Saturday, March 31, 2007

Home again, home again

We had a wonderful little mini-vacation with the Beairds. At least, the children and I did. Will had to do so much running around, that I'm afraid he didn't get any rest.

Raia and Johanna
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Caleb and Jaan
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

The update is that we are going to apply for new religious visas. (Up until now we've had business visas.) Will turned in almost everything to start getting our invitations, which is the first step. Hopefully the last piece will come in this weekend, so that those applications can go in early next week The invitations should take about a month to be completed, then probably two more weeks before we have the finished visas. At that point we'll leave the country and come back on our new visas. I'm listing related prayer requests here.

I have more cute pictures to share, when I have time.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Bye for a few days

We're going to visit friends near Moscow. Please keep praying about our visa situation. I'll write more when we get back.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Flowers and more

They're still not here, but they're coming! (The flowers, that is.) I think my daffodils will be okay. The snow has melted back to reveal part of the bigger flower bed, and the tiny green points we saw in January look just the same, not too frozen! And do you remember the flower I asked about last year? I found seeds and bought them yesterday. (That's the photo above.) Now we can plant them and have some of our own. We have daisies and asters sprouting in our window sills already.

The weather is beautiful. Things are drying up much faster than I remember from other years. Or maybe the snow is melting more slowly.

Yesterday we cleaned up trash. Now I'm trying to teach Raia that she really doesn't have to put every vodka bottle she sees into a bag and carry it off.

Jaan's thrilled to be able to ride his tricycle again.

I could keep going, but I need to get some teeth brushed and some little ones headed to bed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sunshine! and kid quotes

Raia and her leaf
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

We had a wonderful walk this morning! The sun was shining, and Will went with us. Raia found a leaf, and she was fascinated. She even threw down her beloved stick, so that she could carry her leaf the rest of the way. It wasn't a new one--those will be coming soon--but it shows that the snow is melting away.

These days, when we walk outside Raia keeps up a constant commentary, identifying everything she sees: "грязь" (mud), "лёд" (ice), "кака" (self-explanitory ). Soon she'll be able to add grass, leaves, and flowers!

(Sorry if you can't read Russian. The next part doesn't translate well.)

Не давно Ян хотел кушать банан. Вилл спросил "Целый или половину?"
Ян: "Silly? Silly банан?"
Вилл: "Нет, я сказал целый. Целый значит весь банан. А silly -- не серьёзный."
Ян: "Банан не серьёзный, что ли?"

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Winter prayer letter

March 1, 2007

Dear friends,
The Gospelink men who we work with write quarterly reports, and since we want to stay in touch with you all, we’re trying to do that, too. Winter is flying by here. I’ll give you a short update of what it’s been like.

December was a wonderful month, and the highlight was our family Advent evenings. Each night we had a fun lesson about the life of Christ, and it was wonderful to see our children starting to understand and learn to love Him. More and more since then, we’ve heard questions and comments from Jaan that show how he is starting to see Jesus as a real Person and Friend. Raia probably didn’t understand much, but she had fun with the rest of us. We celebrated Jesus’ birthday as a family on December 25 and visited our neighbors to deliver plates of cookies. That launched us into the Russian holiday season.

Russian Christmas is January 7, and New Year is the biggest holiday of the year. The time around those holidays was full of church services, times of fellowship, and ministry opportunities. Our whole family went with a group to the city children's shelter to take presents and a Christmas program. The day after that, Will went to Orphanage No. 1 to do the same thing. That orphanage is usually closed to us, so it was really exciting to be able to do that. Once the holiday season settled down, we still didn’t get back to normal life. Julie, a friend from Bible school came to visit, and it was great to see her and introduce her to Russia.

Honestly, much of February was taken up with being sick. We still managed to enjoy the rest of our time with Julie, though. And the quarterly Gospelink work came in. The ministry is growing, and Will’s really working hard to keep up. He spends a lot of time just working on communication. The men who are supported by Gospelink are spread out pretty widely, and sometimes it is very hard to track them down by phone and email and regular mail and visits.

Our weekly schedule stays pretty much the same. Monday and Tuesday evenings Will helps with Bible lessons at School-Orphanage No. 16. The rest of us go with him when we can. Wednesday night is our family night. Thursday Will participates in a Bible study. Friday evening they prepare music for Sunday. Saturday we have the church young people over for fellowship. Sundays are now busier than ever: there’s a morning service at 10:00, then Sunday school at 12:00, and the evening service at 5:00. The new schedule definitely helps the problem of crowding in our small meeting place, but it’s busy!

Please pray for
1. Gospelink: that the ministry would continue to grow and bless local missionary-pastors, and that we would be able to keep up. Pray for the specific details like paperwork and communication.
2. Church: a bigger meeting place!
3. Family: praise the Lord that we’re healthy now and ask Him to keep the germs away. Please also pray with us about the possibility of better housing.
4. Youth: Praise! We had asked for prayer that we would be able to get together the the young people from church more often, and we’re seeing that happen.

Thank you for reading this and praying and being interested in our life and ministry. We’d love to hear from you, too!

Because of Christ,
Phyllis Hunsucker (for Will, Jaan and Raia, too)

P.S. Since I wrote this, we’ve had very exciting news! The churches here now own a camp property! You may remember that they’ve been trying to buy or rent something for several years, with no success. Now God has just given it. Please pray for us personally as we translate the communication between the churches here and in America. Pray for everyone on both ends, as they plan, do construction, prepare for camp, figure out financial details, and more. And praise the Lord with us for this amazing miracle!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Technical note

If you're getting this by email, you might want to unsubscribe, and then come back and resubscribe. I've switched to a different service to send out the emails, and the new ones are in a much nicer format. Russian, links and photos all come through. Plus, it just looks better. To subscribe, just come to our blog and type your address in on the right-hand side. There's an unsubscribe link at the bottom of all the emails. If you need help, please email me (

Great excitement here: we have little seeds sprouting!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Seasonal fun

We're having so much fun! None of the other little children are coming outside these days, for fear of them getting damp or dirty. We're not afraid! When we're outside I have a constant stream of horrified babushki telling me, "His mitten is wet!" or "She has dirt on her snowsuit!" And I just reply, "Да." They look at me like I'm insane. Sometimes I add, "It'll dry/wash off." Then they know I'm insane. Some of them sputter about the fact that the children are going to end up in the hospital because of this, but the ones that know us, know that our children are the healthiest around. And they're enjoying it so much!

Yesterday Jaan learned all about rivers and lakes. We saw some older boys sailing boats they had made in a river of melting snow, so Jaan went in and got a little foam tray. He launched it in a puddle, and it didn't go anywhere. So, he learned that lakes don't flow. We spent the rest of our time sailing the boat and comparing rivers to lakes.

We also found a place where the snow had melted all the way down to some of last year's grass. Raia plopped right down (yes, in the mud) and carefully examined this strange new substance. She collected the old brown strands in her bucket. What's she going to think when we find green grass?

Another--even better--find was a bulb, just lying on the ground! I don't know what it is, but I'm hoping it might be a crocus. We planted it in a pot, so hopefully we'll find out soon.

Planting our bulb
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I don't think I mentioned what Raia did when we found pussy willows a few days ago. . . she ate them! I noticed the fuzzy parts were disappearing off of her little branch, but I thought she was just breaking them off. When they were all gone, she said, "more, please," and I saw that her mouth was full.

All that was just on our morning walk. After naps, we made a new boat for today. Then we started cleaning off our balcony, and the children got filthy out there, too.

The boat
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

No, he wasn't too happy about me taking his picture, and he was very unhappy that he couldn't go out and try his new boat right away. See the big H? That's his signature. He writes it on everything. The first letter of his name is too hard, so he's adopted the second one as his own.

Okay, we need to go try out the new boat!

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Yesterday was the first day that has felt like spring! Or, like the the beginning of the season that we have here between winter and spring. Here there's no gentle transition of winter "melting into" spring. Winter melts into mush, slush, dirt, MUD, and that lasts for a season. Then, spring comes.

