Tuesdays With Moisi ~ 3

The story continued…

This is our Pop’s story dictated verbally by him a few years ago. I’ll be sharing excerpts every Tuesday. When I add to his story or explain a photo I will Italicize my words. Our Pop’s words will not be italicized. Our mom does not come into Pop’s story until “Tuesdays With Moisi ~ 9” even though I’ve posted photos of her before #9. I have very few photos from our parents’ life in Russia and Persia. At the end of my Tuesday posts I’ll add links to all the other posts.

Eventually, another group of people decided to make a second try for Iran.  But, unknown to us, it was a plot engineered by the GPU-the Russian Secret Service.  They formed a group of which my sister and her husband, Simyon, were participants. My mother decided to send only two of us with this group while keeping the younger children.  So one evening the group, with my brother Michael and I, left. As we made our way out of the city, we walked up a small hill and down the other side. As we were descending, we were suddenly surrounded  by the militia, ordering us to put up our hands. In so doing we dropped all of our possessions. We were then ordered to march in a different direction, leaving all our possessions behind. We were all loaded onto a truck and taken to the local GPU headquarters.  When we arrived there, Simyon was taken inside and we were all herded outside underneath the open window of the room where he was being interrogated. We could hear everything that was going on inside. This was done purposely to intimidate. The interrogator showed no mercy.  Simyon was ordered to empty his pockets. Among the items in his pockets was a handwritten book of hymns. The interrogator used the book to slap Simyon across his checks repeatedly and threatened to execute him if he lied in any way. The interrogation lasted four to five hours.  Simyon was taken to a holding cell. A soldier then came out and mockingly shouted at us “Now you can go back to your dad.” We were released and went back home. My mother was naturally shocked to see us. We told her what had happened and that Simyon was now in jail.

To add to my mother’s increasing woes, my brother John was suddenly arrested one evening without warning.  His job was a source of income for our family. We were now left totally destitute. My mother in desperation would go to the railroad yards and sop up spilled oil with rags.  She would then wring out the oil from the rags into buckets and sell the buckets. She also used it as heating oil for us. This was an incredibly difficult time for us. We became intimately acquainted with hunger and cold.  When we had absolutely nothing to eat, my mother would go to the local brewery and there beg for the mash that they discarded as pig feed. She would again go to the railroad yards and scratch for the spilled flour in the dirt.  She would then combine this flour with the mash and so bake a sort of bread with these ingredients. It was very difficult to swallow this sort of food. We would soften it with our saliva and swallow it whole. We couldn’t chew it because of the dirt.

As a result of our desperate situation, I came down with a serious case of pneumonia.  My fever rose to such a degree that I became delirious and my mother lost all hope that I would survive.  But eventually I did come out of my delirium and remember very clearly my mother and another woman standing over me.  My mother was crying and the other woman was comforting her. They gave me some soup and I began to improve. Eventually my health was slowly restored.  So the years 1931 and 1932 were especially difficult for us.

Since John was mentioned in this segment, I added the photo above of the surviving Bogdanoff’s in the 1980’s with their spouses. Uncle John is the one on the top right with the beard.

Tuesdays With Moisi ~1

This is our Pop’s story dictated verbally by him a few years ago. I’ll be sharing excerpts every Tuesday. When I add to his story or explain a photo I will Italicize my words. Our Pop’s words will not be italicized. Our mom does not come into Pop’s story until “Tuesdays With Moisi ~ 9” even though I’ve posted photos of her before #9. I have very few photos from our parents’ life in Russia and Persia. At the end of my Tuesday posts I’ll add links to all the other posts.

Our Pop is the boy on the right standing next to our paternal grandmother babushka Martha. Our Aunt Anna who is the one remaining family member alive is on the left side next to our paternal grandfather Timofey.

In his own words as translated into English from Russian:

My name is Moisi Timofeyavich Bagdanov.  The name Moisi is the anglicized version of Moses.  In the Russian language it is pronounced as Moses. I list my birth date as May 25th, 1923.  I’m sure of the year but I’m not sure of the actual day of my birth because I was born at home and no records were kept in those days.  All that I know was that I was born sometime in May, according to my mother. We lived in a village called Saleem in southern Russia about 200 miles south of present day Rostov.  Our village was in a network of about 30 other villages mainly inhabited by Russian Molokans. And that is who we were.

I was born into a large family – twelve children altogether – and we never seemed to have enough of life’s necessities.  My earliest memories involve my cousin Michael and me. We were inseparable playmates. One day we went into the fields where watermelons and cantaloupes were growing.  We had a knife between us and so decided to check out how the fruit was ripening. I very much remember the verbal tongue lashing I received as a result of our informal field testing!  Another time I remember being chased from my grandfather’s bee hives because of the mischief we were causing there. In the spring of 1928, at the ripe old age of four, I was placed on my first plow horse and thus began my career in farming.

