Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sunday's Surprise

Otkroshka...a cold Ukrainian soup (click here for a recipe).

The closer I got to the birth of Sammy, the more I was missing my mom and wishing that she could come over. I was starting to feel a little sorry for myself and "all alone". Over the past two weeks, though, I have been overwhelmed with all that the ladies at our church have done to help me. They have cooked for me, cleaned and helped take care of the kids, many of them would not accept payment even though they make under $100 a month. I may still miss having my mom here but I am SO thankful that God has given us such a caring group of ladies. On Sunday, they surprised me even more. It was Sammy's first Sunday so I came prepared to take pictures.

The surprise? A baby shower! I almost cried!
Anna "trying on" Sammy's clothes

Vladamir Vonavich holding Samy (Read about his salvation and baptism.)

The kids after church.

God has definitely blessed us!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Visit from the President - Sammy's Papers

I was standing in the living room surrounded by boxes, holding my little man, wearing a comfy skirt, t-shirt and no makeup when I saw him pull up in his pumpkin orange car. Eric was in the kitchen helping Costa install my new "kitchen" (CAN'T wait to show you pictures...so far been too busy playing with my sink to take pictures). Accompanying him was the village doctor. As they came marching up toward the house I let out a frenzied cry of "Eric, their coming about the baby." As he headed out the door to meet them, I headed for the bathroom to make myself look more presentable. "Why haven't you registered your baby yet?" he said gruffly with the attitude of 'don't know how you do things in America, but this is a civilized country and we don't have babies at home'. Eric calmly told him that we had contacted the doctor and were just waiting to see what they wanted us to do. "Take your wife and the baby to the hospital right now", he said then left shortly. When Eric came in, Costa asked if we were okay, thinking we must be in trouble since 'the president' stopped by. That was yesterday. (That evening we received other calls asking if we were in trouble since 'the president' came to our house. In actuality, he is just the head of the city council of our village...everyone just calls him that.) That's what started the last two posts. Today, Eric again went to the hospital in Choogooiv (looks SO funny to see it written with English letters) to meet with the head doctor there. (While he was gone, I was again visited by the village doctor. She was quite irritated that we had not obeyed. Eric was able to get things smoothed over with her later though.) The head doctor agreed to let me and the baby leave that day as long as I had an x-ray to check for TB and an ultra-sound. SO, Eric came back and got the girls, Sammy and I. Our first stop was at the hospital where I needed to get the x-ray. We walked in, gave them my papers. The lady there directed me where to go and what to do. Much to my surprise, there was an older couple standing in the little room when I came in. So, I figured maybe I was supposed to go back out and wait for them to leave so came back out. Again the lady told me what to do. I looked at Lina and said, "Am I supposed to change THERE?" "Um, you're supposed to go straight and then to the right", she replied. By that time the older couple had left. I still went straight, then to the right. The nurse there told me to go back to the first room I had entered. When I got back to that room, there was already another lady standing there with her shirt off, just covering herself with her arm. She looked at me like 'stupid Americans', then told me I was supposed to take my shirt off. My facial expression made her smile even bigger as I asked in disbelief "HERE?" Just then, the nurse came in and asked why I hadn't come in yet. The other lady replied smugly/laughingly that I still had my shirt on. I don't think I will ever get used to the lack of modesty here.
After my x-ray, we went to the maternity hospital. The doctor had me not only do the ultrasound, but a blood test for some sexual disease and Sammy had two tests too...poor guy. He did not like being pricked and having blood drawn. Over all, they were pretty friendly. Only one doctor was kinda short with us. She kept saying things like "Don't do that again." and "Look at how nice this room is. Just have your baby here next time." Honestly, they have the nicest hospital that I have ever seen in Ukraine...except for the American clinic in Kiev. They said that they will have the paperwork ready for us on Tuesday. The head doctor had told us that it would have the correct date on it but that one doctor told us that it would say that Sammy was born today. We have decided not to fight it either way. We're just hoping we can get everything settled on Tuesday. After that we have to take those papers to, what they call, the baby palace where we need to get another paper from them. Lastly, we will need to take a trip to Kiev to the American Embassy to apply for his birth certificate, passport, SS, etc. Once we get the paperwork from the baby palace, everything else is easy.
Well, I'm heading to bed...maybe. Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sammy's Papers

Eric just got back from the hospital in Chagooiv. No. The kids and I didn't end up going with him. Just before we headed out the door, Eric decided to call the doctor again and ask what they were wanting to do. He found out that they were planning on me and the baby staying there for two days and having some test done. He told them we weren't willing to do that and there was no reason to do tests when we were perfectly healthy. My doctor there actually said that we had the right to have a baby at home and to refuse tests, "Just don't tell anyone that I said that." So, Eric decided to go by himself first to see the second-in-command doctor (the head doctor is on vacation). When he got to the hospital, the doctor had already left telling the nurse to just have us stay 24 hours and give us our own room and bathroom. Eric is planning on going to meet with him tomorrow to try to work something out. I told Eric that maybe we should just stay 24 hours...WITH the girls. hehe. Think they'll go for that?

