Monday, September 19, 2005

Playing on the playground

Wanted to post these pics I took last week at the playground in front of our apartment. Rachel could spend all day flipping herself over the high bar...

Here's precious David

I love this picture of Caleb... reminds me of the poem 'Little faces looking up, holding wonder like a cup.'

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Picnic Time!

Well this should have been posted last Sunday... but better late than never. For two weeks James & Andrei spent time trying to visit the parents, grandparents or guardians of each young person that attended the summer camp. This was more difficult that you'd imagine as almost all the youth come from alcoholic families - very sad to visit and see their home life. They invited them to attend a special picnic on the 11th. Fifteen new people ended up coming which was exciting! In Russia you don't have 'hamburgers on the grill', instead it's always 'shash-leek' similar to american shish-kabobs. Anyway, you go drive out into the woods, build a fire, put all the meat on metal rods and cook it over the fire. The children & I stayed at home, but James said everyone had a great time. Please pray as we try to start a new home Bible study with some of these parents and older people. So far our ministry here has focused on youth, but we realize we need to be available and reaching out to the entire family - pray that God will somehow direct and open doors.

Here's a few pictures to enjoy of another 'shash-leek' picnic we had at the end of summer - the Sunday before school started.

After we ate, we got a cake out and started cutting... Caleb immediately ran over and hunkered down right beside the cake watching intently as it was sliced.... his eyes never left the cake for at least 10 minutes! He was so excited to finally get a piece, walked over to a log, sat down, ate one bite and promptly dropped the plate and cake! Oh well I was nearby so the 10 second rule was in effect :) Out of all our children Caleb has one serious sweet tooth.

Here's Caleb, Rachel & David eating their hot dogs..

Here's the group during the prayer time/devotional

Caleb loves watermelon!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Yet another police visit...

Today the head of the Police for our region paid us a visit. He wanted to see all of our documents, all the documents for our apartment, phone records, registration records etc. He kept asking James over and over 'Why are you here? What are you doing?' "Who are the people that come to your apartment to listen to your sermons?' James tried to explain that all they did was read the Bible together, and was there a law against that? After a long hour fruitless conversation - answering the same question over & over, the policeman finally left. It's amazing to us how rumors get started in this city.. late last night James got home and was walking up to the apartment when three ladies in their 50's stumbled by (they were very drunk). One yelled out to James 'Ohh, there goes the Satanist!' So James stopped and tried to talk to them and explain that no he wasn't a Satanist. Anyway, never a dull day...

This morning I spied a gigantic empty box beside the dumpster.. someone had bought a new fridge. We hauled the box up to the apartment and the kids had a blast coloring the outside and turning it into a *fort*. I really should have gotten a picture of the three of them inside eating their apple snack and pretending there were lions outside about to eat them. Quote of the day: David as we were out walking.. 'Wow! the sky looks so big today.' He is so much fun!!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Jaan's Birthday Celebration!!

What a day we had on Saturday! Our friends Dean & Olga Kershner were visiting from America, and it was Caleb's best buddy Jaan Hunsucker's 2nd birthday!! This called for a celebration... James and Andrei had plans to visit people that day, so there was no way James could go. He said I was *crazy* for driving into Moscow with 3 children and 37 weeks preggo :) But we were desperate so off we went! We had such a wonderful, special day... getting to finally meet the Kershner children for the first time and getting to watch Jaan blow out his candles while Caleb clapped enthusiastically. As you can imagine it wasn't easy getting 8 children under the age of 6 to sit & smile for a picture! So this picture is pretty pricelss - Jaan Hunsucker, David, Caleb, Harvey K, Adriel K, Irvin K, Rachel & Raia.

Rachel loved getting to hold little baby Raia .. good practice I kept thinking! When we got home, Rachel said 'I hope baby Johanna (what we're planning to call Beaird baby #4) is as cute as baby Raia' :) I just wish we could see each other more than every 14 months...

