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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Carolers and?????

John has been at Elema all day and I am expecting him home around 11pm, but there was a ring at our door at about 9:30pm---you must know if you are in a foreign country, you need to know who it is to answer the door, especially at night!  So I said--in English--Who is it--thinking it was John and he was early, but NO!  We had carolers!  Our friends, who will remain nameless--but they know who they are---came to our door and sang us Christmas songs and then delivered a very unexpected gift to us!!  A vacuum!!! You see our vacuum that we had purchased in September broke about three weeks ago and we were having to sweep our carpets---doesn't really work.  ---it was used when we bought it so it was not totally a shock.  We priced them this week, but didn't get one. 

But, OH my!  The sweetness of these folks---amazes me!  Thank you for the vacuum and Thank God for His blessings that I didn't even expect!  What a gift!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Walk down memory lane....come with us!

Thought you would enjoy our trip down memory lane!

Our kids had a great laugh at how they used to look---Melissa wants to cut her hair so she looks like this and Mark still thinks he is the cutest person in the WORLD!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yes It Is!

Being from the South, I am not used to cold weather but I am really not used to -4 F!  Wow!  That's cold.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My friends here in Russia!

These are some of my Russian, English friends here in St. Pete!  Many of the girls in the pics are from the family home---the group we worked with last year!  They keep me feeling young!

Monday, December 14, 2009


Two weeks ago, it was in the upper thirties; last week it was dropping---near freezing; but this week---wooooow!!!  It was 3 degrees Farhenheit!  It's all the way up to 12 now, but it's really cold, especially when the wind is blowing!

I can't believe that Christmas is so close.  That means we have been back here for about 4 months since our stateside visit!  We continue to seek Him as to what He wants us doing.  Right now, we feel that we are to stay faithful and help Stoneworks(see sidebar for link) and to continue in our language studies, but for the most part---we are getting this---WAIT.  Ever been there?  I think most people have while following after the Lord.  If you haven't, I think you might have this to look forward to:).  The good news is that Isaiah 49: 23b says
"Then you will know that I am the LORD;
    those who wait for me shall not be put to shame."

This comic is old, but thought you would enjoy!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I WON!!!!

I WON a BOOK!!! I am so thrilled.  I have been reading interviews of authors for a month or two here and I won this book!!

I love Amish books!! I find that their lives are fascinating--hmmm....this is good, seeing that I have had some down to earth experiences here! 

So, mom, you can read this one first and then I can--b/c it's being shipped to you stateside!

I also got another special treat today--saw my friend Lucya--thanks Pam and Gary for sparing her!  We heard it's -35 C degrees in Siberia!!BRRRRRRR!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


When you can't be with family, you have to make the most of the holiday times to cover all your home-sickness!  This time we outdid ourselves!  Thanksgiving is both John and my favorite holidays!!!  So, we had friends over and ate and ate!!!  We miss our family very much during this time, but we got to call them after our Thanksgiving!
I cooked two 5 pound turkeys, Spinach Madeline(my mom's recipe), Stuffing(my mom's kind), Sweet Potato Crunch( John's mom's recipe), and Buttermilk Pie!

Our guests were our interim pastors and their friends who are pastors in Moscow, but from Pennsylvania!  We also had a couple students over that we have met through our church.

The lighting of the tree!

This is our beautiful tree with all the trimmings! 

John's plugging the tree in!!  Not that you can see the lights, but they are great!  Yes, we are rejoicing in the small things!

Even Matthew took part!!  Of course, we had a few ornaments to replace---as in one of the branches had 5 ornaments on one!  I think that was Mark's doing--why not, he like them soooo much, he put them on one branch!

Monday, November 23, 2009

You are not unplanned for, nor are your steps.

2 Kings 19:  25 "
      'Have you not heard
   that I determined it long ago?
I planned from days of old
   what now I bring to pass,...

