Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Blog

Hello, faithful friends and family!

This post is to let you know that our family has created a new blog. If you've been following us here, we really want you to keep following us on our new blog. Since our family has grown, we decided to start a new blog that would allow us to post on different pages (one for our family, one for just Caleb, one for the mission). Here is the address:

Please click on this link and check out our new blog. Of course, while you're there, please subscribe to it as well so you know every time we post something new!

Thanks for switching with us!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Introducing Caleb!!!

David and Olivia Nelson are proud to announce the birth of their amazing, wonderful, beautiful, healthy son, Caleb James Nelson!
Caleb James Nelson
Caleb was born Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 10:35am. He was born weighing 3.95kg and was 55cm long (approx. 8lbs 11oz and 21.5 in).

He is a wonderful child. On average he eats every couple hours, but sometimes he'll give us 3.5-4 hour naps in between feedings. He is able to be loud when he cries, but fortunately this is rare. At night he usually gives us about five minutes of smacking before he even starts to cry for food. I think he takes after his father in that he is strong. Though he is a newborn he can lift his head and look around (briefly). He is gassy, seeming to stink up the vicinity around him frequently (which I think is normal).

He is in a house surrounded by people that love him. We were blessed enough to have Olivia's mother and my parents here for the birth and a little while afterward. They told us they came to help us out, they just neglected to mention the specifics of this help would mainly be helping to hold, hug, kiss, and love on their newest grandson.

If you would like any pictures of Caleb just ask as we have a few thousand of him already. This boy's grandparents should not be referred to as grandparents but grand-paparazzi.

The Delivery and Hospital Stay
After many months of preparing, planning, and praying; it all came down to the final moments. I woke up at 2am to my wife nudging my shoulder telling me that her water had just broken. I cooly and calmly got out of bed and said "Okay, let's go". I was then told we have to wait until the contractions start and get to be about five minutes apart. Being 2am I was thinking, "Okay, I'm going back to sleep it's going to be a long day", but being sensible, I asked, "Okay, what else do we need to do before we go to the hospital?" We then spent about 20 minutes gathering the last of the items together that were on the list the hospital had given us, and put them in Liv's pregnancy bag.

So after everything was gathered we jumped back in bed and were going to sleep as much as we could getting ready for the day ahead. This unfortunately was not going to happen. Almost right away Olivia's contractions started, and they started quickly. The first one came, then six minutes later the second one followed, then 5 minutes later the third came, then 3 minutes later the fourth came. And from that point forward contractions were coming consistently every 2.5 minutes. Needless to say we woke everyone on the house up and got out the door as quick as we could! (Liv going as quickly as she could down the stairs since our elevator was still broken).

All the way to the hospital I was going over in my mind what I had read the day before on how to deliver a baby if you don't make it to the hospital. We were rushing! It was 2:30 am so the roads were clear. And I was looking forward to flying down the road reaching the hospital with a couple police cars in chase. Of course, for a couple reasons that didn't happen. Every light we came to was green, we saw no police, and if you have driven in Ukraine you know that the condition of the roads is not good enough to speed along with a pregnant lady on board.

Once at the hospital though, things slowed down. As most of you know, Olivia and I have been studying the Russian language since we moved here. Unfortunately, despite the progress we have made, we struggled to communicate as well as we would like in a hospital setting with medical terms. This is something that we were expecting when we decided to deliver here, but we felt confident enough that we would be able to handle it. Obviously it all worked out, but at the time with the added stress from a baby about to come and it being very early in the morning it was difficult.

I won't go into a lot of details about the deliveries, but I will share a few things that were significant to us.

The overall attitude of doctors here is that they are the doctors who know what they are doing so we need to let them do whatever they want. I do admit that the doctors here do know more than I do, but it is extremely frustrating for a doctor or nurse to give me an annoyed look and shake her head no as a response to me asking what they were about to inject my wife with. It goes against everything we have have experienced medically in the States and New Zealand. There the doctors inform the patients as to what is going on, what they are doing, and ask what they would like done, leaving the decision in the patients hands. That is not the case here in Ukraine. Here, we the patients do not know what is best for us, therefore there is no need for us to know what is going on.

