Saturday, December 31, 2005

Play dough and packing

My parents left early this morning. Here are a few recent pictures of Jaan playing with play dough and helping his grandparents pack:

Help from Baba Kathy
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

The snake house
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Where's Jaan?
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

There he is!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Well. . .

. . . obviously, I didn't get around to adding any more photos yesterday. Here's a photo of one of Jaan's Christmas presents:
A train book!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Random Christmas photos

Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

More coming soon. (I hope.)

Monday, December 26, 2005


One if the things that I love about living here is the Christmas season. While the holidays are winding down for most people in America, we're just getting started here. The churches that we know of celebrate December 25, at least some. Then we have New Year's; it's the biggest secular holiday of the year, but of course the church family has to enjoy it together, too. After that January 7--which is the Russian Orthodox Christmas--is our biggest church celebration. As our pastor in Moscow liked to say, "The Bible tells us to rejoice always, so we're going to take advantage of every day we can to rejoice in Christ's birth."

We had a wonderful family Christmas yesterday. Having my parents here really made it special. In the morning we had a Christmas breakfast, and Dad read the Christmas story. Jaan "read" along with him from his picture Bible. Right after that Will had to run out for the Sunday morning lesson with the orphanage children, then music practice. Mom and Dad joined him for church, but I stayed home with our coughing babies. The three who had been at church came home around 5:00. We went out and took Christmas cookies and cards to our neighbors, and then came back to a nice, hot Christmas dinner. Dinner was followed by opening presents; this was the first year that Jaan understood that. The last thing we did before putting two very tired children to bed, was my family's traditional Happy Birthday Baby Jesus cake.

The weather has been celebrating, too, I think. Both yesterday and today we've had clear blue skies. Right now I'm sitting between my two sleeping children, and sunshine is pouring through the window onto us. The trees we can see out the window are all lacy with frost.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas yesterday; don't forget to keep celebrating Christ's birth!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas (Eve)!

I'm sorry I've been so silent. We've been busy. I hope you all are also enjoying a wonderful Christmas season!

Mom and Dad in Vladimir
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

. . . on Thursday.

Making Christmas cookies
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

. . . yesterday.

Decorating the Christmas tree
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

. . . earlier in the week.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Quiet day

Will took my parents sightseeing in Vladimir today. We've just played
outside a little and had a normal day at home. (Raia did not like the
falling snow, but I sure thought it was beautiful!)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Favorite toys

Do grandparents count as toys? I don't think so, but Jaan and Raia sure are having fun playing with them!

Lizard, dog, Baby
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Whenever I put Raia down, or if she fusses about anything, Jaan starts scrambling to be sure that she has these three toys. They are her favorites, and her brother has certainly noticed that. Her favorite of all is that lizard. Will keeps asking, "Aren't babies supposed to like soft, fluffy, pretty things? Especially GIRL babies?" I think she's taking after me.

Hat and pencils
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Aunt Lindy sent Christmas presents to be opened and used before Christmas. They've kept Jaan busy all morning. In this photo he's wearing my neck warmer from her. (Grandpa in the background is wearing Raia's new hat.) He has a handful of pencils--another present--that have been everything from screwdrivers to telephones. Toddlers can make anything into the most fascinating toy imaginable!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"Walking in a winter wonderland"

Yesterday we went for a walk in the woods, took family photos, and found our Christmas tree.

Jaan with the Christmas tree (all wrapped up)
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Snow angel
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Youth club photo

Dad was able to go with Will, and he took this photo:

Misha, Sveta, Lena, Sergei, and Will
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Today (and yesterday)

Last night Mom, Raia and I had a girls' night out. We went to my knitting lesson and had tea afterwards with the Bible study that meets at the same time. We had a great time!

Today has mostly been quiet. We've played outside and inside and just enjoyed being together.

Dad went with Will to the youth club tonight. While they were gone, Mom played with and bathed the children, and I sorted and organized photos. I think it's been over two years since I was able to concentrate on a project for such an uninterrupted period of time and actually accomplish something with visible results!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Another one of Dad's photos

Snow babies
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I thought I posted this one yesterday, but I guess I didn't. Aren't they cute?

(By the way, Anna and Abby, the Sasha I wrote about yesterday was Sasha Kondratyuk from Goose.)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

They're here!

It's so wonderful to have two grandparent visits in one year! My parents arrived safely last night, and not so late as we expected. One of our missionary friends "just happened" to be on the train from Vladimir to Moscow with Will yesterday morning. When he heard that Will was going in to meet my parents, he offered to drive them back from Vladimir. So, when their train arrived in Vladimir, Sasha got his car and drove the last leg of the trip. It was on his way home. . . about like Tallahassee would be on the way home to Miami from Orlando.

So far they haven't frozen. Dad came out to video tape and photograph Jaan playing outside this morning. He and Jaan had a great time kicking and throwing snow.

Dad took these pictures:

Jaan with Baba Kathy
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Sled train
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

This is the one I needed to go with my post yesterday.

The Caboose!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Another three cheers

Hurrah! My parents are coming. Actually, they're already in Moscow with Will. They'll arrive in Kovrov late tonight.

Hurrah! I finally figured out an easy way to go for walks, and so we got to enjoy the snow-covered woods and gorgeous weather this morning. I'll have to have Will get a picture of this, but for now you can imagine it. I put Raia on our sled, then tied a flexible piece of plastic behind for Jaan. I made a handle for him to hold and put a blanket under him, so people wouldn't worry too much. We have our sled train! Now I just need to find a horse to pull it for me. . . .

Hurrah! As we crossed over to the woods, there was a babushka headed in the same direction. She stopped me, and I braced myself for a scolding. Yes, I did have the children dressed all "wrong," but instead of berating me too much, she just got them set right and then walked with us the rest of the way. We talked a lot, and she's now very interested in visiting our church. Her father converted from Orthodoxy, and several of her seven (!) siblings go to protestant churches now. She herself doesn't go to any church, but she loves the hymns that she remembers from her childhood. She hummed and sang quite a few for me, and was thrilled that I knew most of them. I don't even know her name--other than Babushka--but please pray that she really will come to our church!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Decorating for Christmas!

Making the tree
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Remember last year we made a hand print tree? This year Jaan got to put his gluing skills to use. We have a mosaic tree!

Right now he and Will are putting up lights. We have one string that flashes, and Jaan much think that they're candles, because he's almost hyperventilating trying to blow them out.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Strength for the weary

This morning when Raia woke me up and I stumbled out into the living room for my quiet time with the Lord (and Raia), I was so tired that I could barely get my eyes open. I remembered that I had been encouraged by Isaiah 40:29 recently, so I went to meditate on those verses. I know verse 31, but I just really noticed the verses before it recently for the first time.

From there we've gone on to have a very nice day. There's a beautiful, fresh snowfall that Jaan and I have already enjoyed. We're going to go back out again after nap. The sky has even been a little bit blue, with the sun peeking out at times!

And when I was working on a Gospelink application for a new family with ten children, I discovered that the mother's favorite verse was the passage that encouraged me this morning!

Thursday, December 08, 2005


I slept. Things are much better now.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

What a night!

I can't wait to go to bed. Either Jaan is getting another cold, or the one he just had is coming back. His nose is all stuffy. He hasn't been sick often enough to figure out how to breathe through his mouth, so he was up and down almost all night, crying. Will took care of him until 3:00, then he moved out to the couch and I took over. Raia didn't want to miss out on any of the fun, so she had to eat whenever she heard Jaan crying. Fortunately, after Will moved, Raia and Jaan started taking turns. I didn't get to sleep, but at least I didn't have two crying babies on my hands at any one time.

Will spent all day yesterday and today painting the room the church rents, and he's still not finished yet.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What's so funny?

Being silly
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

For some reason they think this is really funny. I don't quite get it. Jaan puts his foot on Raia's head (gently), and then they both laugh like crazy.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Getting closer to sitting up

The Queen
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Raia's favorite place now is sitting on the couch, surrounded by pillows, directing everything that goes on around her.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Masha's photos

I was going to post some other photos, but I'm having trouble sending them right now. These are from Masha.

Jaan at church
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Nathan, Pavel and Will
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Raia and Mama
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thought (and Prayer) Provoking Material

As I scan newspapers now and then to keep in touch with the world at large, and Russian national news in specific, once in a while something just leaps out at me. Usually it's something that either pertains to freedom of religion or the lack thereof here in Russia, something that I can use to explain to people just HOW different things are here. . . or something that might well pertain to us personally!
That last possibility is always nicely mentally bracing, thought provoking, and definitely prayer provoking!

