Monday, April 30, 2007

College days

While I'm reminiscing...these are my dear roommate and hallmates from freshman year-Lovely Laurel, Ponytail Katie, and Smooth Bangs Katie.

Good times. :)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A new era

I somewhat abandoned my journal during senior year of high school, but freshman year of college exploded with entries.

Here are a few:

Aug.26, 2000

"I feel pretty disconnected right now. No fellowship. I think I'll meet some people soon, but it's hard right now, especially since I need the support.

Wow. I just looked over and my roommate is reading her Bible. I wonder if she did that last night too or if she thought I wouldn't approve? I don't know...I'll do my reading now (Romans)."


October 18-19, 2000

"Oh Lord, there is something about the night that I like. I don't know why. But I am glad you are here with me to help me enjoy it.

Jesus, what do you do when someone hurts you? I am asking because I want to be like you. And because you, of all people, have been hurt, even (especially) by ones whom you love. You were so sad. Yet you called one of your enemies a friend! You never stopped loving those who hurt you. You just kept on being faithful to them. Is that what I should do?"


Nov.7, 2000

"What is there to say? I want to want to love you. I don't want to just love you because I am commanded to. It's hard to love on purpose sometimes.

There are a lot of people I am concerned about, but I guess I should try to work on my own heart before I go out and save the world.

So what is my problem right now? My problem is I am worrying too much. And I think I need to get my priorities straight. Also, I hate to see other people hurting. So I lift them up to you, Jesus. Even if they don't come to you themselves, I can intercede for them. Be with my friends, Lord. And with my enemies."

1/8/01

"I surrender all. Past, present, future; morning, day, and night."

4-22-01

"I have a lot I'm thinking about but I can't write it all down. So I will let your Spirit intercede for me, dear Jesus. I will probably look back at this later and not remember what I was thinking." [yeah, I forgot]

May 8, 2001

"I was so much in despair the other night that all I could think of to pray was, 'help me, help me.' I think I'm doing better now, but I still need help.

'But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.' Luke 5:16

It's a tiny little verse that got stuck in there. I wonder...what does 'lonely' mean in this sense? Was Jesus himself lonely? Sometimes I like to withdraw to lonely places. But many times it is because I am sad. And then I despair. If only I could focus completely on prayer rather than on worldly anxieties."

Friday, April 27, 2007

Retrospective-Age 17, The Era of the Sleepy Teenager

Don't you hate when your favorite tv show has a retrospective episode and you have to wait a whole week for the storyline to continue?

Well, that's what I'm currently doing on my blog. :) Except that although it's a look at my past, this material has never been published before, because I've taken it from an old prayer journal.

Age 17

This was the year when I was applying to colleges, taking tough classes, and generally not sleeping. And there was a significant lack of journaling.

Mon/Tues Dec.14, 1:30 a.m.

"I didn't want to stay up so late but I did. I've started dreading each new day because of having to get up early. But I'm realizing I should have a different attitude."

That's all. :) Apparently I was either too exhausted to write any more or couldn't decide what that "different attitude" was supposed to be.

Is it summer yet?

This was the scene that awaited me when I got to the orphanage the other day. We were supposed to have our lesson in this room...



Also, the kids (8-10 yrs) were being really clingy and wanted to sit in my lap.

Later, I sent the older kids on a scavenger hunt to let them get a little exercise...

Spring fever is going around!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Looking back

Have you ever written a letter to your future self? Maybe as part of a Bible study? I mean the kind of letter where you write about your current life and set some goals, hoping that there will be progress when you next read the letter. And maybe you envy your future self, wishing that you could know in advance what you will learn in the next few years.

Recently, the opposite has happened to me. In reading an old prayer journal, I actually envy my old self. It seems like I might have been even closer to God in my teenage years. I wonder what happened to that version of myself. It might be compared to the "first love" of Revelation that had grown cold, though hopefully not to the same extent. I constantly meditated on the Word, was earnest in prayer, was seeking to grow. What happened to those days?

So I am going to spend a few days looking back.

Here are the prayers of my 16-yr-old self.:

9/17/98

"Show me what I can do in my school. Where am I needed most? I will seek you in the morning, and I pray that you will fill me with your Spirit so that I can bring it to others. Give me a sign, a reminder. I know that I don't have much time, and I want to use it well."

