Thursday, September 29, 2016
It is always interesting to read menus that are translated from another language into English. I'm not always sure what it is I am ordering, so I try my best to figure it out ahead of time so I am not surprised when I get something completely different than what I anticipated getting! On Wednesday morning we had ladies class. There were 12 women who came to class including me. I was expecting around 4-6, so it was a very pleasant surprise for there to be 11! Our youngest was 18, and it went up in age into the 80's. The group was diverse in age and in circumstance, but all had the same desire to study God's word together. The lesson text was from Psalm 23, in English, and Psalm 22 in Russian. Don't ask. I don't know which Psalm got left out or was "out of order" according to the English translation. We worked it out! The first time, several years ago, the class was very confused when I started reading in 23 and they couldn't find any of the same verses. Now, I am used to it. Maybe I will ask Sasha where the change came from. The story in Psalm 23/22 is about how much the Lord cares for His people, all people, in every situation. Whether in Texas or Ukraine, we all have similar problems and are cared for by Him. Even though our countries are so different, our ladies were very much the same. The lesson brought smiles and tears. It is hard to understand a "caring" God when you are personally in such pain over loss or hardships! At least two of the woman have lost husbands, and sons. Why? One has a daughter in prison. Why? Many of them were widows, many are in situations where their grown children are back at home and without jobs. Why? Some are helping raise grandchildren. Why? Some of them have grandchildren that abused them. Why? We expect to live our lives...raise our kids...keep serving God...and for good things to come to us because we serve God. Then REAL life happens! Job losses...loss of a beloved spouse...loss of a child or grandchild...loss of our home...government changes that are not the best...wars...corruption...inflation...low wages... Does it rain only on the good? How can that criminal continue to prosper all the while the believer lives in desperate situations? It isn't fair that I should lose my husband AND my son! It isn't fair... One answer from a sweet, godly lady, Raisa said it all. We have trials because we live in a fallen world. I have no answers...I just continue to have faith in the One who created the world and will one day take me home to live with Him forever. It was a good lesson and much more was discussed and thought about...then...we had a wonderful chance to just fellowship over a meal! This is where Porky neck meat comes in...I know you were wondering! We went to Melrose to enjoy a luncheon together. It is an American style cafe that also serves Italian, Japanese, and Mexican (fairly decent I might add) food. It also has a nice "Happy Hour" where they are happy to give the lunch bunch a 25% discount on food and beverages. You know me...I'm all about the coupon or % off on a meal...so it was very nice. I ordered a Louisiana Salad, I was expecting spicy but it isn't, so I am not sure why "Louisiana" is in the name. The ladies ordered what ever they wanted to eat, drink and have for dessert. It was a joy watching them look, talk about, change their mind about, and finally decide what they wanted to eat. Some of the items were listed as "Texas" steaks. I was tempted, but resisted the temptation and ordered salad. One of the items was "Porky neck meat" and the picture looked like a piece of meat, assumed it was pork, but I was looking for the "neck" part. (think chicken or turkey neck meat) Rita ordered it so I was glad to get to look at it and taste it. It was actually very tasty! We sat and visited and we had to discuss what everyone got to eat and if it was what they really wanted or not... We also got to discuss that "Jackie isn't eating enough" and "Jackie needs more rest"! What would I do if I didn't have all of my sweet sisters taking such good care of me! I am grateful to God that you are all my sisters, and that you care for me SO much! Next time...I think I'm gonna order the Porky neck meat myself!
