Friday, May 18, 2007

Off to Ukraine

Today we are taking the train to Kyiv and making our way to Bila Tserkva, Ukraine. I'm not sure what our internet access will be like so I might not get a chance to post very often. I'll do my best to keep things updated. We are excited to be going, but sad to be parting with all the wonderful friends we've met.

Here are some goodbye pictures.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Tea Parties and Bonfires

The women decided to have a tea party yesterday. It was made quite clear that no men were invited. The guys here felt left out, so we decided to do something just for the men. Obviously we couldn't wear funny hats and sip tea. So it was decided, a bonfire. The biggest bonfire we could make without setting surrounding buildings on fire. Unfortunately the weather was hot and sticky so no one really wanted to get close to the fire. (In our excitement to have a bonfire of grand proportions, we actually used all the wood we had. It was a short bonfire, but it burned bright, for awhile.) Undaunted, we stripped off our shirts and tossed around a football like men are supposed to do. This wasn't the smartest thing since no one could actually see the football until it struck them in the face. We were, however, undeterred from continuing in our exercise of male bonding, even when the football landed in the fire, twice.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

May Flowers

We had a huge thunderstorm yesterday and last night. It dumped a large amount of rain that was desperately needed around here. I was surprised to see that it looked as if everything turned green overnight. Flowers seemed to have sprung up and bloomed as soon as the sun came out. Dominic and I headed out to investigate this morning and take a few pictures. He took me to a place that the kids around here have nicknamed Dinosaur Valley. We hiked through fields of knee high wet grass to find this strange looking area. We finally came to a spot where the land seems to fall away sharply and is dominated by randomly scattered mounds of earth covered by flowing green grass. The entire area is concealed by a dense covering of flowering trees that add to the mystery.

Dominic sitting at the edge of Dinosaur Valley.

Looking towards the village of Palfa.

So what do you do when your pants are soaked and your shoes are muddy and the only way into the house is past a wife who has a passion for cleanliness?

You bring flowers of course.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


Yura is a young man who works for Nita at God's Hidden Treasures. He works in the wheelchair shop helping to assemble and repair wheelchairs, walkers, and canes. He has become an expert at setting up the wheelchairs at the homes of people who receive them. I personally watched him give patient instruction to the disabled and elderly on the proper use of their new wheelchairs. I had the pleasure of visiting Yura at his home that he shares with two other young men, Zhannia and Ruslan, who also work for Nita. He gave me a tour of their garden and showed me all the painting he had been doing around the place since the weather warmed up. Yura has an old Soviet motorcycle that he fixed up, but on the morning I was there, it didn't "feel" like starting. I discovered that Yura can not only play the accordion, but seems to really have a talent for it. He played a song about Jesus for me and I was impressed at how easy he made it seem. He told me that he taught himself how to play by sitting in front of a mirror so he could see where to put his fingers.

The amazing thing about Yura is that he was sentenced to a life of confinement in an institution where he would have been until he died. He was labeled as "retarded" by the state and deemed unfit to ever function in society. Yura, along with Zhannia and Ruslan, were rescued from the retarded boys home. Nita bought a house for them and taught them the skills that they would need to live on their own. She gave them jobs and eventually required them to completely support themselves. They no longer receive any type of aide, but have learned to be independent and very productive adults. The people in the village of Forcee, where they live, all take a part in looking after them and have accepted them as part of the community. Yura invited me to go fishing with him when we get back so I'm excited to see what we can catch.

Here's a picture of Yura after showing a man named Pavel how to use his new wheelchair.

Edna and Nadia in front of Yura's house.

This is Yura's Soviet motorcycle that he has been "Ukrainianized".

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mobile Medical Clinic

During our trip to Bila Tserkva we were able to participate in a Mobile Medical Clinic run by God's Hidden Treasures. The Mobile Medical Clinic goes out to villages and provides free medical care to people who otherwise wouldn't be treated. It's a chance to meet the physical as well as spiritual needs of the people from the villages. Each person is examined by a nurse and a doctor from GHT who then treats, writes prescriptions, and makes recommendations for further treatment. After this, each person receives prayer and has the opportunity to have the Gospel shared with them. A Russian or Ukrainian bible is offered to them and they are encouraged to read it.

During our visit, not a single person refused prayer. Often they would tell us about their family members who they also wanted us to pray for. We were saddened by some of the situations that some of the women were living in. Some were struggling widows, some were beaten by their husbands, and some were suffering from diseases that left untreated would be fatal. Everyone was so nice to us when they found out we were Americans and were planning on living in Ukraine. One woman told me that she had never met an American before and was so happy that we wanted our children to learn the Ukrainian language. She started crying and told us how beautiful it was to be able to hear Ukrainian spoken. She said that our boys were welcome to come to her house any time and drink milk from her cow.

The building we were in is normally used for emergency medical treatment, but was not set up to treat patients on a regular basis or provide routine treatment. As an emergency center there were a few nurses and staff standing by, just not for treating non-emergency patients. It was when we were packing up and leaving that one of these nurses walked up to us. She looked around nervously at her co-workers who were standing nearby and then asked if we could pray for her. She said that she had seen how our prayers affected the patients and that she was in need of prayer too. She cried as we prayed for her and then asked if she could have a Russian bible to take home and read. The whole situation took me by surprise and made me realize that our actions can often be a greater witness than our words. It was a perfect end to an amazing day.

Nadia and Tamara preparing to do examines.

Everyone taking a lunch break.