Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Birds and Russian

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

We made a bird feeder a while ago, but we've only been seeing crows come to it, because we didn't have anything other than bread to offer. Yesterday Will bought us bird seed, and today has been really busy in our window. We've had синици (yellow birds), sparrows, and even a снегирь (red one), my favorite! When the снегирь was here, we got really close to the window and watched for quite a while. Raia kept reaching for it and demanding that we give it to her.

And on the topic of Russian: I found this yesterday. See where Russian is listed? It's a "really hard" language. I was encouraged. No wonder I still struggle, even after more than five years here! Of course, it's not very happy news for someone who's just considering learning the language, but it was good for me.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Raia's problem

A while ago, when Julie was still here, I took the children out for a walk and ended up dragging Raia home with her mouth bleeding all over. She had decided to taste a metal bar and left behind the skin from her tongue and both lips. She was unhappy about it, but she healed up quickly. I thought she would have learned. Then, the day before yesterday she went for a metal post with her mouth wide open. I jumped for her and actually knocked her over before she made contact. We talked and talked about it, but all she seemed to understand was that Mama had pushed her. And yesterday as we were all waiting for a trolley bus, Raia was looking at the metal railing next to her, licking her lips, and moving in. I startled Will by blocking her and saying, "Don't even think about it!"

Will she ever learn? She is teething again, but is that enough to explain this obsession with cold (painful!) metal? When we go out, I must look like a madwoman, trying to keep my daughter away from anything metal!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Quotes and notes

We're still here, and we're feeling better. Will's using the computer for Gospelink these days, and I'm trying to catch up after so much sickness and busyness.

A few days ago at supper Jaan told me that he could speak English. He usually insists that he can't, so I was a little surprised. Our conversation went like this (all in Russian):
Jaan: "Mama, I can speak English."
Me: "That's good."
Jaan: "Listen, we're eating PIZZA. That's English." (He said all that in Russian, and declined pizza like a Russian word."
Me: "Yes, but pizza is the same in Russian and English."
Jaan: "Well, when I was running around before supper, I was yelling 'keekalee-keekalee.' That's English."
Me: "I heard. What does it mean?" (He usually yells nonsense words when he runs around.)
Jaan: "It means 'go fast.'"
Me: "Ah, quickly. Wow! You really can speak English."

Another conversation. . . .
Jaan: "Look how much kasha I'm eating. I'm going to grow up really big and buy a motorcycle."
Me: "Great! Then you can drive me around."
Jaan: "No."
Me: "Why not?"
Jaan: "There's not much room on a motorcycle."
Me: "Yes, but there's usually room for two. You can drive, and I'll ride behind you."
Jaan: "No, you won't fit. But you can get your own motorcycle and ride next to me, okay?"

This one may be funny only if you see it, but it makes me laugh almost every day, so I'll try to describe it. When we have eggs for breakfast, it's Jaan's job to scramble them. Raia waits expectantly in her chair. When Jaan's done, he puts hers on a plate and majestically announces, "Baby, your breakfast is ready!" She raises both arms up in the air, fork in one hand, and enthusiastically screams her appreciation. Jaan puts her plate in front of her, and her hands drop for her to dive in. It's almost like a ritual of some kind.

And I want to know: why does God give preschoolers so much energy and parents so little?

We're headed out to play on the ice slide. . . .

Monday, February 19, 2007

How we're doing

Resting and reading
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Raia and I are still just starting to feel better. And now Will's down.

Jaan thinks he's going to die of cabin fever. He hadn't been outside for a while, because I haven't felt well enough to go out, so this morning I sent him out on his own. Our nearest neighbor's little dog was outside our door, so I got him past that obstacle, and went to watch from the window. There was another little dog waiting outside. I couldn't see Jaan, but I could hear him open the door and see the little dog jump forward (he wanted to come in), and then hear Jaan slam the door, making the dog retreat. Back and forth. On and on. Finally Jaan came up and yelled for me from the fourth floor. He wouldn't come all the way home, because of the other dog by our door. I went out, gave him a pep talk, and sent him down again. This continued for 45 minutes! I kept hoping some kind neighbor would help him. Finally, I decided to leave Raia, and get Jaan past the dog. That worked! Of course, I came back to find Raia working at fulfilling the Toddler Commission: to make messes and disasters whenever possible. But Jaan was outside. He had a great time shoveling snow. We had fun watching from the window and noting how every familiar person who passed by readjusted his hat and gave him a treat. One babushka didn't have any candy, but she was on her way back from her garden storage, so she stuck a carrot in his pocket.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sorry it's been so long!

Julie left Monday. She's back in Florida now and will probably be moving to Moscow in the fall. Hurrah!

Raia and I have been pretty miserably sick for the past few days, but we seem to be getting better now.

