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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

с новым годом

с новым годом!

Happy New Year!
Did you know that it was the Year of the Bull!!?? Bulls are everywhere here!!!! We should be very famous this year!

We have just had a great visit with John's parents. They flew over to celebrate Christmas with us and the grandkiddos! They brought with them lots of goodies and love and was great!!!
More later....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our Christmas Eve Tradition

We (the Cox side) started one time long ago eating chili on Christmas Eve and the next year, my younger brother said we should have chili on Christmas Eve because it was "tradition" it became tradition! When John and I got married, we have continued the tradition. So, still in Russia, we continued the tradition. Tonight, John looked up this recipe and it was the BEST chili ever!!!!!!! It was so good!! Here is the recipe(I will make note of things we did differently). So, we have changed the tradition to JOHN COOKS the chili!!!
Serves 6
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped (used garlic salt instead)
coarse salt and ground pepper (didn't put the salt)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 pound ground beef sirloin(used ground beef)
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes in juice (didn't have this--used the remaining paste from the jar)
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) pinto beans, rinsed and drained (had only one can)
toppings, such as reduced-fat sour cream, sliced scallions, and baked tortilla chips, for serving (optional)
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add tomato paste, chili powder, and cocoa powder. Cook, stirring, until mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beef, and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes (with their juice) and beans. Bring to a boil over high; reduce to a simmer, and cook until chili is slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with toppings, if desired.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Back in Russia

Praise the Lord! We received our visas this morning in Helsinki and caught a bus back to St. Pete. The trip through the border was pretty easy this time around. The trek from the bus stop back to our apartment was a bit of an adventure that took a couple of hours but we made it. We are looking forward to sleeping in our own beds tonight. Sweet Dreams and Spoki Noki.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

First Day of Winter

December 21st is the first day of Winter and is also the shortest day of the year. Being so far north, you can really tell the days are short. We've taken a few pictures to show our day. The pictures were taken at 8:30, 10:00, 11:30, 1:00, 2:30 and the last one at 3:15. The official sunrise was at 9:25 and the sunset was 3:13. WooHoo!! We've made it. The days only get longer from here on out.

This is evidently a time when people from Finland and surrounding areas get out of the darkness and visit somewhere else because it's too depressing for them. But we were troopers---this is a true accomplishment-really!! Now, I can say that I have made it through the darkest days of my life!!! HAHA!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

God's blessings continue!

Our stay here in Finland was going to be less in cost than staying in a hostel, but still staying anywhere for 3 weeks can be costly, especially when you are paying per day!! So, we had budgeted for a certain amount, but just the other day Osmo(the man in charge of the complex) came in to tell us that he had spoken with the board and they cut our costs in HALF!!!! Sooooo nice!!! Just wanted to share some good news with all of you!
Our blessings:
Finland is beautiful and very Americanized(as in products they have--we even found a cake mix to bring back to Russia!)
SNOW--and it stays white, b/c we are in the forest!!
Abundant Milk and yogurt and bread and chicken and ice cream FREELY given to us!
Katie friendly Soy Milk and soya yogurt and pudding and Rice Milk too in the stores and it's not too expensive!
Sarah and Osmo---such a nice couple that have been on the mission field in Africa!--they have brought us into town many times!
There are so many more to list, I am sure, but that's all for now.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Musical Blessings

The Christmas season is very big in Finland also. They have Christmas choirs and specials. We have been getting along well here in Finland and John was asked to participate in this weekend's Christmas special. It was a little impromptu but they recorded it for us. If you have time to listen, we hope it blesses you as much as it has blessed those in Finland. Play Music

Disclaimer to all my serious post readers: John wrote this post!!!

We told you we were farmers!!!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Snow Sleddin'

This one should be published!!!
on the bench outside of our temporary home in Finland.

Awww...Katie took this one...she did a great job, I think!!

Soooo cold, but happy!!

Our sledding pics! Sorry it took so long to get them uploaded. Internet connection is not always available here. Skype is, so anyone can call us:). but computer connection is iffy! Weird, eh?

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Writer's Window and Matthew in China!

Have you ever read a story about an author writing from a snowy winter cabin looking out the window? Well, I have a writer's's my view!

Funny story about Matthew....Matthew has been saying the word "China" lately...don't know where he got it, but he must like saying it. Well, before we came here to Finland, we were sitting at the table and Matthew says China. Someone asked him..."Are you going to go there?" and he answers "Yes". Well, Lena says--"I will pray for you!" To which John answered, "You should really pray for China!" We all started laughing at this point!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Lord's provisions...come in bounty

Just wanted to share what we had dropped into our fridge today!!!

What a bountiful feast we have!!! In this we have three cartons of wonderful Finish yogurt! Many cartons of juice, much cheese, and some milk!! Amazing! The pastor that has this home brought it in today and said their will be more for us. Wow--what a blessing.

Also, last night...what did we have for dinner?
Real HAM burgers!!! and french fries...real--as in made of ham!

yep this is our big oven!!! It's grand!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How do I know we are in Finland?

kids' room
Our dining room!
More pics on my facebook account...please check them out. I think that I fixed it so that anyone can view them...but you might have join facebook to do so! It's worth it!

