Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Thank God for the duck!"

Last week Will and Bogdan went out to run some errands, and they saw a duck waddling down our street! When the rest of us ran out, it was still there. We tried to feed it some bread, but ended up just scaring it up onto a nearby roof. So, our little duck catchers decided to wait for it to come down. They patiently waited for quite a while, and they out-waited it. Then they took off after it. That part was hilarious: running after the duck with a box, jumping forward and trying to land with the box over it. Each time they came down just short of their target.

Bogdan and I went back inside. (It was cold out!) However, after quite a while, I started to wonder where the older ones were. So, he and I went back out to find them. Because he moves rather slowly, I got to watch the ongoing hunt from a distance for a while. They were actually a few blocks away from home. Babushki were out laughing and cheering them on. And then they disappeared around a corner. We caught up and found them triumphant! But unsure of the next step. They had the duck under their box and were carefully holding it down, but they didn't know what to do beyond that. I tipped it up, scooped the duck in, and closed the box.

The whole procession marched back YELLING that they had caught the duck. Our funny neighbor babushka was just coming out on her bicycle, and she advised us to kill it and make soup as fast as we could, before someone claimed it. Other neighbors had suggested that it lived on the next street, though, so Jaan and Raia took a note to that house, since no one was home there. It turned out that this duck doesn't belong to them. So, we put up posters all around, but no one has called.

The title here comes from something my dear online friend said, when we were discussing the stresses of the past weeks: "Thank God for the duck!" Really, when the national news was at its very worst, the duck has been a great distraction for us. Not to bury our heads in the sand* and ignore it, but just to think about something else at times.

*Oh! I almost forgot. I was considering buying a few friends for this duck, and when I started searching online, I found this:
In Kherson!!!
Can you imagine...?!?!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Andrei is out!

As part of the whirlwind of the events of the past week, Andrei Nalivaiko was freed! He's still fighting to be proven innocent, but he's out, and a national decree says that the criminal charges cannot be moved forward against him. When the list of just 23 political prisoners released by parliament came out, I was very surprised to see his name included. At first he didn't want to leave prison, without having been officially acquitted (is that the term I want?), but they forced him to go. So, praise God that he's out! And please continue to pray for his personal safety, further victory in court if that is God's will, and--most of all--that all of this would be a great reminder to him of the Father who cares for the fatherless.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Orphanage and Andrei

I had a great morning and afternoon at the orphanage. The boys have chicken pox, and we hadn't spent as much time with the girls lately, so we did a Bible lesson and several crafts with the girls today, and didn't go in to the big boys group at all. I missed the boys, but I'm already looking forward to being back with them next week. And then we went to the bed-bound little ones, fed a few of them their lunches, and played with them one-on-one. That's my favorite part.

I thought I would share a bit more about Andrei (second link), too. There's really not any new news coming out, but I'm somewhat encouraged. Thank you for praying for him, and please keep it up! He has been moved from where they were holding him to where he should be, legally. Apparently he has been seen by a doctor, is in good shape, and is being detained according to all the right laws and regulations now. Journalists saw a note from him saying that he has no complaints. (The cynical side of me says that he could have been forced to write that, but let's hope it's true.) Several influential people on a national level have gotten interested. Specifically, a Kiev parliament deputy came down in the past week to look into the situation and bring him a good lawyer. There's still a lot to pray about, of course.

Oh, and thank you for praying for our trip to Vasilevka! I hope to be able to write about it soon, but the short version is that it went quite smoothly, and our older children did wonderfully without us.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The next few days

I'm doing something that I've never done before: planning out schoolwork for Jaan and Raia to do on their own tomorrow and the next day.

Will and I both need to be present in Vasilevka (near where we used to live) in order to unregister there. So, we're splitting our older three children up among friends here, and taking Bogdan with us on an overnight trip. We've never done anything like this. Please pray for every single detail to work out well. Will went and talked to the bus driver, since we've had trouble with this particular bus schedule not being very reliable in the past. The driver assured him that they'll be running without fail this week. The bus should get us there at 4:00, and the office doesn't close until 5:00. Will also called to be sure that one hour should be enough time to get through the lines and do whatever paperwork needs to be done. Then we plan to come back the next day. So, I feel like we've done everything we can from our end to make sure it will work, but I don't want to be away from our children any longer than that. (So thankful that we have friends here who want to host them, though!)

