Friday, May 25, 2007


First meal in our new apartment
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

We're almost moved into our new apartment and dacha. We slept downstairs last night and woke up to a wonderful problem: we were cold! It was so much better than the fifth-floor heat!

I'm sitting on the floor typing. When I'm done, Will is going to move the computer downstairs, too. That means no more easy internet for a while now. I still plan on updating here once a week or so. Email will be possible again when we get our laptop back. Until then, feel free to email us (please write!), but don't hold your breath waiting for a quick answer. Also, please be careful not to send big files, forwards, or photos.

"See" you later!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Spring prayer letter

May 20, 2007

Dear friends,
So far, spring has been very busy and often stressful for us. We have enjoyed the beautiful warmer weather, flowers, and extra time outside! Jaan’s getting old enough that I can send him out by himself; I do keep a very careful watch through the window. He loves to sit with our elderly neighbors and talk. Raia’s definitely not a baby any more. She’s talking constantly and really showing her own personality. Baby #3 is also growing well and making his/her presence very obvious. I’ve dealt with more nausea this time around than ever before, but otherwise all is well. Again this year we’ve planted flowers around the entrance to our apartment building and interacted with our neighbors through that.

Easter was beautiful, falling just when everything outside was beginning to come back to life. The days leading up to it were busy with showing the Jesus film. There was a very good turnout for that. Thank you to those of you who were praying!

Jaan now understands and can tell the story of Christ’s Resurrection. For the 40 days after Easter in our family we also reminded each other daily that “He is Risen” and sang Easter hymns. Both children can now reply “He is Risen indeed!” and sing something almost recognizable. We just learned about the Ascension, and now they’re waiting to see what will happen at Pentecost.

Now for the stresses. . . .
In March we had a visit from the Migration Service. Up until now, we have just had our visas registered in Moscow and lived here without local registration, because there was no way to register here. That changed when Migration Service began to insist that we register locally. So, we started the process of getting new visas that we should be able to register in Kovrov. At this point, my invitation for a new visa has been refused and Will’s has been granted. We’re just getting ready to try to ask for reconsideration on mine. Please pray! It has been hard to have this hanging over our heads, and it still not resolved.

At the end of April our landlord gave us a month to find a new place to live. We bought a dacha, and we’re very excited about spending time there this summer. Sadly, that has been somewhat clouded by an uproar in the church about us living there. (This is really condensed. You can read more details in the archives here, or write to us with questions: We are still planning to move out to the dacha quite soon. Also, we’ll be renting an apartment on the first floor, here in the same building where we’ve been living.

That doesn’t sound so bad, now that I have it written out! :-)

Prayer requests:
1. VISAS! Please pray that our visa problems would be solved as soon as possible.
2. Housing: pray as we move and settle in and make decisions. Pray that we’ll be able to get a phone put in the new apartment quickly.
3. Health: pray that the sniffles and such would stay away, and that I would feel good.
4. Youth meetings: we had asked for prayer that youth/young family fellowship times would be more regular, and we’ve seen that happen. Please pray that, if possible, we’d be able to continue meeting through the summer. People might be too busy, but we’d like to try.

Please let us know how we can pray for you.

As always, please write to us! Starting soon, our opportunities to email will be sporadic, but if you write, we’ll eventually get it. Also, our mailing address is changing just slightly: the apartment number is different now.

Have a wonderful summer!
Love and prayers,
Phyllis Hunsucker (for Will, Jaan, Raia and ?)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Summer wardrobe

Raia models one of her new outfits
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

It's really hot here! I mentioned to one of our neighbors that Raia didn't have any summer clothes, and that I was having trouble finding anything small enough in the stores. Our sweet neighbor went running off to dig through her closets and came back with a bag of clothes left from her daughter. . . who happens to be the same age as me. Raia has a whole wardrobe of vintage Soviet clothes now.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Moving day!

