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Showing posts from September, 2007

Good news

When we visited our friends at the psychoneurological ward in August, our friend Sveta had lost sight in both eyes. You can see her in this photo, in the yellow shirt.

Recently I heard that an operation to restore the vision in one of Sveta's eyes was successful, and she's up and about and watching tv. :) Praise the Lord!


I was very amused that my automatic Russian-English dictionary correctly translated the title of this post when my mouse hovered over it. The dictionary is rather incomplete and sometime supplies the wrong contextual definition, or it recognizes only the lexical form and won't translate if word appears in a different form. It had no problem with "queuing," so I suppose the concept must be an important one in the Russian language.

While traveling in foreign countries, I can sometimes be quite good at blending in. But while I can skillfully hide certain American mannerisms, I’m not so willing to take on the customs of the new culture. There are certain Russian customs that I simply ignore and hope that no one will notice.

One of them is the “waiting in line” conversation. If anyone asks me, I try to be accommodating, but I refuse to initiate a discussion about who’s last in line. It’s just too strange. Here’s a typical dialogue:

“Who’s last in line here?”
“I am.”
“Then I’m afte…


This is my friend Lida! People always mix up our names. :) Today we were using my computer to look for scientific articles for Lida's dissertation on determining proper glove sizes for women. Something like that. She was looking for information about technology like scanners that can gather a lot of sizing data quickly.

As you can see from the yellow leaves outside the window, fall is here. It's pretty much your typical fall, nothing out of the ordinary. I've been given a lot of apples from people's family gardens. They (the apples) are sour and good for baking. I'll have to make a pie or two. Or ten.

Language Acquisition #1-Alphabet and Phonetics

I’m starting a series on my observations of successes and mistakes when studying a foreign language.

Rule #1: There is always an exception to the rule!

I was going to start out by saying that learning the alphabet is the first step, but I realize that it’s not a complete piece of advice. What need to be addressed first are not only the individual letters, but the phonics, or building blocks of a language.

Now if you’re learning English, I don’t know if any of this advice is actually going to help you. I’m still learning how people learn English. I’m always impressed by non-native speakers who are fluent in English. I have many students come to me and say “I want to read in English. Please help me. Don’t you have any rules?” Sure, there are rules. “I before E, except after C, or when sounding like ei as in neighbor and weigh.” However, the long e represented by “ie” in “piece” can also be spelled e, ee, ea, i, and ei. In addition, the long a sound can be spelled ay, eigh, a, ai, or ea. So…

What really happens in English class!

Today I went back to the orphanage from Monday, having agreed on a time. Accompanying me was another missionary named Elizabeth. The kids were sooooo hyperactive today!

The photo is from the end of the lesson, when the girls decided to continue last year's tradition of stealing all my belongings while I'm getting ready to leave.

I tried to shoot a few videos, and they didn't really understand the concept. They kept freezing in place and making the "peace" sign.In the first video, the kids are playing (and cheating) with flashcards with names of different foods.In video #2, I was trying to have each kid introduce him/herself, but they got a little shy and forgot what they were supposed to say. The boy running around is Misha, who starred in my blog last year.

Into the den of lions...or lambs?

I went to the other orphanage to see my favorite kids. We don’t work much with that orphanage due to some disapproval in the community, but I don’t want to give up on the relationships yet. Instead of calling and trying to figure out which counselor was on duty, I decided to just show up. That way, if it didn’t work out to do English lessons, I could at least see the kids.

Before leaving, I asked a few people to pray. When I arrived, I walked up to the building, feeling slightly fearful. I felt the verse “perfect love drives out fear” being impressed on my heart. I couldn’t remember the context, but I thought about how I loved the kids. It would have to be enough.

I knew that they would probably have a different security guard. I walked in and sure enough, there was an unfamiliar granny sitting at the desk. She quickly sat up when I came in and got ready to inquire about my presence. I decided to approach casually and explain who I was, rather than act defensive. As I began to tell her …

Ummm...what? What people are talking about in Russia.

Today I was riding to a lesson and saw by the side of the road a billboard with the national colors and a slogan reading, "Putin's plan-Victory for Russia." My first thought was, "What (or whom) is Russia planning to conquer ?" It left me in a state of confusion. Did I miss something? A few people have blogged about it already. I didn't have my camera with me, so here's a photo on someone's blog:

"Putin's plan" is a political term referring to some projects planned by his party. But used in the context of "victory," it just sounds a little frightening.

Kindergarten Bus

When I was in kindergarten, I rode a special bus to school. We were little and were usually escorted to and from the bus. On the bus, we were monitored carefully. I don't remember any conflicts except for one girl hitting me with the seatbelt once and getting removed from the bus.

Today I was riding the bus to work. I was with adults, but from the conversations, you would have thought we were back in kindergarten.

A woman got on and handed the conductor 100 rubles. One ticket costs 14 rubles. The conductor began to tear off multiple tickets.

Woman passenger: "What are you doing? I just want one ticket!"
Conductor: "You should have told me!"
Passenger: "You were supposed to ask!"
Conductor: "It's your responsibility to say how many tickets you want."
Passenger: "This is your job! You have to ask!"
Conductor: "No I don't."
Passenger: "Yes, you have to."
Conductor: "No I don't."
Passenger: "Yes you …

Have we changed?

Sister and brother in 198_...?


I finally have my very own Congolese outfit! Delivered personally by my big brother.

Back to work

Today I returned to one of my regular orphanages for the first time since the school year began. I arrived fairly late, intending to mostly visit with people and decide on a schedule that would be convenient for them.

Before going, I had spoken on the phone with Galya, one of the counselors. I am amazed at how the situation has changed, compared with a year ago. We had not crossed paths before and she didn’t seem interested in cooperating. She would hurry around chasing her kids and shouting bossily. I usually received a raised eyebrow…until the day when it turned out that she had thought I was just a Russian girl who happened to know English, and not an American who came regularly to teach. Not that a Russian expert in English should be worse received! :)

After that she began to take care to make sure her kids were ready when I arrived. She observed how I interacted with them and led lessons, and she seemed to soften. Later she approached me for private lessons, and I agreed to tutor h…

Where I was on 9/11

On Sept. 11, 2001, I arrived at French Drill shortly before 9:00 a.m. It was a Tuesday morning. The TV used for instructional videos was tuned to the news. A plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers. As we watched, a second plane collided with the other tower. It looked like a video game. Our timid instructor, a graduate student, turned off the TV, and we had class. What else could we do?

After French, I left for Russian class. We were provided with only a 10-minute break, and I had to go all the way across campus. As I hurried, I ran into a girl from a Christian fellowship group. “Are you okay?” she asked in a concerned voice, touching me on the arm. “I’m fine,” I said in surprise. “But haven’t you heard?” I remembered the plane crash and realized it was something serious. “Ohh…yes, it’s terrible. But I’m okay.”

In Russian class, the instructor was in a bit of a shock. She had relatives in New York City. After we had all gathered, she told us to go home. Class was cancelled.

Elisabeth Elliot on Missions

I’ve been in an Elisabeth Elliot phase lately, meaning that I ordered several of her books and have been reading them. I liked this quote from her introduction to “The Savage, My Kinsman.” Here she describes her situation when she was living in the jungle among the Aucas, the people who had killed her husband a few years before.

"The word 'missionary' may call to mind preaching, teaching, church-building (and even this often means merely a physical plant, rather than a spiritual building), medical work, baptizing, catechizing, social improvement-almost any form of philanthropy. I found myself quite unable to undertake any one of these activities. A strange position for one who was called a missionary. I began to search my Guidebook to learn whether my definition had been an accurate one. The word 'missionary' does not occur in the Bible. But the word 'witness' does. I found many passages indicating that I was supposed to be a witness. One in particular arre…

Gleaning from familiar passages: 1 Thess. 4:1-12

While reading some familiar verses recently, I tried to pay more attention to the syntax and literary devices instead of skimming. “Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.” This phrase “more and more” is also used in verse 10: “And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.”

Paul acknowledges that the Christians in the church there have made progress, yet urges them to continue striving for perfection. They must not simply relax now that they’re in a good place. We will not reach perfection in our lifetime, yet we might achieve certain levels of maturity. In these verses there are two examples of how we can keep striving: 1) live to a greater degree in a way that pleases God, and 2) love our brothers to a greater degree. Even the one who does both of these things well has room for improvement!

The passages has a lot of other good points, perhaps even more important...but this time, I foun…