We have arrived!!! We left Russia about 10:30am and arrived here at our place aroun 6 or 7? It's not supposed to be that long of a trip, but with border crossings and gas stop and car registration came to be this long.

At the Russian border, we were a bit detained as they (we think) tried to make sure that our kids were ours and not stolen Russian kiddos. They finally asked to question the kids while we(the adults) stood outside the van(door was open, so the kids weren't scared at all). They asked questions like: Are these your brothers and sisters? How long were you in Russia? What is his name(referring to our Russian looking son--Matthew)? When is his birthday? (they didn't know the date) the man then asked: How old is which Mark answered in fingers...three. The man seemed satisfied that they were indeed our kids! (I guess this just proves one more time that Russian families are not this big!!)

At the Finland border we had much more favor! They spoke Finish, Russian and English and were happy to see us across their border. Even said in English--enjoy your stay!

So, we arrived at our "vacation spot" to find that it is incredibly awesome!! Thanks George for passing on the reference! The couple that runs this place are believers and so welcoming. They speak there was no culture shock, except for us stopping our Russian studdering and remembering that we can speak English freely with understanding in common.

This place is absolutely amazing's really a place where large groups can and do stay here very easily...Two bunk houses and one main house(we are in the main one). Okay, so on to why I am in a pre-heaven here...the kitchen!!!! and the dining room!!! It's a fully equipped one...with all kinds of cook tops, ovens, ways to bake/cook!!! It even has an industrialized size dishwasher!!! So, why am I still washing by hand---maybe the habit has stuck--it've been doing it for three months now! The dinning room will seat over twenty five people(I think) with room to spare! I will post some pictures, but I can't find my USB to connect my camera yet. Hopefully, I didn't leave in Russia, or else you will be waiting three weeks for pics of this place.

John went into town today to check some things out. He also ventured out last night with our friend who drove us here and they went to the grocery store for dinner foods and more! They found chips(tortilla) and guacomole and guess what---PEANUT BUTTER for two bucks!!!! Amazing! The jar was almost twice as big as the one we have seen in Russia for $6!! We are going to bring some back for sure!

Another nice thing---we have wi-fi here!!! I feel like I am in Starbucks!

Ok, enough for now about this place...and on to the title---how do I know we are in Finland, not Russia?

1. We stopped on the side of the road and asked for directions and people spoke English, not Russian!

2. Our internet info(the part where you see where to log in to this blog) is in FINISH! NOT Russian!! So, our visual memory skills are required once again--we only know one word in Finish--Kitos! Thank you! Doesn't help much in translating computer terms!!!

More later...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Off to Finlanski!!!

So, we are off to apply for our year long visas. We expect our invitations on the 4th of Dec. and then we start the application. That should take 10 business days. We hope to have Internet connection, but if by chance we don't , I won't post for awhile.

By the way, Happy Thanksgiving!!! We had a lovely celebration here with friends! We had chicken(couldn't remember the word for turkey!), broccoli cheese casserole, potatoes, gravy, cranberry apple salad, and fudge pecan pie and Russian pumpkin pie. It was marvelous! It was tough being away from family, but we talked to them on Thanksgiving day...all sides! We survived!!! The kids loved all of it!!!

Love to all our readers!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Our future plans...

What do we have planned in our near future?

Here are a few big ones...we would love to have your prayer covering for any or all of them!

Dec. 1st we leave to a neighboring country to apply for our year long student visas. Please pray that we will get our letter of invitations(see Russia update on sidebar) on November 28th instead of December 5th. We should be back here before Christmas.

After we get back here, we may be taking in a young mom with her one year old. She is considering the choice of living here, during the time we are gone with our visas. Please pray that she would make the choice that God wants her to make. She grew up in an orphanage and would blossom under the Lord's love, provision, and care.

We have scheduled our return plane tickets to Texas for June 20th.

Ok, so those are the things that we "think" we know for right now. Keep us in your prayers for wisdom, direction, discernment and all kinds of things that the Lord might bring to your mind to pray for us for!!! Thanks so much! We "feel" the affects of the prayers of His saints. Keep them comin'!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy Birthday! Melissa!!! She's seven!!!

It's really hard to believe that my kids continue to grow up!!! What did I expect, you might ask? Well, I don't know really, but the older they become, the more mature I should be, right?? Well, I feel a bit more mature than high school and college...but when do I really earn my "motherhood" degree!? I think maybe when the kids are teenagers?

So, today was a great day! It snowed! and stuck!! It was 28 degrees this morning~!!! The coldest so far. Melissa opened a few presents. We went to IKEA to let Melissa shop with Daddy while the other kids played in the IKEA kids area and Mommy got to look around! We ate at McDonald's and of course bought our ketchup at the grocery store instead of paying 50 cents for one little ketchup at McD's! We then had a couple are you excited yet???? We found SORBET that Katie can eat--NO MILK from another vendor in the mall!!! (Big Feat here!!!)and Baskin Robbins at the IKEA mall had our absolute favorite ice cream---GOLD MEDAL RIBBON. Baskin Robbins in the Center of our city does not carry it, by the way---nor does Baskin Robbins carry sorbet like back home!!! Ok, so no spiritual miracle...or maybe it was---we consider it gifts from Him!!! After coming home, John cooked fabulous spaghetti and we watched High School Musical with Melissa in her HSM- dress up dress!!! Life has been good!(So, maybe our honeymoon period came today?)

