"Six Weeks In Kiev"


Roger Merritt

Part II

Sunday, May 16th

Our second Sunday. On my way to church I met Andre in the Polytechnic Institute Metro. He was on his way to church, too. We discovered that we both live in Borschagovka, and take the same route. Andre has been my special friend from the day we met. Scott told me that Andre has only been coming for a few months, and that he was contacted during a youth rally that Jeff Walling came to as guest speaker [Walling is a popular preacher from California].

At church there was a brother from Vienna, who brought some World Bible School material. He told me that International Christian University (in Vienna) is planning to start a college in Kiev. I think that would be a great idea.

The church service seemed to have less translation into English today. Scott Broadway spoke from Matthew 15, and Arthur translated. I saw a few of our readers in the audience.

We went to the Lybid for Lunch, but we went upstairs for the first time to a larger dinning room. Chris said that they ate up there most of the time last summer. We had beefsteak, and Chris was very humorous with the waitress, again. Chris has curly hair, wears glasses, has a southern accent, is an English major, and is a big talker. I liked the upstairs dinning room better because it was larger and had windows.

Next, we all took a #8 trolley bus from Victory Square to Kreshchatik, and then a #20 to Komsomol Square, and walked to the Arch of Unity to meet some of the young people from church. They are really eager to learn new songs, so we sat and sang. Passers-by occasionally stopped and listened as we sang near the Arch. We sang a lot of the new favorites: "Shine Jesus Shine," "In This Very Room," "Love the Lord Your God," "Shout Out Your Joy," "Someday," etc.

I am getting to know some of the Ukrainian brothers and sisters better. Nazarenko, a young man in his twenties, goes to college, and seems to think that I should go with him there to meet some of his friends. I don't know how I can possibly work that into my schedule. Ugene, a 14-year-old boy, and several others that I am still getting to know were there, including Andre.

Andre and I went back to Borschagovka after our singing session broke up. He was curious to see what kind of flat I was living in, so I took him up for a chat. I can tell that he is curious about me and where I come from, so I showed him some photos that I brought from England. This seemed to satisfy him well enough, and he decided to go home. I spent the rest of the evening doing things in the flat, and reading.

Monday, May 17th

The coolest, cloudiest day to date. We moved our devotional to room 29 because the key to room 15 was temporarily missing. Our second week started off lack-luster. Maybe the clouds had something to do with it. Kira was sick and missed our 12:00 appointment.

Lunch was at the Lybid, and they said that we would have a permanent reservation in the upstairs dinning room. Our good Ukrainian friend, Sasha Pivovarsky, had come to talk to them.

The afternoon sessions varied...Michael Savchenko was a bit uncooperative, getting off the subject to probe me about working abroad. [He was the only one to do this persistently.] He is desperate to find some summer work, and will consider anything from North Sea oil rigging, to Caribbean ferryboat service. He tells me about his brother in Hungary, Dr. Fiodor Savchenko, a Homeopathic doctor. By the looks of his pamphlet he doesn't impress me as being a professional.

Mike Lukashevich, the math teacher, is level headed. He is considerate and mature at 36 years of age (younger than Savchenko, who is about 45). He shared with me the fact that he has two daughters, aged 9 and 11. His parents are both living and in their early 70's. His father was from Leningrad, and was formerly a General in the Soviet Army! His mother is from Kazakstan. He has two half sisters and one has recently moved to Boston, MA. Mike is always interested in me, and my impressions of Kiev.

Dimitry was a little more alert today. He opened up in a personal discussion telling me about his family dacha, which he has many fond memories of. And he told me about a lost friendship that he once had with a young Frenchman named Dominique, who, the last he heard from, was living in London. Dominique was an "orthodox Trotskyite." I thought this was rather humorous, and couldn't help thinking of "Wolfy" on the BBC sitcom called "Citizen Smith," about a disillusioned revolutionary, who lived in Tooting (a suburb of S. London).

Tuesday, May 18th

Today ended 1/3 of our stay. I haven't said much about the trams being crowded in a while--well they ARE--but today was the WORST yet!! Cram, crammed, crammedest..!

I led prayer in devotional this morning. Josh and Kevin told us an enlightening story about how they killed a rat (yes, a rat) in their flat last night. These guys are always telling funny stories about their apartment building, and neighbors.

I had a free hour this morning and hurried down to the cash store (about a half mile walk from the school) to get a few items. I found sugar, great! We said that we would never bring our shopping bags to the school...well, I considered this to be a necessity. I kept it neatly packed in by backpack. I've got to have some of that bottled water, for instance. I don't want to drink the radiation-infected water here, because of Chernobyl. By the way, "Chernobyl" in Ukrainian means Wormwood, and in the Bible's Book of Revelations, the Day of Judgement is heralded by a Star named Wormwood falling blazing into the waters of the earth and making them bitter. It may seem fanciful now, but when the nuclear reactor was raging out of control north of Kiev in 1986, this passage attracted considerable local interest.

After reading with Nick, and discussing his query about British humor, it was lunchtime. Everyone seemed a bit tired and cranky today. The bill came to 5,400 c. per person, about $1.50 for a complete meal with Coke, tea and dessert. Isn't that amazing? The Coke, or Pepsi (it varies) comes bottled from a bottling company somewhere in the Ukraine, so it is cheap compared to the canned drinks that are for sale at kiosks on the street. Mitch Edgeworth, the group treasurer, always pays the waitress for the meals, and we pay him usually once a week.

At lunch my table debated over the correct way to pronounce, "please" (pa-zha-lusta). I thought that some of us were forgetting to pronounce the "u" in pazhalusta.

