Sunday, July 30, 2006

Home again

We had such a wonderful week! It is good to be back home, though. Our poor children are sick, and Anna has another cold. Please pray for everyone's health, especially that Anna would be feeling better before she has to fly out! I'll try to tell you about the congress after we get settled back in and start feeling better.

Also, I have two other rather serious prayer requests:
Our friends, the Egorov family, who are missionaries in Sudogda, were in a car accident on their way home from the congress. They have three children, two teenage boys and a three-year-old girl. They just adopted the little girl last week. The children are all fine, however the parents were hurt. Nadya (the mother) is in the hospital with a concussion or skull fracture; she is pregnant. Their car is totaled. I'm also especially worried about little Anya being without her new mother right now. She seemed to have bonded really well with her Mama already, but she was still getting used to her Papa.

For those of you who have been praying for Baby Vika, her family stopped in Moscow for a doctor's visit on their way to the congress, and the doctors put her into the hospital right away, instead of letting them go on. She will be having heart surgery on Monday. Please pray! (If you want to know her history, go to our prayer requests and look at what I've written about her in the past.)

Does anyone happen to know how to get in touch with my parents while they're at the family reunion in Alabama?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

We're off. . .

Tomorrow morning at 5:00 we'll leave for Moscow. After spending the night with Nathan and Masha, we'll head on to Bryansk. On the way back, we'll spend the night with the Beairds and pick Anna up there, so we won't be back until late on the 29th.

Please pray for safe travels, wonderful fellowship at the congress, and good weather. (We'll be camping out.)

We had a wonderful time in the garden last night. Our basil patch is huge, so please send me your favorite pesto recipes. :-) Jaan and Raia
ate peas, berries, and baby carrots until I thought they were going to pop! I remember how Jaan would sit under the red berry bush and eat last year; now Raia does just about the same thing, except she sits there and smacks her lips, points, and waits for someone to feed her. Little princess!

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Shouldn't the mother be the one imagining that her child is a prodigy? Why is it that I can't hear Raia talking? To me, she just babbles and maybe says Mama or Papa every once in a while. To everyone else, she's talking. When we're outside, she says what sounds to me like "ga," and all my friends say, "Ooo, she just said Jaan/sky/kitty/etc.!" Or she says "ba," and it has some other clear meaning to everyone at church. Will even hears words from her.

Oh, well! She will be talking before we know it. Already she waves at appropriate times, signs "milk" and "please," and says "Da!" with very emphatic nods. And I must admit all of this is incredibly cute.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A is for. . .

Jaan knows quite a few letters in both English and Russian. We have an English alphabet poster hanging in our bathroom. (Why? I don't know.) Up until now all of our friends have thought the way Jaan reads it is hilarious. Now Will has been teaching him the right words, so I have to share the way Jaan used to do it before we forget.

Jaan would sit there and "read" like this:
A. . . яблоко!
B. . . бабочка!
C. . . торт!
And so on. :-)

A funny thing that he said to me yesterday when we were playing outside: he brought me a worm that he had found and said, "Please hold him. . . but don't eat him!"

And yet another: Jaan calls nettles (крапива) "пиво," which means beer. He can often be heard yelling as we go for walks, "Mama, be careful of the beer here. It bites!"

We were able to have our last day of camp on Monday, and it was wonderful! Thank you so much for all the prayers. The camp time was just about the only break in the rain. The girls were thrilled to have one more day with us. I really want to post pictures and more stories, but that will have to wait.

Anna has been with us for a few days again. Tomorrow she's leaving for a trip to Saint Petersburg.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Busy days

We've been enjoying a break. Now we have busy days coming up again. I counted up the train tickets Will needs to buy today for the next little while. Between us, Dean, and Anna, he'll end up getting seventeen tickets, not counting short-distance trains or children's tickets!

Our break is still continuing for a little while, though. Anna will be back soon, and we'll have a few days with her, before the next round of travel.

Please pray for no rain tomorrow! Yesterday another big thunderstorm kept us from finishing up day camp, so we're going to try again on Monday. Our roof could use a little rest from the rain, too.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


I'm at the computer center to post a few photos for you.

This is who you have been praying for: Tanya and Maksim.

Look at that smile! And the dimple! (Yulia took this photo.)

I wanted to post more, but they're closing for lunch here.

We'll probably be having our last day of camp today. Yesterday was completely rained out.

Anna made it safely to Perm, but not without adventures. If you want to hear about that, email me, and I'll forward you her last update.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Camp: First of all, the day camp is going so well! Praise the Lord! The first day there were around 30 children, almost all girls. Yesterday a few less came, but the enthusiasm wasn't any less. We were worried about the local authorities, but the local police just walked by on the Monday. That could have been a coincidence, but we think it was the check up that they had told us to expect. Thank you for all your prayers! We are really encouraged, and we're having a great time.

