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

Friday, December 30, 2016


Garry was feeling pretty bad after his ankle surgery, he was taking the pain pills for the first week, but he is feeling better now. He has to stay completely off his foot for 8 weeks before he can put any weight on it, so he will be even better on his crutches in February, it will be three months at least on them. His bigger problem is he can't carry anything while crutching around the house, so he has to have help to do anything.

He hopes to get to church in Steinbach on Sunday, on the 8th we are supposed to talk at the services at Emmanuel, that will be after he two week checkup, when he hopes they will take the cast off for a walking boot, even though he can't walk on it, he hopes to be able to shower in a week or so.

I didn't even take any photos on Christmas Day, I couldn't get my charger to charge the camera. It was just a little busy getting ready for Christmas, but I did get it propped up and working the next day so I could take photos again.

There are some photos on the trade school blog that Maria took for us of the students enjoying Christmas. Here's one of a couple of the boys "working" on the farm and Polo of course. Looks like there isn't much snow there, we have a couple feet here in Manitoba.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Home for the holidays

Our growing family
Garry had a busy couple days after arriving home before his operation. On Saturday night it was the farm Christmas party and we got a big family photo. It was held in the new gym the boys just finished, they laid the floor earlier that week. 

The kids really like to dance- I think it's why we have a band
Its snowy
There really is a shop attached to the gym

The boys plan to get the backboards up as soon as they arrive. We watched them play in Winnipeg on Monday evening before Garry's operation. Since it was snowing hard we stayed overnight in the city since Garry had to be at the hospital at 7:45 am.

He is home and as long as his foot is up, in the recliner or in bed its feeling OK. They had to make a one inch incision to remove some bone chips that were floating around, but its screwed together and he can't put any weight on it for 8 weeks. Then it will be another month on crutches with the walking boot on. Of course he wants to fly back the beginning of February, but we'll see.

He has ruled out going to church for Christmas eve, its still much too painful if its not raised.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Hey, he's on his way...

At least I think so... he should be in Toronto and boarding his flight to Winnipeg soon. I am at the hotel waiting. He has a pre-op appointment tomorrow morning, so we are staying overnight... plus he is supposed to land a half hour after midnight!

Before leaving he took all of the students bowling. In the last post I did there are photos of the second year students. Since then the first year students went bowling last Friday...

Here they are in the classroom with Garry

Then he took the grads bowling and to Mc Foxys to eat like the other groups. If you are wondering its fast food. Mc Donalds in Zaporosia is closed for remodeling.

Garry has his ankle fusing operation on Tuesday so I am sure he will be very busy until then while he can walk on two feet for his first couple days home... as long as he arrives on time tonight!

He arrived at 4:30 am, his flight was delayed out of Toronto because of the snowstorm there, I got back to the hotel with him at 5 am, we were upgraded to a suite for free, but I think he's sleeping until we need to leave for the hospital appointment,

Friday, December 9, 2016

Fun and other things to finish

Garry has been busy. I video chatted with him Friday morning his time (Thursday evening here). He was up early and went over to the freestall barn to help milk between times that we chatted. He tries to get there a couple times a week for the morning milking. So far it was only the one Sunday morning that he milked by himself when no one showed up but him. He told me he wanted to sort more springing heifers out of the freestall barn so they could be moved to the calving barn (the old barn).

Last week they moved the wooden calf hutches from the old barn to outside the free stall barn so it will be easier to feed the calves milk. With so many cows calving (three more this past Sunday) the students were getting tired of carrying large amounts of milk over to feed the calves, so now they will move the fresh cow and calf over there after they calve. When the calves are weaned they will be moved back. There are 8 pens in the hutches. Garry was amazed that they were able to move them with any of them getting damaged, because he built them from chipboard five or more years ago. He had to remove the steel roof that was added and then they picked them up with the loader tractor and carried them for about a kilometer!

 He was planning to take the first year students bowling today, he told them that they would have an extra day of classes since he was leaving. On Wednesday he took the second year students bowling after class started that afternoon. We are down a student in that group because one of the girls took off last week, they hope she comes back. She had been getting tutoring because she wanted to go to vet tech training next year. She found a guy in a different city to leave with and won't talk to any of the girls on the phone, so her firends are upset,too.

