Sunday, May 28, 2017

Weekend update

As is becoming usual for me, here's just a random collection of things I wanted to mention:

Remember that Bogdan and I went on a field trip to a fire station? Here are some photos from that. These are the few that I posted right afterwards, too. I'd still like to share more, but I don't know if I'll get to it.

Please be sure to check Alys' blog, if you want to see some pictures that include some of us and read a bit about the team that came last weekend. I keep a link to her blog in our sidebar, but here's the specific post about the team, if you just want that.

The family concert that featured our children was amazing, even if it's the proud Mama saying that. Raia was given the choice of an exam or a concert, and she chose concert. It really turned out beautifully! I streamed it live online, and you can still see that video here. The photo above is from after that concert. Jaan and Asya were in another concert the next day, too, but I didn't know about that one in advance, so I couldn't go. Will did get some photos.

There was also the concert and contest from the weekend before last. I think I had already mentioned it? A friend of ours who is a professional videographer filmed our kids' parts. I haven't had a chance to upload the videos from him yet, though. That day was extra fun, because when we showed up, we found that groups from Tsyurupinsk orphanage and the place where Oksana lives in Kahkovka were there as spectators.

We've had lots of "Last Bells" (end of the school year celebrations) already, and there are more to come. I got to be at the one for Tsyurupinsk orphanage on Friday, Jaan had his for his robotics classes yesterday, today was for Sunday school, next week will be for art school. Bogdan is a little confused and upset about all of this. He knows that he will be singing at the end of preschool, so he keeps asking me if this is where he's going to sing. And he was a little worried about how this all works; he had to know what happens after Last Bell. It sounds so final. I assured him that life goes on, summer starts, we have school break. "Then can we study again after that?" After his last art and preschool classes yesterday, he was moaning about how he'll miss his teachers. I comforted him by reminding him that he'll see them again next week at Last Bell. He said, "Then I can miss them after that."

In our own homeschool we're taking two weeks off for English camp, then we'll continue on until the end of June. I think some individual lessons are continuing at music school, too.

Our electricity was off during the days for a second week, and it looks like it will be off next week, too. We won't be around to "enjoy" that much, though, because we'll be helping with an Agape English day camp at the city orphanage.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Actual travel plans

Another day without electricity, so I will write another post that doesn't involve uploading photos. Internet without electricity really is an amazing thing!

We have really had a hard time making specific plans for our trip this summer. The money for our tickets was given to us, and we are so thankful for that! We haven't been able to buy the tickets, though, because a few of our children needed passports. Those finally came today, so tickets can be the next step. There's also just the complication of living life. It's very hard to plan all the details of a month in another country for six people while we're busy here. Right now, there's all the end of the year school stuff going on, a team arriving tomorrow, and Will's very busy with plans for English camp at Kherson orphanage.

We are planning to be in the USA July 6-August 8. The first half of that will be in Florida, and the second half in North Carolina. July 9 we're scheduled to speak at Circle Community Church. That's as far as we've gotten with plans....

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Pre-furlough thoughts?

Back when I first read this post, I thought that I should write something like it for myself. On this second electricity-only-in-the-evening day, maybe I'll finally get to it. We do have a little battery-powered internet thing that sometimes kind of works; sometimes and kind of are the key words, though. By the way, it looks like this schedule is supposed to continue all week for our street.

So, did you read the original post? Even if you didn't, you can probably follow along here, because I'll quote bits. My own thoughts are a good bit different than hers in a lot of places... and exactly the same in others.

First, I am going to admit that I don't feel the excitement. Our hearts are here. Our lives are here in this part of the world. I really don't miss anything America. Of course, I LOVE to see friends and family, but the actual travel and being away from home is really, really, really difficult for me. I'm just being honest.

Then, point by point, quoting and adding my own thoughts:
1)When we left, Downton Abbey was on season 3
I know nothing about Downton Abbey. I don't follow popular culture and never really have, so this doesn't affect me much, I don't think. Yes, I get lost when anyone talks about American TV, movies, music, politics... but there's nothing new about that. Sorry!

2)My son is going to think something “normal” is really funny and weird.
Yes. Our children will think just about everything about American life is strange and fascinating. Last time we were there, we got to church the first Sunday, and they bragged about how we had come in a car, and their Papa had driven it. Then they were ages 1, 4, 6, and 8; now they're 6, 9, almost 12, and 13. It's been a while! Thanks in advance for going easy on them and trying not to laugh.

Last time, with the car that Papa drove; they were so little!

3)I’m afraid I won’t remember names
Maybe. I'm decently good with names. Please, do forgive me if I forget, though. What I think about more is how much our home churches have changed. There are so many new people at both! We do want to meet them, but I don't know how realistic that is. Will it be possible? How?

