Monday, August 31, 2009

Zhatva 2009

Yesterday was Zhatva, the harvest holiday, at the church here. Yes, it's early this year. We had a fun, full day of fellowship.  It was especially fun to share the big holiday with our guests, but I don't think I caught them in any of our photos.

Jaan and Raia loved this eggplant with a face! It really did grow with that nose.

It was a little odd to celebrate Zhatva when it's still so hot out!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


We're having fun with more guests, here to renew their visas.  Two of them and Will just got back from a camping trip with the church youth.  I won't write much now, but here's a link to some of Julie's photos. . . .

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day of Transfiguration

I read this recently in Francis Schaeffer's True Spirituality, and thought that it was appropriate for today, when we celebrate Christ's Transfiguration:
"We have here at the Mount of Transfiguration a preview of Christ in His glory.  We gave here a preview of that portion of the kingdom of God in which we stand after we have accepted Christ as our Savior.  But we are swept beyond this to the resurrection--not only Christ's resurrection, but our future resurrection; we are swept on to the reign of Christ, and to eternity.  This is a different perspective. . . ."
--From Chapter 2
(If you have True Spirituality, pick it up and read the chapter.  And the next.  I didn't want to stop there with my quote!)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Grapes and apples

. . . that's what time of year it is! A few silly pictures from last week:

And, even though it's not a good year for the fruit trees, we discovered three little apples on one of ours!  That's better than nothing.

Gifts from God

holy experience

Jaan has started learning a poem for the upcoming harvest holiday. (It will be early for us this year.) His poem is called "Gifts from God," and it starts out
От Бога подарки,
Мы приняли вновь. . .
Gifts from God,
We have received once again. . . .
One morning last week, we were talking about it, and Jaan and Raia started listing off gifts. I especially loved hearing Asya try to echo them! Here are a few that they said:
554. Sun (Asya: "со-це")
555. Dacha
556. The clock (Why, Raia? "Because it's new and pretty!")
557. Kasha
558. Kefir
559. Birds
560. Butterflies
561. Caterpillars
562. Wind
563. Apples
564. Hot dogs
565. Campfires (Asya: "'тёр")

(Edited to add: I didn't read Ann's post until after I'd written this. We share a theme today.  Isn't seeing our children learning gratitude one of the best gifts? )

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chance meeting?

As we left church today, Will was carrying his guitar, and a slightly tipsy man came up to him asking to sing.  Will talked to him for a few minutes, but said that he couldn't play accompaniment for him right that moment, since he needed to get his children home.  Then Will said that he'd be back in the evening, and they could sing then.  Really, most encounters like that would end there.  But this Sasha did come back!  It turned out to be a really good thing, too.  Petya, one of the leaders of the church, is an old friend of his.  They hadn't seen each other for years, though.  Petya and Will spent time talking to Sasha.  It was particularly good that Petya was there, not only because they know each other, but because Petya has a pretty rough background himself.  He knows what it means to have a drinking problem.  Apparently Sasha's wife left him, and he's been drinking for three weeks now.  He wants to stop, but feels like he can't.  Please pray for him!

(This is just an odd language note.  Don't let it distract you from praying.  Petya is Sasha's кум.  Does that mean Sasha is Yana's--Petya's daughter's--godfather?  Or Petya is Sasha's child's godfather?  Or it could be either?)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Food in Ukraine

This was in a recent comment: "I was wondering, one of my friends here (Russian) was saying they were talking to someone from Ukraine and they were saying that while they are not badly off that they do not have plentiful food like we do here and giving a child a candy is more rare and a special treat. I was wondering how true you found that!"

Interesting. What time period are we talking about? I do think the famines hit harder here years ago and possible even scarred people more than in Russia, but now there's tons of food here. Oh, and are we comparing Ukraine to Russia or America?

Actually, food was one of the first little differences that I noticed here after Russia. Everything grows here! And abundantly! Where people jealously guard their gardens in Russia, here they can't give away enough. Very soon after we got here last year, I was walking with our children and a few neighbor kids. We passed an apricot tree hanging over a fence, and they all started begging. I said, "No, it's not our tree," looking at all the nearby babushki, and figuring that they would start yelling if we touched the tree. Instead they started yelling at me, because I wouldn't let the children eat the abundance! They don't sleep at their dachas just to keep thieves away here, and no one worries about people stealing from the potato plot.

