David and Elizabeth Ukraine Trip, 5/3 - 5/19/2009

In May of 2009 Elizabeth and I traveled to Ukraine to visit and minister to Scott & Oksana Sobie and their children living in Balki, a village on the south edge of Dneprorudniy, Ukraine. Here is their Ministry card and the link to Scott's website:

thesobies.com


Go to our Pictures from Ukraine


Elizabeth and I both kept a daily log of our activities. 

Elizabeth's Daily Log                                                                                    Dave's Daily Log

Sunday, 5/3

The day has come!!  Lin Sobie, Scott’s mom, picked us up at our house at 11 a.m. for our departure to Scott and Oksana's home in Ukraine. I was very calm as God had touched my concerns about traveling to a foreign country.  From the very beginning of our planning, we determined that it was our desire to be a blessing and we went in Jesus’ name.  God is in control and everything is going to be all right.  Our United Express flight was delayed.  We arrived in Washington DC just in time to board our Austrian flight over the ocean to Vienna.  We boarded the airline around 5:40; received a drink and a snack, then a short time later, a grilled chicken meal at 7 pm American time.  At 8 pm, American time, the lights in the plane were dimmed for sleep.  At mid night (American time) the lights were turned on and we were handed a warm cloth to freshen up before breakfast was served.  So, we tried to catch sleep as soon as the lights dimmed. (8 pm)  I rested / sleep 3 hours, awaking at 11 p.m. (American time) and tried to catch another wink for the next hour.  We just gained six hours so our meals came too close together it seemed.  

Monday, 5/4

Following a 2.5 hour lay over in Austria, we boarded our last connecting flight and again, was served a lite lunch of ravioli.  It is important to have nutrition if you cannot have sleep.  This was an exciting flight as we knew it was the last airline before seeing the Sobie’s.  They are very dear friends of ours and we miss them.  A flight attendant handed each of us a paper to fill out regarding arrival / departure immigration control for Ukraine.  David asked me to pray before leaving this plane as we would be going through customs in a few minutes.  We breezed through Immigration Control then Customs, and lastly, the x-ray machine for our carry on luggage.  At Customs area after a gentleman was with his awaiting party, Scott heard him, a man with a British accent, ask his friends who greeted him, “And what might those chaps be looking for in the x-ray machine?”  They answered, “Possibly drugs.”  The English man answered, “Well, they won’t find any in mine.”  

Finally, there awaited a total of seven Sobie smiles and shouts of joy for our safe arrival.  Scott had his camera in action.  Our four checked pieces, two belonging to us and two containers packed by Lin for them, did not arrive at our final destination.  I instantly determined that a few articles of clothing (and other necessary items, putting it mildly) were not going to keep us from having a great time of fellowship for the next two weeks.  Prayer ascended that those four items would arrive the following day. There are reasons why things happen in life and we must keep focused of the fact that His eye is on the sparrow and He watches over us.  I kept my wristwatch on “American” time to see how long our journey; which was 24 hours.  The final leg to the Sobie home was our 3 hour travel time by their van, including a quick stop through McDonald’s drive through to pick up an ice cream cone and a drive-by view of their Ministry Center very close to their home..  Much talking and laughter filled the white van containing nine passengers as we traveled homeward.  The Sobie’s have a lovely home made of brick, an orchard, and large garden area.  Each room has Oksana’s special touch of décor and reveals Scott’s hard work after purchase of the house.  They made us feel welcomed. 

The Sobie’s speak Russian.  People living in western Ukraine speak the Ukraine language. 

Other than immediate family, Scott and Oksana tell us that we are their very first visitors who came just to be a blessing.  Plenty of guests / groups come to do ministry.  Our true purpose is to be a blessing to the seven Sobies.  I owe much thanks to Oksana who continually said to David and I “come see us!"  I knew she was sincere.  Thanks to my husband, David, who said, “we need to go to Ukraine to visit the Scott and Oksana.”  (It was not as easy as 1, 2, 3 for me)  But, thus began our plans.  And most of all, I owe thanks to the blessed Trinity for making it all possible, in every way.  After much thought and prayer, we decided to spend our vacation time, resources, and energy with the Sobie’s for fellowship, encouragement, and to be a blessing in every possible way.  They are so appreciative.  It was the best two-week vacation I’ve ever had in my entire life.  The sparkle in the eyes, the smiles, tight hugs, prayers, joys shared, gifts, burdens talked about, and tears are stored deep within each of our memory banks and in our hearts.  Much prayer and preparation has gone into our journey.  We are grateful to God for answered prayer in many areas; before departure, during travels, and while in Ukraine.   Many mountains and valleys have been conquered.  God is so faithful. 

We felt very welcomed and so special in their home.  The children are so precious.  We’ve had many great times of fellowship in many places in America.  We traveled far, half way around the globe, to be a blessing and not a burden.  We wanted it to be two unique weeks for them also.  I felt honored as they shared their favorite teas, foods, took us to special places, gave us the huge guest room to stay in, offered us the first and best, introduced us to many people, interpreted for us, and made us feel welcome in every way.  Although not biologically related, we are family.  The love of God does marvelous things for His children around the world.

Sunday, 5/3 – Monday, 5/4

United flight UA 7163 (Cleveland to Dulles airport – Washington) 1 hour late (3:25 EST) leaving Cleveland, 40 minutes late arriving in Washington after a flight of 2 hours. We had 45 minutes to get the next flight, which was Austrian Air OS94. It was a fine flight with no turbulence.

OS94 left Washington at 5:40 PM EST (5/3) and arrived in Vienna, Austria (5/4) at 8 AM CEST (plus 6 hours compared to EST) 20 minutes early after a flight of 8 hours and 20 minutes. We had a wonderful light supper of stuffed ravioli with a Beef Stroganoff sauce rather than a Italian tomato sauce, a cucumber salad with 1 boiled shrimp, and a small cheesecake with a cherry sauce and a nice light breakfast 6 hours later of ham & salami and slices of cheddar and brie cheese and about ½ tsp. of garnished Neufchatel (cream cheese) cheese.

Austrian Air OS675 left Vienna at 10:40 AM CEST and arrived at Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine (pronounced Di-nep-roh-pet-rufsk) at 2:00 PM EEST (plus 7 hours). We had no problems at the Immigration Control and then had a BIG surprise when we went to get our checked luggage, IT WAS NOT THERE!!! One large suitcase with Elizabeth’s clothes and a medium sized suitcase with my clothes, and two containers of supplies for Scott and Oksana did not arrive. In our carry-ons we had my computer and our 2 cameras.

The 4 older kids (David – 8, Dasha – 7, Dianna – 6, Dalina – 4) were almost hyper with excitement. Damara – 18 months old had had no nap and Oksana discovered the next day that she was cutting 2 teeth and so she almost was a basket case when Oksana was either not holding her or not in the room. Before supper Dianna curled up in my lap for about 20 minutes while I was sitting on the couch and at the same time Dalina was sitting on my shoulders with both girls jabbering with me.

 

 
Tuesday, 5/5

I woke up in Ukraine (!!!) feeling well.  We, thankfully, are not experiencing any jet lag.  God is good – all the time!  We had devotions with the family.  The children played their hand bells, which blessed my soul.  Tears are a language God understands.  I am so blessed to be in their home.  We sang songs and Papa Sobie (Scott) read scripture and lead in prayer.  A delicious pancake breakfast followed.  Then came home school for the three older children and play time for the younger two.  Oksana pulled a wagon next door to get a tomato plants from the neighbor.  I tagged along.  It is a rainy day.  This is giving us time to rest and enjoy each other indoors.  The adults are glad for the rain today for this reason. The camera is busy flashing as I was told to take a lot of pictures.  Dalina is a great storyteller and I am the grateful recipient.  A call came to Scott’s cell phone around 2:30 pm stating our checked luggage would be delivered.  Scott and David met the delivery man at the end of the street at 7:15 pm.  It was like Christmas to watch the Sobie’s open the two boxes from Lin.  And David and I were thrilled to have our luggage arrive.  We had delicious pizza for supper.   The electricity went out today for a short period of time.