Please pray!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

"Second Christmas," part 2

Christmas morning the sun came out! I already said that, but it was such an event that it needs mentioning again. In the morning we went to church. When we came back, everyone except me watched a Christmas movie. Then they came out for dinner, and I made them sing for it. They had to sing my favorite Christmas carol. As soon as we sat down to eat, carolers arrived at our door and sang a little more for us. Well, they mostly recited poems, but they did try a song at our request. As it got dark, we bundled up and headed into the center of town to look at the lights. We bumped into friends there, and talked for a little while, walked around more, and then stopped for hot chocolate. It was very late when we got home, but the whole day was very full and happy.

Christmas sunshine
Bon appétit!
Close up
One-eyed bear
Administration building
In front of the tree
Listening to music
Hot chocolate
I love this photo! (and this boy!)
So glad that Julie was here
And that finished off our wonderful 2013-2014 holiday season!

Friday, February 07, 2014

"Second Christmas"

Only one month late, I'll finally tell you about our "Second Christmas." The day before Christmas we made and decorated gingerbread men. Well, actually they were gingerbread bears, because Will had just bought us a set of bear cookie cutters, and we couldn't find the older men shapes.

And I quickly made a batch of kutya, since when a friend asked if I was going to, some of our children couldn't remember what it is. So, we ate that for desert, after the first star came out. Or, since it was too cloudy to see the stars, after some of our neighbors set off fireworks.

Oops. I'm going to have to do this in two parts. That was Christmas Eve. The actual Second Christmas post will come tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Document details

After I last wrote about starting to renew our residency documents, here is what else has happened:
  • Jan. 21 - Will went to talk to immigration lady. She didn't know what to do; suggested that he talk to someone at a nearby Catholic church. She said that she'd also ask about us at a meeting she would be going to soon. Will consulted a Christian lawyer who has been recommend to us.
  • Jan. 22 - Agape office day for Will. Only document progress was that I edited document photos for us and got them printed out.
  • Jan. 23 - Since we don't have to leave the country,* Will had another appointment with the lawyer and gave him all the documents he needs to get us invited.
  • Jan. 24 - Will went out to Tsyurupinsk to work on some fix-up projects at the orphanage I visit. On his way back he stopped and talked to the migration lady again, just to check in with her.
Now our new invitations are ready. We need to go back to Dneprorudnoe soon now to unregister there. Apparently Will can't just do it by himself; I have to go, too. Then we'll have three days to get registered here. Please keep covering the whole process in prayer. Thanks!

*New info. We don't have to leave the country to renew any more. It's convenient and will save us enough money to pay the lawyer, but we're sad that we won't get to visit our friends and have our little Krakow "vacation."

Monday, February 03, 2014

A little more

I will translate a little more. There are quite a few news articles, blog posts, Facebook/VK updates about Andrei Nalivaiko and the killing of the local police officer, but only in Russian. It seems that more English speakers are getting interested, so I'll see what I can do to help.

First, if you do read Russian, you can read with me. These are the main sites I'm getting local news from (some of it is quite interesting these days!):
Херсон Онлайн
Типичный Херсон
(And I'm still figuring out who and what these newspapers are. All of them seem to be rather, um, free.)

Specific bits of recommended reading:
"Рэмбо" из Херсона
Нападение на херсонских милиционеров: много вопросов и минимум ответов
Друзья подозреваемого в убийстве херсонского милиционера не верят в поножовщину

