Tuesday, July 31, 2007

the monopoly land baron!

Tuesday July 31, 2007

When we were out shopping at the mall today with our friends, Spencer asked if we could buy a Monopoly Game. I agreed on the condition that he needed to actually play it.

Once evening hit he asked if we could play... so three hours later he had all the money, property and I was bankrupt! He said he was playing like his dad... and he was thrilled to win for the first time since he started playing the game at age 5. We have fond memories of playing Monopoly Jr!

We considered tonight's game as a language practice session since the game is in Russian. We learned a few new words and had a great time. All of the properties have Russian street names. It took a little adjustment for both of us to call the money rubles instead of dollars!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Lena is back!

Monday July 30, 2007

She was in Maicop helping her inlaws with remodeling their home. I saw her brother Slavik (see yesterday's post), her sister in law (married to Lena's other brother Vova) and her nieces soon after we got back but I did not see her until today. She called and didn't identify herself but I knew right away who she was... it is not easy to forget the voice of one's language helper. She has worked with us since we moved here in 2005. She had been in Maicop helping her inlaws with remodeling their home.

Her first questions were about whether or not we had practiced our Russian while we were away.

After inquiring about our study habits Lena asked if I wanted some Russian practice tonight and said that she and Alexei could come over at 7 pm. When they arrived they had lots of questions about our time in America and about Tom's surgery.

I had looked up the word for gall bladder..."shoalch-nee poozeer" so when they came over I was able to tell them exactly what type of surgery Tom needed.

Alexei thinks that Tom made a wise choice to stay in America for surgery. He believes that Tom would have been cut the old fashioned way and that the procedure could not be done laproscopically here in Russia.

Lena was especially excited that we have already renewed our visas and will not have our language studies interrupted by having to leave in September like we normally do. We won't have to leave the country again until January.

Lena is going back to college to get a degree in Finance. We won't find out until August what her school schedule will be like and how much or if she will still be able to work for us.

In other news for today: Tania, the director of our school called today and asked if I would look in on the new family with East-West. I was able to tell her that I already had! We made plans to take them to the mall tomorrow.

School will start either on the 2nd of August or Monday of next week. They teachers will meet on the 1st after a one month vacation to decide on the schedule and will call us to let us know when to show up!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A man of many talents

Sunday July 29,2007

Two years ago Slavik installed my sink, today he is a new deacon at our church in Russia.

It was his Sunday to preach. Slavik is a natural. He was at home in the pulpit. I know that Tom would have enjoyed seeing Slavik up there.

He spoke on keeping your focus on God's word so that you can step out in faith. It is only when we look at our circumstances or listen to doubters around us that we are likely to fall.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

paying for the facilities

Saturday July 28, 2007

I took this photo in Moscow... but the same is true here. There are port-a-potties set up in public places and you pay to use them. The woman inside her "office" is handing the customer toilet paper!

The cost is 15 rubles and at today's exchange rate that equals 6 cents.

Correction: One of hazards of posting when tired is not reading correctly what I typed. Using the toilet did not cost 6 cents... it was 60 cents!!
15.00 RUB = 0.588321 USD (from XE.com)

stocking up!

Friday July 27, 2007

Today was grocery day! We had nothing left in the apartment. When we were finished with our shopping we had more than we could carry comfortably so Spencer asked if we could take a taxi home. Carrying groceries home on the bus is not my idea of excitement so we hailed a taxi!

The most exciting item we brought home from the supermarket is... tortillas! We don't normally find them in the store so I grabbed them up along with some avocados. I didn't get any meat for tacos, we will have to find that tomorrow.

Spencer got up early this morning and went over to the school to drop off our passports with Tania so that we could get registered here in Krasnodar. You have to be registered within three days of entering the country and each time you change cities you have to register in the new city. We registered in Moscow and now here in Krasnodar.

We topped off the day with a movie. We watched Premonition with Sandra Bullock. It was different. It takes a while to understand what is going on. Spencer thought it moved too slow. Tomorrow we will watch Astronaut Farmer with Billy Bob Thornton... we keep hearing great things about that one.

Both of us are still feeling jet lag. Hopefully, by next week we will both be at full speed!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Back in Krasnodar!!!

Thursday July 26, 2007
Yesterday, we were driven to the airport early... our driver picked us up at 8am for a 1 o'clock flight.

There was not much traffic so we breezed across Moscow easily. Arriving there three hours before we could check in! We were not able to sit, we could only lean against our luggage while we waited.

