Hello from Moldova!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Its been just over a month since I got back to Idaho after being in Moldova for nine months. I can hardly believe that I am already back and that my time in Moldova is over. At times it felt like I had been there for such a long time and that I still had a lot to go before I could come home. Now when I look back, I can't believe how fast it really all went. My last month there was one crazy blur. I had a lot of work still left to do and a lot of things that I wanted to see. Its funny how I was there for nine months and there were so many thingsthere at the end that I still hadn't seen just because I kept putting them off. One awesome trip that I was able to take before I left was a visit to a small Gypsy town in Northern Moldova with my friends Shauna and Tanya. There was this amazing fortress in the town that was locked up when we got there. I had looked up the fortress online before we went and their website had said that they were open everyday and I was so disappointed because I really wanted to go inside. We had driven three hours to get there so I was definitely bummed out that we couldn't go in. We saw a sign that said to call during the winter to set up an appointment to see it. I thought that with the way things work in Moldova, there would be no way that we would be able to get ahold of anyone and set up a tour. Luckily, we called the number and within ten minutes a man came down to open the fortress for us. This guy spoke ten different languages, including English, and told us all about the history of the area and fortress along with a bunch of his political opinions about Moldova and America. When this guy got talking, he just went off. He had a lot of character and it was really funny to hear him. This fortress was just beautiful and from the top gave a great view of the town, certainly worth the 50 cents it cost toget in! As soon as the man came to open it up for us, all these kids just appeared from nowhere and started running around and playing in the fortress. I starting thinking about it and realized just how lucky these kids were to be able to play in a real castle! I can't think of how many times growing up I pretended to be playing in a castle. We also took a drive up this hill where all of these beautiful Gypsy houses were. Some of these houses were more like palaces and were decorated so elaborately. A lot of Gypsies that lived in this area made their money through the Russian Mafia or through other illegal means. There were a lot of houses that were half way completed and we found out that later it was because the Gypsies involved in the mafia either got in trouble or just ran out of money in the middle of construction. We also learned that many of them were very concerned with building the biggest house to beat their neighbors and many would end up with these giant mansions with empty rooms inside. The king of the Moldovan Gypsies also lived on this hill so it was pretty cool to see his "palace".

Within the last month that I was in Moldova, I was able to get another video done for Invest-Credit. When I look back on it now, I have no idea how I was able to get so much done in just a month. God definitely gave me a lot of strength! I still have one more video to make and will hopefully be able to get this done with the next month or so. I feel so fortunate that I was able to learn this new skill when I was in Moldova. I don't think that I ever would have learned how to put videos together on my own.I didn't realize how hard it would be to leave Moldova. The last few weeks that I was there all I could think about was how excited I was to be going home. The last week when I was saying my goodbyes to everyone was when it really started to hit me that I wasn't going to see these people again and that it was possible that I would never be back in Moldova. God really blessed me with some of the best friends,both Moldovan and American, while I was there. I will always look back on my time in Moldova with so much love for the people and the country. When I got on my first plane in Moldova to come home, I just started crying and would start up again whenever I heard someone speaking Romanian or when something on the flight reminded me of Moldova. I don't know if I was just tired or what but I have never cried in public like that before. All the other people around probably thought that someone I knew had died or that I was crazy but I just couldn't believe that I would be going back to America where no one had any idea of all the things that I had just gone through or knew what it was like to live in Moldova. I think it is still hard for me to really explain just what Moldova is like. Even for those of you that have read through this whole blog, I feel like there are still so many details and stories that I have left out. My friend Tanya, who has been amissionary in Moldova for the past five years, really put it a great way. She said that its so hard to leave Moldova knowing that there is no one at home in America to talk to about Moldova with. I have definitely found this to be the hardest thing about being back. I feel like the past nine months of my life are just too complicated to explain when someone asks me how my time in Moldova was. I'm sure that it is the same way for everyone that spends time in another country. It's just too hard to explain things and there is no way to get the full picture until you actually go there. So the question that everyone keeps asking me is if I plan on going back to Moldova. For now, I don't think that I will be back in Moldova for anything long term again but I do definitely want to go back to see how things change. I think that Moldova has so much potential for growth and I would love to see how Invest-Credit continues to help entrepreneurs.