Baby: Maksim (they're pretty sure that is his name ) is nursing and gaining weight! He has passed his birth weight, and he's starting to look a little less skinny. Tanya's still giving him some breastmilk in a bottle after most feedings, but sometimes he doesn't even want that.

Anna: We think Anna is going to visit Jon and Carrie, leaving tonight for a twenty-hour train trip. We just haven't been able to get her a ticket yet. Last night while we were out with the children, she fixed a wonderful birthday dinner for Will, and then we had a group over to celebrate. If she can leave tonight, then she'll be back here on the 18th or 19th.

Jaan: He's loving the camp, even though he's way too young to officially take part. Every day he asks to go out "to the children." Having Aunt Anna here is also a wonderful treat for him (and all of us!). And, as always, he keeps us laughing with the funny things he says.

Raia: She's walking! Even though she hasn't completely given up crawling when she really wants to get somewhere, she's choosing to walk more and more. I love watching her toddle around. We're still working on potty training. She does fine when there's a potty around, but her only way of telling me that she needs to go is to go sit on a potty, so sometimes we have problems when we're out.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Camps: starting and ending

Day camp here starts today! We've been inviting the neighborhood children. Last night we all went out and cleaned up the outdoor ice skating rink where we'll be meeting. For the next five days we'll be having crafts, games, Bible stories and music for the children there. Please pray for a good turn out, for no problems with the authorities, for good weather, and for all to go well.

For Anna, camp time is just ending. Here's what she wrote yesterday:
Ahhhh, all of the camps are over and I'm back in the land of showers and toilets(my brother's apartment). I have a suitcase full of dirty clothes and am in the midst of remedying that situation. After attending church in both Vyazniki and Kovrov(2 hr. long services each), I was dropped off here, and am enjoying the different pace. As usual, I can't say for certain exactly what's happening next, but I think that I'm going to take the train on Wednesday to Perm to visit my friends, Jon and Carrie. They're a young couple from my church in Charlotte who work in Perm with the mission group, Youth With A Mission. There is actually one more camp here in Kovrov this coming week, but I can't take part. After trying repeatedly to obtain permission from the officials here to have camp, they finally agreed, but with one exception- no Americans can work in the camps. (Note from Phyllis: We don't count; we're "Russian-Americans." ) Please be thinking and praying for the workers this coming week, as it is a very good possibility that they will have police officials visiting them to observe the camp.
I've been to four different camps since I last wrote, so I'll do my best to fill you in without boring you. I know many of you are wondering how the tent camp went. The following are excerpts from my journal:

6/26-9:15am.......So, we're out at the tent camp in Sudugdo. All of the mosquitoes in the entire forest from miles around came to greet us last night upon our arrival. It was a big party- for them. I seriously don't think I've ever seen that many mosquitoes in my entire life. Everywhere we went, a huge crowd,, followed. All is quiet everywhere- with the exception of the travelling, blood sucking party goers, who are singing, humming and buzzing with enthusiasm amidst all of us. I'll probably be down a pint of blood by the time I make it out of here.
6/27- Well, I've survived one day. I've been sitting here for five minutes and can't write, for swatting mosquitoes. I swear, I'm going to freak out. And during the day, there are big horseflies, constantly trying to bite you. Yesterday wasn't a bad day, but it feels like I'm being eaten alive. I'm soooooo itchy.
6/28- 2 days down- the 1st half of yesterday was rough. I was an emotional mess- very teary. I finally went on a walk before lunch and got my crying done with. Yesterday was a hot day and today looks like more of the same. I started getting sun poison on my arms and neck, and now it's spreading more and more and really stings. With the sun coming up around 4am and not going completely dark until around 11:30pm, there are too many daylight hours for my poor, delicate skin. I just can't get away from the sun, and as soon as I put sunscreen on, I sweat it off.
6/29- Yesterday was a good day- the first that I really enjoyed and felt hope that I could survive the rest of the week. And right as I began to adjust, Ivan shows up to take me and Abby to register our visas at the motel in Vyazniki. So, of course, instead of toughing it out, I instantly ask if we could stay there instead of coming back. Opportunity knocked- I jumped on it, and now I feel like a quitter. A happy quitter, but a quitter, nonetheless.

Vyazniki- we arrived in time for the final two days of camp in Vyazniki- didn't do much there.

