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!!