The Story of Jared In Ukraine

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It begins

Monday is our first day of camp.  The week is going to be for children from the village and, depending on how word spreads, perhaps some children from surrounding villages, as well.  I’m fairly excited and can’t wait to see how it goes.  It will be neat to get to know some of the kids from the village and then see them around during future walks.

I have now been a part of building many of the stages of three different cabins, helped to pick up around 40 full bags of trash from places the villagers had dumped it in the past, varnished, made a total of around 10 bunk beds by myself,  helped to clean up and load two dump truck loads of scrap wood which had been used for a road, helped to move and spread more a full dump truck load of gravel into part of the septic system…Now I need to go and get some more stuff done.  I will try to post some pictures  very soon of some of the things I have done.  May God bless us all.

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June 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A new place and new activities

I’ve been at the new place for about three weeks now,  helping to build the camp.  Here is a list of some of what I’ve done: I’ve put a final coat of paint on a wall, hammered up narrow wooden trim on the stairway in “the lodge” (the biggest building which will be at the camp), helped in the making of three foundations for cabins, helped build frames for two of the said cabins, helped put trim up in them, have gone to an orphanage to play with kids, have helped entertain Abbie (Andrew and Jenny’s 8-month-old), have put together 4 bunk beds by myself and helped with two others…and a few other things. 🙂  In other words, I’ve been kept busy and I have enjoyed it.

The camp is located in a sleepy little village which is older than the USA (as far as when both were founded), filled with very “Russian” small houses which are mostly made of wood.  Tractors seem more “in place” and cars seem more “out of place” driving up and down the sandy roads…and when I say sandy, I mean sandy, the camp’s soil and, I suppose in the village, too, besides where they have brought top-soil in for flowers, crops, and grass, is sand; even 10 feet deep it is sand.  This, combined with the fact that it is often windy, keeps making feel as if only I would take a few steps, I would be at the beach.  When you’re making cement for foundations this is handy because you don’t have to buy sand (instead there’s huge sandhills on part of the camp’s propriety) but it’s a little hard to walk in, especially if you’re carrying something heavy or pushing/pulling a wheelbarrow through it.

I will try to get some pictures posted soon.  I have to re-size them first to make it easier to upload them and it’s a somewhat tedious process with the program I have.  I hope all are doing well and God bless.

April 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A trip to the “internet,” a little taste of home and other goings on

 The Russian word for orphanage sounds very much like our word for the Internet…at least it does to me. When people were first talking about going I thought they were talking about going to an internet café and was confused as to why we would go there. Anyway, on Saturday I went with a group of five young men from church to an orphanage which is about a 20 minute walk from here. I really enjoyed going, I like doing things with little kids, the language barrier doesn’t matter as much with them and, for the most part, I just get along better with younger kids, as opposed to young teenagers. Dennis, a guy from church who’s around my age and used to live here at the TLC, had prepared a lesson and had planned some games and activities. First we had an improvised, indoor version for horseshoes where we all stood in a line and tried to throw a button into a jar (whoever got it in got a prize) and then we had the lesson with the accompanying activities. No one interpreted the lesson for me so I didn’t know exactly what it was about. The kids did one activity where they wrote something down on pieces of paper, I think kind things that they had done or kind things done to them, and then the team captain chose which one he thought was the best and read it aloud to everyone. After this we did another activity and I’m fairly sure I got the meaning of it. There were two tee-shirts and two groups, a few kids took turns wearing the shirts and we would write things on them. Our group wrote bad things that had happened to us, bad habits which could kill you (smoking, drugs, etc.), something bad that had happened to a friend of ours, and something bad we had done to a friend. The other team wrote only good things on their shirt. After we were done a child put the “bad shirt” on first and then the “good shirt” on top of it so you could not longer see all of the bad things which were written. Dennis then talked of how that is what Christ does for us, he can take our bad and cover it up. To end things off we watched a short film, I had heard the story before so it didn’t matter that I couldn’t understand. Come to thing of it, I’m not sure there was any talking, just a song playing in the background. It was the true story of the man who worked on a railway build and of how one day his little boy was playing around the tracks and got where he shouldn’t be. Then a train was coming and the father had to choose between sacrificing his little boy by putting the bridge down so the train could pass or letting the train crash, and he ended up letting the train pass. This video expanded the story to show how it affected one of the passengers who had been on the train, which I don’t remember from my hearing of the story, but I’m sure something of that nature would have a profound effect on some people. The video ended with John 3:16. I’ll tack some pictures onto the end of the post. Oh, also, not this last Sunday but the Sunday before that was “friends day” at church (to which you were supposed to bring a friend) and after church we had dessert (a variety of cookies and small pastries) tables and hot tea. During this time a few people also performed songs. I’ll put a couple pictures from that on the end of the post as well. This evening I made dinner for everyone at the TLC (hence, the “little taste of home”). I made vegetable beef soup and the house manager and a lady from church helped me cut some of the stuff up. It turned out quite good and I think most of the kids liked it. I added too much pepper but it was still quite tasty, at least to me. 🙂 It’s a little nerve racking cooking for around 15 people at once, I kept getting worried that there wouldn’t be enough. It turned out there was some left over, even though a few of the guys had seconds. I hope everyone is doing well. I’m sorry I don’t keep this more up to date. God bless you all and thanks for all your prayers.  Hmm, I had paragaphs but they seem to have disappeared, sorry.

