Monday, January 31, 2011

My Sister's First Few Days in Ukraine

How is life on the mission field different than life in America?  Well, that question is sometimes hard for me to answer and I have to think hard about it because this has just become life to me.  So I asked my sister, as a new comer, to share what it's like for her...and she has been thrown right into mission life.  No easing in here.  The water froze while we were in Kiev, so we were without water for a couple days.  We've probably been without water and/or a washer for about half of the time we've lived here.  At least this time Eric's car worked so he didn't have to walk through the snow a mile carrying 60 liters of water on a sled.  Here are Brianna's thoughts of her first few days here.  She has done really well with everything...even the toilets (which I avoided using for as long as I possibly could).  

Bree holding Yan, Olea's 1 month old baby. 
We visited Olea, then went to Christina's house
and were fed lots of food both times.

My experience in Ukraine has been really eye opening. I’ve been here for almost a week now and I’m no where near used to the scenery, people, or the food. The whole atmosphere here is different. First of all, the scenery. I live in a village with Eric and Jessica and it’s kind of hard to describe, but I’ll try. One of the things that first surprised me was all of the stray dogs running around the streets. None of the dogs are on leashes or have collars and are all very skinny. The majority of houses are brick and have fences around them, either brick or wooden. The houses are also pretty close together. The roads are narrow and not clearly marked which gives partly to the crazy driving. My first taxi ride I thought we were about to run over 2 or 3 people just pulling out of the parking lot! Things are pretty dirty and unkempt with bottles and papers lining the sides of the streets. There’s a train station right outside of the village that the majority of people that live here walk to. There are also a lot of green house structures in the village; they don’t have the plastic on them because its winter, so they’re just the wooden bases.

The people, for the most part, have harsh appearances. I noticed they don’t smile very much, and I felt pretty silly smiling all of the time. The church family here is very sweet though, they have made me feel really welcomed. Last Sunday one of the ladies, Christina, pointed to chai (tea) and so I stayed in the room with her waiting for it to be ready. It was just me, her and her husband, Yuri. Neither of them can speak any English, but they still talked and talked and talked as if I knew what they were saying until I finally shrugged and made a desperate face like- I DON’T UNDERSTAND! They just laughed and continued to try to make me understand things by pointing to things like the chair and table and saying it in Russian. Next Sunday I’m going to bring my Russian dictionary.

Now the food! I’ve been fed kidney and caviar. I took one bite of the kidney and discreetly slid it under Jessy’s plate. I did the same thing with the caviar. The ladies here get very offended if you don’t eat their cooking! They do make very good compote, pies, and other dishes I don’t know the names of. It’s custom to bring something when you visit someone, typically cookies and chai.

I’ve been having a great time with my sister and the girls. The girls come up and sleep with me when they wake up in the morning, well more like giggle and pet my arm while I sleep. Sammy is beyond adorable and Eric does pretty good putting up with me and Jessy. The water here just came back on too! The pipes froze the night before I came so we’ve been heating water on the stove and using that for baths and washing dishes. It really made me thankful for running water! I’m praying God will give me spiritual growth while I’m here and help me to be a blessing to my sister and her family.

Wish I had more pictures for you, but as usual, my batteries are dead.  These pictures were taken with Eric's phone.  Working on that though.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More than Maple Syrup Waffles

Almost time for lift off!  My sister is going to bed now and I am just starting my day, but we will be heading out around the same time.  She will begin her flight by flying from California to New York, then straight to Kiev - where she'll meet up with us.  We will start by taking a taxi to the train station (about 1 hour), then take the train for about 8 or so hours, then another hour taxi ride to the airport.  We will get there about the same time she does at 11:30 AM our time.  Then we get to do it all over again...though we will have to hang out at the Kiev train station until our train leaves at midnight.  Usually, I totally and completely dread this trip...but this time I have more to look forward to then just some maple syrup waffles and maybe a trip to TGIF restaurant. :)

The girls are anxious and excited too and have been helping me get ready...

It's been hard keeping the house in order lately.  It seems like as soon as I get it in order we either do some other remodeling project (like install a heating system or put a door on the bathroom...which the girls think is the greatest thing.  The heating system is nice and we are always sitting up against the heaters or putting our cold feet on them.) then the whole place is in disorder again.  Right now I have a stack of books that we brought from the garage I need to organize.  But it's not all disorder.  Eric just bought me a beautiful new 'closet' to put my clothes in!  They don't have closets in home here so ever since we have been here we have been living out of baskets, which does not help order any.  It wasn't in our plans, but we walked into the store and there it was...almost half the price of everything else we had seen and way more beautiful!  It even has a few drawers on the bottom!  I LOVE IT and am SO excited about the order it has brought to at least two rooms in the house. ;)  The first picture is a little crooked, but thought you'd like to see the whole entry nice now that Eric's office is upstairs!  The curtains were a bargain too...about 5 dollars at our second hand store.  I almost left them because they aren't really my colors, but couldn't because of the price...and SO much better than just sheets on the window!  I think they go beautifully in that room. 

Well, time for me to go and, as Anna would say, "Let's organize!"  (Her most used word at the moment...guess you can see what I like to do. haha...You wouldn't be able to tell she's done any organizing lately, though the way her room looks!)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Stilling the Enemy

(This is from Sunday, but I'm just getting around to posting it.)

"Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger."  Psalm 8:2

There was Anna, sitting next to Pasha taking him picture by picture through her Bible...doing what the rest of us have been doing for years, except this time Pasha was quiet.  He was still, just listening to her.  I didn't hear everything she was telling him but I did catch her ask him, "Do you believe in God?"  He quickly replied no.  Anna looked a little surprised and shocked, but just continued taking him through the Bible.  Just then, the services started and Pasha quickly took off.  Anna, giving him the saddest eyes ever said, "Pasha!  I need to read you the Bible!"  And though Pasha didn't come back and was quick to reply no to Anna's question, for a few minutes God used Anna to "still the enemy" and out of the corner of my eye I saw Pasha pick up a tract and skim through it.

You may be thinking, "That's cruel to call Pasha an enemy."  But the Bible says,

"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."  Romans 8:7,8

and also,

"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?  whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."  James 4:4

Please continue to pray for Pasha.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Christmas Every Day

The girls have been getting a little spoiled around here the past week.  So far we have had three Christmas boxes come in!  New Year's Eve we received a huge box from Eric's parents filled with all kinds of wrapped toys and gifts for us.  Here is a quick video for them of when we first opened the box.  It cuts off at the end because my camera battery died.  I took more with Eric's phone, but he hasn't had time to transfer it to the computer yet.  What I really wish is that I had the camera on when Eric first walked through the doors.  Anna was jumping and dancing and squealing with delight. 

The kids got tons of stuffed animals, a tea set, DVDs, a little cooking I said, they are spoiled.  We weren't left out either, though.  Eric got a flashlight that doesn't need batteries, a laser leveler...also a ton of stuff.  For me they sent some necklaces, books, a kitchen decoration, some super soft socks...did I mention books? :)  We love you guys SO much!  Thank you!  (Tell Travis Eric says he has good taste in candy.)

Then on Thursday, we received 2 of the 3 boxes our church sent filled with CheezIts, Baked Lays (my favorite), Reeses Pieces and cups, Walmart Smiles....I think I've already gained 10 lbs.  The parasites are really going to love us now!  But they also sent us black walnut to help get rid of the parasites, so maybe it will even out all of the junk.  I was most excited about the cookie cooling racks.  I've been wanting those ever since we got here, then forgot to buy them when I was in the states because of everything that was going on.  Anna was excited about the books (it runs in the family) and barely noticed the food, until Eric pulled out the Oatmeal cream pies, even then she couldn't put down the books.  Lydia just sat by Eric hoping he would share some of the spoil with her.  Thank you Grace Baptist Temple!

Tea party with papa ~ New tea cups & mint oreos

Anna gave Papa the blue cup because "blue is for boys".

I absolutely love this picture! 
Eric wasn't too excited about drinking out of these little cups.
Anna sure was!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Purposing to Cleave

“…exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.” Acts.11:23b

In the past few weeks I have wept more, jumped for joy more, been excited about the salvation of the Gentiles, even more importantly, MY SALVATION, prayed more, changed more….this morning as I was enjoying this sweet time of fellowship, it made me ask myself. What has changed to make this time so precious and exciting to me? Why was it that for most of last year, my devotional time just felt like a ritual, with an occasional ‘nugget’…instead of a relationship? Was it God? Was He purposefully putting me through a dry period? The truth fully sunk in this morning and was hard for me to handle. The reason was…I did not find sweet fellowship with Christ last year because I did not PLAN to meet with God. I just ‘let it happen’. I made too many excuses why I could not…pregnant, sick most of the time…new born, so very tired. God understood that I needed sleep. It’s funny, not much has changed with how tired I am and Sammy wakes up even more at night now then when he was first born! What changed was I PURPOSED in my heart to have a relationship with Christ. What changed was PRAYER. Everything changed when I started applying what I was reading. 
"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." James 1:22-25
I started studying prayer along with my reading through Acts…and PRAYING. I started getting excited about my salvation and the access it gives me to God. I started praying using God’s own Word…for the lost, 2 Peter 3:9, Matt. 19:26…for me, Titus 2:4,5.

Eric read this quote last night about Hudson Taylor. “It was not easy for Mr. Taylor, in his changeful life, to make time for prayer and Bible study, but he knew that it was vital….Mr. Taylor, however weary…from 2 to 4 A.M. was the time he usually gave to prayer; the time when he could be most sure of being undisturbed to wait upon God.” “The hardest part of a missionary career, Mr. Taylor found, is to maintain regular, prayerful Bible study.” So, this is what I found “Take time. Give God time to reveal Himself to you. Give yourself time to be silent and quiet before Him.”

Pray for me to purpose to cleave.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Eve Service

The ladies preparing the food and the table inside

While the men cook the shashlik. Mmmmm.

Playing and watching a Christian movie that Great-Grampy and Grammy sent.

As you can see, Anna was completely distracted. 
She doesn't watch movies that often.

Couldn't get a good picture with Sammy...and that's not a kiss. 
He was eating my cheek!  Guess he was wanting his cereal.

Max did a very good job preaching.  His dad was there and heard him.
At first his dad gave him a hard time for using notes...he needed to do it from memory.
But when no one was looking, I saw him place his hand on Max's head and tell him good job.
Who knows, maybe Max will be the one God uses to lead Dema to salvation?

Eric closing the service with a message and prayer.

It was a fun night.  We arrived at around 2 and left around 9.


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