Sunday, January 31, 2010
Take the book of Ezekiel...
Chapter 8: Idolatry in the Temple
Chapter 9: Idolaters Killed
Chapter 10: The Glory Departs From the Temple Yikes! I don’t know if I would have wanted to be around when the glory of God was on the move!
But Chapter 9 turns out to be not only about the idolaters who were killed, but also about the remnant that remained.
In verse 4, the Lord instructs the man with the writing kit to “go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.”
Meanwhile, the guards of the city are instructed to kill anyone who doesn’t have a mark, beginning with the elders who were “in front of the temple.”(v.6)
Saturday, January 30, 2010
I have all my documents now; I just have to finish filling out the application and pay the fee at the bank and make sure everything is in order.
On Friday I am supposed to have my document review at the FMS.
I couldn't help but note the irony when they gave me my appointment. After lecturing me about how everything had to be perfect, my "appointment card" was scrawled in cursive on a piece of scrap paper. Hmmmm.
Friday, January 29, 2010
It's bittersweet, because as teenagers, they are making a huge life decision, and they will be missed here.
They come up to me now chattering in English, eager to hone communication skills.
The other day, I was helping Lena write a letter to her potential family. She wanted to write about the rough plane ride home.
I was dictating the words. "Difficult. D-i-f-f-i-c-u-l-t."
I didn't look at her paper until she was done.
She had written, "Diff I see you lt." :)
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Valentina asked me if I liked to sing, and I replied that I did.
“Which folk songs do you know?”
“Ummm…Katiusha?” I couldn’t remember any others.
She left the room and came back with some song sheets. “Go ahead and start. You said you liked to sing.” click to continue reading/-
Summary of this episode:
-the medical evaluations can be done in several clinics throughout St. Petersburg. The FMS has a list which can be found on this page. In the clinics they know what you need for the temporary residency permit...
-if you don’t know Russian well, it’s best to go to an English-speaking facility, as a clinic isn’t always the best place for playing guessing games
-find out what documents you need before you go (I needed my passport, passport translation, and registration)
-allow a few days for the certificate to be prepared
And now for the long version.
I was not thrilled at the thought of entering any sort of medical facility, and my legs literally almost turned and ran the other way a few times as I was walking down the street. But I had already spent the first part of the day being nervous, and I didn’t want to waste another day in that condition...
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The scripture reference accompanying this Oswald Chambers quote (My Utmost for His Highest, Jan.26th reading) is Matthew 6:30.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Playing around with new Blogger features...
While I can improvise with adults, it’s harder to entertain children “on the fly,” especially without visual aids.
I realized lately that some of the challenges that I have with teaching both at church and in the orphanage come with capturing all the kids’ interest at the same time and starting the lesson with everyone together.
The “presentation” part of the lesson is often the most important since everything else builds off of it. If a few kids are late or don’t tune in right away, then the rest of the lesson probably won’t go very well either...
If you only have one attentive student at the beginning of the lesson, and you decide to wait, you may lose your one enthusiastic student. On the other hand, if you use up your introduction material right away, latecomers will be lost.
So I was thinking that I need to have some back-up activities on hand: something that is educational and serves to engage the kids as they gather. A few no-fail games that will always work. Any ideas?
Saturday, January 23, 2010
In case anyone is interested, here is the list of documents that I have to prepare for the FMS for temporary residency:
Note that these could vary across cities in Russia, and are subject to change.
-Passport; notarized translation (sewn together)
-Packet of medical tests
-HIV test (separate)
-Migration card; copy
-Copy of visa (they also need the original even though it isn't on the list...I had a copy with me and had to get the original from the university where it was on file)
-Criminal background check from home country (notarized, apostilled)
-Marriage/Divorce certificate, if applicable
-4 photos: 3.5x4.5 cm, matte finish, black and white
-2 copies of the application form
-Proof of having paid the government fee (1000 rubles, just raised from 400)
Friday, January 22, 2010
Have you ever been in this situation? Being back in classes has once again turned on my sensitivity to learning styles. But I’ve also made some surprising discoveries about culture in the classroom.