I have pics, but will post later.

Great News---one of John's ole' Aggie co-workers had his baby yesterday---couldn't hold out for Melissa's day, but that's ok!!! Welcome to the good ole' USA Miss Lucy!!! Congrats to the Barkers!!! We are so happy for you!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Our visit with Larry...

Last night was one our most encouraging nights here yet. We got to hang out with our new state-side friend from TEXAS!!! It was such a great time!

First the girls and I went with him and a couple others to a nearby orphanage(nearby--less than an hour away!)...we met with the director and saw some of the kids we see at art class on was great! It was the first time that I felt that I was recognized and remembered by the kids. We have received permission to visit anytime and that the kids can come visit us at our apt.! I told John that I felt more favor than ever then! Thank you God! These kids are very much loved by their counselor and director at this particular orphanage! The girls got to play with their friends in the children's rooms and they loved it!!

After this, we came home and ate dinner with all of us and a friend from our church and Larry's long time friend!!! After all was said and done, I was floating on cloud nine---encouraged in the Lord and I can't wait to see what He has planned for us...still don't know that for sure.

I'll write more later but I have to go do school for now!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Stages of Missionary life---aka---what you may feel when you live in a country that is not your own!

Our friends from the states that we met here in Russia posted on their blog about stages that missionaries go through when in other countries. I would love to read more about them, but I so can relate to what he describes. Kalvero Oberg first identified the five distinct stages of culture shock in 1958, and we know them today as:

* The honeymoon, or tourist, stage; (didn't ever have the honeymoon, did do a tour...didn't feel like a tourist--hmmmm)
* The irritation-to-anger stage; (been here, done that)
* The rejection/regression stage; (been here, felt this...thinking I am moving out of this one)
* The integration/assimilation stage; (Look out Russia!!---this is our next stage?)
* The reverse, or reentry, stage. (June? to America)

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Definite Praise Report...

This last month, we have had the boys in a pre-school through our church two days a week. We were suggested to do this at the beginning and finally took the plunge and tried it. We were looking at this as a type of language learning for the's all in Russian. So...after a month, we have re-evaluated our time and the enjoyment of the boys--and we have decided to drop the boys down to once a week. John has been teaching conversational English at this school(it's a Christian school that includes preschool/kindergarten) both of the days that the boys go, so he is there about half the time they are there.

So, what's the praise report? John went to pay today(no, he is not getting paid for teaching)...and they said ---Teacher's kids are FREE!!!!! The cost here for preschool is much cheaper than in the states, but FREE is much better. Matthew really enjoys it, Mark--so, so. We will re-evaluate at the end of the 2008 year if the boys really want to continue. It seems to me like they should like it--they get to eat 3 meals and they get to paint, play with clay, and more!!! It's actually a very nice set - up for them and for me:)!

Our visas and what are our plans

Our visas expire Dec. 1, but we have applied for student visas and have just today paid for our letter of invitations. When we were denied student visas before---we didn't get this far, so this may be an open door. So, we think that we will get new visas that will be year long visas at the end of this month. We will have to leave the country and re-enter for all of this process to go through...strange to have to do this, but it's done in all kinds of countries...even our own!

God still is in charge of our plans/lives, but in our own perspective, we think this means we will be here til June.

We believe God has us here for a purpose but what the purpose is exactly, we don't know. How long---we don't know that either? So, do we have questions? All the time. Is this normal? From what our missionary friends say---YES!

Post of Post Titles...

So, I haven't really posted recently with real instead of writing a really long post, I thought I'd give you so possible titles that might describe life here lately. So, use your imagination or ask for details-ha!!

Why do those Americans use diapers sooooo long...We start training before a year old!

Adult and Kid Slumber party week!!!

Are we crazy??? Going to a huge Museum/riding Metro & Buses with 7 kids!!!???

Didn't you vote for Obama??? This is a frequently asked question by Russians--they seem sooooo surprised that we didn't! (Just in case you wonder, we tell them why we didn't and they wouldn't either!)

I am proud to be an American and have a big family---(these are not seen as so helpful here in Russia.--very frustrating--but confirming that I am happy to be who God made me )

When will we get a student? What's the next step?(These are our thoughts too...not that we have answers yet!)

I'm told more about my country than I Know is true!!!

Russians think that American media is lying to the Americans about the world.

The Dollar is down, no, it's up, no it's down, no it's up?????

$1/month doorbell bill!!!!

Free medical coverage and college, but you will pay for plastic bags at the store and each ketchup at McDonald's!!!!!!

Ok, that's all for now!! Are you laughing yet?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Are people born with their gift? I have an answer!!

