Friday, June 30, 2006

Lots of subjects

Big praise! They brought the baby to Tanya for half an hour! They say that he has no sucking reflex, and they want to take him to a hospital, though. (Hospitals and "birth homes" are different places.) Pavel has set up a meeting today with the pediatrician to talk about that. Hopefully, the doctor will be more clear? polite? easy to deal with?--I don't know what to say there--when she talks to Pavel, rather than Tanya. Pray that the baby will start sucking, at least from a bottle, before Monday. I also gave Pavel the contact information for the lactation consultant in Vladimir. I doubt that they would let her into the birth house, but maybe that's pessimistic. I am praying that she can help somehow!

I don't want to give the impression that the whole Russian medical system is bad. This Dark Ages birth house in Kovrov is just notoriously awful. The local hospital is quite good. And in other cities there is often the option of having the father at the birth or afterwards, for a fee. Most Russian men can't seem to understand why they would want to pay for that, though.

We're back up and running with email! I just don't have any addresses, so please write to me. I can't really get on the internet, so if that's how you had contact with me, you can email me instead (

Anna and Abby are in Viazniki or on their way to Karabanovo now. With the bugs and heat and sunburn, Sudogda was really hard for Anna, so she requested that they not go back out there for the second session. Will is still in Sudogda. He reports that God has really been answering prayers about the weather. Yes, it's still hot, but yesterday when there weren't any children there, they prayed for rain. As soon as they finished praying, the wind started blowing, and late afternoon brought a huge thunder storm. "But only one tent collapsed." Now you can go back to praying for cooler weather without rain. Also, pray for Will; when he gets sunburned, he gets a bad rash, and of course I forgot to send the Benadryl with him.

We're doing well here. The children miss Will, and they seem fussier than usual. Pasha B. asked Jaan where his Papa is, and Jaan replied, "Sleeping in the forest." I guess he understood at least part of my explanation about tents and camping and where Papa is. Yesterday we did go over to work in our garden a tiny bit, and we had salad for supper that included our own lettuce and radishes!

Oh! I almost forgot a big piece of news: there will be a day camp here after all! Pasha got permission to have it right in our own neighborhood. Please pray for all the details that have to be taken care of now.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Baby update

I just talked to Pavel. They're still not giving the baby to Tanya, and they've started feeding him through a tube. Pavel asked for prayer that he would be able to eat on his own, and that the doctors would leave him alone. He said he and Tanya are really unsure about whether the baby really needs this or if the doctors just want bribes. And of course, keep praying that they'll let Tanya be with him. It seems like it would help so much if the poor little guy could see his Mama!

Also, I talked to Will. . . kind of. The connection was really bad. I think that he said he was standing at the bus, seeing off the first group of kids. He mentioned that Ivan had taken Anna and Abby back to Viazniki last night to register. That's all I know. I assume the girls will be returning to Sudogda?

(By the way, please leave comments! I still don't have email completely worked out, so it's our only communication.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Two news items

First the good news: I talked to Tanya! She is feeling good and doing well. The baby seems healthy, but he is small (2.5 kgs), and because of that, she hasn't been allowed to be with him yet. They had him on an IV and oxygen yesterday. Today it's only oxygen. I'm really praying that she'll get to hold him and be with him soon. It makes me sad to think of him all alone there. They've told her maybe tomorrow. His name will probably be Maksim, but they don't want to decide until they can all be together as a family.

Now, the bad news: Our computer is dead. I got the old one running again, at least enough to write this, but I can't send or receive email. . . or do anything else. I've cried just thinking about the fact that we might have lost all our photos from the past few years. And the more pactical--but less emotional--problem is that all our addresses and phone numbers were on that computer, along with all kinds of other important information. PRAY!

(Thanks, Dad for all you've done to help!)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Tanya's water broke during the night, so she is at the hospital now. However, she wasn't having any signs of labor. Please pray that all will go well, and that she'll have the baby soon without an problems. You never know what the doctors will do, especially in a situation like this. It's a little early, but the baby should be fine already.

UPDATE (1:00): She is in labor!

UPDATE (6:00): I hear through the grape vine that they have a son! That's all I know.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Keeping cool

The weather is much cooler today, but please keep up those specific prayers, because it really looks rainy out.

I thought I would share some photos of how we've been keeping cool lately:

Bathing beauties (Katya and Raia)
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

"I don't want to swim with GIRLS!"
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Licking the air conditioner?
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Will bought a huge fan, and we turn it into an "air conditioner" by putting a pot of ice in front of it. Then our little sillies take turns licking the ice, sitting on it, and splashing cold water around.

The Hunsucker Fan Club
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

There's another member of this club, but we're not going to share photos of him sitting there in his underwear.

UPDATE: I just talked to Will. His phone actually works in certain parts of their campsite! He's a counselor for this session of camp. The weather has been cooler, but it was starting to get hot, since the sun was coming out. Anna and Abby were doing well, except maybe that "Anna was a little perturbed by the bugs last night." They all stayed up late last night preparing for today, and Will said to pray that they'll get enough sleep this week.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Another note from Anna

I'm in Kovrov again for three hours. We're passing through on our way out to the tent camp in Sudugdo. Camp starts tomorrow and we'll return to Vyazniki either Sat. or Sun. As is usual here, we found out thirty minutes before we needed to leave that we were going to leave. Make sense? We were in the kitchen preparing lunch and the director came up to me and said we had thirty minutes to pack for six days and eat lunch. After 20 minutes, he was ready to go. =-) He dropped us off at our brother's apartment while he goes to another town to pick up some more workers.
About this past week: we basically had a week of rest, with youth meetings in the evenings. We went on lots of walks around the city, prepared for this coming week's camps, played a lot of card games(it's amazing how many card games you can play with one deck of UNO cards), watched Russian movies and cartoons on the computer and were very hot. The weather here is not as hot as NC, but for here- it's very hot this summer. Usually, it's very cool and I love it. This year it's hot and humid. There's no air conditioning and hygiene here isn't quite the same as in the US. The combination of heat, sweat and body odor is quite, um........overpowering? We've been walking down to the river to swim every day. It's so refreshing and yet so gross, all at the same time. It smells fishy and there's all kinds of stuff floating in the water. I didn't bring a swimsuit with me, so I'm swimming in capris and a tank top. I get out and my clothes are brown. So everyday, we all go back to the church, hand wash our clothes, and take a "bath."
We are all sleeping in the director's church, where the only running water is in the kitchen sink. God bless Larissa(the director's wife). A few days ago, she set up a bathing room for us outside in the little tool shed. It's a small wooden building about 4ft, by 4 ft. It's full of tools and other assorted garden things, and is our "shower" stall. She nailed up plastic table cloths so that no-one could see in, and cleared a shelf for us to set our stuff on. The door is held shut by a bent nail that you turn to "lock" the door.. We fill a bucket with really cold water(the only choice) from the sink, carry it outside, and use a ladle to wash. It's a little basic, but when there's no other option, it's pretty great. It's right next to the outhouse, though, so it sometimes gets a little odiferous out there.
The outhouse: most of you have heard me talk about the outhouses here. The outhouse at the church is pretty decent compared to many others I've experienced. It's a stall built over a hole dug in the ground. You step up on a platform and for lack of a better word, squat over a hole cut in the platform. I keep having this strange urge to turn around and flush. Another interesting thing: in most stores, train and bus stations, etc. the toilets are also squat pots. You pay a lady outside the restroom, get toilet paper beside the sink, and go into a stall. They're porcelain, but you have to squat. Two years ago, I was rather confused when I went into a restroom and could see all these ladies heads over the tops of the doors. I thought perhaps they were all really tall? I opened the door to find real sitdown toilets and realized that all of the ladies had climbed up on the seats and were squatting. When they stood up again, they looked really tall. =-0
Alright, I think that's it for now. Until next time- Anna

Please really be praying about the weather. It's been terribly hot, and Will hasn't been handling the heat well. Today we prayed for cooler weather, and a wonderful thunderstorm rolled in. (Jaan and I went puddle splashing as soon as the thunder part had passed over. ) That cooled everything off beautifully, but it's also not great camping weather. Ivan was worried about having Anna and Abby go at all with all the rain, but I think they were ready to get out and do something. So, pray very specifically, please!

Jaan, Anna, Will and Abby
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

So big!