Another question that everyone has been asking is what I plan to do next. I still feel that God has called me into missions but I have noidea where I would want to go or just what I would do. I have a lot of student loans that I need to get paid off so I have decided to move to Boise and to work there until my debt is gone. Hopefully by this time I will have some direction and know where to go! I am starting a new job soon at Mission Aviation Fellowship. This is a missions organization that uses aviation to reach the many remote areas of the world with the message of the Gospel and also things like food and medical supplies. Before I graduated last year, I did my internship there and have since felt like I would love to work there again. The job that I will be doing will be in the Development department working to get graphic design projects done. I won't be designing or doing the graphic design myself, but will be working with the artist to make sure that projects are finished on time. I am so excited to not only be working for an amazing organization and getting to still beinvolved in missions but I am also so happy to be able to be gaining new experience in the area of marketing. God has definitely blessed me with the perfect job!!! I will be moving to Boise within the next week and will start work soon. Please keep me in your prayers as I make this move and start a whole new chapter of my life. Even though I am thrilled to be working in missions still, I think that it will be hard for me to constantly see missionaries leaving and to realize that it may be a while before I will be able to leave America myself. It has been so great to be home and I really have had a great time being back in Grangeville for this past month but I still feel this itch to get out of America and see more of the world. I feel like there is just so much more out there to see!

Thank you so much for sticking with me these past nine months! First off, I never would have made it to Moldova without all of the financial support of so many different people. So thank you so much for your support in this way. More importantly, I wouldn't have had nearly as productive an experience if there hadn't been so many people praying for me through all of my issues and just encouraging me to keep up my work. Even though there were plenty of times that I felt alone in Moldova, I was always comforted knowing that there were a lot of people who cared about me back home. Thank you for your prayers! This is my last blog entry so don't worry about checking back here anymore! If you want to contact me, my email is kelgates@gmail.com. Just because I'm home doesn't mean that I don't want to continue to hear from you! Thanks for reading and may God bless you wherever you are!! La revedere!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

La Multi Ani!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and that your new year is blessed! I have certainly had an interesting year and continue to be so grateful for the opportunities that I have had. The chance to come here to Moldova and live in a new culture for these past seven (almost eight!) months has been such an experience.

Spending Christmas and New Year's here was definitely different than what I’m used to but I really enjoyed being somewhere new for Christmas. It was really nice not being bombarded with Christmas commercials and tinsel every two feet. One thing that I mentioned in one of my past posts was that Christmas here is mostly celebrated on the 7th of January because the majority of the population here is Orthodox and therefore follow an older calendar for holidays. Only some Christians that are Protestant celebrate on the 25th so for the most part it was just a regular work day for everyone else. I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas with my roommate Shauna and the American family that she teaches for. It was so nice to have a family to be with and I really appreciated their hospitality and amazing food! New Year’s Eve is more of a holiday here than Christmas…I spent this night with some missionary families and then went downtown to see what it would be like. It was one big crazy party going on there with kids running all over the place and fireworks going off left and right.

At 12 there was a big firework show so that was fun to see. I don’t think there are any sorts of fireworks regulations here because there were fireworks going off everywhere and little kids shooting Roman candles in the middle of the crowds…. definitely not my safest New Year’s Eve! My favorite part was coming home to see these huge fireworks right next to my apartment and all the car alarms in the parking lot going off because of the noise and commotion. One Christmas/New Year’s Eve tradition that Moldovans have is caroling for money or other goodies. On the major holidays here, some of the children go around knocking on doors to carol for the people there. The only catch is that you have to pay them money or something else if you open up your door to listen to them. There are also a lot of Christians that go around too but don’t expect money in return...here are some that came on Christmas to share some Moldovan Christian carols.

