Wednesday, January 31, 2007

New contact

Tom had a meeting with the head psychologist over at the Physical Fitness, Tourism and Culture Institute today. Her name is Svetlana and she happens to be a friend of Natasha's (the head prison psychologist) they attended graduate school together.

Tom was introduced to Svetlana by V. V is the other AA member in town who has the most sobriety other than Tom and he recently started a new AA meeting in Svetlana's building. V gave Tom a call and told him it was important for him to meet this woman because of the work that she does.

Tom found out that she has received a federal grant that is funding a rehabilitation center for children who are alcoholics and addicts. She showed Tom a photo of the center it is in an old two story house here in Krasnodar. Svetlana speaks four languages, Russian, English, Armenian and Georgian. Tom said it was a pleasure to speak with her. She told him she felt relieved that other colleagues were "coming to the rescue". She says that there are not many psychologists here and not all of them know and/or understand the 12 steps.

Svetlana has invited our family to have dinner with her. Her children know Spencer. Her daughter, Raizana was one of the girls who helped us load our boxes onto the truck when we moved out of the house on Gagarina to the BLTC before our remodel. Raizana just became a Russian citizen yesterday. The family is Georgian and they worked for three years to get her documents taken care of.

We are excited about where this contact may lead. Only God knows what ground work is being laid here. It may be possible for Spencer and I to do our social project at this rehab center for kids!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

all in a day...

Early this morning around 5 AM, the wind was blowing very hard and one of our screens was about to blow off. Tom fixed it and went back to bed. Before Tom left for school this morning he noticed that two of our screens were down so Spencer went out to find them. We were lucky. Spencer found them both. We lost one in the last wind storm. We didn't notice it was down soon enough and someone must have walked away with it.

Lena was back at work today after taking time off to care for Yanna while Ira was in the hospital. I had to write an essay about "I am grateful to God because". I wrote it out last night and then Lena helped me with my spelling errors and grammar mistakes. I wrote about the dreams I had for traveling when I was younger. Growing up I never thought I would ever have the opportunity to live in a foreign country. I was excited when we moved to California from Kansas and were able to travel throughout California. There are so many beautiful cities there... I was content and thought that we were truly blessed. I feel even more grateful for the chance to live and work abroad!

After spending time with Lena I needed to go to the supermarket. Nathan and I were about to head out when I decided we should call to see if Olya needed anything. We picked up baby food and bread and dropped it off for her on our way home.

Spencer and Andrew are playing video games. Nathan is reading in his room and Tom is doing his homework. Just another day in Krasnodar!

Monday, January 29, 2007

package fun

We made a big batch of brownies on Sunday. Nathan and I ventured out into the snow to purchase ice cream... how could we eat brownies without ice cream!?

Thanks Mom and Dad for the brownie mix, books and all the other goodies. Nathan is hunkered down in his room reading.

I was also able to start on some new medicine for my fibromyalgia. We got three packages in one day... it felt like Christmas.

More snow is falling and it is getting colder outside. Thankfully we have plenty of heat inside, lots of apple cider and DVDs to watch at night.

Prayer update:
Ira went home today and is doing well!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sick child

We have been praying for Ira (eera) this week. She could not keep any food down was put in the hospital. Hopefully, when she sees the doctor tomorrow she will be deemed well enough to come home. She is eating now and playing with other children in the hospital. Please remember this little one and her family. She is very dear to us!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 27, 2007

rainy day fun

We watched a father and son play badminton in the rain!

our play area just behind the building

ready to serve

waiting to hit the ball back.

This time last year we had temperatures of -20. This winter all we have had is heavy winds and some rain.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday's events

This funeral took place outside of our apartment building. This person has been dead at least three days. That is how long the body would have laid in state inside their home before the funeral.

