Saturday, March 29, 2008

Anna, Jaan, Raia, Asya

Anna posted great photos of her time with us. (That's a link. Click on it. )

Jaan got to help with presenting flowers to some of the financial sponsors for the new house here. As he and Will were walking out the door, I asked Jaan if he was ready. He said, "Yes, I'm going to do what not-our-Aunt Abbey says to do and give all the ladies flowers." (In good Russian fashion, our children call most adults aunt or uncle. It could get a little confusing, because they do have an Aunt Abby, but this is what they came up with to distinguish between her and the Abbey here.) I tried to tell him that it would be just one lady, but he must have been stuck on "all the ladies," because apparently he tried to wander off and give his flowers to the first women that he saw. I know you can't really see him in this photo, but it was all Will could get. Jaan's up in the front; that's his leg and the bottom of his sweater stepping up onto the stage:

Raia is eating! That's big news, considering how sick she's been. Please keep praying for her. She's not all the way well yet.

Asya is determined to crawl. This is probably too much, but I couldn't decide which video was better. In the first she's mostly just warming up, although there is some forward motion. Will says that she looks like "a hyper inchworm." In the second, she's moving! And actually, by then, she was tired. That was slow, compared to what we're seeing most of the time.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Life goes on

As antsy as I am to get to Ukraine, I am really enjoying every day. The weather is beautiful, and we're in a lovely place. Tuesday night the families here got together for dinner. I had met everyone while out and about with the children, but Will hadn't, so it was nice to see everyone at once, all together. Here are some photos of other recent days:

Local entertainment

They're finishing up a house right across from us, and Jaan spends a good bit of his time sitting in this spot, watching. See his red cap? That's how I can be sure he's in his place.

Just enjoying spring

Asya started out on the towel where Raia is lying in the photo. She doesn't stay in one place at all anymore! She hasn't been sleeping too well. At first we thought it was teeth. I'm not too convinced of that now. Nothing is coming through. I think she's just so determined to crawl, that it's disturbing her sleep. Will noticed that every time she woke up last night, she was on her hands and knees, rocking back and forth.

With Aunt Anna

Yesterday Anna came out to visit, and we had a great time with her! Hopefully, when she has time, she can post or pass on some of her photos of our time in the creek.

Sweet big brother

"When will she have teeth?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Because I want to give her some of my сухарики!"
Will brought two packs of сухарики from Russia to give to Jaan and Raia here. Yesterday he brought them out. Jaan and Raia were thrilled! Сухарики in America!

"Христос Воскрес!"

I know she doesn't look too thrilled, but really she was. In all the other photos she was too exuberant to be seen at all. Raia wanted to make a flag, so we came up with this. Then, last night when we lighted our candle, she and Jaan took turns waving it. (This year to count out the days of Easter, I bought two little packs of birthday candles. Each night we burn one and proclaim "Христос Воскрес!" Sometimes we sing, while we watch the candle burn away, as one more day with Jesus also passes. . . .)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Воистину воскрес!

This redecorating is addicting. Will just rolled his eyes when he saw what I was doing.

Western Easter was Sunday; I'm just starting to celebrate. It's still a month until Eastern (Russian!) Easter, but here we're in the Easter season. We'll continue to remind each other daily that Christ is Risen for the next forty days. The music is the traditional, triumphal Russian Easter song. I missed singing it in church this year. (Okay, yes, it didn't sound quite like that in our little church, but the music is the same.) When you look at these bright, spring colors, remember that Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!

I also missed hearing and saying that Christ is risen. In Russia it's everywhere. Here we didn't really even say it at church. I keep looking for the Russian-speaking family that is also staying here, so that I can greet them properly. On Sunday I thought about going around kissing people and saying, "Христос воскрес!" but I decided against it.

(Isn't it wonderful when the world around
us helps to celebrate new life?)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Христос Воскрес!

I hope those of you who celebrated Easter yesterday had a wonderful, joyful day. I think I had a bit of culture shock at church, but I did enjoy the family time greatly. I posted our photos here.

