Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Advantages of Learning Russian (but not from Rosetta)

Rosetta Stone is a way that we three learn Russian on the computer. It teaches us some good things, and for a while it taught us pretty well. But it doesn't teach me what I wanted to know. For example, if I wanted to learn an exact phrase, it wouldn't give it to me what I choose. But I have been learning very well my Russian without Rosetta. So I think that make friends is much better than Rosetta.

I first of all have met a girl in the dvor (courtyard enclosed by several buildings) named Zhenya. Another g
irl I have met is Alena. We all share a bunch of the same interests. Me and Zhenya share the interest of dress-up. Me and Alena share the same interest in sports such as roller blading and biking. We three get along well, but we rarely get together as a threesome, even though we all live within a few feet of each other. They are often up at 11pm, and I go to bed at 8:30. We usually meet around 5:30 and my family eats at 6:00. Then after than we have devotions which last about 15 minutes, and then I am allowed to go out a little more before having to take a shower, read with Mom, and go to bed.

Now that school has stopped for them, I see them a lot more. But Zhenya (right) is at her grandmother's now. When she was here, we often had struggles, but we ended up in a better place after them. For example, one time she was resting on a chair, but the boys wouldn't
leave her alone. She got kind of mad, well, really mad, and started chasing them. She managed to yank Simon down by the shirt, but if you know Kerith, he doesn't run from a fight. He fights. He ran after her and also got yanked into the dirt. We all ran home crying. I was crying because she had hurt my brothers. They were crying because they were hurt. We didn't talk to each other for some time, but the next time I saw her, she surprisingly invited me to help her wash charcoal off a house her friends had been drawing on. We got along much better after that.

Once in a while we
still have problems, but we are still much better after that. Sometimes she gets upset for no reason. One time she came home from vacation and wouldn't talk to me. I didn't understand her. Her friend didn't know either. My dad once had to go to her parents to resolve a problem, and her mother sent her over to talk to me. She had been completely avoiding me. Now I am confident we have been through most of the bad trips.

Me and Alena never have fights. I sometimes hold on to the back of her bike while she pedals. Alena has a little sister names Susha who I sometimes play with as well.

My dream is so sometime invite them to church and hopefully have them become Christians because I care about them and I wish them to see the glory of God. When I get to know them much better than now, I will start edging towards talking about Christ and see what they thing about him. Here she is with me and Kerith on Daddy's Easter hunt.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


We were invited by Pastor Ilya to a youth retreat in Karelia. Karelia - the unknown and gorgeous area of Russia that I didn't know about until recently. We accepted the invitation and went there from the 12th to the 15th this month.

We went on an express electric train type thing, but not a train. And I got to sit next to a
young girl who didn't have her pants pulled up the entire way and was facing the aisle, so her underpants fell down far with me behind her having to look at it. I got to ride in a car that had to honk at the cows in the road. I wanted to get out and have a drink out of our blockaders. We got to our dorm (right) at about midnight, which was fun for me because it was still very light out.

The place was very nice. There were three dorms, right splat next to a lake, so the air felt very cool, especially because we had the water and mountains nearby. There was a volleyb
all court, and everyone was always playing, even though they weren't any good at it. It was a small area with a big atmosphere.

The retreat was fun be
cause it was carefree - no school and everybody could just do as they pleased: play or be lazy, sleep or sit and talk. My dad did a bunch of exercises with the adults one day, and the kids just hung out and did as they pleased. I liked to stay down by the lake.

One time I was sitting on the dock and all the men were in the "banya" (sauna) when all of a sudden all these men came bursting out wearing bathing suits and running down the dock into the lake. And then they were all back out as quick as lightning, including my dad, who was not happy about jumping in the lake. Dad says it was "powerful cold." He told me later they had rubbed him over while in a sheep's wool blanket and said it was torture. I was trying to go home, whenI saw Simon tugging at the life saver so he could get in the lake too. They had been in the banya as well but decided against getting in the water. I went in the banya a couple of times and got really hot but never got the biggest kick out of it. I don't understand why some people enjoy it.

Once we took a wonderful hike up to a lake where there were tons of beautiful wildflowers (left). We got a family picture there (right). We picked a bunch of white coral bells and when we came to the very top of this very tall hill where right in front of you were different colored trees opposite you. In the distance you could see part of a lake. I felt overwhelmed by the beauty of it all.

While I was in Karelia I learned the meaning of "he" and "she" (own and onah) in Russian, which was very useful
since there were plenty of girls and boys there. I made quite a number of friends there and when sometimes watching volleyball games I would point out that "he" and "she" did this and that.

I was the only girl there between the ages of 5 and 12, so I got to know one of the boys very well. He was the only one who was nice to me. The other boys were often teasing me and Kerith. One time I tried to ask a question of one, and he just started walking away with a mischievous grin on his face. When we started to follow him, he went into a dorm and closed a door on my brother's toe.

Another girl I got to know was Vlada, a young lady who was engaged and had very long pretty hair. I would often play with her hair (left) and talk about different hair styles. This picture was taken on the train home.

God taught me a bunch of Russian words in Karelia and gave me relaxation there. D
uring my walks around the camp He taught me to trust my worries about things back at home to Him. I felt very relieved of those burdens.