Yury Zorin, another math teacher at Polytechnic, was lively in conversation this afternoon. He wanted to hear me explain the American university grading system. He always wants to know about our ways of higher education. His English is so good that I can talk just as freely as I want. He often complains about how busy he is counseling students, and giving exams. I think they have a lot of oral exams, perhaps? Yury likes to give me what he thinks to be interesting bits of information, about the past, and about living/working here. He has a confidential way of speaking to me, as if someone might be listening behind us...he has even brought up in guarded conversation the doings of the KGB, in serious vocal tones and facial expressions, of course.

Anatoly was good, as usual. Olga was OK, and Marina did not show up because of some problems at home. It rained again today.

Wednesday, May 19th

Vika, the reporter, was obstinate today. She felt like revealing her own philosophy as I tried to steer her though the text. We were reading about the temptation of Jesus by Satan in the desert, and she thought it was too simple-minded. Her objectivity produced a lot of questions, like "what did Jesus do between the age of 12-30?" Right now she has some problems with the text, mainly because she has never read it before, and she fails to see how deep it is. I hope she sticks with it long enough to see the wisdom.

Nick was fine. His wife, Helen (one of the regular English teachers at the school), is on this floor quite a bit, and we see her daily. She is very friendly, has studied the Bible, and has been to church before. Kira was back after being sick. She was talkative, as usual, and wants me to come over for dinner...I keep avoiding the subject because some of her invitations seem a little too friendly. It's a good thing that she and her family live up in North Kiev, pretty far away.

In the afternoon I had Ruslan, the young Christian, who wants to study the Old Testament. We reviewed the books of Joshua, and Judges in his nice study Bible (I wonder where he got it?).

Also, Michael Savchenko, who showed me his tennis racket. He says he used to play a lot, and invited me to play him. He told me about his Navy days in the early 1970's, as a ship telegrapher. He boasts that he knew a lot of Navy secrets, and that the USA was "afraid" of the Soviet's Naval power. I also received Dimitry this afternoon, who seemed less timid. He really is a bright young man, but a tad shy.

At the end of the day, we all had an invite to go to Sasha Pivovarsky's place for dinner; an authentic Ukrainian meal prepared by his Mom. It was dark and rainy as we went by metro and tram to the far East side of Kiev, and met Sasha at a tram-stop. We took flowers, and cakes for his family, and Cokes for ourselves to drink.

Sasha, is quite a bright scholar. He has been accepted at Harvard University in history and political science, where he plans to transfer to, from Lipscomb University, next Fall. His parents were very nice to invite us all at the same time. We met Sasha's 15-year-old brother Andri, and his pet dog that was tame and shook hands. We learned that in the Ukraine, dogs go "woof" rather than "bark."

The table was spread from one end to the other with finely prepared food. I wish I had taken down the names of all the dishes. We were seated all around the table, and there was plenty of fun and laughter this evening, and compliments to Sasha's Mom. We brought the drinks, because Ukrainian's do not ordinarily drink much liquid at mealtime. They offered a jug of compote, a homemade concoction of fruit and water, but we are a little hesitant to drink the water (because of Chernobyl, as I mentioned before).

I was the first to leave, because I live on the opposite side of the city, and it might take an hour to get home. I got home at 11:10PM, and went to bed, exhausted.

Thursday, May 20th

The group is looking really tired, and I keep telling some of them to get more sleep. Today my allergy did a double backward somersault into my sinuses and kept me blowing my nose. Something WICKED is in the air!

During my session with Yury, an old friend of mine from college days, Gary Hall, who has a doctorate in math, made a brief Byelorussian-bound appearance. At just the right moment he appeared to clarify that a "parabola" (a mathematic symbol) is NOT a parable...Yury was humbled. Gary just flew into the country, and is on his way to join the Minsk group. It was nice of him to stop by!

Nick was attentive, as usual, and told me what Gorbachev's prohibition on alcohol was like from 1984-87. He thought it was a good thing, but did not make very long lasting results.

Afternoon: Lytvynov, Anatoly, Mike and Marina...Anatoly assured me that there are weather reports in the news here (the Johnson's said there were not, jokingly). And he said that there are fewer outside lines for foreign calls in the suburbs, which explains why I can't seem to call my parents anymore.

Mike Lukashevich came, but had to leave to go to the chemist for his daughter who was sick. Marina came with some stimulating discussion. We read about Jesus eating with "sinners," and "loving your enemies." She told me about her college friend, from Boise, Idaho, who is now a journalist in Moscow. Marina grew up in western Ukraine, moved here on her own at 17 to begin university, and does not like to visit home very much.

I skipped the student theme party, "American Easter," and went home to rest. I am just worn-out! Today was mostly rainy, and there are slushy, muddy puddles everywhere. [This was the only theme party I missed. My tired condition was brought on by my allergy; the long hours at school, and so much walking. I wished I could rest for a day, but that didn't seem possible.]

Friday, May 21st

Today started with such promise...sunny, and surprisingly un-allergenic, and it was Friday. We planned to go to the Folklore and Rural Life Museum, located south of Kiev. After our morning sessions we were supposed to eat lunch at the Lybid, and then meet a hired bus outside to take us to the Folklore Museum. It should have been great--just what I have been looking forward to--but the bus did not show up. How disappointing! Scott tried phoning Sergie, and he said that the bus "should have been there..."

By the time we decided what to do next, it was almost 3:30PM. Someone made the suggestion that we go to another Cash Store that is located on the other side of town, beyond Arsenal Metro, and everyone sort of went along with the idea. It wasn't so special, except that it sold frozen pizzas. Not a priority item to me, since my oven doesn't work!

Then we took a #14 trolley bus to Bessarabskaya Market, located across Kreshchatik from the Lenin statue, which is back close to my primary Cash Store. The only thing good about this excursion was the chance to see Kiev from a new angle; a different trolley line. That in-itself was worth it for me.