Poor baby!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Raia has started praying before meals. She's loved saying her version of Amen after prayers for a while now, but a few days ago she made it clear that she wanted to pray by herself before supper. I prompted her to say, "Спасибо, Бог" ("Thank you, God"), and she did! It just came out like "Би-ба, Боб. 'мимь!" (Even if you think you can't read Russian, you should try to figure out those few letters. It sounds really funny.) And now she says that before every meal.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Julie receiving a veeery warm welcome in the village!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Moscow picture

Taken January 25
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Raia was in the stroller in front of us. We didn't specifically ask the girl who took the picture to cut her off, but it's probably a good thing that she did, because Raia was having a temper tantrum at the moment. She was TIRED of sightseeing!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A birthday in Viazniki

Yesterday we went to Viazniki to celebrate Ivan's birthday. We had such a wonderful time! In the morning we took a train to Viazniki, then spent the day with the Petrashes and Regina, sledding, eating and talking. Later we went to a big birthday dinner at the church. Afterwards Ivan drove us all the way home.

Julie's Mom wanted a good picture of her daughter in Russia. What do you think?

For Julie's Mom
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

At the Viazniki overlook. Yes, she was cold. It was about -20 C.

With the birthday boy
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

. . . also at the Viazniki overlook.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

That's Raia in the front, then me, then Julie.

Will and Raia
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Julie hitting the bump
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

When she gets home she'll post the videos, too. There's one of her screaming down a huge hill with Ivan and some other cute ones of the children.

Jaan the Truck Driver
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

He liked the old truck by the hill more than the sledding

(Look at the Cubbies post from a few days ago. I added a photo from Julie's camera.)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Religion in Russia (from Will)

Notes from the field:
So as to help you all who know and love Russia to any extent to be able to pray more specifically, I offer the following for reflection. I would like to share some quotes from Russian Christians. This might help to understand that what we say about the spiritual state of the nation is not completely out of proportion, These are pastors, deacons, Christian men dedicated to helping make known the Gospel to their fellow Russians. Yes, they are like-minded Protestant believers, but in many ways these men are still rooted in Russian Orthodox beliefs and understandings.

This is NOT meant as an attack on Russian Orthodoxy, whose teachings, history, culture, wisdom and beauty I have great respect for. I simply wish to give all who are concerned with the fate of Russia another glimpse into daily life here.
(All underlining is mine.)

Usman, lipetskaya Region
“Dear friend in Christ, maybe these results don’t seem like much, but please believe me, every single person who comes to repentance and salvation here in the villages of Russia is the result of months and months of time spent with us, hearing the word of God, and seeing our genuine love for them. 
You see, here almost everyone you meet considers himself to be a traditional Russian Orthodox believer. The imposing Orthodox cathedrals, with their beautiful architecture and many-colored domes and are majestically lifted up to the heavens in almost every town. Inside these cathedrals are many icons on which are painted the likenesses of Jesus Christ, Mary, and saints who lived here in Russia; there are also often relics of these saints. The liturgy is recited in the old church-Slavonic language, which has long been obsolete, and almost no one understands or speaks it except for the priests. The liturgy is very majestic all the same, and full of grandeur and mystery, it leaves one quite impressed.
However, sadly, the main mass of our population, having left the cathedral after the service, when they do go, remain exactly the same worldly citizens of Russia as they were before. They do not see how the church service they might attend affects their ‘real’ lives.The most regrettable thing is that these people, who consider themselves to be Christians, are so prejudiced against anything other than their religion and often speak and act more like godless unbelievers than Christians. (Specifically in how they relate to us ‘nontraditional’ protestant believers.) I don’t blame or accuse them. Really, they are not to blame. The apostle Paul himself was a persecutor of Christians, and believed that he was ridding a godly society of a harmful cult. However, when he actually met with Christ Jesus, Paul became a sincere servant and minister of Christ. 
My request to you, dear friend in Christ, is that you pray for these people as Christ prayed, for ‘they know not what they do.’ Every single such soul who sincerely and genuinely comes to repentance and to know Christ as their Savior and Lord is a true answer to our prayers! 

Pray also that there would not be any hindrances to effective ministry through the work of our local Russian Orthodox church. Not long ago, they once again ‘cast their stones’ of accusing and slanderous words through the local newspaper. This is not seen as a local church conflict, but as a political, social, and moral denouncement of a dangerous sect by the predominating, government-approved church. In Russia, the press has a tremendous impact on both the social and moral awareness and the convictions of the average person.” 


A quote that I thought relevant from a Russian Orthodox Church spokesman, a Deacon, Dean and Professor:

“The masses have been told: ’You are Atheists!’, and they agree, ‘yes, of course, it was those priests who kept us ignorant of the fact that we came from monkeys’. Then, they were told, ‘How could you forget the faith of your fathers!? We Russians have always been Orthodox, after all!’ - Again, they agree,’Oh, how could we have been seduced by those Communist lullabies and forget our heritage!?!’ And then they are told, ‘What are you thinking? Christianity is a religion foreign to us that Jews made up to do away with our true Slavic-Aryan pagan roots! They did this to force us to worship their Christ in place of our ancient gods and take away our true heritage! ...And again, the masses obediently voice their protest: ‘How could they ever dare to hide our roots and inherent magical, extrasensory abilities from us!?!”

Please pray with us that through the Russian Orthodox Church, through the Russian protestant churches, through the work of the Holy Spirit in people’s hearts, through the testimony of nature and conscience; that the people of Russia would seek their Creator God, their Saviour, Deliverer, Healer and Redeemer.

( to be continued...)