Monday, December 17, 2012

Homemade Ornaments

For Christmas this year, I made ornaments for each family in the church. I found the idea on Pinterest. It worked so well, I decided to share it on my blog. Other than the cooking part, this is a GREAT craft for kiddos. Here is the recipe for the dough:

1 Box of Baking Soda (about 2 cups)
1 Cup of Starch ( I used potato starch because that is all I could find here)
1 1/2 Cups of Water

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring consistently, until it is too thick to stir with a spoon. Cool for 15 minutes, or until the dough is cool enough to touch. Knead it for about 5 minutes, or until smooth.

The dough is a rubbery consistency, and I found it very easy to work with. After you mold it into what you desire, allow at least 2 days to dry. If it is thick, it will take several days. It can be painted with acrylic paint. Happy crafting! :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving...Russian style! :)

Each year the Reasoner family celebrates Thanksgiving with the church. Yes, Thanksgiving is a completely American holiday, but the greatness of a day set aside to give God thanks, crosses to every culture and tongue. We celebrated all day Sunday during church and following with a delicious meal complete with turkey and stuffing! There was singing, poetry and testimonies, all praising and thanking God for His goodness.

We are blessed indeed! I pray you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The bad mood & the broken umbrella

The morning started off rough. I had eaten something the day before that was not "sitting well" with my stomach and had not slept well the night before. My alarm went off at 7:00 and I started my day. It was pouring rain as I left for my Russian lesson so I grabbed an umbrella and headed out the door. The last thing I felt like doing was going out in the nasty, cold rain and working my brain with this confusing language. Yes, my mood was pretty sour. About halfway there a huge gust of wind caught my umbrella and, as you can probably guess, flipped it out. My morning was definitely not improving! Now I was getting pelted with windblown cold rain. By the time I got to the school, I was wet and miserable. The lady at the desk started saying some stuff that I didn't understand. My teacher came out and told me I needed to put the blue plastic socks over my shoes so as to not track a mess on the clean floors. (I'm going to insert here that I'm thankful I don't have lessons at the house, in spite of yucky days, because culture is just as important as the language.) The lesson began with some confusion, because I have two different teachers. Even though they are at the same school, they don't communicate what they are teaching. My heart was not in the lesson at all and a few minutes into it, my teacher said, "Your mood is very bad, yes?" That hit me like a ton of bricks. Yes, my mood was awful! Shame on me for being such a bad testimony! I quickly said I was sorry, and silently asked the Lord for help to improve my disposition. I stopped worrying about my wet, now completly frizzy hair. I stopped thinking that everyone else in the family was dry and comfortable at home. Basically, I made the choice that my pity party needed to end! By the end of the lesson things had indeed improved. My teacher told me that was the best lesson we had so far and I was really improving! My broken umbrella and I made our way home in the cold, driving rain, but the walk home wasn't nearly as miserable as the walk there had been. It's all in the perspective, yes? 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Vanilla Muffins

Hi! Just wanted to do a quick post and share this yummy muffin recipe with you. My husband and I both graduated in 2006. While he returned to school to get his Masters degree, I found an incredible job at a Victorian tea house. They were only open for lunch but also served high tea and special things for large groups. It was the greatest job. I fit in well in such a girly environment! : ) Some days I waitressed, others I worked in the gift shop, but the most beneficial was the time I spent helping in the kitchen. I learned so much! The chef there was a nice girl about my age, and we had become good friends. She knew my love of baking so when there was a need for some extra help, I got to fill it! Every day we served these amazing muffins with each meal. Here is the smaller version of what we made. They are easy and delicious! Enjoy! : )

Vanilla Muffins

1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup cold milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Bake Time: 15-20 minutes.
Yield: 12 cupcakes.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture; stir in milk.