Bessarabskaya is the largest covered market in Kiev, and its shape resembles a Zeppelin hanger. Inside there are many stalls for fruit, vegetables, meat, flowers, etc., and this was my first time to enter it. We have gotten in the habit of calling it the "Minolta Market," because there is a big neon Minolta sign on it. I walked around, trying to avoid being squeezed by the crowd. You can't get away from those darn moneychangers!! They were on to me in no time, even in the market. Everything is in the open. Meat is measured and cut on the counter in front of you. No temperature regulation, or what we in the west would consider to be good sanitary methods, are adhered to. I saw several merchants using an abacus. The atmosphere in the Bessarabskaya Market is something to remember!

Leaving the market, I crossed Kreshchatik and went into my regular cash store to buy some of the necessary liquids. It is frustrating that you can't break a twenty-Dollar bill in there, or anywhere. You just have to buy twenty dollars worth of something! There is little choice about it.

Going back to this morning...Yury brought me a book about Kiev, as a gift. It was printed in Ukrainian, and was quite heavy. It is an illustrated encyclopedia. At lunch, we befriended an elderly American man, from Atlanta, who is only in town for a couple of days. He obviously needed help with the menu, so we invited him to join us. He is traveling around Eastern Europe alone!..But has a friendly contact in Kiev, a young Ukrainian, that I'm not sure how he met. The young man came in-person to the Lybid after lunch, and the elderly American presented him with a gift, an American flag. He started talking kind of loud, and held the flag up while he was talking. This shameless display of American pride made me uncomfortable, so I eased out of the lobby to get a breath of fresh air outside. Sometimes the patriotism of fellow-American's can give me the creeps, in public. I just didn't think it was appropriate like that.

Linda called tonight at about 11:00PM. I told her about my day, and week. It was good to hear her voice and to know that she is alright. She is having to work a lot on the weekends right now, and feels lonely in the flat.

Saturday, May 22nd

The weather was very nice today. I washed some clothes in the tub, read, and called Mitch about wanting to pay him for my lunches with a twenty dollar bill. He said that would be fine.

The group had no big plans for sight-seeing today (except to go to the Circus this evening), so I planned to go to Andriivsky Spusk on my own, take some pictures, and see what happens...I was alone at leisure for one interesting hour, exploring, viewing the scenery of Podol (the old town at the bottom of Spusk), and then I started seeing our group members here and there amassing at the Spusk. We all had the same idea! And, if that wasn't enough company, Fred Chun, and a guy named Jimmy, from the Minsk team came hobbling along. They are going back to the States early...and brought news about the Minsk team. They told us how that the Minsk team managed to go to Moscow last weekend (lucky, lucky them!). We are trying to reserve tickets to go, but have been unsuccessful.

I followed the crowd, and bought some souvenirs. Found some very good B&W photos of Kiev from a man. He was not aggressive like most of the young vendors that I try to stay away from. He had some telephoto, wide-angle, and close-up shots of interesting places. I liked his style, so I bought a few.

However, the grandest thing I have seen so far is a wood carving of a "Cossack" that looks like a caricature, and is well-crafted, standing about eight inches high, and unpainted. I bought it for $20.00, which is a lot by local standards, but I thought it was worth it. It has a jolly face, and I want to give it a good home.

At this point we thought we had enough time to eat dinner before going to the Circus at 6:00PM. I went with Josh, Kevin, Jennifer, Michelle, Mitch and Scott to a restaurant at the bottom of the Spusk, that was a "hard currency" restaurant. We had a good time talking, but the service was TOO slow. It took an hour and a quarter to get our food--we were ready to get up and leave! We had to gulp down our food, and hurry to catch a taxi. They had no drinks to start with, and the napkins were nothing more than paper, and they charged us $5.00 each for the meal. What a terrible place!!! Not again...The two hard currency restaurants I have been to, so far, were lousy. The regular Ukrainian restaurants are much better, and cheaper.

I rode in a taxi for the first time, believe it or not, and felt obliged to pay half the $2.00 fair to the Circus (at Victory Square) even if I don't have so many one-dollar bills. Josh and Kevin shared the ride with me.

We met the others, and went in to find our seats. The circus is in a round brick building with seats surrounding an oval floor where the circus acts are performed. A band played to our left, and clowns, acrobats, dancers, jugglers, and animals did their tricks below in an interesting, fun-spirited kind of way. No knowledge of Russian was required to understand anything; it is the universal comedy that makes it enjoyable. The animal acts were few--with dogs, monkeys, horses, zebras, and a donkey--but were entertaining. A great show, and tradition that still lives here. It hardly cost a pittance.

Seated in front of us were a group of older American ladies from Tucson, Arizona, bound for Kazakhstan. They represented the "twinning" of Tucson with some town near China. Their tour guide was named Oleg, and he said he would try to help us get train tickets to Moscow (!)...Hum...We'll see.

I heard from Scott that the reason the bus didn't show up for us yesterday, to take us to the Folklore Museum, was because the driver was in jail for fighting! I don't believe it, but who knows? You hear so many rumors in Kiev.

Sunday, May 23

Last night the electricity flicked off for a while, then on, then when I woke up this morning it was off. I showered in the dark.

I decided to go to church a different way. I stayed on the #1 tram two extra stops and got off at Victory Square, walked to Vokzalnaya Metro (at the main train station of Kiev, which was pretty crowded I might add), and took the metro to Leninsky Metro. This route was more time consuming, but was a different experience.

At church I sat beside Jimmy (of the Minsk team), who returns to the States today. The DLU group was requested to sing a few songs up front, so I joined in, and we dazzled them with our smiles, and harmony. We sang, "Father We Adore Thee," "Heaven is On the Other Side," and "Shine, Jesus Shine."