Tuesday, 5/5 

We went to bed last nite at 9:30 and I woke up around sunrise 5 AM like I normally do. Other than traveling to Mexico I have never been overseas so I have no experience how jet lag affects me and at this point (7 AM) I feel normal.

After breakfast, every morning, the whole family gathers and Scott reads a scripture passage and then starting with Dalina and then up to Oksana in order of their age, each person is requested to tell something they heard in that day’s passage and the Scott explains each mentioned item and applied it to their lives.

Next (M – F) is the children’s music practice. Last Christmas, the children received a 1 octave toy hand bell set. They have currently memorized 8 – songs and hymns that they play with the hand bells, with and without Scott accompanying them on the guitar. The children will also sing the songs and hymns in both English and Russian. The children have been singing at the different services where Scott has been speaking at for the last couple years and now they also play their bells.

After that (M – F) is 2-4 hours of home schooling for the three older children followed by their craft lessons.

In the afternoon, Scott and I went down to the Ministry Center that they are opening in the village where they live (Blaki) which is on south edge of Dneprorudniy and did some preparation for drywall work in one of the windows wells, In the Ukraine everything is concrete and the outside walls are always 18”- 24” thick. The Ministry Center is in a building in the exact center of the village where everything happens. They are going to have a Christian book store with items for sale (this is the legally stated purpose of the ministry center) but the majority of the Christian material will be given away free. It will be actually owned by and operate under the asepses of a local evangelical Christian publishing company based in Kiev. This arrangement will allow the Ministry Center to keep on operating if for some reason Scott and Oksana are required to leave Ukraine.

At about 2:45 PM Scott received a call from Austrian Airlines saying our luggage and the supplies we were bringing had arrived and had cleared customs and that they were going to pay for a driver to deliver them to us. At about 7 PM the driver called Scott and then Scott and I met the driver at the main road to get our things.

For dinner, Oksana, Elizabeth, and the girls (even 18 month old Damara helped) made 3 large pizzas. After dinner for about 90 minutes Oksana unpacked the 100 lbs of supplies and inventoried them while she occasionally cried about something that is common in the States but not available in Ukraine, like smoked cheddar cheese from Amish country, Chai Tea, etc. During this time, Scott was assembling with Damara’s help(!) her new plastic tricycle/rocker.

As I mentioned above, it does not appear that neither I nor my wife for that matter, have any effects from jet lag.

Dneprorudniy (pronounced Di-nep-run-di) is a town of about 30,000. The name of the town comes from two words: "Dnepir," being the river, and "Rud," being the word for "iron." The town was built to support a large iron mine nearby. This is where Oksana's father is employed. Dneprorudniy was built in the in the 1950’s and was populated by miners moving from Russia. Right across the river from our town is another town called Energodar. It is the site of a huge nuclear power plant that supplies much of the energy for the region.

As you can see on the above maps, Chornobyl is 600 miles up river from Dneprorudniy. Chornobyl is the site of the nuclear reactor which melted down and exploded on 26 April 1986.

 

Wednesday, 5/6

After breakfast, we piled in the van and headed for Zaporozhye for a day of fun.  We went to market and walked a lot.  This was an experience.  We saw a gypsy lady.  We enjoyed lunch at a cafeteria-style restaurant.  We stopped by a park for a couple of rides and another park for a walk.  We enjoyed a Flurry at McD’s.  We had a lite supper before staying up to talk, being adults and knowing full well that we needed to get our rest.  At market a couple of ladies had some kittens and puppies for sale.  They offered the kittens to us for free.  Oksana said she has five little kids.  “The lady said all five are yours?  How nice, out taking a walk with Grandma and Grandpa.”  On the long trip home, Oksana had me ride in the front seat to be more comfortable.  As Scott drove I said, “Well, they thought I was your mother, now they will think I am your wife.”  I would be fine riding in the second or third seat of the van.  Sometimes Oksana needed to sit near her children or comb heads of hair.  They want to treat us special.  Mr. Dave loved sitting in the third seat with the kiddos.  

If I were to come to Ukraine to live, I know I could make a fine living being an auto mechanic specializing in brakes or shocks.  The roads are very bumpy and full of chuck holes.  These drivers make me nervous and I am not behind the wheel..  Scott does not care to drive in Ukraine.  We could drive using our American license.  They pass one another with oncoming traffic facing them and then try to squeeze in by forcing you to move over..  When we come to a stopping place, I am unsure if there is a STOP sign, there can be 3 lanes of cars in a jumbled array, as there are no lines on the road, trying to pull out on the road.  The police park their cars, get out and stand beside the car holding a wand and wave it at cars they want to pull over for various reasons.  If you are stopped, I am told it can take up to 45 minutes before beginning your destination again; many times the police officials request / require a bribe.  Please pray for Scott as he drives in Ukraine. 

 

Wednesday, 5/6 

Since today has been raining since around midnight and then tapering to partly cloudy by mid afternoon we postponed helping them plant their garden and went shopping instead.

After breakfast and devotions, we drove to Zaporozhye (pronounced “Zah-por-o- shuh”), a city of 1 million people, and spent a couple hours in the main market at the center of the city. This is an area 15 – 20 blocks square made up of shops and vendors where you have everything from produce to meat in the open air meat markets, clothing, electronics, furniture, hardware, mopeds/motorcycles, farm equipment, etc., i.e. you can buy any there.

We then ate lunch in a cafeteria style restaurant in an upscale four story mall where I exchanged dollars for grevney (pronounced grev-na). The exchange rate is 8 grevney per US dollar (as of 5/9/9).

After this we went to one of the downtown parks where they were having a carnival and spent an hour riding different rides and the bumper cars. Then we went to one of the most popular restaurants in all of Zaporozhye, a 2 story McDonalds where we bought 7 Flurries and 2 chocolate Sunday’s.

In Ukraine, EVERY HOUSE has a garden of at least ½ acre so that they can grow the food they need for the year. Scott and Oksana have told us that people living in Zaporozhye 90% of them own land on the edge of the city where they have their gardens. When you enter Zaporozhye there is a 1 – 2 mile wide ring of gardens almost all the way around the city. Each garden in the ring also would have a dacha (county house) 15’ – 20’ square for the people to live in when tending their garden.

From the air as we were flying in to Dnepropetrovsk as far as the eye could see, you could see that EVERY house not inside a city had a large garden behind or next to it.

Thursday, 5/7

Scott made bird nests for breakfast (toast w/a hole in the middle and a fried egg).  The children had home school today.  I helped Oksana’s parents plant potatoes in the garden.  Scott rototilled an area for green beans; which David and I worked on sowing seeds amid a couple of rain showers.  Oksana, David, and I helped Scott planted 24 tomato plants.  The 3 guys went to a neighbor’s for some relaxation in a sauna.  We had Caucasus’s version of a burrito for supper and a fruit milkshake for dessert.  We don’t plan on staying up as late tonight as it is catching up with the adults.  Of course, the lady of the home feels a need to throw in some laundry before retiring.  She is a busy person  with five little ones, a husband, and a ministry to others.

