Thursday, June 28, 2012

This wasn't my plan

When loved ones or even ourselves are suffering from illness, it is hard to not question and wonder why it must be. We know the importance of trusting our very capable, all-knowing Saviour. We know He has a perfect plan for each us. Sometimes though that perfect plan is completely different than we ever imagined.

A week after the surgeon told my dad he saw no cancer and everything was fine, the final pathology reports came back...and life changed forever for my parents. They came back positive for cancer and Dad headed back to Springfield, MO for surgery round two. They had to remove his eye, pallet of his mouth, upper gums and teeth, along with some bone. The next several months will be full of adjustments. They are working on getting him a prosthesis for his mouth, cheek and eye. Chemo, speech therepy, prosthesis fittings, adjustment to sight with only one eye...these are only the major overall things that lay ahead. Not to mention eating, driving, reading, preaching, etc...these things that are so second nature have completely changed for my dad.

Though it is difficult to understand every word, I have enjoyed the few minutes I've been able to talk with my dad. I'm so thankful that we can still talk to each other! It has helped me so much! Though his words sound different, his voice is the same. He's still my daddy and he's doing ok! His positive attitude toward everything has been a great encouragment for me. The other day he said something along the lines of, "Everyone was praying for me to be healed and keep my eye. It's not that God didn't answer our prayers. God's plan was that I lose my eye all along. Now we need to seek for God to be glorifed through this." Through my tears I found comfort in my precious Lord. I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmites, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Chirst's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."

I heard a song at a church once entitled "Blessings". Here are some of the words.
We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
Thank you to all who have been and are continuing to pray for our family. We serve a loving, understanding God! We will continue to faithfully serve the Lord, daily trusting Him for His grace and strength!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Russian Tea Cakes

This is a personal favorite, and I make them fairly often. Though called Russian Tea Cakes, they are not all that popular around the Moscow area, with the exception of our home. = ) According to wikipedia they originated in Russia around the 18th century and became popular in the USA in the 20th century. These are very easy to make, and once you have made them, I imagine that they will quickly be added to a list of favorites for parties. I hope you enjoy!

1  cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2  cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4  cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
3/4   cup finely chopped nuts
1/4  teaspoon salt
Extra powdered sugar
Heat oven to 400ºF. Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.

When all is said and done and enjoyed, this is what the plate always looks left! I mentioned it in this post.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Memorable Moments

Sometimes there are weeks that stick out from other weeks. It can be in a good way or a bad way. This week has been a defining week for me. I'll explain since that statement really makes little sense on it's own. When I began dating my husband, he already knew that God had called him to Russia. We had barely started talking when he asked me if I was willing to leave my family and move to Russia. I was indeed willing and thrilled at the opportunity to serve in this way. But there was always the thought in the back of my mind that what if something happened to parents while I was on the field? My parents were unable to have any children besides me, so who would take care of them? Who would be there for them if I couldn't? The responsibility that I felt was difficult for me. Not to mention the love that I have for my parents, desiring to be the best daughter that I can be. But I came to realize that if that's what the Lord had for me, He would take care of the details. Well, that has certainly been tested this week. My dad started having problems with sinus stuff a couple months ago. After several different antibiotics and doctor visits, there was no improvement. His face began to get puffy and left eye and cheek began to sag. They did a CAT scan and found a mass in his face and were unable to locate some of the facial bones. He was diagnosed with Inverted Papilloma and was told it was most likely cancer. He was sent to a larger hospital for the surgery in which he was told he would probably lose his eye, and if cancer was involved, he would lose more. Everything in me wanted to hop on the next plane to be with my parents. My dear husband just held me while I cried my heart out. The more I prayed though, the more I realized I needed to stay here. The Lord gave me the peace and grace that I needed. During the surgery, the doctors had quite a surprise! There was no papilloma! None! Instead Dad had the craziest infection in his face. They drained the infection and what do you know, there were bones there. They had been moved and reshaped due to the impact of the infection, but they were all there. So, no cancer, no tumor, he kept his eye and now he is recovering nicely! Praise the Lord!!

In the midst of all this, life went on here in Russia. Not only did it continue, but the Lord opened an incredible door for me and also gave me the courage to do something outside of my comfort zone. The incredible door was the opportunity to share the Gospel with someone that has been coming here to learn English. He must continually improve his English to advance in his career, so he come to the house sometimes to just talk. No lesson, he just wants someone who will talk with him and correct him. The conversation just went to the Bible and Jesus. I have been praying for him, but had not intended on talking to him about it that day. Isn't it great that God knows the best time when we are clueless. After I finished talking to him about the love of God, and how much Jesus went through for us in spite of us, he was silent. I asked him what he was thinking, and he told me he had heard everything I just told him his whole life, but had never heard it or thought about it like just now. We talked some more and went through some English/Russian scripture together. At the end of it all, he said it was just too much to take in and he needed to do some thinking. Please pray for this man. It is so true that the love of God constrains us!

The other thing happened at the grocery store. Joel and I were waiting on his parents to finish up checking out and sat down on a bench. A girl walked over and sat down beside us. She had the most incredible braid. Braiding is so popular here, they even have kiosks where people get amazing braids. I was so impressed by the uniqueness of the braid I wanted to take a picture, but didn't think I could do it without her noticing. = ) ha! So I asked Joel to help ask her if I could take a picture. He thought I was crazy! (most likely true) So believe it or not I asked her myself!! I told her that her hair was beautiful and asked if I could take a picture of it. She smiled and turned around for me to take it! All by myself! Seriously, it was awesome! = ) Thank you, Lord!

So this turned out to be way longer than I anticipated. Now that I have probably completely bored you to death, I hope you have a wonderful day. And be reminded that even when life goes a little crazy, be sensitive to what the Lord is wanting to do in you and through you! Sometimes the most memorable moments happen when we are least expecting them!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

We heart picnics!

We love picnics here in Moscow! We have them for whatever reason we can come up with. It can be raining or -30 outside, we still enjoy incredibly delicious Shashlek and great fellowship. Here are some pictures from today.

Shashlek is so popular here, it even has it's own cooking setup.

So does this look like a yummy, fruit filled dessert? This is actually not sweet at all. It is basically fish, mayo and beets! We have a saying in our home. "Where He leads me I will follow; what they feed me I will swallow." It actually wasn't as hard to swallow as I anticipated, but I definitely wanted to share this with you so could smile with me. = )

If you find it difficult to eat the fish, mayo and beet salad, you can always follow it with some incredible chocolate! 

We had wonderful day and praise the Lord for the church here and the good fellowship we enjoy!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Привет (Prevyet)

One of the biggest things on my plate right is learning Russian. Several have asked how my Russian is coming...Well, it's a slower process than I would like, but I know it is improving just the same. There are days when everything makes sense while I study. Then I go out among people and I can't understand anything. While other days, I'm studying and thinking, this is crazy and makes no sense!! Then I go out in public, and someone talks to me...and I understand them!! For everyone reading this that has ever learned another language, you know the amount of patience you must have and the amount of "humble pie" you must eat. Many days I feel like a child. While I am learning my colors, counting, or how to politely ask for something, I am thinking wow it seems so much harder being a kid at 28 years old as opposed to 5. And of coarse there is all of the giggling for saying stuff wrong or being completely clueless of what is going on. Last night at church some ladies were talking to me about the muffins I had made. At first I was doing ok. They asked me if I had made them, and I told them "Dah" or yes. =) They asked if it was tort (Russian word for cake). Again, "Dah". = )Then they all started asking questions about the muffins. I panicked! LOL All of sudden I couldn't understand anything or even think of trying to answer. That feeling... of people looking right at me and talking, me not understanding, and the look on their face when they realize I'm lost...I fear will always make me feel just horrible. Let me tell you, I will never forget the Russian word for strawberry ever again!! Kloobneka! One thing I am learning quickly is I need to laugh about it all. It's always good to laugh and it makes everything much less stressful! =) My husband has been working with me on Russian. It is proving to be a challenge for sure! He speaks so well, but since he learned it as a kiddo, his learning experience and mine are completely different. He is a good teacher though for the time being until I can get into some classes or find a tutor.

So would you like to learn a bit about Russian language? If so, here ya go...

The verb conjugation is very different in Russian. The middle word in the phrases below is read, and the last word is books. You'll notice that the verb "read" changes depending on who is doing the reading.
Я читаю книги.           I read books.
Ya chetayu kneegee.
Ты читаешъ книги.    You read books.
Tee chetayesh kneegee.
Вы читаете книги.      You read books. (Formal way to say it) or also means Ya'll read books. = )
Vouee chetayete kneegee.
Он читает книги.        He reads books.
On chetayet kneegee.
Она читает книги.      She reads books.
Ona chetayet kneegee.
Они читают книги.    They read books.
Onee chetayut kneegee.

If you just took the time to read through all that, I am completely impressed and so thankful that you would take the time to read about my wonderful life here in Russia. До свидания! Do Svedaneya!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

English Club

Every Friday night we host a free English club in our home. It is an amazing way to meet people and build relationships, while at the same time giving opportunities to share the Gospel. You see, many of the Russian people are interested in learning English, especially in Moscow with all of its foreign business. An American can make $50 dollars or more an hour teaching English in Moscow. But we offer this for free as a ministry. Each lesson has a "Look in The Book" section at the end. Everyone knows we are here as missionaries from America. They know we are here to tell others how they can know for sure that their eternal home is Heaven. So in the "Look in the The Book" section, we share the Gospel and something from the Word of God that pertains to whatever the lesson was on that week. I took some pictures last Friday and wanted to share them with you.

We split up into two groups, beginner and advanced. 

Then we all come together for the "Look in The Book".

After the lesson, we enjoy tea, refreshments, and fellowship! This is a very important and fun part of Russian culture. It is the same for normal church services. They are always followed by tea and refreshments...and lots of wonderful fellowship! I try to always make something yummy. Usually I make something American for English Club, but this particular night I wanted to try a dish someone made for us on deputation. It is called Pavlova (pictured below with the strawberries on top), and the recipe can be found here. It is a delicious dessert with a unique history!

Some of the people that come are from the church. Others have come to church as a result of the club! Many come to the club, who are nervous to attend church. The name Baptist does not go over well here. In fact, we are considered a cult by many. Please pray the Lord will continue to bless this ministry and the wonderful friendships we have made! Please pray that more souls will turn to Christ alone for salvation!

Saturday, June 2, 2012


This wonderful dessert is not actually Russian, but originated in New Zealand from what I have found on the internet. It is believed to be named after a Russian though. Her name was Anna Pavlova, and she was a ballet dancer in the late 1800s and early 1900s. If you are interested in a bit of history, her story can be found here.

Pavlova has a crunchy outside with a marshmellowy (I know...probably not a word) inside, and is topped with whipped cream. Then it can be topped with a variety of things. Different types of berries, kiwi, banana or whatever you think might taste good. I used strawberries drizzled with chocolate. YUM!

So here we go! Here are the ingredients for the crust:
6 egg whites, room temperature
 1.5 cups white sugar
 2 tsp corn starch
 1.5 tsp lemon juice
 1.5 tsp vanilla extract

Other ingredients:
Whipped Cream
Fruit of your choice
Chocolate (optional)

Preheat the Oven to 225 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

  Beat 6 egg whites and 1.5 cups sugar for 6.5 to 7.5 minutes on high speed, or until stiff peaks form. The mixture will be smooth and glossy. Use a spatula to blend in 1.5 tsp lemon juice, 1.5 tsp vanilla extract and 2 tsp corn starch. Blend well. You can either make one Pavlova or make several for individual servings. If you make one large Pavlova, I recommend baking it in the dish you will serve it in. This is a fragile dessert and moving a large one is very difficult. I know this from personal experience because mine fell apart horribly when I transported my large one. If you do not want to serve it in the same dish that you bake it in, the best way would be to make individual servings. No matter how you feel will work best for you, it is important to use parchment paper underneath. Bake at 225 degrees F for about an hour until the outside is dry, crispy, and very pale cream colored. I recommend just turning your oven off and leaving it in there to cool. When I removed mine from the oven warm, it cracked badly. I read that it is the change of cool air that causes this. After it is cooled down, top it with whipped cream and your favorite fruit! This is delicious! Though it takes a while to prepare, it is relatively easy. I hope you will try it and let me know what you think! Happy baking! = )