Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Proud Parents

These are our kids, Joseph, Micah and Anya (picture taken in Utah). We are very proud of them for many reasons and I want to share one of those reasons here on the blog. For the last five years they have faced many challenges growing up in Ukraine. One of those challenges was the language. We speak English at home and Russian with everyone else. Three years ago we decided to send our children to Ukrainian school. That meant that besides Russian they needed to learn Ukrainian. This has been very difficult. People often tell us that it is easy for children to learn languages. It is true that children often (not always) learn languages very fast, but it is rarely easy. Our children have worked very hard and have been blessed for their efforts.

Anya went to preparation school two days a week and studied with a tutor one day a week. She learned the Ukrainian alphabet, Russian alphabet, English alphabet, math and reading. She can read simple Ukrainian books and English Bob books.

Micah completed first and second grade. She received high marks in all her subjects. This is amazing to me since she is studying in a non-native language. Her accent is the best out of all of us. She speaks English, Russian, Ukrainian and British.

Joseph was the first to start Ukrainian school. We home schooled him for two years and decided to take advantage of an opportunity to start him in Ukrainian school. He started in third grade in Kiev. He had a pretty good grasp on the Russian language but didn’t know Ukrainian. The first semester was very difficult. During the first semester, we all shed many tears and he worked very hard with his tutor. By Christmas he was able to participate in class in a meaningful way and the tears flowed less often. The second semester went better. After completing one year we moved to Odessa. He completed fourth and fifth grade in Odessa. This last year all his grades were higher than 8 out of 12. When that happens the student is called an “otleechneek” – (excellent student). We are very proud of our otleechneek.
Here are some examples of their grades (2-12, 12 being best):

Ukrainian Language: 9
Ukrainian Reading 8
English Language 11
Russian Language 9
Math 8
Me and Ukraine 10
Music 11
Health 10

Ukrainian Language: 9
Ukrainian Literature 10
Foreign Literature 10
English Language 12
Russian Language 9
German Language 11
Math 11
Etiquette 9

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Labor of Love

Saturday, July 12th, we had the privilege of witnessing a beautiful memorial in action. A typical American affair really. A lawn spread with tables and blankets, some emptier than others by the time we arrived. The Great American Yard Sale was in full swing, but this time with a beautiful twist. This was the Rachel King Memorial Fundraiser. Our teammates and friends, Vic and Judy Hendrickson, along with their children and grandchildren, have organized this fundraiser for the last five years, in honor of their granddaughter, Rachel, who died of cancer at the age of 11. The money they raise helps to provide for the needs of the foster kids at Grace Church’s children’s shelter in Odessa…our home church in Ukraine. In addition to the usual garage sale offerings, Rachel’s family sells hotdogs, Italian ices, cookies, cold drinks, mostly donated. With pleasure, we stuffed twenty dollar bills into the donation jar for our lunch there. Vic and Judy have four kids and a pile of grandkids. Every family member wears a home made t-shirt with Rachel’s picture…blond, blue-eyed, all smiles.
The story of the Rachel King Memorial Fundraiser is even more poignant. Nine year old Rachel, herself, came up with the idea of selling food at the annual citywide garage sale, and donating all the proceeds to the Grace Church Children’s Shelter. Her family jumped on board, and together, they raised $600 for the shelter that year. Shortly after this event, Rachel was diagnosed with cancer. She died the next year.
This year, Rachel’s family raised $7000+ for the kids in Odessa. We know these kids. They have become precious to us too these last two years in Odessa. Vita, who is starting nursing school…Vanya who performs in every church children’s choir performance…Ira who chats with us when we run into her on the way to school…Valek…who is learning to play the guitar… Dima who just completed auto mechanic school…Little Sasha and Dannig, my little English buddies…Bogdan, the most charismatic kid we know…Vera and Lyubava, tiny twins always smiling…
So, God is still honoring Rachel’s vision to touch kids. These were kids she knew about personally. Don’t ever underestimate God’s ability to enable a child to trust him with her own life and to use her to touch the world.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Being New is Old

A. Joseph Mosse' IV
(Pictured second from left with classmates in Odessa)

For most people being the “new guy” is a dreaded experience. But for me it’s a common occurrence. So in a way, being new is old.

When I was a seven, my family moved from America to Ukraine. I was, as Abraham put it, “A stranger in a strange land,” a.k.a. “The new guy”. After I got used to the culture and leaned Russian, I wasn’t new anymore.

Then, after two years of home school, came Ukrainian school. I was suddenly dropped into a class with 29 other strange kids and teachers who only spoke Ukrainian (I only knew Russian). It was also a 45 minute bus ride away from home. Once again, I was the new guy.

After a year of school, my family moved to Odessa. I went to Ukrainian school there. I was the new guy again.

After two years of Odessa, in which was I was no longer new, we went to America for a year. That was about two weeks ago. So, here in America, I am new again! But I’m not scared, because being new is old.

From my experiences of being the “new guy”, God has taught me that I can really trust Him to take care of my needs in one way or another. It might not be the way I expected Him to do it but He’s always faithful. And when I’m “the new guy” and haven’t met any friends, I know that wherever I go God’s always my friend.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Time at Rosewood Farm

We are back from the farm and we had a great time. We spent a lot of time reading, talking, walking, bailing hey, spreading horse manure, fishing, playing and resting. We are very thankful to God for Dr. and Mrs. Black. We were very much refreshed by their kind hospitality, excellent cooking and stimulating conversation. Here are some pictures of us “retreating”.

Alfie and Joseph got up early one morning to go fishing. We caught two bass. While Joseph held one of the fish, it vomited a partially digested frog. He loves that story. We laughed a lot. Below you can see a vidoe of Nathan Black, the farmer, teaching Joseph to clean the fish.
You can also see Dr. Black’s comments at http://www.daveblackonline.com/blog.htm.