Friday, September 09, 2005

Before and after..... Here's some pictures of our new house. This is what it looked like last April 2004 when we bought the property. The whole story seemed like a miracle for us... we had prayed about someday living in a house with a yard, but at the same time we knew the best way to get to know people was to live in an apartment. Right out our apartment window we could see two rows of houses and I kept thinking well if one of those was for sale it would be so close to everyone it would be great for ministry but the kids could have a yard. One day after picking up Rachel from her art school, I decided to drive down the road where the row of houses are... as I was driving I quite literally heard a *voice* say to me, 'go ask that Grandmother over there if she knows of any houses for sale.' I stopped the car, went to ask the Grandmother and she point to the lot across the road where a house had burned down two years ago. 'I just talked to the lady who owns that lot, she's back in town and just decided to sell.' She gave the the phone number and I tried to not get excited as I saw a beautiful plot with apple & cherry trees and a big lilac tree out front. James called the lady as soon as he got home, and the next morning at 10:00 am sharp we bought the land! As we started cleaning up the property and removing the burned out house we had 5 different people stop and ask if we wanted to sell.. all offering more money than we paid.. truly one of those God at work things..

Here's Rachel, David & Caleb playing in the backyard. The house has two bedrooms, and then the attic upstairs will also be a bedroom when the kiddos get older. The yard is small, but is has lots of beautiful trees. And you look over the back fence and there's our apartment building - 5 minute walk away.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Okay, Okay.. so I vowed to at least write 3 sentences a day... well our internet server went down for a few days.. so a very good excuse!
Thursday night - Sept 1st - Caleb fell and hurt his right wrist. We could tell he was really in pain and were afraid it was broken.. so we called the ambulance. Calling the ambulance here is just another way to say a house call that costs you a whopping $1.75. Twenty minutes later the Dr. showed up, said he thought it was just a very bad sprain, but suggested we go get an x-ray. So James loaded Caleb up - totally broke my heart to see him with his arm in a splint and James wrapped him up in a big red blanket.. Caleb had tears running down his eyes while Rachel & David kissed him goodbye and we prayed for him. Anyway, PTL the x-ray showed it wasn't broken!! It took three days before Caleb started using it without crying. One thing that really cracked me up was the Friday night English lesson.. Rachel & Caleb LOVE sitting in on the lesson.. well when everyone arrived Caleb went up to each person, held out his wrapped arm and said 'ooaawah ooawah' in his most pitiful voice. Then of course every person gushed & gushed and said oh poor Caleb etc.. talk about a sympathy seeker! I asked James later if having Caleb in the class was a disturbance, and he said that no Caleb didn't make a sound the entire class - except when two youth were doing a dialogue and one said 'I like to drink milk'.. Caleb yelled out 'BA-BA' :) It should be noted that we have called the ambulance now three times... ALL three times were for Caleb - what does that tell you about his personality????? (sorry pic is fuzzy :( realized later had the wrong setting on)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Day of Knowledge! September 1st is a huge holiday here in Russia - called 'The day of knowledge' and celebrated everywhere as the first day of school. This morning we watched out the window as children and their parents & grandparents paraded to school dressed in their white blouses, dark skirts, gigantic white hair bows and everyone carrying flowers for their teachers. It amazes me every year as it seems the entire city stirs to life after a lazy summer of many people living out at their country dachas. You see lots of neighbors you haven't seen for the past two months... it truly is the day of beginning a new schedule & routine for everyone.

It was also the *official* day for Rachel to start 1st grade! I still can't believe my beautiful princess is old enough for 1st grade! Although she'd much much rather be throwing herself over a metal bar, or climbing and jumping from the jungle gym.. she did endure a piano lesson, a little math and a reading lesson. Give me strength and patience Lord!! I so many times have the little thought in the back of my mind 'what are our children doing living here??? are they going to *suffer* from having to live in Russia??' Certainly no TRUTH in the thoughts, but still a mother's heart can't help wondering sometimes.. Yesterday after the Bible study Rachel was saying goodbye to some of the youth; as her best friend Lena (age 17) was leaving Rachel yelled out the door in Russian 'remember Lena, Jesus can help you not to smoke!! I'm praying for you Lena.. promise me no more cigerettes.' Lena told James last week that she has tried to stop smoking for the last 3 years (she started when she was 10 years old), and has never been able to until this past month when Rachel told her one day as she sat smoking on the bench at the playground - 'Lena, Jesus is the only one that can help you stop smoking. If you keep smoking you're going to be very sick.' Lena said she's gone over a month without a cigarette and told James the reason was Rachel. I think the biggest blessing of living in Russia is that our whole family gets to be together and be involved TOGETHER in people's lives. It's not James' occupation to be a missionary/pastor... it's our entire family living, learning, interacting and making friends and in that God gets the glory. So when I see Rachel's heart for others all my fears and worries just fade into the background... :)

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