Baby's Paperwork

We have been asked to come into the hospital today to try to work on paperwork. A little nervous, but God had His hand so mightily upon the birth that I know He will work all things out for His honor and glory. Pray that God will give us wisdom as we talk with them.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Prayer Request - Baby Sammy's Papers

Eric spoke with the doctor today and at first she said that Sammy and I would have to come to the hospital and stay for two days. She wanted us to call an ambulance to take us to the hospital, then have all the paperwork written out like Samuel had been born today instead of last week. Eric told her that, first of all, there was no reason for us to go to the hospital and second, we weren't going to lie. So, she called her head doctor to see what to do and now he is calling his head doctor. They are supposed to call us back tomorrow. Sometimes it's so frustrating having to abide by the rules and regulations of the country. Legally, we have the right to have a home birth, just not many people know that. When we were trying to get Anna's paperwork we had a little bit of trouble too and called the American embassy. They told us that there was nothing they could do for us. Please be praying as we'd rather not have a long, drawn out battle. We have proof that I was pregnant, witnesses to the birth and saved the placenta and his umbilical cord when it fell off. We would also like to keep our ties with the hospital good for future pregnancies, as it was hard to find a hospital that would accept me. One thing I am thankful for is that they can't see me before Tuesday and at the moment, I have a very bad cold that I caught from the girls and they would probably try to separate me and the baby.

Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One Week with Sammy

Can it really be that my little guy is already almost one week old? Time passes so fast! When I look at the girls it's hard to imagine that they were once this little.

Both of the girls LOVE their little brother and rush to him every time he cries telling me that he needs a new diaper or milk or just needs to be picked up. They would spoil him if they could. He is happiest when he can see and hear them.

Tomorrow Eric will be visiting my doctor to tell her about the birth and try to get his papers so we can work on getting his birth certificate. Please be praying about this meeting. I'm always nervous until we have their papers in our hands. Before we get them, the doctor will of course want to check me and the baby. Pray that we can not only get the papers, but that we can get them without any problems.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

He's HERE!

Samuel James Curtis joined our family today at 12:45 PM (5:45 EST). We're guessing he weighs around 3 kg, which would be a little more than 6 lbs. The children's doctor is coming tomorrow and we'll know for sure. It's amazing once again how God worked everything out. First, it rained on Tuesday giving us some relief from the near 100 degree weather we've been getting. Second, we lost electricity and water on Tuesday because of the storm. It was turned back on again before I started contractions on Wednesday evening. The doctor who was my doctor for Anna and Lydia had previously agreed to come out to our house again as long as we didn't mention that she had been there to help. Unlike with Lydia she got here in plenty of time because Eric called her early since we live so far away this time. BUT at the particular moment that baby Sammy (as Anna has been calling him for the past few months) decided to come, she and our translator Lina were out taking a walk and Eric was once again a hero delivering his second baby without a doctor. This will give our doctor even more protection. Not only did we have cooler weather, electricity, water, my doctor, a peaceful home birth, but also he came early! I had been praying that God would allow him to come while the pregnancy hospital was closed. God heard and answered all of my prayers. Please be praying as we work to get his birth certificate, passport, etc. Pray that they won't give us any trouble.

Well, I'm tired so going to bed. I'll try to share some pictures of the girls with baby Sammy later. Especially Anna is in love with him and would sit and touch him ALL day if she could. They had been down for naps when he was born and as soon as he let out those first cries, Anna woke up quickly and said with huge eyes "Ah! What's that?" Valentina had all she could do to keep Anna from charging through the sheet that blocked off our "room".

