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Showing posts from 2009

Christmas in Moscow

This year Dan and I celebrated Christmas for the first time by ourselves in Moscow.  We had a great holiday, a lot of presents, a lot of friends, and a lot of fun.  Here are a few highlights of the season.
Our team hosted "An American Christmas" English club for over 30 students!  We had so much fun decorating cookies, singing Christmas carols, sharing Christmas memories, and creating some new ones!  We are so thankful for these new friends here in Moscow and for their joy in celebrating the holidays with us!

We ventured to Red Square for a morning ice skating session.  You've already seen the evidence, but we're looking forward to trying this again, what great fun!

We gathered as a team on Christmas Eve for carols and a Secret Santa gift exchange.  We had a lot of fun together.  
Then it was off to downtown Moscow for a Christmas Eve service at the Anglican church and some Starbucks to warm us up afterwards.  I've decided it's officially better to visit Starbuck…

Merry Christmas!

To those of you who thought our Christmas picture background a little "too good to be true," here's further proof of ice skating on Red Square.  This video is particularly dedicated to members of CU Intramural Hockey Team "Eh."  Miss you all, eh... please come visit and we'll shoot some more footage, eh!


Sunday Tea!

My favorite meal of the week is Sunday tea.  A hangover from my family's England days.  I always enjoyed having tea, crisps, cheese, fresh bread, egg salad, and sausage rolls.  As Rachel and I make our new home in Moscow we've decided to make Sunday tea one of those traditions that we hope our children can enjoy when they're grown up.Although the food (and tea!) itself is essential, what makes it even more fun is praying a vespers service from the book of common prayer, reading some scripture, and then talking about God.The next time you are in Moscow swing by on a Sunday night and break some (freshly baked) bread with us!-Dan

Using One's Noggin'

Translation:  V. P. Nogin


Sveta, or full name, Svetlana, was born and raised in Baku, Azerbaijan.  She looks back on her youth in the Caucasus as some of the best years of her life.  Like many Russians of her generation, Sveta looks back fondly on her years as a child in the Soviet Union, agreeing that "life was better then."  She misses these old days, and is never pressed for a story about life back in the good ol' days.  This makes for continually interesting conversation, but an even more mysterious, and surprising woman.  For a few weeks, I lived life by her side, understanding more fully her values, her priorities, her goals, her dreams.  What a wonderful example and friend.  Thank you, Sveta.
She takes after her Dad in every imaginable way, from the tip of her nose to her feisty and exuberant character.  She grew up swimming, as her Dad managed a sports' facility in Baku, and eventually wound up at Moscow's prestigious sport's institute on a scholarship for synchronized swimming…

Happy Birthday Dan!

October 9th was a big night at 173 Bolshaya Cherkizovskaya.  The little apartment rang with good conversation, games, and a thundering round of Happy Birthday, half in English, half in Russian.  Birthdays are a big deal in Russian culture:  one spends all day preparing food and desserts for all of your guests to enjoy, cleaning the apartment, and thinking up toasts and happy wishes for all invited.  We were no exception!  I started preparations at 10:00 am, and finished up as guests started arriving at 7:00 pm!  But the caviar and crackers, chicken fajitas with homemade tortillas, fresh salsa of all natural ingredients, sliced $6 avacado (a rare find here, but worth every rouble!), pan seared Kubanski peppers and onions, hot tea with sugar, lots of local cookies and treats, and a double decker chocolate chip cookie cake (courtesy of our teammate Kim,) made the day very memorable for all.  Here are some moments from the evening.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!The boys (from l…

Dasha Cherripasha

Meet Dasha, our youngest roommate, at just 8 years of age, known as Daria to her teachers and acquaintances, Dasha to her friends and family, and Dahsa Cherripasha (Dasha Turtle) to her Dad, Slava.  Quite the bubbling ball of energy and excitement, like most 8 year olds, she's eager to try anything that looks fun or entertaining, with unending commentary for any adventure.  She's a constant chatterbox, full of stories ranging from lunch in the cafeteria that day, to finding dragons' eggs at show and tell.  We've enjoyed helping Dasha with her homework this semester; she attends an American Christian school here in Moscow, so actually speaks both English and Russian very proficiently.  Her spelling and vocabulary lessons are much more fun when we reverse roles and Dasha teaches us, well, much more fun for her anyway...  We're so thankful for Dasha, and have enjoyed our days seeing life through her eyes here.  Please pray for Dasha, that she would listen and obey her…


Who is Slava? The father of our Russian family is called Slava.Slava works hard.He works most days at a men’s clothing retailer and often works 24-hr shifts at the American Christian school as a security guard.We really haven’t been able to figure out when he sleeps.When he’s home he is kind, fun, and always smiling.Usually he arrives hungry sometime after everyone else has already had dinner.When the kids are doing their homework in the other room, I’ll often sit with Slava in the kitchen drinking tea, eating an omelet, and listening to him tell stories.Where’s he from?Before moving to Moscow, Slava and Sveta lived in Baku, Azerbaijan.They have fond memories of warm weather, watermelon, friendly neighbors, and trips to the sea.Slava served in the Soviet army before the fall of communism.He was trained as a radio operator and was about to be sent to the war in Afghanistan when the government began unraveling.He moved to Moscow and joined a friend in a venture selling various things at …

Michael Jackson Sighting!