Thursday, 5/7

The morning started out sunny with a clear sky then gradually clouded over. After breakfast, family devotions, and music practice it was time for home schooling for the kids. About 11 AM Oksana’s parents arrived to work in their garden. Elizabeth and I put on our garden clothes we had packed and Elizabeth helped them plant 80 lbs of potatoes. During that time I weeded 2 flour beds. After that Elizabeth and I planted eight 15 meter (49.25 feet) rows of green beans, about 2925 beans seeds. We had to stop about 2:30 because after 30 minutes of progressively heavy rain we both  1 – 2 lbs of thick mud cleaning to each shoe. In the US the topsoil ranges ranges from    1” –2” thick to up to 12” – 18” thick. The pitch black topsoil in central Ukraine ranges from 5 feet thick in the north to 3 feet thick in the Zaporozhye area. The soil has enough clay in it that when it gets wet becomes a VERY thick clingy mud.

After we cleaned up we relaxed a little before Scott, David and I went across the street to Vladimir’s house. In the back of his house he has built a sauna. He operates it commercially and a couple times a month when he fires it up for a customer, he lets Scott and the rest of the family use it for a couple hours free before the customer arrives.

The sauna consists of a bathroom, a changing room, the pool room and the sauna room. The sauna room is heated to about 120 – 130 deg. F and you keep sprinkling water on the stove which in this case is wood burning. You keep adding the water till you have enough steam for your preferences. Scott says that he has been in there with the steam so thick that you can’t see your hand when it is a foot from your face.

You stay in the sauna about 15 minutes at a time then you quickly go to the pool room and jump in the cold water. In the summer the pool is about 60 deg. F and the water gets down to 35-40 deg. F during the winter. You normally stay in the pool till you cool off (2-3 minutes) and then go back to the sauna and repeat the process for 2-3 hours. In some sauna’s they have chunks ice floating in the pool.

While in the sauna, you get and administer birch massages to each other. In the pool room there are bunches of 18” long birch branches with the leaves attached soaking in water, you take a bunch in to the sauna, heat it over the stove for about 10 seconds then lightly beat the skin of your partner(s) from head to toe. It is VERY relaxing to the skin and muscles after a day of hard work. Americans usually wear bathing suits in the sauna while Europeans go with out…

Below is a picture of a sauna at a large hotel, a birch bundle bunch, and the pool for the cold plunge. In picture below the stove is has lava rock on top to radiate the heat. In Vladimir’s sauna he used a 90 liter boiler (60.25 gallons) he bought as scrap and converted into a wood burning stove and hammered the top to create a concave surface to evaporate the water and heat the air.

 Friday, 5/8

We had homemade cherry soup for breakfast from sour cherries grown in their orchard.  The electricity went out for a long period of time today causing the water level to be low.  We had a late lunch, early dinner of beef stroganoff, which was very good and warm bread w/ herbed butter.  After the David and Scott returned home from some work they accomplished at the Ministry Center, we had a treat for a snack – ice cream cake then popcorn and a DVD entitled A Man Named Peter; which was about Peter Marshall.  We had a small water leak in the laundry room, which the two men repaired without much trouble.  Scott is always repairing things.  He is also a tired man who would love to take a daily nap.  Please pray that the Lord will give Scott and Oksana strength for their days.  They work very hard at providing a pleasant home for the five children, being available to neighbors, church people, and work on preparing to open the Ministry Center in their town.  The local phone lines are of very poor quality so cell phones are used.

Friday, 5/8 

We had heavy rain all morning and the so we had a quiet day. After breakfast and devotions, the 3 older kids had 4 hours of home school. I took Oksana’s place for an hour and assisted David with his phonics lesson.

After that, for a couple hours Scott, who is taking courses online courses from God's Bible School in Cincinnati, OH, had to work on preparing for an exam in Greek. Scott, who is an ordained minister, is working on his MBA (Ministerial Bachelor) degree. He is required to spend one VERY intensive week at GBS in Cincinnati every year to meet GBS’s requirements.

While Scott was studying, Elizabeth and I played with the kids which freed Oksana to have a couple hours to prepare a late lunch / early super of beef stroganoff. Then Scott and I went to the village hardware store and picked up needed supplies. The store was a fully equipped hardware store that would easily rival any local hardware store that was not a Home Depot or Lowes. This store is the source for all for the hardware and construction supplies for the village of 5000 people and the surrounding countryside.

Back at the Ministry Center, we installed a window sill, then set 12 concrete anchors and screwed in place the drywall on one side of the window well.

In the last six months since the paperwork was complete allowing Scott to purchase the building (which dates from the 1930’s), there has been major repair work done on the building. The front door and the badly deteriorated concrete steps have been replaced, along with ½ of the roof, all 5 windows, all of the wiring, outlets, and lights.

Once the last window well is done, all that remains to be done the mud work on the dry wall in the 5 window wells and in the multiple(!) holes and irregularities in all of the walls, sanding and prepping all of the interior walls for painting, painting them, connecting the new circuit breaker, tearing up the old tile floor and replacing about 1/3 of the sub flooring before installing the new tile.

After coming back home, all of us gathered and we watched the movie “A Man Called Peter”, the biography of Peter Marshall while eating ice cream cake and popcorn.

Saturday, 5/9

Today just as I finished my shower, I was asked if I could be ready for market in 10 minutes.  I assured them I could be.  So we all hurriedly loaded into the van for the local market, which proved to be another exciting time. We left around 9:10 needing to get FRESH items.  The market had many people and shops.  However, today is Victory Day so it was not as busy for a Saturday.  Victory Day commemorates the end of World War II between Russia and Germany.  We saw a small parade.  After shopping the children presented four carnations to an elderly soldier who was on his way to a luncheon as part of the celebration.  The children shook his hand and each told him Thank You.  Scott, Oksana, and David spoke with him for a few minutes while I took pictures. 

Oksana and I were dropped off to buy diapers, soap, napkins, and such items from one market area.  Oksana does not drive in Ukraine as she has yet to master a stick shift.  Scott then drove to the other side of the market and dropped us off again; this time my David accompanied us.  Scott got the children some fresh bread for breakfast and kept them in the van, making it much easier for adults only to shop.   Oksana loves to shop with her basket.  Once inside the meat market, we saw different types of meats and cheeses lying on the counter uncovered.  There was also milk and eggs for sale.  While walking, the merchants called out to us to buy their items.  One must be cautious due to merchants getting upset when you do not buy from them; especially, if you ask them questions or have bought from them before.  Unfortunately, I nor David could understand them so we smiled.  I plan on continuing to wear a smile; as it is a universal language.  We did purchase pork and beef and cheese at this market. Then Oksana and I were dropped off at the local market, which seemed more like an American grocery store, having a cart to push and wrapped items and prices labeled..  The Russian culture is to speak soft, even on the sidewalks and in the stores.  After arriving home, the four older children along with David and I stayed outside for awhile to permit the children to show up around the grounds due to no rain at the moment, push them on the swings, watch them climb (Dasha loves to climb), and ride bikes.  They worked in their own potato rows that Oksana’s parents are helping them grow.  David said to Dalina, “Dalina, would you please come weed your potatoes before they die by tomorrow.  Desiring to continue playing, she said, “Oh, David.  Would you do that for me?”  He said OK.  I am not sure any potatoes were above ground at this point, but there were some weeds.  My David assured them they would not die by the next day.  Later we learned from Oksana that they were not to be in the garden.  We watched David be the master ringleader of priming the pump; which he did a good job.  Water and children mix very well.  Even muddle puddles are a big attraction to youngsters. 

