Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Our Little Chocolate

"Csoki" was our faithful, loyal dog for 15 1/2 years!  Today she died.

I bought Csoki as a tiny puppy during my first year in Sarospatak, Hungary.  I chose the rare brown Puli (Hungarian sheep-herding breed) because my best friend, Lois Craven, had one and raved about what good pets they make.  I was never disappointed! 

Csoki means "chocolate" in Hungarian.  She was a very good companion throughout my three years in Sarospatak.  When George entered my life, Csoki loved him at once and it wasn't long before it became obvious that Csoki preferred him over me. 

Csoki was incredibly smart.  When we had Abigail, she knew, even without us telling her, to walk around the baby blanket on the floor.  She knew what rooms she was allowed to enter and which she was not.  Her only fault, if I could say that, was how much she loved to inform everyone who entered the apartment building that she was there.  She would bark at any little noise.  In her later years this became less and less of a problem because she became deaf. 

She also went blind.

But she was happy and content and a great friend up until the end.

Today we buried her in our friends' field and planted a blue spruce over the grave.  The children have done their share of crying and have asked lots of questions about life and death.  As hard as it is, we feel that it was appropriate to introduce the children to death in this way.  We also have had the opportunity to talk to them about eternal life and what an incredible hope God has given us through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

But tonight we're all sad.  The little carpet she used to lie on is empty.  Our little chocolate is no longer here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

We've Been Adopted

Two young boys who we've known for years but then didn't see for a long time have reappeared in our lives.  Every day this week they have come to our house.  Today they were here at 10am while we were doing our home-schooling.  I told them to come back after lunch - after 2pm.  Every hour they returned, obviously hoping that "after lunch" would arrive sooner.  Around noon George found them lingering in the common yard behind our house.  As soon as our kids were finished with their school lessons at 1pm, we invited them in, fed them lunch (when we eat the main meal of the day), and let them play until nearly 6pm.  Upon leaving they asked if they can come tomorrow and the next (and I have a feeling every day thereafter).  I know their home situation is not good and we offer a safe place to be.  We give them something to eat.  They can play with toys and games.  But I am not sure I'm ready to take in two more kids on a regular basis.  I need to decide whether I can continue this or need to regulate it somehow.  What makes the decision difficult is that I care about these boys and feel a sense of responsibility for them since they were baptized in our church.  Sadly, their mother is no longer a member, but maybe with her kids we have a chance of continuing to show love and acceptance that could somehow penetrate into her heart once again.  For now, we have these two boys who would gladly be with us, and for now our door is open.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Top 10 Funny Moments Raising Kids Overseas

Although we've lived overseas for 15 years, George and I are the most comfortable with our surroundings when we are in the States.  For our children, however, it's the other way around. Ukraine is home.  It is more familiar and predictable than anywhere else.  This results in some funny moments when it becomes so plain to us that we are raising our kids overseas.  The things that they find normal and the things that they find strange are opposite of what we consider normal or strange.  Here is a list of our top 10 examples:

10. Consider ice in a beverage a novelty
 9. Have trouble opening doors with a round door handle
 8. Celebrate Christmas in January
 7. Ask questions such as, “Which castle will my husband propose to me at?”
 6. Captivated by drinking fountains
 5. Enjoy potato chips in the flavors of caviar and crab
 4. Pretend play “border crossing”
 3. Can sing “Lord I lift your name on high” in Russian but not in English
 2. Confusion over boxes along U.S. streets – answer: mailboxes
 1. Utter surprise upon arriving at Chicago airport that “everyone talks like we do.”