Monday, September 26, 2016
Awwwhhh...sweet Antonina! You are so dear to me, and I grieve for you this day, and many others to come as well. I walked over to your flat this afternoon and had a chance to visit with you for about an hour. It was lovely seeing your sweet face, even with the grief etched so deeply around your mouth, and your smile just not quite making it to your eyes. You have greeted me with lipsticky kisses and that joyous look of surprise that said "You made it again?" for so many years. I've come to expect it, to need it, to cherish it. Today, I saw pain and fear engraved on your sweet face. Pain at the loss of your son...fear of what the future holds. I cannot change either of those circumstances for you, but I know the Father loves you very much and holds you in His hand! At almost 85, the loss of your 64 year old son came as quite a blow. The stroke that eventually took his life, changed yours forever. He lived with you after losing his wife, he helped you, was a companion to you, and took such great care of you. Your grief stricken cries were not missed by the Father or by those that love you. I know you will "make it", I know you will "be all right", I know you will be able to "take care of yourself"...I just hate that you will be doing it without him. Death is cruel, but you are strong. You have the Lord walking with you! Don't give up...don't despair...hold tight to His hand and to those in the church. Be strong enough to tell someone what you really need...let them help you! I will be here for a bit, and I will do my best to give you comfort and to listen every time you want to tell and retell his story. It is what I can do. Tell me again, about your son. Tell me until you don't need to tell his story any more.
For the time being I am staying at the church with the lovely young couple who are working at this church. Sasha preaches and his sweet wife teaches at the school here, and takes care of all the goings on in the church. She prepares snacks, and cleans, and helps teach the children on Sunday...and does all the "preacher wife" stuff. (all of you married to preachers know just how much work this is!) We were sitting at breakfast Sunday morning talking around the table. He had dropped by McDonalds for an earlier breakfast and was sitting with us talking as Helen and I ate our breakfast. He brought us breakfast sandwiches, not McMuffins, but more like a Sausage Biscuit but with "salad" on it. I don't know for sure, but I don't think any of our breakfast sandwiches have lettuce and tomato on them. You can correct me if I'm wrong, but I've never seen it. Now, you might ask what Siberia and McDonalds have in common, I will be glad to tell you. I was making the point to him that breakfast was basically the only thing I ate at McD's, I just don't care much for their menu. He was telling me the differences in US menu and Ukraine menu. As he was going thru the list, he mentioned fish nuggets. I'm not really a fan of any kind of fish from McD's but nuggets sounds like fried bread with fish parts to me! As the conversation went on, he said he really didn't care for fish too much. They lived in Siberia for two years and he ate a lot of fish....a LOT of fish. As he was talking about fish I thought about Bubba Gump...smoked fish...pickled fish...fried fish...baked fish...grilled fish...FISH. It was what they had plenty of and in the winter, pretty much all they had. His telling of the hardship there...negative 73 degrees celsius in the winter...ummmhhhh...NO! I'm just saying...that is NOT where this Texas chic wants to be in winter! And the mode of transportation to get there...looooooonnnnngggggg train ride, then a bus or van then on to a motorcycle with a DIY side car because there were no longer roads of any kind. Wow. His father wanting to be with the family and eventually wanting to share the Gospel with them. His family came from a Jehovah Witness background. When they actually looked at scripture, from watching TV preachers, they realized that some of the stuff they believed wasn't in the Bible, so they started searching for themselves. They went thru several denominations and ended up at the church of Christ. His father didn't force him to convert, just answered his questions for a long time. Because his father worked odd and plentiful hours, they communicated by him writing questions and his father answering them. Eventually, Sasha obeyed the Gospel. His father now preaches here in Ukraine, and Sasha went on to preach himself. I hope I got all the details correct, it is a fascinating story. Sasha ended up at Sunset here in Ukraine following a pretty young girl named Helen! Now, you may be wondering what McD's, fish nuggets, and Siberia have to do with each other. Funny you should ask! Because of Siberia, he doesn't like fish, McD's has fish nuggets that he likes, I commented "why do you like fish nuggets from McD's if you don't like fish?". "Because they don't taste like fish." There you have it, if you don't really like fish...go ahead and try the fish nuggets 'cause they don't taste like fish any way!
Sunday, September 25, 2016
What a fabulous opportunity to work in Ukraine again. Due to some personal circumstances I was not able to go last year, I was doing what I was supposed to be doing...but it didn't feel like it! I missed the brothers and sisters here and I just love coming here...so...long story short...I'm Baaack!!! After not a lot of sleep last night...I made it through...in between a "passport don't know where you are", and getting all five bags packed....and getting through Chicago...ughhhh...airport...I wish you could see the sentences I am erasing because I am TOO stinking tired! I may have to do it all over again! I'm gone girls...too tired!! See you in the morning...much loves!
