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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fun Pics of the Family...

Girls from church and two of our kids!

A wonderful group of girls that we know...
Katya (left) is the mom that lived with us last year.
Her daughter is sitting on Mark's lap. Nelly*next* and
her sister Liza(all the way on the right) were some of the
first girls we met a couple years ago.
Natasha(front middle) is one of the first family home residents.
Anya(in red) is a nurse in training!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Birthday Week Wishes

Ok, so it's my 35th b-day this Wednesday and I have a request to make---Leave me a comment!!!
I know for some of you it will be painful to figure out how, but think of it as a gift to me for my half way to 70 mark!! Since I am in Russia, and you probably are not, it's too far to send a card---and have it arrive by this week--it takes 3 weeks to get anything it's an easy way for you to make my day or week!!
You may leave a scripture, a thought, a wish, a memory of you and I together, or just whatever thing you would like to say...make sure you sign your name so I know who left the note---

Here's to my 35th b-day week---

Birth facts---
If I would have been the first child, I might have been the last--haha--yep, I was not so easy of a young child! Hmmm...Imagine that!!

I made my mom miss her lunch and breakfast, I think, b/c of what time I was born!! 1pm

I received the middle name Lorraine, and not Elizabeth---if I was born one day later, I would have been named differently! My G-mom on my mom's side had an anniversary in Sept. and my G-mom on my dad's side had one in October---so there was a contest!!!

My name could have been Kristen---it would have really messed my aunt and uncle up--for they would have had to come up with a different name!!

My mom was told by God to ask for me to be a girl--and Ha--I was!! Sono's were not common back then for determining what you were having!!

Okay, that's all for now!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dinner with Friends!

At last we got a picture of the two models-hehe!--not really models, but could be, eh!?

These are our friends from last year that work with a family home. We invited them over for dinner this past Thursday and had 16 people in our flat!! It was great! They currently have their own two kids, plus 2 foster children, and 2 other girls and our new friend Megan from the states all living with them!
Megan will be helping this family home in many ways and as the Lord leads her to help. We are excited to have Megan as a part of our team under Stoneworks!

Our Lena--came for a visit!!

Last year we lived with Lena from Belarus and she came to Russia this weekend for a visit. It was great to see her and I know everyone is scheduling time with her as she has a very compact time of being here.

The boys---

The boys on Matthew's to see the man!!! It's funny

Mark having fun!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Picture Day for the Boys

The boys put on these shirts so they could be " we had to snap some photos!

The girls had picture day at school, so maybe this was Mark's motivation...he even dressed Matthew!!

Twin Update!

Great News! Sergei is allowed to see his little ones...yep, he was restricted until a day or so ago. So, the doctor is encouraging him to come daily. Christina gets out Sunday from her hospital and will be able to visit the twins too!
Both girls are drinking on their own was only able to use a tube before. The girls are about 4 pounds and 3+ pounds...I know, I know, that's not very specific!! Hopefully, more details later. Please pray that the girls will drink more...the doctors want them to be eating more than they are.
Hopefully, we will have pictures soon!!
Thanks for all the prayers!!! Oh, I found out the twins are two months early!!! More reason to pray!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sergei and Christina---had TWINS!!!

This is a birth story of two friends of ours. It almost doesn't seem real or should I say conceivable?? But as our friend Mike says---the Lord directed their way, so we are grateful!!!

Ok, so this couple has some health restrictions and didn't even think it was possible to have children, but they indeed got pregnant and with TWINS!!! So, they decided to go with some friends to Finland last week and even received the doctor's blessing to do so. Well, here is where the story begins...(scribed by our friend Mike via email). Sergei is pictured in the Elema post--he worked with John clearing a camp site. See below.

Sergei's story is crazy. Yesterday morning, here in Finland, Christina's water broke at 2am. We went to the hospital in Hameenlinna (nearby) arriving there at about 4am. Only one of the two waters broke (don't know the term for this), and at 10 am the Finnish doctors said they could travel to Russia if Christina were to lie down for the trip. So they drove back to Russia, arriving at the Russian hospital at about 6pm. At 10pm they did a C-section. They were both WORN OUT, tired and emotional. Sergei was crying with joy when we talked to him just after the birth.

Unfortunately, because of health reasons and restrictions, the babies are at a children's hospital and mommy Christina is at a different hospital. One of the babies needs some breathing help--so please pray for God's hand on this little family!! The babies are girls, but we don't have any more details...I hope to get some pictures in the future, but I don't know if that is possible so soon.

Please, if you are reading this, pray for this whole family. If you have an overwhelming desire to help--as in the Lord puts this family on your heart---let us know and we will let you know of their needs.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fun with the Boys

I think the boys are enjoying being homeschooled and playing around the house on our day off.

Matthew, Why such a long face?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My dad reminds me of my history!!

This is what my dad wrote me about our van situation.

Your statement “So, still it waits for us or maybe just God--to unlock the van in order to drive it.” reminds me of your wedding day – when the Sempe’s Lincoln was locked and Rick Watts just started punching buttons – then it opened. I guess God did it then, . . . He can do it again.


