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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The old year ends

Well, here is is December 31, 2011 already...looks like it will be a white new year here in Manitoba as the snowflakes are falling fat and fast outside. Dinner plans are set for the second annual pizza cook-off- since last year we had trouble eating them all. So far opinions are divided- one pizza per cook or Noah's suggested ten- the boys can freeze them for dinner(s) later in the year,

Garry booked his flight back into Dnepropetroesk yesterday when the passports- visas arrived in the morning mail, just in time, he'll fly out Monday morning, ready to get back to Ukraine and busy working on the new project. I will follow in about two weeks with the rest of the stuff. I still seems strange to be leaving Seth and Jonah here, but they are out of school for the Christmas holidays until the 9th so they can hang out together at the farm. Both seem to be happy with the decision to stay here and go to "real school" Seth is excited about the writers club he joined, and Jonah is enjoying living in Morden, walking to school and hockey and wrestling, along with his classes. He does think that his sister makes him clean (vacuum) too often. Seth has been pressed into milking duty living on the farm, so Jonah may may have it easier than he thinks!

Seth and Jonah un-stuffing their stockings...

We had a wonderful Christmas- the boys bought us a new camera, I am looking forward to getting some close up pics of birds for the blog for next year! Meanwhile here's some of Christmas morning in Manitoba.

Granddaughters in a box! The girls are enjoying playing with all the clothes I crocheted for their dolls.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Twas the night before...

Christmas and all through the house, lots of creatures are stirring...
but not a mouse!

There are four cats in here, with Jessica's Thundercat arriving on Thursday evening for Garry's birthday, kicking off the household's holiday season....

The stockings are hung by the door, already stuffed, and waiting.

The children are not nestled, snug in their beds, they are going outside to milk instead.

Well, Seth and Luke ...Jonah milked this morning and afternoon, so he hopes to go to bed.

When they come in at 2 am- I hope there's no clatter, or too loud chatter. It got rather loud earlier today when Jonah showed Luke his new wrestling the living room. He joined the team at school.

The tree is still standing, the presents piled 'round it, although the cats have pulled some ornaments from it.

Garry sang with the choir tonight, he misses it when we are in Ukraine. It was the Christmas Eve program, and what a delight, it was beautiful to hear O Holy Night.

The grandgirls are hopefully sleeping so they will be ready to come back in the morning, they ate way too many candy canes this evening.

I have a thing or two to finish before tomorrow, so I'd better get back to work ...

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas wherever you are!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Warmer weather

It was 11 Centigrade today in Dnepropetroesk, according to a friend's facebook update! It's not that warm in Manitoba, but the forecast for this week has highs of plus 2 and lows of -12, which is pretty nice for Manitoba in December. Last week we drove to Steinbach and it was drizzling Wednesday evening. Garry was going to choir practice, he's enjoying singing again.

Garry talked to Victor on Friday- he has been unable to get Maxim's number to work- then he had no more fresh cows to report- Ossa had calved a few days after we left. However five cows have calved, since Garry called, with three bull calves over the weekend , and on the 19th, two heifer calves! Zera (or Zeritchka) the first Heifer we bought last year (see end of August 2010- or early October when she calved the first time), had her second calf a female -YEAH and surprized the ladies because the first time that they milked her she gave so much milk that she overflowed the bucket! Our buckets are pretty small, they hold about 12 liters, but this was the first time a cow had done so since we started using them. We'll have more milk to sell now, with so many fresh cows.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Last week we attended the Manitoba Milk Producers meetings in Winnipeg and Garry spent much of our time there talking to fellow farmers about what we are doing in Ukraine. After church on Sunday he heard from someone who happened to be at one of the exhibitor booths, that people really can't understand what would make someone with a large dairy farm in Canada leave their children in charge of it and go off somewhere to spend money on a farm with no expectations of making a profit on the project.

This Sunday we were at our home church in Steinbach and got to participate in the services, answering some questions during the sermon about our time in Ukraine as part of the advent sermon series. If you have half an hour to listen, you can hear the audio of the sermon - Re-gifting Love on the church website at - Garry answers three questions and I answer one.

