Canadian beer drinkers, eh?

Scientists have found a new threat to the planet: Canadian beer drinkers.

Read the short article here.

I just knew that you’d want to know.


Bridesmaid dresses

I’ll tell you what…planning a wedding in a foreign country can be a real challenge. BUT, there are also many, many advantages. And among them…gifted seamstresses!

Jeanne and her two bridesmaids — sister-in-law Dasha in Ukraine and sister Anna in Nepal — have scoured the internet for dresses. Unfortunately most of the dresses that they all liked were way too expensive. And impossible for them to try on.

Enter: one talented seamstress. Tanya. Jeanne found a dress online, Tanya agreed to create a similar look, and she began taking Dasha’s measurements (and asking Anna to find someone to take her measurements and email them). She calculated the amount of fabric needed and sent Jeanne to find it.

While Jeanne searched Kyiv for the material, Tanya was busy creating a sample dress — out of newspaper! And tonight I went with Jeanne and Dasha for the first fitting.

Lovely, eh?

I was so impressed! Slits in the paper, then scotch tape to make darts, trim sketched onto the pattern — all ready for Dasha to model. After checking specifics, Jeanne and Dasha made some minor design additions which Tanya sketched and she suggested that they return next week for another fitting.

Amazing, eh? Well, it is to me — someone who struggles with sewing even WITH a pattern! I am so looking forward to seeing the next step…making the dress itself from the actual fabric.

And then there’s Jeanne’s dress — some VERY creative adjustments need to be made, but, for obvious reasons, I can’t post a picture of Jeanne in it. Next week she will be receiving her shoes (thanks to a family heading this way from Alabama to adopt a child or two…we ordered them online and had them sent to them) so Tanya can actually shorten the gown to the perfect length. Or shortness.

It’s amazing, to say the least, to see your very own daughter wearing THE dress. Even when it’s way too long. It is still a bit like “dress-up” for me. “Playing” the bride.

I’m not sure what my reaction will be when THE dress fits her to a “T”. So far, I think I’m handling things quite well…



I actually intended to post this last week, but I got a bit sidetracked and then was hit by the flu.


What a great little village just north of Cincinnati, Ohio:  Glendale.

I forward these “Glendale mailing list” messages on to friends from time-to-time, mostly so that people can see that there are still wonderful small towns throughout the U.S.


  I’m teased that Glendale is a lot like Stars Hollow (of Gilmore Girls fame).  And, you know, there are some great similarities, most especially that nearly everyone knows everyone else…and actually cares about them.  What a treasure!


My dad was mayor of this little village for 16 years — following the mayor who had been in office for 42 years.  He considered it a privilege to serve the village where he had grown up.  Dad worked hard to have it registered as an historic site, and to maintain its roots.  The winding streets are still lit by gas lamps and though new folks have moved to this town, there are still plenty of families who have lived there for generations.


I received this message today and thought to myself:  Only Glendale would have an email list that would send this message to the villagers:


On Magnolia Avenue a car key (on a key ring) was found… attached is a remote lock/panic transmitter.   No ID or car make on the keys…. for more information, contact  Chief Dave Warman 771-xxxx


Don’t you just love it?

Ecclesiastes 9:10

From Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening:

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”  Ecclesiastes 9:10

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,” refers to works that are possible.  There are many things our heart finds to do that we will never do.  It is well it is in our heart, but if we would be eminently useful we must not be content with forming schemes in our heart and talking of them; we must practically carry out “whatsoever our hand findeth to do.”  One good deed is worth more than a thousand brilliant theories.  Let us not wait for large opportunities or for a different kind of work, but do just the things we “find to do” day by day.  We have no other time in which to live.  The past is gone; the future has not arrived; we never will have any time but time present.  Then do not wait until your experience has ripened into maturity before you attempt to serve God.  Endeavor now to bring forth fruit.  Serve God now but be careful as to the way in which you perform what you find to do:  “Do it with thy might.”  Do it promptly; do not fritter away your life in thinking of what you intend to do tomorrow as if that could recompense for the idleness of today.  No many ever served God by doing things tomorrow.  If we honor Christ and are blessed, it is by the things which we do today.  Whatever you do for Christ throw your whole soul into it.  Do not give Christ a little slurred labor, done as a matter of course now and then, but when you do serve Him, do it with heart, and soul, and strength.

But where is the might of a Christian?  It is not in himself, for he is perfect weakness.  His might lies in the Lord of Hosts.  Then let us seek His help; let us proceed with prayer and faith,  and when we have done what our “hand findeth to do,” let us wait on the Lord for His blessing.  What we do in this way will be well done and will not fail in its effect.

When I read this entry in Spurgeon’s devotional, I clearly saw myself.  How many times have I listed the exact same “to do” item from one day to the next, even from month to month!  Always with great anticipation and expectancy.  But then it doesn’t get accomplished.