Delivery was... interesting. Going into this I knew that I did not want to be anywhere except by Liv's head when she was delivering. I had no desire to be anywhere else. I have no problem with blood or anything, I have a problem with smells. I'd like to think I have a very very sharp sense of smell and that is why bad smells really get to me, but really I probably just can't handle bad smells. But when it all started happening, I was there for my wife doing everything that I needed. When she was in too much pain and too tired to even understand what the doctor was saying, I was there telling here when to push, breath, and relax. When the doctor asked her to try delivering standing up, I was under her arm holding her up. When the doctor told her she needed to hold her legs back further, I was there helping her do this. When the doctor needed me to start pushing on Liv's belly to help her out, I was there pushing. Before we went to the hospital, I wasn't interested in being anywhere except by Liv's head, but when the moment came I wanted to do everything I could to help Liv do her job.

Our hospital stay lasted from 2:30am on Wednesday morning to noon on Saturday. And our time there was an eye opener. Usually only the mother and child can stay up there, and visiting hours are from 11am to 6pm. But for us they made an exception. Because we had the hospital's head doctor as our doctor, we were able to have special privileges that others did not have. I was able to stay the whole time with Olivia without leaving. And when we had guests, they did not have to have the required chest x-ray to come and visit us. All throughout the day starting at 6am we had nurses and doctors bursting into the room asking for the temperature of the mother and baby, dropping off water to wash Caleb's eyes, coming in and stabbing Caleb's big toe and taking his blood, checking how Liv is recovering, making her go get an x-ray, making her give blood, telling her how she needs to feed the baby, telling us to open the window to let fresh air in, then another nurse telling us to close one window and open the other one, then another one telling us off for having windows open with a baby in the room, etc. Seems like every time the baby had just started to fall into a deep sleep, the nurse would barge in and mop the floor. All in all I think it was probably pretty close to how hospital stays go worldwide, it was just extra trying for us, because the only English spoken to us was "September 15", and more than half of the staff we dealt with did not exercise much patience with us in our inability to speak/understand Russian fluently.

Probably the most frustrating thing for me though was the very frequent trips to the hospital pharmacy. A few weeks before the due date we met with the Hospital consultant (with an interpreter) and received a run-down on how everything would go as well as a list of everything that we would need at the hospital. Well, come to find out the list they gave us only contained about a tenth of the things that we would need, and almost half of the things mentioned on that list were not necessary at all. When the nurse would come around and tell Olivia to bring her gloves for a blood test and we didn't already have them, we would then be told off for not having gloves when we were supposed to have already gotten them. Same thing with the x-ray paper, for some reason unimaginable to them, we did not realize we were supposed to have brought our own x-ray paper. In the end there were many trips to the pharmacy to buy yet another item that they expected us to have, but no one informed us that we needed.

I hope I am not sounding too negative about our hospital experience. There were a lot of great things about the hospital stay as well. Like I mentioned before, our doctor was the head doctor, and she went out of her way to make sure our stay there was as nice as possible. She was very friendly and accommodating. She was not the only wonderful person there, there was a nurse that would come and spend about ten minutes with us everyday that we got to talk with. She was very nice and complimentary of our language saying we speak very well and with a very good accent. Especially compared to the other foreigners she has met in Ukraine. We know that we will be remembered at that hospital for awhile, and hope that through our contact with the head doctor, we may be able to participate in some sort of ministry there at the hospital.

One last comment about the hospital. The first day there they had no running water. Yes that's right, there was a group of about six nurses that filled up hundreds of buckets and distributed them to all the toilets, and rooms of the hospital. At the six hour mark after delivery, when they have the mothers get up and take a shower to clean up, they brought Olivia a bucket and ladle saying that she needed to hurry and wash up before the water gets cold. Yeah, this is Ukraine, what can I say.

Now that we are home, Olivia is recovering, and Caleb is sleeping and eating well. We look back and laugh at our hospital experience. At times it was frustrating and at times made us regret not leaving the country to give birth, but now we are past it and can laugh about it. And we are extremely happy and proud parents now.

We were blessed by God that nothing went wrong, that there were no complications, and that Caleb was born healthy. We thank God for taking care of us, and we thank all of you who have been praying for us as well.

Thank you God for giving us an amazing son!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ultrasound Picture of Caleb

We went to the doctor today to get things checked out with Caleb and walked out with a new ultrasound picture... so, of course, we're sharing. Here's out little one... sleeping away and apparently content inside Olivia.
Olivia is doing great, just getting bigger and more ready every day for him to come out. She's 40 weeks and 2 days today... so just a little past the due date. We're praying he comes soon, preferable this week. If she hasn't delivered by Monday, we go back for a check-up and they'd really like to just put her in the hospital until he comes. Of course, there's nothing wrong, it's just customary for them to put moms in the hospital at 41 weeks. So, be praying with us that he comes soon! We've also got some grandparents around (Olivia's Mom and David's parents) who are here for a limited time and would like to hold their grandbaby! :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pregnant... and Living in Ukraine (Part 2)

As we get closer and closer to our due date (just 5 days away now - see picture), I felt the need to write another post about my experience being pregnant here. (Note: If you missed the first post, you can go back and read it here.) I know once Caleb arrives on the scene, he's going to become the center of attention for a while and I know my time will be even more limited. So, I'm taking a bit of time now to write down things I want to remember as well as things I think you will enjoy hearing about. And don't worry - I have lots of pictures in this post as well! :) Of course, I have no experience of being pregnant in the States or New Zealand to compare my experiences here in Ukraine to, but I'm still very confident they do things really different here. Hopefully you'll enjoy reading about some more of those differences!

My Prenatal Clinic
Depending on the region you live in, you have a specific prenatal hospital you are required to go to. Thankfully, our prenatal hospital is just about 3-4 blocks down the road we live on. (See picture below.) I should have gone to this hospital as soon as I found out I was pregnant, but we didn't know that, so I started my "official" prenatal care late - at 31 weeks. Since then we've been doing a lot of catch up work and tests. Every woman is given a pregnancy passport (see picture to the left) that I take with me every time I go. In this "passport," they record the results from all tests, ultrasounds, and appointments. Medical information is not recorded on computers here, everything is written down, usually in a simple, lined or graphed notebook. In other words - I'd better not lose this passport or I'd be in a heap of trouble.

Every two weeks I walk down the street enter my hospital and wait in line at the elevator that can only hold 4 people. There are actually 3, but 2 have been broken the whole time... I think they might be permanently dead. It's an old elevator, so we have to watch the button until the light goes off (meaning it's not occupied) and push it, just hoping we've beat everyone else on the other floors. :) From there I go see the nurse who enters my new data (from urine tests or blood work, etc.) and writes out a bunch more "prescription papers" for me to do before my next appointment, then I see my prenatal doctor. I've been blessed and haven't had any complications with my pregnancy, so the visits usually go pretty quick. My doctor asks how I'm doing and if I have any questions, then she measures my belly, feels to see how the baby is positioned, then she gets out her little wooden funnel and listens to the baby's heartbeat (see picture).

Errands In Between

Real quick, I'll expand a little more about the "prescription papers." These are little papers (picture provided) I have to take to various other clinics/labs. They've become the things I dread most - having to go to many different places with specific hours to do little things. I have to go certain days between 7-10am to drop off my urine, other days to another place between 9-11am to give blood, another day between 8-11am for something else, etc. And yes, I've showed up several times past time (unknowingly) which means a wasted trip. I am usually given between 3-4 "prescription papers" every two weeks. When I go to give blood, I go to the pharmacy first to buy the syringe they'll use and sometimes gloves as well. Although Ukraine doesn't have the best health care, I have always felt pretty confident that they do their best to stay clean and sanitary. I took a picture of the room where I give blood - the pots just crack me up (some are for clean syringes, others for dirty, some for cotton balls, etc.). These poor nurses and doctors also do not have air conditioning, so this whole last month where the temperatures were over 100F (40-42C), it was HOT with no relief. I also took a picture of the place where I drop my urine off... it's the red bricked building and the picture of the stairs goes along with it. For some reason, the lighting and the condition of the stairs just makes me smile.

They also gave me a piece of paper with a list of places I have to go get a wellness stamp, places like the eye doctor, the dentist, the heart doctor, the lung doctor, the nose/ear/throat doctor, and a few others. In my last post I mentioned the fact that I have bad eyesight. Bad eyesight runs in my family, sadly, but it's "unusually bad" for Ukraine. Doctors look at my prescription or my glasses and their first determination is that I should not give birth naturally, I must have a cesarean. Thankfully, I found a great private clinic who would actually examine my eyes to see if I would have any problems giving birth, specifically with my retina. I've been given the "ok" for natural birth and here's the official paper that says just that. (Yes, we had much rejoicing over this!)

Prenatal Personel
Finally, here are a couple photos we took this last week when I went in for my appointment. I wanted pictures of my doctors/nurses who have helped me at the prenatal clinic.
The first picture (to the right) is with Valeria. She is a really great friend of ours who has been a help to us from the beginning. She actually was the delivery doctor when my sister gave birth to Max, and has just become a good friend since then.
The next picture (to the left) is me with the nurse at my prenatal clinic (she's the one who records all my information for me in my passport).
The next picture (to the right) is with my prenatal doctor. Here in Ukraine, your prenatal doctor is different from your delivery doctor.
The last picture (to the right) is with my translator, Julia. She's been a great help to me as I really only understand about 50% of what they are saying on my own.

Hopefully the next time I'll be writing about doctors and my experiences here, I'll be writing about Caleb's delivery. :) Many of you are praying with us now and we're so thankful for your prayers and ask you continue to keep us in your prayers. We are excited and can't wait for him to arrive!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Busy Summer!

This summer has been/is flying by fast. So many different things have happened, it's been hard to keep up with blogging. So, I'm going to do my best to do a brief recap with some pictures just to get caught up to this month. Here goes!

Visit from Family
Many of you know Olivia's mom, Nancy, was here for a good part of the summer helping the McDougles, but we were also treated with Olivia's dad coming to visit. It was great having them both here in Kharkov with us. They have both been to Kharkov two times before, but both of those times were in winter months, so they were able to experience the "prettier side" of Kharkov this time!

Pregnancy Paperwork Complications
A major thing that turned our world upside down over the summer was finding out Olivia didn't have the right paperwork needed to deliver here in Ukraine. As we set about getting this paperwork, we encountered many obstacles because she was supposed to have this paperwork early in her pregnancy, not 31 weeks into it. Many of the hospitals did not want to help us because she would be too much of a liability to them since they had not been able to monitor her care from the beginning. Thankfully, things worked out and we found both a prenatal hospital who would take her on (just down the road from where we live), as well as a delivery hospital here in Kharkov. Although our "plan" was to deliver in Kiev at a European hospital there, we ended up having to scratch that and agree to deliver here in Kharkov. We have been praying throughout our whole pregnancy that God would grant us wisdom with where to deliver and the right doctor and we have no doubt that He answered our prayers - just not in the way we were expecting! Caleb is due on September 4th - just a week and a half away!

In July we headed to Budapest, Hungary to renew our visas. We are all here as missionaries on one-year visas which come up for renewal at the end of September. At that time we have to leave the country to renew them. Since this date fell so close to Caleb's due date, we decided we needed to renew them early. So, we took a trip to Budapest where we turned in our applications, enjoyed seeing sights, watched movies in English in the theater, and ate some good food. We came back after being there almost a week and David returned the next week to pick them up for us. By the way - yes, we found Dr. Pepper there and it was soooo good! We were even nice teammates and brought some back to surprise our team (see picture below at the team retreat).

Team Retreat
Every six months, our team tries to get out of the city and spend a few days together planning and evaluating. We looked at what God has been doing here through us and the other Christians here, but also dreaming and planning of what lies ahead. We spent this time at a place just about 40 minutes outside of Kharkov. It was very comfortable and also had a pool and a small mini putt-putt that we were able to enjoy.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Experiencing A Ukrainian Dacha

A couple weeks ago we were able to go spend a day with our friends, Misha and Vera, at their dacha. Dachas are basically little country homes outside the city where most Ukrainians retreat to on the weekends. It is a place to grow a garden, get away from the city noise and pollution, and just relax. We've heard about them many times, but this was our first experience visiting one and I hope it's not our last!

We met Misha and Vera through our first apartment rental here in Kharkov. They managed the place we stayed in when we first arrived in Ukraine. Of course the apartment was great, Vera's English was wonderful, and she offered to help in any way she could as we didn't (and still don't) always know what to do in this culture. We kept in touch with them, we had them over to our house one time, then they had us over to their house. Recently, Vera and I have started meeting on a weekly basis for coffee and conversation. It's been a great help to me, especially in my Russian, because she is patient with my mistakes and explains new words really well. Over one of those meetings, she invited us out to spend the weekend with them at their dacha.

We left late Saturday morning and were able to spend the rest of that day with them, their son Sasha, and Vera's godmother, until the next morning. It was a great experience. We went not knowing what to expect, but excited to experience whatever and ended up being treated like kings! The whole time we were there they served us, it was so humbling. I was hardly allowed to help even with preparing meals and the only reason they let me help was because I could learn how to cook like a Ukrainian. They took us to their nearby pond to swim, pointing out plants along the way, the set us up to bask in the sun and drink tea, it was great. David was also able to play the Russian card game "Durok" with Misha several times (apparently there is a strategy we still don't know because Misha kept winning!).

The meals were traditional Ukrainian meals which was perfect. Of course, Vera knew that I didn't like mayonnaise, so she kindly fixed meals that didn't have mayo in them. (Mayonnaise is a staple in Ukrainian meals... I'm telling you, we were spoiled!) We had cottage cheese, sala, and bread for lunch, borsch for the first course of dinner, pork kabobs for dinner, and finally oatmeal and fruit for breakfast the next morning. On the way out, Vera bought fresh strawberries, cherries, and red currants from some ladies on the road for us to snack on the whole time and they were to die for!

I know all of you are jealous at this point, I think even our teammates were a little jealous we were able to go out there. But we have a new understanding of this tradition - getting away from the city and from the chaos of everyday chores is definitely good medicine! We are so thankful to Vera and Misha for opening up their dacha to us. It was a great Ukrainian experience and a huge blessing!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Connecting Our Worlds

When our sponsoring church, Legacy, decided to support our family, they made many commitments to us. Not only did they want to ensure we would be taken care of financially, but they also wanted to make sure they were providing us with the emotional support and encouragement we would need from the congregation. They set up liaisons for us from the mission's ministry team who we would communicate directly with while we were in Kharkov on a regular basis. They helped us gather together a liaison team from the whole congregation who would communicate and encourage, as well as communicate what was going on here with the rest of the congregation. They helped us gather together prayer partners from the congregation, people who committed to regularly praying over us and the work God would be doing here in Ukraine. And finally, they
committed to send someone from the congregation to visit us every other year. Yes, we are well taken care of and we are loved. Not a week goes by that we don't feel that love from our family at Legacy.

This month was the designated month for our visitors to come from Legacy. You can write blogs, send monthly newsletters, emails, keep in contact via Facebook and Skype, but nothing compares to having someone personally fly across the Atlantic to see what's going on. David and I met Allan and Carrie-Ann Stanglin at the Kharkov airport late Tuesday night and immediately our worlds collided.

I can't express to you how much their visit meant to David and I, as well as our team and the other friends and Christians they interacted with here. They were able to be with us for eight full days. Needless to say, we crammed as much into those eight days together as we possibly could! They wanted to meet as many people as they could, we wanted to show them around the highlights of Kharkov, and finally they were able to see how our life is here in Ukraine.

We were overjoyed to introduce the Stanglins to our friends - they finally connected faces with names of friends who have been on our prayer lists and in our newsletters for the last year and a half. Not only that, but our Ukrainian friends were able to meet some of our Christian family from America. They met our friends at coffee shops, played in the park with them, met guests we had in our home, played with the kids on the team, and worshiped together with us. It was great.

We saw as much as we could while they were here, especially hitting the highlights of Kharkov. Kharkov isn't that famous, but it does have a lot of history. Andrei took us one day to visit a couple Orthodox cathedrals here in town; it was actually the first time David and I went inside one here in Kharkov. Andrei also took Allan and David to the main square and to the Jewish synagogue here, which happens to be the second largest in Europe. Carrie-Ann and I went to a Russian ballet one night at the Kharkov Opera house and saw Tchaikovsky's famous Swan Lake. Allan and David went to a Russian banya (like a sauna) one night with several other guy friends. If we could stuff it into the schedule, we did... and have pictures to show for it! :)

One of the funnest parts of their visit was showing them how we live here in Ukraine. They were able to see where we go grocery shopping, they went to the outdoor market with us, they ate Ukrainian food, rode the metro and walked around the city; they saw our neighborhood and they rode in our car down the bumpy streets of Kharkov. Basically, they experienced what we experience on a regular basis. In addition to seeing how we live, they also saw the things we do: they sat in on part of our language lesson, met the friends we study with, and participated in Bible studies and worship with us. Allan even spoke at the English service as well as at our Russian service on Sunday. He spoke from the Word and from his heart and we were all extra encouraged.

Not only were we able to connect them with Ukraine and our life here, but they reconnected us with Legacy. The night they arrived, they unloaded their suitcases with a ton of stuff from back home... food, books, cards, etc. They updated us on what was going on at Legacy and how our friends were doing. They delivered hugs and a 25 minute video of our Legacy family saying hello to us.
Even though we were still thousands of miles away, they were our bridge back home and we don't feel as far away now. David and I also got really close to the two
of them while they were here. We talked and talked and talked together. We shared our ups and downs with them, we cried and teared up together, we laughed together until we cried, we played Phase 10 until late in the night. I'm getting emotional writing and remembering all we did together. Most people don't get the chance we had of spending eight days with the preacher and his wife and I wish they did. We can't wait to see them again in November!

Obviously, one blog post doesn't seem efficient to convey to all of you what went on while the Stanglins were with us. But, hopefully this gives you a glimpse. Allan did a great job blogging while they
were here and after they got back. You can check out what he wrote on his blog:

It just took two people, but our worlds connected and we're still encouraged and living on a "high" from their visit. For all of you who sent hugs, cards, hellos, food, etc. with the Stanglins - thank you so much. We didn't realize how much we needed this visit, but we're thankful for those who made it happen and for all God did to bless us through it!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

What's Been Happening Lately...

I always hate doing blog posts without pictures, but right now, that's what I'm giving and you're getting. However, there will be pictures soon, especially of our new place. For now, it's a wreck because we're still unpacking and settling in... pictures and/or video tour will come later. Still, there is much to share, so here's just a few things about what has been happening in our lives recently.

New Apartment
Many of you know we and the Hindmans have been looking for a new apartment for a long time now. Well, two weeks ago the Hindmans found a place and moved in about two weeks ago and on the day they moved in, we saw and paid the deposit for our new place. This last Monday we signed the contract for our place and moved in, all the same day. Needless to say, David has been on physical overload the last couple of weeks. He helped the Hindmans move into their place which is on the 4th floor (no elevator), packed up the majority of our stuff, moved us on (6th floor, but thankfully we have an elevator), and has been busy unpacking since. I have been helping, but he has certainly done the lions share of all the work!!

Quick synopsis of our new place: it is a three bedroom apartment on the 6th floor of a 9 story building. It is a fairly new building, so the elevator is great and all the wires and plumbing are all new. Our apartment is all newly remodeled and very tastefully done. The only room we didn't like very much was the kid's room. It was blue with 3 different types of wallpaper, a border, and curtains that all technically matched, but all together was overkill. We have permission to re-decorate that room, so that will be fun. The kitchen is great, it's about double the size of our old kitchen, has lot of cabinet space, and a dishwasher! I'm one happy woman. Plus, it has a nice sized table in it that has the ability to practically double in size. So now, instead of eating in the living room with a plate on your lap and cup on the floor, we have a table large enough to entertain 6 guests with us! We also have two small balconies - one enclosed and one that is not. David's happy about that - he'll have a bit of room for a small garden again! The apartment is just outside the center, so not quite where we were hoping, but it's still really close. We are also just 2 blocks away from the market we use, which is great, especially this summer! We are about 5-7 min from the McDougles and 10-12 minutes from the Hindmans, so not bad at all.

Our landlords seem also to be great people, they were very kind to us and have been helpful if we have any questions. That in itself is a big answer to prayer!

We've only had a few hiccups since we moved in. Every summer, they turn off the hot water in different regions for 2-3 weeks to clean the pipes. A week before we moved, they turned it off in our old place, but we had a water heater we could turn on so it didn't affect us too much. Well, a few days after we moved in our new place, they turned turned the hot water off in this region. We do have a back-up water heater for showers and the sink in the bathroom, but not for the kitchen. So, we have yet to use our dishwasher and have been heating up water on the stove to wash dishes. We also don't have a home phone and to be able to set that up we have to wait until our landlords are back in town (in a couple weeks). Still, we have our cells, so that's not too big of a deal.

We have a new address and that will go out in our next monthly newsletter we send by email, so be watching for that. Our Skype phone number (the local Lubbock number) will stay the same.

In the midst of all our moving, actually just two days before we moved into our place, our teammate Denyce started having a miscarriage. She was 12 weeks along in this pregnancy. Many of you know she had a miscarriage after 5-6 weeks back in December as well. There were complications this time, however, and she ended up in the hospital here in Kharkov. It was a really scary time for us all because we knew she needed blood (she lost too much during the night), but none of us feel confident about the hospitals here. We called my doctor in the states on our Sunday morning (the middle of the night in the states) to confirm that she really did need to go, then Rob called the private ambulance service, we found a friend of ours to interpret, and Rob called Lucy's doctor Valeria. Valeria was out of town, but put us in touch with another doctor she trusted who met them at the hospital and took care of Denyce. David and I went with them to the hospital (David was especially needed to help carry Denyce down the 4 flights of stairs, as their ambulance doctors really would have struggled). Denyce was in the hospital about two days, but is back at home right now recovering. Although the hospitals here are very different from what we are used to, she was well taken care of. We know God listened to our fervent prayers and we are so thankful for Him helping her through that situation! Continue to keep the Hindmans in your prayers as Denyce recovers physically, but also as they grieve.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Pregnant... and Living in Ukraine

Living in a foreign country is a true adventure in a lot of ways. There is always so much new to discover. I remember visiting Mexico when I was in high school and each of those experiences felt foreign. Living in (vs. visiting) a foreign country is quite different. Although where I come from and what I know seems "right" and "comfortable" to me, it feels foreign here... so instead of feeling like the place is foreign, I feel foreign. Of course, foreign isn't always bad, it has it's perks and it's disadvantages, just like everything else. Sometimes we're treated special and like famous people because we're foreigners (especially David since he's a Kiwi--imagine that, not too many people visit Ukraine from New Zealand), but other times we get treated like there's something wrong with us. Still, it's all an adventure.

Since we announced I was pregnant, the adventure has gotten even more interesting. Suddenly total strangers have taken an interest in taking care of me! In the states, one of the most common complaints I heard from pregnant women was that total strangers would come up and touch their bellies. Of course I'm still small, but I can't imagine that happening here. Instead, they come up and tell me what I'm doing wrong or ask questions to make sure I'm doing what they consider right. They thrive on tradition, and there are a bunch of traditions pregnant women should, in their minds, follow carefully. Here are a few examples of them, most of which have come from good friends of ours:
  • - Don't cut or color your hair. It contains important vitamins your baby needs.
  • - Don't knit.
  • - Don't eat meats or produce from the supermarket.
  • - Green apples are full of iron, one of the best sources you could eat. To get the most iron from it, poke the apple with a knife all around, let that sit out overnight, and eat it in the morning.
  • - Don't buy milk (and many milk products like butter and tvorog- similar to cottage cheese) from the supermarket, only the market.
  • - Don't sit near a window or door with a draft.
  • - Don't sit on any cold surface (especially not concrete).
  • - Don't fly in an airplane at all, even traveling by train is strongly discouraged.
  • - The parents aren't supposed to buy anything for the baby before the baby is born, it will bring bad luck. (Other people can, just not the parents)
  • - While you're pregnant, if you crave sweet things, you're having a girl; if you crave savory and salty things, you're having a boy.
  • - For the next baby: be sure to look at a lot of pretty things so it will be pretty as well. Of course, this only applies to the second baby.
We were attending a friend's birthday party about two weeks ago (I was only 21 weeks then, so I had just a small little bump), and I got told off by two nurses there for holding my nephew Max who is just over a year old. Apparently the time for me carrying things and holding things has expired. For the most part, we take the "helpful" advice that comes our way graciously, sometimes assuring them that my doctor says it's ok for me to do _____ (whatever I'm getting in trouble for), but most of all, I'm more careful what I do when I'm around Ukrainians. I'm only just half way through my pregnancy now, so I know this is only the beginning!

For me, these pregnancy traditions and tips are just traditions, not medical facts. For them, traditions are just as strong as doctor's advice, and most of the doctors will say the same thing because they grew up under those traditions. Which brings me to my most recent encounter and prayer request. The place we've chosen to deliver at is great, very modern and has what we need medically. Recently, however, we found out that because I don't have 20/20 vision, I have to get my eyes checked. If you wear glasses or contacts, they check your eyes to see if there is a risk of retinal detachment, and if there is, they won't let you deliver naturally, but insist on a c-section. David and I don't want to have a c-section if at all possible, especially because of something we had never even heard about until we moved here. So, be lifting that up in your prayers please. This is one tradition we can't sidestep!

Here's a recent picture of the baby bump at 23 weeks. Our little boy keeps growing and moving around, we're so excited and thankful for him!!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Prague Holiday

I'm finally getting around to writing a small post about our trip to Prague! We were able to get away from Kharkov and spend a week with the McDougle family in Prague a couple weeks ago. Thankfully for us, we arrived just before the volcano erupted in Ieland, and the flights from Prague to Kiev resumed the day before we were scheduled to return! Of course, David was hoping we might get "stuck" for a few more days, but we were fine in the end. :)

Prague was a really neat city, the streets were just beautiful. The colors of the buildings were pretty each street and sidewalk was made of cobblestones. I think the majority of the rooftops in Prague are red, something you can even pick out as you're flying into the city. Three famous sites we were able to see were Charles Bridge, the Astronomical Clock Tower (in Old Square), and Prague Castle, all very nice. On the right are two pictures from the castle, one of a street called Golden Lane which was formally living quarters and workshops for the workers at the castle, and the other is a little view looking in the castle grounds (including the massive cathedral). I think the clock tower was our favorite (picture to the left). Every hour the clock puts on a show for the tourists and the little windows open up and the twelve apostles move across, two at a time. We were also able to go up into the tower and look out over the town, which was especially fun.

While we were there, our friends from Legacy (Collin, Marissa, and Caden McCormick) who are currently living in Germany, drove in for the weekend to meet up with us and see Prague. It was such a neat surprise and we had a really great time together! It was also our first time to meet their 9 month old son, Caden. (See picture to the left of Caden and David.) Anyway, they came in Friday night and stayed until Sunday afternoon. On Sunday morning, we were able to worship together with the church in Prague, which was really encouraging. Of course their meeting was in Czech, but the preacher there would summarize what he was saying in English for us. It was neat to worship together with another part of the body! We had a great time with the McCormicks... thanks so much for coming!!

Speaking of the language... although Czech is also a Slavic language, we were really only able to catch a word or two every so often that was the same or similar as Russian, so we were really blessed that so many in Prague spoke in English. In fact, we did almost all of our communication in English. For the couple of times when they didn't understand English, we were able to communicate in Russian. It was nice that we were able to fall back on that!

One of the best things about Prague was being able to have what we can't have in Ukraine. For example: Subway, KFC, Starbucks, Mexican food... yumm! (The picture to the left was taken at our favorite Mexican place.) We only have one American chain, McDonalds, in Kharkov, so it was so nice eating our other favorites we don't normally get to enjoy. David and I also were able to go see two movies, in English. In Kharkov, the only option of seeing movies in theaters up until recently has been to view them in Ukrainian (which we don't understand at all). Now, however, we are be able to start seeing shows in Russian, according to the changes made by the new President. Anyway... the food was fabulous and made the trip GREAT!

We also made a day trip to the Prague Zoo which was actually really nice! David went early to start looking around, and the rest of us joined him a little over an hour later. We all looked around, seeing some of the big animals, then the McDougles left and David and I stayed around for a couple more hours to see just a bit more. The grounds were really well laid out, but we especially liked the area they kept the giraffes. They were all indoors at that time, but the glass windows were you could view them were probably about two stories high. You were able to view the giraffes on the same level, so it really showed how massive they are!!

For those interested, we would definitely recommend Prague as a good holiday spot! (But, come see us in Ukraine too, of course!)