People in Russia are very concerned about how they look in public.  Therefore, they are clothed nicely.  Even after a long day’s work in the mines, they change their clothes just to go home.  Many people walk in Ukraine.  Many older folk ride bicycles.  I am told that they wear less clothing during the summer months than Americans wear.  Being from America, I cannot imagine. 

Scott is busy and on top of all his duties, he is finishing a course in Greek for college.  He must complete the course soon.  I’d be happy to help him out, but it’s Greek to me. 

We are having company from their local church tomorrow immediately following the service, so Oksana and I have worked ahead on preparations.  The children love helping in the kitchen and are asked my Mama one at a time.  Smart idea.

 

Saturday, 5/9 

I usually wake up at sunrise and I was showered and dressed and had done my daily work on the computer before anyone else was out of  bed at 8 AM. This morning since we were out of some essentials such as diapers, so the rest of us rapidly dressed and ate breakfast as we drove into town to do some shopping.  In Dneprorudniy, the market is about 10 blocks square. We stopped one side of the market and Oksana and Elizabeth got the non food items we needed and then we drove to the other side of the market and Scott parked and let the 2 ladies and me out. He entertained the kids with a movie about Peter Wurmbrand and some fresh bread while the three of us shopped.

Oksana, Elizabeth, and I first went to an enclosed meat market (150’x by 75’). Oksana said that upto three years ago it was just tables in under the open sky. The meat was freshly butchered with a butcher at one end cutting up a hog that had already been dressed. Along one of the long walls was a 25’ wide building containing refrigerated meat lockers. All of the meat was freshly butchered but there was very obvious difference in the quality of the meat from one vendor to another. Oksana paid 55 grevney for a kilogram (2.2 lbs) of roast beef and 50 grevney for a kilogram of roast pork ($6.875/lb and $6.35/lb respectively. She bought boneless chicken breast for 33 grevney a kilogram (4.125/lb). We then bought some seedlings, which turned out when we planted them to be 76 green pepper seedlings and 50 tomato seedlings for 150 grevney ($18.75).

After a snack of 3 different cheese, 2 kinds of pate, and crackers, the 2 ladies and Dasha worked in the kitchen. Dasha (7 years old) ground the 18 lbs of pork, beef, and chicken while Oksana and Elizabeth started cooking. ½ of the ground meat was made into meatballs for Sunday dinner and the rest was for the Cincinnati Chili.

While they were doing that, Scott, David, and I went out the garden. While I was changing into my garden clothes, Scott rototilled a 20’ section of the garden. Then with Scott working on one row, David and I would work an adjacent row. We planted first planted 52 more tomatoes, then we planted 76 green pepper plants.

As we were cleaning up our shoes (I had 3” - 4” of mud clinging to the bottom of my shoes or 1-2 lbs on each boot), 2 men stopped by. One was Vladimir from across the street and the other was Zhenya who Scott met a couple years ago when he picked him up while he was hitchhiking. Over the years Scott has been developing a close relationship with both men. We ended up talking with them for about an hour before we went in for the evening.

Sunday, 5/10

Today is Mother’s Day and I am half way around the globe from my children.  I will make the best of today by presenting Oksana with some gifts that I have brought for her.

Shortly after I got up, David and I entered the kitchen where Oksana was making preparations for dinner as she is expecting guests.  We entered singing Happy Mother’s Day.  She was touched that we remembered her.

David and I shared a few words with the church in the morning service, as they asked us to come prepared.  Oksana interpreted.  Oksana stated that in their culture, David should speak first.  This was my little speech.

“Hello.  My name is Elizabeth.  I bring you greetings from my country, America.  Thank you for letting us worship with you today.  I like the  country side in which you live.  I like your gardens and your greenhouses.  I pray that God will bless your produce.  May your homes be filled with peace and love.  May the Lord bless Scott and Oksana as they do ministry in your village.  Amen.  Thank you.”

They invited two young couples for lunch today.  We had mashed potatoes with meatballs on top, two salads, bread, brownies, tea or coffee.  Scott was in charge of the evening service.  The church people are very sweet.  I got several kisses on my cheek and a lady gave me a sprig of purple lilacs.  We had food again after church and a nice time of talking again with them.  I have learned much while being in their home.  They are a wonderful couple who love the Lord, are training their children in the things of the Lord, ministering to the needs of others.  They are a Godly example of a fine Christian man and wife.  They need to write a book or made a DVD to encourage and disciple others. 

 

Sunday, 5/10 

After a lite breakfast we left for the Dneprorudniy House of Prayer (church). The 15 men gathered for prayer before the service then we joined the ladies, children and young people in the sanctuary for a 30 minute worship service.  Then the 15 children and young people (including young married people) went to Sunday school down the hall while the rest of us had another worship service. We had 48 people in our worship service, 14 men and the 34 ladies.

After the service the church leaders had a 30 minute meeting so Scott ran the ladies home while the kids and I played and talked to a man and his 3 year old daughter in the parking lot next to the apartment buildings and the House of Prayer. After ten minutes Oksana’s parents (who live in those apartments) joined us. They were out walking their youngest grandson (8 months old). David and Dasha did the translating for us as we talked. Scott joined us when he returned and the four of us adults talked with the kids for about 30 minutes. After the men’s meeting was finished, we then took the 2 young couples along with the kids back to the house.

We had a meatballs with a Paprikas type sauce, mashed potatoes, a bean salad, a cucumber salad, with brownies and Ukrainian layer cake for dessert.

After a couple hours of talking we went back to church where Scott lead the service and we had the first 1/3 of the video of the gospel of John in Russian with the audio printed on the bottom of the screen in English.

Monday, 5/11

Last evening, I talked with Scott and Oksana and offered to teach the girls in home schooling, as I know they are very busy.  They accepted my offerJ. Both of the girls are in kindergarten.  David is in the first grade but very close to second grade material.  They are using a good program and will be tested in America,.  After family devotions and practicing their bells, and a French toast breakfast and clean up of the kitchen.  David was asked to lead the girls in a song and the pledges.  When we were finished with school, the girls told me that it was the longest school day they have ever had!!  I gave each of the four older children a piece of chewing gum.  We even learned to do jumping jacks that day.  David was still being home schooled by Oksana when the girls finished.  And we did not miss lunch.  However, to them, it was a long morning.   Generally, home schoolers do not have as long of a day as public school children. The girls and I had lots of fun. 

Around 2 pm we were invited to a family from the church.  We ate in the summer house.  We were served hot tea or juice, slices of fruit, and open-faced sandwiches.  Baby kittens were a big attraction to the children.  And, again, free kittens were offered for free.  And, again, Papa Sobie told the children, No.  A neighbor lady who also attends the church was there with her son.  The couple of the home and the neighbor lady shared their testimony.  Then David and I shared ours. All five of us told how we got saved.  Scott and Oksana interpreted for us.

On the way home, Scott took us through different towns, some having very muddy roads and some with tire tracks and grass growing down the middle part.  We often see chickens and roosters along the side of the roads or cows and goats tied to graze.  There are many pedestrians.

After supper, we discussed our plans for tomorrow.  After deciding to go to the big town, the children and us went to bed earlier.  However, there were yawns on the way to town the next day.  We are trying to fit a lot into our schedule here.

 

Monday, 5/11 

After breakfast, devotions, and music practice while Elizabeth took Scott’s place in home schooling the 2 older girls, Scott, Dalina, and I drove into Balki and picked up 13 nine meter long (9.75 feet) rebar, a 500 meter roll of 1/8” blue nylon line, a spool of twine, some cheep plastic sprinklers, and various hose connection hardware.