I've always wondered how people know that they can well? they take lessons to sing well or are they born with it??? Thanks to my friend over at spilled laughter, I have an answer! They are born with it--I believe now!!! I can rest assured that I didn't miss my calling to be a singer, because I was not born with such a voice as this little angel was. I hope that she grows into a lovely lady and uses God's gift well!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My beautiful children and some of their thoughts!

Yesterday at lunch, Katie was sharing about how she done something that I thought was very clever--right now I can't recall what it was, so sorry!---but I asked the question, "What made you think to do that?" wondering what thought process was behind my sweet daughter's thoughts...before she could answer, Mark piped up, "Her brain." He said it so casually, we started to laugh! Who knew the child knew what a "brain" was and what it did. I often refer to using your brain, but sometimes with Mark, it doesn't seem to sink in...but we see that it did. It's hard to remember that Mark is growing up...sometimes, I still think of him as 3 and he is FIVE!!!

The pictures below were drawn very quickly by our friend Marina at the retreat we went on. How beautiful they are...and sooo accurate!!! The kids do look older---Marina had told us when young people are drawn they appear more mature in the pictures, and when older people are drawn they look younger. So true! Mark wanted to get in the picture, so you see how beautiful three of my kiddos are. Matthew will have to be posted later:).

More pics are on my facebook account...if anyone knows how to get there without having a fb account, please tell me:) it possible?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Our Gulf of Finland Retreat

Our famous group picture!!!
Our favorite art studio couple!

Melissa in our girls room!!

group hang out time...

Gulf of Finland--it was very cold and windy!

Last weekend, we went with all the family homes and many friends to a resort like place near the Gulf of Finland. It reminded me of an upgrade of a dorm like facility at camps in the summer time. We traveled by bus about 1.5-2 hours away(bus time) and arrived on a Friday night. We enjoyed dinner together, teas, the Gulf of Finland, games, chats and more!!! John and I led boys and girls groups respectively and our topic was --How to find/be a Godly mate. It was really a great time with the kids. Our kids had a blast too!

We left on Saturday about 4ish. We met many friendly people that tugged on our heart strings. Especially two little kids that were brother and sister from an orphanage in the city. They have a very nice lady friend that takes them home each weekend for a visit. They really befriended our kids as they were in the room across from us and rode home with us on the bus.
Such sweet kids and they loved our children too. Their friend is such a special person that God has provided for them right now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cameron Townsend---Wycliffe Founder

We have been reading a missionary book on the life of Cameron Townsend to the kids at night as part of their curriculum for school. How timely that we are studying missionaries this year! Our theme for studies is "Cultures and Countries," a very appropriate year of school for us while we are here in Russia.

So, we are about half-way through the book and we have covered 19 years of Cameron's life so far. John looks at me last night and says this and we are both amazed that so little has happened of the whole picture of Wycliffe Ministries(as we see it) in 19 YEARS!!! You know, that's a LONG time!!!! Cameron started out as a Bible salesman, then had a heart to start teaching a specific Indian language, then started translating the first 4 chapters of Matthew, then the NT, then he started doing "camps" in the states for linguists to learn and go down to Mexico and evangelize as linguists. His first purpose had changed many times before doing "Wycliffe" camps. At his first camp, he had two graduates, the next camp 5 grads...and that's where we are now. Don't laugh at small beginnings nor be discouraged when your beginning purpose changes.

John and I sometimes get ancy over here thinking...we haven't "done" much for the kingdom of God...and now we have a bit of perspective. TWO Months ONLY have gone by...we can rest assured that God is not finished nor is he confined to such a short time period. God's plan is sooooo much bigger than ours. We might think we have to complete something this year, and yet, God may think---this is just the start of what I will do.

When we had been here in Russia for about a week, we were at a prayer meeting where a lady shared that she felt God saying something like this---"Just give me some time to do things"...we want God to do things so quickly and right now, that we don't sit back and just know that He will be exalted in the end, even if it takes years to get there. I am reminded of the many times my dad would talk about leaning on the Lord and resting in Him, I think it was based off of a Watchman Nee book he was reading and re-reading entitled Sit, Stand, Walk. I have often thought that I should be resting in Him and then I start to think...NO, I should not always be resting! Well, maybe we should rest more in Him, doing only what He prompts us to do and not all the "things" we think are "good" to do at the time. He will perform His will and I want to see it be done ---even if it takes a good many years to see what it is. We may not even see it in our lifetime...who knows? Only He does!

So, Sit back, listen, and obey His voice---resting in the knowledge that He will be exalted while we rest in Him "Be Still and know that I am God and I will be exalted among the nations." Psalm 46:10

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Our Next Step...

My lovely sis in law asked me a question that I thought I'd answer for everyone---what is our next step?
We have seen two things as doors that the Lord could open or shut to allow us to stay longer here in Russia. The sale of our house and also a way to lengthen our visa. Remember our visas here were only for 3 months. So, the first door opened...and we have stepped through--OUR HOUSE---it has closed with no hitches in this economy---God is gracious and good! The second door is open--John has applied to a school in the area that he is already attending and we expect to get year visas for the whole family through them. So, we have started this extension, but it hasn't been completed yet. We will keep everyone posted on that door.