. . . but not to the dacha. Today we're moving to the apartment on the first floor. I don't know how long that will take, or what our exact plans are. We can still be here this week, so maybe we'll be sleeping and using the computer here for now? (They haven't moved the bed in for us there yet, and there's no phone.) All plans are very sketchy and change daily.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Raia and her truck

Raia and her truck
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

She makes me laugh. This truck is as special to her as Jaan's crane is to him, but it's usually decorated with flowers, and it gets put to bed and babied like a doll. One day recently her hands were just as dirty as Jaan's, but as they marched around the neighborhood like this with their vehicles, she had one fat, black finger held up in the air to keep a sparkly ring on it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Jaan and his crane

Jaan and his crane
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

This is what I see when we go for walks now. They race ahead of me and pull their vehicles. (You'll see Raia's tomorrow, or sometime soon.)

Friday, May 18, 2007

A few random bits

Our eggs hatched! We have three incredibly tiny caterpillars now.

Jaan wanted to know, if he poked my belly button, would the baby be able to see his finger?

We went to see some lovely apple trees in bloom, and the children thought they were covered in snow. (But it's hot here now!)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Butterfly eggs and more

Monday we found butterfly eggs! There was a white cabbage butterfly fluttering all around us while we played outside. Jaan and Raia and their little friend started following it. Pretty soon I realized that it was laying eggs, so I had them watch very carefully, and we were able to find them. The children were so excited! I would have loved to have had a camera with me to catch the intent looks and joy on their faces. Now we're just waiting for our three little eggs to hatch. . . .

Tuesday I had a good talk with the main "perpetrator" of the babushka hysteria about us moving to our dacha. She seems to be calmed down, so hopefully the uproar will die out now. Thanks for praying. Even though we usually fit in here perfectly well, there are still moments of cultural revelations and little clashes once in a while. The last one that stands out is newborn care; now we know housing is a big one, too, particularly when there are small children concerned.

Today Will's in Moscow again on Gospelink business that came up unexpectedly. I did better with getting up this morning. Hurrah! We had a wonderful time outside, and we'll go back out after naps, too. Have I mentioned recently that I love Spring? It rained last night, and now the colors just glow: bright green grass, white trees starting to bloom, yellow dandelions, blue sky. . . and our RED tulips. They're the talk of the neighborhood. I knew they were a special kind when we bought them, but I couldn't quite imagine what they would look like. Most tulips have one bloom on one stalk; these branch out and have 3-5 blooms!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Another day at the dacha

We had a cold, wet day at the dacha yesterday. The former owner redid the wiring, so it's ready for when the electricity is turned on, and we spent the day "helping" him. I enjoyed getting to know him and the rest of his family. They have another garden just a few rows over from the one they sold to us, so we'll probably get to see them a lot this summer. Other than that, it was too rainy to do much. Will got the sand box dug out and fixed up for the children, and we enjoyed the quiet out there.

Bath time
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

This is how Raia started out the day, before the rain. She stayed wet for the rest of the day, just like her babies.

Snack time
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

And warming up a little!

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

View out the back
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

I said this was the only photo missing from our dacha tour. It's from the little window upstairs. See Spring creeping in?

Right now the babushki at church are all riled up about us planning to move to the dacha. True, it's not the standard thing to do, especially with little children, but we're really looking forward to it. Please pray that they'll be able to reconcile themselves to the idea. We don't want something this minor to cause division, and we don't need the pressure from them right now!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Little bit

Did you notice this, all the way down at the bottom?

I can testify to the fact that at least the first part is true. For about a week now, this baby has had a regular hiccup fit at 9:30 every night.

I'm appreciating Will more and more these days! He's NOT a morning person, but he's been jumping out of bed at the first sound from the children every morning. Then he makes sure I have a snack, before I even get up, and he starts them eating their breakfasts. I can come out to breakfast ready for me most days, too. (One morning I got up in time to hear, "Papa, I want two eggs, with broccoli and no cheese, please." Does Jaan think he has his own personal short-order chef now?) All this to say, I appreciated it, but didn't know quite how much until Will was gone yesterday. It was not a pretty picture with Mama trying to pull breakfast together, while running back and forth to. . . well, you know what morning sickness means.

By the way, if you don't know what a dacha is, or if you just want to know more about them, this is a good link. Oh, and this one might be even better.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Dacha tour

I just keep praising the Lord and smiling as I think of all He gave us yesterday!

First I'll show you the inside of the dacha:

Coat closet and "stairwell"
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

This is just inside the door, to the right, as you come in. The window is to let light in from the back room.

Front room
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Looking back at the door. We still don't know how much of the furniture and other things they will leave for us. Definitely the wardrobe, but they other than that they didn't say.

Back room
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

There's a cute little room in the middle, and the rest is unfinished.

Now we'll head outside:

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

This is what Jaan and Raia were most excited to find. Their favorite greens! The two of them plopped down there and started eating. Щавель was one of the first things I was wanting to plant. I'll still add more.

Flower garden
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

You can't really see it, but there are quite a few flowers--tulips, daisies, daffodils, and others--out front. Of course, I was excited to see that. A few are already blooming!

Back view
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

You can see the garden space here. Will was standing just behind the property line when he took this photo. The water pipe runs along that line, with a faucet at each plot. The plot directly behind us is abandoned, so the children can run and play there all they want! I need to get a photo in that direction, too.

I said that Will bought this yesterday morning. In the afternoon we all went out to see it and had a wonderful time! (That's when we took these photos.) We met several of our neighbors; they were all very friendly. According to them, we have the best raspberries of anyone. There are strawberry plants all over, too! I was also happy to see quite a few children running around. People spend varying amounts of time at their dachas, but apparently the ones we met--from next door and across the road--almost live there in the summer. Already it's like walking through a gardening magazine in some of the plots out there!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Our new (summer) home!

Our dacha!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

This morning Will bought us a dacha (a little summer house)! Can you believe it? Tanya had kind of jokingly suggested that as a short-term solution. Will saw an ad in the paper yesterday, then met with the owners today and bought it on the spot. It turned out that they were from the unregistered church and had been praying for the right people to sell to, while we were praying for a good place to move. We happened to know that a special gift had come in for our housing needs, because Will's Dad was opening the mail while on the phone with us on Saturday. It was enough to buy this dacha and the garden plot that goes with it! (A huge thank you to the givers! I know you're reading this. You'll be getting a letter from me very soon.)

We'll get to spend the whole summer outside, gardening, playing, swimming and enjoying God's creation! Our new dacha is just outside the edge of the city, in a "collective garden area," surrounded by forest and close to the river. Still, we'll be close enough that we can walk to the trolleybus. We'll have electricity in the house and water close by, once they get those turned on.

In the fall, we'll probably move back into an apartment, but we'll still have this dacha for next summer and beyond that! I think I'll pray that the apartment on the first floor of this building is still open in the fall. I would love to come back to our friends and neighbors here.

I need to start sorting and packing to get ready to move, but all I want to do is plant seeds to put out in the garden.

(If you're wondering about the basement I wrote about last, we had decided that it probably wouldn't work, because we need to move too soon. It wouldn't have been possible to even get it into shape where we could camp out there soon enough. And there just wasn't any room for expansion later on.)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

"A real fixer-upper"

Today we went to look at half a house for sale. That's all we knew before we went. . . that and that they were only asking about $3000 for it. A price like that is almost unheard of!

Now I feel like my head is spinning. There's just too much to consider! Lots of pluses and minuses.

The part for sale is the half-basement level. (For those of you who have visited the Petrashes in Viazniki, it's very similar to what they have.) It has nice windows and lots of light, so it doesn't feel like a basement, though. I think I'll just have to list:
-It's very small. For me, small and with a yard, is much better than big and in an apartment building, though. Plus, it would be ours, not rented!
-It's in the old part of the city, right by the river, the historic churches, and a trolleybus stop.
-Um, no running water (yet). The upstairs neighbor has brought in water already, so it's possible.
-It has good gas heating and electricity.
-There's a good bit of water damage, because the heat has been turned off, and in the past they've run a pump under the floor in the springtime. There was no one there to do that this year. The floor boards and wall covering would have to be completely replaced.
-Will says that all the work could be done by us and our friends. There's nothing complicated, although there is a good bit to do.
-The current owners are very willing to work with us, flexible about payment, and ready to help.

Please be praying for us to have wisdom in deciding about this! They're not going to show it to anyone else until after Wednesday, so we have a few days to think and pray.

Another big prayer request is that the owners would be able to figure something out with the man who owns the upstairs. It might be hard to get him to sign the papers to sell their part. We want to meet him and talk to him; from what they said of him, he would be a good neighbor, if he will agree with them selling to us.

Please pray about the financial part, too. The price is just right for us. We could even afford to buy it with what we have now. However, there would still be the cost of fixing it up. . . .