When we got home, Scott and I cut the rebar in half. Scott then gave a 50’ x 50’ plot of the garden next to the road a light rototilling in preparation for panting grass seed to make a lawn for the kids to play on starting next spring. Instead of going 8”deep like in the garden, he did just the top 3 to 4 inches. While he was doing that, with a hand sledge I pounded the rebar in the ground between the tomato plants, one at each end of the rows and then between every third plant.

At around 1 PM we stopped working up in the yard, cleaned up and had a light snack. At 2 PM we went to a rural home of a family from the Dneprorudniy House of Prayer. Also there were their daughter and son in law and their neighbor and her son who also attend the church. We had been invited over for tea. They served white grape juice and tea along with crackers with either slices of fresh provolone and cucumber or pepperoni or slices of  fresh mozzarella. The cheese here in Eastern Europe is SO MUCH BETTER than what we get at the grocery store because you buy it directly from the cheese maker and they finished making it in the previous week.

We then were given a tour of their house which while being 40 – 60 years old and built to Soviet standards was immaculately clean and well maintained. Then we got a tour of their 1 to 1 ½ acre garden and their orchard of 15 – 20 fruit and nut trees. This is a typical rural home 20 years after the fall of Communism.  We were also shown his homemade lawnmower. He had gotten a lawnmower type engine, built a wheeled frame and welded three 8” knife blades to the shaft of the engine.

We got home about 4 PM. While Scott raked out the new yard and sowed the grass seed and raked it in I started running the blue line down one of the rows of rebar. I tied it around each rebar 6” of the ground. When done there will be 3 levels of line with the top one 3’ off the ground to tie the tomatoes to instead of using wood stakes which would need to be replaced every couple years. The rebar won’t need replacing just the line every 3-4 years.

It took a couple hours to do one row with 2 levels of line because of the way rope and line is sold here in Ukraine. In America 500’ to 1000’ of rope or line would either be on a spool or bundled in a manageable bundle. Rope or line here in Eastern Europe is sold in a round coil.

After supper Scott and I built a test model of the watering system to water the grass with the cheap sprinklers and the hose. It didn’t work because they only have 28 lbs pressure in their water system as compared to the 80 lbs pressure we have in America and the 5 sprinklers we wanted to use at the same time would each only water a circle 3’ wide instead of the 10’ – 15’ wide that we needed. So we decided to have a family outing tomorrow and drive 90 kilometers to Zaporozhye, where the nearest Ukrainian  Home Depot is to get 4 modern oscillating sprinklers.

Then while Scott directed the kids in cleaning up the living room and their bedrooms, I spent a couple hour untangling and coiling 400 meters of line.

Tuesday, 5/12

After pictures before loading into the van, we headed to the local town to buy cheese as the lady only sells it on 3 certain days.  While Oksana went to buy cheese and Scott went to buy breakfast rolls for breakfast, David and I kept an eye on the children in the van.  Oh yea, the stinky van!  We had it loaded with the family’s garbage and was taking it to the City Dump.  The dump was not too bad.  Sometimes they tell us it has mountains of garbage and since it was not hot weather, the flies were not as bad.  We fought flies for several miles, shooing them out the front windows of the van.

Our first stop in the big town was Home Depot (American name).  Scott and my David have been working in the garden.  The children, of course, love to be helpful.  Oksana is getting some time to dig in her flower beds, which is good for her as she loves doing so.  She purchased a large pot for her flowers today on the way home from the big city.  We had lunch at McDonalds and although full from a Big and Tasty sandwich and fries, somehow we all managed to find room for ice cream.  At McDonald’s catsup is purchased in Ukraine as it does not come free with your french fries.

We saw a trolley car in town that was very full of people.

On the way, we stopped to buy a baby bottle for Damara.  It was here that we tried to get a few snap shots from a distance of a policeman in action; standing outside of the car with a wand in his hand.  Hopefully, the pictures will turn out good as we dare not let him see us taking his picture. 

I got a couple pictures of different cars driven in Ukraine.

Scott told me I could drive the stick shift van home.  I drove 80 kilometers.  I was so happy that I did not get stopped by a policeman for any reason.  We read of people in the Bible who were missionaries while in prison and I did not have that type of ministry in mind for my visit to Ukraine. We arrived safely home and the children were surprised to see that it was me who was still driving.  I am wondering if the pilot might let me fly a little on the way home to America. Once home, the children played outside and the men were in the garden. 

I offered to do home schooling with the girls again tomorrow.  Scott said that would be wonderful.

We read an email this morning from Kelly.  She didn’t have much time but hoped we are having the time of our lives!!!!!  Sweetie, we are.  She also said to tell them “they cannot keep us.”

 

Tuesday, 5/12 

I have been waking up from 4:30 at dawn to 6:00 each morning which is ½ hour after sunrise. Today I got up at 4:30, showered, then went into the garden at 5:00 AM and worked an 1 ½ hours running all the rest of the line to support the tomatoes, about 250 meters of line.

I then came in and cleaned up and was ready by 7:30 for our outing to Zaporozhye. We left at 8 AM and stopped at the market in Dneprorudniy. While Oksana visited the cheese vendor, Scott picked up breakfast rolls.

On the out of town, we stopped at the local dump and got rid of a weeks worth of trash. For the first half hour of the 90 minute trip to Home Depot we were chasing 15 – 20 flies out the windows or in my case killing them. I was in the back seat of the van with David and Dalina and it was simpler to kill a half dozen flies rather than to assist in chasing them forward to the 2 windows.

The Home Depot (the same logo as in the States) here is a part 8 store chain. Picture only 8 Home Depot or Lowes in a country twice the size of Ohio!!!! It has EVERYTHING that a Home Depot or Lowes in America would have with the exception there is NOTHING from Ukraine, only things from the modern Western European countries, i.e. modern high quality at prices 25% higher than what is locally produced.

We picked up 4 oscillating sprinklers, some hose hardware, and a dust pan. We went to McDonalds for hamburgers which are much better tasting than what we get in America. The sandwiches at McD here would be considered gourmet sandwiches like at Fudruckers! Then we had ice cream cones and Sundays. Picture one McD in a city of one million people, this is the ONE 5 star restaurant in the entire city!

We then drove 10 kilometer to a nursery at the edge of the city where Oksana bought 8 annuals and a plastic planter which will hold a bushel of dirt. David also was allowed to by 2 flowers for his flower bed.

Elizabeth drove the last 80 kilometers back home with Scott in the passenger front seat giving her info regarding the posted speed limits and what lanes she needed to be in.  Elizabeth past the 7 – 10 police checkpoints with no problems. The kids were asleep for the first hour and then woke up to Elizabeth driving the van. From this point on any time we drove anywhere the kids lobbied for Elizabeth to drive.

Once we got home, the ladies went inside for a little while the girls played outside and with David playing inside. After 15- 20 minutes Oksana came out side and started working on her window boxes and her existing planters.

During this time Scott and I cut to length hose and ran hose from the four sprinklers to where all 3 of the existing water sources would be connected and attached quick connecters on the ends of all the hoses and then tested it. With water from either their well, the city water, or the irrigation water from the reservoir we are now setup to water the new lawn and the veggies in the garden. Then I helped Oksana fill her new planter and plant 5 different petunias. Then we cleaned out 2 flower boxes and refilled them with more soil and then planted 2 more petunias in each of the flower boxes.

Wednesday, 5/13

I taught home school this morning.  For supper we had guests from the local church for a spaghetti supper.  Testimonies were shared, which resulted in amazing stories of God’s miraculous grace and saving power.  Scott and my David picked the guests up in the van while Oksana and I finished getting the meal.