(here I was “vacuuming too hard” in the words of Shauna and completely knocked over our Christmas tree…at least it was a good time to take it down anyway) One of the interesting things about the holiday season here was that the government declared a ten day break in which no one had to work if they didn’t want to. There were some places open still because the workers get paid double if they decided to work but still most people didn’t work at all. On the 6th of January which is Christmas Eve here, a lot of people go to church and I read somewhere that mass at the Orthodox churches can go until two and three in the morning. Many also go to church on the 7th and generally celebrate as we do by getting together with family and eating large meals. I went to mass a little Orthodox Church on Christmas here and it was definitely interesting to see the dedication of some of these people. These masses are generally three hours long and everyone stands the whole time...I came way late so I didn’t end up standing for three hours but I was definitely dying to move around after a while. The choir at this church was amazing and even though I didn’t understand anything that was going on, it was very beautiful to just be there and pray on my own.

The organization that I work for, Invest-Credit, recently had an employee get-together to celebrate both Christmas and the fact that we now have 300 active clients. This means that there are now 300 entrepreneurs/business owners who are currently repaying the business loans that they have taken out from Invest-Credit. The organization has grown very rapidly in the past few years and it is very exciting to reach this number of clients. For the celebration the entire staff along with their families went bowling which was certainly an interesting thing for me to see since some had never been b

owling before. Some of them would just pick up any ball no matter how much it weighed and throw it down the lane! Some of the techniques for getting the ball down there were very unique and it made for a much more interesting time bowling than I would ever have in America. When I got up there for my first turn, they all starting chanting my name for some reason and I ended up knocking down seven or eight pins or something like that and they just went wild. I’ve never felt so encouraged in my bowling skills in my whole life! I started giving little bowling lessons in between turns and I think that I could definitely be a professional bowler here or at least a bowling instructor!

Shauna and I recently went to a traveling wax figures museum that they have set
up here in the city and overall it was pretty fascinating. It was actually creepier than I thought it would be because so many of the figures looked so real and they kept the lights a little to low, I kept expecting them to move or something. A large amount of the figures were popular Russian rulers and military pe
ople that I had never heard of before but some of the others were more well-known around the world. Definitely worth the $1.25 we paid to get in!

I finally posted the video that I made for Invest-Credit on youtube. Here it is in case you are interested in seeing it.

I’m now working on two shorter videos for Invest-Credit that will focus on the microloans and the spiritual impact of the organization and am definitely a little stressed about the whole thing. I will be coming home at the end of February and I really don’t know if I’ll be able to get two more videos finished. I never realized just how much work goes into producing videos…just watching the news I’m just amazed at how good some of the camera angles are and just how much research must go into everything that they say…these projects have definitely given me a new appreciation for communications and media, I can’t even watch anything anymore without trying to figure out how everything is done. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as my time here is coming to a close and as I am struggling to get things going for these projects. Also I am trying to figure out what’s going on job-wise when I get home so please pray that I will be guided in the right direction! Thanks for your emails over the past few months, I hope you all are doing great! Let me know if you have anything that I can pray about.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snow, snow, snow!!!

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas here!! Over night on Friday we got about a foot of snow much to everyone's surprise (or at least to my surprise....I'm not sure if other people follow weather reports here or not but I certainly had no idea it was coming!) and its been snowing on and off since then so quite a lot has accumulated! It really makes everything here so much more beautiful...there are so many trees in the city and seeing all of them covered in snow makes me forget sometimes that I'm in the middle of a city.

Saturday night I was able to experience the snow in a true Molodovan way. After Bible study, a bunch of youth from my church and I went outside for a snowball fight which included me being white-washed about ten times. We then went to a hill for some rolling, yes rolling down the hill like a bunch of little kids. No one had been in this snow yet and we didn't have sleds so everyone just rolled down the hill like logs in the deep snow (now more than a foot). It was definitely one of the craziest things I've done here yet! Then they showed me the best way to go down the hill without a sled: you lay on your back and put your feet up and slide down head first! It was the funniest thing to see people sliding backwards down the hill like that. The best thing was that it really worked...if you are ever without a sled and see a steep hill you gotta try this because it is so fun, just make sure there are no trees, cars or anything else that you can run into because there is no way to see where you are going. By the end of the night I was completely covered in snow and it was certainly awkward getting on the minibus to go home with everyone on it looking at me like I was crazy!

