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

Sunday, November 29, 2009


We are starting to make lists and pack -we leave for the airport in Kiev next week Monday evening as our flight is on Tuesday Dec 8th at 5:30 am. We fly to Gemany with a 3 hour layover then off to Newark (NJ) where my parents will pick us up. Then we will be visiting them, Garry's parents in Ontario and arriving home in Manitoba on the 14th hopefully.
We are still waiting for the inspector to get the electrical upgrade so my my stove may not get used until we are back...........but it will be by the end of January when we return!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Two weeks from today we are on a plane heading to NJ. We are going to get our van, which has been at my parents since July and visit with Garry's parents in Ontario on the way home to Manitoba- arrival in St Labre- about Dec 15th.

It has been a week of ups and downs for the boys- on Thursday we moved into our new bedroom and they moved into the big bedroom. They were excited about all the new space.

On Saturday morning they buried their Kitten Tabby, he had been sickly since Garry brought him home in September after little Velcro went missing while we were in Crimea (the carpenters let her out of the room and house) Tabby got a cold and was dead in Seth's bed in the morning, so we had two sad boys went we got home from Russian lessons.

Sunday we went to church here in the village, there were Canadian (and US) visitors- a youth team that will be in Zaphorosia for 7 months. In the afternoon we headed to Dnepro to start celebrating Jonah's birthday early with a trip to the circus. It was as good or better than the first one we saw- lots of trained animals, acrobats, fire and magic acts! We had dinner at Mc Donalds and picked up a cake for Jonah's birthday as the new stove won't be working until the three phase power is hooked up- maybe before we leave----

Jonah turned 14 yesterday and was busy assembling lego, and petting his new kitten- a tiny furry fake one- she'll be just fine while we are away!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Weekly wrap-up as of Nov 17th

We are beginning to wonder if we will have the power to turn on the new stove before we leave- we may have the inspector out this week, but we had hoped that he would come today (Tuesday ) but the electrical office said they hope to finish the paperwork by Thursday to schedule his visit. We bought the stove yesterday as the 60cm one was still there, most stoves here are 50cm ( 30 inches vs. 24 for Americans) but we decided to go with the one big enough to cook a turkey!
So maybe we will be buying another birthday cake for Jonah next week, like we did for Seth last week. I am all ready with 14 presents wrapped up. Seth had sixteen (from candy to Lego and a razor) because I had a crazy idea for Noah’s birthday last January- that this would be the year of as many presents as you are old- can’t wait to wrap all of Jessy’s when we are home next month.
We are trying a new Russian program -Pimsleur ?- I think- an audio one where you repeat and answer conversation for a half hour. It teaches syllable by syllable, and after day 3 we both like it. Still working with the program Garry bought in Canada, and our twice weekly lessons with our Russian teacher. The boys are busy finishing things up for homeschooling, so they can take a break while we are home.
Speaking of home- we fly from Kiev to Frankfurt the morning of December 8, fly to Newark airport – departing at 11:20 and through the miracle of time zones land at 2:15 the same afternoon. We plan to spend a couple days with my family, drive up to Ontario on the weekend to see Garry’s parents, and be home in Manitoba before the 16th. We plan to fly back to Ukraine near the end of January. If you want to see us (maybe look at some slides) please let us know so we can plan ahead!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Typical day-part 2

All of September and most of October the building continued. In mid-September we had guests overnight returning from Canada and Garry was determined to have the toilet working in the bathroom in the house and he did. The hole he started was turned into a septic system by Seva and Timor that week, and Garry got the toilet hooked up the day they came. The tub had been in and out of the room twice at that point- the carpenters were plastering the drywall and did not like working around it. Garry and I put the tile on the floor and then he installed the tub for the third and final time and after we put up the wall tile he got the shower doors in place (we bought them a couple weeks after we came when we were tired of the boys accidently shooting water all over the other bathroom while trying to use the handheld shower) The new showerhead is wonderful, and the temperature is more steady, I seemed to either burn or freeze when washing my hair before!