4)My clothes are awful
Probably. Um, okay. I should completely replace this one with something that I'm actually thinking about, but I'm not coming up with anything at the moment.

5)We’ve experienced trauma
No! Not this time, and that's such a blessing. In the past we have come in after pretty serious trauma, and I know we have been emotionally raw. This time we shouldn't be. We are in a very good place for us, and we're praising God for that. Now, that doesn't mean that we won't be exhausted and dazed by culture shock.

6)I need more than 5 minutes
Yes. Coffee dates. Please! If you ask me "How's life in Ukraine?" I'll probably say, "Fine," but is that a real answer? And how I can find out anything about how's your life in America, if we only get 5 minutes or less?

7)My ‘Thank You’ isn’t enough
Definitely. This is too good. I'll quote it all:
How can I adequately express just how thankful I am for everyone who prays, encourages, and supports us? I’ll bring back a woven bracelet or some other unique thing from my overseas home and say, “Thank you. We wouldn’t be here without you.” but am still so aware how short words and trinkets will fall. However sincere, my ‘thank you’ isn’t enough.

Monday, May 15, 2017

A lull

After our full weekend I either want to enjoy this cool, gray weather by sleeping, or to start sorting through photos and thoughts from the past few days. Photos have to wait, because our electricity is off today. Sleep isn't really an option either. We had a great morning of school, though, and we're not doing a strict nap time today, because Bogdan and I are going out soon. I'm loving watching everyone work on the puzzles that were in their prize bags yesterday. It's very sweet and quiet, at least at this moment.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Last weekend and this weekend

Last weekend was wonderful for us, because Oksana stayed with us Friday through Sunday. She had just had her birthday, so we celebrated that together Friday evening. Because she doesn't like sweets, I didn't make her a cake, but I did make the specific kind of soup she requested, and we put a candle in her bread. On Saturday the main adventure was that she took Bogdan to class with me. She's still learning to walk on crutches, and we didn't have her wheelchair as a backup, so it really was quite an adventure for her, but she was a trooper. We made it there and back without trouble, and she got to see where our kids have art classes. Sunday we made almost the same trek again for church, but a good Samaritan did give her and me a ride home.

Bogdan's present for her


Drawing with chalk
The weekend ahead will be full and fun, too. Tomorrow is the yearly Family Day that the churches of Kherson put on in the city park. Our girls will be singing with the church children's choir, and Jaan will be doing skits with the church theater group. Then on Sunday afternoon there's another event; as far as I can tell it's a secular version of what the churches have started. Kids from our music school will be performing music in family groups. Jaan, Raia, and Asya are all taking part in that. Both events have required tons of extra practices and extra lessons. Jaan especially has been running around, preparing for an important exam that he had yesterday, plus going to both sisters' music lessons, on top of his own. Once we get to Monday, it will be back to school as usual, except that Bogdan and I are signed up for an excursion to a fire station!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Victory Day

On Tuesday we got to go on a lovely "plein air" and church picnic. The art school combined with the church this year, and we all went out on buses into Tsuyrupinsk Forest.

So, first the art school students drew and painted. Then we ate, climbed trees (mostly that was Jaan), played, explored the woods, observed butterflies, and just relaxed on our backs on our picnic blanket (Mama and Papa). Oh, and the girls chattered non-stop with their friends the whole time.

He was already on his way down.

I found a few pictures on other people's social media, too. I love this one of Jaan, and Bogdan is in this one. One of our friends was also taking tons of pictures with his professional camera, and he might share later.

There was a little excitement, too, when someone found an unexploded bomb from WWII. So, they spent the day keeping kids from running across that field, and toward evening, when we were getting ready to leave, the police arrived to check it out. As we headed back to our buses, two policemen were standing guard, waiting for whoever was supposed to come take care of it.

Jaan wanted me to add this photo from one of his friends:
I didn't go this close to it!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Our family day in Kyiv

The schedule for our Kyiv trip was one day of travel, one day of documents, one family day, then another day of travel. For the family day, I thought about seeing the Easter eggs in the center of the city, but I heard that they took them down the day before we were there. Next, I planned on Pirogov outdoor museum, but then found out that it's closed on Wednesdays. So, we went back to an old favourite: the Lavra. Our children either very vaguely remembered it from our last visit, or didn't remember at all. Now they'll remember. It was really a beautiful day and time of year to visit.

Raia getting water from a holy spring

Dressing to go down into the caves.
No photos allowed underground.