Saturday I went to a craft fair for items sold by different humanitarian organizations from around the world that are here in Moldova. It felt very different to be at a Christmas fair like that in Moldova and even weirder that so many people were speaking English everywhere. There was a Santa Clause that yelled out greetings to the vendors and this giant children's choir that went with him and sang carols along the way. The weird thing was that this Santa looked absolutely terrifying! (this picture definitely doesn't do him justice...he really was scary up close). He was not only too skinny but there was something wrong with his face. It also seemed like everywhere we went he and his entourage followed us so we were constantly trying to escape him. Besides that it was really fun to get to hear some Moldovan carols and look at all the crafts from different parts of the world. My roommate Shauna bought a can of Campbell's tomato soup from an American organization and I even was able to enjoy some Turkish espresso! It hasn't really felt like Christmas is coming lately but this weekend definitely set off the season for me!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

More Pictures!

I have posted a lot more pictures on my facebook account and you can see them if you go to http://nnu.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2005425&l=ce60a&id=167300636

So many new things have happened since I my last update! Overall I’ve been doing great and yes I still am in Molodva (I’ve had a few questions about that since I haven’t written in so long)!!! The biggest change has been moving to my new apartment. It was so nice for the first time in my life to be able to move in one afternoon with minimal help since I didn’t have very much stuff to move. I actually have too much storage room and not enough stuff to fill all of it! I certainly wish that I could be able to always live like this, having only the essentials that I need to live but I think that its so hard to not buy and accumulate stuff when we have the money to buy almost anything we want and the inabilities to get rid of it when we don’t need it anymore!

So anyway the new living situation has been awesome. I loved my living-with-Moldovans experience but it was really hard to be myself there and do what I wanted. (This is my new roommate Shauna, we had just gotten back from getting new haircuts...its totally inexpensive to get a haircut here but its really hard to communicate what we wanted with our limited Romanian vocabularies) My new apartment is really big and I have definitely enjoyed being able to cook for myself and experiment with new types of food….its not always easy to find ingredients here for American recipes so its been quite the challenge trying to find substitutes. Just going to the grocery stores here can be an adventure! You never quite know what you are buying until you try it out here. The other day I tried to buy rolls for hamburgers but they ended up having a big glob of caramel in the middle when I cut them open! Not really the type of sauce you want for your hamburger. The best thing about the food situation here is how cheap it is to go out to eat when cooking gets too rough. Most of the restaurants here have decent prices and some of them are even down-right cheap for good quality food. Just last night I had a great meal that I paid less than four dollars for….certainly not starving here by any means! Traditional Moldovan food is really good for the most part….they eat a lot of soup, meat-filled crepes, sausage, chicken and beef plus a lot of different types of fruits and vegetables since Moldova grows lots of fruits and vegetables. Its pretty rare to see a young person who is overweight here but a lot of the older people are not skinny at all. I think that it is very unacceptable to be overweight is you are young but not a problem once you reach a certain age. Another interesting thing is how open and honest they are about weight issues…they are not afraid at all to say that they think someone weighs too much. It certainly catches me off guard because in America we are very sensitive about certain issues and would never tell anyone the honest truth about their appearances. Here with almost all things people are very honest and not afraid to insert their opinions about things. I had about ten people tell me in the past month since its been getting colder to buy some boots and stop wearing the shoes that I have been wearing. I just don’t think anyone would ever say that to me in America. Its been hard getting over other people being so critical of me about certain things but I’m realizing that its just how it is here and is their way of showing concern. I think I would rather be lied to then hear brutal truth sometimes!

