Friday, November 20, 2015

October Family News - 2015

I am hoping to start a new thing here on my personal blog where I share family news highlights to give everyone a better idea what is happening specifically with our family. Also, with our daughter leaving for college next summer, this will be a good way to record our memories of her last school year. 

So, we oddly begin in the month of October. October was a busy month. There were quite a few activities major events that I was really ready to have checked off the "to do" list. 

First up was the MK (missionary kid) Harvest Party. One of the other missionary ladies and myself have planned and hosted this every year for the past five years. 

It has become quite the event with lots of decorating and hours of preparation but, it is really worth it to see how much everyone enjoys the fun. We just get a bit anxious about how we are going to pull off all of our big ideas! I will post some more about that when I get all the photos from the other ladies who took them. 

Dessert table at the Harvest Party
A more important date on the calendar was for a dentist appointment with an orthodontist and possibly the oral surgeon to discuss whether or not our daughter needed her wisdom teeth extracted.I have to admit I was a bit nervous for her to have this "operation" done here in Russia. We have great private dentists who are very professional. Every now and then you can find a not so good dentist but we found a great clinic with wonderful staff.  Although Beka was even ready to have them removed, the orthodontist felt that they are not pushing on her other teeth nor hindering her in any way. So, it was decided that she would not have them removed. Beka was disappointed, believe it or not. She feels that they are bothering her and are the cause of her headaches and ear pain. As we were leaving the dentist's office I started remembering how they are here about removing tonsils. They do not like to remove them and hardly ever deem it "medically necessary". So, maybe removal of wisdom teeth is also considered unnecessary. Guess we will wait this one out and see!

The other big "event" this month was the tragic death of my laptop. This wonderful piece of equipment has served our family well through two furloughs and years on the field. Our home church helped us with the purchase of this laptop years ago. 

It became mine after my husband purchased a newer one back on our last furlough when we found some great "Black Friday" online deals. We knew this laptop was probably near death and wanted to replace it while we were stateside. So, we gave my laptop to the service guys who we trust to fix our electronics. They had it for weeks! Even through the Harvest Party when I had lots of planning and e-mailing to do, I was without my "right hand"! My laptop has most of the photos, e-mail addresses, and other information that I use every day in correspondence and ministry. I felt lost. Worst concern of mine was photographs. Would I lose all of our photographs from the last five years? So, for Beka's first dentist appointment back in September, my husband dropped us ladies off while he drove to check on the laptop. Still no news. Weeks more passed.
Finally, when we were in town for the orthodontist appointment we stopped by the repair shop again.They gave us our laptop back, not repaired. Turns out they were waiting so long to see if they could find the part that was needed but since it is so old, they were not able to find it. Sad day. But, the great news is that my husband can take out the hard drive and recover all of my information and photographs! Yeah! That was a big relief to me.
So, the bright side is...I have now almost made it to another Black Friday! We shall see what deals we can find this year. I am praying God provides a laptop asap. And, yes, there are now actually a few stores here in Russia that have special sales for Black Friday. So, I hope I can share really good news in November's update.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Ten Things I Wish People Knew About Siberia - Blog Hop!

Hello! Welcome to my blog and thanks for stopping by. I am really excited to be a part of this fun BMW blog hop. I love any opportunity to give my readers a better understanding of our mission field of Siberia. So, here we go! Here is my list of ten things I wish people knew about Siberia.

1. Siberia is not just a vast, empty tundra but a region with major city populations in the millions.

When we first started sharing that God was calling us to Siberia, friends joked about whether or not people actually inhabited Siberia.

Krasnoyarsk at night showing that the city is located on two banks of the Yenisey River.

2. We do not live in an igloo or drive a dogsled.

No really. People have asked this question. We do know people here in our village who raise Huskies and, for a price, will let you pose with a couple of the dogs and a sled while a photographer takes your picture!

3. Russian people are very superstitious.

This is one point that I was clueless about when we came to Russia. These superstitions intertwine with their daily lives sometimes so closely that they affect people spiritually (how they believe about God/death) and physically (health/medical knowledge). The first superstition I found out about the hard way was regarding the purchase of fresh flowers. I was planning a Ladies' meeting at the church we worked in while we were studying the language. I stopped by a florist kiosk to buy some flowers to give to each of the ladies who attended. I asked for twelve flowers. The lady quickly asked me who died. I knew I understood what she said but had no idea what would make her ask me such a question. Then she explained to me that you only buy an even number of flowers for someone who passed away. If the person is living, you purchase an odd number of flowers. It didn't matter to her that I was planning on giving ONE flower to each lady.  Here is a great article with a list of the many common superstitions observed in Russia. We have dealt with most of these.

