Thursday, July 30, 2009

Camp slideshow

Since I've been busy this evening putting together a few things for the last day of camp, I thought I'd share one of them with you. Here's the slideshow we'll be showing:

(By the way, Lena said that it looks like so few kids when you see the photos, but it seems like so many in person. We had 60 today!)

Never mind. I tried and tried to upload the slideshow, but it's just too big.  Note the date; I've been trying since Thursday! Instead here's an album of the photos that we used in it. I'll be sorting photos soon, and I'll probably post more personal ones of our own children and such over the next few days.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Camp update

All is going well! We're having a great time, and there have been about 50 children each day. Some are from church and the rest are from the neighborhood around the church.

Two stories:
On the first day a grandmother and her very little granddaughter just happened to be walking by and came in to see what was going on. They stayed for the Bible time and music, and then left. Later in the day, they reappeared for the craft lesson and seemed to be having a wonderful time. The babushka approached me, and said, "I really, really regret bringing my granddaughter here!" Of course, I thought, "Oh, no! What have we done wrong?" and I asked her why. "Because now I can't get any peace at all! I just meant to stop here for a few minutes, and then go home. We went home, and she wouldn't stop crying. She kept telling me that she had to go back to where everyone sings so beautifully."

On the way home today, Jaan wanted to know why camp is only for five days. And then he said, "When I grow up, I'm going to be a leader and have a camp that goes for TEN DAYS!"

Monday, July 27, 2009

An alphabet of thanks

holy experience

Sometimes I like to have themes for my thanksgiving lists. This time I thought it would be fun to go through the alphabet and think of one thing that I'm thankful for on each letter. Other than that to tie these together, it's a pretty random list.

576. Asya!
577. Babies in general, and Baby Yasha in particular
578. Church camp
579. Dacha days (If we were playing Scattergories, I'd get two points for those. )
580. Egg sandwiches, made by Will
581. Family!
582. God's grace!
583. Hoopoe birds, so funny!
584. Ice cream
585. Jaan
586. Kisses from Asya; she still doesn't quite know how to give them, but she tries.
587. Lena, leading camp this year: such a sweet friend!
588. Mulberries
589. Nighttime, when all is quiet after a long day
590. Oksana: "Raia's Oksana" came from Kiev to help with camp.
591. Printer: I've been keeping it busy with camp stuff.
592. Questions from my little ones (Sometimes the sheer volume of questions drives me crazy, but I am thankful for them. Those questions show how their minds are working!)
593. Raia
594. Squirrel family right near us now
595. True Spirituality and a friend to read it with
596. Underwear: I'm thankful that Asya can finally get hers off and on by herself!
597. Very fun 1st day of camp!
598. Will
599. eXtreme change in the temperature (The unbearable heat dropped 20 degrees, just like that, just in time for camp. Is that not a miraculous love gift?)
600. Yana, the other camp leader
601. Zzzzzzzzzz. . . . what I wish I had more of right now.  I sure do enjoy sleep these days! 

First day of camp!

We're headed out to the first day of camp at the church here. Please pray for all to go well. It's just a day camp, but so much work goes into it. Pray for strength for the workers. Will and I were up until 1:00 preparing, and I'm sure others got even less sleep. Pray for children to come and be touched by what they see and hear. Our own children are so excited that they can hardly contain themselves! I'll be going just to be with them and the other little children and try to help in whatever way I can. Will is in charge of the music. Pray especially for Yana and Lena, who are leading this year; before they've had someone from outside come in to lead, so this is their first time.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I said we really enjoyed the VBS program last week, but I didn't post any photos then. Here are a bunch!

Last day 
(They weren't quite ready when I took the picture.)

New quotes

As I start into Francis Schaeffer's True Spirituality and find much to quote, I'm moving these older quotes over here and replacing them in the sidebar.

"There is a joy. . . granted. . . only to those who worship Thee thankfully--and this joy Thou Thyself art. The happy life is this--to rejoice to Thee, in Thee, and for Thee."
--Confessions of St. Augustine

"'I am not primarily a worker for God; I am first and foremost a lover of God. This is who I am.' All of us need to be lovers who work rather than workers who love.'"