I have to tell you that I began this blog on Friday evening shortly after I arrived in Dneper. It was right about time for me to go to bed. I started this journey with a little over 2 hours sleep on Thursday morning. I know, stupid! My mind would not shut down, and I could not sleep...so I was up till almost time to leave for the airport! I managed to carry 4 large bags...actually 2 footlocker like boxes, and two large suitcases. The weight limit is 50 lbs and everyone of them was over 49 lbs but not at 50 lbs. The porter, who was worth every penny that I tipped him, couldn't believe that not one bag was over, not even by percentage points of the 50 lbs! I will say, it was a good thing that they did not weigh my backpack! It was a least a hundred pounds by itself! I know...I carried the silly thing all the way! We got out of DFW pretty much on time. The security wasn't too bad, not like the almost strip search I had last time, and the lines were actually not too bad either. It did take me three little gray boxes to get all of the stuff thru the x-ray machine! The people behind me were rolling their eyes, and snorting little puffs of discontent with being behind me...it was not my fault that the airport had one x-ray machine down, and some of the slowest people I have ever been around doing the looky loo through the bags! I had the shoes off, the computer out, the CPAP machine pulled out, the liquids bag, the backpack, the roller carry on....the kitchen sink! We made it! The flight was easy, but Chicago is not my favorite airport. Have I said I don't like O'Hare yet? After arrival, I got conflicting details on where I had to go to get to the International Terminal...three times...by airport employees...some of them United Airlines people. Did I say I really, strongly, don't like O'Hare! A very nice passenger on his way to the remote parking terminal finally got me pointed in the right direction. I had to leave one terminal and go thru security...you heard me right...go thru security AGAIN!!! The water I bought at Terminal 1 was suddenly now a terrorist bomb liquid that would nuke half the city! So...I had to throw it away! Not really, I could have slurped it down in front of the TSA agent...but then I would have to go thru security...AGAIN! The cattle call to the airplane were about what I expected. Everyone was in a hurry, and wanted to be first in line. We made it...in spite of all the rude, ignorant people who actually ride on planes a lot! It's a plane ride people...the first hundred people in line Do.Not.Get.a toaster oven when they check in! The ride was smooth...terrible food...cramped space in the cattle call section of the plane...two good movies...good seat mates...what more could you ask? Well I can think of a couple...js! Falling asleep again so I must go for now! Love you all...see you when this adventure is over! when
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
My new little friend. His name is Roma. He is about 6 or 7 I suppose. Bright...creative...curious...a little unsure of this strange woman talking to him in a language he doesn't comprehend. At first, hiding behind his Mama. Peeking out of the crack between her arm and the side of her body. A shy smile...eye contact for just a brief moment. He has a toy car...he wants to show it off to me...but he is not quite sure about even acknowledging I even exist. When we sit down, I pat the spot between his mother and me. I give him a smile and make "big eyes" over his "machina". He decides I must be okay...maybe. He wants to draw...all of the Babushka's help him find some things to draw with. I give him my place mat to do his second Picasso on...wow...a masterpiece in the making. The gap between us is closing...very slowly. By the time I draw my rendition of a bird on his paper he is leaning against me. He is not sure about my bird, but he puts it in a tree he draws for his bird. (unfortunately the table busser is not a lover of the fine arts, especially the 7 year old kind, and unceremonially trashes our beloved artwork!) We begin to share wild stories. I ask him if there is a hippopotimus in his soup...neyet (no) with a look of contempt. I ask him how he knows, he didn't even look to see if there was one there! You know,of cours, he had to look! The answer was still the same...neyet! The story went back and forth as he ate his soup, and fries, and chocolate ice cream, and latte. It moved from the hippo to the crocodile. I assured him there was a crocodile (craw co dill) in his latte. Of course not...it couldn't be. That is when I pulled out all the stops...I drew a picture of a crocodile on the sugar packet that he had just torn open and poured into his latte. He laughed out loud and told his mother there was definately a crocodile in his latte because it had been in the sugar packet. His Babushka asked me how many grandchildren I had. I told her 5. She said to me, I knew it, you sound just like a grandmother to me. What a compliment! Thank you, Nadezhda, the same to you! The space between us is non-existant...Roma is almost in my lap...but it is time to go. Tears, hugs, promises to see each other next year. Hope and prayers for the future of this country, of these people. Rita and I walk towards our destination as they wait at the tram stop. I turn and wave...but he is absorbed in watching the busses, vans and trolley busses go by. After all...he is a 7 year old boy who loves big transportation!