In the spring of 1929 I remember the agricultural advances that were made when our village and two others invested in a tractor, threshing machine, and a combine for the wheat harvest.  By today’s standards they would be very primitive, but at that time they were a godsend. The whole village participated in the harvest with singing and gratitude because of these labor saving devices.  I also remember a very small dairy near our village which produced cheese, cottage cheese, and butter. We kept these products from spoiling by packing our underground cellars with snow in the winter. We poured water over the snow turning it to ice.  That small cellar served as our refrigerator for the entire year.

(Seven of the 12 siblings remaining together in the USA in 1982. Jim, Vasilli, Pop Moisi, Anna, Mikhael (Mike) who was visiting the U.S.A. for the first time, Alex, and John.) The next photo has the spouses added. Aunt Anna’s husband was deceased already. Uncle Jim was divorced.

Mikhael did not imigrate to the USA like the rest of these siblings in the photo. After escaping to Persia with the family and living there for several years he heard things were better in Russia so he returned. He was immediately arrested and sent to Siberia. Miraculously he survived his time there. He applied to visit the U.S.A. many times and was finally granted permission in the early 80’s when these photos were taken. The U.S. family had not seen Mikhael for 40 years and this visit was such a happy reunion for everyone. When my parents took their trips to Russia and then returned as missionaries to Russia in the 90’s they were able to have many good visits with Mikhael and his family.

Uncle Mike center top row next to Pop(Moisi) and sister Anna with babushka Martha (Moisi’s mother) sitting in front of them. All my brothers and sisters. Six of us were already married in 1982. Leonard and Lana, the twins were not married yet. Several grandchildren and great grandchildren not born yet.

Steve, Len, Greg, Ellen, Leonard, Uncle Mike (Mikhael), Moisi, Aunt Anna, Lana, Mom, Nick, Vera

Kelly, Kathy holding Melissa, Tim, Nina (Tim’s first wife who died in the early 90’s from complications of Cystic Fibrosis), Babushka Martha, Aunt Maria(Uncle Mike’s wife), Baby Stephen, Sandee, Fred

John, David, Michelle, Josh, Daniel, Debbee, Danielle, and Michael

Moisi’s kids, my brothers and sisters and me are in bold print.

Some details and history about Molokans from an earlier post of mine can be found here.

O, Come, Little Children

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Oh, Come, Little Children

Oh, come, little children, oh, come, one and all,
To Bethlehem’s stable, in Bethlehem’s stall.
And see with rejoicing this glorious sight,
Our Father in heaven has sent us this night.

Oh, see in the manger, in hallowèd light
A star throws its beam on this holiest sight.
In clean swaddling clothes lies the heavenly Child,
More lovely than angels, this Baby so mild.

Oh, there lies the Christ Child, on hay and on straw;
The shepherds are kneeling before Him with awe.
And Mary and Joseph smile on Him with love,
While angels are singing sweet songs from above.

Words: Christoph von Schmid, 1794

A friend of ours faxed me the music and words for O Come Little Children in the Russian language. I learned this song by heart in Russian and it’s been fun to sing it this week. We have started the Advent Season and I’ll be posting Christmas Music for the rest of the month. Some of the words in Russian translate different than the English version.

Getting to Know You…

I enjoyed reading Eileen’s Getting to Know Me and Mildred’s, too, so I’m answering the 25 questions.
1. What is your middle name?: 
I do not have a middle name on my birth certificate. In my Russian culture I would be introduced as Ellen, Moisi’s (daughter) Bagdanov. Everyone would then know that I was Moisi’s daughter not Ivan’s daughter.
That’s my maiden last name in Russian on my paternal grandparents’ gravestone.
2. What was your favorite subject at school?:
Any class where the teacher made me feel like they appreciated having me as a student especially my English teachers in high school. I enjoyed Home Economics and ended up majoring in Home Economics.
Mrs. Nicolaus was my favorite primary teacher.
3. What is your favorite drink?:
Morning: coffee  Cocktail: Gin and Tonic
4. What is your favorite song at the moment?:
Adore by Chris Tomlin
5. What is your favorite food?:
It’s hard to beat a good Ribeye steak or Osso Bucco or Prime Rib. I can’t narrow it down to one. My easy go to comfort food is probably Mexican food but I love finding good Persian restaurants that take me back to my food roots. I’m going to say my favorite food is food!
6. What is the last thing you bought?:
A large angel at Homegoods today.
7. Favorite book of all time?:
Yikes! Another hard one to narrow down. Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter Series.
8. Favorite Color?:
Blue
9. Do you have any pets?:
No
10. Favorite perfume?:
I don’t wear perfume and if you do please spray lightly. Thank you. 🙂
11. Favorite holiday?:
Easter is my favorite.
12. Are you married?:
Yes, this month we’ll celebrate 44 years!
13. Have you ever been out of the country?:
Yes. Great Britain seven times, Italy (Milan) once, Mexico once, Canada too many times to count.
14. Do you speak any other language?:
I can speak Russian poorly. I understand it better than I can speak it.
15. How many siblings do you have?:
Eight, 4 brothers and 3 sisters.
This photo is from my sister Kathy’s wedding. The groom and best man that are flanking Kathy aren’t part of the my 7 siblings and Dear is standing next to me. All the rest are my brothers and sisters who are now 44 years older! Kathy, Vera, Fred, Ellen, Tim, Steve, Lana and Leonard. The last two are twins.
16. What is your favorite shop?:
Homegoods
17. Favorite restaurant?:
For a nice hunk of meat, Metropolitan Grill. My all time favorite places to eat are Pubs in Great Britain.
18. When was the last time you cried?:
Last week. I cry easily during worship services.
19. Favorite Blog?:
I like a variety of blogs and especially enjoy visiting blogs that don’t bombard me with ads. I’m sad that a few of my favorites aren’t up and running at present.
20. Favorite Movie?:
The older Pride and Prejudice series with Colin Firth. Does that qualify as a movie?
21. Favorite TV shows?:
Great British Baking Show, Alone, Top Chef, Project Runway, Live PD, Survivor, NCIS, just to name a few.
22. PC or Mac?:
PC
23. What phone do you have?:
Samsung 4 or 5 , probably time to upgrade.
24. How tall are you?:
5′ 4-1/2″
25. Can you cook?:
Yes I can and I’m part of the Mennonite Girls Can Cook. My mother was a great Russian cook. Her love language was to cook for others and to feed them. She loved to listen to cooking shows on the radio and try to write down the recipes. Since she didn’t know how to write in English this was a challenge for her. She enjoyed trying new things and inspired all of her kids to cook. The photo above is from our humble home in Montebello at a dinner prepared for the cheer squad by my mom, Borsch, Meat and Potato filled Perishky and Blintzes. My parents modeled hospitality even though they always struggled financially while we were growing up.
Thanks for visiting today. We are hoping our counters will be able to be cut and installed on Monday!

Cherry Varenya ~ Russian Tea Sweetener

This was one of my most visited posts in 2016. I first posted this in 2008. I’m adding a photo to the top of the post. If you look carefully you’ll see a glass bowl of Varenya on the table next to the tea cups in front of my paternal grandfather (dzedushka) and grandmother (babushka).

img578The Russian immigrants I grew up around would make and enjoy this Cherry Syrup made with whole pie cherries in their hot tea. They used this syrup in place of sugar to sweeten their tea. I called my mother this week (April 2008) to get the following recipe from her to share for The-Sweet-and-Savory-of-Yummy.

This is a very simple recipe for Cherry Varenya. This is a syrup made with Cherries to sweeten hot tea with.


Cherry Varenya

1/2 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Whole Sour Cherries (Pie Cherries)
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

You would increase the proportions of this recipe according to how many cherries you have on hand that you want to make into Varenya.

Boil the water and sugar to make a clear simple syrup. When the liquid is clear add your cherries and let it boil for 10 to 20 minutes (depending on how hard the cherries were to begin with) At the end of the boiling add 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to help preserve the brightness of the syrup.

You may want to can it at this point. (I don’t know how to can anything so you are on your own here!)🙂

You can do this process with sliced lemons, too, to make a Lemon Varenya.


Lemon Varenya

When I was young our family would go to a Cherry Orchard somewhere near Lancaster, California in July when the pie cherries were ready to harvest. It might have been in the Leona Valley. We would pick cherries all day and take home upwards of 40 pounds of cherries. That’s a lot of Varenya. When we picked this much my parents would give about half of the cherries away to other relatives and friends who couldn’t make the trek out to the Cherry Farm. Then it was a full day of preparing the cherries for Varenya. Washing, cooking and canning.

The photos are quite dark in this post and I’ve learned a few things since 2008 about taking photos of food and brightening them up before posting them. The photo of my grandparents is an old film photo scanned.

Hope the end of the year 2016 is going well for you. Maybe a cup of tea will help to brighten your day. Blessings…

The Journey…

Dear and I packed up early on Wednesday morning and headed across the line to Canada.

