Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Camp photos

I uploaded all of our camp photos, in three batches: part 1, part 2, part 3.

And then here are some highlights:

Frogs and toads
Advanced English class
Most of the preschool group that I worked with
Preschoolers ready for their skit
The lovely view (photo by Kimberly)
I want to add more, but I'm out of time now. Later?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

School 2013-14

I had been having trouble getting excited about starting school. Jaan and Raia didn't finish whole AO years, and they're in different weeks of their respective years, and Asya's joining us, and.... But then I came back from camp and couldn't stop thinking about our next school year! Now I'm excited. Oh, and I'm wanting to do the brand-new Year 12 myself. (Remember this? On June 8 there: you could say that picture might show some of the birth of Year 12.)

I'm thinking of things that I really want to do well in the next year:
  • Formal nature study, i.e. nature notebooks (Haven't done well with that since Bogdan reached the age of interference.)
  • Morning together time, with memorizing, music and more (Dropped that when we moved to this tiny-kitchen apartment.)
  • Handwriting!
  • English narrations (Camp showed me that Jaan and Raia can do much more here.)
  • More individual work for Jaan and Raia (Definitely need to think of how to get that in.)
I'll write more about each of those points as I can. This focusing in all different directions stuff is hard for me! I need to get ready for camp here, move to another city AND plan our school year. Sigh. But, I'm excited now, and that counts for a lot.

Friday, July 26, 2013

An Agape question

Here is one that we've been asked, that I thought I would share:
Q. "Are you just going to be translating for Agape?"
A. No, not only translating. Really, we don't know too many details of what we'll be doing in Kherson, but the job Will and Alex Fedorchuk talked about might be called English Representative, or something along those lines. Alex said that he would like help in all of the relationship between Agape and the foreign sponsors. Plus, there's translating for the web site and videos and such. And the fun part: visiting local orphanages! We'll see how it all develops, but that's what we know so far.

Do you have more questions? We really do want to dialog about this with anyone who is interested!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


In case you're wondering what's next... so are we! Well, not entirely. In fact, in a very unprecedented way, we have a Plan A and a Plan B. (If you know us, you can just fall down with shock right now. And then expect Plan Z to be what really happens.)

Plan A: We'll move to Kherson in August. Soon Will will go to spend a few days there, looking at housing options. If he finds something, we'll move in the next month.

Plan B: The director of Agape is in the states with his family, awaiting the birth of their fifth baby, due in August. When they come back, they want to move into a house. They suggested that we might be able to rent their current apartment after they move out of it. That would mean waiting a little longer before we move.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Blog and photo roundup

Since I still haven't had time to share our camp photos, here are some from other people on the English team. I'll try to add to this list as I find more, too. If you're not on Facebook, I'm sorry; some of these might not be available to you. Even if you are on Facebook, you might not be able to see them, because they belong to other people. Here's the list, though:

Sunday, July 21, 2013

P.S. to yesterday's post

It's going to take us a while to catch up here. If you're waiting for emails or anything else from us, please be patient. Thank you so much!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Quick camp report

When we got back last night Bogdan kept walking around our cluttered little apartment touching everything and saying "wow." It does feel good to be home!

The thirty-second version of how family English camp went is that it was very wonderful and very exhausting. Will and I taught a whole lot, and all of us made lots of new friends, while spending time with old friends, too.

I'm stealing one of Ellie's photos here, because I haven't even looked through ours yet:

Martha and Marianna
Martha and I taught preschoolers at camp. She befriended little Marianna in our group, and the photo above is just about the story of our whole week after that. We actually had several little ones who wanted to run to their mothers non-stop, but Marianna was the queen of that... at first. The one thing that really did hold their attention all week was the Bible stories. Many times we felt like we were just going crazy, but when we would settle them for the story each day, they were just glued to it. That part was an amazing answer to prayer!

A glimpse of our daily schedule:
7:30 Staff fellowship
7:45-8:45ish Staff meeting (We usually had Bogdan and Jaan with us.)
9:00 Breakfast (wake and dress our girls fast, just before that)
9:45 Morning meeting
10-11:00 Bible time for kids/English reading (Bible study) for adults
11:15-12:00 First English class (huge mental shift for me, from preschool Bible to upper-advanced adult English)
12:15-1:00 Second English class
1:00 Lunch!
2-5:00 Free time and optional activities
5-6:00 More Bible time and craft for kids/English conversation for adults
6:00 Dinner
6:45 Evening activities/Worship/Teaching/Kids story and craft
10:00 Quiet (hah!)
11:00 Bed

It might not look like a packed schedule--see all that "free time"?--but it was! The free time was for campers. As teachers and parents we were planning lessons, trying to get our younger children to nap, spending time with people, and shuffling kids to special activities and going to them ourselves. It was all amazingly intense. The intentional focus on building relationships was the best part, though. Several team members shared that there were many times when they felt like they just couldn't go another step, but God gave them strength; the whole week was like that for me.