Leading the funeral procession

casket lid

The body in the casket

the mourners follow
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Happy Birthday Tom

Tom is 44! I was not able to actually post on the 24th. I tried to log onto Blogger and there was a problem. He says it was one of the best birthdays he has ever had. He enjoyed his gifts, his cake, hearing from his friends and eating pizza from a new place we decided to try out.

in other news:

For the past two weeks, there has been a session at the BLTC. Tom and I were not able to participate due to school. There will be another teaching session in April.

I went to a party for the Women students. ( I got home in time for pizza and cake with the family)

The first thing we did was sing a worship song as a round. But, it was not just singing. There were hand motions involved. As we sang we had to tap our neighbor to the left on the leg, tap each one of our own legs and then tap the underside of the hand of the woman on our right and then tap her hand two times on top. And we did this all while singing. Two women could not keep up with the action and the song... so we had to do it again!

One game involved stuffing twelve balloons into a pair of pantyhose. Once that once done we had to wear that as a hat... and then put on a scarf and some gloves, after which we had to take a slice of gum out of a package, open it and chew it. That was the hardest thing to do wearing a pair of big bulky mittens. I am happy to report my team won!

When the games were all over each one of the students was given a copy of Norman Wright’s book "Always Daddy’s Girl".

What a great evening! Two parties and loads of fun!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Lena was sick today so Spencer and I didn't have language helper sessions. And then Olya called Tom to let him know that Ira was sick so Tom didn't have a language session either.

Olya needed somethings from the store so Nathan helped her out with that. It was nice that he was around to help her out.

Today was a slow day around here... tomorrow is a special day though; Tom turns 44!

Monday, January 22, 2007


The wind was blowing VERY hard today. Spencer and I could barely stand up straight as we went to the bus. It was unbelievable! I don't know how Tom made it home with groceries in tact.

After school I went downtown to purchase the cashmere yarn that is my Christmas present from Tom. It was so much fun looking at all the different colors and finally choosing something special. I love working with cashmere it is very soft.

There were two wonderful things waiting for me when I finally got home.
I had asked Nathan to put the chicken in the oven at 5 so that it would be ready at 6. It was done!
Tom had spent an hour and a half in line at the post office and came home with a package from my friend Joanie. We now have seasons 2-5 of the show "24" to watch. We saw 4 episodes of season two tonight!

Fighting the wind, walking for blocks that seemed as if they would never end and being jostled around on the bus... all faded away when I walked through the door to the smell of dinner and the treat of some American TV!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

visitors at church

Today at church we had a young man from Azerbazhan. He gave what he called the "short version" of his testimony. He started off by saying that Russian was not his first language and that he didn't speak it very well. He asked us not to laugh if he made a mistake.

I overheard later that his accent was too strong and his grammar was a disaster... this is incentive to continue on in language school!

He grew up on the streets in a strong Muslim community. He talked about almost dying three times while he served in the Army. He talked about being afraid to read the Koran. But, reading the New Testament gave him comfort. He was led to Christ by one of his neighbors. This neighbor lived in one of the houses he had previously vandalised. Living as a Christian in a predominantly Muslim area is very dangerous.

Please pray for the believers there and in other places of the world where just acknowledging Christ can put your life in jeopardy.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

a frightful sight

Today I was on the phone with a friend who was telling me about seeing a dead man on their walk home through the park. I thought what a horrible thing to have happen to you. Especially for the children.

This afternoon Nathan and I were headed out to the mall to pick up some blank CD's. As we were standing at the bus stop Nathan noticed to large pools of liquid. He tapped me on the shoulder and asked "is that blood?"

It was. It was unmistakeable. Two large pools of blood on the uneven pavement. I don't know if I will ever stop seeing them so vividly in my mind. We don't know if it was human or animal. Spencer tried watching the news to see if there was a report of an incident in our area. As of yet we don't know of anything.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Russia weathers a disturbing warm winter

Russia weathers a disturbing warm winter
By MIKE ECKEL, Associated Press Writer

It was one of Russia's traditional days for taking a dip and swimmers were complaining — because it was too warm outside. Countless Russians every year mark the Orthodox Epiphany religious feast by plunging into water through holes in the ice and shivering vigorously in the frigid air. On Friday, the ice was either thin or absent and the air wasn't especially cold.

