Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Our new apartment

We got the keys to our new apartment today! Sixty-something square meters, FOUR rooms, and lots of work to be done. Now we can start cleaning and fixing and moving in.

From the door, looking into the apartment

Living room

The kitchen, without a dividing wall! Yippee!

One of the bedrooms
Miners from out of town were kind of "camping out" here.

This will probably be the children's room.

From inside what will probably be our room. 
That's a storage closet that the girls are looking into. Beyond them is their room.

I usually laugh at Americans who take pictures of toilets. This one deserves a photo.

There are more photos here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Apartment history

As you may know, we're moving soon! I've been thinking a lot about how God has provided housing for us over the years. Since I don't have photos of our new apartment or details about it yet, I'll tell you about the apartments we've lived in before.

February-June 2001; Charlotte, NC; $500 a month. (I'm including the prices. That might be too much info, but the trend of bigger and cheaper is fun to follow.) We rented the upstairs of a garage, just a few blocks from Will's parents. The apartment was tiny, and it had lots of character. I remember standing there and noticing that the floor leaned one way, the window sill another, the counter yet another, and the angle of the ceiling didn't match any of the others. It swayed in the wind of a strong storm. We could look down on the tiny patch of yard of the duplex behind us and watch their one pet chicken. . . right in the middle of Charlotte!

September 2001-February 2004; Moscow; $300. This apartment was a two-room* in very bad condition. It was on the sixth floor of a nine-story building. Before we lived there, it had been used as some kind of office and workshop. We had no money to fix it up, so we did a lot of creative covering and rigging things. Furniture was a strange mix of the office stuff left there, what Will found in the trash and even a loveseat that he built himself. It was a great place to live! Jaan was born there.

Our Moscow apartment building

February 2004-May 2007; Kovrov; whatever the landlord could squeeze out of us! (I can't remember what we were officially supposed to be paying him. I'll have to ask Will. It did change often.) This was my favorite apartment, even though it was packed with clutter and the roof leaked. It was also two rooms, but the layout was really great. The kitchen was big, and it just felt big overall. This apartment is where Raia was born. When the landlord got tired of FSB bothering him about us, and we also couldn't take his daughter, we had to move out.

May 2007-February 2008; Kovrov; 2000 rubles? When we had to move, our neighbors found us a place on the first floor of the same building. It was smaller, and we didn't really get to make it feel like home, but it was nice. And Asya was born there.

May 2008-April 2010; Dneprorudnoe; 1000 hrivni (that's $126 at the moment) + utilities. Three rooms for the first time! Although the size was about the same as my favorite apartment, it's been nice to have separate rooms. We've done a lot to make this apartment feel like home, and our friends the Sullivans really worked hard to make it look nice! Now our landlady's son wants to live here, so we have to move on.

April 2010-?; Dneprorudnoe; 1200 hrivni, utilities included. Four rooms! Details will have to come later, though. There's a map below that shows both our old (blue dot) and new (yellow dot) buildings....

*In Russian we say the number of rooms, not just bedrooms like in English. So, a Russian two-room is like an American one-bedroom. I'm using the Russian way here.

View in a larger map

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New photos

Look how they've grown! I took the photo that has been in our sidebar (the first below) on Easter last year. This year the forsythias weren't blooming in time for Easter, but they're beautiful now.



Which of these two from this year do you like better?

Edited to add: there are more forsythia photos here. Hmm. Now I think I like this photo best.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Easter days, Easter life

I loved what Ann wrote last week! I love how churches here keep on celebrating Easter; we have many times of repeating "Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!" to look forward to. We also keep the celebration going in our home.

