Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's a...

And here's my 22-week tummy...He may be small, but, boy, is he active!
We were ALL FIVE hoping for another little girl so that we would have an even number of girls and boys, but apparently, that is not God’s will. However, we also know and understand that Ukraine is in dire need of godly young men, so we are humbled that God would count us worthy to rear little men for Him for this purpose. AND, I adore the two boys we already have, so what more could a mother ask for?!
The first person we called and told was Alina, the 18-year old girl in our church who is bedridden. She was, as you can imagine, very excited and honored that we would share the news with her first.

And, once Daddy scooped little 3-year-old Brianna into his arms to let her know that she would always be the only little Princess in his life, she quickly forgot her disappointment at not getting a sister. How precious is that?!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Missionary Monday - Where is Ukraine?

As we have traveled throughout America, I have been surprised to find out how many people really have no idea where Ukraine is located. So, here is a handy map to show you where these blog posts are being written from: The small area that is dark green is where we actually live. I have always been a southern girl and since David grew up in Mexico, we are conveniently enjoying living in the "south." {smile} We call this peninsula that we live on (the Crimean peninsula that juts into the Black Sea), our little "Florida."

Ukraine is a typically cold country. If you were to look at a world map, you would see that we are as far north as southern Canada. However, we do get a slight break in the weather since we are nearly as far south as you can get here in Ukraine. God does truly love us and has our best interests in mind (including my love of WARMTH!)

And, here is what the Ukrainian flag looks like:
It has no symbols, and is really a very simple flag. However, you can see below that the Ukrainians got the idea for their flag from God's beautiful creation:
I added the verse and the last picture is part of the video presentation I recently finished for our furlough back home.
In just 8 days, we leave for America. This brings me goosebumps because it brings me that much closer to holding my newest little one in my arms. And, tomorrow, I have another ultrasound....!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Christ-honoring Ukrainian Wedding

Last Saturday, a wedding was held at our church that has been anticipated for such a long time! Lena, the bride, grew up in our church, and Igor has been a part of the church since he was 14 years old, I believe.

Igor and Lena dated for more than 4 years, and most of that time, they were counseled not to date. Igor was unsaved and not interested in becoming a Christian. Lena came to a point in her life where she finally decided to follow God's will and not her heart. Eventually, Igor was saved, and the two of them make an outstanding couple today! Lena told me the day of her wedding, "It is so worth it to wait and do things according to God's will. This day could not be any more beautiful, and I know that everything is falling into place because we sought to do things right." Beautifully said.
Lena, the gorgeous bride Brianna (flower girl) and Anna (junior bridesmaid)
Guestbook and "Money mailbox" for the bride and groom
Homemade cakes (no cake mixes here, ladies!) that took Nelya, the maid of honor, hours to complete
The ring bearer, our darling 6-year-old Nate, who carried the actual rings! (We were not so brave... we gave our ringbearer plastic look-alikes)
The flower girl, our princess 3-year old, Brianna who, by the way, relished every single minute of this dress-up occasion
Nelya, the maid of honor
It took Brianna so long to make it down the aisle, as she painstakingly dropped the rose petals one at a time! (no easy task when you're wearing gloves!)
Igor and Lena exchanging wedding rings, after they were safely delivered by our little man (Whew! We were able to relax after this!)
Lena's parents, who are both deaf. Lena is our deaf interpreter, and simply the best around!
Walking out to the car
The grand, rented car
The darling new couple
The kids, still enjoying blowing bubbles long after the bride and groom had whisked away

Ukrainian weddings are an all-day event. The early morning started out with the official paper-signing downtown (and the bride and groom were already dressed for the day). The wedding was held at 12:00. Then, a wedding banquet that lasted 3 hours was scheduled for 4:00. While everyone prepared the church building for the banquet, the bride and groom drove around town to get their pictures at important statues and monuments in town, a Ukrainian custom that welcomes them into society.
At the wedding banquet, the children take turns quoting Christian love poetry to the bride and groom
Cutting the banquet wedding cake

Preparing to throw the bouquet
May God's richest blessings always be abundant in your lives, Igor and Lena, as you seek to serve Him together each day of your lives!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Water is Back On!

Our water is back on, and it is such a beautiful sight!

So, excuse me for a couple of days while I go joyfully clean my house....

Monday, September 20, 2010

Missionary Monday - No Water

I know it's not Monday. It's Tuesday already. Just another reminder of the last 4 days and our living in "survival mode," as we like to call it.

We have been 4 days without water. And, if you have never lived without water, you cannot imagine how difficult it can be.

Toilets don't flush.
No baths.
Can't brush teeth; wash hands.
Dirty dishes in sink.
Piles of dirty laundry.

No, it is not a pretty sight. But, as I write this post, David and two men are outside trying to fix the problem. Apparently, our hoses were pushed down to the very bottom of the underground river we are pumping from and it needs to be adjusted a little higher. This is the third time we have had workers here, and that was the latest verdict. So, we'll see...
My Brianna was a flower girl in a wedding this weekend; my Nate was a ring bearer. It was a dream-come-true to this Mommy to watch my little ones participate in their first wedding (pictures coming later this week). However, the part that was an interruption to my starry little fantasy was when we had to get everyone ready with no water.
Praise the Lord for the water we have stored in our unfinished attic! If it were not for that water, I don't know what we would have done! So, in reality the last four days have looked a little more like this:

Bucket-flushed toilets.
Bucket baths.
Teeth brushed and hands washed with little cups of water.
Dishes washed with boiled water.
One load of laundry washed with 5 buckets of water poured into the washing machine.
Not as bad as the original list, right? And, last night we went over to the VanSant's house for everyone to take baths. And, during that time I was able to wash two loads of my laundry in their washing machine. Ahhh... the bliss of feeling clean again and seeing the laundry pile only half as big as it originally was!

But, seriously.... I feel more sorry for our neighbors. We are the ONLY ones in our village and the surrounding villages with running water. Did you catch that? Yes, we are the ONLY ones! So, what do the others do? Well, before we bought land and moved out here, they all used a spring that has since dried up. Since we are now here, we share our water with everyone a mile around! We have an outdoor pump that we allow everyone to fill their buckets at. And they come, by foot,... even in the dead of winter... to fill their buckets.
But, since we are without water, they are too.

Why is it that missionaries who live in third-world countries have to go without water (or electricity, internet, etc...) so often? If there were an award given in heaven for enduring the most days without water or other "commodities," I think I might be towards the front of the line to receive my award. (Because there are a lot of things I still have not shared with you.) But, here is the real question: Am I more spiritual and closer to Christ because I endure the hardships of the mission field? As much as I wish the answer were yes, the honest truth is that the answer is no.

How many times have I complained or grumbled when I have had no water? Or when I have had to pour water down a stinky toilet? Ahhh.... the answer to those questions shed light upon my true spiritual condition. And, no, I have not always been "spiritually successful."

"Lord, help me to remember that when I have no water, I am making this small sacrifice to live amongst a people who do not always have the comforts I grew up accustomed to. To live here and work here, I will sometimes feel like I have gone back in time 100 years. But, Lord, help me to keep eternity.... the eternity of souls... in mind when I live the life of a missionary's wife.

And, P.S., please help us to get our water back on today too!" {smile}

Monday, September 13, 2010

Missionary Monday - What More Can I Say?!

I love this picture! It pretty much sums up life here on our mission field. The word for it would possibly be oxymoron or paradox. This picture is an excellent image of what we see on a day-to-day basis... old and modern co-existing. And you know what? I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Prayer stickers

The Lord gave me an idea when we were on deputation (nearly 10 years ago!) that we have used ever since, and, when I was ordering more stickers online today for our upcoming furlough, I thought I would share the idea here on my blog.

One of the fun things that kids (and adults alike!) can find at our missions display table when we are traveling in America are stickers to put in their Bibles. I grew up in a church where my pastor encouraged the children to go by the missionary display tables to get their Bibles signed by the missionaries. I realize now how wise my pastor was in making missionaries heroes to children (not because we are heroes... it just gets their eyes off of the world's "heroes").

We have been in many churches where children have asked for our signatures on the inside covers of their Bibles as well. It is sincerely humbling when this happens. Somewhere along the way, I came up with the idea of giving out stickers to encourage them to pray for us, and we have seen these stickers "return" to us in later years as kids proudly show us stickers that have been in their Bibles for several years already. I do not take for granted the prayers of children. In fact, I believe their prayers have been crucial to what we do here on the mission field.

I was reminded just recently of our "prayer stickers" when the Thompsons were visiting us from America, and their daughter showed us the inside flap of her Bible. And, yep, there we were! It was very touching to me to see how proud she was of her "Sloan sticker." And, I am SURE that she has prayed for us even more because of it.


So, if any of you other missionaries want to use the idea as well, go for it! Our stickers are feeling awfully lonely in those Bibles out there. Wouldn't it be wonderful to one day see columns of stickers in children's Bibles of missionary families for whom they are praying? I love it how they know each of us by name and always remember what country we are serving in because of their sticker reminder.

And, by the way, those stickers are just address labels! Such an inexpensive way to encourage extra prayers!