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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...