As for me and my house we will serve the Lord....

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Working on the Crawford's home

You may know that we have another Canadian couple coming to join us in the village. Scott and Shannon Crawford plan to arrive sometime later in October. They are applying for their visas right now, and we are busy working on finishing the house remont that the Steinbach and Salmon Arm teams started in the spring. Image may contain: indoor

It always seems that once summer comes we are too busy to finish these projects and this year was no exception, although two of the students did work on drywall finishing over the summer. However, they are still working on it as the middle of September is here.
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Garry has been working on house stuff almost every afternoon since he started teaching classes last week and progress is being made. I have been painting rooms as the guys finish the drywall. Not perfect but better than the "new house" I'd say on the drywall finishing. Two of the guys have experience, but they are not professionals.I was trying to think of why the school/apartments have better drywall finishing, but wait, Matthew was on the Salmon Arm team, a professional drywaller.

Garry taught all week last week, every morning except Thursday when I made apple cake and apple sauce with the students for cooking class. This week Larissa is back to teach on Tuesdays, so right now he's tiling more of the floor in the main room. We had a pile of tile leftover, the guys had only done a rectangle in the kitchen area, why not cover more of the cement near the bathroom?
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Anyway that's my excuse for not writing recently, too busy! Besides working on the house we had our first SEI followup meeting in Dnepro Friday evening. It was a busy day, with working on the house, I was giving the Crawford's bedroom a second coat of green paint, Garry was installing stuff in the bathrooms, and we had a couple of appointments before our meeting.

We planned to leave around three pm, and then had a crisis, we couldn't find the keys for the Patona house where we meet. Garry and I searched all over but needed to leave to make the painting exchange - our friend Clay was buying a painting and had sent us money to pay for it, we did get it and ended up taking the artist, an SEI student to our next meeting with another SEI student and then to the meeting at Patona.

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We saw a triple rainbow outside at Patona
Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and indoorWhich, since we could not get backup keys from Victor (our normal we forgot the keys option, he's out of the the country) ended up moving to a cafe in the city after we stood outside for a while with the ten people who were there on time. Hopefully not too many people showed up fashionably (or Ukrainian) late and couldn't find us. The next morning Garry found the keys in the laundry hamper, they had been knocked off the dresser.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Part two of the sea- The retreat (or advance) with the students

So last week Wednesday morning we loaded everyone (except Alona and the baby) up into our white van and Victor's blue van around nine am and went to Kirilovka on the Sea of Azov. It is still in the Zaporosia region (or province) but on the other side from us.

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As soon as we got there we had cold chicken tacos, I guess you could call them, it was about one o'clock and I wanted to have something fast. I cooked for everyone all week, three meals a day. Cold cereal turned into oatmeal on the two rainy mornings to warm everyone up at eight am. Luckily we had a covered porch to feed everyone on.Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, indoor and food

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, shoes, tree and outdoor We had three apartments- two for four people and one for six- the guys went in the six, Nelly shared with the three girls (the girls shared a king size bed) and we shared with Kolya and Oxana (the only married couple staying). Nikolai and Julia and Dima went for the day and went home with Victor around five pm to help with milking and things. They had a chance to swim and have fun on what was the best day of the four night retreat!Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting and outdoor

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The rest of the week was very windy with rainy periods, a power outage one afternoon, and cooler. Too windy for beach volleyball, but at least they weren't working. The students discovered a nearby disco and even went out to dance (we have some break-dancers and some learners in the group) on cold, rainy nights. They also played a lot of Uno and Jenga.Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, table and indoor

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Garry had inspirational and spiritual talks that Nelly interpreted after breakfast and dinner everyday. Everyone had a good time in spite of the weather and were on their best behavior, too.
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 Sunday morning while we were packing up the sun came out (even though it was raining back in the village) and a couple of the guys went swimming, more than swam on the cooler days in between, although a couple went in the sea or mostly the salt water pool everyday.

We had an early lunch and celebrated Vika's 22nd birthday before heading back to the village shortly after checkout time of noon.
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Nikolai, Alona and baby came to visit shortly after we got back to the village around three pm. The baby has gained about 2 pounds (one kilo) already. Monday morning Garry started teaching cattle judging and handling, Alona and baby Denys come to class too. One of the other girls or daddy Nikolai watch him when they go to the barn.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The new disc

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business meeting
Remember how Garry and Max had decided to buy a used disc? Yeah, while we were away Max tried it out and decided it just wasn't heavy enough for what they wanted, so ...

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So they bought a new heavy disc. You may remember (if I wrote it, I remember anyway) that the first disc they tried was too heavy for the new New Holland tractor, and they would need weights for the front to keep the front tires on the ground. Max improvised because they were not in stock. Garry took a couple of photos that he posted on facebook after we got back.

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The front of the tractor, the tire is the weight. The bar across the front is to knock down the
sunflower stalks which cause havoc with the tractors, tearing at the wiring

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Image may contain: outdoorAlso while we were gone, and before it rained here (the rain came earlier at the seaside, you'll see in part two) they filled the shed with sunflower seed. Like really filled it.