Once we were able to check in I knew that we would have to pay for the weight overage on the luggage. It cost me 12,386 rubles. Our luggage was 90 pounds overweight. That amount is almost 400$. Fortunately, I was able to go to the cashier and pay it officially and get a receipt. In the past we had to pay a bribe and then go pay the cashier. This time there was nothing on top of the posted fee.

Tom's friend Valera picked us up in Krasnodar. When talking about the weather he said that he felt like Krasnodar was warm... we thought it was hot! It is very humid and I don't think I have stopped sweating since I arrived.

Spencer immediately started calling our friends after we got settled in our apartment. Olya came over with the girls. Yana is so big! She is trying to walk already! Her first birthday is at the end of August and her sister Ira's 3rd birthday is a week later in September.

Some of our friends are out of town and some we will see on Sunday at church.

We are grateful to be back in our home. Spencer was so happy to have his own room back that he turned up his music really loud, went into his room, shut the door and stayed there for the rest of the evening after our guests left!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Finally made it to Red Square!

St Basil's was beautiful! We toured the inside and took more photos. I will post them later in the week after we get settled in Krasnodar.

Monday, July 23, 2007

what's it called again?

Monday July 23, 2007
Yesterday after attending Moscow Bible Church we went out looking for a crock pot. No success, we didn't see them in the store that was suggested to us.

So we had to ask.

"do you have a little machine that cooks slowly?"
"what is it called again?"
"I don't know what it is called in Russian...in English it is called a crock pot"

"a crack pot?"

stifling a giggle I responded "no, a crock pot!"

We went out again today to a store called Stockman's and there I found a "slow cooker"!


Saturday, July 21, 2007

we made it!

Saturday July 21,2007
Spencer and I are in Moscow!

The city is still experiencing the "white nights" so the sun will most likely be up until about 10pm tonihgt!

We are tired, stinky and glad to be off the plane and not waiting in an airport somewhere!

I will write more tomorrow... thanks for all the prayers!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

family photo

Friday July 20, 2007

We took a photo when Nathan got off work Thursday night. My next post will be from Moscow on Saturday... until then!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

last day...

Thursday July 19, 2007

Spencer and I leave tomorrow for Russia. We are both filled with mixed emotions. We have gotten emails from our Russian friends who are eager to see us again. And we are excited about reuniting with them all.

Spencer will finally get to sleep in a bed of his own again. He has been such a great sport. For the past five months he has slept on couches, floors, in sleeping bags and a bed or two all across the country as we have traveled here and there.

I am not looking forward to leaving Nathan behind. I know that Tom will join me as soon as he can... we will have the rest of our lives together. Our time with Nathan in our home is over.

I have retyped this many times. It is difficult to put into words all that is going through my head right now.

Please keep Spencer and I in your prayers. We fly from Albuquerque to Chicago. Chicago to Warsaw and then Warsaw to Moscow.

Tom has been feeling fine and is sticking to his diet. He is still scheduled to meet the surgeon on August 7th and we continue to pray that surgery will be simple and soon!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Wednesday July 18, 2007

Tom snapped this photo of a sculpture on a median in Albuquerque... neither one of us is certain what it is... any guesses?

Monday, July 16, 2007

buying Sudafed

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I was asked by a friend to bring some Sudafed back with me to Russia for her family.

It turns out that one can only buy 20 pills within a 30 day period!

It may not be the same in all 50 states, this is the case in New Mexico.

We will try to get more for our friends at another store... we have no plans for usage other than for illness, but the people at the pharmacy don't know that... they just have to comply with the law.

Honor your husband challenge finale

Monday, July 16,2007

"We do get more out of our marriage as we accept the downs and enjoy the ups, and most of all that we keep coming back for more and never give up" Christine at Fruit in Season

How true that we must accept the ups and the downs to maintain a long term relationship! This 30 day journey has had some ups and downs. Mostly ups!

I have learned a great deal about myself and my thought life. I have learned that I don't have to say everything that I think and that peace can come into all of my relationships as I change my thought life for the better.

I will continue on in this new way of thinking and will be in prayer for marriages not just here in the US but around the world.

I know that there are people hurting in Russia too.

And as I head back there on Friday I am more aware of our calling to help alcoholics/addicts and their families. One of the families that we did an intervention with seems to be on the road to recovery. I pray for that marriage and for the children.

Thank you Christine for the Honor Your husband Challenge... I know that it helped me and the other 125 women who signed up!