Our big girl
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Yesterday was Raia's first day in underwear. She did wonderfully! I was going to wait until she was walking, but she's close, and she's been keeping her diapers dry anyway. There was just one accident out of the whole day, and I say that a little dribble on a linoleum floor is excusable on Day 1 of being a big girl. She stayed dry during naps and during a long time out in the garden. Well, she wasn't exactly dry in the garden, but the wetness came from mud and a tub of water, not anything bad on her part. And even though I put her to bed in a diaper last night, she was dry when she woke up this morning!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Anna's letter

Here's what Anna wrote yesterday:

I'm in Kovrov visiting my brother's family for a few hours today. The camp director, Ivan, dropped me and Abby off on his way to another town. We left Vladimir on Monday and went to the director's home town of Vyazniki. We have had a nice time of rest the last few days and have been going through town inviting the young people to evening youth meetings. We haven't had much success, because either they're not at all interested, they're Orthodox, or they think we're a cult. Last night four young men showed up, and were very interested. We gave them some music and books and they stayed for the Wednesday evening service and had dinner with us and talked for quite a while.
We can't seem to make it through a summer here without some kind of problem with the local and regional police. We registered our passports in Vladimir when we first arrived, but it turns out that they were not really registered. In Russia, when you register your passport/visa, they stamp it. On that stamp is a number that is connected to your name. They turn that number in to the local police, so that they can keep track of you, if necessary. When we registered, the lady at the hotel stamped our arrival/departure cards and then gave our identification numbers to someone else. Basically, she pocketed the money that we paid, and didn't register us. So, when we went to register in Vyazniki, our identification number showed that we were from Belarus. The local officials were really upset about that. They called in the regional officials and I, another American, a translator, and the camp director were at the passport office for five hours, being questioned by various officials. At the end of five hours, after many questions, many documents, many signatures, they accidently deleted the information from their computers. Let this be a lesson to all of us- when writing important documents- you should always periodically hit SAVE! =-) They decided to take a break and came out to the church after two hours to start over again. Thankfully, most of it had already been written on paper- they love documents, so it really didn't take long. Basically, we came out of that with two possibilities: 1)they don't believe us and deport us for five years, or 2) they believe us and don't deport us. =-) We'll know within a week what they've decided. I'll be sure to let everyone know. Mom, I know this sounds bad, but we're fairly certain that we're going to be fine. The officials were a lot nicer than in the past years.
I really like the way the camps are working this year. The local churches have gotten really involved and it;s neat to see the unity between everyone. Last week, one of the families in the church in Vladimir invited all of the kids out to go horse-riding. They live in the tourist town of Suzdal and have a carriage ride business. So we took all the kids out there for carriage rides and rides on the horses. It was a lot of fun and I rode a horse for the first time. I was trying to figure out how to get up, and the guy just kind of grabbed my foot and threw me up there. I landed completely in the wrong place and had to pull myself up- I'm sure it looked very graceful. After our rides, we walked through the old-town. It was so beautiful-like out of a fairy tale. I've got some amazing pictures. I'm loving my new camera.
For some reason, my brother volunteered us to do one of the tent camps next week. Me- camping? Now, I have seen the location, so I know that it is beautiful- but bugs, sun, heat, tents, washing in the river-real camping? I will survive! - though several dozens of shades redder and having been the feast of the local bug folks. More to come- Anna

(Note: Will didn't quite volunteer them for Sudogda. He himself was volunteered for it. He said that he would be happy to go any of the camps, but that he would like to be with his sisters. So, because he's being sent there, they are too.)

It was so good to see Anna and Abby yesterday! Please keep them in your prayers.

Also, please be praying for our computer. It's making noises and not wanting to work again today.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rewind: Abby's visit

I never did post many (or any at all?) photos with Abby. Here are some from the picnic at the Korneichuks when she was here:

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

In the sandbox
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

The children's "table"
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Can you tell how they're sitting? Jaan ("My face is CLEAN!") in the doll stroller, Katya on the tricycle seat, Mark on the bottom of the same tricycle, and Andrusha on another bike pushed right up against them. That's where they ate.

Jaan and Mark
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

And here are two at home:

Bedtime story
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Making faces
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

(This is when Raia finally decided that it was okay to interact with Aunt Abby.)

Today Anna and Abby are coming by for a little while!