In a country known for brutally cold winters, a spell of unseasonably warm weather has unnerved many people and caused experts to worry about the effects of global warming.
While much of Siberia and the Russian Far East soldiers through the usual long and grindingly cold winter, people in the rest of the country have been lamenting abnormally high temperatures that have left many rivers free of ice, fields absent of snow and weather forecasters confused — but not without hope.

"I'm not ready to give up on winter just yet," said Gennady Yeltsev, deputy director of the Russian meteorological committee.

Last year, much of January was unusually cold, down to 22 below zero. This year, temperatures have generally stayed above freezing in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Believers marked Epiphany by dipping in lakes and rivers across the country, a practice they believe purifies the soul. Swimmers had to chip through the ice at Siberia's Lake Baikal, but bathers in St. Petersburg had temperatures reaching 44 degrees Fahrenheit.

Umbrellas outnumbered fur coats at one Muscovite baptismal hole amid a driving rain more reminiscent of April than January.

Sergei Maximov, chairman of the Walrus Club of Serebryanny Bor, a Moscow neighborhood that includes the city's most popular beaches along the Moscow River, said some people were bothered by the temperatures that hovered above freezing, but he wasn't among them.

"I was the last one in, about four in the morning and the water was so soft, so soft," Maximov said. "The feeling you get is the same, warm or cold, a complete purge of all your sins."

Animals in many parts of Russia have seen their biological clocks thrown out of whack. At St. Petersburg's Leningradsky Zoo, two of five bears have come out of hibernation weeks ahead of time. Even the hedgehogs have insomnia this year.

Older Russians shake their heads reminiscing about how temperatures 58 degrees below zero helped stymie the Germans as they reached the outskirts of Moscow in 1941; grass was growing this week near the famous tank defenses north of the capital.

Russia's agriculture minister played down fears that the lack of a hard frost and snow cover would affect future crops. A hard frost helps improve soil structure, while the snow serves as a blanket for crops.

Sergei Gulev, a climate scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said global warming appears to be affecting how storms move across the North Atlantic, determining whether an Arctic blast is pulled into Russia or whether gale-force winds and warmer air push in from the Atlantic.

He said abnormally warm winters — which he said peasants a century ago called "a waif's winter" because it stunted crop growth — occurred every 10-15 years. Now they're happening every two or three years, and with more intensity.

"We can expect from climate predictions that this winter, the type we're having now, will be more and more frequent in the future," Gulev said.

Still, the warm temperatures haven't been all bad. Among those breathing a sigh of relief have been utility executives, who had warned about possible energy shortages if temperatures plummeted. And the warm weather also eases the burden on municipal heating systems.

And cooler weather is in the offing: Yeltsev said temperatures are forecast to fall in the Moscow region, possibly reaching 14 below by Wednesday or Thursday.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Nathan copying photos

Nathan is making a file of family photos to take with him. This one is from three years ago at The Aquarium of the Pacific.

this is him now...

I am not sure how many photos he is going to take but he is searching through all of my files.

He claims I have all the family photos... well duh! I am the MOM!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

middle of the week

Someone asked me what I wanted from America. I asked for Raisin Bran. We got the Raisin Bran today and now we can make Mom's Raisin Bran Muffins. I will post the recipe after Spencer and I make them. Mom gave the recipe to him so I will walk him through it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

TV day!

Thanks Dad for all the TV programs that you sent!

So far we have watched a football game, Shark, Without a Trace, Cold Case, CSI and the Rose Parade. As a special treat after the Rose Parade we got to see the first episode of Life With Ed.

It is always a joy to watch American TV... we can make popcorn and tune out our culture stress for a bit. And the good news is that we all finished our homework so the TV did not get in the way of that!