"Worship is not just a specific act. It is also a lifestyle.
Worship is a specific act of bowing my knees and declaring, 'Holy, holy, holy.'
Worship is also a lifestyle of bowing my life and living, 'holy, holy, holy.'"

"Worship is the lifestyle of a grateful heart."
--Quotes from the first chapter of Linda Dillow's Satisfy my Thirsty Soul

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This week

. . . is mostly camp prep. Will has been going to meetings every day and running errands; I've been doing computer work, making invitations and posters. The children and I have also been getting reacquainted with our beloved park. Yesterday we spent the morning picking mulberries and watching a squirrel family there. Today we're headed out to our dacha, just for one overnight. (Will can still go to meetings and work on his music plans from there.)

I thought I'd just give you one Asya quote, before we run out the door, though. I teach our children to happily say "Da, Mama" and obey. It seems to help them when they're toddlers, if they know what specific response to give. Asya has recently really picked up on this. At first she would say, "AH, Mama!" Now that's changed to an emphatic "MA, Mama!" It's incredibly cute. And the funny thing is that when Will tells her to do something, she responds in exactly the same way: "MA, Mama!"

Oh, and the way she says "fish" sounds like "heepy."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Gifts of summer

holy experience

(Don't you like Ann's new banner?)

602. Swimming!
603. Helpers to make swimming trips easier on me (I've written about them before: two sweet girls who go swimming with us.)
604. Tomato salad and Asya asking for more and more of it
605. Finally finding a cool place to sit in church
606. Mulberries
607. Tomatoes from our own garden!

608. Cool showers
609. Ice cream
610. Smoothies
611. The day that I went out and picked apricots with Lena: that was such a love-gift from the Lord!
612. Thunder (I hear it now.)
613. Camps!
614. Живчик
615. When the heat lets up at night
616. My plump toddler, running around in nothing but her underwear
617. Don't have to bother with layers of clothing!
618. Migratory birds, only here for the summer
619. My morning glories (Have I mentioned them before?  I love them!)

620. Hours and hours on end outdoors
621. A different rhythm to our days (Isn't that the beauty of changing seasons?)
622. The smell of rain, coming through the windows right now
623. Butterflies
624. Gardening!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Will's 2nd day of birthday

On Will's actual birthday we invited the youth out to our dacha for hamburgers. That's why I wanted to make Will's special dinner the night before. He's the hamburger cook, and it doesn't seem quite fair to make him do all the work on his birthday. We had a small group, but a really good time together.

(Note to Sullivans: I made the chocolate mint treat again. )

Taras, Yana, Sasha, Asya. . . and "Kvas Taras"

Oksana and Raia

After dinner, the water came on, and "the boys" went wild with the hoses! Taras was even hiding down in the fish pond, spraying out of there with his hose. I missed that photo opportunity, though.

Sasha and Raia on the sidelines of the water fight

The birthday boy

Friday, July 17, 2009

Rewind #7: Kiev, part 2

The day after the zoo, feeling much more rested, we set out to see more of the tourist sites of Kiev. We were staying in a church, where a girl from Dneprorudnoe lives, so Oksana was our hostess and guide for our time in Kiev. She's also one of Raia's favorite people. You'll see a lot of her in the photos I posted. (Fortunately, I had gotten them up before our internet problems. I just stole the one above here from Stephen.)

Raia's actual birthday was a Sunday, so of course, we went to church right there where we were staying. First I got a cute photo of the sisters waking up:

After church Oksana had gotten a cake for Raia, and we had a little celebration:

And that was the last big event of our trip. We did enjoy the youth fellowship time that evening. The group there is quite large, and we all stayed up late talking to them.

The next day Will and Jaan saw Stephen off at the airport. Then we packed up and headed out ourselves. We had a little time before our train, so we wandered around the center a little more. I was hoping to stumble across the Babi Yar monument, but that didn't happen. I guess next time I need to figure out exactly where it is and make a point of finding it. Then we went to the train station and got on our train to come home.

The End!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Will's 1st day of birthday

We spent this last weekend at our dacha, in honor of Will's birthday. I did come back to make a cake, but that's when I found out that our internet wasn't working at all. It's still not working at our desk, but after a little bit of running back and forth, I'm posting these photos. We do know what the problem is now, too. We just have to find the part we need to fix it.

Will actually had two days of birthday. On Friday I made a special meal for him.

