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.

Monday, October 31, 2011

October 2011

October began in a rather unusual way with Denise and Hope at home in Krivoy Rog and Phil and Laura in Kiev.  We (Phil and Laura) got up early and left the seminary by 7 AM.  Even though Phil had checked out the test location the day before, it still took us about 50 minutes to get there (walking and metro).  Phil sat and read in a chair in the entry of the building while Laura took the test (until about 12:30 PM).  We met up with Norm Edwards (our Area Director) and went over to their house for the afternoon.  Laura was able to relax with Norm's daughters, but Phil was there to take his ministerial exam (which he passed).  We enjoyed supper at a restaurant that cooks the meat and vegetables that you put into a bowl (kind of like a Mongolian grill).  It was delicious.

Sunday night, we (Phil and Laura) were back on the train heading home to Krivoy Rog.  We actually got some sleep on the train and were back home before 6:30 AM.  We were surprised that the marshrutka fares went up again - from 2.50 grivna (31 cents US) to 3.00 grivna (37.5 cents US), even though gas prices have leveled off and even dropped a little.  That makes us even more thankful for our new apartment because we ride less. 

It was good to be spend time together as a family again on Monday.  We had a quiet day together and, that evening, we enjoyed a surprise visit with Vova Matveyev and Juliya Lytvynenko.  They shared about their recent engagement and wedding plans and we got to see his new car - a blue 1980 (yes, that is correct!) Lada wagon.

On Tuesday evening the 11th, I (Phil) headed to Kiev on the train again to meet someone from the US who brought some needed medicines over for Denise and I (which I did get).  The trip was uneventful, though the coupe got very hot, and I was at the seminary about 6:30 AM on Wednesday.  I was blessed to attend the Teen Challenge Coffee House Wednesday evening and enjoyed visiting with other friends in Kiev.  A highlight of the trip was the picnic outing with the students and staff from the seminary.  It is always fun getting to know some of the students there.  Even though it was a chilly afternoon, we had a great time.  I rode back home on Thursday night's train and was glad to be back home by 7 AM Friday.

We enjoy and are thankful for our weekly visits to #9 orphanage/boarding school (twice a week if we can - with Adam and Curtis Nikkel and their team here).  We enjoyed the special program that orphanage #9 put on to celebrate the Cossacks.  Some of the students demonstrated games that they would play, which were very entertaining.

Students, Educators, and Guests that participated in the Cossack celebration

One of our friends at the orphanage

After the program, the kids were busy with another event and were going to be busy when we had planned to come the next day.  Instead, we decided to go on Sunday afternoon instead to show the movie "Soul Surfer" (in Russian).  The movie was good and had a great message, something those kids need to hear.  We also enjoyed the time spent with our friends there, especially Phil.  Before the movie started, he sat on the floor (which became really hard by the time the movie ended) and had two 12 year old boys (Pasha and Daniel) sitting next to him (one on each side).   During the movie, they each needed one of his arms around them.   If he moved an arm, they made sure to return it so it was wrapped around them again.   Denise would have taken a picture, but she was behind them..

Our extended family continues to grow.  It now includes Slavik, Tanya (Salvik's girlfriend), Maxim (Slavik's brother), and Yura (Slavik's friend).  All four young adults are orphans and need to know the love of a family.  The three young men are becoming like sons to us (Denise and Phil) and they all consider us like "Mama and Papa."  Maxim's new girlfriend, Yulia, was over to visit several times shortly after they started dating.  It has been so fun to watch this develop.  One day, Phil was able to take all three of them to the gym with him.  That was a real treat and they all enjoyed it.  One day, after going to the gym with Phil, Slavik and Maxim got to enjoy some of Denise's homemade chicken and rice soup with fresh baking powder biscuits.   They both loved it all, but especially raved about the biscuits.

