Thursday, June 07, 2007

Settling In

We have been in Ukraine for almost three weeks now and things are starting to feel normal. We have all the basic furniture and appliances we need plus dial-up internet so our home feels comfortable. All of us seem to have adjusted to everyday life here, especially the boys.

The view from our bedroom of the Ros river.

Our biggest worry was that Dominic and Joshua wouldn’t make friends and would feel isolated. Until a few days ago, we had a hard time getting the boys to even go outside. That all changed once we met our next door neighbor Olya. She speaks Russian, but she understood the little Ukrainian we spoke to her. Before we knew it she was introducing the boys to her grand daughter and all the kids at the playground. The boys quickly found themselves surrounded by Ukrainian children eager to play with the two American boys. As I write this our home is filled with the voices of ten Ukrainian children along with Dominic and Joshua. They have spent most of the day here playing various games and correcting our attempts at speaking Ukrainian. The sound of our house right now is a strange mix of Ukrainian and English sprinkled with some Russian for good measure. We wouldn’t have it any other way. God has truly blessed us.

When the boys are outside, they don’t want to come in anymore. We have to just about drag them in at night. They end up eating at other kids’ homes and avoid even coming home to eat sometimes. Joshua learned how to say he wants water in Ukrainian and so the other kids showed him where to get water when he was thirsty. They took him next door to a little old lady’s house where she has a well that she lets the kids use. They drop a bucket down and bring up cold refreshing water. It’s safer than tap water, I think.

The constant stream of kids has been a big help to our language studies. I’m sure we’ve been a help to their English studies as well. We’re hoping that through the children we will also be able to establish relationships with their parents. So far, everyone we’ve met has been very friendly and helpful. Most people realize right away that we don’t speak very much Ukrainian or Russian, but they are always happy that we try.

Edna getting some Ukrainian lessons.

The biggest surprise for me is how Dominic and Joshua have embraced Ukrainian foods and drinks. Edna and I love Ukrainian food, but the boys have always been picky eaters. Now the boys drink kvas (a wheat flavored drink sold from wheeled tanks during the summer) and eat vareneky (kind of like ravioli but it can be stuffed with anything from meat and cabbage to cherries and cheese) almost everyday. Dominic even had a salo (smoked pork fat) sandwich at a friend’s house. Joshua told us how good shrimp is when you fry it up with the heads still on them. So much for picky eaters.

Dominic surrounded by his new Ukrainian friends.

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