He told me on Wednesday when I phoned while he was driving to his English group that he had finished the laying the flooring at Luda's. He was going to buy the baseboard trim if he had time to get back to Dnepro after the class before the stores closed. I am not sure if he did, since he had commented that the bypass highway was slippery before we hung up, but I am sure it will be done before he leaves next week. He said he needed to buy some scoffs (wardrobes) for the new rooms.

Apparently it was quite warm today after having snow and cold weather. He told me that he had driven to Zaporosia last night for our usual Bible study group and the wind was blowing strongly, and visibility was poor. he only stayed about an hour and on the way home to the village saw a huge pileup of cars on the the other side of the divided highway. He thought it had happened fairly soon after he drove by and I think he said there might have been thirty cars or more involved.

They decorated the classroom for the holidays

at the mall with a big tree

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

One week

Well it's one week until Garry goes to Kiev to catch his planes to Winnipeg. He's been busy getting things done since he will be gone for two months with his ankle operation a few days after he gets here. We have snow here in Manitoba, and there was snow in the village sooner than here, last weekend. They got a couple inches from the photos I have seen on facebook.

I came early to clean the house and get ready for Christmas and to get some paperwork going, which I got in the mail last week, hoping to have it back before we leave in February. Trying to get the Christmas cards in the mail this week.  I also got to be home for Jonah's 21st birthday party with all the kids, and have some fun things to go to like piano recitals and Christmas programs,

Micah and Crystal
I was busy getting ready for Crystal (and Micah's- she says it is his baby too so he had to come) baby shower that was on Saturday. It was a group effort, with her mother, friend and our daughter Jessica making things for it and held in Josh and Krissy's basement since the gym the boys are building is not quite ready to use yet, they are still painting this week before the floor can be laid. Garry may get to help.

I have talked to Garry a few times, so I can tell you that he is nearly finished finishing the inside of the addition that was built onto Luda's (the girls house) house last March when his father, brother, and Micah and Crystal came. It is a two bedroom addition for the family, so we can use the two original bedrooms for the students instead of the one the three girls are currently sharing. It will be good to get them separated as there is some friction between Leila and the new girls. They finished painting the walls over the weekend, and he bought laminate flooring on Sunday that they started installing Monday afternoon.

He had a busy day on Monday, they finally found a cow to turn into hamburger for the group homes- he's been looking for one for a few months and finally found one that fit the bill- not pregnant and not milking much. Lucky for them, young too. We have not done one since he bought the three houses chest freezers in the spring, and they did not freeze a lot of vegetables so there will be room for meat. It is a great way to help everyone with their budgeting as the holidays- and the heating bills- are coming.

So they killed the cow in the morning and had an anatomy lesson, as the first year students had just learned about the four stomachs of cows and how they work. Then everyone was busy butchering and grinding hamburger to freeze.

If you are wondering the students are too excited about the meat to be grossed out by the butchering. Garry recently reviewed how the group homes are spending their money they get from the students. Last week he bought the boys house some bags of potatoes, carrots and onions, since they did not seem to be eating many vegetables. Seven boys were not getting spending money and eating a dozen loaves of bread a day, so he decided to stretch their budget a bit. One girls' house eats a lot of sunflower seeds and the other spends money on fish to eat, he also found out.

Last week Garry had a team building exercise, dinner and bowling with the staff. Victor missed it since he was on vacation, but here are a few pictures.

The ladies, Yana, our herdperson (former milker lady)
Larissa, Group house Mom (looks like Luda did not come)
Maria, Garry's assistant and Yulia, Max Rudei's wife

The guys, Sergey, Larissa's husband and group home dad.
Max Rudei, farm manager, Garry and Vova , parent at'
the guys house

Monday, November 28, 2016

Over there

Here's a picture of one of the wheat fields before I left Ukraine last week. It is the greenest one, there is one near the highway where the headlands are just as green but the middle of the field is not from the road. It is growing but was planted a week later because of rain, so it looks kind of funny. Maybe it looks better now, its been warm. The field in the photo was planted where the corn silage came off, so you can see the cornfield that was combined late behind it. Garry tells me that will be the last field plowed, and part of it will be left unplowed to spread manure on this winter- or to pile it on anyway, and move it around in the spring before working it up for planting.