Wednesday, 5/13 

After breakfast, devotions, and music practice, while Elizabeth was substitute teacher for the girls, Scott, Dalina, and I went shopping. On the way, we stopped and invited a total of 6 people to join the rest of us for supper. Then we continued on to 2 hardware stores and a seed store that only opened last month and picked up 10 more quick connectors, 10 more male adapters, and other hardware needed for the work we planned to do today. Then we stopped at the grocery store and picked up the things that Oksana needed for tonight.

Scott and I then worked a couple hours and finished up the setting up of the hose and sprinkler system.

Scott and I, at 5 PM went to pickup the 6 people from one of the apartment buildings in Dneprorudniy, a single lady, 2 couples, and the daughter (who was in her 40’s) of the elder couple. After a spaghetti and meatball & sausage dinner, we went to the living room where we all shared our testimonies. Both of the men are deacons in the Dneprorudniy House of Prayer. The elder man told how his whole family was punished in 1942 by being sent to work in Siberia because his sister lived in Germany and the very harsh conditions that they endured. They were allowed to move back to Ukraine in 1956 but had to leave everything they had behind in Siberia.  The other man had been a faithful Communist party member and he told of his journey to faith. All of the people had gone thru every level of the Communist Young Pioneers with the exception of the single lady. She accepted Christ in 2004, all of the rest had accepted Christ between 1985 and 1998.

Thursday, 5/14

We went to local market today to buy more seeds.  We ate breakfast bread while we walked.  We purchased small boxes of juices using our own monies.  This was my first time using Ukraine money.  I forgot to have David get a picture.  Now I “must” buy something another day.  J   While driving in the van, the children holler, “Mrs. Elizabeth needs to drive.  Papa, please let her drive.”    I hear that missionaries do many things and it has been very exciting for me to live two weeks in their home.  Some times neighbors drop in to talk as they have concerns.  I will not be ready to leave for America in a few days from now.  I taught home school today.  The girls are learning to read.  The A Beka system is used; which is a very good method of teaching.  In our Numbers class, I introduced them to counting by 5s.  Dasha quickly learned how to count by 5s through 105.  Diana  also recited them for Papa and Mama.  They were very proud of them.  After home school, I watched all the girls outside while David finished his schooling and Oksana worked in the kitchen without more interruptions.  We had Mexican lasagna supper.  There does not seem to be enough hours in our day.  David and Scott did a lot of work outside.

Thursday, 5/14 

We got an early start with everyone dressed and in the Van by 8:30. We drove to the market in Dneprorudniy. There we first went to the market where we stopped at Oksana’s favorite bread vendor’s store where picked up a half a dozen loaves of bread and a bag poppy seed, cherry filled, a raisin breakfast rolls. Then Scott took the children one direction while Elizabeth, Oksana, and I to the new seed store and the hardware store and Oksana bought tomato, red lettuce, and sweet corn seed.

Scott worked a couple hours on his Greek study preparing for his final exam then he and I worked in the garden for a couple hours.

Friday, 5/15

David got up early again and went outside to continue work in the garden.  We are praying that the Lord will bless the produce.   I taught home school today.  When we finished, the girls and Dalina did art work.  Oksana’s parents are coming as guests for a Mexican dinner.  Scott’s mom called today.  She told Scott that she hasn’t heard from him lately.  Oops!   Bless his heart, Scott is trying to work on Greek today.  He is a very busy name, as I stated before.  Oksana is also busy from sun up to sun down.  Pray for strength for their days.  I’ve been helping with the family’s huge laundry piles and Oksana and I are winning.  No wonder they say, “A woman’s work is never done.”  Oksana is so thankful for a washer and dryer and electricity.  The sun is shining today but there is also a breeze.  The children are down for a rest so I am taking advantage of these moments to keep up with this daily log.

Friday, 5/15 

I got up and did a little reading on the internet on how to plant peas and corn (I couldn’t read Russian on the seed packs J) and then in 3 1/2 hours I planted two 50’ rows of peas and five 50’ row of corn. Then I spent an hour on Scott’s massage table for my lower back because of the 2 hours of bending over to plant the corn. Scott put in 5 – 6 hours on his Greek studies and passed the final review and received by e-mail his final exam which he is planning on taking tomorrow.

Oksana’s parents came over for supper and we had Lavash, a flatbread from Iran, Pakistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgi, and Ukraine. Picture a flatbread half as thick as you would expect a Mexican tortilla to be. We tore off pieces and dipped them in refried beans with melted cheese, home made guacamole, home made salsa, and Hummus (a dish from Lebanon).

Saturday, 5/16

After breakfast, Scott, my David, Dalina, and I went to the Ministry Center, took pictures of different homes for our album, we drove to the beach by the Dnepir River and Dalina wanted to swim but did not, we viewed dachas and stopped by a family from the local House of Prayer.  Here we sampled a ½ small baked potato cooked in an outdoor wood stove, a swallow of tea, and a bite of pickle Yasha and Lyda wanted me to taste.  I felt horrible eating food they needed for strength for their bodies to work in the garden but I needed to comply to show gratitude of their hospitality.  Scott didn’t eat anything.  The food was good and they smiled as we showed appreciation to them.  Not understanding Russian, the hostess placed her hand on my arm and had me sit in a chair.  She gave me a huge smile to show her being successful in her mission.

Arriving home, Oksana was busy with the other children doing crafts and making gift items for their family in America.  We would bring those items with us as we had extra luggage space now.

We had an invitation for supper at her parents, Anatoly and Svetlana, who live in an apartment in town.  We heard she was a good cook and was fixing Russian food.  We had bread, soup, salad, and the best tasting ever perogies.  She then treated us to Russian ice cream and Hershey’s chocolate syrup she brought home from her visit to America.  It touched me that she shared her treasured American syrup with us.  I enjoyed fellowship with Oksana’s parents. They have lovely apartment.

Arriving home at 9:30 pm, Scott took his Greek exam and I was praying for him.  We were all preparing for the Sabbath and knew it’d be another long yet exciting day.  Oksana was busy washing the children and preparing them for bed. 

Dasha and Diana spent some time in the Guest Room with Mr. Dave trying to convince him not to return to America.  When Mama called for them, they were tearful.

Mr. Dave is full of jokes and loves children.  What will they do without Mr. Dave in the far back seat of the van?

 

Saturday, 5/16  

After breakfast, devotions, and music practice while Oksana and the 2 older girls had art class, Scott, Elizabeth, Dalina, and I went to the Ministry Center and gave Elizabeth a tour of it. Then we went sightseeing thru the dachas on the edge of town and Scott took us to the dacha of Yasha and Lyda from the Dneprorudniy House of Prayer. They were just sitting down for a light lunch and put some more potatoes on to cook and graciously shared their lunch with us. While it was finishing cooking they gave us a tour of their gardens and their dacha. While the kids were taking a nap, Oksana weeded her raspberries and Elizabeth tied up the tomato plants. At the same time Scott and I deployed 6 of the irrigation hoses to water the tomatoes, green beans, and peas.

Then we cleaned up and went to Oksana’s parents apartment where Oksana grew up. Oksana’s mother served us a traditional 3 course Ukrainian dinner of borsch (cabbage and onion soup), a shredded cabbage and cucumber salad, and Ukrainian perogies stuffed with mashed potato. The dessert was the traditional Russian vanilla ice cream that Oksana and her parents grew up with. In the Soviet era, there was PLENTY of ice cream, but there was only ONE flavor. This was a DELICOUS vanilla ice cream, one of the best vanilla ice cream I’ve had.

