Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ups and Downs!

We’re slowly settling into life here in Kharkov, enjoying it all very much! On our way to language school, we took some pictures, so here they are. The leaves are really nice right now and we’re enjoying all the fall colors around us. Tuesday seemed to be the popular “rake leaves” day because we saw people everywhere raking leaves. There was even a machine (see picture below) that was out in the big park in the center picking up the leaves. It’s nice when the leaves are raked up because walking can be tricky if there are leaves everywhere. As you can see (in picture further down), their sidewalks aren’t always nice and smooth… there are plenty of drop offs to trip you up. The leaves do a good job of hiding those particularly from me. I seem to find the uneven surfaces all the time… and I walk with my eyes on the ground! I just laugh and then remember that snow isn’t going to be much better... I will then have to account for ice as well! :)

Last week I had a head cold which I kindly passed onto David. Oops! Just as I think we’re both finally about over that, David took a turn for the worse last night. The McDougles also got the bug, and they are currently all passing it around their house, so keep them in your prayers as they get well and also pray that we don’t pass our bug onto the Hindmans! The weather has been a pretty steady temperature of 40-50˚F, but we’re still waiting for the heaters to be turned on inside our apartments. That means most evenings my toes freeze, reminding me I need to bring the heater in whichever room I’m in and turn it on! :) The heater was definitely a good investment!

This week we’ve been having a bit of trouble with our electricity in our apartment. Since we moved in, we’ve kicked the breaker off several times just getting used to how much power we can have on at one time (for example you can only have one electric thing running in the kitchen at a time... I found that out the hard way when I turned the oven and our electric kettle on at the same time). But, when we go to flip the breaker back on, it sparks and sizzles a lot at us. David has started using a wooden spoon to do this now because it looks pretty scary. Well, Wednesday something popped while we were cooking in the kitchen and we can no longer get power to one wall of the kitchen. So, that means the oven is inoperable at the moment. Fortunately, we were able to buy matches and we can still use the stove! Hopefully that will be taken care of soon, but we’re not holding our breath for it to be done quickly. As of yesterday, the Hindmans had become our internet and oven resource! But then late Wednesday evening, the electricity went out in our whole apartment (we think for our neighbors as well)... and it's still out this morning. So, I made my little trip to the Hindmans to cook up a little something for David, bringing with me the stuff in our fridge that had a potential to go bad quickly. As of today, the Hindmans have become our internet, oven, fridge, and electrical resource! Please be praying we can get all of this sorted soon!
These two pictures are of our apartment building and the courtyard across from it. We live on the second floor.

Language classes are going well… we’ve had two full classes now and have learned quite a bit! It all seems very basic and is very basic, but we’ve begun! It’s pretty comical to hear us try to repeat what our language teacher says. Our tongues aren’t used to the letter combinations they use yet! We are happy with the teacher we found at the International House (she does speak pretty good English which is great), and we have another one trading off with her throughout the week. Should be good! Rob Hindman is also taking Russian with us, so that is nice to have an extra person in there learning at the same time!

Thanks again to you all for your prayers and encouragement. We’ve been so blessed by the comments you’ve been leaving on our blog, the emails you’ve sent, etc. etc. It keeps us excited knowing you’re excited about what we’re doing. Keep them coming!

These last two pictures are inside our apartment building and our apartment door. Hopefully we’ll get a video up soon of the inside of our apartment! Be watching for it!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

First Week in Kharkov

Today marks one week for us in Kharkov, Ukraine! It has gone by so fast but we feel that we are settling so well. We both are starting to feel at home here as we learn and settle in to our apartment. Everyday something exciting happens or we discover something new.

This picture is of our team together on Sunday. The Hindmans are on the left and the McDougles are on the right.

A favorite event for David now is grocery shopping; the grocery stores and the little shops remind him of the supermarkets and dairies back in New Zealand (even though he can't read any of the product labels). David came to the Ukraine with the impression that they didn't have any of the same foods, so when he goes and finds something he recognizes, it is like finding a lost treasure and he gets so excited he tells everyone about his find.

Olivia has loved being close to the other families on the team. We are all within 5 minutes walking distance (if you have no kids to slow you down) of our teammates! When our team moved apart from each other at the beginning of the year, we didn't realize how hard it would be to be a team, but not together. Now that we are together again it is a lot easier to function together, as a team. It has been great to become reacquainted with each other, and a close team once again.

For the first time this last Sunday, our team met as a church in Kharkov, Ukraine. It was a great time of praise, communion, and worship. As we worshiped together, the reality of what we were a part of became clear and we all got excited. We were sent here, partnering with many of you, to be the Body of Christ in a city filled with people who have yet to know the Good News. This Sunday was only the beginning of what God is doing and will do through his people here!

This picture is of Malachi Hindman (back) and Canaan McDougle (front) playing at our house in the train tent we brought with us.

Of course over this last week we have discovered many things which remind us that we are not in heaven yet. There have been some good things and bad things. To our blessing though we have been able to view everything with a humorous attitude. Once we hit culture shock that attitude will probably become scarce, but for now, we are loving even the difficulties.
I'll share some of the good and bad sides of the things we have come across:
  • There are supermarkets with everything we need... but we can't read what any of the products are.
  • The apartments all have radiators in every room... but for some reason the heat hasn't been turned on yet.
  • Our apartment has indoor plumbing... but the bathroom floods if we use a lot of water.
  • The kids on the team are together again... but one of them is sick, so they can't play together.
  • The people smile and look friendly... but we can't talk to them.
  • I was able to bring my computer here from USA... but I blew it up when I plugged it in.
  • Computer stores sell replacement parts... (no bad side, it is all good! My computer is fixed.)
  • Our apartment is all set up for internet... but the building is not; no internet (for now)
  • We have been able to meet with a Russian language tutor... but she spoke no English
  • There are many things that are different we will need to get used to as we make Kharkov our home. With time, those differences will fade and we will hardly notice what really stands out right now, but until then, we doing our best to enjoy it all!
Thank you all for your prayers. From all the horror stories you hear about people moving to other countries and having so many difficulties in the move, we expected it to be tough. But, because of your help in prayers and supplications we have had one of the easiest moves possible. Thanks be to God and to His Body!

Love you all!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We're Off!!!

We just wanted to write a quick post to let everyone know that today is the big day! We move to Kharkov, Ukraine this morning around noon from Dallas/Fort Worth. We fly from Dallas to Washington DC, then to Vienna, and finally arrive tomorrow in Kharkov. So, please keep us in your prayers as we travel and start this new adventure in our life!
We're also saying goodbye to friends and family this morning, so keep that in your thoughts as well. Jacob (David's brother) and my mom were able to come to Dallas with us, so please keep them in your prayers as they travel back today to Lubbock.
We'll let you know as soon as we can that we made it there! Thanks for all your support and prayers and we'll talk to you again soon!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Just A Few Days Now

It has been a good couple weeks since we've posted. Needless to say, we've been busy getting ready to leave! For the last two weeks we were able to be in Lubbock with Olivia's parents, mostly getting ready to go, but also seeing a few friends and supporters there.
Sunset's Missions Sunday
Last Sunday, October 5th, was Sunset's missions Sunday. We were so happy we were able to be there for that day. Sunset is very mission minded and the whole weekend was centered around missions-- all over the world as well as in their neighborhood in Lubbock. The elders at Sunset also did a send off for us and the Hindman family that Sunday. The McDougles skyped in later and had a short interview with the rest of the congregation, which was a big success! By the way, Sunset exceeded their goal they had set for missions, so please join us in praising God for what he is doing through the Christians there!
No More Wisdom
Olivia was scheduled to have her bottom wisdom teeth out in the first week we were in Lubbock. They came out great, thankfully, which we are so thankful for. But, while she was getting those out, David had his teeth checked and found out he needed all his out as well. So, the following week (this last Tuesday), David headed in to get all four wisdom teeth pulled. Olivia was worried because we weren't finished packing and still had a lot to do! Thankfully, David's teeth came out easily. Olivia dropped David off at the dentist then started to go run errands, but those plans were quickly changed when David texted for us to go home and grab the video camera! We made it just in time for the last tooth to be pulled, which was also the hardest to pull. Only David would not only watch the dentist do all the work in his mouth, but ask to have it taped! This picture of the teeth are of Olivia and David's wisdom teeth together. David's are the red ones, and Olivia's are the "cleaner" looking ones. The dentist had saved hers because they had such a big crook on the end. We found out later that it was amazing they came out so easily without breaking... we feel sure it was because of all the prayers offered up!
Packing and Re-packing
In the last 2 1/2 years we have been married, we have moved a total of 7 times. This move to Kharkov will be our 8th move, and the first apartment we move into will only be a temporary apartment for a couple months until we find a permanent apartment in the area of the city we'll be working in. This means by the end of this year, we will have moved a total of 9 times in less than 3 years! You would think it would be easy for us to move now, with so much practice, but this move has definitely been the hardest yet! As many of you travelers know, there is a new baggage weight limit for international traveling. In years past, we have been able to have up to 70 lbs per bag, but they recently changed that policy to 50 lbs per bag. That twenty pounds really made a difference, and needless to say, it has been quite the feat to pack it all up to go with us. We are very fortunate to have heard of a good shipping company to ship boxes to us. They are very reasonably priced and will deliver to our door in Ukraine in just 6 weeks. So, after packing and re-packing, we have it down to 8 boxes being shipped over to Ukraine and 6 bags we are checking in on the plane to take with us! We are looking forward to being able to settle into an apartment we can stay in and not move from for a few years!!