Can you imagine...just for a moment...that you are sharing your living space 24/7 with at least 4 people, but up to 30 people. Wait...it isn't your space...it is space "loaned" to you. You have no bedroom, no true living room. A kitchen with minimal amenities...you know...pots and pans, spices, a pantry, a refridgerator bigger than the one you used in college, stove, oven...you know the important stuff you need to feed your family. Your bedroom is a corner of the small room used for worship services, or the couch in the fellowship room, or perhaps you share the children's classroom (6' x 10' approximately) with another person. Your bed is a very small cot with a thin mattress or a pallet on the floor. There is a bathroom available, but no shower. The baptistry is the closest thing to a shower space you have. You totally depend on the kindness of strangers, well, not exactly complete strangers. You depend on the brothers and sisters who worship in this building for the place you lay your head at night. You are not home...you do not know for sure if you have a home to return to...you have no idea how long it will be before you can even attempt to see if your home is still standing, or if standing has every thing been stolen or vandalized. BUT...there are no riots in the streets...no t.v. cameras capturing the heart of war, umhhh, I mean the heart of conflict...there are not random gun shots...no hordes of people who used to live in peace with each other screaming horrible things, no shells exploding...no houses burning...no people bleeding in the street tossed about like rag dolls...no stench of fear, no fear of death at any moment. You've left your home, your beloved garden, your job, your school, your soccer field, your local grocer, your inside the home plants, your security, your bank account, nearly everything you own, and everything you once counted on as "normal" in your life. You are now a refugee. You don't want to be...you abhore that label...you are a hard working person...you don't depend on people to give you things...you have always taken care of yourself...you don't want or need pity...you don't want to depend on charity...you are a human being...you would like to live with a little dignity...you want to go home...like it was before... Something totally out of your control has changed your life forever. You left your home in fear, and maybe even in a panic. Decide...now...what is important...throw it in a bag and get out. This day has been coming for awhile, but you are not prepared. You always thought it wouldn't really come...not to your home! Not to YOUR family! Not to YOUR country! It has. So...you smile bravely...you keep your hands busy...you try not too think to much or you will cry and maybe never stop! You try and "make the best of it", your reassure the children it "won't be too much longer", you tell anyone that asks "I'm ok". I see your eyes, red rimmed, exhausted, fear filled...it is NOT ok...it may NOT be over soon...your best may NOT be good enough. This is where your faith kicks in big time. I trust you Jesus takes on a new, deeper meaning. You will get thru this, but it won't be easy or quick. You are not alone, God is walking by your side, the world wide church is praying for peace in this wonderfull country and they are sending support. Hold fast, don't give up! I got the blessing of sharing lunch today with 6 delightful people. My interpreter, the preachers wife, and four refugees, including one small boy, Roma. For just a moment, we were just woman chatting over lunch. Friends who are getting ready to say good bye after a short visit. What will we eat? Have you ever had French Onion Soup? What about tacos in Ukraine? Laughter...decisions...sharing photographs of children and grandchildren...Mimi and Babushka stories...quiet...no preparing food or being responsible for the clean up. "I am so glad I got to finally meet you, I've know your daughter for awhile"..."It seems like you just got here and now you are leaving"..."I always put the leaves from a cherry tree in my pickles, it makes them crunchy"..."I'll try that, I love crunchy pickles" Just woman...just sharing...just laughing...no war...no fear...no refugees...just sisters and friends. I would have paid double the price for the meal in order to get that look of quiet comfort and encouragement I saw in their eyes. Just for a moment...it was just friends sharing a meal. Thank you God for the moment.