Have you thought lately about what the Lord is doing now has been planned out long ago?  It's reassuring to me.  John and I are in a waiting period on the Lord's next step...knowing that He has already planned our next step is nice to remember, especially when we can't figure it out.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lunch Time!!!

.  Today, I was talking to Mark about where his dad is right now as we were reading our History lesson about Christopher Columbus coming over from Europe.  I was telling him that Daddy was in Europe right now.  Mark looked at me and said--"No, He is in Lunch!" " What??"  I said and then realization dawned on me---John was in Hungary--and Mark got that linked with LUNCH!!  Well, of course!!!  Aren't you hungary when you eat Lunch????  Gotta work on the boy's geography!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Charts Galore!!!

Do you like charts?  I am my father's daughter---so I am a list maker and thus charts appeal to me!  I have an engineer as a spouse, father, brother ...what more would you expect???
This isn't one of their best examples of a chart---but I can't seem to bring the charts you will have to check it out...if you are a chart person!!

Surviving without John---counting the days till his return

We have been surviving without John--barely---he's at a Pastor's conference---nope, we aren't Pastors, but nevertheless he is there!  He heard a message that was confirmation of where we are in our spiritual walk--waiting!   Sometimes, we need those confirmations and now is one of those times.

I drove to church for the first time today---John usually drives and let me just say--I like it that way!  He is great with directions and nerves and other crazy drivers.  Really--Drivers here are very interesting.  I think the ones that probably bribed their teachers to pass the test, maybe the most interesting!  My friend Sue prayed for me before I left---so glad for someone to do that!  I was pretty nervous about remembering a particular turn I had to make--seems when John takes it, I look up and don't realize he ever did!!  Well, I know why now...there's no other way to go!!  Shew!!!  We made it and everyone is safe now.  Now, I just have to survive the week of driving to school.  If you want to pray for me, I am welcoming allllllll prayers please!  The kids are doing well...missing their daddy--especially when mommy gets turned around!!!

To add to this list...we have a flat---I think I could cry now!  (not like I didn't feel like it already!!)
UPDATE---flat is fixed--thanks to Sergei!! and We have kitchen water now!!!  Much better now...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hangin' on for Tomorrow!!!

So, today, we asked John's tutor to help us find out why we don't have water.  She talked to our landlord, who asked her to go ask a downstairs neighbor.  John remembered seeing the water spillage along the third floor wall, so they went there and lo and behold there was a note taped to the door handle-- you would have to take the note off- if you were going into the apartment.
The note went something like this...A water pipe burst in your flat---please contact us at....---if we don't hear from you in TEN days, we will break into your flat and fix it.

So, I said--well, it might not be until next week...Saturday --the water went off---John looks at me and says, NOPE, it's worse----The note was dated TOMORROW!!!!!  Did you read that!!???  Tomorrow!!!  So, ten days from tomorrow is the most we have to endure the tub dishes!!! YIKES!  Well, that's Russia for you!  Write a note that is dated tomorrow and put it on the door today---so all the people above the third floor don't have water in their kitchen on our side of the building.  AND---John left today for a 9 day trip to Eastern Europe---He's been great---did everything to help me out so I would have an easier time while he was away.  Pray for all of us!

Giving Ideas

This is a book that one of my friends recommended us reading.  Its title intimidated me when I saw it on the shelf--before Alisa told us about it.  I don't like it when people try to show inadequacies in the Bible--and by the title and reading nothing else, that's what I thought it was about.  I was WRONG!  Thankfully, Alisa set me straight and we bought the book at paperbackswap .
We brought it over to Russia with us this trip and John tackled it first and finished.  I am still tackling...about halfway through or more.  Its very challenging, so if you read it, know this --up front!!!