The President of International Christian University, Will Goodeer, was in the audience, from Vienna. Although I never found out why he was there, it has been rumored that they want to start a school in Kiev.

Tim Johnson spoke on a continued theme from Ephesians 6, as Arthur translated. During the Lord's Supper, one of the Ukrainian young men, Alex, spoke an unusually long time about the bread, which I couldn't understand.

After services, one of Heather's readers, Yury Sagan, came and invited me to Sunday dinner. He and his wife, Tanya, had also invited Heather, Kristen, Robyn, and Jenya (a teenage Ukrainian from church). Yury wanted me along for male company. This was only their second time to visit the church, and they had a lot of questions.

Yury and Tanya live in Rosanovka, which is close to the Dnieper River in East Kiev, and is sectioned off by a canal. It is called "Kiev-Venice," but hardly deserves the compliment. They did, I must say, have an excellent view out their window of the Lavra, right across the river.

Yury had some questions to ask me about Christianity. He only recently developed an interest by, of all things, watching a video of the movie "Jesus Christ Superstar." He sent for, and received a free Bible from the Herald of Truth through the post, and then saw our ad for English lessons--all in a very short period of time. He seems very sincere. While the ladies fixed the dinner, Yury asked me some questions ranging from Bible topics to whether Coca-Cola tasted as good here as it does in the West? He also showed me a small sum of American currency and asked me to varify if it was real or counterfit. Yury spoke English so well that I had almost no problem understanding his well-intentioned questions. He was very proper, in a good natured way, and easy to talk to.

Dinner was good: grated beets, carrots, with mashed potatoes, and beef, followed by biscuits, jam and tea. They only had a coffee table to serve us with, and I sat on the floor, but it was a very relaxing meal.

Shortly after the meal, Tanya Sagan brought out a guitar, and played a melancholy Ukrainian song that sounded beautiful. Kristen, having learned a little guitar herself, offered to play "Country Roads, Take Me Home" by John Denver, and Yury, Tanya, and Jenya recognized it to be familiar. Next, Jenya played a Ukrainian ballad, that sounded sad, but with a lot of feeling...This was a wonderful exchange of culture, and completely spontaneous!

Jenya just turned 19 last week, and has been attending church for almost a year. She was contacted last year by a group from Memphis, TN who came to teach conversational English. She is studying computer programming at the Polytechnical, and told me that she has a hard time living on the State provided student-grant of 10,000 coupons a month, which is about $3.00. There is little opportunity for her to travel abroad, which is almost taken for granted in Western Europe. Jenya could certainly be a good influence for Yury and Tanya if they decide to become Christians.

It was time for me to leave, and Jenya expressed that she needed to be going too. Jenya offered to show me a very unusual architectural folly not far off Kreshchatik--the Gorodetsky House. So we traveled there together by metro and on foot. Gorodetsky was the first Ukrainian purveyor of concrete, and his house was built to be a status symbol. Its facade was made of concrete, one of the first ever, with bizarre gargoyles, and an abundance of animal shapes. Dolphins, elephants, and monster-like creatures protrude from the otherwise classically designed frame. The Gorodetsky House looks hauntingly odd; I wonder what the inside looks like? On the way, we passed the Franco Theatre, an old baroque building that surely must be filled with history. It's a shame I can't find out more about it. So little time.

Jenya and I kept the conversation going with remarkable ease through all our wandering; she is such a thoughtful and beautiful young lady, and then we parted with plenty of daylight left. The sky was clear blue, slightly cool, and if I hadn't been so tired from walking, I would have continued wandering much longer. I am less inclined to walk now that I have seen so much of Kiev, although my natural curiosity begs me to keep going and exploring, my body just can't take as much of it now...Had to stop at the cash store, and bread shop though (my first loaf in a week).

I didn't see any buses coming on Shevchinko Blvd., so I started the long trek towards Victory Square, and as I was passing St. Vladimir's Baroque Orthodox Church, I decided to wander in since I had passed it so many times without going in before. It is named after Prince Vladimir, the tenth-century Prince who established Christianity by forcibly baptising his pagan subjects in the river. I just love to take-in the atmosphere of places like this, and it was busy with people coming in and out...and beggars thronging the entrance. There are no pews, or seats inside Orthodox churches; perishoners mostly walk about looking at icons, lighting candles, and pray/whisper among themselves. The babushka's ritualistically cross themselves, and seem to snap orders at others to make sure they do the same. It's their responsibility as keepers of Orthodoxy, or Vladimirism, as I see it. After decades of communism there are a lot of piously impaired people who don't know what to do in church!

The electricity was on at the flat, thank goodness. It has been off and on lately. The bread I bought tasted good. Now, if I could only get about ten hours of sleep to re-charge my lagging body. Mentally, I am sharp, never tiring of learning and exploring, but physically I am way over my normal level of activity and endurance. 

Monday, May 24

Our third week of teaching got off to a difficult start for me. The hot water was not working, which slowed my routine. Got on the tram, and after two stops the tram pulled up behind a long-line of trams, behind a stalled tram in front. Not knowing what to do, I followed a long line of people who started to walk. By the time I walked to the next stop, the queue of trams had started again, and everyone piled back on! It was a mad scramble.

I reached devotional late, and was suffering from my allergy. Chris offered me some Diphedryl allergy medicine, which I took and summarily became drowsy for hours. I knew it would happen. I often get this reaction with allergy medicine, but the prospect of breathing clearly clouded my judgment. I could hardly think while reading with Lytvynov, I was so drowsy, and to stay awake with Kira, I showed her my pictures of England, which she enjoyed.

Lunch was subdued all-around. We are halfway through the six weeks, and the excitement has worn down. We met some American carpenters who are building a nightclub upstairs at the Lybid. They need a translator, and asked if we could help. I thought of Ruslan.