4. People from Siberia do not all look like Eskimos.

It is often thought that we are working to reach Eskimo people. Russia is much like America in that it is a melting pot of more than 190 ethnic groups (Census 2010).

5. Although living in a house in Siberia requires much more work to heat and just live year round than it does to live in an apartment, the benefit of living more "like the natives" is extremely helpful in building relationships and in reaching people for Christ. 

It is much easier to get to know your neighbors in a village where you often must rely on one another for help in extreme situations. In an apartment, everyone lives behind steel doors with numerous locks on them and are very reluctant to open their doors to others.

Kids dumping stove ashes after they have cooled.

Installing a chimney for a coal burning stove

From providing medical needs, to helping pull a car out of a ditch, to visiting the elderly, to help them bring in coal and wood for their stove, to providing transport to local hospitals, using our car to carry flowers and loved ones to and from funerals and even helping fire trucks find where the fire is in our village; we count it a privilege to be able to help others, and in doing so, show them the love of Christ.

Beka with her Russian grandma that she has visited every morning for years to help her in any way she can.

Medical help in the village.

6. Russia is not a Communist country. 

I know this may sound strange for some of you to read. However, seriously, Communism is dead. We are asked some pretty interesting questions from people who think it is still a Communist country. There are those few who still claim to be Communistic in their beliefs of government and ideals and a few teenage/young people who consider wearing clothing/symbols from the past "fashionable" but that is about as far as they take it. Modern Russia is just too nice to return to those days. 

7. Russian people are very friendly and hospitable. 

How the economy and even atmosphere of the country differs from the time we arrived (November 1999) until now is incredible. But, one thing is for sure. then and now, we were and are received into homes with open arms. We love Russian hospitality! Even though times were different back in '99, when you entered a home you were treated like royalty. All of their best dishes, silverware, and foods are presented to you. Thankfully, our hosts even understand when we tell them we do not drink alcoholic beverages because they are present on every holiday table.

This is a typical table ready for a New Year's celebration.

8.  We have four seasons in Siberia.

Most people think that we have snow on the ground year round but that is not true at all. We have long winters with temperatures (one winter in all the time we have been here) that have broken records as they dipped down into -50 Celsius (-58 F) for a few days. Otherwise, we have -20s and -30s Celsius (-4 to -22 F) for winter temps possible during the months of November-March. But, as this photo collection shows, life does not stop when the temperatures drop. 

Spring is short and muddy helping everyone to wish for warmer, sunny days just so the mud will dry up!

Summer comes to us during the months of June, July, and August with temperatures reaching as high as +38 Celsius (100 F). That is why Russians love flowers! They help us celebrate those short summer months that come and go so quickly!

Stolby National Park

Fall is usually short and muddy like spring. Although, some years, we actually have time to watch the leaves change and enjoy them before the strong winter winds start blowing in (October) and they all go away for a long while.

9.  Polar bears are in cages at the zoo. But, brown bears do come out to play from time to time.

While we have heard more Russians asking us if Americans really think that bears roam the streets of Russia than Americans actually asking about them, you do hear the stories every year of bears coming into villages or crashing picnics and overnight camping trips.

This is Felix at our zoo here in Krasnoyarsk.
Thankfully, this is just a stock photo.
Not so fun fact: We had a really dry season a few years ago and there were even more bears coming out of the deep woods to find food. But, thankfully, the woods behind our house were safe. 

10. Seventy plus years without the Bible has taken it's toll on Russian society's understanding of God and His Word. 

Many  are surprised as we explain to them that simply walking up to a person on a street here and opening the Bible to share the Roman's Road with them is not effective. Let me explain.  Although a very religious people, the Bible for many here is not properly understood to be God's Holy Word. It has no authority. It's simply a book like many other religious works that sit on their bookshelves. As we begin to witness to people, some have even been shocked to hear that we read the Bible daily. They might have heard bits and pieces of Bible stories like Isaac's willingness to sacrifice his son but, because they have not read the entire story, to them they are frightening stories. As a result, much time must be spent teaching from the Bible and explaining God's plan of salvation before we see any fruit of our labor. Often we must start with Adam and Eve and work our way through so that they see and understand Christ's finished work on the cross, once and for all.

Thank you for stopping by to take a closer look at the mission field of Siberia. I pray this post has answered some of your questions and helped you see Siberia as we are able to see it. 

Now let's continue on our journey around the globe to see what Jen in Australia would like for you to know about her field....

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