Friday, May 30, 2014


We finished school for 2013-14! In some ways we're really ready for summer vacation, but I'm already hearing concerns, too: "Can't we do at least Morning School during the summer?" and "We will finish our read alouds, won't we?" It was a really good year. I'd love to write more about it later.

But, we're also actually going on a vacation! Since visas procedures have changed, we don't have to take forced "vacations" anymore, and it has felt weird not to travel. Plus, life has been very stressful for a while. Will's last session of Agape school is next week in Uzhgorod, and afterwards they're having graduation and the tenth anniversary of the school at a hotel near Svalyava. We're all going to that. It's going to be an adventure and a half for me to get us there. We'll spend the night there and enjoy time with friends. Then, when the Agape people leave, we'll go on to a different place to stay for a few more days. We've never been to that part of the country, and we're really looking forward to it. Altogether, we'll be gone June 5-12. (That includes the two days of travel on each end.) But Will has to leave tomorrow already.

So, pray for us while we're home without him, pray for him there, and then for us when we travel, too. Thanks. You might not hear much more from me online for a little while, but can be assured that we're alive and well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Orphanage visits

I have written little bits about them before, but I could keep taking about the sweet kids non-stop, so I might as well write more. You probably remember that I was visiting a special needs orphanage with a friend before. Every Saturday we were doing Bible lessons with some older kids, and sometimes feeding and playing with bed-bound little ones. Then my friend left the country for a while, and I had to stop going while she was away. Now that she's back, we've been visiting again. Our visits have been less regular, weekly, but not on Saturdays. My friend has been busy with projects and meetings there. So, I translate some, help with running around, sorting, carrying, communicating, and then I get to help take kids outside.

Both the older groups that we were doing Bible lessons with have outside time. Most of them are in wheelchairs, so it's quite a procession. Everyone gets dressed, hats on, tied into their chairs, and lined up. The ones who can walk push wheelchairs, and their teacher and I run back and forth moving the rest of them forward in fits and spurts. Once we all get outside, we set up in a circle and blow bubbles or toss a ball around, for those who can. Many of them just like to sit and enjoy the sun and wind on their faces. The really active ones play on the wheelchair accessible playground.

There's one girl who is mobile, but I found out that she doesn't get to go outside, because (supposedly) she's a handful. I've made a point of taking her each time "under my responsibility" (can't think of how to say that in English). She hasn't been a problem for me. We hold hands, and the whole way out she happily yells something like, "Tanya too!" to everyone she sees, and I repeat, "Yes, Tanya's going, too!"

Also, I'm afraid I have a favorite among the boys. There's one who can't talk, but that really seems to be his only difficulty. He has kind of made up some very basic sign language for himself, and I'd like to try to teach him more to see if he could learn to communicate. The joys of his life are swimming and organizing the boys' cupboards. Every time we come, he wants to show us how neat everything is. Then he rubs his head, so that we will too, and tell him what a good job he did. He just glows at that.

We almost broke his heart one day recently. He was showing me summer clothes and making swimming motions. Both his teacher and I thought that he was talking about the fact that summer is almost here, and that he could go swimming soon, so we agreed with him. But then we went outside, had a good time playing, and came back in... and that was all. He was so upset! He thought we had meant that would be going swimming that very day. I had only ever seen him as Mr. Sunshine, but that day he sobbed and sobbed. Soon, though. Soon he'll get to go swimming.

And one more little bit about him: I thought he pretty much only made one noise, but on Friday there was a variation in it as we were getting ready to head out, that almost sounded like he was saying that we were going outside!

About someone else: I mentioned a girl who really enjoyed playing with Raia, way back in August, when we went to the summer picnic. She still remembers Raia, and that's pretty much all she and I talk about: "How's Raia?" and "Tell Raia hi from me!" I tell her something about Raia, and then she asks again. And she reminds me to pass on her greetings to Raia. And then again. And again.... Sweet Raia has sent drawings for her a few times now, and that makes her day.

By the way, we're starting to plan this year's summer picnic. I really think it's the highlight of the whole year for most of these kids. They ask about it every week, even now. It will probably be in June, so please be praying about that already.

