Wednesday, August 24, 2011

22 Weeks & Date Day

Sunday as we were rushing out to church, Eric took a picture of me at about 22 weeks pregnant.  It didn't come out as well as I would have liked {I wanted my belly to be more visible}.  With most of my clothes you still can't tell I'm pregnant...Of course, I've graduated to looser fitting clothes making this possible.

Because I really wanted a good belly picture, Eric helped me get another shot on Tuesday when we went out for a date.  This one shows our little guy much better. :)   {Dad and Mom Curtis : Notice the halo of light above my head in both pictures?  I guess we know who the angel is in the family. :)}

While we were waiting for the marshootka, I took a few pictures of the main road passing by our village.  Up ahead is a little magazine (store) selling almost everything you would need.  Of course, they don't sell produce since everyone here has massive gardens.  On the left side is a truck that comes every day with fresh watermelons.  Mmmm.  Behind it is the cemetery.  I have wanted to get a picture of that for you as it is truly an example of the blindness of the people.  Tables set up (some wood, some elaborately designed cement) around most of the graves where people go to "eat" with their deceased loved ones on certain holidays and icons on every grave.  Past the cemetery is the train stop.   

This is the road that we took towards Kharkov for our date.  I love the little homestyle-motorcycles that they drive and wish I had had my camera ready to get a closer picture for you.  Some of them have a little seat for another passenger, but this one had a homemade wooden cart attached to the right side.  This is definitely a traditional-Ukrainian least in the villages.

I didn't manage to get any other pictures...was too busy relaxing and enjoying the day with my husband.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cake Again!

Anna really was spoiled this year.  After going to the play place at the mall, we went to McDonalds (by request) then we went bowling.  This was Anna's first time bowling and she had a blast!  Unfortunately, my camera batteries died so the only pictures I have are on Eric's phone.  Lydia got a little bored while waiting for her turn, but I think we will be doing it again.  Other than the car breaking down, we had a very fun day and enjoyed our melted cake.  Eric said we should have taken pictures of us waiting, but with water dripping off of our heads and fly away hairs, I wasn't so up for a picture.

Saturday morning we still continued the birthday celebration because it was her actual birthday.  She woke up to the normal balloons and pancakes...which they have come to expect.  (Anna had informed me the day before that it wasn't her birthday because I didn't put up balloons, make pancakes or MAKE a cake.  No fooling her!)  As you can see, she was quite tickled with the pancakes...

We also finished off the cake we had bought the day before {It was DELICIOUS} and she "opened" her birthday gift...a scooter!  She picked it out one day when her and Eric went to the store so she was pretty excited...she also picked out the ugliest stuffed cat.  I still can't believe that she picked that out AND that he actually bought it. haha

Later that day I made a cake for her to celebrate with everyone at church.  This is sort of a cultural thing {at least in our area}.  It's expected for you to bring a cake when you have a birthday plus/or the food.  I usually make the cake for all the church birthdays and get a break cooking when it's their birthday.  Because we walked and it was pretty warm it had melted and slid all over the place before we reached church, but it was still tasty.

Anna wasn't disappointed with so many birthday cakes.  Our celebration didn't end there, though.  I have been wanting to have the neighbor over for tea for a while, so I invited them over on Monday for a birthday tea party for Anna.  I made cupcakes and apple muffins.  I wanted to make pizza pockets, but forgot to buy cheese.

About 30 minutes into our little tea party, the rain that had been threatening all day finally came...and it wasn't just a sprinkle.  Which was okay, since they were starting to get a little bored...Mama forgot to plan games.  I'm not so great at this entertaining thing.  Sometimes I wish God had blessed me with this gift of hospitality as I feel like I am so awkward sometimes.  Times like these help me appreciate those moments when God opens up the doors of communication for me, giving me words to speak and with ease.  Anything good that comes from me definitely is of Him as on my own I am so unable.  Eric always says if God calls you to do something, He will give you the ability to do it.  But then maybe my problem is not with the abilities He has already given me/or that I am lacking, but rather with my picture of the ideal missionary. 

Well, I got a little sidetracked...overall we had a very good birthday weekend and I praise the Lord that He has given me 4 sweet years with our little Anna.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Anna's Birthday - First Stop

One week ago today, my little Annabell turned 4 years old!  We are normally just quiet, stay-at-home birthday celebrators, but this year we decided we would go out to celebrate the day before.  So, Friday morning we all quickly got ready but before we left we found out that...

Finally, we were 


 Our first stop was at the new mall play place.  It was the first time we had seen it.
and had everything.
(They won't forget us there.  Lydia ended up making it a water slide.)

Sammy's favorite part was...


The kids weren't the only ones having fun...

One of my favorites...just wish it wasn't so blurry.
Her birthday wasn't over by far, but I'll save the rest for another post. :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Answered Prayer

What an amazing day - week - it has been!  We have truly seen Him work out everything for good...for HIS honor and glory, even if at first it just seems like another problem.