Friday, June 11, 2010

They Don't Like Me

Friday is our evangelism day and this Friday I almost didn't go because I was tired, HOT, nauseous, dealing with swollen feet and have less than three weeks to go until the baby is due. I decided to go anyways because I know that after the baby is born it might be a little while before I am able to go again. I am SO glad I did. Anna, Lydia and I found a shady spot then I started handing out tracts. Before long, Anna was doing it too. After a few people took them from her she started to get more bold and walk right out in front of people. She was usually holding a tract out for someone before we could even see anyone coming. The first few times someone took one from her she would light up and say "They like me." If someone wouldn't take it from her (which happened quite a bit), she looked distressed. It was cute, funny and sad. Even though we adults don't outwardly react the same way she did, many times we too take it personally when people don't want to hear about salvation and many adults stop going soul-winning after having one door shut on them. When Eric finished passing out his tracts and came over, I grabbed his phone and took a few pictures. In the last one, he's trying to explain why some people didn't want a tract...though I can't possibly see how anyone could say no to such a cutie.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

8 Years is Just the Beginning

Eight years ago on June 8th, Eric and I said "I do" and shared our first kiss. On one hand I feel like, 8 years? Can it really be possible we've been married that long? Seems like just yesterday! On the other, we complete each other so perfectly that it doesn't seem like there was a time when he wasn't in my life. For the past three weeks now my love has been surprising me with little things to say I love you and Happy Anniversary. First, he handed me a receipt for a subscription to my favorite Russian home decor magazine, Мой Уютный Дом. Then last week, on the 4th, he brought me the most beautiful cream colored roses and tickets to the symphony. On Tuesday, we went out for a couple hours to McDonalds and had a chance to just sit and talk while Valentina watched the girls. Not only did we talk about our past 8 years of marriage, but we also had fun talking about our past three years here in Ukraine. We have had the privilege of meeting so many people and hear their stories of oppression during communism. (Our personal favorite is one a middle-aged man named Vladamir told us. He said that he use to attend the outdoor church meetings in the woods. He told us how the secret service would come and break up the services. Then he added with a proud smile, "but they couldn't catch me.") While we were out, Eric bought me a set of cups so no more drinking out of old glass jars! Later when we returned home we had bubbles swirling all around us, just like some couple have on their wedding day. Not just any bubbles either. HUGE bubbles made from two large rug beaters. (My camera is "out-of-commission" until I remember to charge some batteries for it, so I used Eric's phone. Wasn't able to catch any of the big bubbles because his camera has a delay on it, but thought you might enjoy seeing some of our anniversary bubbles anyways and our cute congratulators...is that a word? Oh, well. I'm pregnant. Not only pregnant, but VERY pregnant, and I think that there is some type of rule allowing grammar/spelling mistakes for pregnant women, right?)

And I still have Saturday night tickets to a Mozart concert! Who says you can only celebrate marriage on one day?

8 years and still honeymooning.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Apology to American Cooks

I have had to do a lot of pride swallowing lately as I disgrace the name of all American cooks. I probably should ask for your forgiveness if you are a good cook, just in case you ever come over. Every Sunday we have a dinner in-between services, which I cook the main dish for. In the past few weeks I have served meat loaf with potatoes that were supposed to be in the middle but had bubbled all over the place (was tired so I was pretty excited when Eric found box potatoes, just not so excited at how they worked in meat loaf), soggy tuna noodle salad (I can't do more than one thing at a time lately), over-boiled potato salad (just sat down for a "minute" and was awakened an hour later to Eric saying, "Jess, there's no water in this pan. Do you need to do something with these potatoes?"), and just yesterday, my biggest disaster ever, tuna noodle casserole (I didn't have a pan big enough to do it in the oven so decided to try the crockpot. Let's just say you couldn't even tell there were noodles in it and we served it on bread.) There was a day when I had all kinds of cake decorating supplies and instructions. My mom use to say that I was overly attached to my pampered chef cake decorator as I was even known to fill it with mashed potatoes and decorate my shepherd's pies! Instead of serving the dainty carrot cakes with the miniture carrots on them, I'm wanting to serve the cake before anyone sees it as usually the sides are caving in, besides the fact that I'm still experimenting with the vanilla powder we buy here and water so that it doesn't taste too bitter in my frostings. So, again. If you are a good American cook and ever hear a Ukrainian talk about how bad American food is, please forgive me. He probably was a victim of my cooking.

P.S. My husband says that I am over dramatic and that no one would know that anything was wrong if I didn't say anything...and people still went for seconds. I did find a great way to use the tuna noodle casserole - cook it in crescent rolls with cheese sprinkled on top. Yum.

P.P.S. Jolene shared an excellent article from Christian Womanhood Magazine about missionary wives on her blog, With Love from Ukraine. Not only do I think it would be a blessing for missionary wives to read, but would also give those interested insight into the lives of missionary wives. There was so much there that I could relate to - the lugging of water, washing clothes by hand, pressures to do more...I'll stop and let you read it for yourself.


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