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March 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An update and some other thoughts

I was just washing a cup that I had drunk tea out of, I have kind of adopted it and another of the exact kind since I have been here.  I didn’t know how obvious this was until one day I got another cup, the house manager saw me and then opened the cabinet to show me “my cup” was up there and I could use it.  Now, I don’t love that cup but as I was washing it, it put me in mind of some things I do cherish and things that others cherish.  Perhaps it happens more in children’s lives and some of us somewhat lose this habit as we go along but when we are young almost all of us have a favorite something.  Most often nothing makes these objects in and of themselves special, if a stranger where to find it on the ground, they most often would not think they had found a treasure but rather would probably throw the thing away.  An old stuffed animal with matted fur, a blanket so “used” (or loved) only scraps are left, these are often the types of things children treasure above all there other possessions (though some of them may not openly admit it).  These things are by no means treasures in themselves, they are treasures because of the love bestowed upon them; they are often ugly to strangers eyes, but to the one to whom they belong they are one of the loveliest things in the world and are irreplaceable.  This is what we become when we give ourselves to be loved by God, the world may just see us as just another being among billions more, to be trampled or ignored, but God loves you!  No matter how well we love some old thing, our love cannot truly make that thing more beautiful or perfect.  Not so with God, with him it is another story, he has the power of the worlds in his fingertips, and beauties more beautiful than a thousand sunsets waiting to be bestowed into our very beings.  Our love for things and people make them beautiful in our eyes; but God’s love for us will one day make us into a creature so beautiful and perfect that, were we to see it now, we would be tempted to fall before it in worship and awe.  

 

I thought I’d share this on this blog as well as elsewhere.  Now for an update about here:

I think I shared in my last post that two other girls where going to be baptized last Sunday, and they were, so that was quite exciting and happy.  I’ll put a few pictures at the end of the post.

 

On Wednesday I bought the ingredients for spaghetti and made it for everyone to have for dinner.  The spaghetti sauce tasted like no spaghetti sauce I have ever made or tasted before, but the kids and the house manager seemed to like it, so that’s what counts.  Some of the ingredients were just too different (the only tomato sauce I’ve seen is VERY sweet so I wasn’t able to put a lot of it in).  It turned out to be a more mushroom based sauce than anything else.

 

Yesterday I went and bought candy to give to the kids today for Valentine’s Day.  My Mom had also helped me pick out a few little things for them back home and I hadn’t given those out yet, so I made little gift bags for everyone.  I also bought little boxes of chocolate for the two house managers and for Tonya. 

 

On two nights this week I played checkers and Trouble with a few of the kids.  Apparently the rules for checkers are not universal, I’m still trying to understand all the things you can do once you’re “kinged.”  I’ll hold that it’s because of that I lost almost every game. 🙂

 

I hope all are well.  God be with us all.    

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Anya, Marina, and Sasha

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Anya thought seriously about her answers, as she should.

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Presenting our new sisters to the church.

Lots of hugs were given, as well as flowers and Bibles.

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February 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A birthday party at an orphanage.

Yesterday I rode 3 hours with Tonya so we could have a group birthday party for some kids in an orphanage.  She goes every two months and has a group party for the little ones who have birthdays in those months.  The orphanage there has connections to where we are (some of the kids who used to be in this area were sent out there), which is why we went to one so far away.

I think the kids were from the ages of 7 to maybe 12, most of them closer to the younger age and there were about 22 of them.  The little boys got little toy cars and the little girls got small stuffed animals.  We had cake, bananas, and soda.

