Thursday, April 26, 2012

From Kansas with Love

Well, the visa process is moving along. We would really appreciate your prayers for everything to be approved without any more bumps in the road. Lord willing, we will be departing for Russia May 14! Yea! :) It has been really wonderful spending time with family. Right now I'm up in Kansas spending time with my parents. Joel needed to stay in Oklahoma City to take care of some details. It is hard to be apart, but we just didn't have a choice this time. My parents live in a very small town called Mapleton. Dad pastors a small, country church in Xenia, Kansas. Mapleton is about 200 people, and Xenia is about 20 people! Xenia Baptist Church has been around for about 65 years and has seen many ups and downs, but has remained a faithful, Baptist church the whole time. The church has started seeing revival in the last month! It is so exciting to see!! Praise the Lord!!

Not all of Kansas is flat and treeless. : ) This is on the other side of the road by their house. Right before I took this picture, a turkey came out of the bushes. It flew into a bunch of trees before I could get a good picture.

My parent's house is the white building on the right side of the picture. The country life may not be for everyone, but they love it!

The two closest, slightly larger towns are Fort Scott and Iola. During my stay here, I have been reminded what I love about small town country livin'! : ) The weather has been just perfect lately, and I took a walk yesterday down the "highway" in front of my parents house. They get maybe 2 vehicles every hour that pass by. One of those that passed while I was walking was a nice old man in a truck. He stopped and asked if I was just walking or needed help. I told him I was just enjoying the beautiful day and we bid each other good day. That's true country folk! I love it! When we went into town (Fort Scott), I needed a few things from Walmart. I was shocked at the almost empty parking lot at around four in the afternoon! But Walmart is no place to be on a perfect spring day! Dairy Queen and Sonic were packed out! : )

I hope you all are enjoying good weather and the beauty of God's creation! I'm so thankful for what God has given us to enjoy hear on earth while we serve Him and wait expectantly for our home in Heaven! It is impossible to fathom how beautiful Heaven will be!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ukrainian Plov

Ukrainian Plov
This is a favorite of ours in Russia. We like to eat it with sour cream. The thing about many recipes in Russia is they taste different depending on who makes it. Many eat this with lamb or pork instead of chicken. So if you would want to play with the recipe, please do! And of coarse, please let me know what you think or ways you like it better! :)

1 pound chicken breast, cut into little pieces
Olive oil or whatever oil you like to use
1 onion, finely chopped
1 or 2 large carrot, grated (depending on your taste)
2 cups white rice, rinsed well and drained
 2 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup ketchup
2 cups of water
1 can chicken broth
1 teaspoons salt
black pepper to taste

How to make Plov (Rice Pilaf):
1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat
2. Saute chicken until golden and cooked through
3. Add onion to the skillet and saute about 3 minutes
4. Add carrots to the skillet and saute 2 more minutes
5. Add butter and ketchup and stir
6. Once the butter melts, add chicken mixture, rice, broth, water  and seasonings to a large pot.
7. Mix well and cover with a tight fitting lid on medium low heat for around 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easter in Russia

Russian holidays come at different times because of the use of the Gregorian Calendar. This year Russia celebrated Easter a week after the United States. Easter in Russia is a really big deal. It is considered by many to be the most important holiday for the Orthodox church and is celebrated by all! Easter is called Пасха or Paskha. On this day you can greet anyone by saying Христос воскрес (khris-tOs vas-krYEs)! It means Christ is risen. They reply by saying Воистину воскрес (va-Ist-in-oo vas-krYEs)! This means truly He is risen or more literally truly risen. This includes your church family to any stranger on the street. Instead of seeing Happy Easter everywhere, you see Христос воскрес. Most Russians will begin the celebration Saturday evening around ten 'o clock at a Russian Orthodox church. It is a solemn time until midnight with the lighting of candles, and the priest proclaiming, "Христос воскрес!" And the people replying, "Воистину воскрес!"

After the service they enjoy time with friends and family. They will enjoy some delicious food that the ladies have spent many hours even days preparing.

The most famous Russian Easter bread, kulich, is known for its tall narrow shape. It is usually made with lots of butter and eggs, plus additions of candied fruit, raisins, and nuts. The bulging top is iced and decorated, usually with Cyrillic letters X and B for "Христос воскрес" or Christ is risen.

Here is a recipe if you are interested. It is very unique! I had to look up what cardamom was. If I'm not the only one that didn't have a clue what that was I included a link to the wikipedia site. Just click on the word "cardamom" below. I'm wondering if it could be replaced by ginger, but not sure about that.


2 pkg. rapid rise yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
4 cups evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
4 cups flour
1 tbsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups butter
3 cups sugar
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp grated orange peel
1 tbsp grated lemon peel
9 eggs
12 cups flour
3 cups raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
Dissolve yeast in the lukewarm water. Set aside. Scald and cool to lukewarm the 4 cups of milk. Add yeast and the 1 cup of sugar, 4 cups of the flour and the cardamom to the lukewarm milk. Mix into a smooth dough and set in a warm place for approximately 2 hours. When the dough is done resting, melt and warm the butter. Stir the sugar, salt, vanilla and zest into the butter and add to the dough. Gradually work in the flour until the dough is smooth and elastic. Knead for 5 minutes. Add nuts and raisins and knead another 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl and turn once to grease the top of the dough to prevent crust from forming. Let it rise until it doubles in bulk. Roll into various sized balls and place in greased various sized metal cans you have saved. Grease the top of the dough again. Bake in a 350-degree oven. Baking time will vary depending on size of cans. When dough is done remove from pan and butter the crust. Place on baking rack to cool.

I am so sad we had to miss my first Easter in Russia. Next year though, Lord willing, I'll be able to post pictures from our Easter service and tell you more from my personal experience instead of my sweet husband's! :)  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Great is Thy Faithfulness

This year for my Bible reading I decided to do something different and read the Bible through Chronologically. It has been really interesting. Soon I'll be starting first and second Samuel, Kings and Chronicles. Some of the Psalms will also be in there. I'm looking forward to reading through them as they happened. Another thing I know will be great will be the Gospels, but that's a little while off yet. This morning I read Ruth. Who doesn't love Ruth? She and Joseph have always been my favorite Bible characters. I am for sure a hopeless romantic and will never tire of the beautiful story of Ruth, though I've heard it countless times. This morning, I was touched by the faithfulness of God. Naomi had been through so much, and had become bitter. She had so many major bumps in the road, and felt God had forgotten her. Yet that was not the case at all. I focused this morning on the change in Naomi's attitude as she saw God become real and personal to her once again. We can't help but rejoice with her in God's faithfulness. Sometimes I like to just read the words of hymns, so I have included the words below. May this special weekend be blessed as we rejoice that He is not dead, but alive, and He is daily loving, providing, and comforting us in a way that only our Faithful Saviour can!

"Great is Thy faithfulness," O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

"Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
    "Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What's for supper?

I often get asked what the food is like in Russia. My goal is to share different recipes with you over time in a tab I just added. I really hope you all enjoy this! If you cook this, let me know what you think. By the way, I sauted some garlic in the cabbage and onion. The crust is delicious!

Meat and Cabbage Pie

1 head of cabbage (small to medium)
1 medium onion
4 large eggs, hard boiled
1 lb ground beef
Other spices

-If you live in countries where pie crust is sold in supermarkets, get 2 9" round crusts.
-If you are making the crust yourself, here are the ingredients for the dough:

2 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup of ice cold water

Filling: Finely cut the cabbage and onion. Heat up a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of oil; when it is hot add chopped onion; saute the onion until golden brown; then add cabbage and cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until golden in color and soft in consistency. Simultaneously, in a separate skillet brown the groud beef. Boil and chop the eggs. When everything is ready, mix the cabbage, meat, and chopped eggs together; add salt and other spices. Your filling is ready!

Crust: In a large bowl thoroughly mix together flour, salt, and sugar. Then add butter. Begin chopping the fat/butter with a pastry blender or fork. When you are done, the mixture should be a coarse consistency; dry and powdery. Then drizzle over the mixture 1/3 cup of ice cold water. Mix dough until evenly moistened and begins to form small balls. Press down on the dough. If the balls of dough stick together, you have added enough water; if they do not, drizzle the dough with 1 to 2 tablespoons of ice cold water. Continue to mix the dough first with the spatula, then with your hands until it coheres. The dough should look rough, not smooth. Divide the dough in half; press each half into a round flat disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling. When your dough is ready to roll, roll out 2 9-inch rounds. Place one crust on the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan; press the dough over the bottom and into the corners of the pan. Transfer the filling into the pan. Place the second crust on top and seal the sides. Before baking, cut 4 ventilation holes on the top crust of your pie. Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes or until golden. When done, let the pie sit for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Visa Situation

Well, we are back in the states for a few weeks to renew our visas. Due to the type of visa we must get to do mission work, we can only get 3 month visas right now. It is not easy to travel this much, but the  blessing is the opportunity to see family. How thankful I am for the wonderful family God has given my husband and me!

Our flight here went well. We were supposed to arrive here on Thursday night, but our flight was cancelled due to a strike in Germany. We were able to reschedule for the next day with no trouble. Praise the Lord for that! :) After 13 hours in the air and about 24 hours of travel time, we enjoyed a good nights rest. It was interesting how many people we met during our travels this time. Between cancelled flights and long lines, we met some very nice people. Some were on a business trip, others visiting family, while others were also involved in some type of mission work. While visiting a country that is not your own, there is a unique bond between complete strangers that share the same citizenship.

We are excited and praying about the possibility of improvement in the area of visas in the next year. We recently got a new American Ambassador in Russia who wants to make a treaty between Russia and America that will allow longer visas both ways. It will improve things for both Russians and Americans. This would be wonderful and we are praying for the Lord's will in this.