There are no words to completely describe my sweet sister and friend, Rita. She is a sister in the faith, a sister of the heart, and a pit bull in lipstick.
Her whole focus while I am here is to see that I am taken care of. She arranges my transportation, meals, meetings, classes, visits, rest, water...I believe that she would go to the bathroom for me so I wouldn't have to use Ukrainian toilets if she possibly could. She is relentless about finding good bathrooms for me. And she reminds me consistantly "if you need the toilet, this is a good one" or "this is not such a good toilet, maybe you can wait". If you have ever been where the facilities are not what you are used to this is truly a blessing!
When I first arrive she sets up a schedule of how the days will go. She makes a calendar and starts to set up appointments, class times, visits, etc. I give her a list of who I want to go and see and she does her best to make it happen. This year I was terribly disappointed that especially two woman would not be available. Nadeshzda and Galena are both home bound. Nadeshzda from old age and immobility, and Galena with a broken hip. Their families did not think they were up to a visit. The problem is the tradition here is to entertain guests. So even if you do not want or expect to be entertained, they feel an obligation to do it. I had to respect the desires of their caretakers and had to miss the opportunity to visit with them each. I will probably not get another opportunity to see them this side of heaven, but I sent my love and greetings to them thru their families.
Rita is responsible for getting me where I am going. She has to arrange transportation if we cannot use public means, and she has to arrange times to see the people I need/want to see. Sometimes it is difficult to get everything to line up just right.
It reminds me of Ginger Rogers. She did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels. Rita has to come from across town (10 to 30 minutes depending on availability and traffic) and be at my flat, or wherever, to meet me and then start her day. She used to come to my flat regardless, but because I can manuever some of the taxi vans she can now just meet me at the church building or Daffy or other places. I have become quite familiar with route number 53, it gets me to most places I want to go.
During the time I am here, she comes early in the morning and goes home late at night. When my day ends, she still has a 30 minute travel to get home. (depending on how late, the vans don't run as often) After I go home she has to reintroduce herself to her husband and family since she has not seen them for more than a few minutes a day for the entire time. She is with me sometimes 12 or 13 hours per day. Dedication is not something she has a problem with.
Rita takes better care of me than I take care of myself. She was extraordinarily careful after I had the issue with my knee. She was so fearful of me hurting myself, that she was willing to forgo a trip on the Steppe during our outing at Askanyanova. She wanted to go out and see the animals, too. But she was willing to sit at the zoo so I could rest my knee. It was a good thing that I hit "override" on that issue...the bumpy wagon was worth every ache I had afterwards. She finally agreed that it was a better time than sitting at the zoo. My knee was okay, I am afraid that my behind did not fair so well. If I could just shift the "padding" in my belly to my bottom the problem would have been resolved!
Rita has a heart as big as Texas. She has such compassion for the homeless dogs and cats of Ukraine. She takes her own money and provides sterilization for as many as she can. She also volunteers at the shelter for them. It is a long car ride out there, the facility is primitive at best, and the work is boring and hard. At the shelter, the dogs are cared for by homeless peolple who in turn get a place to live. It seems to work well for both parties.
With Rita, you laugh, you cry, you discuss, you are treated like a queen, you are treated like an unruly child...you are loved...completely and fully! She gives you the care you would receive from our Saviour...loving and compassionate and selfless.
She is a wonderful interpreter, manager, and most of all...friend.
Rita, I love you. Till next year!
P.S. Give Andrew lots of attention and my greetings!