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Saturday July 14, 2007

Last September Tom was given the opportunity to teach at the Addictive Behavioural Counseling school in Kiev, Ukraine. This school is open to students who have finished the Introduction to Biblical Counseling School. The director of the program is Natasha (pictured above).

She recently started a blog and her first post is about the opening of an IBC school in Kamchatka, Russia. We are so excited about the potential for the school to reach those who will be able to help many others in return!

Natasha's first language is Russian of course but you can click on any of the highlighted words and the links all lead to websites in English... including Natasha's blog post!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Visas are here!

Friday July 13, 2007

We can breathe again... our Russian visas were granted for another year! I have to admit that I was concerned after Tom purchased tickets for Spencer and I to leave on the 20th of July.

To understand why I had doubts about our visas coming through without a hitch... the history of past visa renewals are found here .

We have renewed our visas in a gorgeous city on the Black Sea, Odessa, Ukraine in 2005. The following year we were blessed with a trip to Kiev, Ukraine and chose to renew our visas there.

Odessa was great and the consult there was so easy to work with. There was a woman there who walked us through the entire application and was incredibly helpful. Kiev is a beautiful city but the consult there was very frustrating to deal with. The process in America was very simple... there was one phone call made to us after we sent the application in to clarify what type of visa we wanted and they showed up earlier than promised!

Tom surgery update: his appointment with the surgeon is set for August 7th. He has been calling in to see if there is a cancellation that he can squeeze into and so far there is nothing available. We have been told that he should be scheduled for surgery within two or three weeks after seeing the surgeon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Thursday July 12, 2007

As I was trying on a dress in Walmart on Wednesday, I felt a case of the giggles come on when I reflected back on one of my early experiences in Russia shopping at an outdoor market with my friend Melanie.

In Krasnodar we do have malls where you can try on clothes in a dressing room. But, the most common place for Russians to shop is in an outdoor market. Trying on clothes there is well... you can read about it here:


In case you are wondering, I did buy the dress in Walmart today, it was on clearance for two dollars, I bought one in black and one in tan! As a woman over 40 it is not appropriate for me to wear jeans in Russia as I have enjoyed doing here in the US.

I wear dresses or skirts almost everyday, even in the winter. I can get by with wearing my black slacks and truth be told I have gone out to the market in my blue jeans wearing a nice top, full makeup and my designer jewelry (made by Tom) to dress them up... but it is rare!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Whose life is it anyway?

Wednesday July 11, 2007

Like a mother who so desperately wants the world to see her child shine as brightly as she sees him, I was concerned today about:
His hair
His clothes

I wondered... did he shower? brush his teeth? Would he make a good impression?

We rushed out the door to get him to his job interview, not stopping for me to run back in and get my sunglasses, knowing that it would have only taken a minute but believing that every second counted, we jumped in the car.

He asked me to drive.
Now was not the time for a driving lesson, neither one of us knew the way, we were trusting MapQuest not to fail us, praying that the time we allotted for the drive was enough.

He didn't ask me to worry.
He didn't expect me to take this interview more seriously than he did.

Watching him walk into the hotel where the interviews were being held, I saw his air of confidence. I sat waiting in the car with a Bible and a notebook. Reading, praying and watching the door.

Before this day I thought my mother was silly to worry about her adult children. How did I get from being a confident teen myself to being a silly fretting mom?

Today I saw that my fretting over Nathan is in vain.

He has the type of Godly self-confidence that I have admired in his father since the day we met. Over the years I used to think I had to worry for the both of us since Tom never seemed to.

Now, I can relax... and trust that God has it all under control. Tom and Nathan believe it. And so do I.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Tour de France

Tuesday July 10, 2007

The last two summers I have been in Italy helping out my girlfriend with her daughter during the month of July.

I am not complaining mind you, how can you complain about spending the summer in Rome?

I am just making an observation!... I had to watch the Tour in Italian not understanding what was being said, but, following the action anyway... looking things up on the internet during my daily trip to the internet cafe to make sure I understood "who had done what" that day.

This year I am actually watching in English! What a treat!!!


Sunday, July 08, 2007

30 Day challenge

Monday July 9, 2007

"And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you". Eph 4:32

As I have worked through this challenge I have learned how beneficial it is to my husband and our family for me to practice kindness, have a tender heart, display and grant forgiveness to others.

Reaching Day 22 of the 30 day challenge is a milestone for me... I have not even followed a diet as diligently as I have participated in the challenge!

My goals are being met each week and we are becoming a partner-focused couple instead of a child-focused one.

I found this quote as I was reading the Arp's book The Second Half of Marriage...

"The real mystery of marriage is not that husband and wife love each other so much that they can find God in each other's lives but that God loves them so much that they can discover each other more and more as living reminders of God's presence. They are brought together, indeed, as two prayerful hands extended toward God and forming in this way a home for God in this world" Henri Nouwen in Seeds of Hope

It is my prayer that our marriage will be like those two prayerful hands coming together!

This week's goals:

Help Tom get things ready for Spencer and I to leave for Russia on the 20th.

Continue to encourage and support Tom

Truly listen when he speaks and not assume I know what he is going to say.

***Be sure to check in with Christine over at Fruit in Season and let her know if you are participating in the challenge... you can also read through the blogs of other wives who are in the challenge as well.

What I "dig" abut Jesus

Sunday July 8, 2007

I was tagged for this by TammieFay over at His Word is Life for Me

Here are the rules:

1. those tagged will share 5 things they dig about Jesus…
2. those tagged will tag 5 other bloggers…
3. those tagged will post a comment here with their name and a link to their “dig” Jesus list…

When I was a young teen my grandmother (everybody calls her Big Mama) told me that there would be times in my life when I "would have no other friend but God" and that I "better cling to Jesus as hard as possible". When I have had lonely days... especially over the past two years in Russia... I could hear her words so clearly. Jesus is truly the one and only friend who has been there since the day of my salvation when I was 10 years old.

Here is my list:

His Generosity...
His generosity provides food, shelter, and we see that evidenced in loving support from friends and family.

He is Just...
His being Just helps us to know that all the scales will be balanced one day... evil will not win.

He is the Saviour...
Because He offers salvation we know that we will spend eternity with Him and can share that incredible news with others.

He is Merciful...
His mercy models for us that we can also be merciful to others. The church I grew up in had a sign on the back wall that said "Let Your Heart Be Broken By The Things That Break The Heart of God". I can still see those words emblazoned in my mind.

He offers Comfort...
His Comfort is there for us when we suffer the hurts of life... be it the stillbirths of our first two children, the hardships of life abroad or the general aches and pains of family life, His Comfort is always available to His children.

Here are my 5 that I am tagging:

Joann at Joann's Blog Adventure
Allie at MomMusings
Julie at The Accidental Pastor's Wife
Michele at Laundromat
Jen at Daughter of Eve

Friday, July 06, 2007

Sochi 2014

Saturday July 7, 2007

If we are still living in Russia in the year 2014, the winter olympics would be in our neck of the woods... Sochi is a beach city located about 2 hours drive from our city, Krasnodar.

It's Sochi 2014: Russia lands its first Winter Olympics

Associated Press

GUATEMALA CITY - Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi was awarded the 2014 Olympics yesterday, rewarding President Vladimir Putin and taking the Winter Games to his country for the first time.

Sochi defeated the South Korean city of Pyeongchang, 51-47, in the final round of voting by the International Olympic Committee.

The Austrian resort of Salzburg was eliminated in the first round of the secret ballot, setting up the decisive head-to-head contest between Sochi and Pyeongchang.

Pyeongchang led the first round with 36 votes, followed by Sochi with 34 and Salzburg with 25. Sochi picked up 17 votes in the second round to secure the victory.

The result was a triumph for Putin, who put his international prestige on the line by coming to Guatemala to lobby IOC members and lead Sochi's final formal presentation to the assembly. Putin had left by the time the result was announced.

IOC president Jacques Rogge opened a sealed envelope and read the words the Russians longed to hear:
"The International Olympic Committee has the honor of announcing the 22nd Olympic Winter Games in 2014 are awarded to the city of Sochi."

Russian delegates in the hall erupted in cheers, jumped to their feet and hugged each other. They unfurled a Russian flag and chanted, "Sochi! Sochi!" Korean delegates bowed their heads, some in tears.

"It was a historic decision for all countries," Sochi bid chief Dmitry Chernychenko said. "Russia will become even more open, more democratic."

In Sochi, cheers erupted from the crowd of more than 15,000 that had gathered for a pop concert and the announcement in a main square. "We did it all together. We won," the concert's announcer said from the stage as fireworks flashed and boomed.

People hugged and waved their hands in the air. Some appeared to have tears in their eyes.