Raia made me laugh, as she sang "Христос воскрес" ("Christ is risen") almost the whole way back out here from Charlotte last night. That part wasn't funny--it was sweet--but the variations on the main theme were hilarious. "Christ is Risen! Sing alleluia, so that Asya won't cry. Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen! Christ is risen so that Barmalei* won't eat anyone. Christ is Risen!" And so on. I wish I could remember more of it.

(*Jaan and Raia's favorite story is Barmalei by Kornei Chukovsky. I read it to them at least once a day. When my parents were here, Jaan retold it to Mom. It went something like this: "Dis Barmalei. He ver, ver bad. He eat childrens. And Mama and Papa say childrens don't go in Africa, but Tanya and Vanya go. Barmalei catch and tie them. He want eat them! Good Doctor Aibolit try to help. Baramlei throw him in dere [points to fire]. Crocodile come, eat Barmalei. Barmalei will be good. Crocodile spit him. Now he give childrens pretzels and cookies." Will says that Christ rising again so that Barmalei won't eat anyone is close to good theology. )

P.S. I'll explain the music tomorrow. If you need to stop it, or if you want to listen again, you'll find it down at the bottom of the sidebar.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Plans, maps, details

We have a tentative plan now! See the link over on the side to the Sobies' web site? We are going to move to somewhere near them. We had started looking into other ideas and ministries, but what they're doing is somewhat similar to what we had been doing in Kovrov, and we keep coming back to that. Instead of branching out to something completely new, we're going to try to find something similar (being active members of a local church). The Sobies offered to help us find a place in their region. Scott will be meeting with the head of the Ukrainian Baptist Churches for their region this week, and he's going to talk to him about starting on our visas.

Here's a map that I took from the Ukrainian Baptist Union site, because I liked the way it showed the oblast ("state"):

Assuming we go with what we're thinking now, we'll be in the Zaporozhskaya oblast.

And here's a Google map:

View Larger Map

I don't know why it's putting my marker all the way down at the bottom, instead of centering on it, but that's good, because you can see Moscow (up at the top) and Kiev. You can also move around and zoom in with the controls. The yellow pin is on the town of Dneprorudiy. That's a possible location Scott suggested we could go to. (Their site still says that's where they live, but as I understand it, they're in another village now.) We'll probably head to Dneprorudniy and see if it's a good fit for us when we get there. So far, I know that it's a small town: 23,000 inhabitants. There is a church there, and that's probably where we would mostly be helping out.

Also, here's a good, detailed map of the region, but it's in Ukrainian.

You can go ahead and start with the questions. We might not have time to answer them for a few days, though. Tomorrow we'll be seeing my parents off and heading to Charlotte for the weekend. Goodbye!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fun with Grandparents

Crawling lesson
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Asya is very close to crawling! Yesterday we set Dad's computer on the floor, and while we talked to Julie in Moscow, we showed off Asya's new skills. I'm sure Julie was laughing at us--I was laughing myself--but it sure was fun and funny! Catch us on Skype, if you want to see for yourself.

As far as planning for Ukraine, it does seem like we're making some progress, although there's still nothing definite. Prayers are being answered. Someone that we have really been wanting to get in touch with has gotten an internet connection. Pasha (in Kovrov) has been able to help a good bit, too; he and Will have been talking often via Skype, trying to figure out how to get visas for us. But, like I said, there's still nothing definite to report.

Helping Grandda shave
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Quick update

We're getting lots of questions about our plans. Thanks for asking, but we really don't have anything to tell yet. After I asked for prayer that we would get answers, we did get one. It was a no, but that will help some, too. I want to get started on visas, but at this point we really don't know where to start. Most everyone says to decide where we're going and who we'll be working with, and then get visas through them. I'd rather go the other way around: visas first, then definite decisions. Maybe we'll find a way to do that? Please keep praying with and for us!

Our children are doing well, but we're definitely working on some behavior problems with Jaan and Raia. Pray for wisdom and better behavior. Also, poor Asya is just getting over her bad cold, and it looks like she's starting into teething. We're enjoying our retreat here. My parents should be arriving any minute for a few more days of visiting with us. That's all for now.

