Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Friday, August 17, 2001

Midnight in Russia is actually the middle of the day for us. Despite the lack of sleep, we managed to stay up for another hour to experience the train ride. We got private suites for 600 rubles. (About $20.00) Our room had two skinny "cot-sized" beds. There was a table in between and a window. It had a bottle of water and a bottle of beer on it. I wanted to try the beer but since we were on a Church function, I didn't think it was wise. It was warm anyways. I like it when it is frosty.

Despite the complementary beverages, it wasn't a luxery suite, that is for sure. There was a musty smell and the linens on the beds had stains on them. The beds were merely benches with a thin cushion on top, so no comfort inn here either. I guess we should have felt fortunate. Common cabins had bunks in which four people to a room had to share. I got a peek at one of those and it was a pretty tight squeeze.

There was a hallway outside of our cabin. We had access to the hall windows. We were allowed to open them. It felt very nice to feel the breeze of the Russian air. It was dark, so we couldn't see much but we did notice many power lines and nuclear plants as we whizzed by.

We didn't spend much time looking since there wasn't much to look at. We went back into our cabins to try to get some sleep. The train was so clickety-clackety-rickety-rackety! It was very difficult getting any sleep. At one point it jerked so hard, the water bottle fell off the table and hit Kevin on the head. This went on for about six hours. At one point, I had to use the restroom. Guess what? There was a toilet but it wasn't a flushing toilet. No siree. It opened up to the ground below. Ewwwwww!!!!! I could feel the breeze on my hiny. That was interesting.

When we got off of the train, we had to walk to Posha's apartment. I think we walked about a mile, dragging our entire luggage along with our exhausted bodies. It was 6:00 A.M. When we got to his apartment, we dumped out luggage in a heap and collapsed into whatever beds Posha had .....and slept.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Customs was interesting. As we stayed in line waiting to go through, we observed the Russian people around us. The women were so skinny! Their clothing style was mismatched. For example, one lady was wearing tight, green, snake skin patterned pants and a black sports shirt. There were young boys in girls clothing as well. One lady had a backless shirt on. I noticed a large scar on her back. It looked like a whip mark.

Once we got through, we proceeded to get our baggage and find our interpreter, Posha. This means Paul in American. He was late so we thought we might have to go on to the train station without him. A taxi driver was trying to manipulate us by offering us an expensive taxi drive. They were trying to charge us $100 for a ride to the train station. It was only fifteen minutes away. Posha arrived at that time. He managed to get us a ride with another company for $45. I can't believe that other guy tried to scam us! We were a little scared of those guys we were dealing with. They looked like thugs. When we pulled away with our new taxi driver, I looked back and saw the men scowling at us. I was happy to have a Russian interpreter with us.

We were on the freeway. It looked just like our American freeway. The cars were small, compact and totally unwashed. I noticed billboards; some were in American, most were in Russian. There were several city-like buildings similar to the dumpy ones we see in our big cities. Amidst the not so pretty buildings, were beautiful domes. They were amazing to look at. The sun glaring on them from the horizon made them shine like gold. I think, some of them actually are gold. Moscow looked like a fairy tale land.

I noticed the smell of the train station right away. Not good. It smelled like musty urine. The drab exterior on the outside was uncomparable to the beautiful gothic interior. The ceiling had stone carvings and chandeliers hung all throughout. I felt like I had stepped back in time.
We found a corner to wait for Posha to get our tickets. About ten feet away from us a man was passed out on the ground. He was laying face down on his stomach. I noticed that liquid trickled out from under him. I think he had just wet himself. I believe he was drunk. He lay there, unmoving for about thirty minutes before three Russian soldiers came. We tried not to stare. I wasn't sure if that would be "interfering" and landing us a ticket into the Russian jail. The soldiers started kicking the guy in the head with their steel toed boots. They stepped on his fingers too. The soldiers finally pulled the guy up and escorted him outside.

