Monday, August 31, 2009

Where Do You Get Your Water?

Water Truck
A shiny blue truck selling drinking water

While we were in California, we really enjoyed the fact that we could get fresh, clean well water right out of the tap. Here in Ukraine we have three options for drinking water. You can filter the tap water, which we do in a small pitcher for cooking and making tea, you can get your water straight from the well, or you can buy drinking water.

At the Pump
Dominic at the then working pump about two years ago.

I usually prefer to get water from a nearby well that has a hand pump on it. Unfortunately, the pump has broken or been vandalized at least twice now. It is currently capped off and it is uncertain if it will be repaired again. There is, however, a traditional open well with a bucket and chain just outside of our apartment, but I try to avoid drinking that water as it tends to have undesirable things fall into it. You know, sorts of things like bugs and frogs. It works just fine for flushing the toilet when the water in the building is turned off, but probably not the best for drinking. I just heard yesterday that someone found a dead cat in their well. This was a well that I drank from on several previous occasions. I've decided to try and limit my water intake from these types of open wells in the future.

At the Well
Dominic demonstrating the well just outside of our building two years ago.

Just recently, a schedule was posted for a water truck that would be selling water in our neighborhood. Coincidentally, this happened to coincide with the timing of the pump being capped off. (Could there be any sinister connection here or just good timing?) Anyway, we just take our water jugs down and get them filled with what appears to be pretty good drinking water. It's a deal at about six cents a liter.

I just think it's interesting that it's perfectly normal to have a discussion about where and how someone gets their drinking water here in Ukraine. Another interesting topic for discussion is who knows the best source for fresh milk, but that's a whole different story.

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." - John 4:13-14

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Halyna and Her Gentle Tooth Repair

Halyna, the Gentle Dentist
Joshua under the care of Halyna the Dentist

Today we took Joshua to a local dentist that came highly recommended by some friends of ours. She was very nice and did a good job of making Joshua's tooth look like new again. It only took about twenty minutes and was done in a comfortable little office that had been converted from a first floor apartment. It was also well lit. This may seem an unusual thing to comment about, but we have experienced some pretty dark public buildings and hospitals. It's not uncommon to walk down completely dark hallways with only a small crack of light escaping from a closed door to illuminate your way. So yes, it was a very pleasant experience for all of us and the cost was very reasonable.

Joshua at the Dentist
Outside the dentist office

No more chipped tooth
Good as new (if you haven't seen the before picture, you can click HERE)

Molly and Her Gentle Tooth
(This has nothing to do with Joshua's tooth, but I've always liked this photo of street art in Kyiv.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009


The Tryzub

Tomorrow is Independence Day in Ukraine and all the news channels are running stories of the preparations and ceremonies going on. There are lots of Ukrainian flags and images of the Tryzub, the national symbol of Ukraine, everywhere you look. If you look closely at the symbol you can make out the word "ВОЛЯ" (volya), which means freedom. I was watching news coverage of a Ukrainian politician preparing to address a crowd of onlookers when she passed by a variation of the Tryzub that I had never seen before. In the top center, there was a cross added to the national symbol.

Knowing that the symbol means "freedom", I thought how fitting that this version could be interpreted to convey a very powerful message. Freedom in Christ.

Happy Independence Day and may God bless Ukraine and its people.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

Коли Син отже зробить вас вільними, то справді ви будете вільні. Ів 8:36

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Walking in the Village

Village Children
Some of the kids asked if I would take their picture after assuring us that their dog doesn't bite.

Yesterday, Dominic and Edna went with me on a walk through the forest. We ended our walk by walking home through the little village on the other side of the river. It's still part of Bila Tserkva and I guess you could call it a suburb rather than a village, but people raise animals and crops so I think of it as a village. Anyway, I snapped a few photos as we walked to give people a better idea of what it looks like where we live.

Chicken Door
People have dog and cat doors so why not a chicken door? Actually, I guess it's more of tunnel than a door, but I still like the idea.

Babusya Tending Goats
A babusya (grandmother) watching over her goats

I'm always amazed at how different life can be just across the river. Each day we watch as people bring carts of vegetables, fruits, meats, and homemade dairy products from the village to sell in the market on this side of the river.

On the Way to Market
A babusya on her way to the market

Cows in Passing
Edna and Dominic walking towards the bridge on the way home

I guess you could say, "there's no place like home", and we feel truly blessed by the life that God has called us to here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Swings (more fun, less dangerous)

New Swings

Today I decided to put up the two swings we had brought from California. The kids had never really seen swings like this before and were a little uneasy about how to use them at first. All the swings I've seen here are either rigid metal or wood. They won't give if a child were to walk in front of one that was in motion. (Dominic witnessed this first hand when he saw a man accidentally get hit in the face by one of these contraptions.)

Rigid Metal Swings
These are the typical rigid metal swings you see on playgrounds here.

The kids quickly got over their initial fears and started pushing these new "chain swings" to the limit. For awhile it was boys against girls as they competed to see who could touch the opposite overhead support with their feet first. Eventually the girls won out and took control of both swings forcing the boys to find other means of entertainment.

The girls have been using the swings non stop since I put them up. We are so happy that we could do this for the children in our neighborhood. We are even more excited about finishing the repairs we have planned for the playground and hosting a children's festival for all the kids the first Saturday in September. A group of people will be coming from the Pryluky church to help us do this so that we can share Christ with these children in both word and deed. Please pray that many children will come and have God's Word sown in their hearts.

New Swings
New Swings

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Oksana and Natasha
Our neighbor Oksana, her sister Natasha, and friend Olya celebrating Ivana Kupala

We made it home to our apartment in Ukraine late Thursday/early Friday our time. Our flight and transfer from Moscow to Kyiv was thankfully uneventful. The Footes picked us up at the airport and delivered us safely to Bila Tserkva. (Thanks Danny for fighting the little yellow van all the way to our place.)

We were somewhat dreading walking into a stuffy apartment that had been closed up the whole time we were gone, but we were pleasantly surprised when we walked in. There was a cool breeze and fresh food in the kitchen. We found a note on our refrigerator from our neighbor downstairs, Oksana. In the note she welcomed us home to Ukraine and told us to enjoy the food. She had made us chicken borshch (cabbage soup), compote (fruit drink), and our landlord had baked several pastries for us as well. We felt so blessed that they had taken the time to open up our apartment and make sure we were comfortable and had food.

The next day we shared some American snacks with a few of the neighborhood kids. They had never seen beef jerky, Fritos, or Cheez-Its before. Here's a video of the girls giddy with snacks. It ends with them basically saying "No comment" to their new status as celebrities.

Most things have gone smoothly so far, although Joshua slipped on the stairs today and chipped his front tooth. The girls he was playing with brought him to our door with a bloody lip and even a bag that they had carefully placed his tooth fragments in. We cleaned him up and he went back to playing. What really had him frightened was the thought of going to a Ukrainian dentist. (He'd heard all the horror stories from his friends.) He should be OK until we can find a good dentist.

Chipped Tooth
At least it's a small chip

We are just thankful to God that we are back safely and continue to be welcomed home by all of our friends and neighbors here.