We got to church around 8:30 am, set up my computer with a 4 minute video about what we've done this year, participated in the prayer meeting before the first service, reset the computer so the video ran on a loop, and attended the first service, the traditional one with the choir. Garry was so excited he promised to come to choir practice on Wednesday as he misses singing in the choir, it was one of the reasons we joined this church when we moved from Ontario in 1997. We answered the four questions near the end of the sermon, got many hugs and handshakes, and talked to many people we know, and some that we had not met about our project between the first and second service time, during fellowship time in the gym.

Then we went into the second service, which had already started, sang praise songs in English (instead of Russian- both are worshiping God for us now- but it feels like home) and listened to the sermon again- it's actually the one on the website- I can tell because Garry and I did not say exactly the same thing during both services.

Then we talked to many more people as they were getting ready to leave church and went out to a restaurant with two couples, one we didn't know who had invited us for lunch and one we do know from before- Garry played on the church softball team with him. More conversation- both woman had been to Ukraine on summer mission trips before. What an uplifting (and slightly exhausting day- I had woke up at 3:30 again- my body is resisting the change from Ukrainian time!)

So it was three o'clock before we were back at home- we had left in Noah's car around 7 am! It is the family joke that the only car we now own is the LADA in Ukraine, so we are the ones borrowing cars from our children. Someone hit a deer with our Madza Protege last year, so it was written off by the insurance last winter, and has not been replaced.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


That's right, we've been home for a week now. Garry thinks of the village as home, but for me it's the house on the farm in Canada where most of the children are. Don't worry. it took me years of marriage and four or five kids to not cry when I heard I'll be home for Christmas on the radio because I thought of home as my parents' house.

Anyway we left the Porters apartment in Kiev at 4 am last Friday morning as you know, here's a photo I took from the guest room about 3:300 I was so excited I woke up early. It was frosty as the plane took off in the dark at 6:45 am.

Then we flew into Amsterdam (drizzly) on Ukraine International Airlines- it's strange we flew KLM but were never on one of their planes- then Delta to Minneapolis (clear) and then Winnipeg, where we could see snow in the fields as we approached the city.

We have had some trouble with jet lag, it is mostly just the time change between here and there has us waking up at 2 or 3 or 4 am because it is way past time to get up in Ukraine! It's an eight hour time change.

However we have had a great time with the family. Here are Luke- who picked us up at the airport, and has grown more at age 20 to be the only one of the boys to be as tall as Garry- 6'5"- Jonah, and Seth checking out Micah's new Futurama monopoly game. They played a couple nights, mostly after Garry and I headed to bed early like 7 or 8 o'clock! Jonah was over here the first weekend, I took him for a doctor's appointment the first Monday to get him iron levels checked again, and them drove him back over to Morden to our daughter's house to get back to school. Christmas holidays start on the 22nd, so they should be here for Garry's birthday dinner.

Sunday we when to church in Piney to hear our son Matthew preach, and went to dinner with all the boys and Matt's family and Josh's finacee in the states after, the church and his house are right at the US/Canada border. The next day we sent our passports away to get our new Ukrainian visas processed.

Garry and I saw lots of fellow farmers at the milk board meeting in Winnipeg, where Garry talked a lot about what we are doing in Ukraine to many people, we may get some more visitors next year. He even got to play basketball with the boys in their mens league in Winnipeg, they won the game, and he scored twice in overtime.

We have been getting to know our grandaughters again. Luckily Keziah, seventeen months old is not shy. She loves to play with the boys kitten, and doesn't talk much/ I did hear her say stop! while chasing it when she was here with Havilah, who's three (picture) Xaris was at kindergarten that day.

Friday night I babysat at their house while Matt and Kari went out to her Christmas party. Kari works part-time as a dietian for the health board. Xaris was showing me how well she can count, now that she goes to school; but it seems little Havi has been learning too- when Xaris said 38-39- what's next? Forty! her sister answered. Then 48,49- 51! Very close Havilah...

I thought I was over jetlag when we got up at seven the next morning, but I started this blog post Sunday morning at 3:30 am! Garry talked to Victor on Wednesday, I think, and the overdue cow Ossa had a bull calf back in Ukraine. He tried to call Maxim a couple times but sometimes it is hard to get through on the phone from here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

We made it to Kiev...

It's 5 am and we are checked through and sitting in the departure area at Borispol airport (Kiev) and there is free Internet! The plane will board in an hour or so, so I have time for a blog post since I charged the battery back up last night at the Porters apartment. Asparrow is hopping around under the next row of seats, I guess they have gotten into the new terminal F now, we used to watch them fly around in terminal b.