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We found our way to Central Heights Mennonite Church to attend the Celebration of Life for Kathy’s (one of the Mennonite Girls Can Cook) dear father. After the service Dear and I headed to Bakerview MB church and found the other Mennonite Girls and their spouses for the reception. One of the things we learned about Kathy’s father Helmut during the many tributes expressed about him was that he had the “gift of encouragement” along with other “gifts”. We think our Kathy has received this “gift” and learned a lot about how to share this gift because of her dad. Here’s an email from Kathy’s dad to his kids after he learned to use email in 2015.

“Let’s remember that , ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain.’ We are totally dependent on the Lord for life and breath and the service we are to render to our family members and other folk. One of my challenging verses that JESUS gave us is recorded in Mark 10:45. ‘For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give HIS life as a ransom for many.’ Let us be faithful servants, managing our time, talents and resources well. God help us to be good witnesses for HIS glory. Love you all lots and pray for you daily. Dad/Helmut”

What a treasure to have a legacy of a faithful father to pass on. We know you will miss your dear dad, Kathy, but that you also rejoice because he is home with his savior.

After the reception Dear and I found our way to Anneliese’s home where she and her dear H treated us to a nice dinner before we headed to our next big event.

museum book launch

We followed H and Anneliese to the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford, B.C. where our newly released book, Bread for the Journey, was to be dedicated and launched.

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We were met by two bouquets of flowers lovingly and thoughtfully sent by friends of the MGCC girls. Thank you so much Richard, Dorothy, and Rosella.

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Under watchful eyes Anneliese prepared for the Zwieback demonstration.

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Judy and Lovella’s hubbies maned the parking lot helping our guests find a place to park.

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A wonderful crowd appeared and watched carefully as Anneliese showed her method of making Zwieback. Lovella helped with the narration.

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Each of the seven of us who could be at the museum had our part to play. Some of us read from our family stories and some of us read one of our devotionals.

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I made my confessions and read a brief story about my family’s “Movement” from Russia, to Iran and finally to the U.S.A. I’m not going to lie, I was happy when my “spotlight” moment was done.

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After we were done with our stories and devotionals we had a special treat of music. We were blessed with Father’s Daughter singing “Little is much when God is in it”.  Wonderfully musically talented family.

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Here’s what Lovella had to say about these moments caught in the collage above. “I wanted to read the dedication at the end before Gerry prayed but just couldn’t even get it out.  My heart was so full.  Gerry couldn’t read it because he didn’t have his glasses so he borrowed mine to read.” Lovella was hoping someone captured these moments and Bev’s husband Harv did so I borrowed his photos.

The dedication reads: “We dedicate this book and our royalties to orphans and widows who face each day in need. Our prayer is that they would see the love of Jesus extended through caring hands, one home and one heart at a time.

After reading the dedication with Lovella’s glasses, Gerry prayed a prayer for God’s blessings on our book.

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We signed books for anyone who wanted us to while the great crowd that attended enjoyed coffee and Zwieback.

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We were surprised at the number of people who showed up and also surprised that the museum store was soon sold out of our book.

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At the end of the evening we took some group photos. We always wish the 10 of us could all be together for these special events but miles and life events have a way of keeping some of us away.

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All of our hearts were full from the beautiful blessings we enjoyed on this day in Abbotsford.

Some of the photos in this post were taken by Bev’s husband. Thanks for sharing Bev. Some were taken by my Dear and myself.

Dear and I crossed the border into the USA at 9 pm and were home in bed before midnight. We are generally early to bed people. Today is a day of recuperating for me and I have another confession to make and that is that I am still in my robe and it is the afternoon already! Oops! I running upstairs now to get ready for the rest of the day!

Reminiscing…

We have always called my mom’s friend Zena, Aunt Zena.

img615This photo of my mom and Aunt Zena was taken in Tehran, Iran in the 1940’s. In the late 1940’s our families immigrated to the United States.

These immigrant families got together often in the 1950’s in the Los Angeles area.  My mom upper left next to Aunt Zena, Mrs. Hamzieff, my aunt Nina, my aunt Anna, Mrs. Katkov and Mrs. Titov.  I’m not even going to try to explain the fact that all but one of these ladies are sister-in-laws to one or more of each other. There was also a photo taken of the “guys” on this occasion. I’m wondering why there are so many more guys than gals…

mom-zenaThis photo of my “Aunt” Zena and my mom was taken in 2007.

Aunt Zena’s daughter Tamara, who we called Timi, is in Seattle visiting her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. We connected via email and planned to meet for coffee on Thursday morning. Timi came with her daughter Tamara and Katie came with me for our coffee date.

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Tamara, Tamara (Timi), Ellen, and Katie.

So much history and good memories between our families. We had a lot to talk about and the time flew by quickly. Thank you, Timi, for contacting me and making time to meet.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. I John 4:7 (ESV)