Lots of things let us know that Winter is on its way….leaves falling, children in school, no fresh veggies left in the garden, etc. But in Georgia there is one clear sign: the cutting, chopping and storing of wood for the petchi stove. In the villages, central heat is not available. Most homes rely on a small wood burning stove which they bring into the house in early October. it is vented to the outside of the home and generally heats only one room. This room becomes the center for all family activity for the next ??? months. Even some of the cooking is done on/in this stove. It may also be that even when it is on, everyone will be wearing several layers of clothing to stay warm. So the issue of having lots of wood is critical.
For several weeks now we have been observing huge logs being dumped onto the roadways of the villages. Some may have access to getting their own but most families buy it and it is delivered as logs. Then the saws appear and cutting begins. After that chopping is done and the wood is stacked for drying before being put into some kind of storage shed or covered porch area. You will notice from our pictures the incredible amount of wood that is needed for a winter season. In our family both Dad and son have been chopping for weeks, a little at a time. They stack it to dry for a few days and then store it. the man power and hours are very long. We’ll let you know come May how warm we were able to stay. Hopefully, it will not be like last winter which was the worst anyone could remember for coldness.
These past weeks have given us some time to relax, do a bit of planning, and get to know Gonio and Batumi. We’ve walked miles, been in lots of different shops, bought produce at the big bazaar on Saturday, and enjoyed our first American coffee (thanks to a box from family)! We had to search out a French press and are happy with the results .Tom is settling in nicely at his office and will start an “English club” with his co-workers this coming week. Suzanne had limited success with a summer camp as the participation was small but enthusiastic. School starts on Sept. 17th and there will be lots of planning and conversations with my counterparts before then. The schools have a lot of new books this year so we will be learning them together which should be a plus for me.
We have located the only Catholic church within hundreds of km and luckily it is in Batumi. It holds about 300 people and is usually full. It’s all in Georgian, of course, but the presider comes out before Mass and if he sees strangers he chats with them. He gives us a page with the English translation of the readings and his homily. There is very good participation and lay involvement as readers, musicians, cantors, etc. They sing some things in Latin (Kyrie and Our Father) and the Gospel is read in Georgian and Russian.
Some of you met our new Aurora friends, Jeri and Greg, who were also accepted to the Peace Corps. They are on their way to Rwanda in two days. We wish them well in their journey which will be much like ours yet totally different.
Finally, thanks to all of you who take an extra minute to write a comment on the blog. It helps us to know that you are with us in Spirit and that is an important encouragement for us. We could not be here without the many ways in which you each have helped to form us and we are very grateful for that.
Now a couple of small videos