"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." ~ Matthew 5:8

Monday, October 22, 2012


Photo Credit: Jason Manion
“We'll be Friends Forever, won't we, Pooh?' asked Piglet.
Even longer,' Pooh answered.”
~A.A. Milne, Winne the Pooh

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Tasty Chore

Today my host family's neighbor brought over a large bucket of strawberries. What a treat! In a funny way, it was a secret gift from my indulgent Father. I had been craving strawberries the last few days, and had prayed for contentment, since there are so many other wonderful foods here to enjoy and I figured strawberry season was long gone. And then the neighbor showed up with all those beautiful homegrown berries. I couldn't help but be awed by His gracious indulgence!

After enjoying a good number of strawberries, the rest were set aside to make jam (which they mostly stir into hot water to make "tea"). I got to help my 14 year old host sister Maryam to clean and stem them; tomorrow, her mother will make the jam.

In true Central Asian fashion, we sat on the floor. Between us sat 5 bowls; two very large ones for the berries before and after, two smaller bowls filled with water for each of us to wash the strawberries, and one for the stems. We would quickly take a berry, pull the stem off with our fingers, dunk the strawberry in water, and place it in the "finished" bowl. And yes, a few did make it into our mouths! We also had to watch for creepy crawlies, since they came straight from the garden.

I grabbed a (blurry) picture partway through the process. I stemmed over 500 berries, and I was the slow one! Looking forward to the jam...


So Many Reasons

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." ~James 1:17

This week I feel like the Father of lights has showered me with good gifts. I have so much to thank Him for!

  • I'm thankful first of all for someone...my not-so-little sister Tatiana, who is turning 15 today! It makes me gasp to think how quickly she has grown up. And has she ever grown up this past year! She is such a beautiful young lady, but don't just look at her; get to know her creative, funny personality, and you won't soon forget her. She shares my love for books, and we can enjoy each other's company in quiet companionship just as easily as we can when we're chatting and laughing. Miss you, T!

~Precious time with Jesus as I prepared to lead the girl's high school Bible study this week. Funny how when you're the one teaching or leading, you always end up learning the most!
~Beautiful crisp fall mornings in which to walk to work; I find my best prayer times come when I am walking like that.
~Students who still enjoy school after the first six weeks. I'm thankful for their diligence!
~An adorable baby who grins and reaches his arms for me when he sees me. Love you, Will!
~Great books to read (The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink, Sense and Sensiblity by Jane Austen)
~Host sisters who say "I missed you today!" and "We just love you so much." I love them, too!
~A chance to have an hour long skype call with my family; I got to hear some of their voices for the first time in 56 days! Maybe it sounds corny or impossible in this day and age, but my siblings are really my best friends. I love their varied personalities, and am so thankful for each one of them.
~Getting to have video calls with my sister and her baby and my parents-in one week! Those who have lived with iffy internet understand just how big this is. It was so incredible to see those dear faces.
~I'm thankful for people who smile at me or talk to me on the marshutkas (public transportation). Their friendliness warms my day, and I've gotten to meet some wonderful ladies in those vans!
~I'm thankful for Wendy, who always has a smile for me. She sets a great example for me of joy in all circumstances.
~A hot chocolate package. Yes, really! Something so simple and mundane in the States, but unknown here. I introduced my host sisters to hot chocolate, and though it perhaps wasn't terribly strong (I split a package 5 ways due limited quantities), they loved it. We had a fun time "sipping chocolate" together.
~Patient friends who let me and my beloved violin be their accompaniment for worship time. I love praising Him with strings!
~Getting to act out II Chronicles 20 with those same friends. We had a blast, and learned a lot too, I think.  
~Voddie Baucham sermons.
~Last of all, I'm thankful for friends who read long blog posts. Yes, that's you!  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

He Never Will Change

Though we are like this flower, which will soon fade away, God will never change!
One aspect of modern technology that I am very thankful for overseas is my Kindle! It is such a blessing to be able to carry so many wonderful books in one small space. I’ve actually done a lot of reading since arriving here, and, as they say at McDonalds, “I’m loving it!”

Speaking of which, here is a quote I’ve really appreciated lately: it’s by A.W. Pink and referring to the immutability (or unchangableness) of God.

“Herein is solid comfort. Human nature cannot be relied upon; but God can! However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God changes not…all praise to His glorious name, He is ever the same. His purpose is fixed; His will is stable; His word is sure.

Here then is a Rock on which we may fix our feet, while the mighty torrent is sweeping away everything around us. The permanence of God’s character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises: “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed but My lovingkindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed,’ saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.” (Is 54:10)

~ A.W. Pink, The Attributes of God

Saturday, October 13, 2012

You Will Reign

I was introduced to this great song by Kristian Stanfill today. I love the words:

Oh, great God, there's nothing you can't do
Oh, great God, you speak and mountains move
we believe, we believe

Oh, great God, there's none outside Your reach
Oh, great God, give us faith to see and belive
we believe

With You all things are possible
It's true that You are unstoppable
Your light will never fade
Your promises remain unchanged
You will reign

Oh, great God, there's power in Your name
Oh, great God, we're rising up to say,
We believe, we believe

There is none so able
To mend broken hearts, heal every sickness
There is none so able
To waken the dead, light up the darkness

With You all things are possible
It's true that You are unstoppable
Your light will never fade
Your promises remain unchanged
You will reign

The idea of "with You, all things are possible" is true in every aspect of life, but it especially rang true since my family has been told that it is impossible for us to get a court date for our adoption before the end of the year (See this post for context). Yes, impossible with man; but not impossible with God! I am so praying that we can get a court date before 2013 so that my siblings' homecoming will not be delayed by paperwork that will have to be re-done.

I'm not sure that this link will work, since Youtube videos don't work for me here, but if not, just look up Kristian Stanfill's "You will Reign":



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Katie's Party

Today, my youngest student Katie turned 7! To celebrate, she had some friends over. It was a lively and happy group that played and ate here this afternoon.
They were all very eager to have their pictures taken.
"Show me, show me!"They would exclaim after each shot.
There were also quite a few dramatic poses.
Katie and my host sister Fatima talking together.
The littlest girl at the party was a bit overhwelmed.
This was a chaotic group shot organized by the girls themselves and maintained for about three seconds before they ran over to see the picture I had taken.
Fatima, who is only 4 days older than Katie. Incidentally, my name here is also "Fatima," since the girl in girl-boy twins is always named "Fatima" here.

Whenever I would turn the camera vertically, the would twist their heads as well!

Another host sister, Maryam.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Flowers in Fall

I got the chance again to spend the weekend out of town, in a place with lovely grounds and chilly Soviet buildings. I wish I had been smart enough to take my camera on the hike I went on! The buildings were tucked down into a little wooded valley, but a short steep hike revealed an incredible panorama of the beautiful mountains surrounding the town I live in. If the mountains are so great and massive, how great must be the God who created the mountains!
The little bungalow building where I slept with some other homeschool helpers.
The road leading into the complex. I was quite busy both days I was there, but early one morning just after the sun came up I was able to step out into the crisp chill morning and snap some photos.
The grape season is almost over.
This is my favorite color of rose!
This lady was a bit far away, but she's in the middle of a daily activity for most Central Asian women; sweeping.

The stream that ran past all the buildings.
This was the main building; an old concrete Soviet building rather optimistically named "The President's Summer Home."
This is the flower that is most commonly seen here.
This carries rocks to a factory in the city. You don't want to stand directly underneath it!
When I got back, I arrived just in time for the seventh birthday celebration for my littlest host sister. It included friends, family, and lots of food! I was glad I had the materials to whip up this little present for her.