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Please be praying with us that current legislation as well as proposed legislation would not hinder in any way our living and ministering in Russia. Even more so, be praying that the Russian church would be able to continue to preach the Gospel and minister, to grow and develop, despite hinderances and restrictions that already exist and most likely will only increase.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Monday morning

As usual after a weekend, I was greeted by a huge pile of dirty dishes, toys scattered to the four winds, and a mountain of laundry. But it's worth it! Our weekends are very full and fun. We've added in a "physical and spiritual supper" for the youth and young families here after church, hence the dishes and toys. I don't have time to wash diapers on Saturdays, and I think it goes against my principles to wash on Sundays, so the laundry adds up, too.

Saturday night a new guy came to the youth club! So, pray for Misha. He has to come back at least once, because he loaned Will a CD.

Sunday I served everyone a casserole made from leftover turkey and a second pumpkin pie. Will served them the first lesson that he's translated from our NTBI Christian life class notes.

Monday is our day to catch up and spend time together, so I'm off to enjoy my family and chores.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving! (this time with photos)

Happy Thanksgiving!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Mark learning American history
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Jaan and Mark
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Can you tell that Jaan's favorite part was the cranberry sauce?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

I was going to post Thanksgiving photos, but then I realized that Will
took the camera before I could get the pictures off of it. He's in
Vladimir all day, so pictures will have to wait until tomorrow.

I just spent nap time helping a neighbor from the second floor with
some English. . . some hard English! I think I need to review my
grammar. Can anyone tell me all the verb tenses we have in English?
She was referring to them left and right. Can you explain off the top
of your head what the difference is between "each" and "every"? (I
know the official answer to this one, because I looked it up in my
Oxford answer book.)

When the babies woke up it was a relief to go back to my usual simple
conversations! My brain did appreciate the exercise, though.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Last night we got to see "korova" (a cow), so Jaan's been going around saying "moo" and "korova" all day today. He was rather afraid of the real thing, but still very fascinated. I had a terrible time getting a photo, because he didn't want to be close to the cow (except with me holding him), and he certainly didn't want to take his eyes off of her!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Not as planned

Today I was going to spend the morning outside with the children, so that Will could sleep in a little and then work on Gospelink letters undisturbed. Well, we three woke up to rain, and then Will was awakened by me running in and exclaiming "There's water spraying up under the kitchen sink!"

Monday, November 21, 2005

Three photos

It seems like I haven't been posting photos so much lately, so here are a few random ones from the past few days:

"If I had a hammer. . ."
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Raia has figured out how to GRAB. Anything that comes near her hands gets instantly pulled into her mouth.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Last night Jaan and Will had a father and son bonding time. Will got a whole bottle of Coke. Jaan got a bottle cap full. He was thrilled!

Potty partners again
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Yes, they had just woken up. These days we usually have this little His and Hers potty station set up in the hallway.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Blue sky!

Hurrah! For the first time in about two weeks, we have clear blue sky! Guess what we're going to do today?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Our winter butterfly

Our butterfly
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Several years ago, when we lived in Moscow, we had a butterfly fly in our window in September. She lived with us until January, when we had to travel and couldn't take care of her any longer. This year Jaan and I found a butterfly out on the stairs, and we've already been enjoying her presence for over a week. Often it seems like the ones that we see looking for refuge in autumn are old. This one is brand new and brightly colored. My theory is that some caterpillars wander indoors to make their chrysalises. Then, when the heat first comes on, they think it's already spring and emerge. I think that's what happened with this one.

Explaining about the butterfly's antennae
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Or maybe the wings? He was certainly fascinated with and very excited about something.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Just quickly, I'll share about yesterday's and today's walks. Yesterday we went to the woods. Since we didn't see anyone else, I guess other people aren't thinking that this is a good time for a walk in the woods. We enjoyed the solitude, though. Jaan was fascinated by the sound of the wind in the trees. Once Raia fell asleep, we found a log to sit on, and just listened.

Today we stayed closer to home, but we saw a flock of waxwings. Even Raia noticed them, and her wide little eyes got even wider at all the noise and activity in the trees above us. I think the first waxwings are a sign of winter here in the same way that robins signal spring in other parts of the world.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A day in our lives

People have asked about what a typical day is for us. Will's days are very unpredictable, but I can tell you about what Jaan, Raia and I do on a typical day at home.

