Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Visa Laws

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I have hesitated to post about this only because we don't know for sure how this new law will be applied.

Basically, the way the law reads now... with a multi entry visa we would only be able to stay in the country for 90 days, then would have to leave for 90 days and then could come back for 90 days. We would be required to apply for the visa in the country of our citizenship, which means going back to America.

Our school is actively working to find out all they can and make whatever accomodations needed to be made for us to stay in the country. We currently have a visa that is valid until July 2008.

Please pray with us about this issue!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

rerouting traffic

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Despite the rain and the weather turning colder... this machine is still in residence on our street. How long will he be there... your guess is as good as ours!

Monday, October 29, 2007

friends and family

Monday, October 29, 2007

What a day! A letter from my mother, a package from Tom's parents and a phone call from my best friend... those are the things that make our life abroad easier to bear!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Kuban Choir

Friday, October 26, 2007

We enjoyed a great concert tonight. I wish we had taken our camera... in fact no one in our group remembered to bring a camera. You can get the idea of how the costumes looked from a few publicity photos that I found online.

The dancing was lively and the singing was beautiful! Wish you could have joined us!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Russia told it is losing AIDS battle

Thursday, October 25, 2007

AIDS in Russia

Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told Russians on Thursday that their country is losing the battle against HIV/AIDS because of government inaction and a lack of public awareness.

"You are in terrible, terrible danger here in Russia," said Holbrooke, who now heads an international group that promotes partnerships between the government and private sector to combat HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.

"I'm terribly sorry to say this — this is not a political statement."

Officially, Russia had about 390,000 registered cases of HIV infection as of August 2007. But international experts say the true number of HIV carriers is closer to 1.6 million and is expected to grow by 30 percent by 2010.

With 80 percent of Russia's HIV cases among 15-30 year olds, the disease poses a threat to Russia's economic competitiveness, according to the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Clyde Tuggle, Coca-Cola's president in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, said businesses are major stakeholders in the global battle against AIDS.

He said his company had a "very selfish motivation" for joining the Global Business Coalition initiative in Russia.

"My business is dependent on one thing: the sustainability of this community, on a successful, healthy and prosperous Russia. Without that I will have no business," he said, speaking with Holbrooke at a conference in Moscow organized by the GBC.

HIV/AIDS is spreading faster in Russia and Ukraine than anywhere else in the world, and 90 percent of HIV carriers in these countries will not know that they are infected until they get full-blown AIDS, said Holbrooke, who heads the GBC, an alliance of 220 international companies.

"Over the next few years, they will be spreading it unintentionally, and on, and on, and on," he said. "It's a bottomless pit."

Vladimir Pozner, a prominent Russian journalist who moderated Thursday's event, said he was upset by the notable absence of Russian business leaders.

"They did not come because they were not told (by the authorities) to come. Otherwise, they would have come," he said. "But partnership isn't when the government tells business what to do."


On the Net:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My favorite question

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Are you Tom’s wife?

When we lived in California I was asked this question frequently…at the end of an Al-Anon meeting or in the supermarket. At first this used to make me angry. After all I am my own person.

I went to an Al-Anon meeting tonight. This group was started a year ago and it meets in a church on the other side of town. I called on Saturday to find out all the vitals, you know what I mean; where, when and what time. I asked my language helper to come with me, she speaks English so I thought if I had any problems understanding what was being said I could ask her. She called to get directions and find out what type of transport would get us over there.

We went into the meeting and immediately we were asked if we were the ones who had called. Then she asked us how we knew about Al-Anon. I told her I knew about the group from America. I have been involved for 7 years now. She was very excited. She asked me where I lived and I answered in the Slavinsky region.

Here is what happened next:

“Do you know Tom Sharp?”
“Yes, that’s my husband!”
“Oh my God, I have been looking for him!”
“You met him two years ago right?”
“Yes! Right after I attended a conference. I was looking for someone who would know how to start an Al-Anon group and I found an AA meeting. I was given his number but I didn’t call right away and then I was told he went back to America”

Can you imagine the joy on her face? She said this several times tonight:
“Look at how God works! In walks Tom’s wife!”