Last night it was too hot in here, so we took our supper out to have a picnic in the woods. Jaan was thrilled to see that a herd of cows was grazing there. We followed them and talked to the cow herders for quite a while, and Will had to figure out how to drag Raia and the stroller cross-country through the forest. Jaan was very upset when we had to leave the cows. But then, as we were finishing our supper, they caught up with us again. Their owners asked Jaan if he wanted to work with them when he grows up, and his answer was a resounding, "DA!" So, now he has a new ambition in life. The whole way home he kept, "Where are my cows?"

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Short and sweet

My Dad came through surgery well!

Anna and Abby are in Viazniki!

Our computer continues to work!

Thank you, Lord.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Prayer requests

Please remember to pray for my Dad. His surgery is today. If you want more details, be sure to read his blog (and leave him a comment!).

Also, this is less important, but please pray for our computer. Yesterday it made bad noises and would only work if I held it upside-down. God healed it overnight. This happened once before, though, so I'm worried.

Now, something to make you laugh. . . .
I overheard this a few days ago.
Scene: Jaan comes across a group of five-year-old "soldiers" defending their "tank" as we were walking outside.
BOYS: (yelling) Stop! Are you a Nazi?
JAAN: Nyet.
BOYS: Are you a wolf?
JAAN: Nyet.
BOYS: Well, then. Who are you?
JAAN: I'm a whale.
And that must have been the password or something, because the boys didn't think it was strange at all. They decided right away not to shoot him, and he spent the rest of his time outside playing with them.

Anna and Abby are still in Vladimir. They were supposed to be in Viazniki, so I don't know exactly what is happening. Camps this week are in Gus-Khrustalnii and Viazniki, as far as I know.

UPDATE (10:00 a.m.): Anna had written that everyone went to set up in Goose and never returned. She hadn't heard anything and was rather puzzled. Now, Ivan just called us and said that his van broke down there. Will's passing that news on to Anna now. Please pray for Ivan's van to get fixed quickly and for everyone to get to where they need to be.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Life is not fair!

Remember the bathroom vent had a bird in it? Well, now that same vent is raining maggots! Utterly gross! I can't figure out what is going on. Will blocked off the shaft. Did the birds come back and build a nest on top of his blockade? Or, worse yet, did one die up there? (I can't smell anything.) Jaan is convinced that these disgusting little things are caterpillars, so he goes hysterical every time I sweep up a batch of them: "Mama, be careful! Don't hurt the caterpillars!" And he wants to carry them around and play with them. YUCK!

And to make things worse, Will took Abby to Vladimir today. We expected a quick trip there and back for him, but he just called and said he ended up going with his sisters to go horseback riding in Suzdal. (He would have had to wait for Ivan anyway.) Boo-hoo! I'm thrilled that he got extra time with the girls, but he was in Suzdal enjoying the horses, while I'm here dealing with a plague of maggots?!?!

Oh, well! I wouldn't have wanted to leave as early as Will and Abby had to. I am having a very good day with our children, who have been in desperate need of a behavior tune-up since Moscow. I'm getting caught up on housework. And in a few minutes we're going to go outside to play. . . .

Here's the bird picture from last week:

Jaan gets a look at the bird
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Nettles, tooth, sisters, more photos, etc.

Jaan and I made an amazing scientific discovery today. We were watching our caterpillars, and we realized that their nettles were "smoking"! At least, that's what Jaan said they were doing. With lots of careful observation, we could see that each nettle flower has four stamens, which pop up one at a time. As each one pops up, it releases a puff of pollen. I don't know how much of that Jaan could actually see; the flowers are the size of small pinheads, but he and I were both fascinated!

We also made another discovery. . . in Raia's mouth. She's been horrible for the past week. At first I just excused it as travel tiredness, but it was really dragging out for a long time. She has a new tooth! No wonder she is miserable and trying to make all of us miserable, too. (Misery loves company, you know.) Now we can give her medicine, and she's happy to play with Aunt Abby.