~This is a basic recipe and the possibilities are endless. They can be frosted if you like. You could add blueberries, strawberries, etc. They are also yummy with cinnamon sprinkled on top. Or you can just enjoy them as is! : )

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Homemade Tortillas

Hello, Friends! One of the things that has been fun for me in my life here in Russia is broadening my cooking skills. I've always enjoyed cooking, but cooking in a different country changes things. And cooking in Russia is no exception. It's like a delightful challenge to me. Cream of Chicken - remarkably easy, French fried onions - delicious...I get extremely excited when I figure something else out. Google and Pinterest are my friends. I do cook Russian food as well sometimes, but honestly it's nice to also eat things that are familiar. And again I love the challenge! So today for lunch my newest adventure was taquitoes. Since we are in a massive city, we can find tortillas sometimes at some of the larger stores. That means going to Moscow though, and I try to get around that as much as possible. So today I made tortillas for the first time. Then I made a recipe for taquitoes off of Pinterest. I didn't use much of the recipe honestly just kind of a basis to help me get going since I couldn't get some of the seasonings. Cooking from scratch this much is not only a rewarding accomplishment, but also a healthier alternative. : ) If you'd like to try your hand at tortillas, you can find the recipe I used here. Happy cooking!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Let the lessons begin!

The Lord has recently opened up an interesting door for me. Learning English is a big deal for many here in the Moscow area. It helps people get a better job or to move up in the job that they have. We do a free English club every Friday night in our home, and always have a devotion afterwards. It has been a great evangelism tool, and we've made many friends! Other than that, I have always said that I won't teach English. It is just, 'not my thing'. Well, for a while I have been praying about taking actual Russian lessons. I have just been doing home study with my husband since he already speaks so well. It has been going ok, but slower than I knew it should be. Going to Moscow was really not an option for me. It is a 2-4 hour trip one way. I do fine getting around our town of Domodedovo by myself, but going to Moscow by myself seriously terrifies me! Someone our family knows recently started a new business of teaching English in Domodedovo. My sister has helped them out some, but they have been looking for more teachers. I said that I wasn't interested until the idea came up that I could take Russian lessons from them. Not only am I now taking Russian lessons, I am also teaching English as an even exchange. She doesn't pay me to teach, but I get Russian lessons for free! I am really loving it! It is only a 20 minute walk from where we live, so it is very easy for me to commute by myself. It is helping me meet more people while I am getting more involved in the community of our area. It is forcing me to use my Russian, and I am hearing more Russian on a day to day basis now. I am excited to see how the Lord will use this, and I am so thankful to finally be taking real Russian lessons!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

We're back!

Hello! As you can see, blogging has really been put to the back burner lately. Life has been different lately and I found it difficult to blog. There have been some days in the last couple months where I felt simply overwhelmed. God is good all the time though, and a very near presence when we are having rough times. My dad is healing little by little. He continues to live on the drink Ensure due to the loss of his mouth. I can't imagine how sick of Ensure he must be at this point! He has lost quite a bit of weight; I don't think this is the diet he intended on! : ) He had some severe pain where they removed his eye, but God answered our prayers and it is doing much better! : ) My parents are thrilled to be home and taking things one day at a time. God's grace is sufficient each day!

Right before we left to come back to Russia, my husband's youngest brother got engaged. We got to chaperone them. It was so sweet! We are so happy for them!!

We are so enjoying being back in Russia for a little bit. Prayerfully, we should only need to return to the states on more time before receiving a 3 year visa. I was thrilled to see the lovely fall leaves when we returned. For some reason I had thought they didn't have a fall season, but the trees are beautiful shades of yellow. We may have a longer winter here, but we are blessed to still be able to enjoy four seasons! : )
Thanks for stopping by! Have a blessed day!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Masha and the Bear

Today I want to share a bit of fun Russian culture with you. There is a cartoon that is extremely popular in Russia called Маша и Медведь or Masha and the Bear. Some of you living outside of Russia may have even heard of this adorable cartoon. I'm so impressed with it! It has been helpful to listen to as my Russian improves, but honestly you don't have to understand a word of it to know what is going on and enjoy it. I hope you will take a few minutes to watch this. If you have kiddos around, you might want to have them watch it with you. My 18 month niece Chloe loves to watch this. She just giggles and giggles the whole time! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I love nieces!

I'm pretty convinced I have the cutest nieces ever! It has been such a joy to spend time with family.



Saturday, August 18, 2012

Updates & prayer requests

We are back in the states once again. It has been a bit since I posted, and I feel like an update will be best for this post. First, I'd like to share with you the latest in our visa situation. As you have probably noticed we have needed to come to the states to renew our visas every 3 months for the last year. It has been really difficult to go back and forth so often, not to mention expensive.  Recently a new visa has been "brought to the table". It is still being discussed by the Russian government. It would be a 3 year visa, but it appears it might end up being 6 months in Russia and then 6 months in the states. Obviously that would not be ideal. My husband also read that they might be doing away with the visa we have been currently using. God always has a plan though and has been opening some doors for us!! Someone we have recently met in Russia has said they can help us get the visas we need. It would be temporary residency status in Russia and would be a 3-5 year visa! These visas are very difficult for us to get in Moscow. They only have a certain amount per area per year, and all the officials and wealthy end up using them all. Joel's parents have tried and tried to get this visa in the past, but have always been denied. Please join us in prayer that we will be able to receive this longer visa!

Secondly, I'd like share with you an update on my dad's cancer. He started chemo and radiation last Monday. They had told my parents they would be able to go home on the weekends until the end when dad would probably be too sick to travel. Well, things have not gone as planned. He was admitted to the hospital on Friday. He is extremely weak and cannot keep anything down. He has 5 more weeks of treatments ahead of him. This has been extremely difficult on my mom as well. Dad was admitted to the hospital on their 33rd anniversary. Please pray for my parents! Pray that dad will regain some strength. Pray for grace, peace and strength for my mom.

Thank you to all those who have been in prayer for us and our family. It is appreciated more than we can express. As difficult as it is to travel back and forth, I am so thankful to be able to be with my parents during this difficult time. We are currently in the Northwest but are on our way to be with my parents. I know it will be so hard to see my dad in this kind of condition. I'm thankful for God's grace and strength!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cherry Pickin'

Happy summer days to everyone! We have finally started having a real summer here in the Moscow area of Russia. I was wondering if it was going to come this year. This week we have actually been in the low 30s! (or 80s F) The sun may be warm but it is lovely, and we are certainly thankful we are not enduring the extreme temperatures that our family and friends in the states are having! This last Saturday after handing out tracts, Joel and I walked on a "back road" then through our beautiful forest on our way home. We were tired and hot, but we enjoyed walk together. I love all the wild flowers that grow in the forest here.

The other day a lady who attends English club and church invited us to her home to pick cherries. We spent the day on ladders picking and picking, but feeling we were hardly even making a dent in all her cherries. She has an incredible flower garden, which of coarse was my favorite part! Here are some pictures from our fun!

We made compote (a Russian juice) with some of the cherries to share with everyone on Sunday. Compote is basically boiled berries with a whole lot of sugar! We had to use some of our sugar cubes because we ran out of regular sugar sand (as they call it here).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fresh from the garden!

One of my favorite things about this time of the year is all the fresh produce that becomes available. People start bringing delicious goodness from their gardens to share with others. This year the Reasoner family has joined the gardeners. We don't have a lot of space due to the dogs that guard the back of the house. They have already proved their ability to destroy by digging up an apple tree planted in the back yard. We have done what we can with what we have though.

The corn is definitely the star of the show! The only corn here is what we would call field corn. They eat it like we eat sweet corn. It's so hard to enjoy it after years of experiencing the amazingness of sweet corn! So...this is sweet corn! We have quite a few ears growing! This has been my mother-in-law's dream for a while, so she is just thrilled! = )

To the right of the picture are my babies. Green beans!! I love them!! I know it's a bit strange, but I seriously could eat fresh green beans like this every day! They are doing amazing, and we've been enjoying delicious fresh green beans! The rest of the stuff is doing pretty well. We have onions, garlic, carrots, cabbage, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini and pumpkins. I think that is everything! = )

So I had to take a picture of these. I have never seen anything like it. In addition to my bush green bean plants, we have these tall vine green bean plants that produce these insanely long green beans! I'll admit I was pretty nervous to try them, but they taste just like green beans should. Has anyone else ever had green beans like these? I'd love to hear about it if you have.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Arctic Adventure - Part 2

It amazes me how quickly the days fly by! I meant to post part 2 last week, but it just didn't happen. So here it is. = ) If you are interested in part 1, you can find it here.

After several days of passing out tracks to three different cities, we decided to visit a city that my father-in-law had visited about 8 years earlier. It was a town around 2000 people, and the Reindeer people had been nearby. The best part was that it wasn't in the area that was illegal to us, so we could hold a meeting there. Excited to see yet another Arctic town, we boarded a train. This town along with the others were all located inside the Arctic Circle...awesome huh! As we were getting ready to get off the train, the guy asked us why we would want to get off here. We told him we were doing mission work, and he replied by asking if we realized there's no town here and only five or so people...Well, we didn't realize that, but didn't have a choice in the matter since our tickets ended there. We couldn't have stayed on the train if we wanted to. The train guy told us that we would probably have to flag our train down to pick us up because it didn't always stop, and if it did stop, we would not have more than 90 seconds to board before it would take off again. My heart went into my stomach at this point. We had no choice but to get off at this deserted town and there was no guarantee our train would stop the next day. There was not a ramp to get off the train. It was just a nice big jump. Here we were, a few snacks for food, a very small amount of water, a couple tents to sleep in the cold, mosquito infested, sun shining all night city of Palarny 110. Joel said the 110 was the kilometers from any kind of civilization. = ) There were 7 of us altogether. Joel and I, his parents, and 3 Americans that were getting the adventure of their life! 4 of us were girls, and as we got off the train and realized the extent of the situation we all got a severe case of the giggles!! I mean we were out of control! Mom always said it's better to laugh than cry, and laugh we did! The witty bug bit us all and we were having a time of it. When we got into "town" from the tracks, you can only imagine the looks on the faces of the few guys working on a Americans in the middle of Arctic Russia! We asked what had happened to the town, and they told us that basically the government decided they didn't need that town anymore and shut it down. With no food or money, the town had died quickly. From this point on, we began to realize and see the hand of God providing for our every need! I just have to insert here how much this trip grew my faith and trust in our omnipotent God!! They told us to just pick a "house" for the night. They were all empty. We found some furnished buildings, and picked a couple that didn't seem too bad. We put our luggage down and ate a few snacks before heading out to speak to the few there, and investigate this ghost city. Here are some pictures of where we slept that night.

It may not have been Holiday Inn, but we were praising the Lord for a roof over our heads. After we figured out where we were sleeping, the exploring and sharing the Gospel began.

This guy listened the longest of those we met that day. He really seemed under conviction, but never made a profession.

Exploring! I like this picture because Joel and I look all cute holding hands. Ok, I'm done being sappy. = ) Check out those deserted apartments. It was amazing how bad a city could look after less than eight years of little to no people.

Sad looking buildings and beautiful mountains!

So this is where the story really gets amazing!! While we were passing out tracts and talking to people, this guy in the orange says, "hey, I know you!" He went into his house and came out with a prayer card of the Reasoner family from 10 years prior! I think shocked would be a good word here! LOL Back when my father-in-law had visited this city, Elijah had given him a ride in his tank out to the Reindeer People. Many accepted Christ on that trip and Elijah had been one of them. He pulled out his Bible that he had been given so many years ago and said that he reads it everyday. We had brought some discipleship material with us and gave it to him. He fed us shashlek, bread and tea, and yet again God was taking care of our physical needs. He also gave us a teapot for hot water so we could enjoy some of our Ramen noodles. = ) Here is the contraption we came up with to heat the water.

 And if you thought this story couldn't get any more incredible, it does! Elijah uses his tank to do research in the area. While doing that, he has become good friends with the Reindeer people he once feared. He keeps up with them when they travel through and knows how to find them. This is the biggest struggle we have in reaching the Reindeer people. They are extremely hard to find. We have Elijah's contact info and hope to run into him again down the road. Elijah gave us a ride to the tracks in his tank the next day. Yes, I got to ride in a Russian tank! So cool!!

I didn't mention much about the mosquitoes, but I just want to add that they are large enough in size and number to carry a small person away! haha! = )

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Arctic Adventure - Part 1

This is our second summer here in Russia which means this is our second Independence Day to spend in Russia. It is just another day here, and I must admit I get a little homesick on this day. Though America seems to be on a slippery slope of moral degrade, I'm still thankful to be American. Living in Russia has only made me more thankful for my roots.

Last year at this time was a pretty incredible week in our lives here in Russia. At that time I hadn't started my blog, so today I thought I might reminisce a bit and share with you a glimpse into our eventful week inside the Arctic Circle!

Joel and I have a burden for Northern Russia and are currently praying and seeking where the Lord would have us to begin our ministry when we are finished training and learning with Joel's parents. One city we were praying about is called Salekhard. So last summer we took a trip up there to visit and seek the Lord about it. Salekhard is the main base of operations for a group of Reindeer people called the Nenets. When we purchased the tickets, we asked the lady if the city was open to Americans. She said it was and we continued on. Joel and I boarded very late or very early, however you want to look at it, and arrived in the morning hours of Sunday. We knew of a church in the area and planned to visit there for services, but that never happened. As we got off the plane we were met with cold winds (in July) and officers. We quickly learned there was a piece of paper we didn't have and were in fact Americans in an illegal city...not a good mix. While Joel was being taken away he told me to retrieve our luggage. I did and waited for a bit not having a clue what to do or what was going on. They came and got me, and we were held in a small room for not quite an hour. Then we were ushered into a very large, loud vehicle and taken on a back road to a gated building with guards holding enormous weapons. Joel and I didn't say a word to each from the time we got in that vehicle until hours later. Because as soon as we got into the building, he was immediately taken back behind a huge metal door, and I didn't seem him again for 3 hours. That was a really long 3 hours. The whole time they were trying to figure out why we were there. Why on earth would Americans come to the middle of no where? Joel told the whole truth and the whole Gospel! = ) After many threats and scoldings for coming to a city we weren't allowed in, they decided we were who we said we were and allowed us our freedom. Since we already had train tickets home, they knew we wouldn't be there long. The other problem was that Joel's parents and a few Americans visiting us that summer were planning on also coming the next day. Joel asked if he should tell them not to come. They said that they wanted some more proof that we were telling the truth so they should come and bring lots of tracts. = ) So the group came on. We weren't able to communicate to them though that they were going to get arrested as soon as they landed. LOL So they had a fun time as well. We all had to sign a paper that we had committed a crime and now all officially have a record. So last year at this time when Americans were celebrating their rights, we were laying ours aside! Praise the Lord for His protection! We handed out lots of tracts over the next few days, but they did not allow us to hold any meetings. Then came the night we spent in a deserted town...but that's for Part 2! = ) Here are some pictures from the first part of the trip.

The Arctic Circle

Handing out Tracts

Adorable Reindeer people little boy.

Government Building

There were supposed to be Reindeer People living here, but we had just missed them. = (

Lots of Fish! This fish has not been cooked, but rather salted and freeze dried. It was actually really good. Again, So thankful I like fish! 

 I'm so thankful for the opportunities that we had. Later Joel saw this man reading the tract that I had given him. He asked him if he understood what he read and the man gave a strong salvation testimony. We smiled over the "understandest what thou readest" and called him Philip from Acts 8:30.