We plan to return to the states sometime in June if our visas are extended. Will we come back to Russia? We are expecting the Lord to answer that question throughout the next several months. If He wants us to stay or go, that is what we will do. My dad sent me another Hudson Taylor quote about 2 weeks ago that is perfect for how I feel right now..."It is no small comfort to me to know that God has called me to my work, putting me where I am and as I am. I have not sought the position and I dare not leave it. He knows why He places me here – whether to do or learn or suffer. He that believes shall not make haste." It's even a better fit than the quote at the top of the blog.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Our house has sold OFFICIALLY!!!

You know when God does something, it's much better when He gets glory from it. Well, our house has been on the market for a little over a year!!! A YEAR IS A LONG TIME!!!! There were pros to house was much cleaner b/c it had to be!! The kids learned many clean up skills. We purged our things many many different times!!

So, when the US housing market was doing pretty awful and we had heard from over here that the economy was getting even scarier---God brings a couple, from Colorado, to look at our house through their parents! They had not even seen the actual house at the time of signing yesterday! Our real estate agent went by the house today to check in on them and meet them and they told her that the house was EVEN BETTER than what they had expected!!! Amazing!!! We loved our home and hope that they enjoy it as we did.

So, did God get the glory---YES, He did---we had to wait, but He came through.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What do I miss from the states?

I have been asked what I miss, so I thought I'd turn it into a post...nope, this is not a cry to send me's way tooo expensive to do's about $10 a pound!!! YIKES!

Things that I miss ...
---magazines in English!!!(I had no idea that I would even miss this...I wasn't a big mag. person!)
---brownies/cake mixes---just the ability to buy them would be nice.
---flavored decaf coffee
---vanilla---just found out they have this--it's just in powdered form not liquid...who knew there was such a thing??? Not me!
---Christian bookstores in English!!!(should have brought more books and less what??? hmmm...well, maybe should have paid more for the extra luggage-haha!).
---What is John's missing---the ability to get in the car and just go. He doesn't miss the car, just the ability to go somewhere quickly.

I finally have some family outside photos...

Ok, we have taken photos and there are rather than uploading all to this blog...I will put a link. It's to my facebook album. If you can't see them there, let me know. There are enjoy!!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reminder or a News Post for New and Old Readers

Just in case you didn't know and you want to know more about my blog....
I have many different sections on the side of my blog that I update from time to time. If you are on the blog and you notice I haven't posted a new post, check out the side bar...sometimes, I post there first then do a new blog post later.

I even have what we are reading and what I want to read later!

You can always leave a comment under a post or just,easily on the side bar, jot a note. I love hearing from all of you! It's so exciting when I see my family and friends checking out the blog--I can see your cities when you visit!!!

Here are a few I have seen ---I know who some of you are, but not all:) These are some I know!!!---Chita, Russia; Germany; Plano;Houston;Austin; Oregon; Minnesota; Florida...and more!!! Love it when you visit--so THANK YOU!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Another one of our group!

I have never seen such a group that is better at taking group photos! Matthew was hidden behind people but he was there! This is our big group of friends here! Most of them, at least!

A Change in our Family Home...

Vera studying her English at the dinner table

Well, as I finally sit down to write this out for you, it is with a sad heart that I journal. Our student, Vera, who has been in this family home since just August of this year, has been told that she must return to her dorm. This happened on Monday night and has been a very hard thing for us, the kids, Lena and many more people who love Vera very much to swallow or understand. So, you may did this happen and why??? Well, it's a long story, but I will try to hit the highlights.

In Russia, the "Christian" church that people "should" go to is called Russian Orthodox. This is very much like a Catholic church, but they have a "Priest" instead of a "Pope." Anyone else who doesn't believe in the exact same way of the Orthodox and attend their churches, in their opinion, are considered "sects" and very dangerous to people. I am so glad that it's not that hateful between Catholics and Protestants in the states. The government may even go so far to think that girls are better in prostitution than in a sect. Sometimes, people with wrong information make judgement calls that may seem crazy to us, but obviously not to them, but we need to pray for them too in the midst of these hard times.

So, knowing this information, the dorm authorities did not look upon the home Vera stayed in favorably because we were not Orthodox. They would tell Vera during her school day that she should come back to the dorm but they would not do anything to enforce their opinion. Well, on Monday, government officials came to the dorm to investigate what this particular dorm was doing or not doing. They had been turned in to the government by a social representative of one of the kids in the dorm. The officials(police) went to every room and checked on who was "registered" for that room. If they weren't there, they asked why. When they came to Vera's room the dorm's assistant director said that she was living with us and that they had no official paperwork for this move. We had filled out the proper info to our knowledge, but had no copy of it ourselves. Because the dorm was already in trouble for some things that were happening, they quickly said that we were not allowed back at the dorm to visit or to have Vera or any of their kids live with us. Since Vera is in school through this dorm, these directors have a say in where she lives. When she graduates from seamstress school, she can live where she chooses, I believe. The room situation in Russia is very complicated and so hard for me to explain because I do not fully understand all of it.

Monday night, Lena and I had to come home from the dorm and tell Vera she had to be back at the dorm by the next morning before noon. She had to pack and leave at 15 til 7 in the morning just to make it to her dorm before it closed for the morning. She was very broken because of this. So were all of us. We know that God works in the midst of terrible news. He did not say we would live a life of ease when we serve Him. He has Vera in His hands and she knows this.

So, please pray for Vera. She is such a tender sweet-hearted child of God and will do great if she can trust in the Lord's strength. Pray for her as she needs to do this more now than ever. Pray more for God's purpose than anything...this is what we desire in the end, even if it means that we are not pleased with the temporary sadness.

What are we doing in the mean time??? Well, only God really understands that question! But, as we wait for Him to show us more details, we will change the dorm that we have been visiting to the dorm that John has been going to on Saturdays. We have some contacts with some orphanges and will continue to visit them. We also have met a couple in the city that have an art studio and reach out to the kids in the city through this outlet. The girls and I will start going here on Friday afternoons. John and the boys may come later for dinner and fellowship. There also may be some more paperwork that our leader needs to fill out for us to have another student in the future. We are praying for God to do His will and that we would fulfill His purpose. Sometimes, His ways are not so clear to us, but it's His vision of all of this that matters in the end. We just need to stay obedient and open to Him and His direction. We believe that He will show us more details soon. Please pray for us to have open ears/hearts/eyes. Thank you so much for your prayers---it's one of the ways we feel His strength!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Still here...working with TEXANS---yeehaw!!!

I haven't blogged in several days. So sorry!!! We have been working with a team from Texas, going to an orphanage in the city. We have met several very nice translators and amazing people by working with them. We have been to the orphanage twice and have enjoyed meeting the kiddos in our particular groups. John is working with the older kids group and I and all our kids are working with a group of 10-12 year old kids. We have been able to teach the different holidays that Americans celebrate such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and tomorrow will be Easter. The group that I get to help with has about 5 kids that will be adopted in the US in the next year or so. Many of them are part of a hosting program where they stay with an American family for about 6 weeks in the winter and many of them are adopted from this program. Very amazing to see this.

We will not be able to be there tomorrow b/c of other committments on Thursday--one of which is the girls and I will be visiting an art studio run by an American and Russian couple. They offer classes to orphans throughout the city. Katie and Melissa may go to a class tomorrow and I will help in whatever way I can. Very exciting!

I will try to download pics later, but not's 23:43---haha---I will never get used to seeing military time!!! When it's 12am, the clocks say 0:00!!! Funny to see.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ten Day Forcast---The same picture!

I was feeling a bit chilly from the air outside, so I thought I'd check the weather...the temperature is about the same as what it has been 40-50's...but the rain cloud picture was on EVERY day for the next TEN days!!! Wow! Now that's some forecast! It's starting to feel a bit like the State of Washington with that forecast.

She is reading my mind...

Have you ever read something in a book and, how did the author get into my mind and know my thoughts exactly? My friend Alisa is an avid reader and has this happen to her a lot...well, it was my turn last night!

My dad suggested a book to read for me before I came here to Russia. It's written by Hannah Hurnard...she also wrote Hinds Feet on High awesome allegory that I have read more than once! She was also a missionary! Imagine that?! So, I am slowly reading her book and LOVE it more than I can describe---it's sooooo accurate about how one feels as a missionary or believer in a strange place.

So, here is the part that made me laugh out loud b/c it was so JOHN and ME!! I read it to him and he laughed too.

The enemy of souls, of course, knows this and does his utmost to hinder the keeping of the daily quiet time. Almost anything will prove easier than to form this daily habit, for so many factors combine to prevent it. First there is the strangeness of everything, the complete uprooting of all the old ties and habits and customs, leaving one feeling unsettled, restless, tired, and with the continual sense of being in a strange environment to which one only slowly and painfully becomes adjusted.
Then there are the endless irrations(Karen's definition--things that are illogical) and nerve-racking difficulties due to lack of the new language and the misunderstandings arising from this ignorance. Also the difficulty of adjusting oneself to the completely different outlook of those among whom one has gone to work. Then, perhaps there are the primitive conditions and lack of conveniences to which one has been accustomed; and above all, the change of climate.

Whew...there it is...ok, so these paragraphs seem like life is really hard...we don't feel that life is this difficult but the difficulties that we do feel are sooooo described here in this section.

I love the part about miscommunications--you think it's hard when you speak the same language ...there are many times where there is a miscommunication just because someone is speaking English and it's not their native language so some things come out meaning something very different than what was intended! Funny!!!

I am loving this book and always look forward to reading it b/c Hannah H describes life in the Lord soooo well.

John goes to a "guys night out" tonight with a bunch of Americans---they are having barbeque(yep, they have BBQ sauce here!)...he has been gone today with some boys from one of the dormitories. Just wanted to update John's friends/family with a bit of what he is doing!:)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Can you say backbend???? The change that doesn't jingle!

One thing we are having to deal with here in Russia is Change Change Change and I am not talking about change that jingles. This is the picture they (whoever "they" are) should send out to all people who come to Russia. A friend of mine sent me a list that describes many ways the Russians may think...they said the word we need is FLEXIBLE!!! Before coming here, John and I were always told that we were both laid back. As in flexible to change...HA!! Boy, I think that it wasn't enough flexibility!! Things change so much, it's really hard to say much as to "the plan" because it will probably just change in the end. When talking with people(that are state-side) about being over here, I hear---well, I thought you said such and such. Well, before coming here there were a lot of things that I said that I thought were, things have changed, changed and changed again. We have started to laugh at the amount of change.
Keep in mind, when anyone sends out a list of this is how Russians are---you must have this thought in mind...this is a general rule--not a hard fast rule. So, maybe not all Russians are this apt to change, but we are in a "ministry" that must have all these general rules true--well, maybe not all but a lot. I don't like it much when people here generalize about "Americans" so I can't generalize too much about "Russians" either.
If you want to pray for us, pray that we hear God's voice and direction clearly and that we are flexible to His plan not just to people's changing plans. It's hard to tell when you should just go with the flow and when you should say something.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thanks Sr. Igor!!!

Buckwheat--not the cereal!!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Buckwheat...what's so good about it?

Wild Buckwheat--who knew it was pretty!?

Ok, so I have been told that Buckwheat is good for me but why? Anyone who really knows me knows that I always like to know the reason why!!! So, I did some is what I found:)...just in case you want to enjoy a big ole' bowl of buckwheat in honor of us!!!

The Benefits of Buckwheat!

The protein found in buckwheat contains the eight essential amino acids.
Buckwheat is rich in B vitamins as well as phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and manganese.
Buckwheat is a good oil source of Alpha-Linolenic Acid, which is one of the two essential fatty acids we must have to be healthy.
Buckwheat is high in fiber. A single cup of cooked buckwheat groats contains over 4 grams of dietary fiber.
Buckwheat contains a rich supply of flavonoids.
Buckwheat lowers glucose levels and is beneficial for managing diabetes.
Buckwheat has been found to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.
Buckwheat is a fruit seed and is a gluten-free alternative to grains.
Buckwheat in a bag

Who knew??? Well, some of you all may have, but I didn't! So, now I will research some recipes for using the way, that is what the girls and I had for breakfast this morning.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Our Balcony outside of our room.

Our balcony...from the side view...see the hanging rack--it's used for drying clothes, mops, cleaning gloves:)...My goal is to go through the two boxes of craft supplies for my friend Nancy and see what all kinds of supplies we have!!! I can't wait to get rid of the mosquitos...then I can really use the balcony!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My State-side B-day!!!

While I have two minutes left to my b-day in TEXAS, I will post a beautiful picture of my friend--Valentina and her two boys---Nikita and Timothy---celebrating for me State-side.

Thanks for sending! I love it!!!

I got a new camera(pocket size) and earrings!

Just color!
Katie in black and white!

Mark with Sepia on
Our map with night vision on...
I asked John for a new small camera...I find that with 4 kids and riding the metro and buses and trams...I 'd rather not have to tote around too much. So, my current camera is very nice, but a bit bulky to bring with me(it's our video camera too). John found a small camera that is awesome! Here are some of the things it can do---Black and white, sepia, night vision, negative style. I also have noticed the hoops and hoops of earings that Russians, of course, I need to be in high fashion, right??? So, now I have medium sized hoops for earrings. They are silver!
Lena is making me a carrott cake---YUM YUM!! She also gave me some yummy smelling shower gel from Germany! I didn't get to bring any of my gels with me b/c of too much weight, so I am loving the shower gel!
My latest observation about used to be that I would feel like it was my birthday on that particular day---you know, that special feeling all day long---, but in the last five years or so, I think I could actually forget my b-day during the day!! Does this happen when one has kids or when one ages???
By the way, this is starting to be funny---no hot water today!! Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Future Master's's a true sign of his calling!

He pulled the trash can over and started drumming on our trash can. A true sign of his calling!! Oh, can you tell the size of our itty bitty trash can---Sarah---what do you think now of our old trash can??? It was huge-eh?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Birthday!! and YOUR Part in it!

Ok, my lovely Aunt Mary gave me an idea! She sent me birthday wishes! She said they might enjoy cake in my honor! So, my birthday is tomorrow Sept 30th!! Since I cannot be with any of you to celebrate---you can eat a piece of chocolate, cake, pie, cookie, have a cup of tea or coffee or anything in my stead and send me a picture of you doing it! I will post what I get from people on a blog!!! If you don't have my email...just leave me a comment and we will try to arrange something...I don't want to post my email to make it public.

Oh, and I share my birthday time with my beautiful neice Mary Claire--September 29th and my friend's little girl Chloe---Sept. 30th., and a few others happy birthday to these two beautiful girls and more!!!

Hot water---I didn't know it was such a delicacy!!

Ok, so if you have read the blog on mosquitos and cold water, you will know that we didn't have hot water for about 4 came back on for about a day and then it left for about 4 more days...the days run that I am calculating the amount of days without hot water, I don't think I knew at the time it was almost 8 days. So, my missionary self was very much complaining last night to Lena about how miserable it was to go without hot water. What a great attitude, eh? I had to revisit all those great Pastor Brooks teachings on attitude determing my altitude!! Ok, so this morning, I had to have a chat with the Lord and repent for my complaining and selfishness! I was on a terrible roll last night.

Well, lo and behold...last night about 9 or 9:30(after all that emotion expressed)--guess what happened--the Hot water was turned back on!!!!!! Oh what a relief!!!! I hurriedly took a hot shower after Vera was done with hers(when it's hot, it can be really hot!!!---there is a key to balance here!) I can't tell you how much it was sooooo nice to enjoy hot water. So, instead of starting school right away this morning, the girls are taking showers this morning before we start!!! We don't want to waste this good hot water. Are you laughing with me or at me yet????

When Mark woke--he came and told us---the hot water works!!!! It's funny when it comes from the mouth of a child.

So, the scripture about being content in all circumstances comes to have new meaning...I will need to be content EVEN WITHOUT hot water!!! (only with the Lord's grace though is this possible!!). I think next time the hot water goes out, I will just slow down my life and take the time to boil the 3-5 pots of water and enjoy a hot bath and life with out luxuries. I know not having even cold water (like some parts of the world have to endure) is something I think I would need way MORE grace from the Lord to endure. So, I will praise the Lord with hot water and with out it! Pray that I can actually put this into practice if I need to!!! I pray that Lena does not have to endure my complaining either. No hot water is "suffering" for her too!

I will keep everyone posted, but as of right now, life is nice---WE HAVE HOT WATER STILL!!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dorm visit

In Russia, kids that have been in the orphanage for part or all of their lives go to live in a "dorm" and study a vocational skill after they are of age(around 16) to leave the orphanage. Last night, I went with Lena to visit some of the first year girls that have just started their studies and have just left their orphanage. This transition is big for them...some of them are leaving long time friends.

We met some lovely girls there. They were quiet at first, but by the end, some of them had shown us their photo albums and chatted with us. Lena spoke most, b/c I, of course, do not know enough Russian yet, except to say hello, my name are you! We had a wonderful time meeting these girls who were all about 16. Lena gave them her number and told them they were welcome to come visit us today. Two of them are coming!!! They just called Lena and said they would come:). How nice that they would want to come see us again. We will go again to their dorm on Monday. I really enjoyed our visit and look forward to seeing them again today and Monday too. I pray that they feel very loved when they come see our family.

Rye Bread---would you eat it everyday? would you eat it with syrup?

Ok, for the last three weeks, we have been eating Rye bread...for the first two weeks, we didn't even know it!!! No, it didn't taste like wheat bread, but we just didn't recognized the twangy, we do. It's not too bad though...especially when making french toast with it!! Yep, I made french toast this morning with Rye bread! The kids have not said anything about not liking the bread, but it is a bit hard for them to chew...they have said this, but the taste is not bothering them...they are so accomodating in this new culture! They are doing awesome! They amaze me at their ease in adjusting!

My friend Valentina has said that Americans don't eat a whole lot of variety...I think I agree now that I didn't before. I have not had so much cabbage or mayonnaise is my life!! Not that Russians eat so much of a variety, it's just a different variety from Texas or that good ole--Mexican food!!! We have eaten a few new is a start on the list of new foods: Beet soup, cabbage, goulash, rice porridge for breakfast, buckwheat porridge--not a fav of John's!, lots of different kinds of cookies and chocolate, crab salad, pelmeni(we had this once in Texas--a gift from Valentina--John's favorite---it's like pork/beef ravioli w/o marina)...and the list will go on.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mosquitos and Cold Water!!!

The last few days, we have been without hot water but not without mosquitos. You would think that it might be no big deal for us native Texans, but oh no!!! We have finally plugged in somethings into the outlets that are supposed to help kill the mosquitos and still be safe for kiddos. Well, it might be helping, but we need more of them!!! We have only two right now! The kids have one in their room for at night, but we snag it out of their room during the day for the kitchen and living room. Maybe some of it will stay in the air!! We are now going to spray all of us with mosquito repellant and really act like we are camping til it gets cold enough to kill off the mosquitos. Oh, to smell like Off!!!! Don't you wish you were here to hug us!!???

We have lived without hot water for 4's finally back on, but we did boil some water and make some warm bath water for all of us. Are we good at camping or what?

If you want to ask questions, ask...or if you want pictures of something, ask!

Here is a picture of an apartment building next to ours(I took the picture looking out of our window of our balcony!)...looks similar to ours...well, all the apartments look similar to me. I haven't brought our camera out doors yet!

The kids' room

Katie is our photographer for the Bull Kids' enjoy the art work! The girls clothes cabinets and the desk in the middle. Mom had not made it to clean the desk before the picture. OOPS!!
The "Bunk Beds"...Katie sleeps on top and Matthew on bottom. All the blankets from the sleeper couch get piled on Matthew's bunk during the day.
The view of the window that faces out to the balcony. The balcony is an enclosed balcony, by the way.
This is our infamous sofa bed from IKEA...unfortunately, it doesn't look all that neat and tidy...the kids like to play, what can I say. The pillow is down, but should be up near the back. We leave the sheet on the bottom, so it's one less thing we have to do at night to get ready for bedtime.