I just finished up a book that I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to know more about Moldovan culture and be entertained at the same time. The book is called Playing the Moldovans at Tennis and is the true story of this English guy who goes to Moldova to win a bet that he made with his friend. It’s really funny and a quick read and certainly a good representation of how Moldova is in many aspects. The book was written seven years ago and since then the economy has come pretty far so picture that he paints of Moldova in the book is definitely bleaker than it is now. Just be warned that if you decide to read it there is a little bit of bad language in it, though certainly not anything you wouldn’t hear in the movies.

A month or so ago I got the chance to go to a cave monastery North of the city. It had been built in the sixteen hundreds and was positioned basically on the edge of a cliff. It was very interesting to see how Orthodox monks lived hundreds of years ago to escape religious persecution and to live lives of discomfort in obedience to God. The church inside the monastery is still in operation and so there were people in there worshipping while we were there. I also had the opportunity to go to the big Orthodox church here in Chisinau a few weeks ago for a Sunday morning service. Its really interesting to me how their services and most of the rituals that they go through are exactly the same way that many early Christians worshiped God. The Orthodox services are so different than how most Evangelical/Protestant Christians worship but still both are part of the religion of Christianity. It was still hard for me to believe that I was in a Christian church when I was there since it is so much more formal than I’m used to and there are so many rituals that I didn’t understand. (this is a monk at Old Orhei, the cave monastery)

The weather’s been about the same as I think it would be in Idaho if I was there now except that it hasn’t snowed at all yet. I’ve been hearing from so many people that it gets really cold here during the winter but so far it hasn’t been bad at all. I keep trying to tell people that I’m from Idaho and not Florida so I understand a little bit about cold weather and snow but still everyone insists that I must be cold in what I wear that I must buy more clothes to stay warm. Its pretty funny how excited people are to hear that I’m from America until they ask what state I’m from. When I say Idaho they all go “No, what state?” and of course I tell them “Idaho, I-da-ho, it’s a state” and then they say “Where is it?” “Well,” I say, “its by Washington and Oregon and Montana” Still a lot of confused looks and then I shake my head and say “Its somewhat close to California” and then a light goes on and they get all happy again and start asking me questions about California until I tell them that Idaho is nothing like California for the most part. The winter outfits here are really funny at times…there are lots of long coats with trimmings of fur and those tall Russian fur hats and everyone wears tall snow boots. (these hats are so cool but they serious cost around $100 each!) The whole country is definitely ready for blizzard winter. I’m not sure if this means that the weather is going to get really cold eventually or that everyone is just paranoid about being cold. There’s an irrational fear of drafts here…some people are seriously convinced that a draft can cause paralysis of the body. I’m not really sure why but a lot of the older people are very scared of drafts and bundle up even in the middle of summer.

My Thanksgiving was just about as great as it could have been. I’m very blessed with the American friends that I have here who are just as excited to celebrate American holidays as I am. It was really fun being able to cook some of the meal and actually be a part of the preparations for the day. It was nice because a lot of the ingredients came from America from missionary teams that had come through so there wasn’t part of the traditional meal that was missing. I made my first pumpkin pie and was really glad it turned out alright since I was using the only can of pumpkin that we had! I’ve heard that you can buy pumpkins here but I haven’t seen them anywhere. My mom had sent me a kit of American styled origami that had a turkey in it so part of the day was spent trying to make a turkey. Luckily I managed to figure it out! We also were able to watch a downloaded football game so it definitely felt like Thanksgiving in all ways. Christmas is very different here than it is in America. First off since most of the population claims their religion as Christian Orthodox, the official day of Christmas is on January 7th according to the Orthodox calendar. So basically most of the Protestant Christians celebrate Christmas on the 25th but then get the 7th off again for the Orthodox Christmas. New Years eve is also a really big deal here, I think much more of a holiday than Christmas is. I’ve seen Christmas decorations in a lot of the stores and I think that some people set up trees if they can afford one. I know that there will be a big tree set up somewhere in the city eventually so at least I know that I won’t be without some Christmas here. I didn’t realize just how crazy Americans are about Christmas and giving presents until I came here and started telling people how we celebrate Christmas. They were just amazed when I told them about the amount of presents that we give each other. I’m really glad that I’m going to have the chance to see what Christmas is like here and take a break from crazy American Christmas for a year. I’m sure I’ll appreciate it a lot more when I come home.