This week they are selling some to Cargill to pay for the disc (new ones are more expensive than used but better!) and buy fertilizer for the wheat because they can start planting now that it's rained.

Image may contain: outdoor and natureYesterday four big trucks were slowly loaded and sent away, I believe there will be three today. Sunflower seed is so light you can really fill the trucks to the top. When they are selling wheat, not a lot goes in before they are full because of weight restrictions.

The sunflowers almost made class one (the best for selling), and they think they got almost 4 ton per hectare or 117 bushels per acre for the best fields.The really good news is we sold these loads just before the price dropped, and that they are worth more than last year. There will be one more field to harvest later, "the bad field" the one where they had fungus and parasite problems and so it has more weeds, after frost kills the weeds they will combine it.

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That's Max's brother Artom who was moving seeds over the auger 

Image may contain: indoorAs we were going out of the village to buy more supplies for the Crawford's house (they are arriving in October) we saw two of the trucks pulled over, they were pumping up a tire on one.

Yesterday we picked up paint, hopefully we successfully matched Canadian paint chips in an email to the choices at Nova Lena to the right colors of green and taupe. Garry is teaching every morning and working on the house in the afternoon. I will be grouting the kitchen floor tile as soon as he finishes installing cabinets today.
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I picked up apples under the trees yesterday and froze some for pies. Only one more big bowl to finish today. There are a few pears to get yet, the rain really brought a lot down, and its a shame to let them rot under the trees. I am teaching "culinary" as the students call it on Thursday and it's going to be all about applesauce, pie and cake I think, starting with picking up apples under the trees.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Trips to the sea- part one with a farm tour

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Somewhere at the Black Sea
In part one I will review our trip that ended a week ago, a fast trip (well when the road was good) over to Odessa to pick up our translator Nelly for the school year. Nelly left us several months ago when her mother had a stroke. She took care of her at home in her mother's apartment near Odessa after she was a patient for two weeks in the hospital (standard hospital practice in Ukraine as she was considered hopeless) until she passed away in July.

Garry and I met with a Canadian guy I had met on the plane in Toronto for lunch in Zaporosia Sunday afternoon, slipping out of church early (you don't really slip out of church in the village, everyone bids you goodbye). He was with a Canadian- Ukrainian group that works with orphans and other charitable groups here. It was an interesting two hours, at Puszata Hata (restaurant) we even talked about the possibility of opening a battered women's shelter in the area.

Around two in the afternoon we headed out of the city south toward Melitopol and then turned toward Odessa. Some of the roads were quite bad in some districts, but there were places with lovely new pavement, which is the sum of most driving in Ukraine these days, as some road repaving is taking place all over the country. It seems that they hope replace the old hole and patch filled ones, bit by bit.

Garry was hoping to get to the area close to the Black Sea near Odessa before nightfall, but we didn't quite make it. However, we pulled off the road near Odessa just after dark and found the sea and a resort town, I can't remember the name, but we bought a fridge magnet, I'll have to find it.
 We parked on the street walked to the waterfront, and eating a bit (and paying to use a toilet), we found a hotel, right across the street from where we'd parked. After being shown the regular room, we checked into the deluxe room, with a queen bed instead of two singles.

 We spent two nights and one day (Labor Day in North America) relaxing before returning to reality. We ate out, pizza the first night (best pizza I've had in Ukraine) staying up until 11 pm- late for Garry- and breakfast at the same restaurant the next morning, after sleeping in to eight am. That day we walked around, went for a swim and ate shaslik at night. We had an earlier bedtime the second night since we planned on leaving at 6:30 am to meet Nelly at the train station in Odessa at 8 am.

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More food than we could eat

We woke up at 6:28, but packed up and left quickly. I am still having trouble sleeping about every other night because of jet lag (the second night I'm exhausted so I go to sleep at the right time) We got there just in time, traffic was heavy in the city Tuesday morning. They have a center lane going into the city that can change with the morning or evening rush hour, you can see it in this photo. Further into the city there were less lanes and we went much slower.
Odessa train station

Nelly arrived about the same time, and after she called the guy we were supposed to visit, we found out we could go and even though the GPS couldn't find it, we eventually got out of the city and headed in the right direction between Nelly and few phone calls back to the guy- on the road to Izmail (we drove through it on the way to Reni four years ago, I think we had the old GPS then.)

While I was taking photos, they were documenting our visit also

This pastor had visited us in Nikolipolia and wanted Garry to see his humanitarian project and ask about what to do with his cows he'd been given (as a side note, don't buy Christian organizations in Ukraine cows unless someone knows how to care for them, it generally does not go well and they do not make money milking them).

chickens upstairs
This group has a number of people living there they care for, some help with the farm; besides a few cows, there are a couple goats and pigs, plus laying hens and chickens for meat. The compound is an old Christian camp, and they have done a lot of work there fixing up the dormitory. They are growing food in a greenhouse.
They had the smallest Belarus tractor I've seen

The meat chickens were upstairs in the barn, here's a look down over the hens
and pigpen, the green house is in the distance
They had one potbelly pig with babies in a shed

The big problem is the climate is dry and the cows have little to eat. After we were shown the cows in the barn they were turned out onto a very brown field after milking. Right now they are in pretty good shape, but they don't have a lot of feed put aside for the winter. They are selling some milk and cheese in the local market right now.