Anna wrote more:
June 15
Ok- a little more info.-

I'm in the city of Vladimir. I'm not sure how big the city is, but it's one of the old ring cities around Moscow. We're at a Baptist church here and it's pretty nice compared to a lot of the other churches I've seen. They actually have guest rooms and one shower- cold water, but a shower, nonetheless. We're rotating showers every couple of days. They have a computer, so we bought an internet card. I seriously doubt this will be the situation in any other church during my time here, so I'm trying to take advantage of it now.
The ministry- a five day camp-24 hours a day. We currently have 16 kids ranging in age from 4-15. A typical day consists of : morning exercises, breakfast, crafts, bible lesson, sports, free time, discussion, drama, and exercise classes, games, dinner,evening meeting, getting the kids ready for bed and in bed by 11pm, and then we meet to plan the next day. It's a rather long day and very tiring. The kids are a lot of fun, though, and I'm having a good time.
I'm feeling a little better today. Not sure exactly what in the world I have. Last night I had a fever and was extremely cold. It broke in the middle of the night and then I started getting nauseous. Most of the pressure in my head is gone now, which is a real relief. Thanks so much to all who have been praying- I need it! Anna

And here are the last of the wedding photos:

Jaan in the limo
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I hear he fell asleep sitting there.

Can't live without dirt!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Will said Jaan wandered off during the pictures. They found him here, and his explanation was, "I wanted to play."

Two handsome men
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

These two go with the first one that I posted of Jaan at the wedding:

Cleaning up
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

He kept standing there at the table, cleaning up the crumbs, so the caterers gathered up a plateful for him and set him down with a cup of tea to finish them off.

Now, when the children wake up we're headed over to work in the garden!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Birthday and wedding pictures (finally!) and an Anna update

(Have you all noticed that I'm writing you really L-O-N-G posts? Aren't you grateful? )

We had a wonderful Raia Day yesterday. In the afternoon we went for a walk. Raia and Jaan had to take along the big balloons that Will had bought for them. Then we came back and made salad for supper. After supper Jaan gave Raia the present that he had wrapped for her, and then he opened it for her. They also opened the presents that the Charlotte Hunsuckers sent and thoroughly enjoyed them. Thank you Baba and Danna! The last event was blowing out the candle on the pie. Again, Raia had help from her big brother.

The one-year-old (and the two-year-old)
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Enjoying the walk?
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Now for a few wedding pictures. I know there aren't many, but you'll have to be satisfied for now.

Ring bearer
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

. . . and his sister
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

During the ceremony
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Please pray for Anna. Here is her most recent update:
June 14
For the third year in a row, I'm sick at camp. I don't know what it is about Russia- there must be some mighty big germs here. I haven't had a sinus infection since last year when I was here, and here it is again. I literally feel like my head is going to explode. Not a good feeling. I'm pretty miserable.

As usual, things have shifted from the "expected" to the unexpected. Instead of doing day camps, as we did last year, we're doing regular camps in five different towns. I'm in Vladimir, the capital city of the region where my brother's family lives. We have fifteen kids at our five day camp. I'm a counselor this year, which means that I'm in a room of girls, and get no privacy. =-) A little challenging when you're sick, but the other counselors have been so helpful- sending me to rest during sports and games.

So far, it looks like we might not have to stay at a hotel every third night, like we did last year. Hopefully, nothing will change. I'm going to stop there for now. Sorry this is so short, but my nose is running down my face! Anna

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A birthday and before the wedding

Raia's ONE! It some ways it seems like she has grown out of being a baby already, and in some ways she's still such a baby. I've noticed that her play is much more toddler-ish, and she's really trying to communicate, but she also just wants Mama to hold her almost all the time right now. We love her so much, and we're so thankful for her! We're going to have fun celebrating her today. As I write this, the birthday girl is asleep, and Jaan is carefully wrapping and decorating her present.

A few minutes ago I gave Jaan some cherries and told him to eat them carefully, because they have seeds in them. When I realized that he didn't quite understand, I asked, "Jaan, where are the seeds?" His answer was that he had very carefully eaten them!

Now, more pictures leading up to the wedding. . . .
Getting dressed:

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

. . . and Jaan
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Family photo
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I know it's not great, but most of the day was too busy to get all four of us together long enough for a picture.

Jaan and his friend
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

(No, she wasn't the flower girl. Jaan just really liked her!)

Oh, it turned out that Will just got Abby a temporary registration here, so they didn't go to Vladimir yesterday. He took her out to dinner instead.