...and here's the story of what happened this morning. I wrote my dad back,

Did you mean to prophecy?? Ha…John was meeting the mechanic this morning at 10, so he got there early to the van, pushed the remote, the van unlocks, he drives it off. WHOA!! So, he cancels the mechanic and I guess we chalk it up to something was prevented yesterday??? Hmmmm.


So there you have it...the continuing saga of the Bull Herd.

The nerves of speaking in Russian and more--

Yes, this is called "parallel" parking!!!
-pictures added just to get you through the long post!!

Have you ever learned a foreign language because of necessity? Well, just to help you understand the nerves that are activated when I have to speak Russian--here's a story for you.

Our landlord, who has been very professional--nice, helpful had to be called about our precious washing machine. We appreciate the gift of one. Unfortunately, after the first couple of uses, it started to leak. Well, if you know my hubby, it won't be a surprise to you that he tried his hand at fixing it. Usually, John fixes it and we have no issues after. Well, this time, I think, we realized that used machines have bigger issues than duct tape and great Aggie engineers can work with. So, there was one time when I started the machine and water just came pouring out of the bottom. Yikes!! Other times, it would leak over time-while my clothes were being washed, then it got to the point where the leak was small, but it wouldn't wet the clothes, nor did the timer work to go to the next part of the program. Bigger issues. I did finally just wash my clothes by hand, and rinse and spin them with the works for me for now. On to the reason for my post.
Check out the hair do!!

So, John thankfully did the calling--it makes us both nervous to call. It's one think to talk in person to someone in Russian--you can always go back to charades, but on the phone, you have nothing to help!!! Well, John talked to him and he was to come today(at least that's what we understood--but the time??? didn't get the number!--Gotta work on our numbers!!). We had a couple of postal slips for him and a bill, but we thought he would get our rent, figure something out for the dryer and then leave.

Another detail, Tuesdays are one of the three days that John has school---so, I have to be here--alone to meet our landlord--did I mention I had to be here for the machine guys to deliver it back when--alone!!! YIKES! That means I have to communicate with my Russian! First of all, I have had little Russian class!!! But, I do love languages, so it's fun in some ways, but I am timid and get my words and Spanish and Russian all jumbled up in my head when I am trying to communicate!
Check out the parking skills!!!

Yuk! So, our landlord comes--we'll name him Mr. P. He arrives nicely dressed, asks for the postal slips in Russian...I get them(thankfully, I had just learned that word from John talking to Mr. P yesterday). Then, he tries to make I try to converse with him. HA!! He asks --how is the place? I tell him--the apartment is great...but the washing machine has a bit of a problem. He Now, I have to do my charades!!! But, we understand each other except there is no resolution and I don't have my brain together to ask what will we do? Plus, I kind of feel like---isn't this our responsibility?? He was so nice in getting us the machine...we can just work it out...So, still, I am guessing that he will do something about it, but don't know for sure.

Then, I tell him that I have the rent money, but he had never asked about it...then he asks for the contract. YIKES!! Where is it??? He wants to record the money change there. Oh yeah, I remember, our friend has it b/c she translated it into English for us!! So, I am assuming he wants to sign something to show that he got the I put the date (Russian style--day/month/year) and say--maybe and point to the paper. He gets it and signs the amount and his name...puts his shoes on and says--Bye--in English. and Bye in Russian... Because you know sometimes one language does cut it--b/c it's not your really didn't feel the closure!!

My nerves are so jumpy at this point; I thought it would be a great opportunity to post this experience so maybe my readers have a better understanding of our life with the language!! I have never appreciated the ability to speak the same language...ever until this past year here in Russia. When we were in the states, I even asked people things in random places--just because I could speak their language!!! What a trip!!

All this, and during this saga...John is calling me about the van(really, does God want us not to drive it today!!???). It's alarm is not working--as in--it won't unlock the van, so John manually unlocks it, then tries to start it and the alarm goes blarring!!! So, John tries everything and leaves it where he parked it and starts to head home, then off to school. After school, he tries it again and no such luck. Still going off...tried everything...called our friends in Finland that own the van and nothing works--even replaced the battery on the hand alarm. So, still it waits for us or maybe just God--to unlock the van in order to drive it. When this stuff happens, you must ask yourself, does God see something that would happen if we had use of the van today? Well, in all things, we trust and pray!

Poor John!!! Stuck without the van, he is now on his way to the girls' school to pick them up by tram. I am sooo grateful for the transportation here that is set up for those without a car! I think John may have walked or burned off any extra summer weight just today!! What a day---just so that you can feel the pain! No really, it's not painful, just a bit tiring for John for sure to have all this to deal with and appointments to meet. Well, one appt. went out the window today--we were helping our old student such luck without the van. Providence? Who knows?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Camp Elema

This is the stage they dug up and all the trash underneath! Sergei is John's working partner.
This cleaning and demolishing part took a whole day --travel included! The guys made it home about 9 or 10 at night. John has left at 9am!!

Look at this Slugg!!! EWHHH!!!

This is a camp that Stoneworks(the organization we are under) is working on rennovating. They are using this camp for children in the summer time. The plan is to build a foundation in two places for a meeting area or two. We will keep you posted.
This campground is owned by a man who is allowing Stoneworks to use it for possibly the next five to ten years for free! So, we are improving as we use it! It used to be a camp in Russia about 20 years ago. Elema means life in Finnish. It's located in an area that used to belong to Finland, but now is a part of Russia.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Random but Recent Photos!

Our friend George--over for tea & Melissa self-photo!

Boys watching the Aggies!! Katie hanging around!!

The girls on the first day of school! They are loving it!! Even with homework!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

And yet another praise report!

I didn't mention in my last post that we did NOT have a washing machine, but we didn't! I have been washing six people's clothes by hand for two hands are shriveled after that, we have to have, well--really want to have a washing machine!. Last year we were spoiled and had a dryer too!
Although, I must admit, I love to hang dry clothes! I love the Amish, but just would rather have a washing machine for towels, jeans, and the tougher stuff!

---John had prayed last week for a washing machine and felt that the Lord wanted him to ask for one that was free---so he prayed for a free one! (A bit of history: if my mom can be impressed to ask for her next baby to be a girl, and Here I am!---we will ask for a FREE washer!--when the Lord directs!)
John didn't tell any of us that he had heard this or prayed it either...but we had discussed that after emailing a bunch of people over a two week period, and doing some shopping that we would get one on Wednesday(that was yesterday), if nothing else surfaced. The cost of the cheapest one would be about $250 and that high of a purchase was not expected by us--not fun.

So, we had boldly asked the landlord through our friend and agent if he would let us purchase one and take the amount off the rent and then just leave it here in June, so it would be his. We asked this of him last week, but didn't hear anything til Monday when our friend calls us and says---your landlord is going to be bringing you a washer on Wednesday---and it doesn't cost us a dime!!! God --you are truly our provider even in our "wants" and "really wants"!

I am just soooo amazed that our landlord did this for us...we have our washing machine now and I have done two loads already!!! This is not the norm here in Russia for people to be so Christ-like in their actions...when, really, this is not at all required--a washing machine!

I can't wait to see what happens next...because we have some secretive "wants" for Him to provide if He so chooses!

Praise Reports and Report in general!

So, we arrived in Russia and we had no permanent place of our own. We were so blessed to know a temporary place to stay in until we found an apartment. Just so you know, Russia is not a big planning country---if you want to move---go look the day or week you want to move, not before!! We got here on a Thursday and went to look at our first apartment on Saturday. It was ok, it was a four room flat(every room but kitchen and bathroom is considered a room---so basically it's a 3 bedroom). The landlord lady was really nice and didn't mind having kids, but the rooms were a bit tiny and the kitchen and bathroom left some to be desired. So, I prayed--God, it's ok, but help us find one we love!!

Let me just say as "missionaries," I think we just live and get by and don't really expect to LOVE things---b/c well, they are not like what we are used to. Maybe not all people are like that when out of their own comfort zone, but I think I have been. So, I have talked with the Lord about this year being able to enjoy life and live to His purpose while doing loving it! If you wonder at this point if missionaries love every bit of what they do, maybe you should try it, then you will just "understand."

So, on the second and third apartment...wish I would have brought my camera along to show the differences, but sorry, I didn't! Monday came and our friend Nadia went with us with her roomie(our real estate agent) to translate for us and just be nice! We saw the first apartment and it was great---it was HUGE---it was only a three room, but it was so beautiful, I was ready to be ok with us living in the living room once again! It had great mirrors to get ready with and the bathroom and kitchen were super, when we went to the third apartment, John describes his feeling as...this one better be over the top to beat this last one....and guess what???? IT WAS!!

It was a four room flat and it was Gorgeous!!! Of course, let's talk money!! My first thought was...there is no way we can make this work--I didn't know prices til we walked, I am thinking we are just going to have to take the second choice.
BUT!!! He wanted a certain amount, we have one amount budgeted, so we offered what we had and he TOOK it!!! So, we signed papers and MOVED in on Tuesday night!!!! That fast!!!
These are the pros of our apartment...just some of them!

I have a drainer for my dishes above my sink--like a drying rack. (I prayed for one of these last year when praying for our apartment this year...I've included a picture.)

I have a dishwasher!!! WOW!---only the nice places have these!!
We have two enclosed balconies--that are NICE!
We have beds for all the rooms
We have a pleather couch and chair--and the couch makes into a bed--and looks cool too!
We have an entertainment center in living room.
An American style bathroom (toilet and tub in the same room) and it's large!
We have a desk and so do the girls!
The boys have a gym set in their room!!(you will have to see it to believe it!)
We even have a refrigerator that beeps when you have opened it too long!!

Can you tell---I love this place!!! God really went above and beyond!!!