Garry was busy before we left with meetings about his new project with the dairy for the trade school. looks like they have hit another bump in the road as far as getting the old dairy barns at the old collective. He opened the first tube of brewers grain and it looks good to feed- in fact they are feeding it now and will be selling it as soon as the last pit is empty. Garry put up the tubes for the holidays since they quit making beer around December 20th and so there is no brewers grain to buy until sometime in the New Year. Garry says we have 4 months in the tubes at the current rate of use (including what we are selling to people in the village.) We had to raise the price when the cost went up recently, but we are selling more than before. This may be explained by a recent new customer telling Maxim that the guy they bought from before has raised his price to 4X ours.

We went bowling on Tuesday with Victor, who said he had bowled once before, the first game he almost beat my score, I was finally over 100 on the third game where we only got in 7 frames. Took me a while to warm up- Garry was bowling well the the whole time, and Victor got a few strikes.

Afterwards they decided to go buy two new pulsators for the milking machines. You may remember Garry upgraded the the pulsators when he bought two more machines in July. So now the four 100 dollar pulsators have been replaced by the two old ones, they had put back on earlier and two new 6 dollar pulsators. The fancy ones did not shut the vacuum off all the way when they were supposed to be resting, which was a problem- it works on/off so the milk goes into the bucket but the cows udder gets a chance to rest so the blood can move in and out of the teats while milking. Turned out the simple ones made in Ukraine do a better job.

Wednesday evening we attended the ballet in Dnepropetroesk and took Maxim and his girlfriend Yulia with us to see a Ukrainian ballet, The Night before Christmas, the story has young lovers, a witch, a priest, a devil, some Cossacks, the Empress - Catherine I think- and a lot of pretend skating on the pond. The company is off to tour it in China for a couple weeks. Everyone enjoyed it and there was nearly a full house, since it only had one showing before going on tour.

We got home about ten pm, and Garry had to go to the barn and breed two cows before packing his carry-on bag. I had packed the big suitcases the week before since most of the stuff in them belongs to Seth and Jonah, they were sitting by the bedroom door waiting to go out when we got up at 4 am to go to the train station.

We waved goodbye to Max in front of the train station- he was driving the car back to the village, and sat in the grand waiting room for a while before we could get on our train. It pulled out of the station at 6:30 and we read, chatted and tried to nap on the six hour ride. Looking out the window made you queasy since we happened to have seats facing the middle of the car, which is sort of like sitting in the backwards facing rear seat of the old station wagon! Mostly you just see trees, and the occasional village, railroad crossing guard house or maybe city anyway.

WE arrived in Kiev about 12:30 and carrying all the luggage up about three flights of stairs was exhausting! We had originally planned to store the luggage there and do a little sightseeing before heading over to Daryl and Molly's apartment for the night. Since I had forgotten to write down the directions to their place from the METRO stop, we stopped at the cafe there since it promised wifi so I could copy it off the email. Garry had some chicken and veggies and I had a bowl of soup before we tucked the computer case away in one of the big suitcases. Garry had found the luggage storage after we arrived while I rested up at the top of the watched the luggage.

After carting the stuff down one flight of stairs, we decided this is crazy, let's just get on the METRO and take the subway over toward the apartment, which is what we did, sucessfully switching lines and getting all our stuff onto the trains- we even got to sit down on the second subway car. Nere's the view of the stairs we carried the luggage up out of the METRO, before pulling it over to the McDonalds. Check out the handicapped ramp on the stairs with the baby carriage going up it.

We hung out at Mc Donalds with our 2 suitcases, and three carry-ons- first outside by the playstructure and inside as it got dark (and colder) until they met us after their Russian lesson to take a bus to the apartment.

Molly made some tasty taco salad for dinner, and we played a game before heading to bed. We had ordered a taxi for 4 am, which got us to the airport in plenty of time to get through the check-in, and into the upstairs waiting room. Garry tried to take a nap, while I started this blog post (accidently pushed publish when Garry wanted to check out the Eagles game online before we got on the plane to Amsterdam- which is why its now longer, proofread and has photos!)

I'll put up some photos later but we did make it to the Winnipeg airport about 20 hours later.