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Showing posts from March, 2013


When a non-believing friend visited our women's group lately and had some questions, I was moved listening to other women share their stories. They spoke of their faith, and the Word of God flowed out of their mouths so naturally. I don't really know how to describe it, but it wasn't a "Quote the Bible" moment where everyone recites their favorite verse. It was a time for some healed sinners to share the words they had personally stored up in their hearts; words that were appropriate to the specific questions being asked.

I was blessed to listen to them. That's what I did; I listened. I didn't resent not being able to keep up, but I did wish the words would fly off my tongue like that. There are so many parts of Scripture imprinted in my memory from childhood: hymns and spiritual songs, psalms, memory verses I have purposefully set out to learn. The problem is, they're in English.

On a few occasions I have set out to learn Russian memory verses. But …

Another Russian medical adventure

As an ex-pat and missionary, the question of medical care can be tricky. In general, it comes down to choosing between a state-run clinic and a private one (or waiting until the next time I'm in the U.S.!). Each option has its pros and cons.

Private clinics look more like Western ones. Aesthetically, the facilities are more like what I'm used to, and seem more sterile. Another advantage is that there are no lines. I can call to make an appointment and they'll ask me if I want "tomorrow or the day after". Since many people pay out-of-pocket, it's in the clinic's best interest to accommodate you.

Meanwhile, the private clinics are a business, and they often recommend that you see multiple specialists and order lots of tests. It can be confusing because you're never sure if it's necessary from a medical point of view or if they are just trying to get more money out of you. Equally confusing is when they DON'T insist on you pursuing a certain tre…


Lessons, Part 6

On productivity... (who has it easier?)

Here is the thing. I read (past tense) all those articles where moms explain to their single/non-parent friends about how busy their lives are. You know, the ones with the "day in the life" play-by-play. Or the memes with "what my friends think I do" showing the romanticized view of motherhood and then the scary photograph showing what her actual life is like.

If there is one thing I can do, I thought, it's "busy."

When I was a student, I swore I'd never forget how challenging that phase of life was. Not in a real world sort of way, but in an exhilarating, chaotic, sleepless, ramen-noodle sort of way. I miss it, but it was hard.

So then I waited for the stable (if grueling) 9-5 work-week to begin.

Nope. Instead, I moved to a big city in Russia. The sleepless part was there again, but without the fun dorm life. I eventually made friends, but we all lived in different parts of the city. My work consisted of co…

All they need

Last weekend, we observed "Men's" Day, which is officially for "Defenders of the Fatherland," but in our church at least we honor the men, whether or not they've served in the military. They are heroes to us!

In a brilliant effort by certain church members, our appreciation of the brothers included a little video presentation featuring several of the Sunday school kids. They were asked to share about their fathers.

The children mostly described their fathers as big and strong (even fat), smart, kind, and as very loving of their families.

What did the children wish for their fathers? "Do well at work, Dad," was an oft-repeated reply.

But there was another answer that came up often. Many children wished their fathers success, but at the same time, pleaded, "Come home earlier, Dad." What a simple wish!

Kids say it best! We want our loved ones to do well. We want them to be productive and always be challenging themselves and striving towards…

Permanent Residency in St. Petersburg

There is no telling what a particular Russian migration office will require, but I can give a few hints as to what worked for me. 

Introduction: (scroll down for application specifics)

There was one seemingly big obstacle to applying for Permanent Residency in St. Petersburg, and that was the income requirement. I squeaked by yearly inspection while on temporary residency, without ever holding an official job. Migration services wanted to see that I'd paid taxes; they didn't seem to care where the money actually came from (mostly from funds in the U.S.).

Making an income statement poses a problem for ex-pats living in St.Petersburg and other parts of Russia, especially if they are missionaries or otherwise involved in non-profit work, funded abroad.

Some missionaries have a "salary" from their home organizations, and can present this statement to the Russian government as sufficient money for them to live on.

Other missionaries are employed by local organizations, wh…

Songs in English, and saying Goodbye

Last month, I decided to start learning hymns again. Unfortunately, this resolution often goes the same way of "I think I'll read start reading through the whole Bible again." Short-lived. (However, just typing this up makes me want me to do both. Accountability!)

This recent hymn endeavor was partly inspired by wanting to sing to the baby. I realized that most of the worship songs in my current repertoire are in Russian, so I thought it would be good to go back to my "roots" and relearn some songs in English so that David could hear some worship songs in his mother's first language. (The irony is that the English in hymns is almost like a separate dialect! But still, good to know)

Well, I've only memorized 2 hymns so far in 2013, and started another.

But the very first one I picked became quite significant.

When I realized that I needed 40-something hymns, I decided to poll my friends for ideas. And they responded, with old classics I was familiar wit…