Oh, and the embassy day went well, too. No one completely broke down at any point, although there were a whole lot of emotions being expressed at times. After our appointment we really enjoyed the big park by the embassy. Will and Bogdan fed a squirrel, and everyone ran wild and climbed trees for several hours. Bogdan said that he wanted to live in that "forest." Also, later when I asked Asya about the best part of the trip, she said it was Puzata Khata (restaurant) and the escalators in the Metro.

It was a good little trip, but we're very glad to be home now and still a bit tired and sniffly after all the fun and exertion.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Hello from Kyiv

Yesterday we had a wonderful trip up to Kyiv. I love daytime train trips, and this is such a beautiful time of year. The fields that aren't freshly plowed, are bright, bright green. There was rain and snow and patches of sun coming from very dramatic skies, and we saw a few rainbows. Once it got dark and our children got tired, it was rather messy, though. This train doesn't get into Kyiv until late at night. It was 1:00 a.m. by the time we got to bed, and no one slept in this morning. I hope they can hold out through our embassy appointmen before anyone has hysterics or falls alseep standing up.

We need to head out pretty soon for that appointment....

Before we left home yesterday I uploaded a few photos, though. Here they are:

On Sunday I went out to the church in the village where Alys is building. She wants to "introduce" the boys who will be living there to the church so that they can already be praying and starting to feel like they know them. So, each month she's printing out photos of them and having someone share. Last month Oksana told them about Vitya, and this month it was my turn to introduce Sasha. Jennifer drove me out there; her photos are here.

After that and a special lunch with the church members, we went on to another village to meet someone who also might get involved in the ministry. When we walked into his tiny church, I noticed an Agape photo right away. (Agape has a program where they give photos of orphans to believers who will pray for them.) We recognized the girl in the photo. She was from Tsyurupinsk, and she was adopted by an American family about 8 years ago! The church has been faithfully praying for her all this time. Here is most of the church:

And then these are unrelated photos from after a concert that Jaan and Raia played in on Good Friday:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Lent and Holy Week recap

Years ago we made little people and acted out the events of Holy Week with them. Bogdan refound them and asked what they were from, so we kind of repeated what we had done before. Palm Sunday they actually went out to walk, so there wasn't a reenactment at home, but the next night we read that story, and Bogdan and Asya played it out for us.

Then we also did the cleansing of the temple:

Raia took pictures
Wednesday evening, since the Bible is silent about what Jesus did, we didn't read. Instead, we made a little Easter garden.

Thursday, I made matzo while everyone was at various classes. Then, when they came home, we read about the Last Supper and ate and drank together.

Friday I read about the darkest day in the world from the Jesus Storybook Bible, which fits really well with the Lenten Lights reading for that day. Once we blew out the candles, we also turned out the lights in our home, "sealed" them off with tape until Sunday, and tried to go to bed in dark and quiet.

And then we waited for the light of the resurrection.

(I actually got to read the Good Friday story from the Jesus Storybook Bible twice that day, because I read it to the girls at the orphanage that morning, too. They really listened well and seemed to connect more than usual. Often when I read to them, it's hard for them to concentrate, and they talk. For this story, they were quiet. At the end, several said that it was so sad. We sat with those feelings for a little while, talked about them more, and then I read the resurrection story, too. They also listened well to that and responded with joy. I don't know that I've ever had their attention for two stories in one day!)

I just realised that Jaan was really good at staying out of these photos:
He was right there with us, though.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Day

We had a very beautiful Easter yesterday. Unfortunately, Raia was sick, so we didn't take family photos, and the only picture I have of her is from our preparations the night before:

Easter morning:

An empty tomb
Christ is Risen!
He is risen, indeed!
One of our babushka neighbours brought us fresh baked Easter breads, too. She made so many that she couldn't carry them all to church the night before, so we got the unblessed ones. They still taste wonderful.

At church, instead of Sunday school, the children went on a walk around the property where they saw scenes from Holy Week.

After church we came home for a quick lunch, all except for Asya. She had to stay to get ready for the art school celebration that was the next event on the schedule. As soon as we finished eating--again, leaving poor Raia at home--we hurried back for the celebration. (Raia was supposed to take photos for the school to post online. She had been so excited about being asked to do that. I tried to get some for her, but I just don't have her eye and energy.)

The preschool group that Bogdan is in was hilarious. Only a few of them showed up, and they were the very first ones to perform.

Bogdan did sing the song loudly all the way home, and he's still singing it now. Also, as part of the program Asya's group sang; there were games, a short message from the Bible (most of these families do not attend church), the preschoolers did a craft, clowns came....

So that you can see Asya, too, here she is with a present that she got:

Today was a recovery day for all of us, and tomorrow we start back into school. We continue to sing and say and remember that CHRIST IS RISEN!