Sunday, 5/17

We were to be ready to leave at 7:30 a.m. for the South House of Prayer in Zaporozhe, an hour from Balki.  This is the Baptist Church where Scott has his Pastoral License through in Ukraine.  When we arrived, Scott and David rushed inside to pray with the men before service began.  The church was full so we made our way up some narrow steps to sit in the balcony.  It is not uncommon for several pastors to preach during one service.  Scott was one of those today. Have you ever been in a service where you do not understand the language (and yet they were not speaking in tongues) but could feel the Spirit?  There was a small group of people in the balcony having their own translation in sign language.  Having studied American Sign Language, I did not grasp the total message by watching them either.  Scott and the children gave a special with the children playing It Is Well using hand bells while Scott played his guitar.  Holding the bells by their side, they all sang in both English and Russian.  The House Of  Prayer had a fine choir, which sang multiple specials throughout the 3.5 hour service.  In the church balcony today, if you left your seat, someone would sit in your place.  It was like playing a game of checkers.  I sensed an urgency to be able to see and get as close to the pulpit as possible from the audience.  As in America, cell phones went off in each service I attended at the Houses of Prayer.  Perhaps this is an area all Christians could work on to please our Savior, who is so worthy.  I told Scott that he was the best preacher today.  He asked me how I knew?  (He preached in Russian.)  I said, “Because the audience laughed several times.”  I love hearing Scott preach.  I do not believe he spoke in tongues but I did not understand him very well in Ukraine.

We were invited to their friends house for lunch.  The host, Slavic, served our food; which was custom in this country.  Oksana took homemade chicken salad and bread, a delicious cake with raspberries from her yard, and paper cups and plates.  The hostess, Larissa, prepared a small portion of beef (it is expensive) and carrots, mashed potatoes, cabbage and cucumber salad, and a radish salad, and bread,.  The couple had 7 children and two of them were not present for lunch.  We also enjoyed thinly sliced oranges, a box of delicious chocolates, and green tea / coffee.  We (adults) sat around the table for a lengthy amount of time and talked and looked at old pictures and had a wonderful time of fellowship.  Again to me, it was taxing on Scott and Oksana as they interpret.

This family had many birds (45 plus) in a large cage and different animals and a lovely home and yard; including an in-ground swimming pool.  The dog and crow had a fight, we were told, and the crow was missing some feathers.  In Russian one of the daughters told me to keep my eye on the crow.  I was grateful for interpretation.  Crows are territorial and used for protection.  I was a visitor to that area.  Those who know me realize my “love / fear” of all animals.

I was so touched as Slavic gave David a huge hug in appreciation.  Although there was a language barrier, it was heartfelt and sincere.  Scott was interpreting as we were talking of David finding a lab top computer for him and having it sent from America to Ukraine for him.  He was touched that David would take the time to do this for him.  Slavic is grateful for his computer and it is a blessing to him.  (This was an unusual / exceptional request David did as a favor to Scott because of their friendship and because Slavic keeps the van in good repair for the Sobies)  David commented on Slavic’s ability to do beautiful carpentry work in their home.  Oksana and Larissa were outside looking at the garden.  I am glad the Sobies have good friends in Ukraine.

After another fun-filled day and the hour drive home, everyone was tired.  No one was complaining as it has been worth every moment.  No one is permitted to complain in the Sobie home.  One day as we were riding in the van, Scott said, I just love these roads.  It’s like getting a back massage without paying for it.  I caught his drift but the children registered it as a compliment.

 

Sunday, 5/17

We left very early (7:45) and drove to the Zaporozhye South Church House of Prayer. This church dates back to before 1870 and though it was closed it went underground a couple times during the Soviet era it is now over 140 years old. It was a standing room only service with 375 to 400 people attending. There are sometimes as many as 6 sermons with the service lasting up to 4 – 5 hours. Today we only had 3 sermons (Scott was the second preacher) and the service lasted 2 ½ hours. At the beginning of Scott’s segment the children played one hymn on their bells and sang 2 hymns in both English and Russian. After the service I quickly learned that guests were given a gift of candy, I received a box of chocolates.

After talking outside for about 20 minutes we drove an hour across Zaporozhye to the home of Slavic and Larissa for dinner. They had seven children ranging from 6 to 19 years old. We first had a tour of their gardens and zoo. They have a peacock and 2 peafowl, 20 – 25 finch of 7 different species, chicken, a tame crow, and pheasants.

The house was by Larissa’s father who learned how to lay brick from the Ukrainian Mennonite brick masons before World War II. The Soviets exterminated the 30,000 Mennonites in Ukraine during between 1935 and the 1950. After dinner they brought out 40 – 50 pictures of the Zaporozhye South Church youth dating back to 1900 – 1915. For the next 90 minutes they told us about the persecution of Christian in the Soviet era. Both Slavic and Larissa,their families, and members of their House of Prayer endured massive suffering, hunger, persecution, and in many cases martyrdom during the last 50 years. One picture of the youth at the House of Prayer showed about 40 youth ranging from 4 – 6 years old to in their early 20’s. They explained that ½ of the people in that picture either starved to death or had been shot because of their dedication to Christ.

As we were getting ready to leave. the six of us adults were talking before we went out side. I commented to Scott (who was translating between Slavic and me) "that I consider myself to be very industrious. But after seeing all the hard your you have done in and around your house I almost feel lazy". When Scott translated that, Slavic first looked shocked then almost crying came and gave a REAL bear hug!

We then came home arriving about 6:00 PM and while Scott’s family recorded a Happy Birthday video for Scott’s grandfather we started packing our suitcases to get ready for our leaving Ukraine tomorrow.

Monday, 5/18

Oh no, the day has come when we will begin our journey back to America.  I have had so much fun, learned so many things, enjoyed our talks and  laughter , reading to the children, driving, and have so much more to do. Saying good-bye makes the reality of Heaven have a precious longing.  Earthly good-byes bring sadness and tears. We need to be at the airport by 1 pm for our 3 pm departure to Vienna, then Washington D.C. state side, then Cleveland, Ohio, then Sarcee Avenue.  Once we get to Washington, D.C., we will be able to use our cell phones and contact family and friends whom we’ve deeply missed while on vacation.

There were special plans for a wonderful pancake breakfast.  Maple syrup cannot be purchased in Ukraine, yet it was on the table.  See how they shared the special things in life with us?  I ate my plate-sized pancake with butter, peach syrup and peaches and cream.  Yummie.  Thanks for making our last meal memorable.  I remember saying to Oksana, “It is 12:45 a.m. in America and here I am in the kitchen for a pancake breakfast.”    We left the Sobie home at 9:30 a.m. giving us time to stop by the bank and to say good-bye to Oksana’s mom in town.  We spent the night in Vienna with plans to board our ocean flight at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow.  We walked ten minutes to have a delicious Florentine pizza (sauce was replace with fresh tomatoes) before retiring for a good night rest.  A joy of our journey home was sweet fellowship with Frank and Nette Dycks from Canada who serve as missionaries in Ukraine.  Both taught Oksana in Ukraine.  Nette primarily taught English and Frank taught Bible courses at the Bible College Oksana attended.  We surprisingly meet them at the airport in Ukraine; along with Scott and Oksana, who were happy to see them again.  This totally took our minds off our next project, which was to be a video of Dasha mimicking my David saying “It was soooo good” (referring to food).

It was difficult saying good-bye to the Sobie family.  As I hugged and kissed Dasha, she said, “Good-bye?  I thought you were putting me in your suitcase.”   My David teased each of the children in this way days before we left.