By the beginning of October, the kitchen cabinets were in place and we bought a new fridge and put it in the new kitchen so I could quit using the one in the summer kitchen (there were mice and somehow they were getting into the old fridge in there and leaving teeth marks on the butter) So I carry stuff out to cook food unless I can use the appliances we bought- the microwave and slow cooker ( there are no electric fry pans for sale here) Garry picked out a combination microwave-grill, and unfortunately he accidently grilled his plastic Dairy Farmers of Manitoba travel mug while reheating his coffee and melted the threads so that he cannot drink coffee while driving anymore. The new freezer on the fridge is super- we had a power outage for 14 hours and everything stayed frozen solid!

Our carpenters were local guys from the village. They also worked at the gas station on the highway so they normally worked two days here and two days there. In October it became a contest as they worked plastering every centimetre of drywall, on their days off, we would put tile on the floor or walls. Finally they finished the final sanding and we started painting the beams, ceiling, and walls of the new bedroom. We had company coming from Steinbach (they were touring Mennonite sites with Victor) and we planned to put them in the new room. The second coat of paint went up the day before they arrived and the laminate floor went over the cement that morning, but we were ready! We were now eating in the new kitchen/family room even though it didn’t get painted until the next week. With that finished we headed to Crimea for a short vacation which featured fortresses and the secret sub base museum, while the family room floor and the radiators were painted. We came home and bought the couch and chairs and finally sat down together and watched Star Wars videos. THe washer moved into this bathroom, but the weather is drizzley most days so I hand stuff on a rack in the house most days.

So now that we are done with reno- we have settled into a weekday routine. Garry is usually up early making coffee and checking the news on the Satellite TV (we don’t get North American TV but we have English news, travel and the Disney channel, and a lot of Ukrainian, and Russian ones) The boys work on homeschooling in the morning while Garry studies Russian and takes a long walk, unless Victor is coming out to work on something. Garry does a lot of walking around the village, often he practices Russian while walking (he writes the words we are learning on little cards he carries with him) One day he got butted by a goat tied up on the side of the road while multitasking. He also walks or drives around to check out local farming practices. Lunch is often dinner as it is nicer to go out to the summer kitchen in the day than in the dark, although Victor installed a new motion sensor light on the house so I can see the steps. After lunch the boys may do an experiment for science. On Wednesday (and Saturday) mornings Garry and I head off to Russian lessons for an hour and a half. I was teaching English after this on Saturdays, but the H1N1 school closing have stopped this, we may start up after we are home for Christmas, but the schools will having regular classes on Saturday to make up for the three week closing, so we will see what happens. Occasionally we drive into Dnepro in the afternoon to be special visitors in one of our English teaching friends from Morningstar church’s classes- everyone loves a native speaker of English, and it is an opportunity to use a Bible story for younger classes. Lately dinner has been make your own sandwiches in the electric sandwich maker, Garry and the boys love to make ones with hot pepper flakes, tomato paste, meat and cheese. Then we watch TV or videos, and check our email (and facebook) on the cell phone computer access before bed.

Sunday morning we normally head off to Dnepro at 9:15- church starts at ten with praise singing and after church is over (12:30 unless there is communion) we take the guys to the mall at Daffi for free wi-fi (this is when I update the blog) and their favourite dinner out (except Mc Donald’s) Puzata Hata (Ukrainian food- you can point at what you want- Seth and Jonah get chicken Kiev and potato vereniki ). Two Sundays we have attended church in the village- we were invited for a harvest celebration with a Canadian speaking, and one Sunday we went and had a Bible Study in Russian with hymn singing, while the boys got to make a Noah’s Ark craft in Sunday school.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A typical day at our house- part 1

A typical day at our house -

Really this has changed the longer we are here, so let’s go back to the summer, when the sun rose early (before 5am) which was great for heading out to the bathroom in the summer kitchen before starting the day. Then Garry and the boys were big into demolition of walls and after summer institute was over, I was mostly into cooking, picking stuff out of the garden and laundry. The kitchen was in the summer kitchen, so it was easier to eat outside, and we bought a plastic table and chairs. We often had Victor and sometimes his sons or one of the guys from Morningstar working with Garry, so I cooked extra on the gas stove. I have not had a gas stove in 30 years, and only one burner really works well on it, (one only light halfway around) so cooking was challenging. We eat mostly chicken breast and hamburger that comes in North American style packaging at Metro- it’s like Costco. I even baked pies, biscuits, and cakes, with some success (there is no degree setting on the oven.) Victor had a washer here so it was easy to do laundry and the summer sun dried stuff on the line in a snap. I realized that the kitchen had mice so I put everything in plastic containers. In July and early in August the guys enjoyed swimming in the spring-fed pond in the village and we went to the Black Sea for a couple days at the end of the month.