Still, we're not quite to the mud season, and we're happy! Yesterday we stayed outside for so long that Will got worried and came searching for us. Jaan and Raia were a little sad to see that their beloved ice slide was too wet to play on, but they discovered that the mountains of snow near the sports field are now wonderfully slippery. They spent hours climbing up and slipping down. I went away a little worried that Raia's hyperactive! The other children her age just sat and watched while she went full speed ahead; the other mothers kept commenting on her activity level. (Actually, I just think she's a normal toddler. )

Then, after naps, we went out again to buy seeds. We planted our first flowers yesterday, and we're eagerly awaiting their sprouting. The snow over our flowerbeds is still knee-deep, but not for long! I'm a little worried about my bulbs; they had actually started to come up in our weirdly warm January, but then we had really cold temperatures right after that. Will they survive?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A map and more

Here's a map that actually shows Kulikovka! Click on the section that has Kolchugino in it, and it will zoom in. You can even see both the little streams.

We've started putting our photos of the new camp property online, so take a look.

Happy "International" Women's Day to all the women who are reading this!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Camp info

We had a long, but fun, day yesterday, visiting the new camp property. For those of you who don't know the story, for several years the camp ministry in the Ivanovo-Vladimir regions has been trying to find a permanent place to have children's summer camps. It was a long and discouraging process. Nothing was available to us. Now God has provided a place! It's a great example of how with Him nothing is impossible. After all this trying, He just dropped the property in our laps. The Kolchugino church rejoined the organization of churches, and they had a piece of property to offer.

Will took lots of pictures, and we'll be sharing those soon. The camp is located in the village of Куликовка, but that's not on the maps. Only three or four families live there year-round. The info page I linked to doesn't have any info about it, but the photo is good. It shows where Ivan parked yesterday. In the winter he can't drive all the way to the camp, so we walked. See the little crossroad? The camp is about half a kilometer to the right. The nearest big village is Долгополье, which you can find on a good map. (I didn't find one online.) Look north of Kolchugino, almost to the border with Yaroslavskaya region.

Raia's back-hoe
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Our children enjoyed exploring, but once they found the garage, they thought they were in heaven. There's a dump truck, a back-hoe, and a crane! Jaan's planning to go back when it's warm. He'll drive the crane, and Raia will drive the back-hoe, he says. They cried when we had to leave "their" vehicles.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Brother and sister

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

When Jaan left for Sunday school this morning, he and Raia almost couldn't handle the thought of parting. They kept hugging each other and saying goodbye, the whole time Jaan was waiting for Will to get ready. Jaan should have been excited about going, but he almost cried: "It's going to be so sad without her!" Who would have guessed that it was only for a few hours, and that Jaan often goes to Sunday school without his little sister?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Big girl?

We took down Raia's crib. Now she's learning to stay on her mattress and go to her potty by herself in the night. The first night was pretty bad. It took more than an hour of reminding her to stay put before she fell asleep. The only time she went potty, she dumped it on her bed afterwards. And then she wet her bed twice more before morning. Yes, three sets of sheets in one night.

Last night was much better. Raia was asleep about five minutes after I put her down. She didn't try to get back up. And her bed was dry this morning! However, she still didn't quite make it to her potty. When I checked on her at some hour this morning, I almost took a picture. I would have, if it hadn't been whatever time it was. She was off her bed, bowing down to her potty, or so it seemed. Sound asleep. And lying in a puddle. I think she stood up, tripped on her blanket, and just stayed there: hands stretched out to the potty, bottom up in the air, flat on her face.

Raia's also talking more and more. Every day I hear a new word or two. Her current favorite means "by myself," but she says it in the masculine form, since she's learned it from Jaan.

(Jaan is walking around clanging on everything with a toy cymbal and telling us what each sounds like it was made from. As he went by us, he tried Raia's head. His conclusion? "Yes, she's made of glass. She could break.")