During the afternoon, the Diphedryl wore off and I started to feel the allergy symptoms again, that are caused by the floating balls of cotton-like stuff that fall from the cotton wood trees. They were planted everywhere during the time of Joseph Stalin, because he liked them. Little did he know what misery he would be causing thousands of allergy sufferers. I'm sure that didn't cross his devious mind one whit!

Michael Savchenko read a lot today, which is unusual for him. Ruslan was ready to discuss the book of Ruth and 1 Samuel. I told him about the translating job for the carpenters, and he is interested. Mike Lukashevich was talkative about his job teaching math; about students, the semester in general, pet birds, allergy medicine, tickets to Moscow...just about anything to avoid reading. He doesn't need the lessons as much as he enjoys practicing his English.

Going home, I walked to Victory Square (where the Lybid Hotel is) and took the #1 tram all the way to Gnata Uri Street. I've decided to cut out walking to Universitet and taking the metro to Polytechnic, and then walking across part of the campus to the tram stop, and taking the tram to Gnata Uri. [I changed my route to save time. Although, I had previously enjoyed cutting across Polytechnic campus.] I felt tired...very tired. The weather was cool, and sunny all day, just the way I like it, but NOT one of my better days as a whole!

This evening I just rested, recuperated, and read. I could sure use some music in this apartment, but I have to make do with the television for company. I never see any of the neighbors. I never bump into anyone in the hall either, which is strange. I know there are people living next to me, and above and below, because I hear noises through the walls, etc., but sometimes I wonder if anyone knows I'm here at all. Like, did Nina tell anyone here about me, or am I a well-kept source of secret income? I have no idea, I just live here. Do people hear me coming in and out, or am I completely anonymous? Beats me!

Tuesday, May 25

I didn't feel at all well, but I got up and boiled some water to wash myself (no hot water again). I felt weak, like I could expire any minute, and my throat was sore. I pushed myself to get to the school, and I hardly sang at devotional, which is a disaster for me.

Each of us shared something about one of our readers before prayer. I spoke about Vika, and how I hoped she would continue with the course and get something meaningful out of it...Behold, at 10:30AM her husband came by with a message that she would come at 10:00AM on Friday. What an answer to prayer!

Olga came, serious as usual, and read a few lessons. She invited me to visit her company where she and Anatoly work. I'm sure they want to show me some of their software. They have developed Biblical software, among others, and are planning a trip to the States in July to find a market. What about that? They concede that there is no market for software in this country, so they're going to the states. How sad, but hopefully things will turn around.

Nick Ostrovsky was amicable as usual, and read some lessons. He often reminisces about the time he lived in New York City for a period. He was allowed to travel to do scientific research for a while, which was a rare privilege. Lunch was more vibrant today. Maybe because we had a new waitress, or because we split up tables according to gender (guys and girls), I think, for the first time. Michelle and Jennifer are leaving tomorrow for the States, because they can only stay a month, and they have a lot of girl-talk to perform with the other girls.

I hurried back to school to take a nap. I propped myself on three chairs, and started to snooze. Next thing, Yury Zorin, was waking me up at 2:58PM to get on with our session. He is the most interesting person to talk to, for he likes to bring up subjects from the dark past during communism, to both, baffle and bemuse me. He also tells me about the extra-curricular activities of being a teacher. He says, somberly, that when he started teaching at the Polytechnic in the 1970's, that he was forced to "help" with the construction of new buildings. Hard Labor! He asked if teachers in America have to do similar labor? I told him that I had never heard of any instances like that.

I now have a second Dimitry student, a friend of Kira's. His English is far below the others, but I will give him a try. He seems eager and has a good sense of humor.

Marina did not show up, so I left a little early to go home. I was too tired to walk to the cash store, although I wanted some of that tasty German "Schwartau" jam really bad. It would add over a mile to my trip, so I opted for the direction of the trams. I did pop into two small gastronome, to look for jam, but didn't find anything resembling jam.

I do declare that they don't produce jam!! They sell plenty of other things in jars, like beets, onions, carrots, melons, but no jam. Such a hole in the consumer market that's just waiting to be filled! What kind of life is this? A life without cars, a stable supply of electricity, can-openers, or jam! A pretty interesting one.

At home I called Marina to find out why she didn't show up today. She said that her allergy is as bad as it's ever been. I can sympathize with that!

I vacuumed the flat with the soviet-made vacuum cleaner. At first I couldn't figure out why it was blowing air OUT of the hose. I thought it was funny. Then I realized it had two holes; one for suction and another for blowing. I felt like such a duffer. I never know what to expect anymore.

Wednesday, May 26

I did not feel very well this morning, but pushed myself to get up. My throat is "iffy." At devotional, we had our last activity with Michelle and Jennifer in our midst. They are leaving today. We were also in the makeshift devotional room. The key must be missing again to our regular one. 

I read with Nick and Kira in the morning. I asked Kira why they don't sell jam in any of the stores? She said that most people make their own. I was a bit perplexed, but tried not to show it! Who am I to judge whether or not they should produce jam for the consumers?

At lunch the weather turned dark and rainy--so much that they actually turned on the lights in the Lybid! They are usually off. Table conversation got a bit too loud for me...Sometimes my countrymen are so oblivious. We have a phrase for this, called, being "A television to the world." I hate it when they do that!

I didn't feel like walking back to school in the rain, with my sore throat, so I persuaded Luke and Robyn to join me in a taxi. I only ride taxis on rare occasions, and I think this might have saved me from strep-throat.

This afternoon I read with Olga, Michael Savchenko, and Dimitry. At 7:00PM, I had an invitation to visit Olga and Anatoly's office. Two more of their Ukrainian colleagues, Andrew and Max, read with Kristen. So, Andrew escorted Kristen and I to the office of software development, near Tolstoy Square. This time of the night, most people were on their homeward commutes.