"It is great. I've never been so happy in my life," said Marina Matveyeva, 23, who works in a bank. "It means that Russia has reached the level of Europe, and we can be proud of our country."

Russia, an Olympic power that has won 293 Winter Games medals, has never hosted the Winter Games. That was a strong point in Sochi's favor with the IOC, which likes to spread the Olympics to new host countries. Moscow hosted the 1980 Summer Games, which were hit by the U.S.-led boycott following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The Sochi bid won out over the appeals of its rivals - Salzburg, presenting itself as a safe, no-risk winter sports mecca at the heart of Europe with world-class venues already in place; and Pyeongchang, offering the potential for peace and reconciliation on the divided Korean peninsula and promoting winter sports in Asia.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Friday July 6, 2007

We went out to see this movie last night. Nathan and Spencer really enjoyed it. They both remember the toys and the cartoon from their childhoods. It was surreal to see them so nostalgic for something that seems like "only yesterday" to their dad and me!

Tom's sister Liz went with us and she sat near Spencer and pointed out to him that former president Gerald Ford's son Steven was in the movie... neither Tom nor I picked up on that.

As I watched all the action of the robots, cars, military personnel, computer experts and alien specialists from Sector 7, I could not help but think of all of the past and current transformations in our lives.

Nathan no longer living with our family, Spencer being the only child (almost adult) left at home, Tom and I preparing for life after raising kids. We are transforming into a different kind of family. One that will involve long distances and adult children.

Weren't they just born yesterday?

How did we time travel from being 27 with a three year old and a newborn to being 44 with kids who are no longer kids?

Life happens, transformation is a part of that. If someone would have told Tom and I when we married twenty-five years ago that one day we would be living in Russia and learning Russian in our forties, we both would have laughed so hard at them our sides would have ached.

Yet, here we are... eager to get back to Russia, worried that we will have forgotten basic words during our time away, curious to learn about transformations that have taken place in our absence.

What transformations has life brought your way?

Ruth Bell Graham

Thursday July 5,2007

Blessings in the form of a book from the Billy Graham Association came the other day... As a way to commerate the dynamic life of wife and mother Ruth Bell Graham they are giving away a book of her poetry. Her poetry is written from the heart and initially was not intended for publication.

What a delight it is to read through the thoughts and feelings of such a remarkable and godly woman!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

another trip to ER

Tuesday July 3, 2007

Early Tuesday morning... around 2:30 am, we loaded up the car and took Tom into the ER at UNM Hospital. From about 3am until 8:30 he had an intake session around 4am and a blood draw around 5:30am. But he didn't see a doctor until about 8:30. After that they did some testing. Another ultrasound and a CAT scan. He has sludge in the gallbladder and some small stones. He has stones in both kidneys as well. We left there shortly after noon!

We were told that pain is not an indicator of an emergency. So he can stay in pain and that is not a reason to have surgery anytime soon. Yes, he was given some medication to help alleviate the pain. But surgery is still what he needs.

We came back to the hotel and slept. I had been awake for over 24 hours and Tom had slept intermittently for about an hour.

Needless to say we are both frustrated. He has an appointment with a surgeon on August 7th. Who knows how soon surgery will be after that. We are becoming disillusioned with the medical system in the US... but what can we do? If he had the surgery in Moscow he would have to pay out of pocket for the procedure.

Please pray for us as we wait and weigh our options.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

what does your speech say about you?

Monday July 2,2007

"what does my marriage communicate to those who don't know me?"
Christine @ Fruit in Season

"In our marriage we tell the next generation what sex and marriage and fidelity look like to Christians. We are prophets, for better and for worse, of the future of Christian marriage."
(Evelyn and James Whitehead, quoted in Sacred Marriage)

As I worked this past week on my goals I found myself aware of how marriage is portrayed on TV and in the lives of those around me. Sometimes people are very sarcastic with one another and it can seem funny at the time... but, is it really? Having this realization has helped me to hold my tongue and not just immediately say what comes to my head. How can I honor God or my husband if I speak without thinking?

According to my sources this was a very good week! What Tom thinks of me as a wife is the most important thing.

As I continue to read through "The Second Half of Marriage" I learned that couples can find a communication pattern "that builds on your desire for companionship and we-ness, one that transcends your own tendency, cultural conditioning, or personality".

goals for this week:
continue to speak in a respectful and soft tone
finish reading "The Second Half of Marriage"
relax and enjoy whatever time we have alone together

The recipe for success in marriage is effort plus insight.
-David and Vera Mace