All that to say the book explains the need for Christians to help those in need.  This world is full of them and it's a bit(no, really a lot!!) overwhelming if you think about helping everyone.  But, we need to be faithful to help in our part---so What is our part? 
Most people  will say---oh, my budget is full, I don't have anything extra to give--but perhaps we do, we just don't see it yet.  I am speaking to myself, where is my extra that I can give?  I have some idea where it could come from(God's pretty clever about giving us ideas when we ask for them!)...but do you have ideas for where you go without to give to those who are without.   Sometimes, we need help from others to see our "extras"

These are some ways I have seen others give: 
a friend did a giveaway to raise money through her blog,
people we know asked for their Christmas gift from us to go to the needy--by giving to their church missions.
giving away something of your own to someone who likes it, but might not be able to buy it.
giving toward a cause in lieu of a gift
trimming down Christmas gifts and using the gift money to give else where.

Any ideas ????

Monday, November 9, 2009

Washing Dishes in the Largest Sink Ever!!

Well, now we have a washing machine that works, so I do not have to do my clothes in the tub anymore, but I do have to use the tub for dishes.  On Saturday morning, our water in the kitchen was a trickle then nothing!!!  No water, except in the bathroom--and thank God we do have it there!!  I have the largest sink ever!!!  It's not so bad except for the toting back and forth, but think positive---I might have to tote to a river if I didn't live in a city!!!!

Elema Update

John has continued to work with Sergei out at Elema.  They had to dig 28 holes about 1 meter deep--as in John can hop into the hole and stand in it up to his neck.  Then, they have to add blocks(that weigh about 50 lbs each) and stack them so that they form an even foundation.  As they observed, water seeps into these holes quickly from beneath and they have to remove the water before adding the bricks.  When they drop the first block into the holes, they literally run for cover as the mud sprays in all directions.  Thankfully, Sergei hired other guys to help work on the project.  They are from a local Christian rehab center and are in the process of straightening out their lives.  The guys from the rehab dug most of the holes and are finishing up the project.  John said when Sergei would talk with them, they would so intently listen, like they hung on every word.  Sergei has a heart of faith in the Lord!  It's inspiring--thankfully, he speaks English and John can benefit from their communication!  By the way, the twins are thriving and I hope to have more pics soon!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

We aren't in Kansas anymore!!

This is what I said today as I drove down the newly paved road---no, they didn't level the part from the old to the new, so you have to drive really slowly over or up the small ledge.  There were some of these steam rollers to my right rolling right along...nothing separating me from them other than my brain and nerves!!!  This picture shows how streets are worked on in America...they seem to take the whole road, except for one lane, and they block it off with every barricade they can find.  Not here, they work while you drive.  I must say I was ecstatic that they were even working on the road---most roads just have the pot holes barricaded, but not fixed, in the middle of the have to be on your guard ALWAYS!!  But, today, they were fixing both sides of a 4-6 lane road---you see, not all lanes are marked, so unless you see the turn signs, you really don't know how many lanes are there.  People just make their lane where they want, park where they want, and do what they want and hope they aren't pulled over for money, oh, I mean a ticket!!! No,really, it's more common to have to pay a "fine" than to get a ticket.  Ok, my traffic post for the day is done!!!  Home safe and sound from my trip to the g-store with the kids----Oh, how I don't like to shop without John when I have the kiddos!  Today, everyone was there!!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Peanut Soup Night!

We are priveleged to attend church with some fantastic African med students!  The Bull herd has never been to Africa but we have great friends that are from many different parts of this wonderful continent.  We learned of a great food from there while we were in Finland staying with friends that were missionaries there.  PEANUT SOUP was the dish they told us about.  So, when we met our church friends, we asked them about this dish!  They love it and knew how to make it, so we asked if they would come over and cook it for us.  We asked of the ingredients to know what to have on hand and they came over and had fellowship with us and the Wii!!  It was great fun and sooooo tasty!  Thanks Frank- for cooking it, Emmanual---for overseeing the cooking, and Daniel for entertaining John and the kids with the Wii!  We love all of you and welcome you all in our home anytime!!