Tom is working with Olya now as his language helper two days a week. Tom and Lena's schedules don't match now he is not available in the mornings to work with the rest of us. So I am watching girls while Olya helps Tom with his lessons. Today just Yanna came over with her mom and she cried the entire time. Olya said that she fed her some new food. I felt so sorry for this little one. She had gas from both ends and it was obvious she was in pain. She would fall asleep in my arms and then a gas pain would wake her up. I pray that she gets some sleep tonight so that Olya can get some rest!

Monday, January 15, 2007

What color umbrella looks good on you?

Today I was listening to a group of women talking about how they choose an umbrella. One of them chose her umbrella color to match her eyes. She had a light blue umbrella and her eyes are blue. The other woman said that because her skin is pale whatever color she chooses changes her complexion to that color... she won’t use a green umbrella because it makes her look green. The umbrella she had was a bright rose color... to make her skin look rosy.

I can admit that I have chosen umbrellas based on how they will look with what I am wearing. I have a pink raincoat so my personal umbrella is pink. I also have a green umbrella for when I wear my green leather jacket. Spencer's umbrella is black with red flames. Tom and Nathan pick up what ever one is handy... sometimes Tom won't even use one. We have an umbrella that has room for two people that comes down over the shoulders... totally shielding both people from the rain. We have exra umbrellas to loan to people who need one to get home.

It was interesting to listen to these women speak. They were not dealing with the practical aspects of using an umbrella they were more concerned with the fashion aspect.

How do you choose an umbrella?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

full house

this table held all the preteen girls!

Our New Year's Tree

dressed in black

Valentin on the left with Alexei M.
Posted by Picasa

Ira is ready to party!

Posted by Picasa

yanna and alida

Spencer took this photo of me with Yanna!
Posted by Picasa

Old New Year

I went over to the church on Saturday to help with setting up for the party. I had two hours of live language that was very insightful. Now I know how to make fried Russian meat pies. I had to mix up the filling. There were some new verbs used and that was helpful. Everyone understood when I spoke or asked a question so I was excited about that. I didn't get corrected today and I don't know whether I didn't make any mistakes or if they were being polite. Normally I get corrected at least once!

I came home and changed clothes and then Spencer and I went back for the party. The church was filled with great smells and lots of people. I took a few photos but am having trouble getting our ScanDisk card reader to work so I cannot load them.

When I got to our apartment building one of our neighbors was fussing at a group of girls for coming over with their goodie bags asking for candy... he told them that tonight was the wrong night and that they should come vack tomorrow. They were asked if their parents knew they were out. And when they said yes they got invited in! New Years and Old New Years is like Christmas, 4th of July and Halloween. Kids go door to door for candy and money. Fireworks are set off and presents are exchanged.

Olya came to the dinner at church with Yanna and Ira. Yanna just about fell asleep in my arms she almost made it through dinner. Lena took her into the mothers room and laid her down. I sat next to Ira and she gave me the crust from her meat pie. I caught her before her little greasy hands were wipe on my skirt. I was quick on the draw with a napkin! Childproofing the table meant moving the candle and the candy away from 2 year old Ira... she was not happy with either being taken away from her.

Spencer and I stayed through dinner and worship. After that games started and we were both getting tired. Before we left Jim told us he was definitely going back to the states at the end of the month. I called Nathan and he is ready to go back with him. That is a relief to know we don't have to worry about him missing a connection in a foreign country somewhere and we would not have any way of helping him out. Now he has a travel buddy and I am glad!

Friday, January 12, 2007

How can you be a blessing?

I recently was told by someone that information on "how to donate" should be posted on the blog. I resisted doing this for many reasons. But, all of them seem silly in comparison to standing in the way of someone who wants to help further the work with alcoholics/addicts and their families and may not know how.

One time gifts & regular monthly support can be sent to:

EastWest Ministries
PO BOX 701560
Dallas, TX 75370
Account # 9231

To donate online click here and fill in the information. You can choose to donate monthly using your credit card!

