Happy New Year!

We’ve already called our Australian friends living in Ukraine to wish them a happy new year.  And we called Anna at 8:45 (30 minutes late) to wish her a happy Kathmandu new year.  (She’s with Jeanne just south of Kyiv.)

Jim went to the store AND cooked dinner — pork chops on the electric grill, broccoli, salad, and dark chocolate with coffee beans.  And red wine.  And he also set the table with a tablecloth!  And the “good” dishes.  What a guy!  He knew that I wasn’t going to be able to get our newsletter out today if I stopped to create a meal — and so as I clicked “send” to release the newsletter, Jim brought dinner in and we were able to enjoy a relaxed scrumptious dinner for two.

We’ve put everything away now from dinner, plan to read out-loud to each other for a bit, and then we’re going to check out the first episode of Heroes.  (Does anyone have any opinions on that show?)

Hopefully we’ll stay awake until midnight, but, if not, HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of our friends in Ukraine.  And, come 7 a.m. for us, we’ll be wishing all of our American and Canadian friends a happy new year as well. And then at 8.  And at 9. Etc.

We are sooo looking forward to seeing what God has in store for us NEXT year!

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She’s here!

Ukraine time:  left Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m.

And now…34 hours later…she has arrived in Kyiv!

First on the agenda…exchange Christmas gifts.  Only Anna would put ALL of her new clothes on at once:

Up, up, and away!

Anna is officially en route.  She won’t arrive until tomorrow afternoon.

Meanwhile, on the homefront, we will have about 16ish folks in this evening…Jim’s official office party.  This year we are including children in the festivities.  It will be interesting to see their responses when we do the “stealing” of presents…

Tomorrow morning we’ll set up the crockpot with all the fixin’s  for chili — Anna’s request — and then we’ll head to church for the Christmas service.  I know, I know.  What’s up with Christmas being celebrated on the 30th?  Basically splitting the difference between the 25th and Orthodox Christmas on January 7.  Following the service, the Sunday school classes will be presenting a skit. As will the young adults.  Lots of music.  Jamie has arranged a medley of Christmas music — both American and Ukrainian — for the praise band to perform.  I am hoping to video that and will post it, if all goes well!

From church, I’ll ride with our sweet friend Toma to pick Anna up at the airport.  Hopefully we’ll be home by 4 or so.  Jamie and Dasha are planning to be here to welcome Anna back to Ukraine. Also Jeanne and Kolya.   And as long as Anna can stay awake, we plan to watch a Christmas movie and exchange gifts with her.

Thanks for the prayers as she continues to travel…

Final preparations

Are we excited about Anna’s arrival? You betcha! Today is her last day in Nepal — she flies out early Saturday morning…6 a.m. our time…that would be 11 p.m. on Friday night for those of you on the east coast. Prayers would be greatly appreciated for safety, ease, few hassles at the multiple borders. UNEVENTFUL is my most frequent prayer  request for travel!

For her last day in Nepal (at least until next year…) she expects to be in the office yet again, answering any last minute questions, and taking her replacement out to lunch. What a gal!

The whole team gathers for dinner, followed by prayer and worship together. Then Anna heads back to her place to watch football (soccer), finish packing (I am quite sure that she has very little packing to do — she is well organized and I’m sure her bag is open just waiting for those last minute items.)

We are counting down her arrival — and then only 2 weeks until the wedding.

(Anna, FYI, your first fitting is on the 3rd…no major responsibilities for you until after the New Year’s holiday. Generous of us, eh?!)

Countdown to Anna

Anna has only two more days before she boards her flight to Ukraine.  So how is she occupying her time between now and then?

To start with, she is training another gal to handle her accounting duties for the team in Kathmandu.  Yesterday she continued the training and then went home to day 2 of the gingerbread village…baking the dough.

Today she is actually skipping her tabla class (percussion instrument) to handle details in the office that can’t really be done while she’s training someone else.  She will make a great mother — taking a great deal longer to do simple tasks so that the newbie will feel confident that she is able to perform the work even without Anna.

This afternoon she has scheduled a teeth cleaning — so she will have a bright sparkling smile for the wedding.  Thoughtful, thoughtful.  Her evening will be filled with decorating a gingerbread village.   (Anna, what’s the story behind the village?  Who’s it for?)

Meanwhile, on this front, we have spent the morning going over details of the wedding — making sure that we have all of our bases covered.  The challenge in Ukraine is that it is so abnormal to plan ahead that business establishments don’t even have January calendars!  We have booked a reception location, and on Sunday we ordered the menu.  Jim purchased the champagne last night (on our balcony currently) as well as the soft drinks.  Wine and water will be purchased sometime the week of the wedding — or earlier if we can find a ride to the store.  Back breaking if he needed to carry the cases!

