Sunday, January 10, 2010

Swimming.... outside... in the winter.

It's supposed to be beneficial to your health... or so every Russian we've talked to about it says. But, we have yet to figure out what dipping your body into the freezing water in the dead of winter will do to your health. But, regardless of whether it's good for you or not, David took the plunge this last Saturday.

At their weekly guy's meeting at the coffee shop, Rob, Dougle, and David met Kevin. Kevin is a student here in Kharkov, originally from China. He's studying here and having an adventure. One of the things he's taken to is the winter "plunging." There's a park here with fresh water pumped out of the ground where many Kharkovians go to get free drinking water, hang out, or... swim, even in winter. We'd been there once before, but in the summer. It's a popular place for sure. Here are some photos I took on Saturday while we were there, some of people filling up their water bottles and one of two men playing table tennis. It really is a nice little park, even in the winter.

Back to Saturday... Dougle and David joined Kevin and went for their first winter swim. Here are a few pictures of the event. As you can see, it's popular enough they've built this "pool" just for the plunging. While we were there, 3 other people did the "plunge," most of them getting in the water, swimming a bit, then getting out and running around or exercising some, then coming back for another dip. We left before we saw how many times they did this. One man was jogging around in the snow with just his tennis shoes and speedo on. It made for a slightly comical sight, but showed their devotion to it's healthful benefits!

Of course the water was cold, David estimates just above freezing (Brrr!!) But, that wasn't the worst for them, David and Dougle both said the worst part was the changing rooms. There was no bench, just a marble floor that had been iced over, so they stood on ice in their bare feet before and after the swim.

They're crazy, yes. But, maybe they're also all just a little more "Russian" now!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Seminar and Holidays

Many of you prayed with us for the seminar we had this last month. My Dad, Kirt Martin, came in from Texas and gave a great presentation for 3 days on Creation vs. Evolution. Our friend Alyona came in from Donetsk and did a great job translating for him (can you imagine translating hard scientific words into Russian?)!! She was also able to stay with us for the weekend, and we had a wonderful time showing her around Kharkov and getting to know her better.

We only had a few guests come to the seminar, much lower numbers than we were hoping for, but we were still thankful for those who came and the experience it gave us. It was also the coldest week we've had here in Kharkov this winter and the temperature more than likely kept people at home. This was our first big outreach event we have hosted since being here and we learned a lot that will help us with the next one. We also had one guest who isn't a Christian and is interested in studying more about the Bible, so pray that we'll be able to reach out to him more this new year! We also video taped the whole thing and hope to be able to send the dvds to those congregations who are interested and weren't able to come.

Scattered here are several pictures of us all setting up for the seminar as well as the seminar on the first day.

С Новым годом! (Happy New Year!)
Since my parents have been here, we've been able to take some time off. It's been wonderful being able to miss Russian classes and play games with family. It's been really good! We celebrated Christmas together with
family on Christmas Eve, then again with the Hindmans Christmas day. We all got lots of presents and had a great time together. Of course, we were the only ones around here celebrating because Ukrainian Christmas has yet to come! We will celebrate Ukrainian Christmas with everyone else here on January 7th. However, their big holiday was New Years. We invited a couple of our friends to join us, but they couldn't make it, so we spent New Years Eve with our family and teammates, playing games!

We are leaving tomorrow to go with the McDougles and my parents to Kiev. We will spend a couple days there sightseeing before my parents fly back to the States. So, keep our travels and their big plane rides home in your prayers, they will be leaving Thursday. It's been great seeing them and being able to have them here for the holidays.

Here are a few pictures we've taken over the last few weeks.
You are in our prayers and we hope your new year is off to a great start! Happy New Year!