Last week my friends surprised me with a birthday party since they are all going to be gone for Christmas when my birthday rolls around. It was quite the surprise since my b-day won’t be for another month! We also went bowling which was fun since none of us have been for a while. I’m certainly blessed with great friends here! They even bought me a sparkly wig for the event!

Thanks to all you that send me updates of what’s going on. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and that your holidays will be great if I don't hear from ya!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Hey everyone! I just want to start this update saying thank you all so much for your prayers and support. The past few months have been interesting and hard at times but just having so many people back at home that care really makes it so much easier to be here. There are so many times when I get an email or postcard (okay, so I guess the postcard thing was only once, just want to say thanks guys! That was really awesome!) from people back home and it completely makes my day. Thanks for thinking about me!
(this doesn't have to do with anything I was talking about-this is a picture of a bunch of old guys playing chess and back
gammon...its really cute, a group of them are always on these benches at this park playing games)

So there have been a lot of new things going on lately. About a month ago I was really starting to get bored and was feeling like my time here was just dragging on (hopefully not the feeling you get
when you read these incredibly long updates). I began praying a lot about it and I figured out that my problem was that I had too much free time and not enough things to do. It was about this time that one of my friends from work invited me to come to a ball-room dancing lesson with him. I figured that it would be something cool to go to once and then politely decline to ever go again. Well, it turned out to be really fun so I decided that even though the lessons are in Russian, I’ve taken enough dance lessons in the past to understand what’s going on. The crazy thing is that lessons are three nights a week for an hour and a half each lesson. Man, when Moldovans want to learn something, they really go crazy over lots of lessons. I’ve heard that its like this for all types of things that they want to learn, they’ll have three or four lessons a week. In America, we hardly ever have more than one lesson a week for anything like this. So anyway its been a total blast and I’ve met a lot of cool Moldovans that aren’t Christian so I finally feel like I have the chance to witness a bit. There certainly aren’t many Moldovan Christians in dance lessons because it is considered a sin here by some churches to dance in any way. Yeah, thought I was getting away from the “dancing is a sin” thing when I left NNU but I guess its true that your sins follow you wherever you go!!

In Moldova around this time all of the Protestant churches have harvest celebrations that are somewhat like our Thanksgiving. Its not a holiday here or anything but rather the churches just chose a Sunday to have their celebration. Basically for the harvest celebration, people in the church donate all different types of food to the church and then the church gives this food to those in need. The church also puts on a big service much like something we would see for a Christmas program. This past Sunday was the “Seceris”, as the day is called in Romanian, at the church that I’ve been going to here. The service was outside and consisted of three hours of sermons and different performances by musical groups. Luckily one of the sermons was given by an American in English and then translated so at least I could understand some of what was going on. There were also these amazing displays of different kinds of food like a display for fruits and vegetable and then another display for bread and sugar. There were also these giant bunches of grapes that were made up of normal sized grape bunches (yeah see the picture, way to hard to explain). It was really interesting to see how big of a deal harvest time is to the people here. In America, unless you’re a farmer, the harvest time doesn’t really mean very much any more. Anyway, Seceris is definitely different than our Thanksgiving because it doesn’t involve a meal for the people involved. It is all about giving food to the church for the needy. I didn’t actually know that until I went to church expecting a potluck and afterwards was like “so, where’s the food?” only to find out that the point was to bring food for the poor. Good thing I didn’t bring a dish for the non-existent potluck!