Hopefully the plowing is nearly finished, Garry says spending 2000 grivna everyday for diesel fuel to fill the tractor for plowing will not be missed. They should get done soon, they were ahead of last year and the colder weather helped get them back in the fields after the wet weather made it too greasy (slippery). They were doing the rented fields in another village when I left (farthest from home), and then just this field close to the barn to do when they finish over in Morrosnika.
the storage shed

They sold some of the first corn they harvested from the shed before I left. They will use some money to buy fertilizer for spring planting. It comes in big totes that they store in one of the sheds. They bought some already that they spread on the fields where they will grow sunflowers next year before working it up, trying something new to improve yields.

 Garry says they have had a number of calvings this last year, one difficult one where the calf died before he could get it turned the right way and born; it was a big calf with the head back, so the cow could not have it by herself. However, he says there is a really cute red and white heifer calf in the barn that was born on Sunday.

I am sure Garry is working hard this week, since he is not teaching and he had lots of things to finish before he flies home.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Flying around

.I arrived in Manitoba last night to icy, snowy roads south of Steinbach. Good thing Seth did not pick me up, someone had flipped their car south of LaBroquerie.

Trip was fairly uneventful, Garry and I enjoyed an afternoon/evening hanging out together in Dnepro- eating out, even bowling (he was way too good for someone who has not bowled in more than half a year, and can hardly walk on one ankle) and spent the night at the RoadStar hotel (if you are ever in Dnepro, it's nice) and he dropped me off around 5:30 am at the airport after going through Mc D's- coffee for him and sausage Mc Muffins for me- for my 7 am flight.

Flight took off a half hour late for Kiev and it seemed I spent the rest of the day sitting in planes or hurrying thorough airports. I didn't even have time to buy stroopwaffles in Holland as I hurried to my gate- my tickets said the boarding time was when I was standing at security waiting for an extra check on my computer bag, behind three people who had liquids in theirs apparently because of my power cord,(I was holding my computer in my arms as it had come through the other side of the rollers, with my other bag). Then it was shove everything back in the bag and race to the gate which was at the far end of the terminal. In Toronto, my gate was at the far end on the terminal after customs and security and transferring my bag took about an hour, but I did have time to buy a hot chocolate and bagel at Tim's and carry it along, then eat it and boot up my computer and go online after getting to the gate, since I had been scheduled for two hours in the terminal.

So now I have lots to get finished before Garry arrives in three weeks, paperwork for my permanent residence card (some days I really wished I had gotten Canadian citizenship before we became missionaries because I have to get a bunch of document to show why I have not actually been in Canada enough over the last five years and that I am accompanying a Canadian citizen abroad) check that everything for his operation on December 20th is still set and get ready for Christmas; while he tries to get everything finished in the village so he will feel ready to leave for two months so he can get his ankle fixed.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Warming up... or saving gas

Work has resumed on the insulation project, the guys are covering the rest of the summer kitchen (or Little House's) outer walls, while the man who did the school/apartment finishing has come to start the first layer of the stucco on the main house.

 Today it is cold and dry, but with all the wet weather we've had recently it's still too wet to get back to plowing. You can see some ice on the edge of the puddles in some of these photos.

He putting netting over the insulation with a cement layer, later there will be a layer with color.

Better make the tea and cookies for the guys before we leave for Dnepro, it;s Friday and we need to be there for English teaching and SEI follow up, like every week.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Or maybe housebound with visitors?

Sunday afternoon while Garry was teaching English, I drove the car (the van was fixed Friday, but one more thing needed to be done apparently, I have not been told if it had anything to do with what I am writing about now) out to the road along the river with Sasha, who had come to church with us and had decided it would be more interesting to go with me to Lena's English school than walking around downtown Dnepro in the rain.

 I talked to her students about Canada's Remembrance Day (what Americans know as Veteran's Day) which had been on Friday, I had found a word find to print and we made poppies to wear by folding squares of red cardboard.

Sasha even liked it, because Lena always has one of her students translate into Russian so even the beginner students can understand everything.

