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Showing posts from May, 2007

A study in metamorphosis

Misha was different at the beginning of the school year. He hugged and kissed me. He repeated everything I said in English, whether it was a part of the lesson or not. He dressed up in his Superman costume, especially for me. When I was getting ready to go, he would put on my coat and hat and run around while I chased him.

The farewell to the school year went a little differently. For the last few weeks, he had not come to class. He cried when pressured. Sometimes he came into the room and would watch with a scowl. Just before I left, he would beg for candy.

This time, he was slumped in a chair watching tv. He wouldn’t respond to my questions. For a few seconds his eyes became bright long enough to say, “Give me a piece of gum!” I was dismayed. “Misha, why don’t you want to do English? Do you get tired?” That was a mistake, because it prompted his next ingenious response: “The doctor said I shouldn’t.” “If you’re too sick to do English, then you shouldn’t be watching television. And yo…

Wedding season

A lot of my friends are getting married this summer. Here are some photos from one wedding that I attended. This particular wedding consisted of: 1) a civil ceremony, conducted a week in advance 2) a church ceremony 3) a stroll around the city with the wedding party 4) a banquet

Here we are on the stroll....the single ladies. :)

Some more friends from church...

The traditional silly pose.

Finally, a shot of the bride and groom!

Another lovely bride....married the same day, but in Montenegro!

Language Acquisition

When you look in many foreign language textbooks, the first phrases are often, “Hello," "My name is," "I’m ________ years old," and "I’m from _________.” Now, why do students have trouble learning these phrases? Is it the teacher? Is it them? Is it the textbook? We’ll leave "Hello" because it’s fairly easy to demonstrate and incorporate into lessons. The others become problematic. The first reason is that they are abstract concepts. They may be key conversational phrases, but they are difficult to demonstrate word-for-word. They also contain fairly complex grammatical structures. Many of the textbooks teach “My name is,” and “What is your name,” but who actually says that? I’m pretty sure that I usually say “I’m……” and then wait for the other person to introduce him/herself. Or I might say “My name’s….” Students understand what "name" means, but how do you explain the " 's" ending? If you simply teach the phrase, students…


"Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God."

-Romans 8:5-7

Prized pupils

I recently endured a tutoring session at which this boy insisted his pet rat must be present...on my lap. I managed to put up with it for several minutes until the rat crawled up my neck and into my hair. Not okay. We did avoid tears this time, though.

I also had my last lesson at the public school. We practiced "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" about 20 times for their final concert.

As I was leaving, one boy came up to me with some flowers to say thank you. He had been carefully coached...

Holding out the bouquet, he said, "This is a present...for me!"


Since meditating on the verses about helpful words, I’m actually finding it difficult to write a longer post. The words all seem extraneous.


The problem with paying more attention to these issues is that trying to do right can turn into an obsession, turning the focus away from Christ our Center.

Then you get questions like this which sound deep and insightful but cause hours of unnecessary debate: Does every article have to be a dissertation? Does every spoken word have to be a sermon? Every thought a revelation?

Or am I missing the point altogether?

First of all, the verses I included were mainly referring to spoken word. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." -Ephesians 4:29

Since a website is written form, I think it requires even more careful thought since we have the option of editing and are presenting material that may be read by many …

Together with all the saints

Pictures from a picnic hosted recently by members of St.Petersburg church "Christ to the World."

No special effects used!

The sunset

I was trying to take a picture of the sunset the other evening and it didn't come out very well. However, I did get a photo of Damir instead.

This is Damir.

Helpful words

The Bible has much to say about words and speech, but instead of doing a whole study, I will share a few of my favorites here.

I will let the verses speak for themselves.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.-Proverbs 15:1

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.-Ephesians 4:29

But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.-Matthew 12:36, 37

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.-Deuteronomy 11:18

Pleasant journeying

Recently while riding in the metro, I witnessed my first Russian mass giggle attack. When I first rode the Russian metro several years ago, the wagon starting moving and I immediately fell over. It was a humorous event, and naturally I began to laugh. At that point our interpreter whispered sternly, “Do NOT laugh in the metro.” I am sure that she meant to protect us. But since then I have tried to affect a more stoic expression as I travel.

Imagine my surprise the other day when the Russians began to giggle in the metro. I am not sure what happened; perhaps an old lady acting up or a small child saying funny things. It started down at one end of the car and spread to my end, where people began to giggle, not even knowing why. It was contagious. I was amazed.

Today, however, started in a mood of melancholy. I felt a heavy burden and asked the Lord to show me what I should change in my heart. Sometimes you just want to find the answer; to simply perform a certain action and receive the de…

Only you

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

-Ps.73:25, 26

Taking the tram

Something prompted me to take these photos of the tram the other day while I was walking home. When you see something every day, you forget that it was once new and strange.

When I first arrived, I had a system for keeping everything straight. The bus is just a bus but if you have to pay more then it's a special route bus. The vehicle that goes on the road but has a wire at the top is a trolley. The vehicle that is attached on top but has its own track is the tram. Now I don't have to think about it too hard. :)

I like the tram because it goes nice and slowly and I don't get motion sickness. On the other hand, if you want to get somewhere fast, you're out of luck. Another feature of the tram is that the route sometimes goes across different metro lines and is therefore more convenient than going all the way down one metro line and up another.

Call to praise

Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds.

Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory.

Amen and Amen.


Mommy Day 2007

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." -Proverbs 31:27-29

Can you believe she is a grandmother?

White nights

I lost my camera, so cell phone images will have to do for now. Here is the usual scene, seen through the kitchen window. For some reason I always take photos from this perspective. I guess it's the best "view" from the apartment.

Anyway, as you can see, it's bright and sunny out today. I took this photo at 7:30 pm and it's still just as light an hour later (but I'm too lazy to take another photo, so you'll have to believe me).

Summer is on its way!!!!

Charming pupils

This is Ruth. This morning she greeted me with, "Hel-lo Liz. You-beautiful."

Must have known she was having a test today! One section on the test consisted of responding to verbal commands to put on and take off various outer clothing. We had fun learning "!"Ruth has a slight problem with stuffing things into her mouth, like any food in sight and non-food items such as my pen cap. But I'll forgive that, because when I was getting ready to go, she tied my shoelaces for me (without prompting), due to our lesson about tie/untie. It got me thinking...maybe I should teach all my students to put my shoes on for me! They could also learn to open doors, make me tea ....maybe answer my phone too and take messages. All for the sake of learning English, of course. :)

A rough summer

I have been rereading an old prayer journal. The summer I was 19 was a challenging one.


"Oh, I am so sick. Help!"


"I'm well, thank you Lord. But I am still getting my strength back. I need help with that."


"I seem to be caught in a cycle. I can't find a verse about that, so I'll look at some verses about freedom since that is what I hope to gain with Your help.

O Lord, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains. -Ps.116:16

In my anguish I called to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. -Ps.118:5

...I give this day to you now. I'm going to go out and make myself available now, but I don't want to just plunge into it. I want to go into it being in you, prepared to do your work. Be with me. "


"Oh, Lord. I need to talk to you. I'm in one of those low spots..."

(Date unknown)

"Lord, I want to yearn for you with my whole being."



The word discipline brings to mind two different meanings: 1) self-control associated with restraint/order/obedience/etc. and 2) regulation enforced by an authority figure, which includes instruction, correction, punishment (There is also the meaning referring to a subject area, but that’s not related to the discussion here).

The form of discipline that seems to cause the most trouble in our lives is the area of self-control. Sure, we can blame our problems on inadequate/parents/teachers/pastors/etc, but ultimately we will be held accountable for our own actions, and our own actions are the ones that bring us troubling thoughts.

So when we talk about needing more discipline, we mean that we wish to be more obedient. Not that someone would slap us on the wrist more often, but that we would be able to restrain ourselves so as not to require chastening.

In the Bible, self-control is listed as part of the fruit of the Spirit. Many church-goers learn to list the fruit of the Spirit in childho…

My plot

Attitude toward the West in Russian media lately has included the suggestion that Western charities and missions efforts are all part of a plot to take over the world.

President Putin has been noted as saying that he’s displeased with the amount of foreign money coming into the country and manipulating the political agenda.

Honestly, I have never met anyone doing charity work with false intentions. Misguided, maybe. But I fail to see how it could be interpreted as a plot to dominate the world. Yes, there are some people with a lot of money who sometimes finance charity events for political reasons. But I do not see those pretenses in people who actual work in the field. Visiting an AIDS hospital for example day in and day out is very hard to do if it is not a person’s true calling.

When we are falsely accused, one thing that we may do is to examine our own hearts to see how we stand before God. I know that I’m not trying to force a certain political agenda. I know that my co-workers aren…


When I felt secure, I said, "I will never be shaken." -Ps.30:6