Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Have Kindergartener, Need Help!

So I've been homeschooling since Noah released a pair of manipulatives. I feel like I'm back at the proverbial Square One with more questions than answers. I haven't been to a curriculum fair in six years, haven't visited a homeschool store in five, and will have only one child, not three, to come up with plans for.

I have done Tapestry of Grace for the past four years. Love it. But has anyone used it with just one kid--a kindergartener? I taught rhetoric level (high school) and only assisted with lower grammar (non-readers) in a co-op one year.

Joel loves hands-on stuff, is great at computer games, loves music, and has started to read.

Can anyone suggest things for me? I need curriculum that will give me basic plans. I don't need a scripted lesson manual and am not picky whether it's Christian, per se. I am not an Usborne fan because of the busy, jumbled mess of pictures all over the page and the evolutionary junk in it, but if there are a few worth Usborne titles you've enjoyed, I'll consider it. I don't care for cartoons, but other than that, I am flexible and willing to look at a lot of options.

So, what d'ya say?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Lyuda's Quilts

One afternoon in Vladimir we visited what I will remember as the saddest place of all. I think it was known as a "social rehab center," a safe place for kids from abusive situations. Some parents have signed off their parental rights, thus leaving their children orphans of the state. This facility, in essence, is an orphanage for older kids.

In this place all the kids acted dutifully. Each one handed us a doll, each one said "puhzhalsta" ("you're welcome") when we said, "spaceeba." But there was a joylessness I don't know I'll ever shake from my memory. The only bright spot I saw was when Jaye accidentally messed up her magic trick. The trick was to pour water into a Styrofoam cup, talk a little to the audience (while the invisible powder gelled in the cup, unbeknown st to the audience) and then have the other volunteer turn the cup over on the person's head. Well, Jaye had not put enough magic powder in the cup, so it didn't gel. Lo and behold, the brave volunteer on the chair got her hair and face and clothes doused with the equivalent of Alka Seltzer.

Glory to God the trick didn't work, because it added laughter that may seldom be heard in that place.

After our group interactions, we were invited to the gift shop to purchase items made by the kids. What a feast for the eyes! Quilts and wall hangings, dolls and Christmas ornaments, hot pad holders and coasters, all made of fabric by some very talented girls. The most impressive to me were all done by a girl named Lyuda. Some were not for sale. The director called them"memory quilts"--for when Lyuda is no longer in the facility, they want to remember her by the quilts she made.

The first quilt I had to have was Sunflowers. I knew immediately it would be for my friend Barb in Kansas. (The KS state flower is the sunflower, which is like a gigantic form of the MD state flower, the black-eyed Susan.) The second quilt that actually was for sale (I had to pass up many that were in the "memory quilt" category!) was a patchwork quilt in red, blue, and green. Just the colors I decorate my family room with. Perfect. Easy-going pattern, good size for curling up under, not too heavy. It is a constant reminder to pray for Lyuda and those like her.

Why so sad? Olya told me later. "Lyuda just found out her best friend is being adopted. Her friend is sad. She doesn't want to be separated from Lyuda. They're like sisters." (In the group picture, Lyuda is holding the eggs. Her best friend is on the far left.)

It struck me hard that day: Adoption isn't always a welcomed thing. If the only half-decent life you've known is in an institution with someone who is as close as a sister can be, then of course you don't want to be adopted without her.
I fought back tears thinking of these haunting faces. The older they get, the sadder they are. They have been unwanted longer. They have been rejected by parents for more years than their younger "siblings." They can process why they are where they are.

God, help us all. Don't let me forget Lyuda and the millions like her. Be to her like a comforting quilt today.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Blue Like Jazz

My current book of choice.

Anyone who thinks about evangelism and loving people--or not loving them well--should read this. I'm just two chapters into it and am gobsmacked by Don Miller's hard-hitting style. No cliches. No Christianese. No tepid phrases that let your mind wander off the page and into your dinner plans.

It's not for everyone. But it's just what I've been looking for.

I had to go to the Baltiimore County library system for it. Ebay also has some copies, but I'm into free.

Andrew Slate, from Mercy Ministries Russia, reoommended this book to me. (See my comment to Jessi in the comment box beneath "Meet the Dolls.") That's how I first heard about it. Thanks, Andrew!

Anyone want to read along?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Meet the Dolls

I'm weak and tired from my procedure, but it couldn't have gone any better. Had total peace, no sadness that I was anticipating, and even a nurse that went to my old high school with me. More on the experience later. Thanks so much for the prayers. They were answered in detail,I'm sure of it.

Briana won a doll and I'm so so excited for her.

I have the privilege of introducing these sweet gals who would dearly love to be adopted. (Click to enlarge the photo if you want.)

Starting on the upper left box, we have a smart and friendly girl named Ira. As you can tell, she thrives on attention, wearing bright orange every day. She loves to talk, though she only speaks a few words of English. She only talks when you're not listening. Olya loves to go for walks and rides, enjoys hanging out in the kitchen, and her favorite subject is geography. She loves to worship and hopes to be part of spreading God's love to children.

Next to her is red-headed Lena. She loves music, dance, the arts, and is a hoping to be an Olympic figure skater. A picky eater, you may have to work with her to expand her palette.
She speaks Russian fluently, of course, and often interprets for friends and family. She is very disciplined, hard-working,and studious. She can't stand mess, but loves to build things. Her favorite verse is, "My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus."

The smiling blonde on the lower left is Ina. Very gentle, ladylike, and artistic, she is quick-witted and gracious. She would rather listen than talk. Her aspiration is to be a pastor's wife someday, the mother of many children, and a volunteer orphanage care giver. She knows how to connect with people of all ages, especially hormonal middle-aged women. Her favorite verse is Micah 5:8.

Last but not least is Olya. She is somewhat of a tomboy, refusing to close her knees even in front of a camera. She says, "I am who I am, " as if saying so entitles her an exemption from sanctification. I have reminded her that only God is the great "I AM" who cannot change and will not change, but will do all in His power to change us to be like Son. She needs a patient mom who understands her spirit but won't crush it . Ideally would get along great with brothers because she LOVES to get dirty, has a high pain tolerance, and often burps at the table. Much in need of refined manners, Olya has tremendous potential. Under her Huck Finn exterior is a sweet girl who cries when she sees animals suffer, including our own golden retriever when trying to escape Cowboy Joel.

So there you are, Bri! Take your pick. I'll be happy to bring any or all of these girl on Sunday so you can hold them and be sure of a good match. We can draw up adoption papers in a few weeks, after my root canal. Maybe Pebbles Englehart will offer her services pro bono?

We Have a Winner! Briana A, Please Step Forward!

A young, brilliant, missions-hearted mom and good friend of mine has won my contest! She correctly guessed 9 of 10, then corrected her last answer in short order.

Congratulations, Briana!

I'll have close-up pictures soon. They're uploading now on the other, slllloooooooooowwww comptuer.

I will also provide a personality and character profile on each, if you wish. (While recovering on the sofa this evening, eating Mitzy's promised chocolate chip cookies!)