*Photo stolen from a lovely visitor who was here in the winter. It's much prettier now, with all the flowers blooming, but I don't have any pictures like that of my own.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Choir video

Yes, usually Asya sings with them, too, but this time her throat was hurting, she didn't know the songs very well, and I wasn't sure about sending her off alone. So, it's just Raia and many friends up there. They sang nine songs, right near the entrance to the park; there was a constant crowd going by, and many people stopped to listen for longer.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Family Day

I knew that our church children's choir would be singing at the park. Although, I really only learned the details of that the night before. And I really had no idea what kind of huge outreach to the whole community they were taking part in!

We sent Raia off with bus money to get to the park early, and then the rest of us went a little later. The whole big park was filled with stations run by different churches, each one offering something fun and interesting for families to do together. They were games, many different crafts, face painting, Ukrainian flag manicures (both our girls wanted that, but neither could sit still long enough with all the excitement), puppet shows, choirs singing, trampolines, and so much more. And everywhere people were smiling, laughing, and talking about Jesus.

At one point Jaan asked me if people who have died and not gone to heaven can see what is happening on earth. I said that I don't know, but I think not. "Well, it's a pity that Lenin can't see what all these Christians he hated so much are doing in his park now!" (The park is named after Lenin.)

Want to see some of the fun? Take a look:

I'll post a video of the children's choir tomorrow, if I can.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Photos from last weekend

Asya showed up in one of the first photos my friend shared, and then here's a whole album.

Also, I remembered something cute from the missionary day: at the Georgia station they showed the kids the Georgian alphabet. Take a look at it. To me it looks like lots of loops and squiggles. They asked the kids if it looked familiar, and one little boy raised his hand... to say that it looks just like the English alphabet to him.

Anyway, here's one photo I grabbed from the collections I linked to above. Click on the links for more.

This weekend Will is at a conference in Kyiv. We had a big fun day yesterday (with me at the orphanage, children playing with friends back at the same Christian institute). Soon we're headed out to a park where Raia will be singing with the church children's choir....

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Thank you to everyone who was praying especially for Ukraine during the May holidays. The country seems to have survived. The problems continue, but May 9, while strange and subdued, wasn't violent. (Except in Mariupol, and that wasn't really related to the holiday or in fulfillment of any of the predictions.) We stayed home and remembered some of the other times that we've been able to celebrate Victory Day in Ukraine and Russia, like the time Jaan got to ride on a BTR and last year. And more than anything we talked about the history of the day and our own (great) grandfather and prayed for peace.

Then, the next day we had a great time at a children's missionary day, put on by the local Christian institute. I don't have any photos yet, since we didn't take our camera, but we might get some from other people later. We went all over the campus from station to station, each one representing a different country, with food for the children to try and games and activities and info about that country. It was really well done. Funny: as we were leaving, our children said that they wished we could live there, at the institute. I told them that we do... on paper. That's actually where our residency is registered.

We went straight from there to the evening of English fellowship at our friends' home. That was wonderful as usual. Afterwards, I didn't feel great and all were exhausted (too much fun!), so today we stayed home from church for a nice quiet day. Tomorrow our landlady arrives from Italy; everyone is preparing for that a little, too.

Random photo:

Please still keep praying for Ukraine. There is another "referendum" going on today in two of the eastern regions, and no one really knows what that means, or what is coming next.

Monday, May 05, 2014


This is something I want to remember later, but forgot to include yesterday:
We were pretty sick during Holy Week. It hit me the night before Easter, and it hit hard. Usually I would prepare food and decorate before a holiday, but I just crashed. Will had just gotten back from Uzhgorod, but he took over, set up the fancy table, and prepared a pot roast for after church. It was such a treat for me to get up the next morning and have everything ready. And we were all well enough to go to church, even if we weren't all the way back to normal yet.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Christ is Risen!

(Fun coincidence: I'm a bit behind on the Daily Audio Bible that I listen to, and so the Easter reading from that is playing while I upload these photos.)

Lots of photos from Easter Sunday:

Listening to the resurrection story
Breakfast cake
"Christ is Risen!"
"He is risen, indeed!"
Yummy breakfast
The girls had to go to church early.
They were up front when we arrived.
Ready to sing
Whole family
Just the children
Painting eggs later
Working hard
The artist
The patriot
I haven't had much time to write lately, particularly because while the neighborhood craft class that Raia is in is taking a break for a month, her friends are congregating at our home almost every day after school. It's fun, but BUSY around here. We have 1-3 extra little girls around almost all the time. One went to church with us this morning, too. Please pray for us as we spend time with them, and pray that all would be well with our neighbors; some of rather upset because these girls have darker skin. (Racism is a big problem here. )