And then, meanwhile, not recognizing those God-given moments to be a blessing in the day-to-day.

Oh, may I not simply make plans according to His schedule, but may I implement them as well.

And, Lord, continue to work in me the truth that interruptions are opportunities!

Case for genocide

Some of you may have seen this article in the Wall Street Journal — thanks, Kristina, for bringing it to my attention. It is written by Viktor Yushchenko, the president of Ukraine, to explain WHY he wants Holodomor to be recognized as genocide…

It’s a fairly short article, but an important one. As he says, “A world that indulges historical amnesia or falsification is condemned to repeat its worst mistakes.”

(You may recall that I wrote about the 75th anniversary of the start of this horrific event a few days ago. Michelle at Greetings from Kyiv posted some great links.)

UPDATE:  It has come to my attention that the entire article does not show up on the WSJ site, so…here is the entire article:

The Holodomor

November 26, 2007


Seventy-five years ago the Ukrainian people fell victim to a crime of unimaginable horror. Usually referred to in the West as the Great Famine or the Terror Famine, it is known to Ukrainians as the Holodomor. It was a state-organized program of mass starvation that in 1932-33 killed an estimated seven million to 10 million Ukrainians, including up to a third of the nation’s children. With grotesque understatement the Soviet authorities dismissed this event as a “bad harvest.” Their intention was to exonerate themselves of responsibility and suppress knowledge of both the human causes and human consequences of this tragedy. That is reason enough for us to pause and remember.

During the long decades of Soviet rule it was dangerous for Ukrainians to discuss their greatest national trauma. To talk of the Holodomor was a crime against the state, while the memoirs of eyewitnesses and the accounts of historians like Robert Conquest and the late James Mace were banned as anti-Soviet propaganda. Yet each Ukrainian family knew from bitter personal memory the enormity of what had happened. They also knew that it had been inflicted on them deliberately to punish Ukraine and destroy the basis of its nationhood. It is to honor the victims and serve the cause of historical truth that independent Ukraine is today working to promote greater understanding and recognition of the Holodomor, both at home and abroad.

We are not doing so out of a desire for revenge or to make a partisan political point. We know that the Russian people were among Stalin’s foremost victims. Apportioning blame to their living descendents is the last thing on our minds. Our only wish is for this crime to be understood for what it truly was. That is why the Ukrainian Parliament last year passed a law recognizing the Holodomor as an act of genocide and why I am asking our friends and allies to endorse that position. A world that indulges historical amnesia or falsification is condemned to repeat its worst mistakes.

Genocide is a highly charged term, and there are those who still dispute its applicability in the case of Ukraine. It is therefore worth looking at how the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention legally defines the issue. It describes genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” including “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” The Holodomor falls squarely within the terms of this definition. Significantly, that was also the opinion of Raphael Lemkin, the legal scholar who conceived the Genocide Convention.

There is now a wealth of historical material detailing the specific features of Stalin’s forced collectivization and terror famine policies against Ukraine. Other parts of the Soviet Union suffered terribly as well. But in the minds of the Soviet leadership there was a dual purpose in persecuting and starving the Ukrainian peasantry. It was part of a campaign to crush Ukraine’s national identity and its desire for self-determination. As Stalin put it a few years earlier: “There is no powerful national movement without the peasant army…in essence, the national question is a peasant question.” In seeking to reverse the policy of “Ukrainianization” that promoted limited cultural and political autonomy during the 1920s, Stalin decided to target the peasantry, representing as it did 80% of the population. His solution to the national question in Ukraine was mass murder through starvation.

Stalin’s cruel methods included the allocation of astronomic grain requisition quotas that were impossible to meet and which left nothing for the local population to eat. When the quotas were missed, armed units were sent in. Toward the end of 1932, entire villages and regions were turned into a system of isolated starvation ghettos called “black boards.” Throughout this period, the Soviet Union continued to export grain to the West and even used grain to produce alcohol. By early 1933, the Soviet leadership decided to radically reinforce the blockade of Ukrainian villages. Eventually, the whole territory of Ukraine was surrounded by armed forces, turning the entire country into a vast death camp.

The specifically national motive behind Stalin’s treatment of Ukraine was also evident in the terror campaign that targeted the institutions and individuals that sustained the cultural and public life of the Ukrainian nation. Waves of purges engulfed academic institutions, literary journals, publishing houses and theaters. Victims included the Ukrainian Academy of Science, the editorial board of the Soviet Ukrainian Encyclopedia, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and ultimately the Ukrainian Communist Party. This was a systematic campaign against the Ukrainian nation, its history, culture, language and way of life.

