Same chores, different routine

 There are things you do every day that you never really think about, until you have to do them differently.  Dishes come to mind when I long for the dishwasher which I enjoyed in each of the homes we lived in during our years in Columbus and Richmond.  Not that I didn’t have to wash dishes at Grandma’s house or for the first few years we were married, but I had definitely not missed that particular chore.  So at least once every day, I’ll be found at the sink scrubbing away 🙂

Laundry is also pretty different.  We have a front load washer, and we add detergent and fabric softener in a drawer on the top.  The wash cycle takes 2 hours and when it spins, it sound like a jet engine about to take off!  Our washer also functions as a dryer!!  But we haven’t really tested that feature.  Maybe this winter…  Every night, I put in a load of laundry and start the machine when we go to bed.  In the morning, I hang up the clothes on this nifty drying rack we have…which means I take down, fold, and put away the now-dry clothes from the day before.  And Lydia loves to “help” :^)

There also happen to be different rates for electrcity depending on the time of day, with nights (starting around 10) being cheaper.  We have a switch for our hot water heater (on the panel with the bathroom light switch, which is right outside the door to the bathroom), so we can turn it on and off as we choose.  So we choose to turn it on around 10 before bed and turn it off when we get up in the morning.  This system works pretty well and our electric bill has never been more than $30 so far.  Though it’s hard to tell how much difference this really makes and I’m not running the thing all the time to find out.  The worst part is when both of us forget to check the switch before we go to bed.  Which means that some days we end up with VERY short showers!!

When it’s time to pay said electric bill (or phone bill or parking tickets, etc…) you can go to any post office and take care of it.  We do go to the cable office to pay for cable and internet, but apparently they will also come to your door (which we found out one night when this very nice lady came to collect our cable payment, which we had already taken care of several days previously…thankfully, I had enough Serbian AND the receipts from the last couple of months to show that we were current and we opted to keep paying at the office).  

Our home phone bill is usually about $3.00, since you only pay for outgoing calls.  And cell phone credit (which for most everyone is pre-paid), can be purchased just about everywhere.  Which includes these “super” newstands found on most every corner as well as the little markets dotting the streets all over town.

It can be hard not to miss conveniences like dishwashers, dryers, mailing bills/paying online, and Wal-mart, but it’s such an incredible thing to experience life in another place and God has so blessed us through the privilege and challenge of living here these past 4 months!!

[Update 09-19-2008 10:00:31]  Added flickr image from manmadeparts.

Language Progress

 It’s easy to sit here and think you aren’t making any progress when it comes to language learning.  Sure, you know a little more than when you arrived…you have a better grasp on the culture and language…but can you really understand people and share with them!  I am so thankful that God has blessed me with 3 special opportunities this month.  We certainly have been able to talk to people at least a little and we really have come a long way, but these instances were so encouraging.  And I believe that as we trust God and spend more time here, He will give us more such opportunities. 

We know a sweet, older woman that we met through a Bible study when we were here 2 years ago.  She hosted the study a few weeks ago when some other people were out of town and it ended up that just Matt and another American guy were going, so Lydia and I went along, too.  She is so gracious and speaks clearly and slowly, so she is pretty easy to understand.  I was able to understand what she said and to speak to her relatively well.  I also was able to undertand a little of the text (1 Peter 1) in the cyrillic Bible we had.  But most precious was that God gave me the words to pray in Serbian (very shortly and simply) for our dear friend’s daughter who does not believe in Him.

 We have been trying to build relationships with our neighbors by baking cookies.  We’ll make a batch and try to visit one family each week.  A week or so ago, we tried to take cookies to 2 families (both of which weren’t home) before we went to the door of a sweet, older couple we met shortly after we got here.  They don’t speak any English, but they invited us in and we were able to visit with them in Serbian for almost 2 hours.  Lydia certainly helps as she provides entertainment and comic relief, but we were able to enjoy coffee and converse on a variety of subjects that evening.  And I even had the language to tell them that God is good and that He takes cares of us (in reference to Lydia being a happy, healthy baby).  It wasn’t much, but just knowing and being able to share those few words of praise to God was a huge victory!

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend a ladies’ conference in another town.  I went with an American friend and our Bible study hostess.  While the day was overwhelming in terms of being immersed in Serbian for an entire day, it was also a blessing to spend time with fellow sisters in Christ.  Even if I couldn’t understand much, I could sing and pray.  Later in the day, there was a testimony time and I had the privilege to share in Serbian (however poorly) how God brought us here and how thankful I was to be able to spend time with other believers.  

In the grand scheme of things, these events may seem insignificant, but they were huge for me and I am so thankful that God (in His perfect timing!) sent these encouraging opportunities along just when He did.  He is so good!!   

Recnik image from green flamingo.
Cookie image from rachel.

Parlez Vous Francais?

While I have many posts yet to write about all things Lydia, I thought I would share a quick note about something interesting that happened yesterday.  We went down to the piazza (farmer’s market) and wandered around for a while before stopping at a couple of vegetable stands.  Matt successfully negotiated for tomatoes and cucumbers at one before we headed to another a couple of stalls down.  The ladies greeted us in Serbian, but we quickly exhausted our short list of phrases and stood there looking confused and trying to figure out what they were telling us and how to ask for what we wanted.  Then, one of them started listing some other languages she spoke, including French.  I happened to take 3 years of French in HS and even a semester in college, so we were able to have a short little conversation.   She was telling us that Lydia’s legs were cold (because the way I was holding her had caused her pant legs to ride up).  We exchanged some pleasantries and she even gave Matt some green onions gratis (free).  Merci!!

It was kind of a surreal moment, but it was also so cool.  I never would have thought that the little bit of French tucked away in the recesses of my brain would turn out to be useful in Serbia!  It’s amazing how God prepares and equips you in so many ways…ways you never would have imagined…to face the task at hand.  He is so good!

And if Serbian sticks half so well as the French I studied over a decade ago, then I just might be fluent this time next year :^)



For those of you who spend any time at, you are familiar with our enthusiasm for the "Tour"…
OLN (Outdoor Life Network) airs it and Matt pointed out this AM that an ad across the bottom of the screen, which I thought was for a new fall show, was actually pointing out the network's future name! In September, OLN will become VS. (Versus), ostensibly to better reflect the bold, competitive spirit of their programming. Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones, but VS. sounds like a pretty silly new name and I was peeved enough about it that I actually emailed OLN this morning to inform them of my disappointment. I'd include the content of that message, but it seems to have gotten lost in cyberspace:) Suffice it to say, I know my opinion will be disregarded, but I wanted them to know that at least one viewer appreciates OLN more for content than for some gimmicky new name. And OLN certainly rolls off the tongue more fluidly. Hopefully, this "out with the old" trend will limit itself to the name and not extend to major programming changes. I'd hate to see a once-fine network wallowing in 24/7 Survivor reruns or add American Gladiator-style nonsense in an ill-thought and unnecessary attempt to spice things up! I may not be a huge fan of hunting, fishing, sailing, bull-riding, billiards, lumberjacking, etc…but I'd rather see honest competition ANY DAY over manipulative, brain cell-killing junk like Dog Eat Dog and the like!!

By the way, today was a little rough sickness-wise, but I'm hanging in there!!