(I just forgot to wash and dress the children!)

After dinner we had fun blowing "super dandelion" seeds for each other and trying to catch them.

That's all.  We all had colds and weren't feeling great, but we had a fun quiet day together.  The next day was the big celebration. . . .

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Technical problems and busyness

I was going to post pictures from Will's birthday, but they're on the external drive in our bedroom, and the internet seems to be working only if we skip the part of the phone line that leads into there. Yes, we've been having trouble with our internet, but we also haven't been home much. I think we mostly have the internet fixed, but--like I said--pictures will have to come later.

This week there's a group here from Izberi Zhizn, a mission that sends groups of young people who have immigrated to the USA back to this side of the world on short term trips. Personally, Will and I are really encouraged to see this! Especially here in Ukraine, where a good half of the church leaders have left, it's good to see some coming back and not being completely lost to "the American dream." This mission also involves youth from Ukrainian churches, and this year the team here even includes two from our own church.

They're doing a VBS program near the church. I took our children on Monday, and they loved it! It rained so hard that we almost couldn't get back through the mud to our dacha, though. Yesterday we skipped going, much to Jaan and Raia's dismay. Instead of VBS, we got ourselves moved back to our apartment. The walk from the dacha is shorter and nicer, but with the mud we have right now, it's not possible. Today Will walked them through the city, instead of through the mud, and they enjoyed another morning with the group. Please pray for this outreach and the children who are coming. Pray especially for the rain to hold off in the mornings. (We love rain, but they're trying to do this outdoors.) We spent the evening down at the beach playing with the group, too.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Rewind #6: Kiev, part 1

(I'm leaving this to post automatically while we're at our dacha.)

Here's one last "rewind" to tell about our trip to Kiev. First, of course, there was the overnight train trip. I wasn't sure that we'd survive it! I've been on some hot trains, but I think that was about the hottest ever. However, after a while, something strange happened: air conditioning! That was definitely a "we're not in Kansas [Russia] anymore" moment." It helped some, but it was still too hot to sleep. We'd just start getting cooled off, and then the train--and the AC--would stop and sit at a station. WIll says that the contrast made it more miserable than the usual, but I say that coolish and HOT is better than hot and hotter.

(Jaan's face. . . !)

We did survive the train trip, and we arrived in Kiev. We put our luggage in storage at the train station, and headed straight to the zoo, to celebrate Raia's birthday a few days early. It wasn't open yet, but we took a few pictures on the statues outside.

The big (almost) four-year-old

While we waited for the zoo to open, we crossed the road to a wonderful, green park area in front of the University of Technology (or something like that). We saw a squirrel right away! It seemed like the park was full of them! And then we saw a young couple walk by, knocking walnuts together. Stephen and I exchanged looks and laughed: what on earth are they doing? Do they really think the squirrels will respond to that? But they do! A few minutes later a middle aged woman walked by doing the same thing, and. . . .

Then it was time for the zoo to open! As we walked back over there, we heard the clock strike with a noise like a rooster. I loved what Jaan said, eyes wide, "That's to wake the animals up!" The Kiev Zoo is very big and very nice! I'm afraid that we adults were a little too tired to really enjoy it, but that didn't seem to slow our children down. The petting zoo was a big favorite for them, once they got over the panic of being swarmed by goats and massive pigs. Stephen found the pigs a little too gross, I think, and he ended up watching that adventure from outside the fence. Raia's absolute favorite was the gorilla, and I found it rather fascinating, too. (Although, the primate cages were rather depressing. They were like the Soviet apartment buildings of the zoo world. As I understood they're building a whole new area for them, though.)  Jaan loved the monkeys. He would have spent the whole day hanging in front of one of those cages. He hung in front of one until Will moved him on, and then he hung there for the rest of the time that we were in that area. I don't think Jaan ever even made it to the end of the row of monkeys. And now for zoo pictures:

I'm getting a little frustrated with posting photos here. Follow this link to see the rest. We went back over to feed the squirrels after the zoo, and those photos are over there, too. I hope Stephen will put his online somewhere soon!

Oh, I said this is the last of my posts reviewing our recent busy times. I was wrong; I still have to tell you about our day walking around the center of Kiev and Raia's actual birthday.

(Be sure to go down and read my "Peas and bees" post.)