Congratulations, once again!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hospital Time Tomorrow

I'll be having a procedure tomorrow at 2:20. Should help my "ailment" of the past 2 months. I'm not afraid, but I did ask the Lord this morning to comfort me. The last time I had this done, it followed the loss of my Joy Christine in '96. So I asked God to collect my tears in His bottle and pour them over me as a healing balm when it's over, like He's done time and time again when I've cried more tears than I know what do to with. He doesn't waste even our excessive tears, does He? So I am not scared, just having twinges of sorrow. But had Joy lived, I might not have had Joel. I can't think of life without him. So the sorrow of reminiscing? It, too, shall pass. He gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Easy New Contest

Scroll down to the contest which posted just below "We Must Run Aground." I guess because I drafted it Tuesday it shows up before yesterday's???

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

We Must Run Aground

This morning I read Acts 27 with more attention than I ever have in my life. If you're like me when I see long passages quoted, I tend to skip over and say, "yeh...so what part of this are they getting at?" I urge you to read this passage to see what might apply to YOUR situation, your mindset, and if you want, proceed with what part of it the Lord showed me.

16Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda,[b]
we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. 17After hoisting it up,
they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would(M)
run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear,[c]
and thus they were driven along. 18Since we were violently storm-tossed, they
began the next day(N)
to jettison the cargo. 19And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle
overboard with their own hands. 20When neither sun nor stars appeared for many
days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last
21Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul
stood up among them and said, "Men,(O)
you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred
this injury and loss. 22Yet now I urge you to(P)
take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.
23For this very night(Q)
stood before me(S)
an angel of the God(T)
to whom I belong and(U)
whom I worship, 24and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul;(V)
you must stand before Caesar. And behold,(W)
God has granted you all those who sail with you.' 25So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26But(X) we must(Y) run aground on some island."

As I mentioned earlier this week, I am job hunting because Paul (my Paul, not the apostle) has asked me to, as a final straw to stay afloat financially while the kids are in college. Or until we receive an unexpected windfall.

I began reading this passage because it was on my reading schedule. I decided to pay closer attention. To be honest, Paul's missionary journeys haven't fascinated me like those of more modern missionaries. (Shame on me.) But then again, maybe my ship hasn't been tossed as violently with a lot of other shipmates with it.

Our current storm consists of more bills than we have income for, more health problems than insurance will completely cover, and parents who are aging and needing more of my attention for their health care. I began to add up our bills: 2 kids in college, 1 in Christian school (all bills due Aug 1), kindergarten curriculum and gym class costs, a car to replace the Taurus because it needed $900 in work and it's only worth $1400 itself). Braces for Ben's overcrowded mouth. Root canal, D&C and bladder surgery for me (the latter of which I've needed 5 years, so could in effect put off even longer). Monthly prescriptions for Paul and me. Some debt leftover from the exterior home improvements. Not to mention my Paul desperately needs a vacation, a complete getaway in the sun and surf before he pops of a heart attack or stroke. (Seriously, he is that stressed.)

So I paid attention to this passage for what applied to us figuratively.

1) fearing they would run aground, they...jettisoned the cargo . Sell more stuff, give it away to lessen the maintenance and mental clutter than accompanies ownership of stuff; cut expenses where possible.

2) "You should have listened to me and not incurred this injury and loss...." That applies, I think, to not having been more diligent to save for college. We've had a healthy 401K, for which we thank the Lord, but whatever we take out must be replaced for retirement.

Also I should have insisted on finding an OB/GYN who would not have let me "pop" my pelvis in the delivery room. It has cost us dearly at the drug store, and also has severely limited my ability to exercise strenuously. I'll spare you the graphics; just trust me.

3) "Do not be afraid, Paul;(V) you must stand before Caesar. And behold,(W) God has granted you all those who sail with you." In this life, in good conscience, we must pay what we owe. We don't have to be afraid, wring our hands, or get ulcers, but we can't walk away from responsibility, either. So I must work in order to face Caesar (pay what we owe as well as pay for educations that we believe will help our kids fulfill their callings, duties, and dreams.) I haven't worked for a real paycheck in 20 years; yes, facing reality is a bit like seeing a red sky in the morning. ("Red in the morning, sailors take warning...")

4) "We must run aground..." God has not promised to keep us from financial hardship. Or from bad health. Or from aging without difficulty. Those are facts of life in a fallen world. But He has promised to go with us. Sometimes He asks us to jettison the cargo, go without food a little while, suffer a bit. Run aground. The ship might be lost, but not lives surrendered to His orders.

I am not afraid.

For now, though, I will prepare for Paul's homecoming tonight. He took a train to New York City this morning in New York "business casual," which he stressed about last night because it's dressier than Baltimore business casual. (Needs long sleeves and a sport jacket in this heat and humidity on a crowded train.) I forgot to ask him the purpose of this trip. It's either to drum up new business or fix problems with current biz. He is the company peacemaker, in essence. Probably why he's been there 23 years and why he's so ready for a change.

As Sandy Barranco encouraged me last week when I was bemoaning home management as humdrum, "Paul needs a soft place to land."

I needed to hear that. So if he has run aground emotionally today, at least a soft beach will be waiting for him when he washes up on this island tonight.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

For my Contest is Easy, My Answers are Lite

Okay, I think I've made this contest super-easy. Only a minimum of review or memory needed. I have even told you where to look for most answers, so it's pretty much an open-blog quiz!

The only requirements for entering the contest are:
1) you supported our missions trip with prayer, money or both

2) you want to adopt a doll made by an orphan so you'll pray for them

Fair enough? Here we go!

1. At what US airport did all the GAiN member meet before flying to Moscow?
(See "The Journey Begins: Day 1)

2.. Where did Stanislav, the 70-year old lunch host, hear of and receive salvation?
(See "Finest Hospitality in Russia")
-at a Jesuit college
-at a Jehovah's Witness picnic
-at a Jesus Film
-in a cab with a Messianic Jew

3. Besides receiving generous donations from evangelistic supporters, I sold many things to raise money for the trip. Which one of the following was NOT something I sold? (See posts from April 5 and 9.)
-hot dogs at a yard sale
-hefty amounts of stuff on Ebay
-homeschool books online
-handmade wreaths

4. A single young mom named Tanya gave me a darling cross-stitched piece that features a domestic animal. I named the animal after her baby, Max. What is this animal?
- a koala
- a kangaroo
- a kite-winged bat
- a kitten

5. Which scripture tells us that true religion is to visit widows and orphans in their distress? (See New Testament)
- James 1:27
- Luke 5:25
- Deut 18:9
- Ezek. 14:13

6. What were the names of our male leaders in Vladimir who work for Mercy Ministries? ("See Suzdal Orphanage")
-Andrei and Oleg
-Oleg and Cassini
-Sergei and Andrew
- Olya and Ira

7. Which one of the following ways did we NOT entertain the kids?
-face painting
-magic show
-balloon animals
-Six Flags Moscow

8. Which necessity is least stocked at the Baby House?

9. Sarah clung most tightly to which individual in a Vladimir orphanage?
- Dima, the 29-year-old male interpreter
- Me, her dear and doting mother
- A redheaded Russian baby
- Sacha, our missions partner and small group leader

10. This pair of food was served us at every lunch and dinner in Russia:
- chocolate and cheese
- tomatoes and cucumbers
- borscht and bread
- green eggs and ham

Contest closes when first person gets all 10 questions right, or this coming Sunday at 5PM EST, whichever comes first.