My first bathroom experience was at the train station. It cost 6 rubles (about twenty cents) to be able to use the public restroom. An attendant stood outside of the room collecting the money. I could still smell urine behind the strong cleaning solution inside. I entered the stall but there was no toilet! There was only a small hole in the ground. It was all dirt too. Oh my!! Needless to say, it was very difficult peeing in that hole. My hair was real long and I did not have it tied up nor did I have anything to tie it up with. I did the best I could to hold it back as I aimed for the hole. O.K. here it is. I peed on my hair a little. Not a good start!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


My husband and I went to Russia in 2001 for two weeks. We helped lead a Summer VBS program for children . We loved it so much, we actually went back in 2002 for three weeks. I kept a journal all throughout our trip. I would like to share it with you all. I assure you that it is quite entertaining and humbling. There were some scary moments, tearful moments, totally hilarious moments and unforgetful moments. I think that reading about my experiences will touch you in one way or another. Each day, I will try to contribute a portion of my journal. I will also post pictures as they fit in with the tale. We didn't have a digital during our first trip but we did for the second. The pictures will get better as you continue to read. It is over fifty pages long so please visit often and.... happy reading!!

August 15 , 2001

This was it! Our first mission trip and we got to go to Russia! Our last American dinner for the next two weeks was a ham and cheese pepperoni pizza from Domino's. That night we discovered cracker crust and it was delightful! In the morning, we prepared our wills, "just in case" . We then went to the Beachside Cafe for our last American breakfast. Steve and Debbie Sowles picked us up at our house at 11:30 A.M. We headed off to Howard's House to pick up the rest of the group. We were on the road by 12:00 P.M. I couldn't believe we were actually on our way to a foreign country.

We arrived at LAX around 2:30 P.M. The flight counter for Aeroflot was not open yet so we sat in limbo for a couple hours watching people in the airport. We were in the international part of the airport, so there were a lot of foreigners wandering about. Watching people is a great form of entertainment. I love to do that waiting in lines at amusement parks too. At 4:30 we checked our luggage in. Our flight was delayed for 45 minutes. We finally took off at 7:45 P.M.

Our journey in the air lasted twelve hours. Most of the passengers on the plane were Russian. The crew was Russian. Faye and Lindsey, our two teenagers of the group got yelled at by a Russian passenger sitting behind them. The girls were quite rowdy and the lady did not appreciate their noise. The lady spoke in Russian and I think that it was along the lines of "Sit down and shut up!" At one point during the trip, I had to take a potty break. When I tried to return to my seat, the stewardess was blocking the way with her cart. She pursed her lips in irritation at me because she had to move so I could get through. She wasn't very nice to me. I was slightly intimidated.

We certainly were fed well! Our first meal was served about two hours after we left the ground. Kevin and I had chicken and noodles in gravy, salad, bread, cheese, and chocolate parfait cake. We were served a coffee flavored cake at 2:00 A.M. At 5:00 A.M. we had another meal! Ham and cheese pockets, bread and cheese, crackers and white parfait cake.

As we got over Russian land, I noticed that the roofs of the buildings were shiny. I learned that metal is the primary material for many roofs due to the harsh weather in Russia. It lasts longer than wood, tile or tar.

We touched ground at 7:00 P.M. Russian time. For us that was 8:00 A.M. American time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Orange is definately it for October. Why it's Halloween of course! That means pumpkins and candy favorite this time of year. Both are delicious. We grow our own pumpkins in the backyard for carving and eating. For the past month now, we have been buying a bag of candy corn every time we go to Walmart. This time, I will ask you all to hunt around etsy for some great orange, Halloween type things you like. Anything with pumpkins or candy corn would be a plus. I will have a drawing on Halloween Eve for this stuffed decor pumpkin I made for anyone who participates. Isn't it cute?


Yippee!!! No more trick or treating for me!! Yes, my girls have officially declared themselves too old to go trick or treating. My feet are very happy this year. I will treasure all of those years of walking up and down streets with my precious little ones for sure.....but I am glad those days are over. Last year it rained on Halloween. That was a real damper but we still went trick or treating. Ember dressed up as Susan from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. (pictured on the right.....and yes I made that costume.) Caroline dressed up as a goth girl which for the life of me, I can't find the picture. I will look. She made her costume and it was quite creative (all black). In the meantime, you can enjoy a picture of my cutie pies from about four years ago; my pumpkin head and sassy feline (also pictured right).

Caroline suggested to me the other day that we have a Halloween party this year. This is her idea: Go to the store and buy lots of candy and fill our own treat bags. Then, we can make Halloween cookies and Mexican pizza (her favorite).....drink lots of soda and rent a bunch of scary movies. That sounds like pure bliss to me. So....that is what we are doing this year. I don't even have to make costumes this year!!

Now it is your turn! What are you doing this Halloween....and (yes, two questions) what are your little ones dressing up as this year? It seems quite appropriate to be giving away the set of Halloween treat bags pictured above for this months's drawing, to be held on Halloween night. We will be home to do this after all!!!