Thursday, November 29, 2007

Students and Teachers: Russia vs. USA

So I could go on forever about the differences in schools, students and teachers in Russia compared to the US. But there is one I would like to focus on. One that I like better in Russia than at home. Here it is okay to talk about religious things in school.

Well I don't know what came over me yesterday but I ended up sharing the complete salvation message with one of my students. He is in 2nd grade and is what we call a native speaker. He has Russian parents but has had a British nanny his whole life, so his English is great. We work mainly on grammar. Well yesterday was an abnormal lesson for us. He was upset because he had just gotten in trouble for fighting. So after we discussed this I asked him some questions. He had told me several times that he goes to church on Sunday's. I assumed it was probably a Russian Orthodox church. So I decided to ask him what he learns about in church. He told me that all they do is learn how to pray. I explained how at my church there is a class for children where they learn stories from the Bible and learn about Jesus. Well he had no idea what the Bible or Jesus was. Now he may know these words in Russian and just not in English. So we went on to have a lengthy discussion about the Bible, Jesus, God, the reason for Christmas, pretty much everything.

I don't really know where that came from. Its not like me to just blurt that stuff out all the time. But it was one of those moments and I didn't think I should pass it up. Some of the other girls on the team have some stuff on salvation that is easy for kids to understand and has pictures. So maybe on Monday we will read that for our reading part of the lesson. Who knows. But at least some seeds were planted.

It was a great lesson.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Perception of Cold

So I think living here has completely changed my perception of cold. Of course when it first started to get into the 40's and 50's I was freezing. I also didn't have my coat yet either. Then I got my coat. Its all good. It was between 10-20 for about 2 weeks. Then the last few days has been above or at freezing. All the sudden I find myself saying how warm it is. Then I think well its just above freezing, I can wear a skirt today! I'm not sure what is happening to me but I think I'm becoming acclamated. But there is rumor it will be a -40 kind of winter. So we'll see what kind of song I'm singing then!

Monday, November 26, 2007

A lot of food

So Thanksgiving ended up great. Thursday we worked all day unfortunately and then went to the Kerns house for a wonderful, traditional feast. There were about a dozen kids running around and wonderful fellowship. We got home around midnight so it was quite a long day.

Friday we had the day off of work! We got up fairly early to begin cooking. Dacey and I had to make one more quick run to the store and then we cooked for about 8 hours! A Thanksgiving meal can take a long time when you are preparing the whole thing. So here is what we had: I made the ham, a honey/ brown sugar glaze for the ham, mashed potatoes, broccli/ rice casserol, and death by chocolate. Dacey made the turkey, green bean casserole, cranberry relish, cornbread salad, and yeast rolls. Kathryn made pumpkin pie, fruit salad, and cookies. Jamie made banana bread, apple pie, and a veggie tray. So we had more than enough food. It was all a hit. They especialy loved the death by chocolate. I now have to make a small recipe booklet to give to all the teachers because they want to learn how to make these dishes themselves. So it was wonderful!

It was quite and experience though. Making death by chocolate was fun to do in Russia. Thankfully we had some chocolate pudding mix at the apartment already. But it was the cook and serve kind. I made 4 boxes worth. I stirred a huge pot of pudding for nearly an hour until it boiled and was finished! I had never gone through so much trouble for pudding in all my life. Then we had a box of whipped topping mix. the directions said to use the beater for 2-3 minutes or until it peaks. Well, it took 35 minutes of beating until it turned into whipped cream! They definatley do not have Heath bars here. But I found this crunchy chocolate cluster with carmel in the middle. I cut it up into chuncks and it worked. Unfortunately there was no chocolate syrup to be found in all of Moscow. I did find a box of Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix at Stockmanns and I only paid about $6.50 for it. Oh fun times of cooking in Moscow. You should have seen our kitchen. There was food piled everywhere. As soon as I find a computer to let me upload pictures I will put some up of the festivities!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Happy Thanksgiving!! Its a white Thanksgiving over here. Yea in case you're wondering, I'm at work. It's not exactly a Russian holiday so I get to work. But they are nice and give us one day off. We just choose to have Friday off instead of Thursday. On Friday we will cook all day and a few of our teacher friends will come over and see how we celebrate Thanksgiving. Tonight I will fill my tummy with turkey goodness at a friends apartment. I hope everyone has a wonderful time spending Thanksgiving with your family!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A New Day

Well ya'll must have got to praying early because it turned out to be a pretty good day. My kids were all great yesterday so that is of course a blessing. Plus a wonderful family from church has invited us over for Thanksgiving dinner. There will be a bunch of kids running around and lot of food. So it will remind me of the Thanksgiving I know and love! Also Bible study was great too. One of my friends from church travels to and from the States often for business. I asked him if he could bring me a bottle of detangling spray because I can't find it anywhere here and I seem to not be able to brush my hair without it. Well yesterday to bible study he brought me 3 bottles!! Its really the little things like that that make my so excited! It was so wonderful. So thank you for the prayers because it got better, it was just a rough start to the day.