I have taken pictures of the dolls, whom I named after four of our precious Russian friends: Olya,Ira, Ina, and Lena.
I'll introduce them soon so that you can get to know them and choose which one would be the perfect match for you and your family to adopt. Right now they are sleeping so I can't ask them questions. Ira doesn't speak English, but she really wants a mommy, daddy, and at least one sibling to play with. She is not allergic to anything, even pets.

Happy guessing and "spaceeba" for playing along!

Zoya, Ira, Masha, Sarah, Ina and 4 Rounds of UNO

Masha (center) is Ira's 11-year-old daugther, a sweetheart with a gob of energy. A single mom (brunette next to me), Ira is employed by Mercy Ministries and attend Emmanuel Church. Since Ira speaks almost no English, we needed Ina (in blue shirt) to translate. What sweet women. Russian women are so beautiful, especially the Christian ones. Ira and Masha hosted us for dinner in their flat one evening. We were served the usual tomatoes and cucumber with fresh dill, as well as delicious baked chicken, donuts, and chocolate.
I asked Ira how she met the Lord. She said, following the sudden death of a boyfriend, she questioned her own mortality. She began seeking answers about the afterlife that weren't being answered in the Russian Orthodox church. There was no peace or assurance in those answers.
She heard about the Jesus film and attended. Like Stanislav (see previous post) she went many times. One night she surrendered herself to Jesus, repented, and received salvation. Soon thereafter she began going to Emmanuel Church with likeminded believers and met Olya, who started Baby Rescue. It's a wonderful outreach to moms who would otherwise abort children due to financil hardship or unbelief.

After the meal, Masha loved playing Uno with us. The rules were a little different but easy to catch onto. It was the perfect way to learn four color names in Russian:

red: crossne (easy to remember by the CROSS of Christ stained with red blood)

green: zeloni: my favorite color is green

blue: sini (like the deep blue SEA-nee)

yellow: zholti (the only color I have to use process of elimination to remember from UNO)
We must have played four rounds of it till everyone (except Masha) started yawning. She insisted that Sarah and I sign her big US wall map before leaving.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Job Hunting

Yeh, I'm in pain, but blogging is helping me not think about my throbbing jaw.

This has nothing to do with it (well, maybe there's a correlation) but my hubby has asked me to find part time work to help pay for the kids' college and car expenses. We found a nice old car for Sarah; haven't actually bought it yet till the people are back from vacation, but still it's just under 4 grand. That isn't a piece of cake for us.

What I enjoy:
arts, crafts, flowers, fine food, being with people, helping them make decisions (ie selling ideas), writing, proofreading (except for my own blogs), editing, teaching, tutoring, books, crisis care (non-bloody), the elderly

What I don't enjoy:
paperwork, standing in one position on a concrete floor, hoity-toity shops, fast food , child care (Love kids, don't like parents who take advantage of child care workers. Been there, done that.)

What I need:
about 400 bucks a month
a regular, bona fide paycheck with taxes taken out
Not planning to jump ship as a homemaker, but my hubby is getting headaches from the financial strain, and I'm not nursing a baby, so I'm good to go for a few hours outta here. Got any leads?

Scratching my Face Off !!!!

I am sitting here desperate for Sarah to return from Walgreen's with some Benadryl. I am about to scratch off my face, scalp, and upper arms.

An hour ago I had infected tissue removed from my tooth and gum. I must be allergic to the anesthesia or amoxycillun, tho' I've never had trouble with either one before. (I don't know the kind of anaethesia they used.) Remember I broke part of my tooth off when I accidentally bit into an olive pit on July 10th? My regular dentist filled it on the 12th, but said if it wasn't better in a couple days, it would need a root canal.

The pain went from dull ache to misery, couldn't sleep at night with 800 mg Advil. I thought I had used it all up before bed, so I slept NOT A WINK last night. Got desperate at 5 and found some! I read Psalms until I was out of pain, then slept from 6 till 9:30, called the endodontist and they got me in at 2:30 but not out till 5:15. She couldn't do the root canal but was able to cut out the infected tissue she found. She said I should feel 50x better tomorrow. The anaesthesia is wearing off and my jaw is starting to throb again. Meanwhile I am itching like a crazy woman. I am about ready to rip my skin off. My face is all red and blotchy with these huge white bumps. Hives to the max!

Friday I am scheduled for a D&C since my Luke 5:25 problem only resolved for one day in the past 9 weeks. Then I go back the next Friday to have this root canal finished.

I would appreciate your prayers!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Contest Closes without a Single Entry

I don't know the reasons, but no one played along in this contest to guess ...

Which TWO things did I NOT WITNESS?

1. a stray dog waiting on the dock of a riverboat cruise. Yes. I saw the same one Sacha photographed while waiting for our panoramic riverboat tour of Moscow's famous landmarks. Earlier in the week, one of our teens, Megan, couldn't think of the word "stray" when she asked about all the stray dogs. She asked Andrew, "So, do you guys have a lot of spare dogs over here?" After a good round of laughs, we all started pointing out spare dogs to each other.

2. identical twin baby girls sharing a crib

3. a motorcycle accident --Right across the street from our hotel, while we were waiting for the bus one evening, a motorcycle rear-ended a taxi. The guy flipped over the handles, rolled on the street in a perfect ball for 20 yards, then stood up! Walked back and apologized (it appeared) for not seeing the cab! A police car rode by, slowed down, and kept going. Most citizens handle their own problems. Rarely will a policeman get involved.

4. an elderly peasant carrying hay on her back --in rural Vladimir, but I wasn't quick enough w/ my camera. ARGh!

5. a bride and groom in Red Square--- A Chinese couple in tux and gown strolled right past us as they began their honeymoon in Moscow.

6. a drunk guy falling and injuring his leg

7. a Russian student driver car . No sooner had Sarah finished asking Sergei about driver's ed in Russia, a Student Driver car pulled in front of our bus at a redlight. Bizarre timing!

8. a missionary who reminded me of one of my sons . That would be Andrew reminding me of Stephen.

9. an orphan spitting a leaf out of her mouth --Galya at the Suzdal orphanage chomped on a leaf, spit it out after I demonstrated. She thought it was so funny, she pointed up to the tree for another leaf. I had to say, "Nyet! Yucky! Nyet!"

10. a Ricky Ricardo look-alike in church-- the pastor of Emmanuel Church, the day we assembled care packages.

The answer? 2 and 6.

I didn't see any twins at all.

Sarah was out one evening with the younger team members, and on their way back to the hotel, a drunk guy fell and hurt his leg pretty badly. All the girls insisted on calling an ambulance. Dima, their male interpreter, told them it wasn't a good idea. Well, the girls won, the ambo came, the drunk guy refused help, and that was that.

