Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Visit to A Ukrainian Hospital

I thought I'd give you a sneak peak of the hospital that I visited today.  I borrowed my husband's camera/phone so not to be obvious, but it was still too noisy.  Because of that I only took two pictures...not very good pictures at that, but a picture.  I didn't actually get a picture at the delivery hospital because there were too many people.  The hospital that I go to is the nicest one I have seen in Ukraine since coming in the Kharkov region.  I don't know if it's just because I am use to it (or a LOT worse), but I thought "Wow!  This isn't too bad.  Everyone will wonder why I'm anxious at all with this hospital."  The first picture was taken on the bus ride over.

The hospital/clinic where I had my blood tests done.  First one is a little crooked - but clear.  The second is blurry but straight, so thought I'd show you both.
I went planning on looking my best so that I wouldn't get any comments like "You need to stop having kids.  Look at what it's doing to you!", but it was so hot that water was pouring off of me and my face was as red as a tomato.  Oh well.  I'm still trying to figure out how the Ukrainian women can continue to look so perfect in this heat, but they haven't shared that secret with me yet.
Surrendering to have my baby here this time has been a huge battle and struggle that VERY few know about...two people and my husband.  To say I didn't want to have my baby here would not even come close to exposing the battle that has gone on in my heart.  I know, you are all thinking "Why?  You've already had 3 there!".  But it's different this time, maybe because of how rough the last pregnancy was.  I think the hardest part is not the lower standards of medical care here, but rather the lack of choice and freedom.  In this socialized medicine country, I do not have the freedom to choose my doctor or even where I want to give birth.  Well, I guess I have a little choice in doctors, but they have to be in the hospital in our region...and since all of the rest are male doctors, well, that kinda limits my choice.  Ever since my last pregnancy I prayed "Lord, please don't let me get pregnant again until I can go back to the states and have my baby.  I don't care if I have all of the rest here, but just this next one I'd like to be able to relax, enjoy my pregnancy and do what I want."  When I found out I was pregnant I had a small hope that we might be able to go back to the states...I even contacted a midwife.  I begged, cried and pleaded with the Lord.  There was nothing in me willing to stay here.  To say that I fought is not the whole truth.  I stomped my feet while everything in me screamed, "NO!"  I was so exhausted from my fighting that I could barely do anything.  I wept like I have not wept in a long time.  I felt so alone and did not feel like I could talk to my husband lest I let my emotions persuade him into doing something against the will of God.  I did not understand why God was expecting this of me.  I mean, OTHER missionary wives had the choice of where they wanted to have their babies and I had already surrendered so many times.  Why couldn't He let me have a break once?  You can read how God worked on my heart in the post I Feel Like Talking, but the battle was still pretty secret.  Thankfully, I have not struggled since then.  To say that it is easy would not be true, but I am not fighting which makes it a lot easier.  Reminds me of labor - painful, yes, but so much easier to go through if you relax through the contractions.  I have hesitated to post this because I know I will get some criticism, but I do not claim to be a super missionary.  I am no one special.  I am just surrendered.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Out of the House!!!

I finally feel like I can say the kids are starting to recover and are in the 3rd stage.  They, especially the girls, are still coughing but less during the day and are able to calm themselves down now.  We still jump out of bed at night when we hear them (Well, Eric does.  I'm getting a little slower these days.), but they have usually settled down before we come in.  They also calm down after midnight.  They are doing so much better that we thought we could go to church tonight.  They were VERY excited to be away from the house and talked a million miles and hour.  Before church they enjoyed some rolls with Max.

Tomorrow I'll be getting out of the house again but it won't be to do something fun.  I'll be spending my day at the doctor's office.  This will be my first visit this pregnancy, so I am WAY overdue. Would appreciate your prayers as visits to the doctor are not something I look forward to.  I believe you are supposed to be registered by your 8th or 12th week, but with the kids having whooping cough we have a pretty good excuse.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