There we met Olga, Anatoly and Max, who showed us some software projects: "The Genesis Project," and "PC Pets." The first one was a lot of illustrated graphics about the book of Genesis, in the Bible. The second was a detailed guide to different dog breeds, with information, graphics, and sound effects. I told them that I was no computer expert, but they seemed interested in my opinion. Like I am market research consultant!

Anatoly made a computer-video enhanced picture of all of us posing together. It turned out dark, but he said he would work on it and bring me a copy. I showed some of my illustrated Bible lessons to Olga (which I draw and write myself), and she scanned one into her computer, and printed an enlargement for me of one of the drawings. I told her I appreciated it. They served us some tea, and we all chatted a while longer in the office.

Kristen needed to go meet Heather, and Robyn at the "Red Restaurant," about a mile away, so Andrew and I escorted her, since it was dark outside. I went along because Kristen didn't feel completely safe with just Andrew accompanying her. It was a bit nippy, and my throat was sore, but I went along to reassure Kristen. Once we had reached the restaurant and Andrew and I had completed our deed, I had to go to the bathroom, and then take off for home. Andrew made sure I knew how to get home from this part of town, which was no problem for me. The trip home seemed long, and I was surprised at how many people were waiting for the trams at this hour (almost 9:00PM).

Marina rang at 10:15PM, as soon as I walked in the flat, to tell me that she is still sick and will not make it tomorrow. I don't feel like going either...but I realize that I have the key to classroom #15 in my pocket, "Oh no!!," I shout, holding back a really loud scream. I HAVE to go now! Now I remember, that I took the key at lunch, from...I forget who, and then forgot to return it to the Key Lady at the end of the day (I was in a hurry to keep up with Kristen and Andrew). This is a pretty serious matter. The key lady gets very upset when one of us forgets to return the blasted key.

Thursday, May 27

The throat was better, but delicate. I got to the school right behind Josh and Kevin, who are always first. Then, the dreaded confrontation with the key lady was, embarrassing, to say the least, but I PROMISE that I will never forget to return the key again! Lord, have mercy...I didn't feel like singing at devotional for fear of straining my voice. Kevin had a good reading from a Max Lucado book.

During my few spare moments between sessions, I have found some material to read in the classroom bookcase. There are some paperbacks, and booklets in English, due to the fact that it is an English classroom. I tried to read "Farewell to Arms," by Hemingway, but it wasn't my kind of book. There are several booklets relating to "social programs" that have an unbelievable bias toward communist propaganda. Some of the material was from the 1970's and 1980's, but some was only a couple years old.

Morning session with Yury Zorin produced a good discussion about the authorship of the Bible, and how God has revealed Himself through the Word; also, the missionary work of the Apostle Paul. For brief moments I could see Yury begin to view Paul as a real person. He stayed two hours because, Nick Ostrovsky, inexplicably didn't show up.

Lunch was good. Our favorite waitress, Ludda, served us Chicken Kiev. Donnie, for some reason, decided to explain to Ludda that he is a vegetarian, and she understood--drat! So, it looks like I WON'T be getting my supplementary diet any more. What a Bummer!

This afternoon I read with Lytvynov, Anatoly and Mike Lukashevich. I had good responses to my photos of England. They like to see where I live, and what I do. Marina was absent, so I seized the opportunity to go to the cash store for some items. Some people are good at getting what they want. I saw a sneaky American man lay down a $100 bill for his groceries, and the teller, reluctantly changed it for him. They always look cross, and bug-eyed at me if I don't pay in exact change.

Our Thursday night theme party this week was about "American Football." We wore football jerseys, with fake shoulder pads made of rolled t-shirts, except they didn't have any extra t-shirts for me, and we had two nerf footballs to throw around. Mitch and Kevin, were in charge of this party, so they coached us through some games in the court yard that involved punting and passing, and then we all went upstairs to the auditorium and they explained the game of American Football, in a way that was, surprisingly, not boring.

My sore throat spoiled the fun for me, but I could see that a lot of the Ukrainian's enjoyed themselves. They enthusiastically participated in the "Mexican Wave." Kira, was my only reader to come, but there were about 70 people in all. I couldn't wait to get home, but the trams were absolutely packed, pressed, and puckered. I reached about 9:45 PM. As usual, there isn't much time to do anything when I get home except write.

Friday, May 28

I stayed in bed about an hour longer than usual and missed some of devotional. The news about going to Moscow is pretty hopeless. They tell us we are supposed to get a Russian visa, AND a re-entry visa to the Ukraine--what ridiculous red tape! Also, there is going to be a major rate increase for long-distance phone calls, beginning June 1st. A lot of information we are getting here is tiresome and sometimes conflicting. It looks like travelers ought to be able to go to Moscow from Kiev without so much hassle. Maybe the difficulty is because we want to go on a Friday?

All three readers came this morning, and it was artful conversation (one of my hidden talents). Vika, I'm glad to say, was less objective today, and allowed me to steer. We read the lesson, "Jesus Returns Home." She told me that her husband is half Jewish, and talked about her son's third birthday party. She told me about her youth, when her family lived in Havana, Cuba, from 1978-1981. This was the time of deportations to Florida. She didn't sound too favorable toward Cuba. I gave her my lesson on "Good News," and she seemed pleased with our session.

Yury was talkative, and a source of information. He informed me that Norman Lamont, resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer, of the Conservative Government in Britain yesterday. I was mildly shocked. We contrasted American and British politics.

Kira, was her normal melancholy, sometimes humorous self. Maybe, "melamorous"? She is self-deprecative about the Ukraine, in a forlorn, yet humorous way. She told me that her family had been part of the Nobility before 1917. Her mother speaks fluent English, and, to my surprise, teaches English for "TEFL" (Teaching English as a Foreign Language).