Before the kids ate we played some games.  I started out by doing the song Father Abraham with them and had them do the motions with me, I think they enjoyed it…they at least thought I was pretty silly doing it.:)  We also played a version of  hot-potato with a beach ball (after I said we would play it I realized I didn’t really remember), so we played it by me turning my back on the kids and singing and when I stopped singing whomever had the ball was out.  We then also played musical chairs with the music also being provided by me (we didn’t have a cd player or anything).  Pretty much every up-beat song rushed out of my head and I was stuck with “Row, row, row your boat” and “Get Right Church” for the whole game both of which I think I had already sung during the potato game…oh well, I think the kids had fun and they couldn’t understand me anyway. 🙂

It was a long trip.  I got to kow Tonya a little better so that was nice.  She does a lot around here, stuff that I wouldn’t have the “gumption” to do here or in the States (dealing with the government, making conections, and other such stuff).  I could barely stay awake on the way back, I haven’t had very much trouble at all adjusting to the time difference but every once in a while I’ll just get really tired during the day.

I hear two more of the girls from the TLC are going to be baptized on Sunday, I guess they want to wait so the members can be there, too.  Anyway, so that is happy and exciting news.

Here are some pics from my trip.

 

 

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February 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Some Happy News

Tonight after church one of “our” girls was baptized.  Her name is Olga but everyone calls her by the nickname of that name which is pronounced “Ole-la,” I don’t know how to spell it in English.  The church does something pretty cool, they take a bunch of pictures of the baptism process and then print the pictures, organize them in a binder and give them to the one who was baptized.  It’s especially nice in a place where people don’t have many picture prints.  The church also gave her a Bible and some flowers.  Tonight at the TLC we had a cake to celebrate.  Special times.:)

Tomorrow I’m going to an orphanage to have a group birthday for the kids.  I’m excited about that.  I need to get to head to bed.  I’ll write a post about my orphanage trip soon.

February 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Snowball fights and Parties in the Night

One of the girls (Yoolya is how you pronounce her name, I’m not sure of the spelling) had her birthday this past Friday so we celebrated it, I suppose, Ukrainian style.  It seems a few of the girls spent much of the afternoon fixing up the birthday girl.  She had her hair curled, make-up done, and wore a dress.  I don’t know if it’s just here of if it is a common custom for the birthday girl to be dressed up and done up and no one else to be, because the rest of the girls all wore their normal attire and did nothing to their hair out of the ordinary.  Well, I take that back, I think that is the day Natasha bleached her hair even lighter than it was already bleached and added very light blue highlights (it somehow suits her, she’s a little crazy…in a fun way).

            We had a variety of finger foods and salads.  Some of the salads were quite interesting, such as a beet based salad with raisins and one which was a little like potato salad except that it had peas, carrots and maybe a couple other things in it that I have never had in potato salad.  After dinner was eaten the tables were moved out of the way so there could be dancing (techno has been big here since at least the first time I came around 6 years ago).  A few of the kids danced.  I let them sample some of my “technoish” music but even that didn’t pass, oh well.  Their music is all faster than mine.  I passed on the dancing because the last time I was here and tried dancing with the cam kids all the girls laughed at my attempts.  It probably would have been a good bonding experience because one of the girls asked me to dance.  I suppose I should tell you, the dancing I have witnessed is quite innocent, you don’t even really dance with anyone, you just kind of dance and others are dancing around you, too.

            Recently I learned from my parents that the custom in Argentina is that you don’t open your presents in the presence of the one who gave it to you and I guess the same is true for here because Yoolya got a birthday bag and didn’t open it in front of everyone.  Later she did share some chocolates she had gotten, so that was nice of her.

            Every Saturday night there is a youth Bible class at the church and after that there is a snack/hanging out time and for part of this time I played ping-pong with a few of the boys from the TLC and from church.  I’m not sure if they don’t know all the rules or just figured I didn’t know them and assumed it would be too hard to try to explain them because we just kind of hit the ball back and forth and sometimes tried to get a point.

            I’m not sure if I shared about church last week that they have songbooks with parallel Russian and English songs for most of the songs so I can sing along.  I also understood a tiny bit more of the sermon ans someone helped me turn to the correct scripture most of the time.  Services (class and worship) here go about 2 and half hours or more.

            I had woken up on Sunday to find that it had snowed around 4 inches the night before, which was very exciting because it lightened up the world.  Since I’ve come the ground has been grayish and muddy, so white was nice.  After church I had a snowball fight with boys from church and boys from the TLC.  That was quite fun, although I’m horrible at throwing and some of the TLC boys are quite good at it. 

            Well, I’m still helping with cooking dinner and sometimes lunch, taking Russian lessons three times a week (and studying a lot in between times), and trying to get to know the kids.  Tonya said I could chose a night to cook on if I want to, so I think I’ll try to do that sometime this week.  I’m not sure what they’ll think of my cooking.  I think most of them have had an American cook for them before so maybe they’ll like it okay or at least won’t be too surprised.