Your right dad. Some days I could use your phone call in the morning to get me moving! Oh my goodness I will never forget Nic because I would have missed my plane if it wasn't for you!

I love you all!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rough Starts

So I think I'm getting a rough start to the week. I stayed home from work not feeling well yesterday. (My roomate has had bronchitis for about 2 weeks now). I felt a little better today so I decided to go to work. Today is my early day and I need to leave my apartment by 7.40 to be on the bus by 7.55-8. I woke up at 7.20 because my alarm was set for pm! Thankfully I had taken a shower before I went to bed last night so that wasn't too bad. But then it was up to 32*F because things were melting and instead of it snowing it was drizzling. So that was fun to walk in. And of course I didnt' tuck my pants into my boots. So when I got to school the whole back of my pants was splattered in muddy water spots. So that is fun to walk around in all day. Plus when I got on the bus my teamate was like, "Dana, I have bad news." A lady at church let me borrow some Christmas CD's (4 of them) for me to use in school. My friend was carrying them in her bag b/c hers was bigger than mine. She left the bag on the bus on Sunday! So now I don't have Christmas music for my kids and I have to tell the lady at church that someone else lost her cd's. I haven't had any classes yet but if my kids are like they were on Friday then Lord help me, it will be quite the day.

Sorry today's post is not so cheerful but I guess we just have those days sometimes. Plus I want to be home for Thanksgiving! This is my first one to ever miss in my whole life and I don't think I'm taking it so well.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I'm not sure but I think I've moved to Antartica!! Either that or its Christmas! I really can't decide which is the better option. It hasn't stopped pouring snow in about 40 hours or so. This means we have gotten near a foot of snow in just over a day! It is supposed to be like this for the next 3-4 days. Right now is it really beautiful unitl you have to walk to work in it! Thankfully I thought ahead and tucked my dress pants into my handy dandy boots. Looking out my window it is beautiful and every thing is white. Then you begin walking on the side walk and have to cross the street (that hasn't been plowed in at least 12 hours). All of the sudden I feel like I'm walking through sand and not snow!! It is that thick and that brown and dirty. Thank goodness for black so it doesn't get as dirty. I can definately handle this kind of weather but you throw in some ice, -30* and make it last for like 6 months!! and you have Russia!! Oh my goodness! I just wish all of you Texans could come experience this for a few days!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Parents and Teachers and Kids

So yesterday I was teaching my 4th graders about Thanksgiving. We did an activity about what we are thankful for. Their answers literally cracked me up. Here are few examples: I'm thankful for: my money, my parents, my brain, that my parents don't spoil me, my house, my friends, my pets, my car, etc. My favorites were that my parents don't spoil me and money.

I was reading from my wonderful book that my parents sent me and I thought I would share one of my favorite quotes about teachers.

The teacher is engaged, not simply in the training of the individual, but in the formation of the proper social life. I believe that every teacher should realize the dignity of his calling, that he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of proper social order and the securing of the right social growth. I believe that in this way the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingom of God. -John Dewey

Monday, November 12, 2007


So after a not so good and very long week I decided I think the Lord would like for me to grow in my patience. I remember as a teen I would pray for patience and every time I did, God would give me a day full of situations were my patience was tested. Well I sure have not been praying for patience but I am giving a handful of situations were I get to practice it! But praise the Lord, my students have been wonderful! They are improving so much and we are having a great time together. For a little while I was beginning to wonder if I had taught them anything. Their behavior has also improved tremendously which is wonderful! We will be learning all about Thanksgiving and then The Christmas Story. What an exciting time!

Now completly turning the conversation. I had a Russian friend over this weekend and we had an interesting converstaion. She was telling me how Russia is trying to make abortion illegal. I though this was wonderful! She did not. She is a believer but also Russian. She tried to explain to me that the only reason they were passing this new law is because they want Russia to be more popluated. But since there is no kind of welfare, or any programs whatsoever to help anyone of any age, more people is not always a good thing. So these children will just go striaght to the orphanage. She said she thought it was better for these children to never be born than to live in the orphanage and then do the same that their parents did. I of course did not agree. And we ended up having a long conversation about this topic. I found this to be an interesting point of view coming from a believer. It was a first, thats for sure.

Mike, I think that was my first country to travel to without you in years!! Sorry, but is was so beautiful!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Back in the Motherland

I'm back in the Motherland after spending a wonderful break in Istanbul, Turkey. It was exactly what I needed. We saw some wonderful sites, relaxed a little and spent time together as a team. It was refreshing. But I have to admitt that I didn't want to come back to work just yet. It was so beautiful with temperatures in the 60's. I step off the plane and the temp is -6C and the ground is covered in ice. I was not so excited about this. It hasn't snowed today but the temp is still -4C. Praise the Lord for heat indoors!!