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Showing posts from August, 2007

Hospital #3

If you ride the train about 40 minutes from Baltiskii railway station, passing through the President’s estate in Strel'na and the beautiful fountains in Peterhoff, then you will come to Old Peterhoff. It’s a part of town that is getting built up, but still has a feeling of isolation.

If you walk around the pond and down the windy road into the woods, and keep walking for about 10 minutes, you will come to Hospital #3, the Psycho-Neurological Facility for adults. One might even say that the area is pretty, if it weren’t for the fact that many patients have been abandoned to the isolation of this institution for the rest of their lives.

We originally were introduced to this place when we were seeking to adopt Nastia, whose mother Lena was institutionalized after being beaten by her now-deceased husband and having received permanent injuries. Nastia now has built a new life in the U.S., and her mother remains in Russia. We visit Lena from time to time and bring news of her daughter an…

Back to the books

I have a new NT Greek textbook! Hooray! So far it has only covered the basics, but I'm remembering the words better.

Rom. 8:37 is translated in the NIV like this: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."

The Greek verb that is translated "to be more than a conqueror" is formed by combining "to conquer" and the prefix "over." (as in "overcook") Considering that the idea of conquering is already a rather mighty concept, adding the prefix to make it "overconquer" or "more than conquerors" sends it over the edge into the realm of amazing Biblical truths that we just can't get our minds around. How can you "more than conquer" something? Someday we will see this all clearly.

The essence of Rossiya

This photograph didn't come out very well, but hopefully you'll get the idea.

The white letters read "No Swimming."

Below is a detail from that photo.
No further comments are necessary!

Karavella, where it all began- 11 years later

Earlier this week, we traveled out to the camp where our ministry in Russia began 11 years ago. This year is the first since 1996 that a team has not traveled to Camp Karavella from our church in Massachusetts. But the friendships that began there live on, and we visited with some of our camp friends.

As we drove in the gate, the first person we caught a glimpse of was Lyudmila the librarian, a believer who became our friend and always welcomed us every year. She was babysitting for her great-grandchild when we arrived.

As we neared the administrative building, other friends awaited us and gave a warm welcome. They asked for news about all their American friends, and then spent some time with us, catching up.

The lady on the left in the bottom photo is Irina, the assistant director. She was one of the first people whom we met, on our first visit to the camp. “It’s terrible that you aren’t here this year,” she said. Irina grew up going to Karavella in the summer, and now her grandson is a…

Visa Run to Estonia

This time I renewed my one-year Russian visa in Tallinn, Estonia. I had already done it in Finland a few times and was ready to try a new location. I collected the same documents as I had done the previous times, not completely sure what they would ask for, but having a few copies of all possible documents, just in case. Just before I left I also received some advice from someone who had just renewed his visa there, and that was very helpful.

I’ll describe the trip below for anyone interested in renewing his/her visa there, or for anyone interested in Tallinn as a possible vacation spot.

1) Getting there

I decided to take a Eurolines bus to Tallinn from St.Petersburg. In St.Petersburg the Eurolines office is located near Baltiskii Railway Station, to the right after you exit the building. They charged me about $30, but that’s the full price, so I think there are discounts for students, senior citizens, etc. There also might be cheaper bus companies. Eurolines is pretty convenient and run…

Wedding #50,000

Okay, not 50,000, but I just attended my fourth wedding this summer and there were a few others that happened that I wasn’t able to attend.

The groom was an American friend of mine from college who had lived in the Russian language house with me one year. He started dating his Russian bride back in high school when she was an exchange student from St.Petersburg.

So today I dragged my mom who is visiting to witness the “liberation of the bride,” as they called it. Our arrival was not without drama, since I had no idea how to get there and we got a bit lost. The street we needed evidently did not exist, according to everyone on the street as well as the street sign itself, but it was on my map. Eventually we had to go into a store to ask for help, and the store manager ended up escorting us to the right building. We reached our destination and then needed to go back down to greet the groom, while the bride was hidden. The first group of people to go down in the elevator got stuck. At this…

Out of time

Getting over various illnesses and gathering documents for my new Russian visa....with such things has my life been occupied in the last week. I have no idea how that sentence sounds grammatically.

Now I'm leaving for Estonia and out of time for blogging. In the meantime, I found a link to a cute e-card that I ran across for the first time in college. It's bound to put a smile on your face.


Next phase:Spain

Highlights from Madrid

-Arriving at the airport and searching for Customs/Passport control, and even inquiring of the security guard, who said we were free to go. What? This is the country that got bombed a few years ago? We don’t even get a stamp in our passports?

-Blowing a fuse in our hotel room and having to switch rooms at 1 am.

-Searching for “helados” every day when we got that ice cream urge.

-Trying not to eat the olives and bread and other appetizers that they put on our table, because it cost extra.

-Arriving at a restaurant too late for lunch and having the owner keep the place open just for us so we could try paella, the national dish!

-Trying desperately to remember Spanish, when all that came to mind was Russian.

-Finding out that Flamenco shows and bullfighting starts at 10:30 or 11:00 pm…past our bedtime!

-Riding the all-day hop on/hop off double-decker tourist bus!

-Browsing a big used/rare book fair.

-Searching for lakes and other bodies of water by which to r…

A face that only a mother could love

I have to leave the country in a few days to get a new visa. Today I got my photos in preparation.

Pretty bad, but looks like my passport photo. Good enough for me. I also got my blood drawn already, but I won't take a picture of that because for some reason my bruise isn't very impressive this time around. Anyway, that's two of the more unpleasant tasks over with. :)

Innocence or stupidity?

Romans. 16. 19. Says…

As teens we were encouraged to chant it during our worship sessions, and I haven’t meditated on it seriously for quite some time, at least not without breaking into song. But the other day I felt led to meditate on it once again.

I suppose it started with thinking about excellence. I want to live my life in excellence to the Lord. But what does it mean to live in excellence? And the first words that popped into my head were, “Be excellent at what is good. Be innocent of evil.”

In studying this verse I first looked at a few other translations, because it often turns out that verses I have memorized have a slightly different meaning than how I understood them in childhood.

The KJV says, 19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all [men]. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.

The NASB says, 19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, …


I've received a few requests for a report of my recent trip to Spain and Portugal, so I will give a few summaries. I'll start with Helsinki. While we didn't count it as a vacation, it was our transit point and an integral part of the trip.

Highlights from Helsinki:

-While still in St.Petersburg: The Russian lady accosting us in the middle of the intersection on our way to the bus, offering a better deal on a Russian bus for 15 euros. We accepted.

-Having a panic attack on the bus because we were soon headed for Portugal and didn’t speak a word of Portuguese; leading us to laugh over a pronunciation guide that described one particular vowel sound as a “strangled ‘ow’”

-Arriving at Helsinki before dawn and wondering how we were going to wait another 30 minutes for stores to open. Then realizing it was only 4:30 in Helsinki and we would have to wait a lot longer than 30 minutes.

-Realizing that Sabrina’s book about Lisbon had been left on the bus, and traipsing around Helsinki fo…

August babies-1

While I'm working on a longer post...

Happy Birthday to my brother Nate!