Archive for the 'Friends' Category

NGOs, Jeremiah and Starbucks Christmas Blend

Maya just left for the women’s home group, and I am supposed to be hanging out with the kids. David and Hannah are playing (together, unbelievably) so I seized the moment to blog a few lines and post a picture. Pirate’s Night begins when this post concludes.

I found out yesterday that the executive branch signed into law the bill restricting NGO’s here. There is a lot of uncertainty with how this will affect us, though we know that it will, and likely in a very negative way. On the heels of learning this little tidbit of potentially depressing news, I read this assuring passage in the World’s all-time best-selling Book.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. ( Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV)

The trip to the post office today also encouraged us, but in a different way. Our friends in Florida sent us a large bag of Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee (and other thoughtful gifts). If you have tasted this coffee, then you know what a caffeinated encouragement it is!


Finally, for your viewing pleasure, here is a picture of Hannah that I took a week ago, but thought that I lost.


The big 2-9!

Today is Mark’s 29th birthday. His wife, Ayuna, threw him a surprise party. We sneaked over to his place during his Russian lesson. Mark caught a few clues that something was going on, and hey, we all suspect surprises on our birthday. He did well and acted a little startled, as this picture suggests.

In other news, this morning we had a good meeting with the MinZdrav, and set in motion a doctor “experience exchange” that should take place nextsummer. That is one of our community-development projects. We have several more to arrange during the Winter.

Finally, if anyone has game ideas or theme ideas for our coffee club, please email me. We are running a little dry on ideas. I ordered some game books, but they will not be here before mid-January.

We are holding the ropes for Katya and Masha (from the club) today, and for the coffee club in general. Feel free to join us!

A Day of Thanksgiving and Praise

I snapped this photograph this morning, on a little family walk. We have had the sun now for several days, though it is sometimes cold. On Friday, the thermometer read -20C. I think that is the coldest so far.

Maya decided not to go just yet to Chita. Since family now surrounds her grandmother, Maya thought it best to wait a while and not add to the commotion. Additionally, her grandmother’s condition improved slightly through the weekend, though the prognosis is still grim.

In other news, our college group on Friday went great. The group is steadily growing and we are getting to know the students. We did not have a theme this week, though we had a few games with bananas and then introduced them to the American Banana Split. We had a great time, and I am encouraged with the group’s direction.

Saturday, the full fury of the flu struck and I had to stay home. I was still able to do a few things, and even baby sat while Maya went to the Altai lesson. Today, I am feeling better. Maya and David are both starting to cough and sniffle.

On Sunday morning, our friend, Nastya; who was a part of our home group in Ulan-Ude, called us to ask for directions to our house. She had made the 3 day train trip here to pay us (our team) a surprise visit. We are happy to have her, and we pr that this week will have a positive impact on her. She is staying at Tanya’s house.

Americans celebrate thanksgiving on Thursday. Have you ever read about how this became a holiday? Though its roots reach back to the Puritan settlers, Thanksgiving was not an official holiday until the 16th president of the United States made the famous ‘Thanksgiving Proclamation’. In Abraham Lincoln’s speech, in November 1863, he said,

“It has seemed to me fit and proper that the gifts of God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens . . . to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

Every president after Abraham Lincoln has proclaimed Thanksgiving a holiday, and in 1941, by an act of Congress, it officially became a national holiday.

Of Mice and… Tanya

While many serious things happened yesterday, a lighter, even humorous story unfolded. We thought it would be funny, especially to our friends in Ulan-Ude, to read about it. Tanya, our friend pictured here, called yesterday in near hysteria. She said, “Mike, I only have one question. Do cats eat the mice they kill, or not?”

I answered plainly enough, “Domestic cats usually don’t. They chase and kill mice for sport.” This was met with increased hysteria and even anguish. Tanya has few fears, but, strangely enough, she has a terrible phobia for mice, living or otherwise. Apparently, (and I had to deduce this from various clipped Russian/English phrases among her cries of anguish) her cat had murdered a little mouse right in her hallway and Tanya was left to dispose of the fallen furry creature’s corpse. Well, to shorten this diatribe, I had to try to calm her down, via a cell phone, and then walk her through the most acceptable method of disposal. It went like this, “Just take a paper towel and pick it up…. Oh, what? Calm down Tanya! Bad method, sorry, scratch that. Get a dustpan, put it on the floor in the vicinity of the deceased and then, with a long handled broom, sweep his little remains onto the pan, trying not to look. Take a deep breath, and, when you are ready, look away and, working only with your peripheral vision, grab the dustpan handle and make for the trash. Can you do that? Okay, great. We’ll pray.”

Anyway, it was funny to us, and later, even to Tanya. She gave me permission to blog it.