Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Our trip to Hungary

Well, we just made it back from our trip to Hungary, safe and sound. What a trip it was! First of all, we want to thank the McNamees for encouraging us to go because it was wonderful! Here's a rundown of our travels...

We started out our journey on Saturday morning and drove 8 hours to Ternopil. We took a look at the city, found some food and a checked in to a hotel. On Sunday, we drove through the Carpathian mountains, which were absolutely gorgeous, and stopped at a small village for the night at the home of Anya's friend, Vitalek. He and his family took us into the woods for a barbeque. The kids had a blast lighting sticks on fire and exploring the forest. The next day proved to be the most challenging as we crossed the border (which took 3 hours) and plotted out our own route to Vajta. Needless to say, we should have used the route offered by Mapquest. After another 8 hours of driving, we arrived at the Bible College, haggard and hungry.

The 5-day stay at the conference center was every bit worth the drive. The teaching was excellent and we especially enjoyed the sessions taught by our old pastor Tom Stipe. It was nice to hear worship in English led by Scott Cunningham, but the sounds of people singing in Ukrainian and Hungarian made it even more beautiful. There was a group of 40 from the Kiev church, so Ukraine was well represented. We also were surprised to meet up with some old friends of ours, Frank and Suzie Gonzalez. They were youth pastors at CC South Bay before moving to Poland a few years ago as missionaries. Most of our evenings after the teachings were spent hanging in the coffeeshop catching up with them.

Josie and Jaden had a great time in their classes, where the teachers took them through a VBS program that focused on Paul's missionary journeys. Josie was thrilled to be in class with her buddy, Gretchen Larson, and the two were inseparable. Jeremy had a little harder time attending his class, as he is going through the "I only want Mommy" phase. But after about 10 minutes each time, he was fine and he soon became a class favorite of the teachers, showing off his puzzle and alphabet skills. We were so impressed by the childcare and children's programs and were very thankful for the chance to listen to sermons and not have to worry about the kids.

Other highlights of the conference were the afternoons at the pool, the delicious coffee drinks and having quiet times in such beautiful surroundings. I personally was very encouraged by the women's sessions, where the Lord spoke to me about my need to sit at His feet. Intimacy is an area that is hard for me, but I am seeing how important it is in my life to be close to my Lord. What I do for Him or don't do for Him is not as important as my relationship with him.

After 5 days of encouragement and rest, we packed up and headed back to Ukraine. But first, we decided to go through Budapest to see the sights and spend the night. And equally important, go to IKEA. After loading up our van with furniture and other fun stuff, we walked around the town and ate dinner at Burger King. Budapest is truly a beautiful city. We stayed at an old castle made into a hotel called the Citadella. The hotel had a display of photographs of children in war, which was interesting, but quite graphic. Micah and I had a chance to stroll along the mountain outside of the hotel which overlooks the city. Very romantic!

The trip home was fairly uneventful. It was a long drive, but the scenery helped. We were very impressed by how well the kids did in the car throughout the trip. What a blessing it was to have three wonderful helpers, Michelle, Magdala and Anya. We were so happy to be home after 20 hours in the car. There was a little homecoming gift for us when we came home. We thought someone had left us some avacados in the kitchen, but soon realized they were moldy rolls that we had left out before we left. Oops... The aroma is still lingering. All in all, it was a great trip and we are planning to return next year!!! Check out more pictures from the trip on our Picasa web albums!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Upcoming travel plans, treeforts, and a helping hand

We will be heading off to Hungary on Saturday to attend the Foundations Conference. This week-long conference was highly recommended to us by other missionaries and we are very excited to go. The drive might prove to be a challenge with 4 kids, but we have some help with 3 other adults driving with us. It should be an adventure! We are truly looking forward to a week of good teaching, worship and activities to occupy our children. Oh, and a pool and coffee shop sound pretty great also. Our former pastor from Denver, Tom Stipe, will be teaching and it will be great to catch up with him.

Our lives have recently been made easier by the arrival of Michelle Hopkins from Phoenix. She is staying with us for 6 weeks to help us out with the kids and with anything else we or the church might need. It has been a week so far and it has been wonderful to have the extra help. The kids took to her right away and they have already had some adventures together. I feel like I am getting a bit spoiled, but I am going to enjoy it while I have it!

What is it with kids and trees? Climbing trees and playing in treehouses are memories I have from my childhood and it is fun to see our kids finding that same joy. Micah built them a treefort the other day. Josie has already called for clubhouse meetings of the "Three J's" and they have decorated the sides of the fort with markers. He even added a hose tied to a tree limb for them to slide down. Oh, the simple pleasures of childhood...

Monday, June 4, 2007

Our new pets...

Micah came home yesterday with a present for the kids. He surprised them with two hamsters that he purchased at the pet store here in town. Of course, the kids were thrilled. I was just happy that it wasn't a puppy. So, their names are Anya and Alyona and they have a new home in the kid's bedroom. The little things don't know what they are in for...

Saturday, June 2, 2007

New Playground in Kaharlyk

Those of you who know our kids know how active they are and that they need an outlet. When we returned from the States, we were pleasantly surprised to find a new playground in the works in our small town. Well, it is open to the public now and what a blessing it has been. It's great to have a safe place for the kids to let out their energy and socialize with other kids. Jaden has even been using his newly aquired Ukrainian phrases with some of the kids at the park, "Come here" (which is i-dit syu-dy), "Hi" (pry-vit) and "No" (ni).

Pickin' Cherries

So, when we started the remodel on our house, we had to cut down some trees, one of them being a wonderful sweet cherry tree. I was really bummed about that tree. Well, we have another one that we must have missed last year. The cherries are getting close to being ready, but close enough for the kids! They have been pickin' away! They can only reach the lower ones, so the ones up higher can get a little more juicy. But they are delicious! Josie has been so excited for Michelle from America to get here so she can invite her to a tea party with cherries. Oh, what fun we will have on these summer days, sitting out on our grass and eating scrumptious fruit.