Here is the next article after what I translated in my last post. It is somewhat old news, but since I pretty much started from the beginning, it makes sense to continue with this.
At KhNTU They Don't Believe the Story of Students Attaching Police
Students and teachers at Kherson National Technical University don't believe in the guilt of the students of this institution that was supposedly the location of the attack on police January 27.
Students and teachers of KhNTU informed us of this. However, in order to avoid sanctions from the leadership of the institution, they asked that we not give their first and last names.
According to the words of the students, yesterday's event looked something like this: in the evening a group of more than ten unknown men in regular clothes began to "stick" to several students of KhNTU, students that really are known to be activists of the local Euromaidan. The unknown men, who were clearly not student-age, insulted the students and even threatened them with pistols. The scared students ran on to the campus of KhNTU, where they called the police and reported the threats. However, when the police who had been called arrived, the apparently didn't want to register the students' statements and wanted to leave. After long discussion, the police finally did start to write down the students' testimonies. All of this took place in the student dormitory.
At the moment when they were taking the statements, those same unknown men who had threatened the students burst into the dormitory. The attackers, with pistols, forced everyone--including the police--to lie down on the floor. After that, under threat of using their weapons, they took the students with whom they had had conflict outside--"to figure it out." [I heard elsewhere that they actually carried Andrei out bodily and rammed the door open with his head!] After that, the police came to and followed them out. It is not entirely clear exactly what happened outside the dormitory, but the newly arrived police reinforcements kept only the students who had earlier called the police. None of the aggressive people in civilian clothing were detained.
That is the story. It is actively spreading and being discussed at KhNTU. Students of the university are convinced that their fellow students were victims of provocation by "titushki," or even members of special police forces. According to the words of the students, this is indicated by the unexpected highly professional ability of the detainees to use a knife, which had not been noticed before. It is known that police detained two students from KhNTU on suspicion of attacking law enforcement. There is also information that students of other universities are being held with them.
In KhNTU right now people are saying that it is urgently necessary to get lawyers to defend the detained students, and people are ready even for mass protests.
We note that today (January 28), at 12:30 the leaders of Kherson regional Interior Ministry will hold a press conference, at which, obviously, they will talk about what actually happened near Kherson National Technical University. [The press conference just left everyone more confused.]
After this I'll probably go back to my usual blogging about cute kids and fun days. But please don't forget to pray for Ukraine and Andrei and many other people involved! If I hear anything new, or have some extra free time, I can translate more, too.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Not political

Sine the very beginning of the protests in Kiev I have been glued to the news, praying hard for Ukraine. I have tried hard not to be vocal about it online, though. Then, a little over a week ago I started following local news, too. And on January 27 something happened here in Kherson. I have honestly never read about a news event that has so many versions, so I'll just translate one of the first articles that has the official announcement:
Police Announce that Some of their Workers were Attacked with a Knife in Kherson
The condition of two of them is serious. One of them has had an operation to remove his spleen. The third policeman got knife wounds in his knee and shoulder. The police captured the people who committed the crime. All who are being held are active and radical participants in the protests. Their actions qualify as attempted premeditated murder.
On January 27 at 8:00 p.m. the Kherson police received a report that on the corner of Kulika and Mira Streets an unknown person had injured two citizens.
An investigative team quickly arrived at the scene. Members of the team found that several young people had knife wounded three of a police criminal investigation team.
Police quickly identified and arrested the perpetrators of the crime. They are all students of one of the universities of Kherson. It turned out that all are active and radical participants in protests, the so-called "Euromaidan" in Kherson....

The next day one of the policemen died of his wounds. Also, more and more different eyewitness accounts started to come out. None of them match up with the official version, which didn't contain details like: the wounded policemen were all high-ranking officers, they were in plain clothes without identification, they may have started the fight(?), one knife--that hasn't been found anywhere--did all that damage to specially trained police detectives, some shots were fired, the students were the ones who called the police, etc.

Also, I started to read about the main suspect. He is a radical Russian-imperialist Maidan activist. (Huh?) There are also photos online of him working with a Party of Regions (ruling party) deputy. And this: he's an orphan. I found a post on Facebook that tells some of his life story. He ran away from an orphanage when he was 12, lived on the streets some, then lived in a place where "Americans had given money and built a home for orphans," where "swearing wasn't allowed, they were taught a normal way of life, and they had to attend church." I found out this morning that, yes, he did live at the orphan home we know here.

I don't know how to finish writing here. I barely scratched the surface of summarizing what's online, what people are talking about, and how both sides are reacting. This has brought the turmoil in Ukraine very close to us. I am very concerned about everything related, but specifically about Andrei, the main suspect. Of course, I have no idea of how guilty or not guilty he is, but that part doesn't matter much in something like this. He doesn't have much chance at being treated fairly. So, I'm praying for him and asking that you all will pray will me.