Thanks to those of you who have sent gifts and support us regularly.
Thanks to those of you who have asked how you can help.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

school day

Tom and I went back to school today.

It was hard work. He and I were both in our classes alone. Which means there is no one else there to answer the teacher's questions. You have to go it alone for an hour and a half.

I could not remember the case endings. I honestly had not thought about them during the time we were on holiday from school. She would say to me "the word is masculine with a soft sign" and I was like "and that means what to me?"

Tom's comment on himself was "it was horrible!"

We both spent time working with Lena. She has not been here in about three weeks. She decided to give herself a vacation too. It helped to get back in the swing of things. We never stopped speaking Russian we just stopped the intense studying for a while.

Hopefully, Tom will have a better day in the morning. He and Spencer both have class. Spencer stayed home today with a sore throat. He is hoping to feel well enough for school. He hates to miss out!

*** special thanks to Erin and Hilary. We got your Chirstmas cards this week in the mail! Most likely they sat in the post office for a while during the governmental holidays for New Year's and Christmas. We still have one more holiday left to go... Old New Year!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

on the horizon

We will be having house guests soon. MajLis called to ask if we can take in a couple who will be here for the upcoming session at the BLTC.

The BLTC's new building will be dedicated on Sunday... it truly is beautiful.

On Saturday KBC will be having a big "church family" party. When Vadim called he asked if our family could prepare something to share with everyone like a skit, song or a reading... we still have not decided what to do. I thought about singing but I am still not feeling well.

School starts at 9am for Tom and 1:30 in the afternoon for Spencer and me. Nathan is not going back. He already called to inform Jim and Tania. He is busy with packing and preparing for his return to the states for university.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Let There Be Heat!

Tom and I had a meeting at the BLTC today. When we left we heard our building manager yelling at someone who was underneath the building.

When we realised it was him we wondered if they were fixing the output to the radiators. And we were right!

When we got back home and felt our radiator it was finally hot to the touch and not just luke warm... Tom was talking about putting on shorts!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Frequently Avoided Questions

by Chuck Smith Jr and Matt Whitlock

I cannot believe that I was up early to go shopping and now up late to read one more chapter of Chuck Smith Jr's book. I hope that you check it out.

Tom recommended it to me a few months back... I just now picked it up and cannot put it down!

Metro run

Spencer and I got up early this morning to go to Metro with Bill S. at 7:30am. after the page loads just click on English if you want the page translated.

I found some treats this morning; Sweet potatoes, marshmallows, peanut butter, bacon and so on. I was excited about the sweet potatoes... I had not seen them since this time last year. But, the biggest find of the day was envelopes. Usually the envelopes we can find are already pre-stamped from the post office. So, you have to pay for the envelope as well as the postage. I found plain white envelopes. I never thought I would get excited over something so ordinary.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


I bought a little backpack for Ira for her New Year's present. It is a stuffed toy poodle with a zippered pouch to store all of her things inside. Yesterday, Olya told Tom that Ira walks around telling everyone that "Aunt Alida and Uncle Tom" gave it to her. And she won't take it off... she even went to bed with it.

When they go out for walks they have seen other little girls with the same type of bag. Ira will get excited and say that she has one too! When I gave it to her it was filled with candy. I let her eat two pieces while we were watching her and Yanna on Friday. Then when her parents took her home they took all the candy out so she would not get sick trying to eat it all!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

simple joys

Spencer and I went out today to pick up new internet cards and bus passes for the month. Our time went very smoothly. At the bus depot we were able to get off the bus, purchase the passes and get back on the same bus before it pulled off again.

We got off on Krasnaya and then walked down to the UTK building to buy the new internet cards. It was lightly misting out as we were walking. Once we picked up the internet cards we continued on down Krasnaya to a video store where we found two new movies. The Wild and X Men 3. The guys have been wanting to see X Men 3 for quite sometime so that was a major find.