Karabanova- I didn't want to go, but thankfully Ivan made me. I had a great time there, and it was a real blessing for me. I ended up doing crafts by myself, because the woman who was in charge of crafts wasn't feeling well. So, I taught three classes of about 17 kids each, in my broken Russian. They all understood, which was quite an encouragement for me. I got my most practice in Russian during our fours days there. There was no interpretor with us, and the Russians and Ukrainians with us didn't speak English. It was so good for me to have to talk. I know that I made many mistakes, but we communicated rather well, and I was interpreting for the lady from MN who was with us. I know I've made a lot of grammatical mistakes, but here's one really amusing thing that I said: a boy asked me about the hair on my viola bow and instead of telling him it comes from a (loshad), I told him it comes from a loshka. Translation: instead of saying "The hair is from a horse," I said "The hair is from a spoon." He looked at me, nodded his head, and walked away. Right about that time, I realized what I had said, started laughing, and ran after him.
Melenki- My final week of camp was spent in a small church in a poor town. Outhouse, no showers, no ability to bathe. We had a sink, but it was rather limited. It had an output pipe to give water, but no intake pipe to receive water. Therefore, the water fell straight out of the drain into a bucket on the floor. People were constantly carrying it out to be emptied. The team all slept in one room(the only option)- the three females on cots and the guys on rows of wood chairs. One of the guys found an old door and brought it in to expand his sleeping quarters. We did everything in that one room, though, so every morning and every evening, we put it all away and then took it all out again. As much as I complain about having to constantly register my visa at motels, I was rather excited at the prospect of a shower midweek. I took one upon arriving that evening, and another in the morning. I figured if I had to pay $32 for a tiny, cold room and an unedible breakfast, I'd try to get my money's worth in showers. I had to sleep under the mattress, I was so cold. I know that sounds funny, but the mattresses are only three inches thick, so it worked rather well.
Yesterday, we had our end of camp celebration. Ivan made his wonderful shashliki (shishkebobs), plus other standard Ukrainian fare. At this point the entire team is Ukrainian, with the exception of me. After our celebratory lunch and discussing high and low points of all the camps, we drove out to the old camp to see it and to pick zemlyaniki (small wild strawberries.) They look like the ones that grow in our yards in NC, but they taste great. I wouldn't recommend the ones in your yards- they're not so tasty- I speak from experience. Then Ivan drove us to an amazing overlook that I've never seen before. We got some great final group pictures. It was so beautiful- didn't look like it belonged in the dirty city of Vyazniki. It was uplifting to see.
OK. I think that's everything. I'd love to hear from people now that I have access to the internet. Please write to this address-, and not to my yahoo address. Thanks! Anna

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Happy Birthday, Yulia!

We all went out to the woods for a picnic to celebrate Yulia's birthday today. Baby Nikita-Maksim (they still haven't decided) even made an appearance! He's so tiny and cute. I took tons of pictures, and I hope to get to the internet center to post some of them sometime soon.

(There seems to be some confusion about our computer situation. Our computer is not working. We sent it home with Abby, and hopefully Dad will be able to save the information on it, before having it fixed on warranty. I've been able to get our old computer running to the point that we can send and receive email, but nothing else: no word processing, no photos, no internet. Anyway, we're thankful for the email connection! Please pray that our good computer will be fixed and returned to us as soon as possible, and that the information on it won't be lost.)

I won't say anything more than that we had a wonderful day. Jaan was thrilled that the berries are finally ripe, and he happily wandered around picking them. Plus, he got to play with all of his friends. Raia was utterly fascinated with the baby. She and I just sat by him and watched him sleep most of the time. We took the last bag of marshmallows in the city of Kovrov and had s'mores again with everyone. Our exhausted children just fell into bed, so it's nice and quiet here now. . . .

Friday, July 07, 2006

Слава Богу!

They're home! I just talked to Tanya, and her first words were "We escaped!" She sounded exhausted, but so happy. They just signed out, against medical advice, or however you say that.

My prayers were answered beyond what I could have imagined. Tanya "just happened" to run into the doctor who takes care of Katya and Alyona. That doctor told her to get out of the hospital as fast as she could and promised to visit them at home. It was just what Tanya needed: an expert to get her past her fears of going against the experts in the hospital.

Tanya was full of horror stories about the hospitals. She said that if someone else had been telling her these things, she would have thought they were exaggerating. Oh, I'm so glad that's all behind them!

Now we can look forward to the day camp ahead of us next week. I feel like a huge burden has fallen off of me, and I know Pavel and Tanya are even more relieved. Thank you, Lord!

Thursday, July 06, 2006


I don't know what to say, except PRAY. We did get to see Tanya last night. She cried the whole time. (So did I.) At least now Pasha can reach through the little window and hold her hand. They're not really doing anything for the baby in the hospital, and Pavel is trying to convince her just to leave, but she's afraid to. Pray that those bilirubin numbers would come down!