After Sasha and I left she asked me “how do you feel when people ask you about Tom?”

I think it is funny that we are in Russia, a long way from California, and I am still being asked this type of question!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

tragedy averted!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

We were down to our last jar of peanut butter! I asked my friend Stephanie to let me know if she was going to Metro (our version of Costco or Sam’s) so that I could get peanut butter.

Today after school Spencer and I stopped by their house just to see how they were doing and Stephanie gave us a gift: a jar of peanut butter! Spencer was so excited he carried it home himself.

Tom and Spencer have already enjoyed a sandwich or two for dinner!

Monday, October 22, 2007

that's a fine kettle...

Monday, October 22, 2007

People carry buckets onto the bus all the time… most of the time they are filled with fruits or vegetables. For the first time we had a woman on the bus with a bucket of fish! How would you like that ride?!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

under construction

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The street that we live on is closed. This is how it looks between the supermarket and the pharmacy.

When they finish widening the road and extending the trolleybus lines further out... we may actually be able to catch the bus closer to our apartment instead of having to walk 4 blocks to the bus stop!

See Nathan, I said there were lots of changes here... so much happened while we were gone!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Botanical Garden

Saturday, October 20,2007

wedding cars at the front gate!

view from our seat!

Tom noticed the etching on the side of the monument right away!

monument of Ivan Kusenko
a professor of the agricultural institute

map of the grounds

men are still working on the fence and the path

sign at the back entrance
it says Botanical Garden
it was created in 1959
by Ivan Kusenko

Walking in the park with Tom is one of the month relaxing things I have done in a long time. We had errands to run today…one of them was to photograph the entrance to the Botanical Garden.

The garden is still under construction. Many of the paths are still being laid. Painted bricks in various designs line the paths that have already been completed. There were many young families out today with strollers, kids riding bikes, teens sitting on benches reading, grandparents out with their grandchildren and Tom and I taking it all in! We found a park bench to be a nice place to catch up with one another and just chill for a bit.

We both decided we were definitely going back there. It has the feel of the botanical garden that we used to visit as a young family when we lived in Pasadena, California. One of my favorite photos of Nathan as a little boy was taken at Huntington Memorial Gardens there in Pasadena. When working as a nanny I would take Nathan and Kelsey over to the park when nap time was over. Tom, Nathan and I would walk there on Sundays from the campus of Fuller Seminary.

We hope that you enjoy the photos as much as we enjoyed being there!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

tastes of home

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Krasnodar has a Subway… not a subway as in transport, but a Subway as in submarine sandwiches!

Sasha and I went over there tonight for dinner. Spencer went over to Murat's house to play video games with Steve, Seth and Murat. Tom stayed home to enjoy the peace and quiet.

It took a 20 minute bus ride and a 15 minute walk to get there. Sasha asked me if it was worth it. I thought it was. We had a new grammar lesson today at school that left me feeling frustrated. So, I decided some comfort food was in is comforting to know that there are places like Subway, Baskin Robbins and McDonald’s where we can get a “taste” of home.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Nah-kah-nets! Finally!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Our toilet is fixed… after having a few friends come over to try and fix it, our friend Olya found a good plumber in the newspaper! Our problem was that after flushing the toilet the water kept running, sometimes for hours. We had to turn the water off to the toilet between flushes so as not to run up a huge water bill!

Olya called several numbers but Oleg was the only one who was available to come this week. At first her concern was that he would be too expensive. But, when she told me that his labor would be 500 rubles (about 20 dollars) and we that we had to pay for the part that needed to be replaced, I let her know right away that we could afford that. The part needed ended up costing 350 rubles (about 14 dollars) so for 34$ we have a toilet that works!

I left for school while Oleg was still working. When he was packing up to leave Tom asked him in Russian if he was finished… Tom just used the Russian word for done with the intonation of asking a question, the plumber answered using one English word “finished”!

