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.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Three cheers

Hurrah! We went outside today. It's still grey and wet, but not actually raining, so we put on our rubber boots and went out. It felt so good! Jaan put his own mittens on, and in my hurry to get the screaming baby outside, I didn't even look at them. I just congratulated him on doing that by himself for the first time ever. He kept asking me for help all the way down the stairs, but I thought he wanted me to carry him. Once we got outside, I looked and figured out why he wanted help. His mittens are on a string through his coat sleeves. Somehow he had gotten them on wrong, so each hand was closely connected to the opposite sleeve. He could barely move his arms. No wonder he needed help!

And after we came in, we saw our first family of bullfinches for this year. (I just learned what they're called in English today.) They're one of my favorite winter sights: bright red little birds against a background of white snow on a sunny day. . . Even without the snow they were beautiful in the red berry tree right under our window. (Now that's one I need to learn in English. I really do know what it's called in Russian.)

Hurrah! Will will be home tonight. I talked to him briefly on the phone, and I know he's enjoying the fellowship with the other men. We'll still be very happy to have him back!

Hurrah! To find out the biggest news of today, look down at the very bottom of this page. I know the butterfly doesn't fit with the wintery forest background, but I did that on purpose. It makes me think of my poor Dad in Kovrov in December. Note to the Hunsucker grandparents: I wanted to do something like that for your visit, but couldn't figure it out at the time. Did I tell you that Jaan still asks for Baba and Danna almost every night at bedtime?

We have a very busy weekend ahead of us, so don't expect to hear from me until Monday or Tuesday. Nathan and Masha are coming to visit, Will has the first night of the youth club that he's starting, and there's still the usual weekend activities in Sannikovo and with the orphanage Sunday school.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Rainy days

The snow has melted into muddy slush, and this is the third day of drippy grey weather. Monday and Tuesday Jaan was fine with staying inside and doing fun projects. Cabin fever hit hard today, though. It seems like Jaan has whined, cried and fussed all morning. He had a fit when I brought out supplies for an art project that should have gotten him all excited. (Scissors and glue!) I'm hoping that he'll wake up from his nap in a better frame of mind. Praise the Lord that Raia doesn't care what the weather is like!

Monday I printed out an A coloring page to cater to Jaan's obsession with A's. Then we just cut up paper, colored, wrote notes to each other and had a great time. Yesterday we painted with some painted-filled brushes that Baba Julie brought over. Jaan loved that! Tomorrow I think we're going to have to go outside, even if the weather stays cold and wet.

Will's in Vladimir overnight for meetings. . . .

4:00 - I'm back, with a much happier boy in my lap!

Happy and sad (a picture of our morning)
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I just meant to get a photo of the smiley cutie. I didn't notice the crying brother until I looked at my photos on the computer. Then I just had to post it, because it was such an honest glimpse of our morning.

Now he's happy!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Mom was asking about our wallpaper, and I meant to post before and after pictures of what Will did before his parents' visit. Here's the wallpaper this apartment came with:
Our wallpaper
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Left to right, top to bottom: living room, entry way and hall (mostly covered now), bedroom, kitchen (also used to be in the toilet room).

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I didn't get a photo before Will put the arch in, though.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

The new wallpaper is just a plain (hurrah for plain!) beige with some texture.

Will's out putting up annoucements of the youth club that will be starting on Saturday. Then he has to go to the bank for Gospelink. From there he'll probably go back to getting ready for the club. He's already starting to get the room where the church meets ready by putting up a coat rack and decorating a little.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Back online

Maybe you didn't even notice that we were gone. Our internet card ran out Thursday night, and because of holidays here, we couldn't get a new one until this morning. If you were waiting for an email or update from me, just be patient please. I have to catch up, and I'm STILL working on Gospelink stuff.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Our straight A student
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I'm a very proud Mama this morning. I was reading "Pirate Story" in A Child's Garden of Verses to Jaan this morning. When got to "Shall it be to Africa" Jaan nonchalantly pointed to the A and said "A." I thought it was just a fluke, but then he flipped through the whole book pointing out uppercase A's! As I've said before, I'm not big on teaching formal school too early, but I had told him the names of some letters before. He didn't seem interested, but I guess it stuck anyway.

(I really am trying to be diligent to get the youth club invitations designed and translate Gospelink letters. I just had to post about this first. We didn't get the last Gospelink quarter finished, and now there's a new one coming up on us, so I need to get moving. . . back to work, Phyllis!)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Big girl and this morning

Sitting up?
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

These days Raia is trying very hard to sit up. She doesn't have the balance to actually sit up yet, but she certainly has the muscle for it! She won't lean back against anything. She's also becoming as expert at scooting. When we put her down for naps, we can count on her trying to crawl at least half way across the bed before falling asleep. And she's started "talking" again. Somehow I hadn't even noticed that she had stopped, but just yesterday she started up again. Of course, she was making noise, but we hadn't seen any of her serious, sweet lectures for a long while. Now there's an even wider range of sounds and expressions, and she goes on for even longer.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

She still sucks on her hand, and now she's added putting the other hand at the back of her head as she falls asleep. Is she going to be one of those children who sucks her thumb and twiddles her hair?

Jaan's legs are still just slowly recovering from having someone ready to carry him at all times. Now that he and Raia have more layers, he really doesn't fit on the front of the stroller anymore. He and I went all over looking for a sled yesterday. My idea is to get him a light plastic sled, to tie behind the good sled that we already have. Raia can ride on the front one, and I can pull them like a little train. However, there aren't any sleds available right now.

This morning we were going to try to go to the central shopping center and see if they have any sleds there, but Jaan's legs gave out again. (Can you see me rolling my eyes?) I did figure out how to get him on the stroller; I took his scarf off and tied him on. Now I have the strap from a suitcase to use when we go out for our afternoon walk, so I don't have to constantly untie and retie all those knots and put on and take off Jaan's scarf.

We didn't make it to the shopping center, but that's probably just as well, because we had a wonderful walk. I don't know how I would have gotten up to the third floor where the children's sections are anyway, with a sleeping baby, a reluctant toddler, and a stroller.

We're still looking for a sled. . .