How are we doing? answer to that question would probably depend on when you asked me.  I'd like to say that we are coming out of this, and almost post that in between coughing fits, but I really don't know.  Sammy has some coughing fits, but is doing much better.  The girls are still in the rough stage, though we'd like to think they are almost through.  So far Eric and I have had nothing more than a little cough, sore throat, etc.  We greatly appreciate each of your prayers, emails and suggestions.  They have been such a blessing.   
Since my last post the Lord has given me a change of heart and shown me that I am not practicing what I am teaching.  The last few lessons I had with Kristina, I talked with her about having joy and thankfulness amidst the problems in our lives.  Her tasks were (besides memorizing some verses) to 1) daily write down 10 things she was thankful for and one had to be about her husband 2) to sing as she does her daily tasks.  I didn't realize how lacking I was until the other day while working on dishes exhausted from babies crying, coughing, throwing up and little sleep, I started to sing some hymns.  Anna quickly came in and gave me a big hug, then ran back out.  After a minute or so, she ran back in, hugged me and asked "Why are you happy, mama?"  "Because Jesus washed my sins away." I replied.  She said, "Me too. {pause}  I like it when you're happy."  Wow!  Have I really been that stressed?  So, not only am I taking time to sing but also to drop my work and cuddle and play.  Each of them love this mommy time so much and I, sadly, sometimes go at such a fast pace that I forget to take as much time as I need to enjoy each precious moment that I have with them.  I am always rewarded with smiles and lots of hugs.  I am such a Martha!  I pray that I can learn to sit and enjoy and savor each moment with my Lord and my family. 
Lydia loves to help collect produce from the garden.

All of the kids LOVE it when papa pulls out his guitar.

Yes.  Those are Sammy's feet.  
Yes.  Poor guy has to sleep on flower/butterfly sheets.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wings like a Dove!

"My heart is sore pained within me...
And I said, 
Oh that I had wings like a dove!
for then would I wander far off,
and remain in the wilderness. Selah.
I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest."
Psalm 55:4-8
For days now I have thought about writing and tried to write an update, but words seemed to fail me.  Instead of resting in the Lord, I have often been physically and mentally at a place of not being able to go on any further.  Tonight during our family devotions we were reading Psalm 55.  As soon as Eric started reading "Oh that I had wings like a dove!", we both looked at each other and started laughing.  He knows that sometimes that's how I feel...I just want to escape.  Escape from all of the scary coughing that grips my babies and makes them cry "I don't want this!  I don't want this!".  Escape from the whining "my nose!" or "Lyda's touching me!".  Escape from the restless nights and nap times due to the coughing fits.  And if that was not enough, in between all of this they have a bountiful supply of energy while I am barely able to move from lack of sleep!  Yes.  I have definitely wanted to wander off to the wilderness and remain there.

Often the Lord has brought to my mind that sweet song "It is Well With My Soul".  Specifically - "Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul!".  Oh!  How I long to be able to say those words!  I have been counseling others about the peace you can have when following God -no matter what your circumstances - but I myself had not peace or rest when my circumstances changed.

Even though David wanted to escape, this is his conclusion later in the chapter:

"As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me.
Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee; he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." 
Psalm 55:16-18;22

The Lord will save me, hear me, deliver my soul in peace, and sustain me as long as I call upon Him.  So the times when I cannot say that my soul is at peace are the times when I am trying to do it on my on.  Nothing new, but Oh! sometimes so hard to practice!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Whooping Cough

We were thinking the kids had a bad cold or bronchitis, but after research believe they have whooping cough.  It starts off with cold like symptoms (runny nose, dry mild cough, little-no temperature) then progresses into fits of phlegmy coughing which end with them whooping or gasping for air.  We missed it with Sammy because instead of whooping, he would throw up, which we  later read is also possible.  On a good note, it seems like Sammy is in the 3rd stage already (the recovery stage/ still coughing fits, but less frequent and not as severe). The girls are in the 2nd stage (the whooping stage/coughing fits, playing normal inbetween fits).  We've decided to keep doing what we're doing and add some stuff to it.  Obviously it was helping more than I felt because they say the 2nd stage lasts 2-4 weeks and Sammy was barely in it 2 weeks.  We are thankful that we have finally found out what it is as it was puzzling and troubling us for weeks.  Knowing what it is also gives us more direction in the treatment. 
We do ask that you would pray for us.  We know that this can be very serious and needs to be monitored closely.  I will also be starting treatment as I am showing the signs of the first stage and with my asthma even a cold can put me in bed for days with coughing fits.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In Our New Building!!!

Today was our first Sunday in the village at our new building...and also Brianna's last Sunday with us.  So it was an exciting and at the same time, a sad day.

I had already fixed their hair a few times.  I'm always amazed at how quickly they can get it messed up.

After the service all of the ladies got together for a picture at Bree's request.
 {The dress was my birthday gift from Bree.  Perfect for an expanding waist. ;)}

We're going to miss you Bree!

 Oh, wait!  Where was Sammy during the photo shoot??? 
He was peeping out the door waving and talking to us. hehe

Church Work Day

Wednesday we had a church work day.  The kids are still coughing pretty hard so I stayed home with them until later in the day.  I made sure that I sent my camera along so we'd have some pictures.  I LOVE this first group picture.  (Kristina came after they took the picture.)