We had a tour of the dorms, they have some people yet from Donetsk region, when the war was new they had 200 people living there. The kitchens are industrial sized but need renovation. They have remodeled a number of bathrooms already and were working on another. He gave Garry a jar of hot tomato sauce he'd made, they were very generous and it sounded like he was planning to retire when he took on this project and was very busy as overseer, manager and pastor.

They kindly offered us tea/coffee and Garry said we had time.  I was hoping it was the usual cookies and maybe candies with tea, so we could eat quickly. They had fried eggs (his wife apologized because lunch was not ready yet) and had a large amount of food for us to try before leaving, I could not eat the three undercooked eggs on my plate, I tried, but I kept picturing the mold on the kitchen ceiling they are trying to remedy. It is one thing I have trouble with in Ukraine, food prepared by other people, and how long it may sit before serving. I don't think the one I ate made me sick after all, but I was worried with us leaving for our trip to the sea with the students the next day.
Van next to the barn
We managed to leave about noon, with many goodbyes, Garry's deadline for taking off for home. We traveled the same route home as we had taken to Odessa, with the same hole-filled road before Melitopol to maneuver before dark. We did the McDonald's drive-thru as we went through Zaporosia and were home in time to go to bed to prepare for part two of the sea side adventure.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

I'm here!

Sorry for my lack of posts this week, I flew back to Ukraine Monday afternoon, which means I landed Tuesday afternoon. I got a ride back from Kiev with Victor and his daughter Dasha, who had flown in the day before. We stopped along the way for a visit and home-cooked dinner with Victor's sister and mother (she's 82). The roads get really bad for a while before getting to their village, so it was slow going around Kremachuk but it improved in the Dnepropetrovsk region, where we met up with Garry by the big bull stature. I was home in bed by nine pm. (I would have gotten off the train in Dnepro after 11 pm).
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Garry has been busy, they took delivery of a new plow the day before I arrived, and the guys have been busy plowing up the wheat fields. Today they made a deal on a used disc to work up other fields, like the sunflower ones that will be ready to do when the disc gets here next week. I am told it is neither light or heavy, so a medium size/weight disc. They have been looking at new and used ones all over Ukraine for the last month (or two), but they are buying the one they hired to work up our fields last fall.  They wanted to upgrade from the tillage machines we had to go with the new tractor. They sold the last load of wheat to the mill in Zaporosia that will pay for most of the disc. Wheat sales also paid for the plow. The price of wheat was 33 at harvest and they sold it at 48.5 this week. Our Quonset-type storage building was definitely a good idea. They got the shed all cleaned out this week, and did a little maintenance so they can store sunflower (seed)s until they sell it.
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The combine driver who was so optimistic about the sunflower field while harvesting wheat started today on that field by the barn and says it is the best field he's ever combined. They had two tractors going back and forth with wagons to put it in the shed so he didn't have to wait long to dump it when he was full. Max had been reluctant to start because he was worried about the dryness, but they are testing at 6, and Garry tells me that 7 is dry.  We should be finished harvest (except corn) before the rain that's predicted for next week (if it comes). All the fields look good except one that had some problems with parasitic plants and fungus (part of that field was in sunflowers for a second year in a row.) We will be storing most of the crop to sell later. They may sell a couple loads for buying fertilizer for the wheat that will be planted this month, or after the rain comes (if it doesn't come next week).

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This pile was much higher when we stopped by in the dark tonight
Today is September first, which the first official day of school in Ukraine, (and the first day of fall) so my facebook feed is full of pictures of kids at first day ceremonies. No, they don't really have class on the weekend, but many schools have the ceremony at nine am anyway! However, some schools will do it on Monday, the real first day this year.
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We were at Just Youth in the park to celebrate the end of summer, games and a talk by Steve and snacks (I think our students all took extra cookies). Most of our guys and girls came with us, some of them say it's their favorite outing each month.
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Garry and I are going to drive down to Odessa Monday to pick up Nellie, who's ready to rejoin us, just in time to translate for our classes.
Classes for our students will start next week, because this week we are having another retreat by the sea like last year. It's a good time to go, prices are down because everyone is back in school and summer is officially over, while it's hot enough to swim.
 Garry is preparing devotions about how God loves you anyway, our theme for the year. I am busy preparing to feed 15 people- breakfast, lunch and dinner for four days. Almost every student is coming, except our new parents and recently returned Julia and Dima,  since someone has to milk besides some of the staff, and the trip to the sea is a reward for a long summer of work they missed. However, we need a second car or van to transport everyone there and back, so they may come down on the last day.
Alona and the baby should make it home this week, he is gaining weight now. They  won't be coming even for the day, maybe Alona and Daniel will make it to next year's retreat.