In the past, we've had forty little candles to light one each each night, as we sing and repeat the Easter greeting. We play a little game of "looking for Jesus." Our Easter garden stays out as a centerpiece. This year, it's been different. I haven't been so organized with the candles; some evenings we light one, some evenings we don't. We are playing our game, and our Easter grass is growing beautifully. Best of all is the idea of living it, though. That's what I want to see! It doesn't matter how the fun little remembrances happen or don't. What matters is the Easter lifestyle!

holy experience

Monday, April 19, 2010


holy experience

It's Monday! I haven't listed for a while. A few days ago I even found myself complaining about Spring. Can you imagine? (You're probably wondering what there is to complain about in SPRING. Sadly, I did find something.) Now I'm just thankful, though!

Thankful for
456. Baths
457. Red squirrels (One outside our window this morning!)
458. Pheasants in the "electric station" (What is that place called?!?)
459. Blooming trees
460. Asya saying, "Look! I see Spring!" every time she notices a flower (She did the same think with leaves in Autumn.)
461. Our incredible daffodils
462. Violets!
463. The smell of violets!
464. Sunshine
465. The first few tulips
466. Forsythia bushes, especially the huge ones in the park

And now I can go to bed happy.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Easter picnic

We had a wonderful picnic with the youth at our dacha the day after Easter! Here are some pictures from that:

Thursday, April 08, 2010

A Poland funny

Krakow was the home of Pope John Paul. His face is everywhere there. Jaan quickly learned to recognize him. In Russian, the pope is called the Roman Papa.

There are also many, many Catholic priests and nuns in Krakow. The first time Jaan noticed a nun, he asked, "Is that the Roman Mama?" Of course, we explained. However, from then on, whenever our children saw a nun, they'd yell that they saw мамашка (a little mama), instead of монашка (a nun).

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


We've been back for a week. On the one hand it seems so much longer than that, but on the other we're still dragging and tired, and some are sick. I've woken up to nightmares about trains the past two mornings! (And I didn't really think the train parts of the trip were bad. . . just long.)

Anyway, we did have a good trip. Thank you so much for praying for us! We got new visas without any problems. Karen and her family made it feel like a visit to old friends, instead of a visa trip, even through we were just meeting them for the first time. Poland is a very beautiful country to watch as it goes by train windows, and Krakow is amazing.

So, what should I tell you about our trip? I already told you our travel plans, and everything went pretty much as planned. Here's a little journal of the highlights of the trip, interspersed with photos where they fit in.

Monday, March 22: Train from Zaporozhya to Kiev.

Tuesday, March 23: We arrived in Kiev in the early morning.

After getting breakfast, we asked around to find out which direction to walk to get to the center. Everyone looked at our children and said that it was too far, we'd never make it. Still, we started off in the direction they said. When we got close to the center, we found a playground and stopped there. There were at least three different English-speaking families there! Then we walked back to the train station and took naps.

After nap time, we walked to the center again. Impossible? Our children did it twice in one day! Then back to the train station and on to our train to Krakow.

Wednesday, March 24: Polish trains are much nicer than Russian or Ukrainian trains! (The windows open!) We slept pretty well at night and really enjoyed the daytime travel.


They changed the wheels when we got to the border!

Nap time

Thursday, March 25 (Happy birthday to Shannon and Mrs. L!): The Ukrainian consulate was closed, so we couldn't do anything with our visas. Instead, we had a walking tour of Krakow, led by Karen. We started with feeding the beautiful swans.

Did you know that swans snort like pigs?

Then a big highlight for the children: The Dragon below Wawel Castle! Unfortunately, his cave was still closed for the winter season, but they thoroughly enjoyed the statue outside.

Jaan and Raia with Clarissa and Kasia (spelling?), our new friends

Running in terror as the dragon breathes its fire
(Hmm. I learned something new at that link. A man selling souvenirs said that the fire is every 4 minutes, but then it also seemed to go at random times. From text messages?)

Jaan and Clarissa climbing near the dragon
We waited by the dragon for Anna (Will's sister) to join us. Once Anna found us, we went on up into the castle. We didn't go inside any of the museums. The grounds were beautiful: crocuses! And a butterfly! And lots to explore!