Holy Week

Yesterday was Palm (or Pussy Willow*) Sunday. We talked about Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Originally uploaded by fylliska.

We also started an Easter mountain, as I had read about in Noel Piper's book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions (free online!).

Getting started
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Busy hands
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Examining the finished product
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

*(I guess it's not Pussy Willow Sunday, because Easter in Russia isn't until April 27. Still, I now associate pussy willows with Palm Sunday in my mind. Look at this photo (#6). Beautiful, eh?)

Monday, March 17, 2008

What is this?

The mystery flower
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

They're all around here. Lara let me use her camera to photograph this one. The rest of her photos from our time together are here.

(My parents are coming to visit! They'll be here tomorrow.)

Lara's visit

We had a great time with Lara and Noelle! Here are a few photos:

All together
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

By the creek
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

The rest are here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Recently read

"And He said, 'My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.'"
Exodus 33:14

THOU hast made me known to friends whom I knew not. THOU hast given me seats in homes not my own. THOU hast brought the distant near and made a brother of the stranger.

I am uneasy at heart when I have to leave my accustomed shelter, I forget that there abides the old in the new, and that there also, THOU abidest.

Through birth and death, in this world or in others, wherever THOU leadest me, it is THOU the same, the one companion of my endless life, who ever linkest my heart with bonds of joy to the unfamiliar.

When one knows THEE then alien there is none, then no door is shut.

Oh! grant me my prayer that I may never lose the bliss of the touch of the ONE in the play of the many.
--Mother Gavrilia, quoted in The Ascetic of Love
(At least I think she wrote it. The book just says that it "was found among her papers," but that it really describes her.)

It's been a while

I haven't had time to record many of the gifts God has given me lately, but I have been noticing them! These are from all the way back before we left Russia up until now.

All of life--our families, our friends, our material possessions, our health--starts out as a gift. As life goes on, we can begin to take those gifts for granted and develop expectations of how things are supposed to be. If and when the gifts are withdrawn, we may become angry or demanding because we think we have a right to them. Instead, we would be wise to determine to be grateful for whatever is given to us.
Ney Bailey, Faith is Not a Feeling, page 72

843. Toward Jerusalem in the library here!
844. Sitting by the creek, feeding Asya, listening to the water, watching the bluebirds and the rest of my family playing by the water: bliss!

845. The flashes of bright color that are bluebirds in the sunlight
846. Porch swings
847. A sick little girl who loves to be outside so much that she spends her whole morning sleeping on that porch swing
848. Conversation with a Serbian mother at the park (Russian and Serbian are quite similar!)
849. Asya smiling at the flowers
840. Daffodils, crocuses, camellias
841. Violets!
842. Family and friends
843. Family and friends
844. Family and friends
845. Family and friends
846. Family and friends
847. Jaan holding Will's hand in the front seat of the car on long trips
848. Roses, a gift given when I stopped to talk to a neighbor
849. Color! Blue sky, pink azaleas, red maple seeds, bright new leaves on the oaks
850. Raia bringing me her blanket to make me feel better
851. Live entertainment at home (The children had me howling with the whole business of consulting their "monkey schedules"!)
852. There was so much moving around, wandering, in Genesis! And always God was with them.
853. Jaan putting his special slippers on Raia's feet when she was cold from our walk
854. Arms that hurt because they're so full
855. Using up, sharing around: life is rich when you can't put anything off or save it for later
856. Health for me through the last few colds that have gone around here
857. Motherhood!
858. Asya's special milky smile that means "Thanks for a good meal, Mama."
859. Jaan on the see-saw wearing his skis
860. The obliviousness of childhood
861. Freeing ourselves from stuff
862. Sweet little Babushka Anya! I was worried about her. It was so good to talk to her today.
863. The tiniest snowflakes I've ever seen, each a perfect, individual star
864. Not much more time: it makes realize that every day is a priceless gift
865. "Though for a little while his joy be like a tree cut down, it will sprout again, and through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. For he is like a tree planted by the rivers of water."
Amy Carmichael, quoted in Amma: The Life and Words of Amy Carmichael, page 187
866. My Bible reading schedule for January "just happens" to include the book of Job
867. Lamentations 3:22-33
868. It's over. No more suspense.

