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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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 2011

We start out November in Chisinau, Moldova wondering how long we will need to wait for our new letter of invitation.  Rather than spend time worrying about that, we decided to be flexible, make ourselves at home (in the home of Wesley and Donna Buck), and enjoy some time with friends.

On Wednesday the 2nd, we spent the day with our friends, the Stitt's.  We enjoyed some delicious Moldovan food for lunch, walked around the city on a gorgeous fall day, and visited a Natural History Museum together.  The building was built many years ago specifically for this museum.

Our family at the entrance of the Natural History Museum

We went to their place to watch a movie together.  When we left there, we loaded on to a very crowded marshrutka to get back to the Buck's place.  After we got off, Denise realized that her purse was unzipped. When we got inside the house, we discovered (as we had feared) that her wallet had been stolen - not her iPod nano or camera.  Looking back, she can pinpoint who did it and when he did it.  The man got about $50 worth of money, her driver's license, a credit card (stopped within 30 minutes of the loss), a store card, medical insurance cards, and some photos. Not a big deal, but just a hassle.  That is the first time we have had something stolen overseas - and many others have experienced much worse. God has everything under control. For that, we are very thankful!

One day we went shopping at the mall - Malldova - where we had some KFC for lunch.  That was a nice taste from home.  There is no KFC in Ukraine.

We have been in Moldova more than a week and we still have no news.

The girls loved that the Buck's were house sitting a cat

Hope had a few days off from school, but now she is back at it again.  Laura has been doing school the whole time we have been here.  Denise made herself at home in the kitchen and blessed all of us (especially Buck's) with fresh-baked goodies and meals.  Phil studied as well.  We bought groceries.  We lived life much as we would have in Ukraine.

Tuesday evening we enjoyed more Moldovan food and the companionship of friends - including two couples who were in Moldova to get their Ukrainian visas.  They expected to receive theirs the next day.  Troy and HeidiJo Darrin returned to Moldova from the states - and Hope bonded with HeidiJo almost immediately.  It was so fun to see!  Wednesday evening we ate at Andy's Pizza (popular local chain) with Buck's and Darrin's.  Laura really likes their french fries.  We got a quick tour of Darrin's new home and went to Malldova to get some gelato (cheap and delicious!) in the food court.  It was a great night of fellowship!

On Thursday, the electricity was off for about 7 1/2 hours - from 8 AM until 3:30 PM.  That is something that we have experienced several times in Ukraine (as you know), so we let Buck's know and then just waited.  Phil ran some errands.  Denise and the girls played games (it started getting dark by the time the power came back on).  Friday is the last day of Laura's quarter, so she really needed the Internet to work on her school.  As it worked out, they extended the quarter by a couple of days because of some other issues the school had (what a relief that was!).

When Phil was out, he checked the price of a fitness club he had seen near a market area.  He had not been to the gym for almost two weeks, but this one was out of our price range.  It had a pool and the weight room really was not that great, but it was over $115/month - and just one visit would cost more than $15.  It makes us even more thankful for the gym that he goes to in Krivoy Rog - at a cost of $1.25 per visit.

Sunday afternoon found us shopping with Buck's at their Number 1 store (almost like a Super Target).  It was much nicer than our Ashan store (which we are grateful for, but is more like a Super K-Mart).  We bought two pillows for us to sleep on.  They were sold vacuum sealed and flat.  Once we got them home and opened the packaging, they pillows fluffed up like normal.  And they were pretty comfortable, too.

We have been in Moldova more than  two weeks and we still have no definite news.  We have been told a few times that our letter would be ready in a day or two, but nothing yet.  We know it will happen when it is supposed to happen.

On Wednesday the 16th, we received that our new documents are ready.  We expected to receive them the next day, but learned late in the afternoon on the 17th that they were ready, but had not been released yet.  They were finally released early in the evening and would soon be on their way to Chisinau (via train).  Friday afternoon Phil headed to the train station to pick up.  It turned into a bit of an adventure because he missed the stop and had to take a taxi to the train station instead, but he made it and received our documents.

On Saturday, we tried to go to tour a monastery with Patrick Stitt.  When we could not find a bus to take us there, we decided to shop instead.  That was a lot of fun, even if we did not buy much.  When we were out shopping, we thought maybe we were at a fair in America rather than on a street corner in Chisinau.  There were some South American Indians selling pan flute music.

Pan Flute music players playing music to sell their things

We enjoyed attending the International Church with Buck's as well as being part of the play practice/fellowship that took place in their home. We are always thankful for our many friends away from home.