I'm so tempted to start with the frosting on the cake, but will try to start from the beginning instead.  In the last few weeks Eric and I have seriously been praying together that God would give us opportunities to witness and it seems like He has opened so many doors!  While Eric was driving into the city one day he picked up a man who needed a ride.  He ended up being drunk and kept asking Eric for money.  Eric told him no because he would just spend it on alcohol.  The man just gave him a knowing smirk.  Eric continued to tell him that what he needed more than alcohol was Jesus Christ and to read the Bible.  He kept saying what he needed was money.  He did take the tract and we pray that he will read it.

Then the other day as we were cleaning the church one of the church neighbors came by and Eric was able to witness to her for a long time.  She kept saying that no matter how hard she tries, she sins and because of this she has problems in her life.  She was not talking about big sins, but little things like talking too much.  She is already at a point where she realizes she is a sinner who cannot redeem herself.  The sad part is, she is so superstitious that she is not yet willing to come to church.  She believes that bad things happened to her because she threw out some orthodox icons and missed going to the orthodox church on a holiday.  She is afraid that if she comes to our church something else will happen.  Eric was able to give her a tract and a Bible and by the end she said that maybe she just needed to read the Bible more.  We pray that she will.  She has also invited the kids and I over for tea sometime, so I am looking forward to that and hoping that I am able to talk to her about doing Bible lessons in her home.
On Friday we went out to celebrate Anna's birthday (which I'll share more about in another post).  After a fun day, we headed back home with cake and ice cream.  We didn't get too far though before the car died.  It was extremely hot and took about 4 hours for us to find someone to help us.  We were able to witness some and give the taxi driver and tow truck driver a tract though, and figured that was God's plan.  Without a vehicle, we tried to prepare a little more on Saturday night for our walk to church.  On our knees later that night as a couple we specifically prayed that God would bring in one visitor to church.  Sunday morning we all loaded up and headed out.  We're quite a sight walking through the village for, not only are we all dressed up, but we have 3 kids so close in age!  Wow, huh? ;)  We met quite a few people on the road and passed out some tracts.  We also met a babooshka who we had previously talked with and given tracts to before.  We invited her to church and she said she would come.  We left, but didn't really think she many times have you heard that?  Once people started coming into church, we were pleasantly surprised with a visit from Elena and also Valodia.  Even though both have attended services in the past, we thought that might be our answer to prayer.  Because Sammy was having a very hard time, probably from heat and being overtired, I ended up having to take him out.  When I reached our front door I was shocked to see the babooshka and a man sitting on the steps!  She had been too shy to come in so had just waited there!  After she went in and sat down the man started talking to me a little.  He didn't stay for very long because he was visiting a friend, but he took the tract.  As I went back in to play piano for the closing song, I felt like crying.  How sweet is an answer to prayer!  And, OH!  How quickly we neglect that precious time on our knees!  Sometimes I am amazed at His patience with me and love in answering when I am so neglectful of Him!  Maybe the car should break down every week. :)  

Monday, August 8, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys

And boy!  Do does my little guy LOVE to get dirty!

Yes.  It was "clean" sand...then it rained.

Even when they are dirty, I still LOVE baby feet.

Look at me, Aunti Bree!

I'm walking!!!

But wait!  Are those girly-feet?

My girls are training him well.

(My shutter was stuck closed, thanks to sand {Sammy}, but a little editing makes it unnoticeable.)

Catching Up

OKAY!  I give up!  On what, you ask?  On naps...for myself, that is.  I just can't seem to take them or if I do manage to fall asleep, it is about the time for the kids to wake up.  Today I laid down, something fell behind the couch/bed {a kid's toy?}, the bathroom door creaked, the couch cushion squeaked as it SLOWLY started sliding between the couch and the wall, leaning over I pushed it down quickly then laid on a toy.  With my mind racing a million miles an hour and family wondering what's happening, I figured I might as well make a post.  So, here I am.  I'm warning you though, between lack of sleep and being pregnant this post might be a little all of the place.

We have been super busy at the church and it is starting to look really nice.  I can't wait until it is all finished.  We just had a sign put up, which will stop the rumors that we are the new charismatic group that just started meeting in the village as well.  I also just finished designing our new church tract.  The picture on the front was taken during one of our walks here in the village...makes it even more special to me. :)

The kids are doing MUCH better.  They still cough some, more at night and after playing roughly, but so much better.  But wouldn't you know it, just as we were getting over whooping cough, we managed to pick up another virus!  Thankfully it is just a short virus and the kids and I are pretty much over it.  Eric is just getting it now.  I feel so bad for him because I know he has so much work to do, little time already, little help and is continuing on anyways.