We have our hairdresser here at the moment — giving us all trims so that in 2 weeks our hair will be just the right length.  I don’t know why, but it seems that 2 or 3 weeks AFTER a cut is when I most like my hair.  Strange, eh?  Jeanne has still not come up with a “do” for her wedding, so she’s just getting a trim so that her hair will be in great shape for whatever decision she makes.

Jim is flying out tonight and will return on Saturday morning.  An adoptive couple has decided to try to adopt two children while they’re here — Jim has already checked out the first child,  and they again want his services to examine this second child.  Apparently he has some challenges that really need to be assessed by hands-on examination.

Life is certainly not slowing down as we enter into Ukraine’s big holiday season.  New Year’s is THE holiday here — gift-exchanging, all night parties with lots of food, traditional movies, sparklers and fireworks.  Days off, closed offices and businesses.  Orthodox Christmas. And then OLD New Year’s.

We will top off these holiday weeks with a wedding!

Anna’s coming!

How many days until we see Anna? Let’s see…only FOUR! She will be arriving from Kathmandu via India and Italy (gotta love the connections — 12 hour layover in one spot) around 3:00 on Sunday afternoon. Hooray!

I thought I might get Anna to email me a few blips about what’s happening at her location as she prepares to travel this way. And I’ll keep everyone posted from this end. How does that sound, Anna?

Christmas Day we excitedly contacted 3 different family member homes to wish everyone a Merry Christmas: Dinner had just been served at the first house, so bad timing. Jim talked to an answering machine at the second home. And the third home was going to skype us back in 10 minutes, only to run into major computer challenges…unfortunately we had limited minutes on our international calling card so we couldn’t call them back either. I am very glad that we were able to skype with Anna during the day!

Now we are concentrating on Anna’s arrival, New Year’s and The Wedding. Jim has multiple trips out of the city — both to help with adoptions and also to begin conversations about ministry opportunities.

Hopefully I will be able to visit my AIDS orphans this Friday…

(Don’t you love the snowflakes falling on my blog?  WordPress made that so easy…it will magically disappear on the 2nd of January.)

More Huck

Matt and Jared are at it again:

Per Matt:

This is a parody of “Help!” by The Beatles. It’s a great song (and movie) and if you haven’t heard/seen it you need to pause this video and do so immediately.

Lyrics:

Huck! I need somebody
Huck! Not just anybody
Huck! We really need someone
Huckabee!

(When… when I was young…)
When I was younger, so much younger than today
(I thought that I…)
I thought that I could go and throw my vote away
(Now… those days are gone…)
But now those days are gone, I know what they are worth
(There’s only one…)
Now there’s only one man I can vote for on this earth

Huckabee will take terrorists down
And fight to keep the right to life around
Illegal immigrants stay on your ground
Won’t you please vote Huckabee

(Hey… we need a change…)
The USA will change in oh so many ways
(Let’s break the bank…)
With Huck the IRS will vanish in a haze
(Give… their bill of rights…)
he’ll give the veterans the rights that they deserve
(And sing and paint…)
And thinks that school without the arts is borderline absurd

Huckabee will take terrorists down
And fight to keep the right to life around
Illegal immigrants stay on your ground
Won’t you please vote Huckabee

1 Day — The Night Before Christmas

We had a delightful gathering of friends and family on Christmas Eve.  We were blessed to have a family with us who is in the process of adopting a 12-year-old boy — they have been in country for 5 weeks and finally have a court date on Wednesday.  The orphanage allowed Andriy (who has decided that he wants to be called Chris!) to spend the evening and night with his adoptive parents and their 3 children, and we were able to have them all join the fun here.

A highlight was Jim reading the Night Before Christmas — a tradition that goes back at least as far as to my grandfather.  And then my dad read it every year.  Followed by my brother.  Jim started reading it to our own children because we were several states away from my family at Christmastime.  We eventually began reading Luke 2 — a beautiful picture book as well, but have found ourselves reciting the Night Before Christmas for old time’s sake.

This year Anna called us through the computer from Kathmandu.  She is 3 hours and 45 minutes ahead of us, and as it approached 11:00 for her, she wanted her father to read the book so that she could then go to bed.  Our youngest guest, Lera (age 4), wanted to watch Jim read AND get a look at the pictures, even if they would be upside down from her perspective.

 

Everyone is settling down now.  I have a few more packages to wrap, and then off to settle my brain for a long winter’s nap.

Breakfast at Huckabee’s

I’m not committing to one candidate over another at this point, but a couple of young guys from our home church in Salisbury, Maryland, have certainly decided which way they would like to see our country head.

Let me introduce our pastor’s son Jared and worship leader’s son Matt:

2 Days — Winter Wonderland

Ah, how warm the memories of Andy Williams’ Christmas specials.  His shows were always such family affairs.  In this rendition of Winter Wonderland, Andy joins voices with his brothers: