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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.