The Holodomor was an act of genocide designed to suppress the Ukrainian nation. The fact that it failed and Ukraine today exists as a proud and independent nation does nothing to lessen the gravity of this crime. Nor does it acquit us of the moral responsibility to acknowledge what was done. On the 75th anniversary, we owe it to the victims of the Holodomor and other genocides to be truthful in facing up to the past.

Mr. Yushchenko is Ukraine’s president.

Sick puppy

Well, not as cute as a puppy.  But, sick none-the-less.  I was surprised with a sudden attack of the flu beginning late Sunday morning and just now (late Monday afternoon) starting to feel more normal.

For those of you who are sick in private homes…be thankful.  I have had a headache for the last 24 hours, and neighbors throughout our building are in process of reconstruction.  The sounds vibrate through the radiators and pipes.  The various workers are definitely NOT working in the same key nor the same rhythm.

Plus, it’s raining today, to add to the dreariness.

I put on some Christmas CDs to brighten the atmosphere, but they are only heard intermittently as the drilling, hammering, clanging dies down.

I hope they don’t work late.


Today marks 75 years since the beginning of the forced famine of 1932-33.

President Yushchenko is working hard to have countries recognize this horrific time in Ukrainian history as not simply a disaster, but genocide.  To learn more about “death by hunger,” click this link. 

In addition to special church services today, President Yushchenko has asked us all to light a candle and place it in a window this evening in memory of those who suffered and died.

As I lit a candle in our kitchen window, I was encouraged to see others on this street have done the same.  I pray for the survivors who witnessed such evil — pain is still in the eyes of the elderly here.  I pray for God’s comfort and healing touch on this land and its people.

Lord, I am stopped cold by the horror — and thank you that you have turned my heart of stone into one of flesh.  I realize that my own heart is deceitful and that without you…well, who knows what I may have done…or might yet do!

Give us boldness to share your love and your truth with hurting people here.  Grant us opportunities to teach about repentance and forgiveness.  May we be your hands and feet.

May we never forget…

Red and green

Okay, okay.  This blog skin may be a bit over the top.  But, hey…how often can you really go with this look?!  Once a year, I figure.

So, this is my once a year.

Hospital visit

I was so excited to head to the hospital today to visit the AIDS orphans…two ladies were joining me for the first time. And Jim had had a meeting with a doctor in a different area of the complex, so he was coming back again today.

We all walked in and were met with a big privyet (hello) from one of the auxiliary staff — this woman always has a smile for us. Her job, as far as I can see, is to transport the huge pots of soup (gruel?) down the hallway on a low-riding cart. Moms take dishes into the hallway to be filled for their children, and the volunteers keeping watch over my orphans also fill dishes from the cart. This particular worker was a bit concerned when we first began our visits — she was so concerned that the children were being held too much. And that they would cry when we left. But now, she’s happy to see us. She has seen how the children respond to loving care.

I opened the door to the children’s room and discovered two young doctors examining the little ones. Christoslava (a volunteer) gave me a bit of a distressed look and the doctor informed me that the children were too sick for us to visit with them today. Unfortunately the children had already seen us…

We stood in the hallway looking at a newly-arrived infant who was in the bed next to the hall window. We were unable to get the details on the little bundle, but we could see Oleg and Kolya in the back of the room — you might remember them from last week’s posts: here and here. They were actually crying because we could not play with them. Hard to watch.

Little Maxim was a bit more assertive. When Christoslava joined us in the hallway, he made a beeline for the door and joined her. I immediately squatted down to be at his eye-level and played a little hide-and-seek as he hid behind her skirt.

The head doctor also saw our group and approached us to greet Jim, his colleague. He explained that the children had been sick with the flu, but that it would be okay for us to go spend time with them. We told him that his staff had already sent us away, and we wanted to respect the rules that they had. He encouraged us to come back the next week, aware that we were not trying to receive special treatment simply because we were foreigners. I think his respect for us went up another notch as he saw that we respected his workers and his hospital’s rules.

I was disappointed that Patty and Cheryl didn’t get the opportunity to interact with my kiddos. I hope they’ll go back with me another time.

It’s a life-changing adventure.  Time that you don’t easily forget.

He’s home!

Today was a great day to gather the family altogether — though we had our problems communicating with Anna via Skype.  It seems that if we were talking, we’d get disconnected, or Anna would call while we were transferring dishes TO the table in another room, or returning the dishes to the kitchen.  I had a much better conversation with her yesterday.  Sorry, Anna, that it was so frustrating for you.  It proved to be a bit chaotic here…

We were glad to see Jamie back after his 2-week tour in Japan with the Philharmonia Orchestra.  He downloaded several batches of pictures onto my laptop…parks in Tokyo, a variety of concert halls, cityscapes by day and night,  toilets (verrry interesting!), and this poster advertising these musicians from Kyiv:


Welcome home, Jamie!