Our "boys" - Yura, Maxim, Phil, and Slavik
I (Phil) am still working to have the Bible study meet more regularly.  We always have interesting discussions.  So far it has just been our extended family, though we have had others express interest who have not been there yet.  Tanya shows little to no interest in church or the things of God, but she has participated along with the others.  The others have professed faith in Christ and need to grow in their faith and hear God's word.  The Russian Bible is very hard for them to understand (a lot like asking English speakers to read and understand the King James Version).  Denise does a great job cooking dinner and baking cookies for them, which they always appreciate.
Normal life for us now seems to include having our extended family over at least 3 times a week and Denise baking a lot of cookies for them to eat.   As well as the other things we have been doing, attending church services, visiting the orphanage, Phil working out at the gym, Hope and Laura working on school work, Denise and Phil studying Russian, managing paperwork, cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry.

Earlier this year, Ukraine decided to stop changing the clocks for Daylight Savings Time.  However, on the 17th of this month, the government decided to cancel that cancellation, just under two weeks before the time change.  It's always interesting to live outside of the USA!

Phil and Denise had their interview with Minnesota District executive committee in regards to upgrading Phil's ministerial license to "Licensed" from "Certificate of Ministry".

One day, Phil and Hope went to Ashan (like a Super Kmart) to get a few things.  It was very busy because it was their second anniversary of being open here, so they had a few product samples out (very rare here).   We noticed that one "new" product was saltine crackers, which we have missed. We asked where they were and hurried to get a box.  Even though they were almost $3.50, it is worth it!  They have been in Moldova for over a year, but not in Ukraine.  They were very good and we hope they are here to stay!

Our new saltine crackers

Unlike our old apartment that relied on the city hot water for heat, we can control the heat in our new apartment. As the weather cooled down during the month, we turned it on because we could. After the beautiful fall we have had, it's hard to face the reality of the colder weather that is coming.

After checking on travel options for getting to Moldova and waiting for our letter of invitation (required for us to get new visas and replace our current ones that expire 11/1), it was completed and sent on the overnight train Friday the 28th.  Phil was up at 5:15 AM Saturday to get the documents off the train.  Because there were no tickets available for travelling by train, he went straight to the bus station to buy tickets to leave for Odessa, Ukraine that night at 12:40 AM.  Our taxi driver had a little trouble getting to our apartment building because the roads around us do not go all the way through, but we got to the bus station with plenty of time to spare.  While we waited, a dirty cat came at laid down on Denise's feet for a while.  What a funny sight!

We loaded on the bus, which turned out to be quite warm, and took off.  It was the night for our time change here, so we had a 45 minute stop instead of a 15 minute stop after about 3 hours on the road.  Hope rested well, Denise and Laura slept quite a bit, and Phil slept little.  We arrived about 6:45 AM (after the time change) in Odessa, where we bought bus tickets to get to Chisinau, Moldova.

The border crossing was uneventful, but our feet became cold with the bus door open while we waited at each side of the border.  At the bus station in Chisinau, Phil's wallet was found on the floor of the bus after he had left.  We are thankful for God's hand of protection and blessing there.  We arrived safely to the home of Wesley and Donna Buck about 1:45 PM.  It was good to be with them again, though the four of us were kind of tired.

The plan for Monday morning was for Phil to go to the embassy to apply for our visas.  After he got up and got ready, he learned that there was a problem with our letter of invitation and we would need to wait for a replacement.

What will November bring?   We had planned to stay in Moldova for a week, but it might be longer than that.  Once we have our visas, we need to start working on the new process to get registered.  To begin with, our "normal" life will take place in Moldova, minus our extended family.  When we return to Krivoy Rog, our regularly scheduled "normal" life will return.  We have plans to go to Kiev for Thanksgiving to celebrate with friends there.  A team from our church arrives in Kiev the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so we look forward to working with them after they arrive.  It looks to be an "out of the ordinary" type of month so far.

We always enjoy sharing our adventure with you!

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