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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas and birthday week

From the beginning of our relationship, we have celebrated Christmas and birthday week. Garry's birthday is on the 22nd and mine is the day after Christmas (which became Boxing day once we moved to Canada). Our first child was born December 20 and our fifth child was due the week after (wanting his own day, he arrived January 7th and missed out on birthday and Christmas week but we  normally leave to the tree up until then, which is also Ukrainian Christmas!)

Last week Garry played more basketball with the boys and he can really run now! He says he just had to bend his knee differently to make up for the lack of bending in his ankle.

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This year with Jessica spending her birthday in Morden with a school concert, we decided to have a family celebration for both birthdays on Saturday evening. Garry and I went out to dinner with friends on his birthday Friday, and then I finished my Christmas/birthday food and last minute stocking stuffer shopping Saturday morning. There was a little snow falling that day, making the drive from Morden a little slow for Jessica and family. They came to stay until after Christmas, trying out Noah and Audrey's new guest room, which was just finished in their new home.

We had Chinese for dinner; and no, we did not order in. St Labre is more than half an hour from the nearest restaurant. I have gotten used to making it, since Chinese restaurants are hard to find in Ukraine. I put Seth to work filling won tons and Jonah frying them while I made stirfry and everyone snacked on a giant hickory farms basket. We had two cakes, Crystal made Jessica's white chocolate coconut cake and I made Garry's black forest one.
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The bouncing cows came from Ukraine, we should have brought 5!
Christmas eve most of the kids were visiting in laws. Garry was not home much, after church in the morning we ate lunch, met Luke's future in-laws and then he drove back to Steinbach for choir practice before the Christmas eve program. I went with Jess and James and Abby. Abby liked the singing but not the talking parts of the program. Garry really enjoyed singing with the choir again, he was able to make it to a couple of practices. One of the things I bought on Saturday morning was a black shirt for him to wear, since he didn't have one and we couldn't borrow one, it is now hanging in the closet in case he needs it next year. I even bought it on clearance for ten dollars.

No automatic alt text available.Sunday night I was up late stuffing stockings for everyone (but mine and Billie's, Garry always fills mine and girlfriend/fiancee stockings are the responsibility of that boy, as always).

 Garry and the Christmas morning family milking crew was up and milking early and fast... they were done at 8:30 am - normally the morning milking is finished at 11.

Tuesday we did it all again with leftovers and beautiful cupcakes for my birthday, made by our daughter-in-law Crystal and we had a good time before everyone went home.
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Garry is packed and ready to fly back to Ukraine tomorrow.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Trip to Saskatchewan

We have been busy here at home most of the two weeks we have been in Canada. Garry has been helping the boys in the barn, this week he's helping to put freestalls in the new barn that was built this year. I have been getting ready for Christmas, but we took some time out to drive to Saskatchewan last weekend.

No automatic alt text available.The driving was pretty good, although Friday- when we drove for ten hours- we had some snow and slush on the roads and twenty minutes before arriving at Clay and Maggie's- some freezing rain. It did not get slippery but we had to max out the defrost to keep the windshield clear of ice.

 However we arrived safely in Price Albert and had a wonderful visit with them. Clay often visits with us after teaching at Summer English Institute in Dnepro.

Their new (to us- we last visited them five years ago when they lived in Big River) is lovely and they took us out to dinner after we arrived. The dogs were excited to have company, too. I think Garry is ready for a Boston terrier to play with. We left them after a relaxing morning chatting and watching soccer while I put together some slides for Garry to talk about on Sunday.

We drove about 2 1/2 hours to Cut Knife where we found Scott and Shannon. Shannon taught at SEI this past summer and we we going to speak at their church Sunday morning. Once again, we were well-fed with Lemon Chicken and delicious homemade potato  rolls.
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Garry was going to talk for 30 minutes, I think he spoke for 40, but after the children's nativity program, many people wanted to talk to us. After a soup and salad lunch at Scott and Shannon's we were on the road before two o'clock to go to Beechy.
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Mel and Velma Wiens were our hosts in Beechy, we arrived around five thirty. The GPS took us down a road so bumpy I had to stop crocheting (I got lots done on the trip). It reminded us of roads back in Ukraine.  Mel is John's brother and is one of the directors of CRMF, which raises funds for Hope for Each improvement projects.