Just outside the American Embassy, the Russian people have constructed their own memorial to the man, the myth, the legend, Michael Jackson. If you're in the area, bring some flowers, a picture, or your own poem to commemorate "the man in the mirror."
Michael Jackson,

From Russia with love...

Home Stay

It's been a while since we've had the opportunity to check in...  While in the midst of several conferences both on our old and new sides of the ocean, as well as settling in with a Russian family with whom we'll be living for the next 6 weeks, we've been quite busy!  We've enjoyed getting acquainted with our new family:  Slava (the Dad,) Sveta (the Mom,) and their kids Yan (11 year old boy,) and Dasha (9 year old girl.)  But we've certainly missed access to more consistent connection with many of you back home.  We are a bit unreachable at present, with no internet access at home, but hope to check in weekly with short updates about our adventures and misadventures settling in.
First, I thought you might like to see our new place.  It's a two room apartment in the north-east corner of the city, about a 15 minute walk to the closest metro.  It's located in a very nice area, with a park and beautiful Orthodox church just across the street, and lots of tre…

Blue Ribbon Dessert!

Take your marks...  Get set...  Bake!  This 4th of July, I entered a bake-off hosted by our Cross Cultural Training Conference.  My friend, Krista, and I proudly display our entries above - just a drop in the bucket of desserts we enjoyed that day.  Red, white and blue cakes, cookies, fruit pizzas, salads, layer bars, cupcakes, tarts, fruit bars, candies, even marzipan crowded three long folding tables for judges and on-lookers to admire longingly.  My entry, Pavlova, traditionally an Australian dessert named for defected Russian Ballerina (very patriotic, I know,) took first place in the miscellaneous category!  It IS summer's perfect, light dessert, if I do say so myself.  Now, by popular request, the recipe for Pavlova for your next bake-off:Pavlova:  serves 10-15Depending on where you live, you may want to make the meringue shells a day in advance, keeping them in the oven (turned off) to continue to dry over the next 24 hours.  If you live in a rather dry climate, like Colora…

Jens Voigt

With 4th of July so close everyone’s attention of course turns to France, where lycra-clad, smooth-legged men will soon spend almost a month racing each other around the country. Le Tour de France gives the French press opportunities to write insanely effusive and poetic things about the heroic exploits of these modern-day knights.

Usually, having grown up in England, I’m adept at quickly dismissing this kind of thing as very… French. But this time I’ve been intrigued by a German rider named Jens Voigt, described by the cycling press as the German Giant – he weighs a massive 170lbs!!! The first thing I noticed was how hard he works. He has a style on the bike that makes his racing look more like a wrestling match with a steel monkey.

Jens has been teaching me how to be part of a team by showing me Giftedness and Servanthood. What I mean is this: Jens is a gifted rider. He’s really aggressive and is always looking for opportunities to attack. Often times he will attack early in a …

Moscow 5K

On Saturday the 16th, I dragged Dan out into a mid-40 degree morning to a Moscow 5K Road Race hosted by the Marines stationed at the Embassy here in Moscow.  It was a fundraiser for the U.S. Wounded Warrior Project, to aid and help veterans injured during their times of service.  The race course wound along the Moscow River, really a beautiful area, and hosted about 80 participants from around the city.  We really had a lot of fun, and did the Culbertson name proud:  Rachel placed second overall with a time of 21:24 and Dan came in fourth overall with a time of 22:11.  The unexpected prize commodity of the race?  Safety pins.  We each got one safety pin a piece to attach our race bibs to our shirts.  Safety pins are apparently not easy to come by here, and thanks to a seamstress participant who supplied the entire race with pins, we didn't have to carry our bibs while running.  In general, good times were had by all. Also, while racing we stumbled across Moscow's bike lane.  D…

Stroller Bandits

Today, as Chris and I were walking back from the office we came across an overturned stroller on the side of the path.  All the wheels had been stripped off and we have to assume they took the sound system too since we couldn't find it.  The moral of the story is: Don't let your stroller break down in the wrong part of town.

Victory Day!

May 9th is victory day in Russia commemorating the end of WWII.  Veterans on the streets are given flowers by passers by, patriotic slogans and posters are all over the city, and heavy armor rolls down the streets.  Since it's always been a life goal of mine to see ICBMs driving through Moscow, I thought I'd share a video in case someone else out there has the same goal but is forced to live vicariously through me.-DRC

Let's Go Fly a Kite!

Beautiful day for a picnic!  On Friday evening, our team ventured to a beautiful city overlook to picnic on the Moscow State University grounds.  The last time I'd been to this same location was the winter of 2004 - barely recognizable as the same place on a bright Spring day!  We enjoyed all kinds of fun activities like kite flying, football, frisbee, racing scooters, a game of tag, and snacking with our current team of ten.  
Dan (bottom left) acted as general jungle gym for Emma (middle,) Joel (bottom right,) and Nadya (top,) the children of our city directors, Keith and Lori.  The kids keep us adequately entertained here, such fun personalities, and even humbled with their incredible Russian language acquisition!  Plus, they make a pretty good pyramid, don't you think?We happened to be out and about May 1st, May Day, a national holiday here in Russia.  Although traffic throughout usually busy streets was minimal, lots of people were out enjoying the beautiful day with us.  …

Free Parking...

