"Six Weeks In Kiev"
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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