Then I drove back to park where Garry had parked earlier, there was a spot open along the street near the school he teaches at, the rain had been falling steadily while I was talking and there were some big puddles on the highway along the embankment, but I didn't notice anything wrong with the car.

Garry came out, started the car and said the power-steering wasn't working, and then decided he would drive to Victor's house because we wouldn't be able to drive home to the village. By the time we arrived at Victors the heater/defrost had stopped working. The belt was loose and so Victor drive us home in the blue van. Garry had hoped to drive the mission car home, but it is waiting for a part from Germany, that has been three weeks coming.
The cats were happy to see us

So we were home by six pm, with a bag of groceries I had bought but no cell phones. Garry's had been left on the dashboard of the car in Victor's driveway. We had used it to phone Victor and Garry always tosses it there when he has to use it while driving instead of putting it back in his pocket. I thought of it as we got out on the road to leave the city, but we thought mine was in my purse, so we didn't make Victor go back. Unfortunately, mine must have fallen on the floor of the car, it was not it my purse or pockets when I hunted for it in the morning, so we had to rely on the internet for communication.

Victor drove the car to a garage on Monday and got the belt fixed (although one that bypassed the AC, oh well its winter) but had discovered a radiator leak. He had found our cell phones and said he'd bring them out on Tuesday when he brought Daryl and Molly to visit.

Meanwhile, Garry was underfoot all day Monday, trapped at home, because the Mercedes van was not it the village, Max's brother Arteom had driven it home to see his parents for his birthday; and of course with his bad ankle he can't walk far. He was out to the "old barn" (the one in the yard) to check on the springers (cows close to calving), and see how the student workers were doing, watched some stuff on the internet, helped me clean house, and really missed his wheels and phone.

In the afternoon there was a knock on the door and Garry was excited to see Victor Penner with one of his Mennonite tour groups, five people from Canada and the US here to see where their ancestors had lived. Garry was talking to them outside for a while (I had to get him for a minute to double check that I understood Yana, who had come to the kitchen door with some of the milk money and wanted to get paid her salary while he was outside). Then he told me to put on some coffee while he toured the barn with his guests and they came in for coffee and more chatting about what we do here.

Before they left they asked what size shoes Garry wore, and he said 50 (European) and told them how it is hard to find shoes to buy  big enough for him here (size 14 US). He asked if Garry could wear 51, because they had brought a nice pair of work (or hiking) boots for a son in Kiev but he had said they were too big when he tried them on and they were in the car.

One rubber boot and one gift boot on

Garry is so happy about these boots because he says he can walk down to the classroom or the shop in them because they provide support for his bad ankle, which he did more than once before our visitors arrived on Tuesday around one pm. Now he has work boots and rubber boots. He ordered boots for when he goes to help milk (his had walked away over the summer) on the internet with Maria's assistance and they arrived last week. Yesterday he picked up the rubber boots that they had ordered for the the boys in the same way, because all but two boys needed boots to wear for work.

We had a nice visit with Daryl and Molly, who Garry likes to introduce as his boss, since Daryl is the European director for EFCCM, the mission organization we serve with. We had talked about having an early American Thanksgiving dinner (they are originally form California, but have been Canadians for years) but with no car, I did not get turkey breast to cook, so we had a meatloaf main dish with Victor when they arrived.

There was some snow falling Tuesday night when Garry went out to check on his cows, in the morning there was none on the ground but some sticking to the trees and the neighbor's roof. We walked down the street to show Daryl and Molly the finished school apartment building, they had seen it under construction in the spring.

Unfortunately, the car was still not fixed, Tuesday evening. Victor changed garages after the first one had changed from do it Tuesday to maybe Thursday and it was finished Wednesday evening. By that time we had cancelled our Wednesday night English group (Garry will go next week there, after I leave for Canada) so that Max could drive the group home parents and students to their Bible study in Zaporosia with the Mercedes. Garry used the Mercedes van to drive Daryl and Molly back to Dnepro after lunch Wednesday to catch their bus back to Kirvoy Rog at two o'clock. I refilled Bear's house with straw, all I put in last month has come out, I think it catches on his chain. He seems quite happy back in our yard since September, hanging out with Polo, I had to buy a new collar for him. his broke last month, not sure how many people he scared when he was loose, but he came when I called him.

