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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, February 29, 2012

February 2012

February began with us preparing for our two week trip to Simferopol, then we packed and moved our things from Krivoy Rog to Simferopol, and the month ended with us starting a three week trip to America.  Needless to say, it was a busy month!

Thursday evening, the 2nd, we got a taxi to get to the train station.  We were very surprised that our driver spoke English - and got his number so we could call him when we returned in a couple of weeks.  (We wish we had met him a long time ago!)  We got settled in the train and arrived in Simferopol early the next morning.  There we stayed with friends for the two weeks and spent time checking out what life could be like for us there.  We enjoyed some good fellowship with several friends - and played Hoopla for the first time.  It turned out to be quite an entertaining game.  The girls were able to spend time doing school most days, just as if we were home.  One day, Hope was really sick with a cold and was having a hard time breathing.  We prayed for her - and by morning, she was feeling and breathing better.  We were so thankful because we were not sure what we should do for her.  The medical system here is quite poor.

I (Phil) was able to attend a conference for five days.  Because of the wind and blowing snow, several of the roads were closed most of the week, so we would not have been able to get home sooner anyway.  It was one of the coldest weeks of the winter.  We were cold all day because the city we were in had a problem with the central heat system.  The air temperature was cold, but the wind chill was well below zero.  I stayed in a rehab center with several other guys and we slept with our clothes on and as many blankets as we could round up.  It felt so good to get warm again when we got back home!

We returned to Krivoy Rog on Thursday, the 16th, and were met by "our" English speaking taxi driver.  It was so nice not to have to argue with the taxi drivers to get a ride home.  When we got to our apartment area, there was water and ice on the road to our apartment.  We discovered later that there was a water main problem at the top of the hill and the water was running down the hill and freezing.  What a mess.  Because of the ice on the hill, our driver was not able to make it to our door.  He tried backing down to get a straight run at it, but ended up getting stuck in the slushy ice at the bottom of the hill.  We stepped out of the car and into ankle deep ice water.  That was cold!!  We unloaded our luggage and had the girls head to the apartment.  Denise and Phil needed the help of an older gentleman who was out walking his dog to push the taxi out of the ice and on to the road that turned away from the icy hill.  We were so glad to get back inside where it was warmer.

Because we would be going to the states on business in March, we only had a week to pack all of our things.  Our extended family was over every day while we were trying to pack.  It was hard to balance between spending time with them and working on packing, but somehow we managed to get it all done.  We bought 22 boxes at the local "Home Depot"-like store in preparation for the move.

Sunday started a week of goodbyes.  We said goodbye to our friends at church on Sunday morning.  Our family sang "What God's Gonna Do" one last time there because they always enjoyed it.  Tuesday evening we were treated to supper by Pastor Gregori and joined by several others.  Friday afternoon we went to the orphanage to for the last time.  Some of the kids still did not understand that we were moving.  We hope to get back there one time this spring.

After our orphanage visit, we met our extended family at McDonald's for a special treat, which they really enjoyed.  Most Ukrainians really like eating there and it becomes a very special occasion.  Once supper was finished, we headed home to finish the last of our packing in preparation for the big move on Saturday.

Most of our stuff (minus the wardrobe in the back)

The rest of our stuff

In the morning, we were up early for the final preparations and cleaning.  Eddik, who we were hiring to drive to Simferopol, came by 10:30 AM.  We had everything out of the apartment and were on the road by 11:30 AM.  We had plenty of help - Slavik, Maxim, Tanya, Igor (one of the neighborhood teens that I played ping pong with), Olya (our Russian tutor), and her small daughter Olyichka - were all there to help us out.  It was hard to say goodbye to our dear friends and extended family.  This is one of those days that following God's plan for us was difficult.

Inside the van with our stuff

Our drivers friend with the stuff loaded in the back of the van

We arrived in Simferopol about 6 hours later and left our things in a friend's basement.  We spent the night with another friend.  Sunday night, we boarded the train to Kiev.  The wagon steward yelled at us for all the luggage we had in our coupe (it took up a lot of our space, so we were not enjoying it either), thinking we should have paid more for extra luggage.  (Is the train going to use more fuel because of one extra suitcase?  We don't think so.)  We arrived in Kiev about 11 AM and headed to a friend's house.

After some lunch, we met a seminary student to take Laura's graduation pictures.  We walked around Kiev and he took some great pictures of Laura - as well as a few of the rest of us.  He did such a great job.  We are planning to have him take the picture for our prayer card sometime in April.

Fun collage of Laura
Great combination photo
Hope's beautiful blue eyes
"What?"
Our family

We were up and on our way to the airport by 4 AM Tuesday\morning, so grateful for the two friends who brought us and our luggage to the airport.  We flew from Kiev to Munich, Germany, then to Newark, NJ.  There we had to retrieve our luggage and go through customs.  Sitting near a restaurant, an older man sat down near us and started talking.  We learned that he had recently committed his life to Christ and was looking for a good church, so we gave him some suggestions of where to look.  He said that we had the nicest family and that we had a glow about us.  It was an interesting conversation.

Waiting in one of the airports

We finally were on our way to Minneapolis, where we were met by friends from our church.  The weather was strange for February 28th - it was raining.  Hard.  It normally snows in Minnesota in February.  We spent the night at their house and then we headed to Sioux Falls and Denise's parents in the morning.  Most of the trip, the roads were great, which was a real miracle.  They had snacks, puzzle books, and movies to keep us entertained on the trip.  They were such a blessing to us!

We finished the day (and the month of February) spending time with Denise's family, as we would for the next several days.  We have plans to head to northern Minnesota and Philip's family, then to Missouri for the business part of our trip before flying back to Ukraine on March 22nd.  Once back in Ukraine, we will head to Simferopol and get settled in an apartment for two months.

Busy, busy, busy!

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