Dalina’s last words to me as she pointed her finger at me, “Don’t forget my speech!”  I replied, “I’ve got you covered, girl.” Her message was to Mimi (Scott’s mother), “Tell Mimi that in her garage is a purple bike and her needs to send it to me over here cause this one don’t work any more.”  Scott will repair the flat tire when he gets a moment, however.  Dalina is a rue Italian Sobie, very dramatic, full of life and always smiling.

David always had many questions for my David.  David is a likeable child and loves to talk.  He is great at being a big brother in many ways.  He loves the telescope and computer.

Diana’s beautiful eyes are hard to forget.  She is tender spirited and like her Mama in many ways.  She loves serving Jesus. 

Damara is a bundle of energy occasionally needing recharged.  She is a precious little one with few words, so far, but is a good eater. 

I’ll long remember my good-byes to Scott and Oksana.  And after climbing stairs to our departure gate, we had one more opportunity to turn and wave and smile through tears to our dear friends.   Thankfully, Christians have hope of meeting again.

Monday, 5/18  

Well… the day to go home has arrived. I packed 95% of my stuff last night and after we showered and dressed Elizabeth packed and I finished packing. She converted the bed back into a couch and I took the pillows and blankets upstairs and Elizabeth vacuumed the guest room and the foyer.

After a big breakfast of pancakes we loaded the van and left for the airport at Dnepropetrovsk at 9:00 AM. Our flight was to leave at 3:00 PM so we arrived at 2 hours early at 1:00 PM. We then learned that the immigration control and Customs would open at 2:00 PM. There are only 2 gates and 5 flights a day at the Dnepropetrovsk airport.

So we expected to talk and make a couple video of the kids imitating me saying “That is so Gooooooood!!!” like I tended to do when something delicious and one or more of the kids were present. But just as we were getting started 2 missionary couples walked up who recognized Scott. They were both from the Dnepropetrovsk Bible School which is located next to the Dnepropetrovsk House of Prayer. One couple were permanent residents in Dnepropetrovsk and taught at the Bible School. The other couple Frank and Nettie Dyck) was an 80 – 85 year old retired teacher and his wife who were retuning to their home in Calgary, AB (Canada). They had made 25+ trips to Ukraine since 1990 to teach at the Dnepropetrovsk Bible School. Oksana had both of the men as teachers when she attended the Bible School. So… we talked for the hour and the videos unfortunately were forgotten. After clearing Immigration Control and Customs we checked our luggage and then conversed with the retuning missionary couple while we waited to board our plane.

We took off at 3:00 PM and landed at the Vienna airport at 4:15 PM (we gained an hour). As we were taking off you could see part of the old fighter base with the badly decayed control tower and the taxiways leading to foundations of the one of the dispersal areas for 40 Mig 25 fighters of the 933 IAP (IAP - Fighter Aviation Regiment). This is what remained of the fighter base that was the predecessor of the Dnepropetrovsk airport.

    

We waited for about 30 minutes at the Vienna airport for the next shuttle to the Euro Hotel Vienna Airport which is located on the northeast edge of the airport where we spent the night. Once we had unpacked and freshened up, we walked 1.5 kilometer (one mile) to Pizzera La Grande in the village of Frischamend-Dorf where each had a Florentine style pizza. 

Tuesday, 5/19

We enjoyed breakfast at the airport hotel with the Dycks.  After being transported back to the airport we bid our good-byes to our new-found Canadian friends and began our 9.5 hour flight westward across the Atlantic Ocean towards our final destination of Sarcee Avenue.

Arriving in Washington DC was great as we could use our cell phones to contact Americans.  At one gate, a group of active service men and women were welcoming veterans off the plane for a three-day reunion.  Flags were waving, cheers shouted, and clapping was heard as they exited in wheelchairs and walkers and with a much slower stride than years ago.  This touched me deeply as I am very patriotic.  We had a seven hour lay over in DC.  The trip to Cleveland was about an hour.  At Cleveland Hopkins Airport Mic and Lin, Scott’s parents, had their vehicle parked for us and we drove to our beautiful home God has provided for us.  We arrived home Wednesday, May 20th at 1 a.m.  Would you believe we were both up before 6 a.m.?   That biological clock within us kept ticking!!  No jet lagJ  On my calendar page, near the end of  May, I wrote “BACK TO REALITY!”  Thus, “life goes on” but it has been forever changed by our trip to Ukraine.

I am leaving a statement that I’ve heard spoken usually before a missionary offering.    “If you cannot go, you must give.  You cannot just pray.”  In a new way I realize that as an American I am blessed.  May God richly reward you for supporting (emotionally and financially) missionaries.

In closing, I am sharing a beautiful poem for your enjoyment. 

I’m A Missionary’s Suitcase

Samsonite, American Tourister or Jordache is the name,
Bought new or “one-owner” or yard sale; it’s all the same.
Cause, just like mortals on this earth,

Where we’re headed decides our worth.
And I’ve value above my “race,” I’m a missionary’s suitcase.

I’m a soft-sided navy or a color that used to be white,
Or I’m brown or gray with scars that make me a grand sight.
The outside color doesn’t count,
I carry wealth beyond amount.
Who cares for a pretty face, when you’re a missionary’s suitcase.

I’ve started from Kansas City, Phoenix or Kalamazoo,
Left ranches near Helena, south of Denver, too,
Parted from parents in New York,
And at stations on the “South Fork.”
The privilege soon outweighs the place, I’m a missionary’s suitcase.

I’ve been transported by mules in South America mountain heights,
Packed in bowels of a boat without a window or lights,
Been slid high overhead on trains,
And been stacked seven-deep in planes,
What a way to go! What a chase, for a missionary’s suitcase.

I’ve become a seat beside yon African’s dusty, lonesome trails;
Been a pillow to men and women in foreign jails.
I’ve served as altar for a “bunch,”
And when it’s time for a quick lunch,
Over me they said their Grace, over a missionary’s suitcase.

I’ve carried the clothes of a bashful bride with all they could yield,
And packed home the patched, the frayed suits from India’s field.
Out went pretty new gowns and skirts;
Home came thin pants and ragged shirts.
I couldn’t always pack pink lace; I’m a missionary’s suitcase.

I’ve been carried out with the quickness of a youthful, holy pride.
And returned with a slower, wiser more humble stride.
Time and again I’ve made the rounds;
Same airports, same roads, same old towns,
Back to the familiar base, I’m a missionary’s suitcase.

I’ve been cleaned and packed and shipped, amid happy voices and bright smiles;
A daughter’s wedding waited at the end of my miles.
I’ve also felt those hot full tears
As a parent ended his years;
It was all a part of my pace, I’m a missionary’s suitcase.

I’ve, but wait; all good things must have an end, soon I will be
Carrying their things one FINAL time across the sea.
Missionaries will leave behind, Trunks and barrels of every kind.
Up that Golden Staircase, THEY will never need another suitcase.

-- Edgar A. Bryan

 

Tuesday, 5/19 

We were picked up at 9:00 AM by the shuttle and taken back to the Vienna airport. We took off at 11:00 AM Vienna time and had a flight of 8 hours and 20 minutes and landed at Washington Dulles airport at 2:20 PM.

We cleared Immigration Control and Customs in 1 hour and had a total of an 7 hour layover in Washington. We then boarded our United Express fight to Cleveland taking off at 10:15 and landing at 11:24 PM at Cleveland Hopkins. We were home and in bed at 1:00 AM Wednesday morning, which was 28 hours after we were picked up at the hotel in Vienna. During that period of time I got 1 ½ hours of sleep!!! I was at work on Thursday morning at 5:30 AM NOT bright but I was early…

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