Garry will go the Dnepro with Victor this afternoon to get the car when he goes to sell milk. I need to get busy and organize the house (like buy some cat and dog food and kitty litter to  get stocked up for months and make sure Maria knows where everything is)  for the time we will be away in Canada while Garry has his ankle fixed, since I fly out on Tuesday morning.

Now for your amusement, I had to buy a new vegetable peeler after my plastic handled one broke while peeling the quince Garry brought home last month, I finally got one for less than a dollar last week, complete with amusing English translation.

# 1 Rule for life- never fall from a high place and collision with something hard!
Made you smile, I bet. Even though we can't use it on bricks, it did peel the carrots I bought it for.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The price of milk

Today we raised the price of milk to our milk buyers to an all time high - 6 grivna a liter (about 24 cents US). We have been telling you for two years that the price of everything we buy has risen dramatically here in Ukraine, but the price we can get for our milk has not really changed, so what is different?

Last week Max got a phone call from the truck that buys milk in the village offering six grivna a liter to come and buy our milk, so the regular buyers who come with their cans in their vans were notified that they should pay that much if they want the milk. Of course it will be much less work for our workers if one truck comes to pick up all the milk, but we gave the regulars a chance to keep buying milk for the same price, since some of them have been buying our milk for six years.

We we wondering if the market price had gone up because one of the buyers, Katya had come to the house last week complaining that Yana (our milker lady who has become barn manager) wouldn't sell her enough milk. That often means that the resale price is more profitable, but with so many dry cows in the herd right now, everyone has been cut back to share the production equally, so we weren't sure until the phone call.

It is likely that the price is rising because there is less milk for sale now in Ukraine.  Now that it is fall there is always less milk made because production is seasonal here, with most of the people in the village with one or two cows only selling excess milk to the trucks in the summertime. In addition, after low prices for the last two years, many people with a few cows have decided to sell their animals because they have not been making a profit from the milk.
Yana in the new barn 

Last month, after moving to the new barn, Garry thought that we would stop selling small amounts to people who used to come in at any time of day to buy a couple liters for drinking or cheese making at home. Instead they decided that milk will only be sold to people (except the big buyers) during the afternoon milking (around one o'clock) for a higher price than the others pay- eight grivna closer to the market price (which did not change today).

Cleaning after milking, you have never seen a cleaner parlor

Here's a few pictures for the dairy farmers to see of the new barn set up, the equipment room, and milking parlor. It has been winterized since I took the photos last month, so you wouldn't see the outdoors around the compressor if you went there today! The wall that was removed to put the milk tank inside the milk house has been insulated and re-caulked to get ready for winter, too.

Same milk tank, new hot water heaters

compressor, vacuum pump

The red and blue containers are the pipeline chemicals
for cleaning. 
Before milking, each cow's udder is cleaned with an individual use cloth. They are washed in the washing machine in this photo and used damp to wipe the cows. They are microfibre, we bought some at Nova Lene that are sold for cars, and they get very dry during the spin cycle, in fact they are stuck all over the washer drum when you open it up.
milk going in the tank, we could use a cover with a hole
for the line to stick through yet

The dry cows (ones not milking and getting ready to give birth)  are in the "old" barn here by the house and Garry and Yana both check on them several times a day. I addition a couple of students are working in the barn, cleaning and feeding each day, so they are watching for something exciting to happen while they are there. Yesterday morning when Garry checked on them before we went to church, he came in and said one cow was leaking milk, and when we got home last night Yana stopped in to say she had a heifer calf while we were gone. She also said the water wasn't working in the old barn and she had come to the house to get a bucket of water for the fresh cow.

Yana likes the curly hair on the new heifer calf

 Garry went out to see and was pleased that all had gone well and the cow had already cleaned (expelled the afterbirth or placenta).He also got the water working again in the barn, by jiggling the control, luckily because we need a new flashlight.. This was the second fresh cow this month, and there are about ten more cows due to calve this month, so we will be making more milk to sell soon. Of course, Garry says that there are ten more milking in the barn who are giving very little, so they could/should be dry.