayassa from Mongolia. We had a Korean meal that Sharon cooked for us. It was wonderful. The conversation was fascinating mostly because South Korea and Mongolia don't speak the same language. Sharon speaks English and Korean. Miga speaks English, Mongolian and Russian. Bayassa only speaks Russian. You see during communist times there were some areas of Mongolia that were not allowed to speak their own language only Russian. If Sharon told us a story in English then Miga would translate for her husband into Russian. When Bayassa spoke to us then it had to be translated for Sharon by me or Miga.

After dinner on Monday Tom and I went for a walk by the river. We talked about the evening and he said the comment that really struck him that night was Sharon saying that she "didn't feel any cultural barrier with us" she felt "accepted and at at peace". Sharon has been a missionary for the past 12 years and has worked in Sri Lanka, Sweden, Australia, Switzerland, India and a few other counries I am most likely forgetting! She mentioned the need to continue to pray for North Korea and the spiritual oppression there. We talked about how amazing it was that Bayassa had three years of sobriety and found God through AA. He met Miga at his first Bible study... she showed him where the verses were because he had no idea how to look them up. They have been married for two years. In Mongolia there is a need for Al-Anon and Miga desires to see Al-Anon be as active in Mongolia as AA is. Please pray for all these dear people and the countries they represent. They are here in school specifically to learn about their own issues and how to help addicts/alcoholics and their families.

New words in Russian:

kachat= to rock
Loadka= boat
Sorit= to litter

New Words in Ukrainian:
sneezhnee= sale!
ploasha= square

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Let's try this again!

We went back over to the Consult today and were not successful in our quest. Yesterday we were told that we need photos, copies of our passports, bring dollars and to fill out the proper forms for each one of us.

I was not told how much to bring so I tried first thing this morning to go and get what I thought would be the correct amount. After three crowded marzhutkas passed us... the fourth one stopped and Spencer and I fought our way on. We got to the ATM that normally has dollars and it was out of money. We came back to meet Lena who was going to show us how to get back to the Consult and went with her. We tried 5 different ATM's in that part of the city and none of them had dollars either. At each bank we found we asked for dollars and because I was using my debit card and not a credit card no bank would give me a cash advance. Lena made some phone calls and we were advised to try an ATM downtown. So ATM number 6 works. But I don't have enough in my account so I need an internet cafe so I can make a transfer. I finally get all the funds that the first guy told us we needed and we went back to the consult. We were told to wait in line for a different office. Once in there we find out that our documents are in order but it will cost 200 dollars more than what I was originally told. So of course I need more dollars!!!

We came home and have to go back again tomorrow. Hopefully, our visas will get processed in time so that we will be able to make our train connection on the 15th.

We found dollars here in this mall:

oh and my cellphone was stolen. What a wonderful day!

Monday, September 04, 2006


We went out sightseeing yesterday. The wireless internet connection was not working so I could not post about it. Here are some links to where we were:

Of course we have photos and we can post those in two weeks when we get home.

Spencer and I went over to the Russian Consult to get the Visa process started. We were all made to wait outside the building and only two or three people were let in at a time. We saw them interrogate a woman and then refuse to give her entry beyond the entrance to the building. She had a backpack on and they searched it and looked at all her documents. We were trying to listen through a double paned glass door and could not hear what was being said. When they brought her outside she would not stop interupting the man who was trying to explain to her where she needed to go. She left very angry. We went in and came out with no problems. We are grateful for all the prayers that are helping us make it through this process without incident.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

peaceful view

Staying on a boat is one of the most peaceful things we have ever done.

The guys and I are all enjoying just watching the activity out on the river. We have seen fishermen in boats and fishermen standing on the shore across from us, boat tours, people on jet skis and other house boats.

We ventured out briefly today to get griven... Ukrainian currency. We did a bit of shopping at the market and then came home. We had a celebrity sighting. But our guide was so excited about seeing him that she could not remember his name. He is a famous Russian singer. When she remembers who he is I will write more about him!

We found one of the 17 McDonalds in the city. Spencer was excited to see it. I am sure we will frequent it while we are here.

There is a great view of a church across the river. The Monastary of the Caves is underneath it. We will visit that site when we get a chance. We also hope to see the place where they did all the forced baptisms many years ago. There are museums and botannical gardens as well as a zoological garden to see. Tomorrow we have a student coming to pick us up who will show us the city. Spencer and I will have our cameras ready!

We know tomorrow is a Sunday and we had every intention of going to visit a Calvary Chapel until we found out how long the serivce lasts.... 3 hours! Maybe next week???

Friday, September 01, 2006

we are here!

The train trip went well.

We are here in Kiev and have already had dinner and gotten settled in our rooms.

Our time on the train was a close quartered journey... we had one coupe that the four of us shared. There was just enough room for each of us on our beds and for us to stand up and leave the room. Not really enough room to turn around!

Our accomodations here in Kiev are on a boat anchored on the Dniepe River. Tom and I have a beautiful room and the view is stunning.

I will write more when we get a chance.