7:00 - I get up. This is just a goal, a new thing that I'm trying to get started. A few years ago I wouldn't have thought it was early at all. Now it can be a real struggle not to just lie in bed until my babies wake up. My days go much more smoothly if I get up and have some quiet time in the Word first, though. (If I don't get up, I can fit quiet time in during naps. I was content with that, but I'm really finding that this way is better.)

8:00 - Jaan and Raia wake up, almost like clockwork at the same time. I know, we're very blessed that they get up together and not early! We eat breakfast right away.

9:00 or 10:00-ish - We head outside. Jaan and I walk while Raia falls asleep in the stroller. If we were just walking around our neighborhood, then we stop somewhere once she's asleep and Jaan plays. If we went to the woods, we also usually find a place to stop for a while, so that Jaan can explore.

12:00 - Come in and have lunch.

1:00 - Naps. I really work toward having both Jaan and Raia go down at the same time, but some days it just doesn't happen. If they do both sleep, I try to divide the time between having a break myself and getting something done without helpers. One or both of them are up by 3:00. We used to go outside after naptime, but now that it's getting colder and darker, we're going to have to transition out of that. Now we work on various projects (like the never-ending translations! Are you reading this, Dean?)) and maybe some preschool fun. Today we did laundry (and translated), and then Jaan used scissors, glue, and scraps of construction paper to make collages.

6:00 - Supper.

10:00 - Bedtime for all of us.

Evenings vary. Monday Will goes to a Bible study for the church men or Gideons meeting; those alternate back and forth. Tuesday there's a home group that he sometimes attends, sometimes leads. Thursday we have a youth planning meeting here, but Raia and I go to the Bible study that Tanya is doing. Friday night--at least for now--I have a knitting lesson, and Jaan goes along to play with Mark.

Weekends are our really busy time, although most of the busyness is Will's. Saturday morning there's often a Gideons Bible distribution. At noon Will goes out to Sannikovo for ministry with the children there. Saturday nights are the new youth club. Sunday morning is Sunday school for the kids from the orphanage, then music practice. Church is in the afternoon. We're talking about adding supper here and a Bible study for the church youth after that.

So, there you have it. . . our daily life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Monday, November 14, 2005

Youth club

Saturday was the first meeting of the youth club that we've been praying about and building up to for at least a couple of months now. A couple of days before, at a planning meeting, Yulia asked me if I was prepared to have no one at all show up at the first meeting. My response was that I would definitely be ready for that, but I also wanted to be prepared for 50-100 people!

Well, there weren't 50 people there, but there were more than 5! It was almost completely 'our folks.' However, there were four of those who seldom attend the usual youth meetings, so that in itself isn't bad! There was one... family? (They never explained whether they were or not.) A younger man and women, and a little girl that were completely new acquaintances for me.

Now this is interesting, and goes a long way in portraying smaller town life here in 'formerly communist' Russia. We were waiting to see if anyone else was going to show up, and I stepped out in the lobby and found Yulia waiting there. . . she said this young man wasn't entirely unknown to them, even if he was to me. Yulia works for the city/county administration, and she said this guy does too, as what we would call an 'informer.' Pavel recognized him as well, from previous outreach endeavors. He visits around all the non-Russian Orthodox religious organizations from time to time, not really staying anywhere, not professing to believe in God, or even showing any real interest. However, any new development, like our youth club, and he's very likely to turn up, hang out, have lots of questions. Neat, huh? Hey, sooner or later, he's bound to get saved if he hears the Gospel enough and lots of people are praying for him! So, feel free to pray for our friend Gehrmann.

The evening was enjoyable, and even if we looked at it a little as a practice run, it was good for our youth, and definitely good for me!

We had tea and coffee and snacks waiting as people came in, started with a getting acquainted game, introduced ourselves a little, played another game, sang songs, had a bit of English practice also along the lines of getting acquainted; I shared briefly how faith in God had given me purpose in life, and we wrapped up with another song. (Doesn't sound like much, but we still used up an hour and a half somewhere!)

We had a good time, and are planning to print out more invitations, post more flyers around the city, and keep inviting young people. Please keep us in your prayers as we plan and pray how to make this a more effective time of outreach to unbelievers, semi-church kids, informers, etc.