As August came the carpenters started the wall building and cement making for the floors. Garry started digging the septic system. We lived with dust and noise. We ate outside unless it was dark (dinner could be at 8 pm outside) or raining. Garry would fire up the gas boiler in the summer kitchen so we would have hot water and the boys would wash the days’ dishes and we could get a shower before bed and walk back to the house and our bedrooms and turn on the fans if it was hot. We found out that thunder storms bring power outages that could last 24 or more hours. Then we’d have to cook all the meat in the fridge for dinner. One of the new plastic chairs was squashed under a fallen tree limb while we were indoors eating tacos (I found taco shells at Metro- imported so a little expensive but the boys love them, and we had all the fixings in the garden).

Garry spent the night in the hospital during the week we had no door on the other side of the house (there was a very secure quarter inch of plywood over the bottom of the door hole. It had broken during a wall demo and Victor ordered a new one which had to be made as the doors are really wide on an old Mennonite house. We also lived with flies and mosquitoes as the doors were left open while the guys were working even when we had two doors (granted the mosquitoes are nothing like Manitoba ones) He bribed his way back out when he was feeling better the next morning, because they wanted to confirm the diagnosis of food poisoning first (just a couple more days) Victor took him in that evening and went and bought about 20 us dollars worth of supplies so they could start an IV (they give you list of what they need- syringes and medicines and rubber gloves and needles and you go to the pharmacy and buy it before they treat you) He was sure he would catch something worse in the Infectious Disease hospital. So after donating to the cleaning lady (to buy cleaning supplies) and the doctor he came home to take it easy for a couple days, with a greater appreciation for NA health care and hospital food.

Then September came. Garry and I started Russian lessons with a teacher in the village (we started even- we knew a few words of Russian and he knows maybe a couple in English) We go twice a week for an hour and a half (after the first lessons we would stumble out with aching heads and the teacher would go out for a smoke, wondering why he said yes to Victor’s request to teach us, I think) We can now recognize some words, and almost say a few things so that people can understand us.

The boys began homeschooling lessons, one works on the computer program while the other does Biology, Jonah’s math, and Canada in View (our geography class is world geography so we are adding a little Canadian reading material) They are able to finish by lunch with science labs some afternoons. The boys get some exercise walking to the store to buy ice cream and treats. They biked until Seth’s bike disappeared from the yard in mid-October. They played soccer this summer with some of the neighbourhood boys (and often Garry) and now that the basketball hoop went up in October they shoot baskets if the weather is good, sometimes they have a game if the kids come around. One day they had nine players.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Couch time!

We got a couch and chairs this week - the living room was finally ready! We enjoyed watching videoes with the boys every evening since it came. The basketball hoop is up out front, the boys have played with the neighbourhood kids or shoot baskets together (or with Dad)

You may heard that schools are closed in Ukraine because the flu but it does not seem to be here.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Our mini-vacation

The weather was cooler than we hoped so we didn't go swimming, but we did see palm tress in Yalta on our trip. The boys had a grand time visting a fortress at Sudak where they enjoyed a sword fight wearing armour they rented. We took a boat tour and had some midway fun in Yalta, and toured the former secret Soviet submarine base at Balaclava. It was like James Bond, built in the late 1950's.

We also walked up a mountain to see an ancient cave city (you want to be in shape for that walk, I was sore for two days but the view was incredible.

Garry had an exciting visit to the police station in Stevastepol, but he got out after paying 500 hgr. for not having his passport (they thought that his photocopy was not good enough when they stopped him for turning left at the wrong time) and we got to the Crimea War Panarama just before it closed for the day. Many thanks to our hosts in Crimea, for the wonderful time.

We returned home to colder weather and the news that schools are closed in Ukraine due to H1N1 flu. Some people are even walking around wearing face masks in the stores and streets in Dnepropetroesk.