We are working to try to catch up on the months in 2015 that we missed, but hope you enjoy reading about what has been happening in 2016.

Friday, September 30, 2011

September 2011

September 1st is the traditional first day of school here.  We were out the door right away for the 50+ minute marshrutka ride (with one transfer) to get to the #9 orphanage for the ceremony to start the school year at 9:00 AM.  (In this culture they have special ceremonies on the first day of school - called the First Bell - and the last day of school - called the Last Bell.  This post on a Russian language learning blog explains the First Bell celebration.)  We were so glad to see so many of our young friends again - and they seemed equally thrilled to see us.  We had missed them over the last several weeks.
First Bell ceremony
Several students read or recite something (front row)
Our special friends Bogdan (left), Cola (second from left), and Sasha (right)
Notice the large bows in the hair of the young girls
Educators and Guests also say some words (back row)

After that first morning, the month was fairly quiet, with Hope at work on her fifth grade school lessons, Laura getting started on her senior year of high school (is it possible?), and all of us enjoying some very beautiful fall weather.  We are loving our new apartment and the location.

We also got into a more "normal" routine of visiting the #9 orphanage twice a week (when possible) with our friends Adam and Curtis Nikkel and their team.

A common sight with one group - gang wrestling with Phil

Denise's sweet young friend, Genya

Interesting tree at the orphange - with long bean-type seed pods

Our extended family continues to grow.  You may recall that in July it was only Slavik, then his girlfriend, Tanya, started joining us more often.  Slavik's brother, Maxim, recently got out of prison (after three years) and is now regularly part of our family activities as well.  He gave his life to Christ shortly after getting out of prison, so it is fun to see him grow in his young faith.  We were a bit concerned about having an ex-con over for supper (never had that experience before), but he is a good young man who does not want to return to prison.  He ran with the wrong crowd and got himself in trouble when he was younger.  He speaks no English, so communication can be a challenge, but he is very patient with our Russian.  He thinks Denise's cooking is top-notch (of course!).

I (Phil) was able to start a Bible study for some of my young adult friends, though I have had to remain flexible.  I was sick one week and my friends were busy another week.  One time after we had finished a study with two of them, two more young men came over.  We visited in Russian and drank tea and ate cookies.  It is difficult to do everything all in Russian, but I am managing and I keep reminding them to speak slower.

Partial family picture

I (Phil) completed the last course I needed for the Licensed ministry level.  In order to complete the application process for this upgrade in license level (from Certificate of Ministry), I still needs to take an exam and Denise and I need to interview with the district executive committee.

Phil started out September being sick and finished out the last two weeks being sick again and his ears were both plugged this time.  Laura needed to take her SAT test in Kiev on Saturday, October 1st, so we (Phil and Laura) headed to the train station on the later afternoon of Thursday the 29th for the overnight trip to Kiev (Denise and Hope stayed home).  Just before we got on the train, Phil's left ear popped and opened up some.  He had just told Laura a few minutes before that he feels like one of these times it is going to do just that.

We (Phil and Laura) made it to Kiev and to the seminary where we stayed by 6:30 AM.  Because we had little sleep on the train (which is quite normal), we slept for a little while before getting up for breakfast, only to learn that it was an hour later than normal.  Phil got up to take a shower and locked himself out of our room, with Laura sleeping inside.  She finally heard him knocking after trying on and off for 15 minutes.

At home, we (Denise and Hope) enjoyed going to the orphanage, then to McDonald's for supper, and watching a movie together on Friday.

Normal life for us now seems to include having our extended family over at least 3 evenings a week and Denise baking a lot of cookies for them to eat.  The other things we have been doing include attending church services, visiting the orphanage, Phil working out at the gym (when he is healthy), Hope and Laura working on school work, Denise and Phil studying Russian, managing paperwork, cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry.

Hope learning to share in the kitchen duty
What will October bring?  It will include more "normal" life, plus Laura taking her SAT in Kiev, Phil taking his ministerial exam, and more Bible studies in Russian.  Our current visas expire November 1st, so we need to get a new letter of invitation so we can leave for Moldova to get new visas sometime before the end of the month.  A new process was put into effect in September, so it will be interesting to see how this process, which now requires registration after we get the visa, works out.

As always, we enjoy sharing our adventure with you!

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