Beyond the fact that Tanya is miserable, can't be with her baby, and is in a terrible situation, the city's abandoned babies are in there with her baby. She asked us to bring diapers for them, and told how she had called for a nurse to take care of one of them because he was crying; the only response was, "Let him cry." I knew that Russian hospitals keep abandoned babies, usually in very sad conditions; Susan had written about them in her city, and so had our friends in Mozhaisk. Somehow, knowing that they're right there on the other side of that locked door makes it so much more real and painful, though.

On to other subjects. . .
Will and Ivan are taking Abby and Linda to Moscow today, to see them off at the airport. Wait, that's sad news, too. Please pray for safe travels. It was wonderful to have Abby here with us and to see Linda! We're so glad that they were able to work with the children here again this year.

Anna had a few days in Melenki, and last night we heard that she was in Murom, at least for an overnight. Her camp time is drawing to a close. I think maybe she's headed to Viazniki for a little while next. She'll probably visit our friends Jon and Carrie while we have camp here, and then she'll be back to spend some time with us.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Pray for Tanya

They did move Tanya and the baby today. We had all gotten our hopes up that it would be better in the hospital, but apparently the situation is much worse there. She can only go feed him every three hours, and she's not allowed to take him to her room at all. The doctors who would do the tests that they want to do are on vacation, and so they want to keep Baby there for quite a while. Pavel said that Tanya is very upset, so he's going to try to get her out of there as fast as possible. There is a visiting room where we can talk to Tanya through a window ("like in a jail"!), so he and I are going over tonight. He said more than anything else, we need to pray for Tanya and that they would let the baby go home.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Quick baby update and more

He is with Tanya during the days, and he's eating well from a bottle. Praise the Lord! There was a chance that he would be able to go home yesterday, but no one had written in his chart yet that he's eating, so they couldn't release him. And today he has a little bit of jaundice, so it looks like there are going to move him to the hospital tomorrow after all. Pavel and Tanya need prayer; they're pretty discouraged with how this is dragging out.

A group of us did go "visit" Tanya after church on Sunday. That is, we went over and waved and yelled up to her third-floor window. I'm so happy that the baby is finally with her! She held him up, but all we could see was a little bundle of blankets. Pavel said, "At least we know that he really exists."

Please pray for Pavel and Tanya, and especially that baby would learn how to nurse. Also, pray that his bilirubin levels would go down, so that maybe by some miracle he could come home instead of going to the hospital.

Our family update is that we're very happy to have Will home! Now he just has to readjust to life without mosquitoes buzzing around and let his poor face heal up. He came in last night with Abby and Natasha, another girl who had been working at camp. We saw Natasha off this morning, and Abby has been packing for her trip home, too.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

What a wonderful day!

Yesterday we got to visit Will! Vanya was taking Anna, Abby, and Linda to Karabanovo, so he dropped up off in Sudogda on his way there. I was able to take treats and some medicine to Will. To me, he looked awful, but he said that he was doing well and was feeling much better. Apparently the day before, his lips had been so swollen that he was even having trouble talking.

Like I said, we had a wonderful time! We got to visit with Will, meet the kids and team that he's working with, swim, eat supper there, and then share with the older groups at their evening fellowship time. Right now Raia's idea of heaven is a puddle, so she was overjoyed to see the beautiful little river there. I caught her just in time to get her clothes off before she dove in. Jaan liked it, too, but he was more cautious. He was also fascinated with the tents and the whole concept of camping. Now he understands where Papa is and what he's doing.

Vanya was supposed to come get us on his way back, but he was running late, so "Uncle" Volodya, the missionary in Sudogda, drove us out to the road near Vladimir to wait for Vanya. Jaan amused everyone in the car by demanding that we all be quiet so that we would be able to "hear the rabbits" and then falling asleep in the midst of insisting that he wasn't tired at all. When we met up with Vanya, we transferred the sleeping children to his van and continued on our way home. We finally got back here at 1:00 a.m.. Yawn!

Prayers for the weather are continuing to be answered. Yesterday was gorgeous: cooler and gently sunny. Today is wet, windy and overcast, so I've been praying that the kids are staying dry and warm, but also praising God that Will can have a chance to heal some. This morning we were actually cold here, and I had to scramble for sweaters and blankets that had been put away.

Baby update: The latest news is that they let Tanya have the baby for another half hour last night. The doctors continue to insist that he can't suck, but he tried when she had him, and they're giving him a bottle in the nursery sometimes. They are planning to transfer him to the hospital on Monday, but now it sounds like that will be good. Tanya should be able to go with him, and maybe even have him in her room. (Pray!)