Spencer and I walked about 8 blocks to the next bus stop and were a little frustrasted to have seen the bus we needed pass us on the way. The bus we ended up taking was only going as far as the depot so we had to change buses to get all the way home. The bus change was the highlight of Spencer's day. He has been saying for the last three months or so that he wanted to ride one of the new buses and today he got his wish. He sat down next to me with a great big smile. I had not seen him that excited for awhile. Simple joy....riding a new bus!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Christmas Party at the Orphanage

Oksana came over today and neither one of us was feeling very much like going today. But we bit the bullet and decided to pull it all together for the kids. We stuffed the gifts bags that I bought along with the notebooks and other goodies for the kids. The other goodies came from Reconciliation Church, they took an offering for the children and went out and purchased items. We also had three teacher gifts as well.

They each received a toothbrush, toothpaste, lots of candy, notebook (Batman for boys and Cinderella for the girls), markers, a pencil and stickers. The big hit of the night were the crowns that Judi H. had picked up for the girls... but, the boys liked them too. They decided that they were kings and queens!

We had a small group of 11 children that we gave gifts to in one building and then we were asked to come over to the other building that is like a hospital for the children when they first arrive. We gave out another 12 gifts over there. We danced and sang with the kids and were treated to a break dance competition. And if you want to know how to say Break dance in Russian... it is just the English words "Break dance"!

Oksana was able to tell the Christmas story to the kids and it was great to see that many of them already knew it!

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Tom and I had a chance to spend some time with Tim and Joy today. Before we left their house Joy lent us the first season of 24.

It is so good to have something new to watch. We especially enjoy seeing a series. We were able to see the Amazing Race thanks to my friend Joan. And we have seen some CSI courtesy of Tom's folks. One of the things I miss the most is American TV. I could honestly count the television as a childhood friend.

Spencer and I went shopping today to buy goodies for the kids at the orphanage. We found Batman notebooks for the boys. And we found Cinderella notebooks for the girls. We purchased gift bags too. Oksana is bringing candy over tomorrow at 2 in the afternoon and we will fill the goodie bags before going over to visit the kids. They have had several groups give them candy and toys. Our focus will be to tell the Christmas story. It is so good to have Oksana with us on this project. Because as a Russian she can tell the kids the story in their own language without any grammar mistakes getting in the way!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

and then there were two

There is officially a second AA meeting here in Krasnodar. It was Alexei's plan and design. He iniated the whole thing. Tonight was the second meeting and he did a really good job. Most of the people are from the Saturday night meeting but they were talking about how to advertise the meeting or get the word out. It is also exciting because it is at our church.

Tom says it is nice to have a meeting within walking distance and not have to take two or more buses to get there!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


We spent the day in Axtirka. Sasha and his wife Tanya have a fitness center. They invited us to come work out and spend the day with them.

Tim, Joy, Hannah, TJ, Spencer, Tom and I drove out together to this small city of 40,000. It was a nice day today... not very cold. And no snow on the ground.

We ate dinner with the team from Axtirka, including Tom and Carol who came in from Krasnodar on the train. Sasha also invited Andrei and Valera. Andrei brought his wife and two daughters. We had duck and five different salads. Spencer said that "duck is something he never would have tried in the US".

At the fitness center, which is located right across from the only post office in town, Tom and Spencer got in a good work out. They tried all of the available equipment. There was a treadmill, weight bench, stationary bike and an elliptical trainer. I tried the stationary bike for a bit but quickly decided I had no desire to work up a sweat. I, along with Sveta and Alexei H. from the BLTC, who joined us at the fitness center, decided to go to the massage beds. It was NICE! The beds are heated and there is a device that goes from your head to below the buttocks giving you a spinal massage for 40 minutes. After that we had tea and dessert while watching nature videos.

Neither Spencer nor I took our cameras. We will just have to go again!