Please give me feedback. Was this too hard? Too time consuming? I can make an easier contest if you want to try again! I really would like to award a happy little rag doll to someone!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Finest Hospitality in Russia

LUBA and STANISLAV are their names. (Thank you, Andrew.) I thought I'd remember his name for sure because he reminds me of Santa Claus with rosy cheeks and twinkling eyes.

Clockwise from back:
Lena--on staff with Crusade, native Russian, former figure skater.
Olya--started Baby Rescue with Mercy Ministries (visited Tanya and Max with us) .
Sacha --didn't share my passion for the mushroom soup . "It's the texture..."
Sarah--made a video of this mealtime. (Will you please post it, honey?)

Click to enlarge any picture. I love the detail on the shortbread cookies!

Natalie--very experienced with special needs people .
Kristin--received salvation this past fall !
Jaye's hand holding goblet of compote next to me.

I wish the pictures were better. I tried to shoot inconspicuously and so I didn't fiddle much with backlighting. I should have, but I felt self-conscious. Sarah hates when I play tourist everywhere with my index finger.

One of my favorite memories is that of having lunch with this couple in Vladimir. Our team was split one day into two groups who were hosted for lunch in the homes of Russian believers.

When the 10 of us walked into their flat, they greeted us very warmly and ushered us straight into the dining room. A beautifully set table awaited us. Gorgeous floral-rimmed salad plates,
celery-green-edged dinner plates, cloth napkins, and clear glasses filled with berry compote hinted at a fine meal to be served. (In the second picture, the Mrs. is showing us a large jar of the berries she grew and picked herself. They're the size of blueberries and as sweet as cherries.) The man and his wife, along with a family friend, kept bringing us one course after another. Tomato and cucumber salad (a staple at a Russian table), petite potatoes in garlic butter with fresh dill, mushroom-onion soup, sausage with noodles, boiled eggs, juicy oranges. Best thing about it? They grew nearly everything themselves.

And then came dessert. Multiple desserts. A tray of assorted cookies, fruit breads, and chocolate. The chocolate in Russia is hands-down unbeatable compared to anything in ourcountry. Sorry, Ghirardelli lovers. Take my word for it or try Russian chocolate yourself. (I'm not giving it up for any contest, either, but treating myself to it morsel by morsel over many weeks!) Mmm, mmm, mmm.

After the meal, they served us "caffe and chai," of course.

Then the fondest memory of the day: they took out a hymn book and began to sing in glorious two-part harmony. The smiles on their faces as they praised the Lord spoke volumes of their loved for Him. Soon they invited us to sing "Amazing Grace" in English while they sang it in Russian. It started out being solemn, then sweet, then almost funny as we sang WAY more verses than the song actually has. We mostly kept repeating our English ones as they didn't seem to want to end it. Next they wanted to hear us sing a song by ourselves in English, so Jaye led us in "Lord, We Lift Your Name on High."

I asked the man (70 years old as you can see by his recent birthday card) if he'd tell us how he and his wife found salvation in Christ. He said it was about 1994 (if I'm remembering right) soon after the former Soviet Union opened up, his grown children had been studying different religions because of their unhappiness with Russian Orthodox. Among their studies, they went to see The Jesus Film put out by Campus Crusade. The movie was being shown several nights in a row. The children couldn't get enough of it. Their lives were changed by it. He could see their joy, and he had great respect for his children's interests and their search for meaningful religion. So when they invited him to see the movie, and he saw it. Not once but three or four times. He was convicted of his sin, he repented, he put his faith in Jesus, and his wife followed suit. They've never looked back!

"I'm glad you'll be in heaven with us, "Jaye said, "because if I don't get to come back here, at least you can cook for me again someday!"

He chuckled and said, "I hate to make you jealous, but I think I'll get there before you!" He pointed once again to the birthday card.

"Well, I am jealous," she said, "but I have a lot to look forward to!"

"We all do," he said, in his cheerful way, eyes dancing, cheeks glowing.

"Boh bloggis la veet vas," he and wife kept saying as we left.

"God bless you, too," we said, and left with full tummies and pleased spirits.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Eyewitness Contest: Russian Version

Okay, friends, as promised, I have devised a new and exciting contest regarding my Russia trip.

Here's how it works:
I will list 10 things. Only 8 of them I personally witnessed. Two I did not. If you have read all my posts, you have an advantage. Some things I witnessed but haven't yet blogged about. Thus you have elements of guess and elements of study and review to help you get the answers right. (The gamer in me likes a little random fun.The teacher in me can't help make a quiz once in while. )

The object is to pick the TWO things I did not witness on my trip. Someone else may have (like Sacha or Sarah, but they are disqualified from entering the contest. Sorry, girls.) You may, however, read their blogs because we witnessed some of the same things!

Today is Thursday, and it's 3:08 pm. I will keep this contest open until Sunday night at 7pm EST.

The first person to guess which TWO things I didn't witness WINS A DOLL. (Sorry, I still haven't taken a picture of these delightful whimsies.)

My apologies ahead of time to my international readers. I won't be able to afford to mail you a doll, but you may enter for the fun of it if you wish!

Here goes:

Which TWO things did I NOT WITNESS?

1. a stray dog waiting on the dock of a riverboat cruise
2. identical twin baby girls sharing a crib
3. a motorcycle accident
4. an elderly peasant carrying hay on her back
5. a bride and groom in Red Square
6. a drunk guy falling and injuring his leg
7. a Russian student driver car
8. a missionary who reminded me of one of my sons
9. an orphan spitting a leaf out of her mouth
10. a Ricky Ricardo look-alike in church

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I'm So Stupid

I am so stupid.

Leanne oh-so-gently pointed out the mental error of my ways. When I posted my contest, I was thinking it was Tuesday and that I'd give 2 days for the contest to stay open. Well, it wasn't Tuesday. It was actually Monday. Only people who READ could've figured that out. I am not one of my own readers, I guess. At least not an ALERT one.

So I gave the answers away. How stupid.

I will make it up to you, my friends, in case anyone had her heart set on a rag doll -- or on winning some silly little guessing game. I know people love to win, no matter the contest. So let me think about a new and exciting one to offer.....

Anyone want to play along?

No Guesses and No Winners

I don't know what happened. Did everyone go on a blog fast at the same time, head out of town, or what? Maybe just no one wants a Russian Doll, I don't know.

Anyway, I closed the contest at 10 a.m.

Here is the answer. The order of Tanya's favorite gifts:

1) Manicure Set. You should have seen her face light up. "Spaceeba! I really needed this!"

2) Peanut Butter. "I love this. It's a treat. I really like it with jam on crackers."

3) Quilt. She caressed it like a treasure. "Ah, this is really nice."

4) Soap. "It smells so good. Spaceeba."

Monday, July 16, 2007

Contest for Handmade Doll

In my post below ("Tanya and Max") I told about how I gave Tanya a pile of gifts and she was grateful for each. However, four of them seemed most appreciated. The winner is the one who can put them order of delight according to her reaction. My original incentive was a yellow smiley faced icon.

