The past two weeks have been one of those moments that you know you will always remember. Not just the moments but the sights, sounds, smells (lots of smells!) too. I left June 3rd on a missions trip to Ukraine. And just so you know it isn't THE Ukraine, it's just Ukraine. Didn't know that until right before I left. Anyway, I thought I was going to be able to blog while I was there but we were left with only a couple chances to send brief emails instead, so I thought I would try to blog it now. It was a long trip and was filled with many things so this will probably be broken up into several blogs.
We left at 5 am on the 3rd. The 2 1/2 hour drive to Jacksonville seemed to take forever. It probably didn't help that I was VERY anxious about traveling over the Atlantic ocean at 35000 feet. Not at all on my list of things to do in my lifetime. Anywhoo, we finally got there and made it through security with enough time to grab something to eat and time for my friend Cara and I to buy a kooshy pillow for the trip.
The flight wasn't too bad once we were airborne. We made some short stops in Atlanta and New York and then we were off for Kiev. I didn't think it was too bad until I took a nap and woke up only to realize we weren't even off the coast of Canada!! Then we watched as our plane seemed to just sit off the coast of Greenland for hours!! Apparently the head winds were up to 70 mph making our progress slow. As my friend Forrest termed it, we were in a "timeless abyss".
Finally we landed in Kiev 21 hours after our journey started. It was a little strange to see several airport personnel with masks on as we desembarked! These pictures were the last ones I took before a uniformed woman informed me "no photos" to which I kindly obliged. (notice the smiles. They disappeared when she came up!)
We very quickly realized that we weren't in Kansas anymore. We couldn't read, hear, or understand anything at all. I was a joy to recognize a coke bottle in the vending machine but strange to see that it was side by side with a beer bottle!
We headed into to Kiev to meet with Victor Kulbrich, the pastor of the church we would be working with.
Victor shared with us the vision that he sees for Ukraine and although none of us could see straight, we were very humbled that he had asked us to be part of reaching his country for Christ.
Our next stop was a restaurant named Big Belly's. It was sort of a stressful Golden Corral buffet style place. It was lunch hour and we didn't recognize anything and no one spoke English. I finally pointed and said "chicken?". When she nodded I took it, along with a bottle of the ever friendly bottle of coke and was done. We all tasted some different things that day and I must say, not my favorite meal. If anyone from Ukraine ever asks you to try buckwheat...just say no! (unless you enjoy crushed up moth balls!)
We finally got to the camp we would be staying at and took a much needed nap before heading to the church for dinner and to meet the drama team we would be working with for the next week and a half.
I must say that dinner was great. Actually the Big Belly meal was the only meal we didn't like. We did get used to chicken and potatoes in many different ways.
There were several things I noticed that day as just an introduction to this country that very soon would be endeared to my heart. Here are some observations:
1. The water had a metallic smell.
2. The toilet paper was very much like our brown paper towels or sometimes we discovered like party streamers!
3. We were given our towel for our stay. Yes, I said towel in singular and no I did not mention a washcloth.
4. They do not use shower curtains. Look out getting out on that floor!
5. We quickly realized that no, they did not have ice, and no, we would not be seeing it anytime soon!
As our heads hit the pillows that night we were all out very quickly and we all couldn't wait to see what was in store for us on Friday!
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