I just got off the phone with Olya, I was letting her know that everything had gone well and that Tom wanted to keep Oleg’s phone number for future reference, she was thrilled. It is not often that you can find someone who does quality work from thumbing through the paper. It is better if you know someone who knows someone. You know?

So if you are ever in Krasnodar and need a good plumber just call me and I will pass on Oleg’s cell phone number!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

culture questions

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I was going over the culture questions from our lesson with Sasha. They were about setting goals, complaining and what makes a quality life... one of Sasha's answers was intriguing to me.

She told me that young men are told to do three things:

1) plant a tree
2) build a house
3) have a son

I love the imagery involved in this answer, for me it illustrates the path of patient endurance, stability and leaving behind a legacy.

There was one question that she didn't know the answer to. Spencer's language helper Vlad was also here so we asked his opinion. He couldn't answer the question either.

What does the "ideal Russian" look like?

Tomorrow I will ask my teacher at school. If you were asked about the "ideal American" or the "ideal____ fill in the blank with whichever country you are from", what would you say!?

Monday, October 15, 2007


Monday, October 15, 2007

Last week we had a lesson at school on jealousy. This new lesson we have is on complaining. I suppose today's lesson was very appropriate. The weather has changed and it is cold now. No more over 100 degree weather for us for a while.

I got an SMS from my friend Judi in Moscow, they have snow already. People around here say that we will have Moscow's weather in about a week.

Normally, our radiators are tested during the second weekend in October, but this has not happened yet. After they are tested (by running water through them to make sure no one in the building has a leak) in roughly two more weeks the radiators are turned on for the winter. They all come on at the same time and are turned off at the same time. The only way to regulate the temperature is to open a window!

If our radiators don't get turned on before the snow hits... then you will hear us complaining!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

plates, Russian or American size?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Tania set the table using what we Americans call a salad plate. Of course we were all able to refill our plates over and over again so we didn't go hungry. I still struggle with remembering not to use my dinner plates when we have Russian guests!

*** For you foodies: The tall greens in the background behind the water bottle are green onions, that cup was filled with fresh herbs to add to your own food.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Russia's bounty

Friday, October 12, 2007

diced potato with fresh dill

sliced tomato

One of my favorite things about life here is the vegetables... here is a photo of some of the fresh produce found on Sasha and Tania's farm! I sure wish you could taste them!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

blah, blah, blah!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I have a cold.

Our internet has been down.

Tom is going to change classes and leave Spencer and I.

I don't like being sick. I have been home alone for the past few days, but being without an internet connection made that no fun. Although, thanks to Mom and Dad, I was able to pop in a few DVD's and watch some reruns of CSI, Shark and Grey's Anatomy. Today I even got to spend some time with Yanna. She is sick too so I told her mother to just bring her on over.

Tom is going to be changing classes so that he can slow down and learn at his own pace. He is ready to be more active in ministry and will be starting an 8 week seminar at the church in November. He had a meeting with Valodia and I was able to translate for them. Valodia said I made a few grammar mistakes but that he understood me. I won't be translating for Tom when he does the seminars. Our teacher Dima has a agreed to do that.

Hopefully, tomorrow will bring on health and high speed internet!

Monday, October 08, 2007

what a weekend!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Vika's birthday cake

Samson Fitness Center

The church in Artirka meets in a fitness center owned by Tania and Sasha. Tom and I both spoke yesterday out there. It is a two hour drive there and then 2 hours back.

Tom spoke in the morning service and I spoke in the afternoon. He spoke on weathering the storms of life and I talked about codependency. During the break between the church service and the women’s group we celebrated Sasha and Tania’s daughter Vika’s birthday.

Vika is now 8 years old. Sasha killed a lamb and made shish-ka-bob with the meat and Tania prepared several different salads. Of course there was a birthday cake and lots of hot tea! We enjoyed spending time with Sasha, Tania and their three children. Tim and Joy were also there with their two children, another couple; Lena and Andrei, were there with their two children. Sasha and Tania’s oldest daughter also had her daughter with her. Sasha said that he doesn’t get to see his granddaughter very much due to his work schedule out on the farm and at the rehab center. So he kept telling his 8 month old granddaughter “I am your grandfather, the husband of your grandmother!”

Saturday, October 06, 2007

surprise, surprise!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Tom went to prayer meeting for the church leaders last night. He said it was a great meeting. They prayed for all of the ministries of the church, for each of the new ministries and for the leaders involved.

Just before the meeting started Tom found out that he was going to be speaking on Sunday in Artika at the church service. Which means tomorrow Tom and I are doing a double header. He is speaking in the morning service at church and I am speaking in the afternoon.

Please keep us in your prayers!

Friday, October 05, 2007

mountains, caves and waterfalls

Friday, October 5, 2007

Spencer and I went with our fellow classmates from school on a field trip to the mountains. We had a great day, hiking, sight seeing, purchasing honey from the side of the road and taking lots of pictures...


Spencer with Dima, one of our teachers

Alida with Arina, one of our teachers

river view

We left the school at 8 am and returned at 9pm. One of the highlights of the day was on the hike to the waterfalls. There was a Russian man who saw Spencer slip and fall on the rocks. He showed Spencer how to position his feet on the rocks to get better support. I thanked him for his advice and he said "we all walk together in one world".

How true!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

crossed that job off my list!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I didn't go to school today because I felt like today was my deadline for getting my talk written for Sunday. I don't normally write out what I am going to say word for word... but when you have to use a translator it is best to know exactly where you are going in your talk so that you don't miss any points or forget what you were saying while you are waiting for the translator to finish speaking. I was able to get it all typed up and proof read by Tom so I am all set.

Tom was in class by himself today and he thought it ws the best class he has ever had! I understand how he feels... the fewer people in class the less time the class period lasts. Three or more people is three hours, two people is two hours and one person is an hour and a half. Jason has been busy this week with a new baby, Spencer was tired and needed a break and I needed to get my work done so Tom had the teacher all to himself!

Tomorrow our school is taking a trip to the mountains and we will be gone from 8am to about 9pm. We will take the camera and should have some beautiful photos to share when we get back!

On Saturday the women of the church are getting together to hear Linda speak on getting a MOPS group started at our church. Please pray for us as we see a great need here in our region to sevre the young mothers here. We see so many of them out pushing strollers everyday!

On Sunday we are headed out to Artirka for Vika's birthday and for me to speak at a group that Tania started. It is a secular group so I am not doing a "churchy" talk. I am speaking on codependency. I have laid out the talk so that it will hopefully lead to starting an Al-Anon meeting out there. We thought this had happened while we were in the States but we think they were waiting for us to come out and do some teaching on the need for the group before it actually begins.

Tom is preparing a series of 8 lessons to help get our church ready for serving the recovering comuunity in this area. He talked with Valodia and shared his ideas with Alexei and it looks like everyone is excited to get this going.

For Tom and I the things we have scheduled are the result of the work we have been doing to build relationships and learn this language, all the ideas we had before we came here are becoming reality!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

toothpaste or cross?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Tom gave one of our teachers some Crest toothpaste. He wrote about it in our newletter so when our guests Chuck and Vicky came they brought more Crest. Tom has been taking in tubes to her on a daily basis.

In Russian the word for "cross" is Krest. So the teachers ( who speak both English and Russian) have been having fun joking about the "crest" or the "krest".

Spencer said "Chuck and Vicky came to Russia bearing the "Krest"!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

just the three of us

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Sonya has moved on to another city so she is no longer at our school, Jason was busy today with paperwork for his new son, and that left Spencer, Tom and I in class together.

I expressed my gratitude to Spencer today for how patient he is with his Dad and I in class. How many 17 year olds do you know who would be able to tolerate going to school with their parents, let alone be in the same class!?

He is truly one of a kind!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Krasnodar's birthday

Monday, October 1, 2007

This past weekend was our city's birthday! I went to some of the festivities on Sunday but I was there at night and didn't have my camera. Fortunately, Rebecca and Jeff were prepared!

Please check out their blog for photos from the celebration: