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!