But I am going to up the ante. While at one of the orphanages (which I will blog about tomorrow) I bought three handmade rag dolls. The kids gave one to each missionary, but there were more for sale in the gift shop. Proceeds from the gift shop support the orphanage. I'll try to take and post pictures of these little dolls soon. They are really cute. Each one is dressed in a different fabric and has a different wild hairdo made of yarn. They're about six inches tall. THey'd make a cute shelf decoration, little girl's toy, or Christmas tree ornament if you tied a bit of yarn around the waist. A way to remember to pray for orphans the world over. =(James 1:27)

I will award one of these dolls to anyone who:
1) prayed for and/or financially supported my mission trip AND

The contest is now open. It will close at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Here are the four gifts to put in order of favorites (1 being most favorite!)

handmade American quilt
Bath & Body Works Soap
manicure set
peanut butter

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tanya and Max





Tanya was scared. Her abusive boyfriend gave her money for an abortion. She took it, considered the options and went to the abortion clinic.

Thankfully Mercy Ministries was there. A young lady named Olya (one of our interpreters) goes there regularly to talk with clients and to offer them hope in what seems a hopeless situation. Olya goes often with Ira (whom I pictured earlier with her daughter's "American ponytail"). Together they formed the Baby Rescue team of Mercy Ministries.

They told Tanya the truth about abortion. They also told her about the Truth, Jesus Christ Himself. Something the Holy Spirit did in Tanya's heart upon her first encounter with Truth led to more discussions, and eventually to a friendship between Olya and Tanya.

On a weekday afternoon our team was split into pairs for home visits. We were told the various situations: elderly, mom with a few kids, single mom with a new baby. Sarah wanted to see one of the babies from the Mercy Ministries Baby Rescue. (Surprise, surprise.)

So we went, Olya, Sarah, and me. We rode the bus from the hotel to the edge of the city, then walked (and walked...and walked )to a set of high-rise, low-income flats. I forget how many flights we had to walk up (3? 5? 7?) , but on the hottest day of our trip, we trudged up an airless, endless blue concrete stairwell that smelled of mold, booze, and b.o. (You can see our cheeks are flushed, at that was after a rest and some homemade plum juice.)

We introduced ourselves and she asked,"How many children do you have?"

"'Four," I said,

"OH! You are RICH!" (She put into words the facial expression other Russians had given us. Over there, because of finances and living conditions, most family have no more than two children. Those with three or more are usually "well off" or Christian.)

If I had to guess, the flat measured 12x12 feet. In it was a futon sofa for Tanya, a crib for Max, a twin bed for Tanya's mother, a small fridge, and a serving/storage area for dry goods. They share a full kitchen and bath with the neighbor.

No air conditioning, maybe a fan (but I don't recall it being on).

She told Olya that within the past week her so-called friend, a girl upstairs whom she'd known for 2 years, came in and stole all Tanya's clothes and some other stuff. The friend abandoned her own baby, leaving him with her own mom and boyfriend.

Tanya's boyfriend had nearly strangled her to death and she had thrown him out. (But as we soon learned, police don't do much about lawbreakers over there.)

One thing she told us was that, sometime prior, Max had gotten wedged between the sofa and the wall. Tanya couldn't get him out with her hands, so she moved the sofa and couldn't catch him in time. He fell and hit his head on the floor. She called the ambulance, they said he was fine, no concussion. Did she do the right thing? Had I ever experienced something similar? She wanted advice and assurance. I told her no mom can do everything right. Accidents happen. Sometime the best things we do still hurt. She did the best she could and it was good to call the paramedics for a head injury.

Put on the spot for a similar situation, I prayed God to give me a story to comfort her. Immediately He reminded me of when Stephen was two months old. I had had a house full of company, noise, confusion, attention being paid to the baby all the time so I hadn't really been fully alert to him.

But when everyone left, Stephen and I were alone. He wouldn't nurse. He wouldn't focus on my eyes. His neck seemed stiff. I feared meningitis, so I took him to the hospital even though Paul had said it could probably wait till morning.

"God gives instincts to mothers that He doesn't give fathers.," my good friend Kathy told me. "Listen to your instincts."

So I went at 8 pm while Paul stayed with the toddlers at home. Stephen's fever kept spiking, despite Tylenol and high-level antibiotics. For two days and two nights I stayed by his bed (Paul, of course, arrived at once, when I told him the severity.) I prayed and sang Psalms over my baby. Rocked him. Held him. Sang more, prayed more. I ran out of words to pray, but I wasn't afraid. Jesus interceded. "Jesus is always praying for you, " I said. "That's what the Bible says. Not just in a crisis, but always. "

Stephen was released when his fever subsided, but they still had not diagnosed him. It never happened again.

"So I had no answers, but I had peace," I told her. "That is the difference God makes in my life," I explained.

She smiled.

Before we left, I gave her a pile of gifts.

Guess her favorites in order. (If you win, you'll get a yellow smiley icon next to your name. I should give away a book, but I'm too lazy.)

1) handmade American quilt

2) manicure set

3) peanut butter

4) Bath and Body Works Cherry Blossom hand soap

She also gave me a gift--a darling cross-stitched orange kitty. I +thanked her profusely and said, "I'll name him Max and pray for you when I see this, okay?" I put the gift carefully in the front of my hardback book , A Walk in Rural Russia. Unfortunately, on our ride to the Moscow airport from Vladimir, I fell asleep reading my book. It must have slipped between the seat and the wall of the bus while I slept, and when I woke up, was still "out of it" and didn't realize my book was missing. It'll be a miracle to see it again (but I pray it will).

Max is by far one of the cutest babies I've ever seen. I wanted to hold him, but Sarah got him to sleep and then his mommy put him in the crib. She must be one of those types that doesn't believe in holding sleeping babies. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

Our visit made me ask God if I should get back into crisis pregnancy counseling. I am so thankful for Christian CPCs the world over who speak up for those whose voices aren't yet heard.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Perfect Peach Tea Recipe?

In my quest for concocting a super-delicious peached iced tea, I whipped up this today:
1) 3 qts boiling water plus cold water to make a full gallon
2) 10 Tetley tea bags (regular)
3) 1 cup sugar
4) all the juice from a lg can of peaches
5) peaches to cover the bottom of 1 gal pitcher
6) 3/4-1 tsp ground ginger (eyeballed it)

Stirred it all up and am sipping it while I clean. I put a few chunks of peaches in my Irish coffee mug (I love these for hot AND cold drinks!) and added ice cubes and freshly brewed tea. It's good, but I'm still trying to come up with (or find) the perfect peach tea. BTW, it's to go with tomorrow's lunch! (See next part of post.)

Got a recipe?

American Lunch Ideas, please! REVISED as TUNA SALAD AND PANINI NOTES

I get the super great privilege to have Andrei and Valer ia Ze sorin at our home for lunch tomorrow. They are Birobidzhan (far east Russia). Serving foreigners is one of THE most exciting things I ever do. I want to make a special memory at the table.

What could I serve? I asked them what they'd like their last American lunch to be and they said they like everything. The only thing I know I want for them is a chance to try Broom's Blooms ice cream, so I hope we can go there for dessert.

Meanwhile, this is a 1:30 lunch which I want to have mostly prepped today, because I am dog tired when I get home from church and seldom host guests at nap time! But this is their only chance before leaving early Monday for home.

So....let me paint the picture: they will be traveling, so it needs to be "safe" for the digestive system. I'd like it to be bright and colorful. I don't really want to mess with the grill. Something with protein for the vegetarians (my folks are coming) and something similar (preferably) for the carnivores. Something hot and something cold. And not corn. They had corn on the cob last night and there's leftover corn at my mom's where they're staying. They love it, but ...

Suggestions, anyone?

TUNA SALAD MELTS: I made it this way which everyone loved:
4 cans white albacore
1/2 cup mayo (eyeballed)
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
10 baby carrots finely chopped
dried savory, dried parsley,celery salt, a few cranks of black pepper
Made a day ahead to let flavors gel.
Fresh croissants, shredded cheddar

Bake in regular oven at 400 for 5 mins (same time as paninis)
Good cold, too.

Serves 5
New York Rye Bread, cut into ten 1/2" slices
1 medium eggplant, cut into semicircles (easy to handle this way)
1 lg red pepper --cut across to keep whole "rings" (stays on bread better)
feta cheese, crumbled
apricot preserves (I used Polaner All Fruit)
dijon mustard
good olive oil
soft butter

Lay eggplant semicircles in large frying pan. Cover with 1/8" water. Boil till tender but not mushy, turning once. Remove from pan. Do the same thing with the peppers. Then saute both together in same pan, using olive oil, salt and pepper. (You can saute in olive oil the whole time, but I find it gets too oily.)

While veggies are cooking, spray a cookie sheet with Pam, and spread out bread on it. On one side of each sandwich, spread a thin layer of dijon. On the other, a thin layer of apricot preserves. My pref: Put hot veggies on dijon side and crumbled feta cheese on the apricot side. Close sandwich. Spread soft butter over top and bottom. Roast at 400 for 5 minutes, turning once. Serve hot. MMM!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

8 Things You Might Not Know About Me

1. I like to talk.
2. I am opinionated.
3. I am overweight.
4. I like to give gifts.
5. I love the Lord.
6. I cry easily.
7. I also laugh easily.
8. I take a nap 3 or 4 days a week.

Okay, this wasn't supposed a "duh" list, was it? How about this?

1. I love long road trips, but fall asleep within an hour into one.
2. If I could change races for week, I'd be Indian. (As in, from India, not native American.)
3. I look forward to going to the dentist.
4. Working for money for my own sake doesn't motivate me; working for a worthy cause does.
5. When it comes to shopping, I'd rather buy for other people than for myself.
6. Clipping a dog's hair mats makes me gag.
7. I have a paralyzing fear of jellyfish.
8. I love cars, especially old pink ones.

Friends: please repost on your blog.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Smattering of Questions

1. Does anyone have a car that Ben could buy for less than $5000? Our Taurus died yesterday (the car Ben primarily drives) and once school starts, Sarah will also need wheels. So we are needing two vehicles.

2. Could I get some homeschool moms to recommmend a good kindergarten curriculum? Joel has started to read so it doesn't have to be easy-peasy stuff. But I have the benefit of many (oh, how many!) years of hindsight and REFUSE to go at a breakneck speed or get caught up in bookwork. Will not. I am going to look seriously at the first of August since I am STILL trying to put some semblance of a graduation ceremony together for Sarah!

3. Will a chipped tooth heal without a dentist? Last night at a picnic I bit into an olive pit. OUCH!!! I thought I cracked my jaw. Thought all of Darlington heard me say, "oooo!" I'm waiting for the dentist to call with any opening today.

4. Have you ever had the privilege of hearing a testimony of someone who came to Christ without ever having heard the gospel from another person? My parents' congregation met at Susquehanna State Park and I got to sit across from Valeria and Andrei from Russia. Andrei had served about 14 of his 17 year prison sentence (mid 1990s) without having read a Bible, without having been visited by a clergyman or hearing a radio preacher, without having any family or friends reach out to him in Christian love. In his cell one night, he says Yeshua revealed himself to him with the need for repentance and salvation. Immediately he responded and was a changed man. Even though he is tatooed blue from neck to knuckles, the joy on his face and his gentleness is absolutely remarkable.

5. When is the last time you prayed for a Muslim or an Arab? We were challenged last night by Victor Blum from Jerusalem, "If you are going to pray for peace in Israel, you must pray for Muslims and Arabs." Muslims, Andrei told us, believe that killing ten Jews forgives their sins back to their grandfather. That's why they don't hesitate to strap bombs to their waist. It's an act of begging forgiveness for themselves and the past two generations. So Victor said, "For every Muslim or Arab that is saved, that is one Jew's life saved as well." I had never thought of it like that.
6. Can you guess what the closet above is for? You probably can tell it's medicine. Well, this was a medicine cabinet in the Baby House we visited. This plus I think one other cupboard in a separate room is all they have for over 150 children's medical needs. The government gives orphanages $1 a day for all their needs. Bedding and medicines are sorely lacking in most of them. So, next time you are paying for the third variety of Robitussin for your little one, please pray and consider giving an equal monetary amount to an orphanage on your child's behalf. Need a way to give? See http://www.gainusa.org/ and click on "Donate." No,I don't get kickbacks from my mentions. You could also give to Compassion Int'l and memo your check "for medicine."
7. Do you know what the most popular pie in the world is? Our very own Joel told us. Please see Kidbits for your laugh of the week!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Biopsy Results

Mine came back normal. Praise the Lord! The doctor just called and told me the good news.
Something's just out of synch, which I already knew, but is very common. We're taking a wait-and-see approach. If my problem recurs, I will opt for the ablation. Meanwhile, I told him the progesterone makes me a bear (my family would say a bigger bear) so he said stop the meds. My family, I think, would rather I have the "silent" problem than the "noisy" one of me going ballistic over something as benign as "this macaroni and cheese could use more salt." Yeh, it's that bad.

Meanwhile, we wait for my mom's results. I'm going to her house at 1:00. Get to meet the Blums again (from Israel now, but originally Estonia, so they speak fluent Russian) and the Zesorans from Siberia! They were so tickled to hear my five words of Russian on the phone. (Meen ya za voot Zoya. My name is Zoya.) Wait till I show off the four colors of Uno I learned!!! They'll want to adopt me as a translatorL)There may also be 30 Russian students here, which I may get to host tomorrow night, so tonight it's a prayer for lots of good meat prices at Trader's!

In all seriousness, I am much more concerned that my mom's biopsy will be abnormal. Please pray for us all.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


On the plane to Russia, I sensed the Lord gave me a list of people and corresponding "identities" to be looking for and praying for, specifically. One was going to be an older teen boy. He would stand out like Alexander the Great, except that he would not be building his own kingdom, but God's.