10/26/98

"Lord, I pray that you would help me have unconditional love for my friends as you have unconditional love for me. I need to focus on that love, because it's the most important. I know I can do this, because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me -Phil. 4:13."

1/4/99

"Jesus. Savior. I don't know what to do about the summer. There are too many decisions to make. I feel overwhelmed."

2/22/99

"I'm discouraged. What can I do?"

March 1st, 1999

"I just came back from the [youth conference] weekend. I'm really glad I went even though I was up until 4:30 a.m. doing homework last night. I've been depressed, but, God, I feel your peace filling my soul. Thank you for everything. Even though certain things don't seem like blessings right now, I know there will be a use for them. Hebrews 12:11."

10:39 p.m. Sun. Jun. 13, 1999

"I'm dreading Monday. I feel almost afraid to go to sleep because it will be Monday when I wake up. Help me look forward to a brand new day, Lord. I confess that I haven't been faithful in coming to you daily. I want to be more faithful. I shouldn't be so concerned with the things of this world. They will pass away. They won't matter in the end, so they shouldn't matter now."

And the Lord was faithful in helping me through many years of Mondays. :)

Reminder to myself for the future

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. (Eph.4:29)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Company Potluck

These are the people I work with...


P.S.

I guess it's a good thing I read the news yesterday. Otherwise I wouldn't even know that Yeltsin died!

Also, a U.S. school held their first integrated prom. I can't believe this kind of thing still goes on in America.

Monday, April 23, 2007

News and Filtering

“I will set before my eyes
no vile thing.
The deeds of faithless men I hate;
they will not cling to me. (Ps. 101:3)”


I’ve been thinking about how I “filter” what I feed my mind with. Most of the time it’s not too difficult to determine what should or should not be included. When we think of inappropriate entertainment, a list immediately comes to mind. But what about the things that are not necessarily “vile” but not edifying? Or the things that are shocking yet necessary to know about in order to avoid ignorance? Picking and choosing isn’t as simple as it seems.


The Dilemma

Living the Christian life means no compromise. However, the fact remains that we live in the world, and each live in a culture that we must relate to somehow. As Jesus prayed to his Father, “my prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one (John 17:15)." Yes, we not only live in the world, but have been sent into the world, and have a purpose here. And we need God’s protection from evil, but that includes making conscious decisions on our own part.

Last week a tragedy occurred in my homeland. Although I saw the headlines and heard rumors here and there, I waited a full two days before finding out more details. Why? 1) I didn’t want to face the anguish of it all. 2) I didn’t want to find out through the sensationalism that infiltrates many news stations. 3) I didn’t want to hear yet another version of the same old story and the struggles to understand.

So I finally tuned in, read some stories, looked at the pictures of the victims, heard some shocking survivors’ tales, visited a few forums where people were discussing the how and why, the implications for gun control, etc. I let myself mourn a little bit and I prayed to God.

I can abstain from television, cinema, and unedifying literature, but the news alone gives me nightmares. I don’t want to turn my back on the plight of African orphans or ignore important presidential elections in France, but the tension in these real-life events is overwhelming. And running across the stories about gang violence, celebrity alcoholism, and political scandals do not serve a purpose in my daily life. I find it difficult to break away from everyday life to meditate on events that are happening across the world in complete different circumstances from my own.

Americans have a reputation for being ignorant, and I don’t claim to be an exception. There are plenty of gaps in my education about the world. However, I know something about the part of the world that I’ve been called to. Yes, I would like to expand my worldview, but there still have to be guidelines. If I focus on major events, I will still be ignoring some small people group somewhere. And the Bible says that God cares about one sparrow, or one lost sheep. Shouldn’t we follow His example?

Is it necessary to spend our energy learning about far-off wars, obtaining knowledge that will only be used to demonstrate how “smart” we are? Or is it better to spend that time perfecting knowledge of that which is relevant to our own life’s calling?

If citizens of the other countries of the world are “better-educated,” I would like to know how they receive this information without being overwhelmed by it all.

Welcome to the world :)

My favorite picture of baby Angelica...



Longer post coming soon.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The niece

Introducing the first publicly released photo of celebrity baby Angelica Anne...

Held by her proud (albeit exhausted) grandmother.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Golden Rule, Soviet-style

I was riding on the bus the other day and noticed a public service message from "Unified Russia," Putin's political party.

How can you recognize the Leningrad/Petersburg citizens among the passengers?

A REAL Petersburger...
-Always says thank you and smiles in response.
-Always helps the elderly out of the bus.
-Doesn't yell at everyone.

(The people who forget to smile must be the Americans)

It reminds me of a lesson we had in first grade, to the tune of "Being a courteous person." But I guess the whole "collective consciousness" thing works too. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Kids say funny things



Misha, touching my hands: "Where's your ring?"

Me: "What ring?"

Misha: "Your ring! The ring that everyone has!"

Me: "Misha, I'm not married."

Misha: "WHAT?! Lolita, Liz is NOT MARRIED!"

Lolita: "WHAT?!"

Misha: "How OLD are you?"

Me: "24."

Misha: "TWENTY FOUR?!"

Lolita: "Liz, you MUST get married!"

You heard it from the kids. :)

Sermon resources

If you like John Piper, you can go to his website and read or listen to sermons for free.

The root of joy in suffering

No, I’m not suffering at the moment. But it was one of the themes for a recent Sunday school lesson, and it made me meditate on how to respond in certain difficult situations. We were learning about how God was with Joseph in his time of slavery and imprisonment, and how we can behave when people treat us harshly or when we face a tragedy.

When giving their testimonies of how they came to Christ, many people name a “near-death experience” or another extreme episode that caused them to rethink their lifestyles. And from that point on their lives were changed. But I think the story starts before then. The story starts when God calls us, and when He has already started to lay the foundations in our lives. That part is often unseen.

At some point, the Word is preached in our lives, and creates an environment for us to respond. And our salvation is the fruit of that Word having been preached.

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
(Ro.10:14)

When purposefully living a Christian life, we will soon face trials. How may we respond?

James reminds us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (1:2) But isn’t this easier said than done?

There are a lot of inspiring stories out there, but one example we shared with the kids was the story of Joni Eareckson Tada, the quadriplegic who has an international ministry to the handicapped. What I find inspiring about Joni is how she gives glory to God through her lifestyle. She is not simply a smiling face but someone who truly fears God and seeks to serve Him.

Most people know that Joni’s accident turned her life around. But do they know what Joni’s life had been like before the accident? Looking at her childhood, we see, “Her childhood was an extremely happy one. She grew into a young adult surrounded by love, happiness, and security in her parent’s home.” But her happy childhood didn’t mean that she always stayed on the right path. “Before the accident she had felt that she wasn’t living the life she should be so she had prayed that God would change her life - that he’d turn it around.” (excerpts from http://www.historyswomen.com/historyinthemaking/joni.html)

In childhood, Joni had heard about God and sought him. Although she had strayed from the path, those roots were there and brought her back once she was ready.

Have you ever known that you are supposed to respond with joy, but not known how? It is easy enough to quote scripture, but to carry it out is a different story.

I haven’t suffered like Joni, but when I face difficulties in life, I know that my response depends not on the circumstances themselves but on what my relationship with God is like at that time. It starts with waking up in the morning and giving thanks and submitting the day to God. Being faithful in those everyday things lays the foundation and prepares the way for having a right response.

There’s a woman at the orphanage where I work, who recently was in a car accident and could have died. She comes to me saying, “I had a near-death experience. I think God is trying to tell me something.” Part of me says “Oh sure, that’s what they all say. She will get back to normal life and forget.” But the other part of me says, “She has heard the Gospel. I have been praying for her. Maybe this experience is a way for that Word to come to fruition."

Speaking of trials…the mosquitoes have arrived! :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I'm an aunt!

...to Angelica Anne Sandoval, born April 17th weighing 5 lb. 13 oz



(I'm also late for work. Blogging was NOT on my to-do list!!!)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Saturday afternoon

We paid a little visit to the bowling alley with some kids from one of the orphanages… the botanical garden girls, in fact. The counselor made sure we met the newest girls to join their group, two sisters named Nastia and Lena. They also have an older brother in the orphanage and a baby brother who lives with the mother. They have 4 different fathers.

As we began bowling, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and there was a pirate standing there. Well, a man in a pirate’s costume. He had said something to me, but when I turned around he turned serious and said “Hello, madam.” It turned out that he was supposed to be doing entertainment for the birthday party in the next lane. Shortly after that the guests arrived and would not even crack a smile as he did his routine. Poor guy!

Our girls did okay. I was looking at the 6 yr olds in the next lane and noticing that they were almost the same size as Nastia, our 9 yr old. Nastia is cross-eyed and hadn’t been going to school regularly, but is actually quite smart. Her sister Lena is 13, studying at a 3rd grade level, suffers from epileptic fits, and wets the bed. The counselor dotes on them as she does all of her kids. However, the other girls were not as pleased with the newcomers. "They behave very badly," one whispered to me. They described the older sister as mean.

As we left the bowling alley, another girl Olya's mother (foster mother?) had come to take her for the evening. "She really loves Olya," said the counselor. "She just can't handle her. Olya goes out to parties and drinks. But I think the parents should learn how to get past these problems." Yeah, how about dealing with the problems rather than sending the kids off to an orphanage every time there's a conflict? What kind of parenting is that?

We were walking out the door and Lena (the one with epilepsy)got a little lost, so I went back for her. I didn't try to force conversation, thinking she wasn't interested. Then to my surprise she took my hand. Her hand was very cold. "Sometimes my eyes start blinking and it's hard to see." I looked at her and her eyelids were fluttering uncontrollably. "I can't see either when I don't wear glasses (or contacts)," I said as she squinted at me.

Then it was time to say goodbye.

I won't go so far as to call children "angels." But I felt as though these girls, with all their sicknesses and behavioral problems, were gifts sent from above.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Funny

Don't have anything profound to say, but have been reliving the college days with my favorite funny websites. Grood (I mean good and great) clean fun.

Teen Girl Squad:

http://www.homestarrunner.com/tgs1.html

Big Bunny:

http://www.big-bunny.com/

Dilbert:

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/index.html

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My mom and dad



These are my parents! They've been married for 34 years.







At Nastia's baby shower...



(the portrait in the background was done by my great-grandmother Emily)


My dad is here now visiting me in St.Petersburg. My mom is planning to come in the summer.



And so ends my family series. I'm not including the dog (sorry, Max) or any other random creatures.



Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Emotions and Duty

How do you keep your emotions under control when you face tragic situations daily? Of course every job holds its own emotional challenges, but some are more obvious than others.

I work with kids who are social orphans. 90% of them have a living parent, but they do not live with them for some reason. I also work with some kids who live with their parents but have behavioral or developmental problems. I see evidence of these issues everyday. I also live in Russia, where suffering is a common theme. Even if a person’s pain is exaggerated, he or she may be held slave to it. Even if a beggar fakes a limp, he is probably in need. At the very least, it is a dismal existence to be brought to your knees and beg for money. And you cannot fake a missing limb. And a crying baby is unhappy, whether or not his mother pinches him to earn more pity money. This is reality, but to sit and think on it much is neither healthy nor helpful. So what is to be done?

A non-believer once asked me, “How do you avoid becoming attached to your English students?” The answer: I don’t. In fact, bonding with them is part of the plan. I set boundaries, but I don’t try to keep from loving the children and adults I come in contact with. I’ve always had trouble separating “business” relationships from personal ones. Maybe it’s something I haven’t learned yet, or maybe it is actually a plus. I try to care for each as though he/she is my neighbor. Maybe I’m not professional enough, but I’d rather take the risk and try to bring a little joy to someone’s life.

In a public school I would set certain boundaries for teacher-student relationships, but it is different in an orphanage where you are fulfilling not only intellectual, but emotional needs. The kids sometimes relate to me as more of an older sister/nanny than a teacher. They call me by my first name, sit in my lap (the younger ones), hug and hit me, and throw things. They spontaneously 1) take my outer clothing and run around wearing it or 2) run away and hide somewhere and call out for me to find them. Hmmm, is someone in need of attention? Maybe I’ll talk about discipline in a future post…

So my boundaries consist of taking into consideration the child’s individual situation; allowing behavior appropriate for their developmental stage; trying not to mislead or promise anything unrealistic; and trying to be consistent with the rules of the local establishment, so as to not cause an authority conflict with the other adults involved.

Of course I think about the orphaned children not having a future. Of course I cry at night and dream about them. Of course I want to give them all the love they’re lacking. It doesn’t save a life, but it gives me the motivation to pray and ask God what to do.

Nehemiah was broken-hearted and shed tears for the despair around him. "When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: 'O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel.' " –Nehemiah 1:4-6

I recently saw a film produced by a Russian woman, a believer. The film realistically portrays life in the orphanage and highlights the efforts of a young woman to give some of the children a home. I liked the personal testimony and the example she set, but I wasn’t terribly impressed by the sounds of children crying, “Mommy, where are you?” That can manipulate a person’s emotions. Who could resist such a piteous cry?

In contrast, another more mainstream Russian film I saw recently depicted a 6 yr old orphan who decides to decline an adoptive family, having been convinced that his birth mother might come back for him. A heavy issue for a young child. The negative view of adoption was depressing, but the needs presented real. If the goal is to keep families together, a more positive message would be to encourage birth parents to take more responsibility and to protect children from having to carry such burdens. I’ve seen some situations in which a child was discouraged from choosing to be adopted due to the lament of some “poor grandmother” or other relative. That threat can haunt a child for life, no matter which path he chooses. It’s despicable.

In presenting the needs of orphans it is always hard to find a balance. If you stick to facts and figures, you will have a sobered or even snoozing audience. If you use images and touching stories, you may get a response. But is it the right response? There’s the danger that people will respond out of initial emotions and not by the leading of the Holy Spirit. In fact, I don’t mind when there’s little or no response. If a person has a calling from God, it will be clear.

In examining the life of Jesus, we see how he cared for all sorts of people. We know that he ministered, but what was his attitude? Did Jesus feel any emotion for the masses? Being the Son of God, Jesus saw the pain in every heart. How did he cope when presented with so much need all at once? The Bible says that he had compassion (Mt. 14:14; 20:34; Mk. 6:34) This compassion moved him to help by healing, teaching, leading, comforting, and even providing lunch. How he chose to help specific people in certain situations is beyond comprehension. But it’s clear that he felt deeply, while remaining able to function well enough to serve people’s needs.

God made us to have feelings, and to use them, and it all brings Him glory somehow.

I need to get some sleep or else I’m going to have some not so pleasant emotions tomorrow. :)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Anastasia

Introducing Nastia, the second Russian princess to join our family...





Things have been a little livelier in our house since Nastia arrived!



Nastia is 21 and a people person. She loves dancing...but that's on hold for a little while as she is expecting her first child to arrive in the next few weeks!

These photos were taken at her baby shower, held recently. Nastia is pictured with Emily below.







Thanks to Emily and others who took the photos.


Sunday, April 8, 2007

On the third day

He is Risen!!!



(Easter banner from childhood; my mom sent it so I would feel at home :) )

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Finished

Matthew 27:45-50

45From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice,

"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"

—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

47When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah."
48Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him."

50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Good Friday

Luke 23:1-43

1Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. 2And they began to accuse him, saying, "We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king."

3So Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

"Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.

4Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd,

"I find no basis for a charge against this man."

5But they insisted, "He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here."

6On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7When he learned that Jesus was under Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

8When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. 9He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.

13Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14and said to them,

"You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16Therefore, I will punish him and then release him."

18With one voice they cried out, "Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!" 19(Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)

20Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again.

21But they kept shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

22For the third time he spoke to them:

"Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him."

23But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

The Crucifixion
26As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28Jesus turned and said to them,

"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' 30Then " 'they will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!" ' 31For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"

32Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34Jesus said,

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One." 36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."

38There was a written notice above him, which read:

THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.


39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"
40But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."
42Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
43Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

Identity crisis

Today I was once again complimented on the way I speak my native language.

Russian lady who knows English: "I like the way you speak Russian ...and English."
Me: "Ummm ...thanks?"
Russian lady: "Yes, your English is very interesting to listen to. When I first listened to you speak, I did not know that you were American. I thought that you were from Great Britain."
Me: "Ummm ...okay."

Wait a minute ...what is she saying about the way Americans speak English??? Is that supposed to be a compliment that I sounded more British than American?

Where am I from, anyway?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Friday Eve

This year, Easter falls on the same date in both eastern and western churches. Around the world, Christians are currently in the middle of observing Holy Week. To read more about history and traditions, check out Wikipedia.

May nations around the world tremble as they remember this event! May God be glorified!

Today is Holy Thursday, which we recognize as the day when Jesus and his disciples prepared for the Passover feast. As they gathered after sundown at the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the sacrament of Communion and revealed that his betrayer was among them.

Then came the {first} day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover {lamb} had to be sacrificed. And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it." They said to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare it?"And He said to them, "When you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters. "And you shall say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher says to you, "Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?"' "And he will show you a large, furnished upper room; prepare it there." And they left and found {everything} just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover. When the hour had come, He reclined {at the table,} and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." And when He had taken a cup {and} given thanks, He said, "Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes." And when He had taken {some} bread {and} given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." And in the same way {He took} the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. "But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. "For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!" And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing.(Lk.22:7-23)

In case you were wondering...

Ever wonder where western calendars get the date for Easter? This website has an explanation...

An excerpt:

Computing the Date of Easter

The rule is that Easter is the first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after March 21. The lunar cycles used by the ecclesiastical system are simple to program. The following algorithm will compute the date of Easter in the Gregorian Calendar system.

The algorithm uses the year, y, to give the month, m, and day, d, of Easter. The symbol * means multiply.

Please note the following: This is an integer calculation. All variables are integers and all remainders from division are dropped. For example, 7 divided by 3 is equal to 2 in integer arithmetic.

c = y / 100
n = y - 19 * ( y / 19 )
k = ( c - 17 ) / 25
i = c - c / 4 - ( c - k ) / 3 + 19 * n + 15
i = i - 30 * ( i / 30 )
i = i - ( i / 28 ) * ( 1 - ( i / 28 ) * ( 29 / ( i + 1 ) )
* ( ( 21 - n ) / 11 ) )
j = y + y / 4 + i + 2 - c + c / 4
j = j - 7 * ( j / 7 )
l = i - j
m = 3 + ( l + 40 ) / 44
d = l + 28 - 31 * ( m / 4 )

For example, using the year 2010, y=2010, c=2010/100=20,n=2010 - 19 x (2010/19) = 2010 - 19 x (105) = 15, [see note above regarding integer calculations]etc. resulting in Easter on April 4, 2010.

The algorithm is due to J.-M. Oudin (1940) and is reprinted in the Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac, ed. P. K. Seidelmann (1992). See Chapter 12, "Calendars", by L. E. Doggett.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

April Fool's

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.(1Co.1:18)

A letter from my father:

Hello Dear Children,

Today is, yes, April Fool's Day. I remember times when I and friends would seek ways to trick each other, saying things like "We are supposed to get 12 inches of snow today" when it was not true. I'm glad our family does not practice a lot of that. Using the word fool does remind me of our calling to be fools for Christ's sake. In this sense I always need to be called back to being a fool.

Here's a short list which comes to mind

Allowing someone to cut in front of you in line.
Allowing someone to take "advantage" of you.
Allowing someone to think you are stupid when you are not.
Allowing your kids to think they are fooling you.
Making decisions which help others instead of yourself.
Telling people you believe in Jesus.
Telling people you believe Jesus Christ is the only path to God.
Telling people there are absolute truths which can be known.
Not defending yourself when someone questions your word.
Praying in public.

I wonder what your list is...


Love, Dad

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Getting around St.Petersburg

Today I had to meet someone in the metro to hand over some documents. It’s a pretty standard procedure. We arranged to meet downstairs in the metro so as not to go outside and come back in again. I was standing in the vestibule in-between two escalators which headed off toward various exits or line changes.

Pretty soon, an old lady approached and asked me which way to go. I pointed to the right. After that a man came and asked where to go. I pointed in the other direction. After about five people asked me for directions, I was already starting to laugh. Why did they pick me? I was wearing glasses…maybe they made me look smarter?

In a 10-minute period, I think 10 people asked me for directions. I had a steady stream of customers.

Lady: “Which way is __________?”
Me: “This way.”

Man: “How do I get to ____________ station?”
Me: “That way.”

Man: “Where is ________________ street?”
Me: “That way.”
Man: “Is it far?”
Me: “No.”
Man: “Which way when I get out of the metro?”
Me: “Right.”

Lady: “Which way is ____________________?”
Me: “Do you want _____________ or _____________?”
Lady: “I need the ______________ store.”
Me: “That way.”


I suddenly had this feeling that in the midst of helping people get oriented, maybe I was lost myself?

When I had a break from telling people where to go, I called the girl I was supposed to be meeting.

“Liz, I’m sorry! I totally forgot! Can we do it another day?”

I got back on the metro and headed home.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The dogs

P.S. For anyone who's interested, the dog on the left is a female named Sasha, and the dog on the right is named Ivan.

My baby sister

When I was younger, I used to pray for a little sister.

We adopted Masha from Russia when I was 18 and she was 13. Imagine leaving behind everything you've known and starting a new life at the age of 13.




Masha recently took the GED and got her high school diploma. We are so proud of her!

Masha and "baby" don't go in the same sentence. :)