There is ample supply of free parking in Moscow.  Sidewalks, when not being used as alternate routes for automotive traffic, can double as parking places.  Also... Dan and I, pretty early on, have been forced to shed our Boulder pedestrian mentality.  Cars will actually speed up to hit you here, I think it's a kind of local game they enjoy.  At any rate, we've gone almost overnight from not even looking before we cross a main thoroughfare while texting a friend on our cell phones, to dodging cars hurtling down the sidewalk.  -rkc

Off to the Races!

6:00 came early Thursday morning, as we took to the road headed to DIA for the first part of our journey to the Motherland.  Now, almost 40 hours later, we're happily situated in Moscow, Russia, with our teammates Chris and Liz, steadily adjusting to the time change (10 hours ahead of Colorado.)
Due to a logistical change, we will be staying with our gracious hosts during this initial jaunt to Russia and transitioning to life with a Russian family in the early fall.  We were so thankful for our new room, recently converted from Chris and Liz's office, and our full sized air matress, especially luxurious after 30 some hours of travel!Bright and early this morning, I woke full of energy, ready for the big city!  Having the apartment primarily to myself - as nobody else seemed quite as energetic at 4:30 this morning, I collected some thoughts about our first day that I'd like to share with you now.It's been a long time since Dan and I have been in Russia.  Our full half da…

International Sensation - Susan Boyle

Introducing Susan Boyle

If you have yet to see this clip from Britain's Got Talent, (click here,) you may be one of the few remaining world citizens.  Susan Boyle, with over 3 million views (and still climbing) for her BGT debut, has stepped literally overnight from obscurity into fame.  And bravo.  From the thunderous explosion of applause after Susan's first line, to the audible gasp of surprise I emitted during my first viewing, we recognize that we have stumbled across a moment in our human experience that will stay with us for quite some time.  Unexpected, to say the least, Susan's vocal timbre instantly quells the rolling eyes, the smug whispers of audience members caught on tape during Susan's quirky answers to questions during the judges' initial interview.  It's not only the shock of these two very different selves emerging from this one person, but the delight in discovering something astoudingly beautiful in a very unexpected vessel.  In Susan's p…

Science, The New and Improved Miracle

Recently I've been thinking a lot about miracles. We throw the term around quite a bit. When asking my husband to define miracle, he appropriately replied, "happy, happy things that happen, especially at Christmas!" Precisely, I thought. This exactly summarizes what we would like miracles to be. Two summers ago, Colorado was bursting at the seams with the miraculous: "It's a miracle that the Colorado Rockies made it to the World Series!" Also miraculous, our ability to come up with such a catchy term marking the month of their success on such a short amount of time, "Rocktober." Although the Rockies' success was yes, far-fetched and incredibly unlikely, miracle is still a bit too hyperbolic to use in this instance. Wikipedia (well reputed source on miracles) tells us that a miracle "is a sensibly perceptible interruption of the laws of nature, such that can only be explained by divine intervention, and is sometimes associated wit…

Crazy Uncle Dan

We've recently enjoyed the company of some dear friends of ours out in the bustling metropolis of Junction City, Oregon.  Our friends were delighted to introduce us to their darling girl, Elizabeth, whom we hadn't had the opportunity to meet these last six months of her existence.  While we savored watching her small hands, busy feet, and endlessly changing (often humorous) expressions, we enjoyed so much more watching these new parents glow in the joy of their daughter.As visits with these dear friends are rich, but seldom, we jokingly began a yarn of folklore to assuage the sadness of living far apart, missing more moments with Elizabeth, the new source of daily life and chaos for our friends:  Crazy Uncle Dan.  Crazy Uncle Dan lives in Russia and does Crazy Uncle Dan things, like hanging his wet clothes on the clothesline outside in negative 40 degree weather, then shattering his jeans when he tries to put them on immediately after taking them off the line.  Or like learnin…

Herd of Pigs

An attempt to modernize this moment in the gospel of Luke.Herd of Pigs
Luke 8:26-39
     It was that same smell that always smacks into you on that same corner: that revolting blend of stale alcohol and dried urine. We always quickened our pace around that corner, a sort of unspoken pact, anxious to get to the light and cross to the cleaner side of the street. But he was there today, marinating in his own filthy odor and trash. As he sensed our approach, he began spewing his senseless fragments:
     “Adime t’day? Shum change?”
     “How abow shum help for a body down on he sluck.”
     “You kids got shum money?”
     I looked over at my brother, who stood staring unabashedly at the desolate man. This corner, this man, seemed, for my brother, as much a part of our Friday routine as swimming at the Y, candy at Michelle’s, and reading magazines at the library. I could see the subtle fascination creep over his face. He just lives like that. Lives. Why doesn’t he do something for himse…