(I have the comments turned off on purpose. This list is my sacrifice of praise to God. I want to share it with you all, but it really doesn't need discussing.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Let Russians Be Russians

I'm not attempting to get into politics here - just sharing our thoughts.

A good many of the questions we have been receiving here in the States as the visiting 'Russia Experts' have had to do with the president of Russia, politics, and the sorry state of democracy in Russia. Having lived there more as, well, average folks, than anything else, we have a hard time being too critical of the way things are. They are the way they are. We have shared what we know of 'the man on the street's' opinion as we talk to people here, but this article, and this quote in particular I think expresses our own standpoint about as clearly as is possible.

Thursday, March 13, 2008. Issue 3860. Page 8.
Let Russians Be Russians
By Rodric Braithwaite

"George Kennan, that great Russia-watcher and U.S. diplomat and historian, got it right when he wrote in 1951, at the height of the Cold War: "When Soviet power has run its course ... let us not hover nervously over the people who come after, applying litmus papers daily to their political complexions to find out whether they answer to our concept of 'democrats.' Give them time; let them be Russians; let them work out their internal problems in their own manner. The ways by which people advance towards dignity and enlightenment in government are things that constitute the deepest and most intimate processes of national life. There is nothing less understandable to foreigners, nothing in which foreign influence can do less good."

It is the wisest advice, but it is blissfully ignored by our policymakers who, like latter-day Christian missionaries, believe that we have a duty to spread the gospel of democracy -- by military force, if necessary. Russians are not the only ones who find that proposition distinctly suspect." ;o)

Sir Rodric Braithwaite, British ambassador to the Soviet Union and Russia from 1988 to 1992, is author of "Moscow 1941: A City and its People at War." This comment appeared in the Financial Times.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Charlotte slideshow

(I know it's too many, but you don't have to look. Click on any photo to go to a larger version of it. You can navigate through the album from there.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Where no one lives"

Yesterday we arrived at Siloam Missionary Homes. ("Our" house in the one in the middle of their banner.) I think we're really going to enjoy the rural life here. Jaan kept asking who we would be staying with next. I told him over and over that we would have a house by ourselves, hence this is "the house where no one lives." It's appropriate, since we seem to be out in the middle of nowhere. . . except that there are plenty of nice people living or staying here.

One of our neighbors :-)
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

The chickens!
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

Asya discovers sand
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

(Raia was giving her lessons on what to do with it.)

Today we're settling in and working on Gospelink business. I think our next project will be visas, and then the big task of deciding where in Ukraine we're headed!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Happy March 8th!

Everyone is back from Dallas! Hurrah! But I spoke too soon when I said Raia was well. All the women in this family are pretty miserable, just in time for our holiday: "International" Women's Day. Happy March 8th to all of you! Will and Jaan are fine.

The sick ones
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

(Edited to add: After reading this, I'm not so sure about wishing friends a Happy International Women's Day. I didn't know anything about the history of it! I think I'll keep enjoying the holiday, though. I have great memories of flowers and special services at church, schoolchildren giving me so many flowers and so much chocolate that I couldn't even carry it home, fun teas, and explaining that "no, they don't celebrate it in America," that I think it's worth continuing the tradition. Even it there are feminist and socialist roots, today we celebrate mothers, daughters, grandmothers and the other women in our lives on March 8th!)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Good news, bad news

Good news: this one. . .

Sick Raia
Originally uploaded by fylliska.

. . . is well now.

Bad news: now the littler one is sick.

Good news: we had a great visit with friends last night, and we have another one planned for tonight.

Bad news: most flights out of Dallas were cancelled yesterday, so our Papa and grandparents are stranded there.

Good news: they should be back around midnight tonight! (Pray!)