At church on Wednesday, Anna started peaking around the corner of the column and saying that I needed to take a picture.  So, here are a few pictures for the grandparents. :)  They didn't come out very well, but my poor old Kodak Easy Share (for those who have asked), is getting pretty worn down.  It's been walked on by toddlers, fixed, has hair stuck between the lens' glass, now the shutter is stuck open - thanks to Sammy throwing sand in it.  Eric says I'm just trying for a new a Canon or something. hehe.  Seriously, though, the Lord has helped me to be satisfied with what He has given me and I think it does a pretty good job, especially when I really take time to play with the settings.  It doesn't catch moving things very well, like water or dandelions, but is able to if I really have patience.  I can also get it to focus on close or distant objects and blur the rest...but that takes a LOT of patience as the button used for this is the button you click for your photo, so sometimes it changes right when you take your picture.  Again, all of that was for those who have asked.  My best advice for someone drooling over a better camera?  Use what you have to it's fullest extent (look in your instruction manual and play with it), maybe touch it up ( is a free and fun site), take LOTS of pictures.  Sometimes you will get a picture like the one above and sometimes you will get some like the ones below...but even those could be amazing with a little photo editing.  I'm sure you will be amazed at some of the pictures you can get with a little ole point 'n shoot.      

P.S.  Eric laid linoleum at the church so the floors look really nice now and my piano was moved to the church and tuned.  It sounds absolutely amazing!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ukrainian Hospital Visit - The Story

First I've been wanting to share a testimony that I came across called Every Missionary's Nightmare if you read that, make sure that you read The Story doesn't end there for the whole story.  I was crying during the first and by the end of the second, was so convicted by the testimony of this young missionary wife.  The testimony is not about the author, but of her friend.  I have just "met" this missionary blogger and am greatly enjoying her blog.  If you have time, you'd also get a blessing from another post she wrote called Baking Blunders.  In that post she compares baking to life...not only can we all relate (well, at least us women) and will be able to laugh along with her, but it also causes you to think. now on to my posting, except I've lost all direction in thought.  Oh, yeah!  You still don't know about baby #4!  Will he even out our ratio between girls and boys?  Or will she give the girls an edge?  Well, since I originally planned on sharing more about my actual visit during my last post instead of my struggle let me start at the beginning.

Around 9 I climbed the train to meet Lina.  When we reached the Chagooiv train station, we had to take a marshootka to the center.  We then had to walk to the hospital, though it was more like running for me since Lina is much taller than I am.  I was beat red and dripping wet by the time we got there.  Oh well.  I was able to cool down a little before we met with the doctor.  As I had mentioned before, I was not looking forward to this visit at all, but I felt like the Lord gave me a sweet spirit that their harshness was not able to break.  Even if the doctor is a little rough, I felt like it was easier to handle this time.  I don't know if it was just that it was easier, or if it was just the peace that the Lord had given me...maybe both.  But this year I didn't go away feeling like crying.  We then ran over to the testing hospital for some blood tests.  This nurse remembered us and started talking to us about our faith.  I guess it was more like testing than talking.  She called us a cult and seemed to be trying to rile us.  All I could do was smile and talk to her about the Bible.  When she looked over and saw me smiling, it shocked her and she told Lina "She's smiling!"  The rest of our {short} visit went pretty well, though I wish we had had more time.  By the time she was willing to listen, it was time to go.  We planted a seed though!  After that we went for an ultrasound.  The doctor and nurse seemed pretty stressed at the beginning of our visit, but relaxed and friendly by the end.  As he was going through looking and giving measurements to the nurse, he added in there somewhere that it was a...did I hear him correctly?  He was speaking so low and continuing to mumble things to the nurse.  He then looked at me again and said,
"It's a boy."
Of course he did not yell it like that and it wasn't in English.  I did that for you benefit. :)  Yes.  We are expecting a playmate (or a terror companion) for Sammy!  Why do I say terror companion?  Because just by himself he can terrorize his sisters pretty good - all with a huge, adorable, mischievous grin.  The girls better watch out!  

On the way home from the hospital we had a chance to witness to an Armenian marshootka driver, but between the loud noise of the van, the language barrier (even if I can speak and hear it, it can still be a barrier), and how flustered I was from the heat and being announced to the whole bus as an American, I feel like I was unable to present the Gospel as clear as I would have liked.  I do ask that you pray for me as I know God could greatly use this time to be a testimony to those I am coming in contact with.  During pregnancy I am given more opportunities to witness than at any other time.  Sometimes I am surprised by the answers God gives me, but at others I get so flustered that I come back feeling like I failed to present as clear of a presentation of the Gospel as I desire.  Pray also for freedom of speech in the Russian language.

 All in all, the visit went well and I praise the Lord for the grace He gives.  Reminds me of 2 Timothy 2:1 " strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."  I am so thankful for that grace that He gives!  When I arrived home my husband said he was surprised by how chipper I was.  I don't think I've ever come home from a hospital visit chipper!


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