After another delicious home-cooked meal ( of lasagna this time) and talking about many of the changes in the program this year over dinner,  we showed the slides again while Garry talked in their church gym at 7:30 to 20-25 people. Many were farmers and Garry enjoyed talking about the farming side of our work, and partically about the irrigation project which CRMF helped fund this year.
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We had made a dinner appointment in Steinbach for Monday evening at six with friends from church (and building team members Doug and Marcie, so we left Mel and Vel's house before 7 am and took the ferry across Lake Diefenbaker in the dark at 7:30. We made it to Steinbach with time to spare, to eat yet another wonderful dinner.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Garry and I have been in Canada for nearly a week now, still trying to get used to sleeping and waking at the proper times, but keeping busy. I have been trying to get Christmas letters and cards in the mail with a photo of all the family we took at the farm Christmas party on Saturday night. The photo never comes out as good as we hope, but everyone is in it! You can even see the boys scoreboard in the farm gym where the dinner was held.
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Sunday we were in Steinbach and that evening we returned to meet with potential work team members, while we were there, it snowed, and it was a long slow drive home for Garry as the road was covered with a thick layer of snow and more swirling around. They hope to send a building team at the end of March, beginning of April. They may even do a VBS in the village during spring break.

Garry is always ready to talk about our mission.
We've changed our schedule and will be driving to Saskatchewan this weekend to speak to two groups and visit friends/supporters.

Garry has been enjoying hanging out with our sons, helping in the barn and even playing some basketball with them. He refereed some high school basketball on Friday and Saturday. He says he is finally figuring out how to run on his fused ankle. He has been walking fast since summer.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and indoorThis week the students back in Ukraine are having classes without us, next week they will start a winter vacation, only working a few shifts a week, no school. I found a photo on facebook. It looks like Larissa's husband Jenya was teaching today. Most weeks she comes to teach by herself. They are doing a class on Tuesdays about life choices with a Christian perspective. They drive out from Zaporosia to teach our students this course, we bought workbooks for everyone, including the grads.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The wedding part two

In the morning, after he fed the cows, Garry had to go to Zap for flowers for the tables and a bouquet for the bride with white roses (as requested by Oksana- the flowers were the one thing he forgot on Friday evening). I got some of Kolya's pineapple chicken in the oven to finish cooking for dinner after cutting the stuffed chicken breasts in half for serving (that's right the bridegroom made the main course for everyone, they had carried over a huge tub full Friday evening and it was taking up a lot of my fridge space). Daryl went along with Garry, and the team started getting up while I went down to the classroom to make up the pickle plates and put the plastic forks out. Several of the first year boys were already there with Vasha trying out the sound system. I didn't know they were going to do some dance moves later in the day. 

Kolya was ready 
Soon the Rays of Love gals were doing Oksana's makeup in the living room, while Garry and Daryl and Victor and I ran around doing last minute (it seemed like it, but was two hours in all) prep, like getting the church open and getting the rest of the classroom ready, warming up the meatballs and more chicken and finally bringing food to the classroom before the service as planned.

We raced home just before noon, the girls were looking for a safety pin to hold Oksana's hoops on (they were too big for her waist) under her dress. I found a bigger pin, and they finished getting her ready, while Garry and I changed quickly.

 Alona got promoted to bridesmaid, I think because she had a dress. Vika, Oksana's sister in the green coat, thanked Garry after the ceremony for doing this for her sister. The two sisters don't get along very well, we have discovered over the last two years but she was very happy for her sister.
Okasan with the Rays of Love team

We took a few photos outside and then at 12:15 Garry walked Oksana down the aisle as requested (Kolya had told him earlier).



Victor did a wonderful job of translating the ceremony into Russian for Daryl (from Daryl? so everyone understood) and the ceremony went really well.
  Garry and I were surprised that one of the scriptures was the passage from Ruth that was the same verses from our own wedding... whither thou goest, I will go, your people will be my people...

They came out of the church to a shower of rose petals. Afterwards the bride, groom and many of the wedding party walked to the classroom, while Garry checked on the missing food.

With Roma the best man

 We took photos while we waited for Garry to come back... and selfies too
with Alona

With Larissa (teaches Tuesdays) and her husband 

and Vitaly

Vasha finally can introduce them...

Finally we started with the introduction of the bride and groom and then after the prayer ate a lot of food before the games and presentations.

Guess who beat me at the tying ties contest?

 Then there was the first dance followed by some very different dancing...

who knew we had break dancers for students?
One Sasha

and a second Sasha!

That's Vitaly and Vasha under there

They had trouble getting out of the costumes and needed help

a very large present from the students

A very large group brought greeting from Jack, too

the bride with Yana (our milker supervisor) and Leila and her cow

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and indoorImage may contain: 1 person, closeup and indoorBefore we knew it the party was over, and I quick recharged my camera battery before we went to Zaporosia for a few bridal photos by statues - a Ukrainian tradition- before going to Just Youth with Steve since its always the first Saturday of the month with a vanfull- including the bride and groom.

 They even got a gift sock from Steve, everyone else who came had fun playing a trivia game. We all were ready for bed by the time we got home. Thanks to Nelly and the rest of the clean up crew who stayed home and cleaned up the classroom and Victor who drove the ray of Love team who we going by bus from Dnepro so we could go to Zap.

A big thanks to everyone who made it a special day for the bride and groom. Garry says it was a lot more work than our own kids wedding (for him anyway).