We got up refreshed and started the day with breakfast and Bible study. There is a church member who is cooking for us for the week. Breakfast had salami sandwiches with real butter (always a treat!), cereal (looked vaguely like ours) and cool milk out of a box. It wasn't too bad since the basement of the church is underground and stays pretty cool- so the milk was pretty cool.
We went upstairs to start rehearsing. The church is the Buccha Baptist Church and it was beautiful inside. The wooden pews and accents were amazing.
The day started off cold and rainy and since we new we would be performing outside we spent time praying for the Lord to change the weather. Our short 4 minute drive to the town square was quick and when we got there the sun broke through and the temperature warmed up. Many people were curious and sat watching us set up. I was amazed at even the old women with "bobushkas" (scarves) stayed to listen. By the time we started there were probably around 200 people there. Not bad for a public square
We had several kids come up asking for our autograph before we even started! We sang several songs, I gave a testimony (I was very nervous!) and our driver Anatolli interpreted for me, and the drama team did a couple skits before a local pastor stood to present the gospel
Overall it was a great experience and we enjoyed playing at the town square. It was one of our favorite venues of the trip.
The next day was Saturday and we knew coming in that it was supposed to be the longest day of the trip since we were going to be traveling about 4-5 hours to a town in western Ukraine called Luntsk. What we didn't know was exactly how long of a day it was going to be. This was the day that we realized that Sasha, Victor's son who was in charge of our entire trip, had trouble estimating how long things would take. :0) Here is a picture of Sasha (on the right ) and our team leader Jon. They are probably discussing the fact that we spent longer on the bus to and from Luntsk than we did flying to Ukraine!!
Don't get me wrong we love Sasha dearly, however, our 4-5 hour drive turned into 7 hours each way. It was something we came to call "Ukrainian time". Whatever Sasha said, planon 2 hours more! We didn't have time to stop for lunch so we ate at a gas station that had a "restaurant" called "A la Minute" inside. Yes, a French fast food place deep in the Ukraine was a surprise to me too. We used the time in the bus to learn how to play UNO...Ukrainian style. I must say they have some crazy rules but it was alot of fun and really helped bond our group with the drama team.
When we arrived in Luntsk we quickly found the old Soviet sports complex where the Christian basketball camp was being held. We also realized that we couldn't ever plan on a set starting time because usually things were running behind...everywhere! We set up amidst flying soccer balls because it was also being used to finish up an indoor soccer tournament
We also found out that everybody has a twin. We discovered Ashton Kutcher working the camp as a counselor. Here is a picture of Ashton (aka Paul) and my friend Josh
To our great joy, the journey home gave us another thrilling stop at "A la Minute" when we couldn't find anything else to eat. We just couldn't get enough of it!
It was a very long day and we were exhausted as we fell into bed that night. It was a short night since we had to lead worship in Victor's church the next day. I really wish I could clearly present a picture to you of the Ukrainian countryside as we spent so much of our day looking at it! There were hundreds of fields that people had bought and were out working in them as we drove by. Not a field with their houses on it. Their houses would be in the next village but they would drive out to their gardens to work everyday for their families.
I tried to take pictures as we sped down the road so I apologize for the bad quality. I was also amazed at how we would drive through such a poor area with small run down homes and then you would see a gold dome of an orthodox church rising out of the countryside. All of them gleaming white and beautiful
It was the beginning insight about these people we would be ministering to for the next week. They are hard working and diligent, yet there is a peace about them. We have seen that they love to have fun and laugh too! The drama team has taught us that. You will hear more about them in the next few days. But it was the people of Ukraine that I was drawn to and looked forward to learning more about in the next week.