Valentina...Isn't she so cute? :)

Yuri and Slavic

Vladamir worked on cleaning up the yard.
Watch out for her when she's painting...she got Lina pretty good. ;)

All of the kids had fun helping Vladamir.
As you can see, I worked really hard.
I made it in time to set up the camera on the window sill so that everyone could be in the picture. ;)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


With only one more week with aunti {can it really be???} there has definitely been lots of that going around...besides the fact that everyone has been sick.  Sammy picked up a cough about 2 weeks ago which progressively got worse.  We think that it developed into bronchitis and were worried that it was starting to turn into pneumonia.  We were pretty concerned and considering bringing him to see a doctor...which we were also nervous about doing.  Thankfully, he seems to be getting a little better.  Now the girls have started coughing though, so aunti is getting lots of nursing practice before she heads out for her nursing degree. :)  I truly believe what my mom always said "Mom's are the best doctors."  I NEVER imagined how much nursing, herbal etc. sites/books I would study...they ought to give me a degree too!  Doctor Mom

The past week has been crazy...or maybe it's the past month...year?  Anyways, life never seems to slow down.  I was finally able this morning to sit down and get caught up on some thank you's.  Well, not totally.  I am super behind on thank you's but decided to just start on the more recent ones.  Anyone have any tips on thank you/letter writing?  I use to love it, but with pregnancies and new babies I am completely disorganized and out of practice.  Seriously, I am probably like two Christmases behind.

Bible lessons with Kristina went very well last week.  They have had some struggles, but I can see that she truly desires to do what the Bible says.  Last week we talked about having a joyful spirit, but Kristina practiced on her own keeping her tongue.  This is a huge step for her and I pray that God continues to work upon her heart.  I am really enjoying these lessons.  I have also been able to sit in on the salvation lessons Eric is doing with Slavic.  This is a huge blessing to me as it gives me a chance to be involved.  I don't do anything really, but it gives me a feel for the ministry and a chance to pray.  Sitting there this last time I was overwhelmed with the lack of conviction on his face.  The total carelessness of attitude.  Lina has mentioned as well that it just doesn't seem like people have any conviction at all anymore.  I felt like weeping...but just held back the tears and prayed.  Yuri's mom, Baba Shora, came in at some point.  She usually tries to appear not interested, but I could see that she was intently listening and it seemed like the Holy Spirit was working on her heart.  How we would love to see her saved!  What a difference it would make in this family!  She is very old, but is still a drunkard.  Please be praying for both Slavic and Baba Shora.

Well, guess I need to get some tea and breakfast started.  My babies are WIDE awake.  I am so thankful that they play pretty well in their room until mama comes to get them around 7:30.  It would be much harder to get my devotions and other things done if I let them out when they wake up, as early as 5:30-as late as 7....on great occasions, until I get them. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

1 Year Younger

You didn't know that was possible did you?  But it's true.  This year on my birthday I turned 1 year younger.  I'm sure you're all dying to know my amazing turn-back-the-clock secret.  It is...just go around saying you're 1 year older than you are.  :) 

My sweet husband started treating me a week before my birthday.  He brought me out to lunch then searched all over to find me a new dress - the first I've had in 2 years, but you wouldn't feel that bad for me if you saw how nice our second hand store.  Prices for new clothing is usually ridiculous, but God allowed us to find one that was modest, will accomodate my growing belly and at a very good price.  I was pretty excited.  Then the day before my birthday he bought me roses and raspberries {one of my favoritest things in the world}.  Since my birthday was on a Wednesday, my actual birthday was pretty busy preparing for services.  Since Wednesday services are at our home right now, I usually prepare a meal and dessert.  {It is rude in their culture to have people into your home and not serve them something.}  I also made orange chiffon cake, which I was excited about since the last 2 times I made chiffon or angel food cake they fell out of the pan when I flipped them over-making them dense.  (I found out it was because I used that pan for my coffee cake and greased the pan.  This time it turned out fine because I soaked the pan in vinegar water.)  I was overwhelmed with how much they all did for me.  They gave me chocolates, lotions, shampoo/conditioner, Lina gave me her crockpot {an answer to prayer since mine broke}, and Vladamir Vonovich went out and picked that beautiful bouquet of wild flowers.  This year was definitely one of my best birthdays.  I also received more notes from everyone than I have ever gotten.  You all made my birthday a very special day.  Thank you very much.

Okay, now to answer the big question.  How old am I?  For months I've been telling people that I was 28. :) 


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