My work here has been going good…I’m still in the middle of this video project that I’ve been working on for a long time. I never realized how much goes into a video like this. Its definitely got me watching movies and videos with more appreciation for all the different things that need to come together for the right effect to be created. Please keep me in your prayers about this project. I’m starting to get a little frustrated that its taking this long and that certain parts haven’t worked themselves out yet. I gave myself a deadline today for two weeks from today for it to be done…I think that lack of pressure has definitely been a factor for why its taking so long. Even though I hated the pressure of homework and deadlines in college I think that I really need motivation in order to get anything done. Like I said, please keep me in your prayers! One thing that you may be able to help me with is music. I’m trying to find Christian instrumental worship music for the background of my video. It sounds like easy music to find but I have been looking everywhere and can’t find what I need. I suppose why it is so hard is because I need upbeat (let me emphasize- not slow) music without any voices and not from the 80’s or orchestra-like. Oh and it also has to be popular enough that I can buy it through iTunes. Basically, I need music from a modern day worship band that isn’t afraid to rock out a bit but at the same time isn’t too crazy for a Christian business video. If you have any ideas, shoot me an email with the artist name and/or song title…your song could be a little bit famous if it works!

Some of the most exciting news for me is that I’m moving soon to an apartment here. I’ve really enjoyed living with a family but I think that it has been hard adjusting to both being in a strange country and not living on my own anymore as I did in college (well, sorta if you consider living in the dorms “on my own”). I had been praying about if for a while and was starting to think that there was no way that I was going to be able to find both a place that was affordable and a roommate who wouldn’t drive me crazy. Then out of the blue one of my American missionary friends here asked me if I knew anyone who was looking for an apartment because she was looking for a roommate. So God definitely worked that one out! I’m moving in two weeks to a fully furnished and affordable apartment completely free of Russian dance music. Yeah, so all the younger people here love this techno/disco dance music and all three boys in the house I’m in now listen to it at full volume all the time (even if it is a sin to dance, I guess listening to dance music is okay). I’m so excited to be moving and its made my outlook of being here for an other five months so much better. It was hard trying to explain why I wanted to move out to my host family. The culture is so much different than in America because most young people he
re live with their parents until they get married, and a lot even stay with their parents after they’re married too.

Last weekend the American embassy put on a weeklong American western film festival….I only had the chance to go to one movie but it was a great one. It was the movie “Maverick” and if you ever get the chance to see it, yo
u should watch it because it is pretty ridiculous and entertaining at the same time. It was weird to get to go to a theater and see an American western playing in English…made me feel like I was home for a little bit. (This is a giant cowboy hat and a regular sized cactus that was part of the decorations for the film festival)

Thanks again for keeping me updated on what’s going on in your lives…I really love hearing the latest news! Please remember me in your prayers i
f you think about it. I’ve been having these strange headaches for about a month and a half and I don’t think its anything serious but they’re still annoying when they hit. I haven’t had one for a week so maybe that was the end of them or maybe they’re waiting to hit again. Its so interesting to see how God answers prayers, reading back over my prayer requests from my last few newsletters I realized that God has taken care of all of the requests that I’ve had....yeah one cool thing I wanted to share was that I had said in my last letter that I was struggling to get into a daily habit of reading my Bible. It suddenly hit me a month ago or so that if I was on some sort of reading plan that I would probably be able to stick to it better. I found a website that has reading plans for reading the Bible in a year. Its pretty cool because it has the reading on the website and it keeps track of how many days I’ve read and how many consecutive days I’ve been there. I’m definitely a little bit behind and will have to catch up if I want to be done with the whole Bible in a year but it has really helped me to read consistently. Here’s the website in case you want to try it out : http://www.biblereadthrough.com.
(Sorry, I'm a little short on relevant photos this update, this is a very beautiful Orthodox church/monastery that is right by my house) I’ve had some interesting food experiences in the past few weeks and my water bottle recently had an adventure so I’m going to be writing some more blog entries soon so check back if you’re interested. I’m hoping that by saying I’m going to write about this stuff that I’ll actually have enough pressure to do it.
Hope you’re all doing great!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Have you ever wondered what outer space smells like? Well wonder no more! This air freshener has managed to capture the smell of space in a can and bring it right to your home for your smelling pleasure. Not only that but this freshener claims to be both a “neutraliser” and an “antibacteriser”….see picture for verification! (if any of you were curious, outer space actually smells a lot like cinnamon).