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Showing posts from October, 2012

A Glimpse of Christian Youth in SPB

It's been several years since I participated in any sort of street evangelism, Christian skits, camp sessions, etc. I look at something like this and think "I'm way too old," but whether that's an issue or not, my eyes fill with tears as I see these Russian believers (young or not) trying to reaching their city for Christ via a flash-mob.

This is a Protestant effort; I would be curious as to what kinds of activities young Orthodox believers are involved in.

On another note, I heard that the government wants schools to implement a new "Patriotism" program.....

Tests and a resolution

I don't know why it had to be so hard. Of course, "hard" is relative and it could have been a lot worse. But our recent trip to Estonia felt like it brought test after test. We had days with endless solution-seeking that felt like waves of labor pain (I'm allowed to say that now) with no baby in sight.

David's visa was due to be ready on Friday, and we were planning to leave that very day. We thought out all the possible scenarios. The city where we were staying (Johvi) is just a few hours from the border, but we had to go into Tallinn first for the visa and then go back the same way we had come, toward Russia.

So in order to fit this all into one day, we needed to take the 6:00 am bus again. But we had done this several times already and knew the drill.

That is, until we had the complication that nobody counted on...

Those of you in the U.S. that were hit by last year's October snowstorm may be able to relate. But for us this was yet another …

Good shepherds

This time in Estonia has been a journey of "good news/bad news"!

Good news: they gave David a visa.
Bad news: It's only for 30 days.
Good news: We can apply for another kind.
Bad news: It will take another 2 weeks.
Good news: It will be ready soon.
Bad news: Andrei has to leave Estonia before David's Russian visa is ready.
Good news: The Estonian authorities extended his visa.

The nice thing is, the Good Shepherd has constantly provided us with shepherds who look our for our needs.

-Our pastor in St. Petersburg made sure David and I had a ride for one leg of our trip here
-Missionaries in Tallinn drove us the rest of the way and let us stay with them
-Another missionary friend provided us with a place to stay while waiting out the visa
-The local pastor got us a stroller to borrow while we're here
-Someone gave us a ride home from church on Sunday

These acts of kindness were all unsolicited, just brothers and sisters in Christ responding to our needs!

While taki…

Birth Story

WARNING: Gynecological-related language.


When I was "preparing" for childbirth, the main books that helped me were "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" and "Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds." I read lots of information and changed my mind several times. And of course, there were many aspects of labor that were different from what I had expected.

At first I read a lot about natural childbirth, and it turned me off from the way hospitals handle childbirth. I started to get nervous that my labor would stall as soon as I set foot on hospital grounds, and that I would be subjected to various procedures against my will.

Then I ran across some stories about "home births" gone wrong, and I decided I would feel better being in the medical setting of the hospital, even with its sterile environment. As it turned out, David needed help breathing when he was born, so we did need medical intervention. But then again, who knows if m…

How I left for 10 days and stayed a month

It has been quite a week!

Last Tuesday, we learned (at the end of the business day) that David was approved for a 30-day tourist visa instead of a 3-year. Slight difference there! The woman at the visa agency had not done a good job of checking our documents, and we had thought we were one week into a 15-day processing time, only to find out that we were ineligible.

We spent all day Wednesday making phone calls and discussing various options. Going back and forth between the visa agency and the Embassy who keep giving us different answers. We are staying 2.5 hours away in another city, and the Russian Embassy is only open from 9-10 a.m....

On Thursday Andrei and David and I set out at 5 a.m. to catch a 6:00 bus to Tallinn. We brought with us a new invitation, for a guest visa. First we had to go to the visa agency and cancel David's tourist visa in person in order to get his passport back to start a new visa application. We didn't get any money back for the 30-day tourist vis…

Quick break from bureaucracy: bilingual parenting

Back before we were expecting David...let's see, that was actually when we were engaged-I downloaded a book to read called "Bilingual By Choice: Raising Kids in Two (or More!) Languages," by Virginie Raguenaud.

Reading it on my Kindle made it harder to flip through and mark my favorite sections and take notes. I regret never having written that book review, because I really enjoyed the book.

The author writes from her own experience. She grew up speaking 3 languages and is raising her twins in French and English. I loved reading about her childhood memories, as she did her homework in one language and then would check her answers with her parents in another language.

I think the book's title (Bilingual by CHOICE) is key. Any family could promote bilingualism in their children, but it takes planning and intention. Although kids are resilient and learn fast, they can lose a language just as easily if they aren't given a chance or a reason to use it.

At the end of …

My little Russian

I think David looks like his American side of the family in the previous post, but when I put this little hat on him, he turns into a Russian baby!

I can't stop taking photos of him while he's sleeping because it's just SO cute!

Andrei is joining us in Estonia on Saturday and we will be a complete family once again!

David's visa journey


The changing Russian visa laws over the past several years have required missionaries to make tough decisions about continuing their work in Russia. Whether choosing to live in Russia only part of the time, leave for good, or get a different type of document, it all changes the way we do ministry.

For me, choosing to pursue a residency permit has been a long journey that has left me unable to spend so much time doing the same things I did before. It's affected me physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, and has taken hours and hours of time. But for me, fighting to stay in Russia was what seemed right.

Now, we've come full circle as visa laws are being "relaxed" once again. Will missionaries start to come back? Is there work for full-time missionaries in Russia, or is that era ending?

Over and over again, getting certain documents processed has caused a chain of events that send me on wild goose chases, trying and trying and trying and tryin…

Blogging from Estonia (on a visa run)/The new Russia/U.S. visa agreement

David and I are in Tallinn!

I was reading a blog entry I wrote after the last time I got a visa in Tallinn. I'm really glad I have that record, but a lot of that information is outdated now!

So I'll be writing a new set of instructions this time around, and it might help someone in the near future, although it could change again very soon.

If you have Russian connections you might have heard that there is a new visa agreement between the U.S. and Russia. Though I haven't spoken with any Russians applying for visas to the U.S., this certainly can affect travel plans from both sides, hopefully in a good way!

David might not get Russian citizenship for 6 months or more, and up until now I could only get a 30-day tourist visa for him, so we're talking several months back-to-back of traveling and renewing visas. However, the new 3-yr visas have just become available, so we were able to apply for one for him.

The length of stay with the new visas is 6 months (maximum) in a …