With Karen in the courtyard of Wawel Castle

A Russian-speaking knight
From there we headed on down from the castle and into the main square to hear the trumpeter and eat lunch.

"He won't eat you, if you put money in his bucket." (Anna's picture)
If you asked Jaan what he saw in Krakow, he'd probably tell you about the dragon first, then about this second. Around the main square there are street artists, painted like statues, who sit perfectly still most of the time. Jaan approached this one, and thoroughly convinced himself that it was a statue. . . and then it jumped at him! Oh, how he screamed! Anna finally talked him into going back and putting money in the bucket for this photo. By then he and Raia had cooked up a whole story about this scary wizard who eats children (and dogs). Poor Asya was asleep, but she woke up while we were still standing there. She opened her eyes to see this, and hear Jaan and Raia tell her what I quoted above.

Friday, March 26: Will and Jaan spent most of the day at the consulate and ended up with our visas (in just one day!). The girls and I stayed back in our rented room and rested. In the evening we took another short walk.

Feeding the pigeons on the main square
See the colorful things behind them? Those are traditional Polish Easter palms. They were on sale everywhere and Sunday morning we saw people taking them to church to be blessed.

Saturday, March 27: We walked from where we were staying along the river path all morning. We ended up at a park by a dam, where there were more swans. After playing there and watching those swans, we took a tram back to the center and our room.

Sunday, March 29: We really enjoyed going to church with the Glasses. Everyone was so friendly, and tried so hard to communicate with us. They're going through Firm Foundations. With the handouts and lots of linguistic guesswork, we could follow along pretty well.

Jaan, Raia and Clarissa had a Sunday school lesson about Palm Sunday.

At the Glasses'* home after church
(*How are you supposed to punctuate that?) I'll just say again that they were so kind to us! Meeting us at the train station, driving us around, feeding us, showing us the sights.... After church, we had another great meal with them. Then Asya napped, while Jaan and Raia and Clarissa played wildly and we adults talked. Soon it was time to go back for the evening service. We enjoyed that, too, but I felt like I didn't understand quite so much.

Monday, March 29: Even though we had gotten our visas on Friday, we had to wait until Monday for them to start. Monday came, and we boarded a train back to Kiev. Again, we really enjoyed the Polish countryside. I've never seen so many deer before! And we also saw storks and pheasants.

For some reason, I just loved the windmills.

They're changing the wheels again out there!

Oops. On first writing, I missed a day.
Tuesday, March 30: Another day in Kiev.

Wednesday, March 31:

Early morning, when the last train pulled into Zaporozhya

I have skipped over so much of a very full week! I'll post the rest of our hundreds of pictures, just as a photo album and add a link to that here. Also, Anna has put a lot of hers on Facebook; maybe I'll get the address for that....

Edited to add:
Our many, many photos are here.
And Anna's are here.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Христос Воскрес! Christ is Risen!

Our wonderful day, in more pictures than words, because I'm tired. . . happily tired:

They got up to the sound of Easter music and found all the candles lit! We started reading:
HE IS GOD! He cannot stay dead. HE IS ALIVE. The true Glory of God shines in the world. The Light has won! The Eternal Light! The Bright Morning Star! The Light of the World!

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay."
And then we hurried on to the kitchen to see. . .

The empty tomb!
We finished our reading there.

Then it was time for breakfast: red eggs and cake!

Raia didn't want to eat hers, because it was so pretty.

Jaan read his for us.

"Христос воскрес!"

Asya wanted to ponder a little more before church.

Ready to go!

So that you can see the beautiful backdrop
Didn't the youth do a wonderful job? This is the prettiest it's ever been!

Most of the children

Everyone from my little Sunday school (except Asya) recited a poem.

Then they sang (Asya, too!).

After church, naps went so long that we would have been late to the evening service, so we went for a beautiful walk instead.

Through the GREEN

Jaan the Mountain Climber

Воистину воскрес! He is risen indeed!