Here are the two concepts that I’ve been pondering lately:
1) The effect of personality type on language learning.
I have touched on this briefly in other posts. It concerns the idea that those who are extroverts or simply more talkative will receive more speaking practice. The teacher must find ways to engage everyone.
On the other hand, those who spend more time listening will take in valuable observations that their peers may miss.
2) The effect of culture on language learning. continue/-
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.
They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.
You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you...
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Can you tell I was reluctant? I dragged my feet so much on the first day, but I actually had an enjoyable time.
I arrived at 9:30 and found out that I didn’t actually have class for nearly two hours. I hadn’t been able to find out the schedule ahead of time. However, I had known this was a possibility. I headed to a café next door to have a second breakfast and finalize my question list for the FMS.
When I entered the classroom, there was a stack of books on the table, but no sign of anyone. Finally an elderly woman poked her head in. I recognized her from the back of one of my textbooks. She said hello and then disappeared for a few more minutes. Eventually she returned, bringing with her a priest from Argentina who has been in a few of my classes. He was supposed to have an individual class, but everything was moved around.
There we sat-a Catholic, a Protestant, and a Russian, presumably Orthodox. :)
Monday, January 18, 2010
In this post: an initial consultation at Federal Migration Services (under the quota).
After class today, I stopped to get my passport photos done before heading over to the FMS. They had said not to come early, but I didn’t have anything left to do to kill time.
The day was one of the coldest, but the sky had been an amazing color, perhaps a cornflower blue. Now the sun was starting to go down but it was still light. I was so glad to be going at 5pm rather than 5am!
I got there about half an hour early, and there were already a few “customers” standing outside. I recognized a nun who was also studying Russian at my university. continue/-
Sunday, January 17, 2010
I had heard about the crazy lines, and read detailed descriptions of success stories, but I still didn't know exactly what it would take to get into the building where the Russian government deals with foreigners seeking temporary and permanent residency.
My first attempt was rather feeble. Then, as I had heard from another American that I would need to get in line early in the morning, I decided to go check out the morning shift and at least see how things were handled.
It wasn't the crack of "dawn," but it was shortly after 8am as I approached the facility. I actually got a bit lost since I was paying more attention to snowbanks and icicles than the street names. more/-
Saturday, January 16, 2010
This boy is younger than the others and was moved from another group-maybe because of learning/behavioral problems, maybe so his older sister can keep an eye on him. I'm not sure. But it seems so rare to see him happy; enjoying something; engaged.
I was thinking about him later in the evening. "Lord, give me a scripture," I prayed.
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (Jn. 10:10)
Children, I pray that you might have life!
Friday, January 15, 2010
Here are a few relief funds that were personally recommended.
1) "Only a Servant Ministries" (in memory of a young missionary who died of cancer)
2) "Heartline Ministries" (recommended by friends who visit Haiti often and are adopting)
A woman from my home church is in Haiti on a medical mission. She arrived just as the quake hit. You can read her thoughts here.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
On Monday and Tuesday I was feeling sick and ended up forcing myself to lie down for certain periods of time.
On Monday afternoon I did venture out to the Immigration Office, but that just created more confusion.
Tuesday is a blur.
Meanwhile, I had e-mailed one of my teachers asking about the schedule for this semester. On Wednesday evening, I learned that classes had started on Monday, so I had already skipped 3 days.
Then today I finally got through to the Immigration Office by phone and learned that my window of time is Mondays from 5-7 pm. So if I had just stuck around a little while on Monday, I might already be on my way to getting my residency permit. It will have to wait until next week.
So it's been one of those weeks, a little shaky. It seems like the timing for everything is off...but I'm trying to be prayerful and remember that HIS timing is perfect.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I'm going to skip the special effects and skip to the plot. Avatar's plot was fairly unoriginal, although it had some interesting twists. My mind and emotions felt torn as they struggled to understand the genre. Was I watching a video game? A Disney film? A drama?
I have trouble becoming emotionally invested in a film unless I can identify with the main characters. Here, it is possible to sympathize with the protagonist, yet he does a lot of stupid things. Who cares if he gets eaten by a wild beast or not, while exploring a mystical jungle?
And then the romantic sub-plot begins to develop. Sure, "sex sells," but is it really necessary in this film? It seems like his decision to help the Na'vi arises solely out of his love affair with one woman. If it weren't for romance, where would he be? Still wandering in "Pandora"? +/-
Monday, January 11, 2010
In this post: I visit the Office of Federal Migration Services, but don't get inside yet.
January 11th. The government offices are open again.
I woke up this morning feeling like I was coming down with something. So much for conquering the world...I couldn't even manage to get myself dressed until about 2pm.
I grabbed some combination of documents, including my passport, which had been mixed in with materials from my last trip to the orphanage: worksheets, flashcards, and a ton of stickers. continue reading/-
Sunday, January 10, 2010
I finally got a photo of one of our window decorations. We ended up with 7-8 different pictures telling the Christmas story. There were a few casualties, but we still had enough to decorate each window.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
"Is what blowing on me?"
"Is the air blowing on you from the window?"
Was it? I hadn't noticed. And it wouldn't have made a difference. But to some people, it makes a big difference.
I have this association of a stuffy British lady in the 19th century whining "Shut the door! There's a draft!" But in fact keeping track of various air currents is still in practice in Russia, and perhaps in other countries.
This article describes it well: continue/-
Friday, January 8, 2010
The top notice says "Do NOT place things in open lockers."
The bottom one says "Place your things only in the locker that was OPENED BY YOU."
Maybe it isn't confusing to native speakers. If the top one had an EXCEPT OPENED BY YOU statement it would be a little more logical, in my opinion.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
I waited several months for a work visa that never came through. And I made it back to St. Petersburg in the spring.
In the next week or two I should be able to find about this year's quota, determine whether or not I can apply for temporary residency, and learn what the requirements are for me specifically. I am not really looking forward to it, but at least I have the study option for another 5 1/2 months, so I don't have to worry about visas simultaneously.
Oddly enough, the company that had wanted to offer me work in the spring has recently resurfaced.
I think an adventure is coming...
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
While Advent is a cheerful and even jolly time in the Western Church, working out the wonder of Christ’s birth, Russian Orthodox believers have been fasting. I don’t know what percentage of them actually follow this fast, but some of them adhere to the church standard, abstaining from certain foods even on New Year’s Eve.
Tonight, they have one more meal with restricted foods, and then have a Christmas feast the next day.
Christmas was widely celebrated in Russia before Communism, and most traditions have been forgotten by now. Here’s one description of how the celebration goes. But there are many variations.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
When I got this book, I turned to the back blurb to find out about the author. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. There went my chances of being published...how can there be another young woman named Elizabeth who wears dark glasses and is a language fanatic?
As far as I can tell, the main task when writing a book like "Biting the Wax Tadpole"* is organization. How to compile all these interesting tidbits about languages of the world? Here, she uses parts of speech. continue/-
Monday, January 4, 2010
Sunday, January 3, 2010
While the temperatures have been bearable, St. Petersburg has broken a 130-yr record for snowfall. A photo essay can be found here.
One of the captions that is telling is this one: "St. Petersburg’s mayor noticed that in Europe residents helped the authorities during extreme snowfalls."
Shoveling! What a great revelation! I have to admit that I don't really know what happens to the snow in places like NYC. But I sort of assumed that property owners would take care of their own sidewalks, which isn't always the case here...
Saturday, January 2, 2010
I had only been in Russia once before on New Year’s Eve. On that occasion I had arrived something like Dec. 30th, and with the combination of jet-lag and culture shock felt like I had landed on another planet…
So this year I got ready to “embrace” Russia’s biggest holiday.
I haven’t gotten used to the fact that the same feelings of magic and nostalgia that we associate with Christmas are in Russia associated with New Year’s. Of course the importance of holidays here was shifted due to Communism, but that is beside the point. It is a shock because I always thought all of the warm holiday feelings had something to do with faith. But perhaps it is more about tradition. So what is left of the Christmas season that is faith-related? Just a question I am asking myself...