Another story: a few weeks ago a friend was telling me that she had been chatting online with someone in Russia. She asked him if he liked fried squash. He said that he couldn't remember what it tastes like. Then she went through the list of things that they were eating from their garden right now. He didn't have any of them. She finally asked, "So what does grow in Russia?" and he said, "Pine cones." Ukraine was the breadbasket of the USSR, after all.

Now, if you're comparing what's in the stores to what's in American stores, there is less variety. But there's no lack of quantity. Less specialty items here, of course.

And candy. . . if only there was some way to stop the constant flow of it! (People do still talk about how there didn't used to be any. Elderly people often give children candy and say that it's because they didn't have any in their own childhoods.)

Also, like I said, people are still scarred from lean years in the past. They'll go on and on about the prices, when it just looks like natural fluctuation to us. I've almost seen runs on bread, just because of rumors that the prices will be going up a few kopecks. Most people are very frugal and won't throw away anything, no matter how much they have. Really, if you were to talk to someone about food here, they might moan about the prices, but I think that's mostly out of habit.

Of course, I'm not an expert. Just my own observations here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Just a very few out of a multitude

holy experience

These are just a few gifts that I noticed when I stopped to write one day last week at our dacha. Just a few from one day: imagine how many more they represent!

566. Children coloring sweetly together outside

567. Jaan's picture: "It's a balloon with hook-hands to hold buckets. He fills his buckets and floats up to drip water on the plants. Then he comes back down to refill and do it again."

568. Asya wanting to lie down on my lap
569. Tomatoes!

570. Tomatoes for dessert
571. Finding goldenrod on a cooler morning and talking about the coming autumn
572. Studying wildflowers with Jaan

573. Raia up on the roof in her yellow boots
574. Swallowtail eggs! Two different kinds!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Back at the dacha

Last week a normal summer week for us. Monday we went swimming with two of the girls from church. (They took a bunch of pictures. I'll have to see if I can get some from them.) Tuesday we headed back out to our dacha, and we spent the whole rest of the week playing and working in the dirt.

Will hired a friend to help with some big projects, so we enjoyed having Volodya around almost every day. Jaan and Raia have been studying every move he makes, trying to learn how to tar a roof. I think they've almost talked his ears off, too.

I went back to our apartment one day to make spaghetti sauce with some of the abundance of tomatoes that we have, and now our freezer is full. Yes, we're in the midst of tomato season! I love that our children ask for a tomato "for dessert" after almost every meal. Our lettuce finally gave out; I couldn't believe how long it did last. Most every other crop is either burned out, or coming soon. Oh, we do have some cucumbers and peppers to go with the tomatoes. And my first dahlia bloomed! It's a kind of coral-pink color, although with the slugs and heat, the first bloom isn't very photogenic.

We also had a fun visit with "Raia's Oksana," one last time before she goes back to Kiev.

Oh, and a frog has joined Natasha the Fish in her home!

And a special bonus on the way home: see the rabbit?

Monday, August 03, 2009

Camp photos

I hope you're ready for LOTS of photos!  Some of these photos are ours, some are Yana's, some are from others.

(They were searching for parts of a Bible verse. That's why Raia is down on the floor.)

Asya's "craft" that she made one day. She was so proud to be working with the big kids!

Raia helping Papa with music

With Oksana

Lena and Yana, the camp coordinators (who did a wonderful job!)

Asya adding to the question box

Raia getting an award for being the calmest/quietest in the group

. . . and showing it off

Jaan got an award for being the most artistic in his group, but then he also won a prize for being the "best crafter" in the whole camp!

Exhausted after the last day

Joy soaring

holy experience

Ann's post from last week made me think of one of my favorite poems. And so, that's one thing that I'm thankful for:

575. This poem:
Wilt Love Me? Trust Me? Praise Me?
By Amy Carmichael

O thou beloved child of My desire,
Whether I lead thee through green valleys,
By still waters,
Or through fire,
Or lay thee down in silence under snow,
Through any weather, and whatever
Cloud may gather,
Wind may blow—
Wilt love Me? trust Me? praise Me?

No gallant bird, O dearest Lord, am I,
That anywhere, in any weather,
Rising singeth;
Low I lie.
And yet I cannot fear, for I shall soar;
Thy love shall wing me, blessed Saviour.
So I answer:
I adore;
I love Thee, trust Thee, praise Thee.
His love wings me, and so I love, trust, praise and THANK Him!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

One funny photo

This isn't from camp, but I got it off of Yana's camera while I was collecting camp photos.  Remember back at Will's birthday, there was a crazy water fight, and Taras got into the fish pond?