Here he is. His name is Andrei.

From the time I walked into the facility where he was, he caught my attention. First, he started speaking broken English with Sacha. Then he sat at the end of the same row as the missionaries, not with the other teens. When our large group presentation was over, we were ushered into separate rooms down the hall for small group time. Andrei approached me and said, "May I carry your chair?" Of course I am always enthused to see gentlemen in action, and wholeheartedly said, "Da! Spaceeba balshoy!"

During small group time, he was only one of a couple of teens in our classroom. He was sweet with the younger kids, not the least bit arrogant or show-offy. When it came time for us to play "Pass the Globe" (an inflatable one) he knew geography. "Have you been to Canada?" he asked Sacha?" "Have you been to Mexico?" he asked me. "Where else have you been?" In Pass the Globe, we ask kids to tell us where they would like to go someday. Most say Moscow.

Andrei wanted to go back to America someday. (He attended an American camp where the gospel was shared and he received Christ.) He also wanted to go to India and Egypt. Easily he spotted these countries on the globe.

After small group time, the Russians always showed us wonderful hospitality in a room reserved for us missionaries, set up with tea and cookies. The boy in the picture all the way to left (with Down's) wanted to escort me to the tea room, but I was in a packing-up daze, so Andrei nicely leaned close to me and said, "I think he wants to hold your hand." Aww, silly me! Of course! Here's my hand! Let's go! They made this boy let go at the tea room. He didn't want to, bless his heart.
Somehow--it's still a mystery to me--Andrei sneaked in with us. The only kid in the whole place and he sat down next to--who else?--Sacha. I was catty corner across the room--and jealous. Jealous for a chance to talk more with this eager beaver.
God kept tapping me. "Bless him," He said. "Don't leave without blessing him for future missions."

So I excused myself from my corner of the big table, and stood politely behind Andrei, waiting for him and Sacha and Andrew to break their conversation before we had to leave.

"Excuse me, Andrei, may I talk with you?" I asked.
His eyes lit up.
"Yes. I need to tell you something. The Lord wants me to tell you this." I put my hand over his heart and looked him in the face.
"You have the makings of a missionary. From the time I walked in here, I could see that.
First you were willing to work; you carried my chair. You were practicing your English. You sat with us missionaries and asked us about ourselves and our culture. You're gentle with children. You love geography. You love the Lord. Andrei, one day you are going to build the Lord's kingdom in a great way, like Alexander the Great built his earthly kingdom. I believe you will be a missionary."

Sacha saw his cheek quiver and a tear trickle down.

"I, too, believe this!" he said, tapping his chest with both hands. "Thank you!"
And then I prayed for him, with Andrew translating for me. It was a holy moment.

When he escorted us to the bus, he was asking for emails and snail mail addresses. Not wanting to be the last one to the bus AGAIN, I let Sacha bring up the rear while writing down the information he wanted. I hope he gets in touch with us somehow, but if not, I look forward to hearing about Andrei the Great someday. Andrei the Great Missionary, that is!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Is it Cancer?

Psalm 112: 7 He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.

I am waiting for results of two biopsies--my mom's and my own.

I am not afraid of bad news. My heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

An Afternoon in Suzdal

After ministering in the morning at an orphanage on the edge of Suzdal, which I wrote about earlier, our leaders took us to lunch in the heart of this peaceful, comfortable town. We then took a walking tour of it, narrated by our own priceless American Russian leader ,
Andrew Slate.

The government put restrictions on building so that they could preserve the unique atmosphere of quiet Suzdal. Everything looks just like you probably would have seen it a hundred years ago.I wanted so much to take Sarah's
senior picture
right here.
a) she didn't dress for it
b) she's not the kind to be the center
of attention
c) the foot traffic kept moving
d) we had to keep moving with it

It's a big one, guys! Stand WAY back to
get the whole thing in the picture.

Another old mosque.

On the small side, really.

Does that make it a


Quiz time: What is this building?
a. police barracks
b. ice cream shoppe
c. Putin's summer cottage
d. none of the above

Dave and Mickey Stahl from NC. They've
been on a few dozen missions trips.
She was an answer to prayer: I asked for
an older woman to be like a mom to me.
Not only is she slightly older than my mom,
she is also a former nurse. Every day she'd
ask, "Are you doin' okay? Staying hydrated?"

Mother-daughter pair I fell in love with.

Meet Ira, the mom, and her 11 year old
daughter, Masha. While waiting for our
food, I told Masha that some American
girls wear their ponytail to one side.
She asked me to do hers that way.

Here's a shot of her checking it out.

(She says it's kind of uncomfortable.)

I stopped counting the number
of courses at about five. Everything
came in a little brown crock--soup,
salad, potatoes. Except for meals in
the homes of Russians, this was my
favorite dining experience on the trip.

Sarah in front of a cathedral
in Suzdal. Can you hear her saying,
"Hurry up, Mom. This is embar-
rassing." For once I wanted her to
be a silly, vain girl and say, "Take
a picture of me here! Another one--
at a different angle! How does my
hair look?" But she is Sarah where-
ever she goes.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

High Priest Gives Mercy !

Flashback to 11 pm Sunday night. I went to bed around 11 and knew my first order of business the next day would be to phone the doctor. Beg and grovel if I had to, to get my July 12th appointment moved up.

I called a couple friends at 8:55 to see if their schedules and energies could accomodate Joel. Ben was going to work, and Sarah and Stephen had made plans for a fun day at the cabin on Broad Creek with their aunt, uncle, and cousins from TX. They were to be in Darlington at 10.

Bonnie agreed to keep Joel, so I called the doctor's office. Mind you, I'm a new patient. Need I say more about that? I called and said, "Do you have ANYTHING before the 12th?" The nice receptionist said, "I've had one cancellation. Can you come at 11:00?"

"Today?" Yes, today!

I scurried to drop Joel off at 9:20, fought traffic snarls because of an accident on Rt 1 that closed the road in both directions. Found my way up to the parking pad (where Rachel and Pat would meet the kids and ferry them to the cabin). But by this time it was 10:40 and not a soul in sight. Didn't even know if we were in the right place. I had the wrong cell phone (a defunct one that looks like my "good"one). I found a pay phone, but couldn't connect w/ my sister's cell up in the deep woods. It's 10:47. Sped back toward Bel Air, praying for dear life the dr's office wouldn't turn me away if I was 10 minutes late. There was no way I could get from Darlington to Bel Air by 11.

Sarah dropped me off, took Stephen home, called Uncle Pat, and made alternate plans to meet them at 4:00. Meanwhile I was at the doctor's office where the gals at the desk never even looked up at the clock. Just had me fill out some simple forms. Within minutes I was meeting Dr. Levy for the first time.

I liked him immediately. He sounded like a New York Jew. That always puts me at ease, for some odd reason. He is not from New York, but from Israel, he said, and then Pikesville (a predominantly Jewish suburb of Baltimore where my dentist lives!) Okay, he had lived a while in New Jersey, he admitted, giving me credit for detecting his accent.