Today has been dull and misty, like London, and all I would like to do is rest. I went straight home after lunch. Tried to find bread at the bread shop, between the school and Victory Square, but they were sold out already. I've got some jam and peanut butter (never thought I would pay $5.00 for a jar of peanut butter) at home now, but I have no BREAD to put it on.

I called Lytvynov and arranged to meet him tomorrow for "Kiev Day," a big weekend-long celebration. It is an annual arts, crafts and music event at the Spusk. I heard it's going to rain, however.

Saturday, May 29

I got more rest, but still felt tired. It's cloudy and rainy outside. I got Linda on the phone. We talked for 30 minutes about our week. She will have two weeks of classes in Epsom, starting in June. It is Bank Holiday Weekend in Britain. She told me that Kenneth Clark replaced Lamont as Exchequer. That's not such a surprise. Lamont got the blame for the devaluation of the pound a while back. [I had a keen interest in who was in government, and still do.]

Left about 11:00AM for the Spusk. I ran into Donnie on the way, at Polytechnic Metro. He was waiting for one of his readers, who was going to accompany him, but they didn't show up. So, he decided to go with me to meet Lytvynov at the Museum of History at 1:00PM, at the top of the Spusk.

The Spusk was plumb crowded, like nothing I've seen yet! We saw some of our team members, but we could not stay together because of the crowd. We could hardly move down the Spusk. We were caught in a log-jam because some musicians were playing in the street, and so many people were stopping to listen that the movement up and down the Spusk was at a snails pace.

We saw the Johnson's and Arthur, from a distance, and then went to meet Lytvynov at the quieter confines of the museum. A friend of his, named Alex, who reads with Luke Shouse, came along. The Museum of Ukrainian History was very quiet, but of tremendous interest to me. Lytvynov and Alex insisted on paying the 25 coupons each for Donnie and I, and they made excellent guides through the exhibits, which were written in Russian, of course. Just about everything you'd want to know about Ukrainian history was covered, and we had the pleasure of asking our guides all the questions we wanted.

It was raining again when we exited, and yet, there was a massive crowd of people walking around looking at paintings, and crafts. Umbrellas were like a thick mobile shelter, as people were not deterred by rain. I felt sorry for the sellers who had to invent ways to keep their art dry. They had been waiting for this chance to make some money, and they had to put up with a constant drizzle.

As we slowly ambled down the Spusk, I was getting hungry, and could tell that our guides were ready to depart. We thanked Alex and Lytvynov for showing us around, and then Donnie and I headed for the Metro.

We went to Kreshchatik, and walked, taking our time, and getting hungrier. We went to the cash store for a few items, and then found bread at the bread shop, luckily.

The sky started clearing up nicely, and I thought, "it sure would be great to be at the Spusk NOW," but I was too tired and burdened with groceries to be serious. I bid farewell to Donnie, and resolutely, I departed for home, and reached the flat at 5:00PM. Upon arrival, I collapsed on the bed exhausted! What is wrong with me? I have lost my endurance...big time! All the walking I'm doing everyday is taking a toll on my legs and feet. All I had for dinner was bread, jam and tea. A thunderstorm passed over at dusk.

Would you believe they have shown the same movie on TV two nights in a row? A British TV movie from 1986, called "The Marksman," about an anti-terrorist agent (similar to "Patriot Games"), filmed in London, Yugoslavia, and Cyprus. The main actor's name is David Threlfall, an Englishman. The sound is dubbed over in Russian--the same voice for every character. Most nights, I have the TV on, but keep the volume low. I find that it distracts me quite a lot from my reading and journal writing. There is no radio, or music to listen to. I want to learn about their television culture, but also want to do several other things around the flat--TV can be more distraction than it's worth.

Sunday, May 30th

Our fourth Sunday in Kiev. The second half of Kiev Day Weekend was the same as yesterday--off and on showers. I felt better today. I met Andre on the tram, immediately, as I was going to church. He said that he had just been to Moscow, Thursday and Friday, with his uncle. This was a surprise, considering our toils on the subject. Andre said he didn't like it there (but his opinion is based on a different perspective!).

I sat between Andre and Eugene at church. The children did not have their usual class, so they sat in the auditorium making it very crowded. Scott preached an excellent sermon on the "Crucifixion," as Arthur translated. Visitors were very complimentary about the sermon. One named Sergei, who spoke to me in good English, said that he was impressed with the service.

A couple of visiting missionaries were here today. Glen Owen, from Abilene, Texas, was here to conduct a mini gospel meeting this week. He had been here before, and speaks a little Russian. Also, there was a Canadian missionary, named Neil Prokop, who lives in Ternopol, in Western Ukraine. He visits Kiev periodically, and knows several members of the congregation (more about him later)...

I went to the Lybid for lunch with Chris, Luke, Robyn and Heather. A small, but enjoyable group. We talked mostly about our desire to visit Moscow, and how unlikely it may be. The best alternative seems to be Yalta, in the Crimea. This does not sound bad to me, if we can't go to Moscow. I am leaving all these arrangements to Chris, Scott and their Ukrainian contacts. Whatever they decide will be fine with me. We had a delicious beef stroganoff sauce to dip our potatoes in.

Next, we all went to the Spusk in a taxi, for the low rate of 2,000 coupons. We wanted to tip the driver, but he wouldn't accept one. He was a perfect gentleman (how unusual), and wanted us to have a proper welcome to Kiev Day.

Certainly crowded again today! The Spusk was jammed-solid with bodies. Music was in the air; paintings, dolls, carvings, and all sorts of souvenirs placed, or hanging on every available spot. We even saw some Hari-Krishna's dancing around. A circus atmosphere!