Then, after the time out in the country, camp didn't end there. We continued in Odessa. Without catching a breath, we all came back and jumped into three days of sightseeing and fellowship with the campers on their own turf.

That's probably the absolute minimum that I can share, and still give you a picture of what camp was like. Hopefully I'll have time for more soon. Thank you so much for praying for us while we were there.

Another Ellie photo: the preschool group at skit night
Please keep praying! Pray for the second camp, going on now. Many of the people we got to work with are back at it. Pray for our family; we all came back sick and tired. I actually have a camp planning meeting to go to this afternoon, too, for day camp here. That camp will be August 5-9. And Will won't be taking part in that, because he'll be working on our move to Kherson: more to pray for!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

On our way

We're headed to camp. Thank you for your prayers! You probably won't hear from us for about two weeks.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Moving on (Q & A)

You probably know that we're moving someday soon. That's been in the works for a while. When we first came here, a little over five years ago, we thought we might be returning to Russia after the five-year deportation sentence ran out. It ended in February, and as much as we would like to go back--our hearts are still there!--the political climate in Russia is not getting any better, and it's still not practical for us to try to live there again.

We really need to move on from Dneprorudnoe, though. It has been an idyllic place to live. We were probably able to hold out in the rough spiritual climate for so long, at least partly because we've been so physically comfortable and happy. Really, we love it! And we have people here that we love dearly. But, this church is not the place for us, and we have never been able to develop the sense of community and purpose that we need. That's not to say that these five years have been wasted for ministry and personal growth: we've seen both. However, we still need to move.

Where are we headed and when? So far, it's been a slow road. I just looked back through my journal, blog and memory bank, and this is what I found:
July 2011--really decided that we needed to move on inside Ukraine and talked about children/orphan ministry.
June/July 2012--told our churches what we were thinking.
May/June 2013--visited Agape and decided!
There have been other smaller steps and lots of praying in between, but those are the big ones, with about a year in between each. Hopefully, the next step will be faster. Ideally, I would love to move to Kherson in August. Will has already been making calls about housing there, and after camp he should be able to look at options.

What is Agape? (We're working on translating the web site and informational videos. Soon you'll be able to get a whole lot more info there.) Agape is an orphan ministry, based in Kherson and working throughout Ukraine... and expanding into Russia and Georgia too, now! It was founded by a Ukrainian-American couple. Agape works in orphanages, teaching Bible lessons and training Bible teachers; in "adaptation centers" where they help orphanage graduates learn how to live; in camps and more. That's just off the top of my head. For the official rundown of what Agape does, you could watch the intro for the videos.

What will we be doing? Their first suggestion was that we take on house parenting in an adaptation center, like in the video I posted. Because of the stage our family is at, we didn't think we're ready for that. Instead, we'll be doing office work. (Well, mostly Will will be working in the office, but even in the short time that we were there already he and I were able to trade off some with that. Still, my main ministry will be our home and family.) We are already helping with bits and pieces of translation for Agape. Once we move, Will will continue with that and handling English correspondence. We're counting on regularly visiting local orphanages... and we'll probably just help out with whatever needs to be done. That seems to be what we do wherever we are!

How can you pray? Pray for us to find a good place to live in Kherson. Pray for our children to do well with the transition; at this point, they say that they don't want to move. Pray that we'll be able to fit in to Agape well and help them where they have needs.


And another question from a few days ago: How can you support Agape's ministry? On the Russian page that answers that question, it says that you can:
  • intercede in prayer for Agape workers and children in orphanages;
  • send packages;
  • pray for Agape's sponsors;
  • financially support Agape's projects;
  • visit children's homes with a group, to hug even just one child and personally interact with them.
Also, once we move, we will officially be joining Agape and our own financial support will probably be going through the ministry, too. We have a lot of details to work out there, and we need to talk with our own supporters, but that is the direction we're headed.....

Those were probably the very most basic questions about Agape and our move. What else do you want to know? Leave your questions in the comments here or email us (xansaker@gmail.com), and I'll try to put together another question and answer post. That might be after we get back from camp, though.