Sure, he could've scolded me for not having had gyn care for five years (a trust issue, I told him, after a horrible experience with my last child's birth). Instead, he said, "We're just glad you're here. Some people go 10 years...."

I had to confess to him that, despite the heavy issue I had complained about, saying it was almost unbearable in Russia, I had NO sign of it fromt the time I woke up that day till the time he saw me. Nuttin. Nada. I said, "I guess it's like going to the mechanic when your car suddenly doesn't make that funny noise anymore." He believed me.

Here's the treatment options, in the event the problems recurs:
1) birth control pills
2) endometrial ablation
3) hysterectomy.

Option 2 is what I'd choose. It "cooks" the lining once and for all, and is 95% effective. I just could never have children again. That's okay, we made that decision after Joel's birth. If anymore are added to us, it'll be thru adoption. I am not attached to my womb anymore nor define my womanhood by it.

He found nothing clinically wrong. No fibroids or cysts. Thyroid is normal. So at this point we wait for the cancer screening tests to come back and follow up with him in about 10 days. I said, "Should I just keep my July 12th appointment? " No, he said, we won't set something up till you've had your other consult (for a separate but equal issue) and the test results from this. "

He discerned my apprehension about cancelling an appt already ont he books. "It's just hard to get appointments, " I said.

To which he responded with New York Jew kindness: "Doan chew warry abowt it. I'll git chew in heeuh if I have to breen gyu in on my lunch howah."

He wrote a mammogram script (oh-so-casually) while I read his business card: Chanan Levy.

"How do you pronounce your first name?'" I asked.
"HuhNON," he said, not looking up.
"What does it mean?" I asked.
This time he looked up, and smiled that seemed to say: Strange question,Lady. But he replied,
"Gives mercy."

Gives mercy! What a Godsend! Reading Hebrew (which is right to left, bottom to top) his name means "High Priest gives mercy!"

(I was sad for him that he didn't say WHO gives mercy, but it was like God confirming for me that I was in His hands,under His care.)

So much better than a colleague's name in the next building: Dr Faill.
I found a silly rhyme pop into my head as I walked out:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
When it comes to doctors,
I choose Jew!

Anyway, I woke this morning at 6 ready to iron for my husband. (That is a miracle on par w/ me wanting to grocery shop.) But Paul didn't need anything ironed.

Then I asked Paul to consider and pray about taking my parents' house guests for a few days starting Sunday , I think. (The guests are at Messiah 07 conference.) My mom had a painful procedure done last night and had been four days without solid food. They are missing the conference, something akin to Celebration , for those of us who know what that's all about. Save up and psych up all year. I want to take the burden of hosting off my parents' shoulders.

ONe couple is from Russia, the other family is from Israel (our friends, the Blums). I am eager to cook fish to their delight , to practice my Russian (the Blums are from Estonia , originally) , to give Joel a playmate (named Yoel. They love being called the Yoel Joel twins!)

ANyway, this morning in my journal I wrote:

[ the line from an old (Gaither?) song:] "He Touched me, and Oh the JOY that floods my soul! "
"Who touched ME?" Jesus said to the crowd when then the woman w/ the bleeding issue touched the hem of his robe. Jesus, we've touched each other! I am left only to leap and weep over Your kindness to me. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, JESUS!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Suzdal Orphanage

Little girls liked the new toy cars as much as the boys did.
Are these about the most beautiful blue eyes you've ever seen?

How kind of God to put a cheery rose garden next to their tiny play yard. Once I started posing with one child in my lap, it seemed everyone wanted to get in on the action. I don't know which was more special, the lap or the photo shoot!

My favorite picture of Andrew. If you want to meet a 24 year old young man with passion for God, love for all people, and a gentle spirit toward children, here's your guy. I told him he's a "babe magnet." All the kids
clung to him like metal to magnet.

Sacha making another animal.

Wish this pic was brighter, but it shows the Mercy Ministries creative drama team (Olya and Ira) acting out a skit called "God Made Me Special." One clown's job was to convince the other that she didn't need wild clothing, cute hair, or even a cool cell phone to make her special. God created each one of us from the inside out and loves us no matter what we look like.

This child was rather reserved. Her little sundress kept wanting to slip down in front, and she was oblivious. I hate it when adults dress kids in "revealing" clothes, even if the dress itself is cute. It makes me so uncomfortable. Anyway, I digress....

I didn't get any pictures of the interior of the orphanage except for where the group drama, skits, and magic happened. The place was clean and tidy, but smelled like a dairy barn. It was built in 1870. I didn't have the manners to ask how long the cows had been gone before the children moved it. We took a lot of necessities to this orphanage including a much needed hot water heater.

This little boy would NOT let go of Sarah. He was stuck to her like Krazy Glue from Moment One. In the background is Dima (our Russian interpreter who knew English slang so well, you'd guess for sure he'd grown up in America. But no, he's never been here. His accent is almost British and he has an AMAZING singing voice. No one wanted to interrupt his casual concerts on the bus. He used to sing lead vocals in a Christian band. More about Dima later. He taught me a mnemonic device about the 10 Commandments that I'll share with you. It's a great teaching tool for kids as well as a forgetful adult like me. (More later on that embarrassing moment also.)

Here's that same beautiful blue-eyed girl in her best dress
for us (before changing into playclothes). Ira's arm is around her.

Tada! There WAS a Russian flag,
but NOW there's hankies in red,
white, and blue. Magic!

Jaye the Magnificent pulled out her bag of
tricks everywhere we went. Kids couldn't
get enough of the magic show!

The kids waiting for the show to begin.
Actually, they started it with a trio singing some
catchy little number along with the piano. Then
we had a skit, a magic show, the Chicken Dance, and finally, play time outside!

The the first "real" day of ministry, the day we'd all been waiting for, finally came on Monday and fled as fast as it had come.

Remember the "joyful spark" the Lord had told me to look for? Well, here she is. A little girl named Galya. She's probably 4 years old (they're older than they look over there, whether 9 months or 38 years!) and didn't let her Down's Syndrome stop her from anything. She wiggled her little bum in the Chicken Dance that cracked me up. She took everyone by the hand as if to direct them where to stand, where to sit, what to play with. A pleasant little bossiness about her. She sang as part of a duet in the presentation for us missionairies. On the playground, she had the most fun showing off her face painting and then pulling the balloon dachschund's flimsy tail out real far and then watching it retract. I have it on video. Love the giggles. She did it over and over and over. She also got a kick out my reaction the first time she lifted my shirt in back. I guess I was too playful about it, because she kept trying to lift if for 10 minutes while I danced in circles saying, "nyet, nyet,nyet!" One time a friend of hers got a toy stuck in the tree, so Sarah raised the friend up to get up. Looked like so much fun that Galya motioned me to pick HER up, which I did. She picked a leaf, and before I could set her down, she shoved it in her mouth and started chewing. Well, I made a spitting motion, which made her laugh and copy me. This went on till the whole leaf was out and she pointed up into the tree for me to do it again. Nyet, nyet. No more leaves.
Das v'danya! (Goodbye.)