At St. Andrew's Cathedral, there was a robed priest outside holding a bucket and a brush in his hands. He was splashing people with "holy water" as sort of a joke. At least he was smiling, as if he was fooling around. I soon departed from the group to descend the Spusk at my own pace, in a wave of bodies. I saw a lot of tempting souvenirs, but kept a firm reign on my senses...There is plenty of time left for that. A blue bus, which was a mobile toilet, was a sight for sore eyes when I reached the bottom of the Spusk. After relieving myself, I veered off to a quiet street and wandered till I found a path back up the Spusk, from the side. It was more of a climb than I needed, frankly. Not in an art-buying mood, I decided to explore Kiev in a different direction.

It started to rain shortly, so I jumped on a #18 bus, that I thought said Shevchenko Boulevard on it, but I soon discovered that it was heading off into northwest Kiev. Not knowing where I was exactly, I changed over to a #12 tram, that I knew went to Podol (the bottom of the Spusk). At Podol, I joined a #13 tram that was going to "Peramoga," or Victory Square. I found a seat, and enjoyed the ride because it connected me with a destination that I was familiar with, but journeyed by way of a part of Kiev that I had hitherto not seen before. Great! Sunday afternoon was an ideal time to explore Kiev, on the less-crowded trams. What a beautiful city Kiev is, when you can get around to seeing it! From Victory Square, I headed home on a #1 tram.

The group had plans to attend a soccer game tonight at 6:30PM--the National Championship, between Kiev and L'vov--which was free. There were also to be fireworks at the Arch of Unity at dusk, but I will have to give all this a miss. I don't want to push myself just when I have regained some of my strength. The scattered showers keep giving way to glorious sunshine, which tempts me to stay outside, but I must rest my feet, drink some tea, and RELAX.

The soccer match for the Ukrainian title was on TV. I watched the last part of it. Kiev won 2-1, and the fans excitedly lit rolled-up newspapers, and waved them like torches. I would have liked to say that I went to a soccer match in Kiev, but so little time...

Monday, May 31

The last day of May, and last day our travel cards are valid. We must try to buy new ones for 800 coupons. This gives you "unlimited" travel on public transport for a month for about 25 cents. What a bargain, but it is the most crowded transport I've ever seen. Even compared to London (which is much more expensive, by the way) with over eight million people.

I felt better today than I have on the previous two Mondays. No more allergy, or sore throat. PTL! I sang well at devotional.

Olga came bringing her lady friend, Ira (pronounced "Eera"), to begin reading with me. I had to schedule her for tomorrow at the earliest. My new Dimitry was a little late this morning. He is about medium height, has curly black hair, and resembles Anatoly. We went through two lessons, slowly, stopping to look up some words in the dictionary. He is slow, but willing.

Lytvynov, was like talking to a close friend after Dimitry. He is so familiar with me that he has no problem communicating, and his comprehension of what we are reading is spot on. He seems to show a lot of compliance to the Biblical message. He is also quite knowledgeable about British football!

Kira, the more I find out about her past, the sadder it seems. She would love to travel abroad, but is stuck here. She has some good memories of the Republic of Georgia, when she was young, but because of civil war, there is no one left there for her. Some relatives apparently went to England and France, but I don't think she wants to disclose many of the details.

At lunch, the Canadian missionary, Neil Prokop, joined us. He spoke to Ludda (pronounced "Loo-da") in Ukrainian. Ludda has stopped serving meat to Donnie, much to my loss, but I must confess the lack of variety has begun to be a bit too repetitive. There are only three or four meat courses that they prepare, and it is getting old. We get beef day after day, with the occasional chicken that is so slight that you can barely taste it. They just don't have much poultry or pork here.

After lunch, I had a no-show, so I talked to Neil Prokop for almost two hours about missionary work, methods, doctrine, culture, travel, brethren we know in common, etc. He is a nice guy. An unusual bloke, sort of like me in a lot of ways. He likes to learn about people and places and whatnot, but we have very different backgrounds and training.

Briefly, he was originally from Edmonton, Alberta Canada, where he was raised by second or third generation Ukrainian parents. He learned Ukrainian in school in Canada. His ancestors went to the new world in a large diaspora in the 1800's, from western Ukraine, near where he is living now, in Ternopol. He teaches English and works with a small church, on a small income that he raised from churches in Canada. He didn't spend enough time raising funds, and is down right skint. He is sort of on a quest, and fulfilling a meaningful role at the same time.

He told me a little bit about his conversion...and it is quite unusual. He was formerly a ballet dancer. He danced in the Stuttgart Ballet Company, of Germany, for five years, and he has been to Britain, and most of Europe, and Japan. He became a Christian at a certain point--he was not very specific about how--and then returned to Canada, to Waterloo, Ontario, where he came in contact with the Church of Christ. He decided to go back to school and get a teachers diploma in English (I'm not sure what degree). I gather he intended to use it to come to the Ukraine and be an English teaching missionary. [My first impression of Neil was that he was somewhat strange, and overly-friendly, but after I got to know him, he seemed very genuine.]

Mike Lukashevich came at 5:00PM, and was inquisitive as usual. He brought a graduate course catalogue in computer programming from Northeastern University, in Boston, MA, that he received in the mail. He had some curious questions. He also asked me what prompted me to become a missionary, etc.

The June travel cards went on sale this afternoon, and we grabbed them up. I went to the cash store and bought liquids: bottled water, orange juice, milk, and cola. The milk is "long-life" milk, which can be put on a shelf for weeks until you decide to use it. Once refrigerated, you must consume it. I felt all right even though it's a long walk down Shevchenko Blvd. The bread shop was, however, unapproachable all day. Long queues that never let up.

The End of Part II.
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