Monday morning, Phil (I) went to the Ukrainian embassy right away and went through the necessary process to apply for our visas.  First, I waited outside the embassy.  When a group of people was finally brought inside (including me), I had to wait my turn at the first desk for the initial check for what you were there for.  Once it was my turn, I was escorted to the front of the line - nice!  After the man at the window did some paperwork and checked my application, he sent me to make some copies and go to the bank to pay for the visas.  I finished those tasks, returned to the embassy, went straight to the window, where the man told the people he was talking to that they had to wait for me, and we finished our work there.  He told me to return with my family at 3 PM.  Wondering why, we all made it to the embassy by 3 PM.  After we were let in, we sat and waited for a while.  After about 20 minutes, a lady gave us our passports - with VISAS in them.  We were thankful it only took one day because we were expecting three days.  That meant we would be able to make it to Kiev in time for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday morning, Phil made two trips to the train station (because he forgot our passports the first time), which took most of the morning, but he got tickets to head to Kiev on a train that evening.  We finished packing up and then met some other friends at Andy's Pizza for a farewell supper.  It was fun to visit one last time.  Troy and HeidiJo brought us to the train station.  We boarded our train and started on our 17+ hour journey about 8:30 PM.  We had no issues at the border crossing and arrived in Kiev just after 1:30 PM Wednesday.  After 24 days, we were finally back in Ukraine.

Loving sisters?

Thanksgiving Day was a special day.  We spent the day with many friends in Kiev and enjoyed turkey, ham, and all the fixings for dinner.  We are so blessed and have so much to be thankful for.  Even with the long, unplanned visit in Moldova, God provided for and met all of our needs.

Friday we spent most of the day with the VanMeter family.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time together.  The house we were staying at had the hot water go out.  Someone came over about midnight to try to get it going, but was only able to get it going temporarily.  Denise, Phil, and Laura all took showers.  By morning, there was no hot water (or heat).

Saturday was the day we had been waiting for - and hoped we would be back in Ukraine in time.  A team was coming to Ukraine from our church - and the day we got to go back home.  We got a ride to the airport and waited for the team to arrive.  After they landed, finished going through customs, and retrieved their luggage, we met up with our driver and headed to Krivoy Rog.  We knew most of the team already, so it was fun to spend time catching up with them on our 6+ hour drive home.  We stopped to eat pizza at Chilentano's in Smila, a city about half way between Kiev and Krivoy Rog.  When we reached Krivoy Rog, we helped the others get settled in their places and arrived home about 10 PM.  That was just a few hours shy of four weeks from when we left for Moldova.  Oh, it was good to be home.

With our friends here, we would not have time to just relax and adjust to being at home.  Sunday we enjoyed hearing Pastor Brad preach at church here.  Monday Denise and Hope went with the orphanage crew and Phil took care of some things at home.

We were grateful for these gifts from family and friends that the team brought to us!

Because there was no trip to the village on Monday evening, we decided it would be good to have our extended family over.  (That was the hardest thing about being gone for so long.  We really missed them.)  Tracy, Mandi, and Sue were at our apartment with us and they ended up experiencing what must have looked like a Russian sit-com.  When Phil called, Maxim and Yura were here within 20 minutes; with Slavik and Tanya arriving very shortly after that. Denise made supper and cookies. It was so good to see them - and we got multiple hugs, especially from the boys. They really missed us and Denise's home cooking. Our three American guests enjoyed the entertainment as we interacted with them and laughed regularly at (or with?) us.  We were glad that we got to see all of them, because it turned out to be the only time that worked for the rest of the week.

Denise with friends from America and Ukraine visiting an orphanage

Visiting the TB (non-contagious) hospital with American and Ukrainian friends

At one orphanage, the room was cold so Phil put his gloves on his feet.
The kids thought it was funny, but two of them "shook" hands with him anyway!
Laura made a cute friend at the orphanage near our apartment

Denise got to hold a baby at the Mom's Dorm -
and told Phil that he should have been with them that day!

Sharing a scripture before some unplanned singing at one village service


We finished off the month of November helping our friends from America.  Laura spent much of the time working on school, while Hope was able to do some school and spend more time visiting orphanages.

Philip received word early in the month that he is now officially a Licensed Minister in the Assemblies of God. We am truly amazed at what God has done and is doing in our lives.

In December, we have plans to wrap up our time with the team and head back to Kiev with them.  Then we will stay in Kiev for our AGWM Christmas party.  We missed Slavik's birthday because of our extended stay in Moldova, so we will celebrate his birthday as well as Yura's.  We have plans to do some ministry with some friends over Christmas.  November was like nothing we expected, so we will see what happens!

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