            I hope you all have a wonderful week.  Here are some pictures from the party and just around the house.

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February 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

People here and people there, people everywhere.

People, it seems are, well, people, no matter where you are.  It may be a somewhat different culture here in Ukraine and the spoken language may be different but I guess people as a whole are, in some basic ways, the same wherever you may go.  Teens will still be teens; boys will still be boys and tease/be “mean” to those they like and girls will act like they hate it while actually encouraging it (a boy took a girl’s hair clip and she then spent the next half hour chasing and fighting with the boy to get it back).  A room full of people in a comfortable situation also seems to be somewhat the same wherever you may find yourself.  At church last night there was the girl who we all know who is silly, embarrasses herself by talking/giggling too much, acts like she hates the attention and then does something silly a few seconds later to start the whole thing over again.  There was the boy who was goofy and could make everyone laugh (especially that certain silly girl) and was comfortable being, well, goofy.  There are still shy people and outgoing people, serious ones and not so serious ones.  I suppose it is a great comfort to realize, to an extent, you can know what to expect in our human family.  I am also thankful we are not the same in every respect, that the goofy boy and the silly girl are like no other ones of those “types” I have ever met before.

Onto a somewhat different train of thought.  I was reading Anne of Green Gables and a few times Anne knew even before she actually met certain people that those people would be her friends.  I was thinking that I wish that would really happen because it would make things easier.  I forget though, that she also had those people with whom she first thought she would never be friends with, (like Mrs. Rachel) but later became friends after all, though perhaps not “bosom friends.”  After thinking about it, there are those people whom I seemingly like instinctively and, if given opportunities, they do normally become good friends.  There are two girls at the “TLC” (transitional living center) who I just seem to like, even though they have been less, hmm, “friendly” is the wrong word but, well, they’re shy.   The same with the boys, the two youngest are very shy but I think by the time I leave they will be the closest to me.  The youngest one left an orange on the table for me, though he didn’t even try to tell me he had left it there for me (it sat on the table almost all day until the administrator finally told me I was intended to have it and who had given it).  Also, his older brother, once I got to church, got enough courage to lead me to where he was sitting so I could sit with him (on the very front row).  I guess I am always somewhat drawn to the more shy and quiet people “right off the bat,” I suppose it is because I can understand their quietness.  Perhaps this is unfair to compare people to pets but, after all, I have a very great love for pets, but with pets I am somewhat the same way; if someone has an “outgoing” pet and a “shy” pet, I try to make friends with the shy one more than the outgoing one.  Maybe I like the challenge.  Also, often shy people/animals have a particular kind of sweetness to them.  I am afraid I have to leave it at that, because I have no idea how to describe what I mean.

To my outgoing friends, you know I love you dearly and shy people are not always my favorite…it’s just, if I am to be honest, at first you outgoing ones may have intimidated me a little and shy people do not/perhaps cannot do that.

Love to all and God’s blessings,

Jared

January 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Some of life

Well, I had my first Russian lesson…it lasted 2 and a half hours, kind of an overload but I guess I’m going to learn a lot.  By Monday I’m supposed to be able to sound out words in Russian.  Most of their characters are different than ours, there are like 5 that are the same and about 5 that look the same but make a different sound (and it’s hard to re-train your brain in such a thing).  The Russian alphabet is actually closer to the Greek alphabet than to ours (my friend, Vincent, told me it had something to do with the priest who first came here).  I am also to know like 20 words, be able to tell the gender of words and by so doing know which form of possessive to use (hmm, I don’t know langauge terms very well, so I do a poor job of explaining it).

One of the girls who knows English okay is going to help me with my homework tomorrow and one of the house mothers/house managers (I’m not sure what her title is, the children call her auntie) comes by every once in a while when I’m looking at the words and read them for me so I know how they sound (she also has me read the English so she knows better how they sound).

I went to my first devotional tonight.  I’m never really sure if people know I’m from the US or not, maybe they do know I’m from somewhere else and just assume I know Russian (I’m not sure how many people have come by themselves and not known the language).  In Germany I am fairly sure I was mistaken for a German at least twice, I was somewhat flattered.  

At the devo I knew about half of the songs but sung them under my breath because I could never be sure what verse they were on or even if the words were similar.  During the lesson a new friend who lives next to the TLC offered to translate for me but, from what I have gathered in the past when someone is whispering translations to someone, it is quite distracting for the rest of the group, so I declined and told her later why I had.

Afterwards we had a snack time and I got to meet some of the younger church members and be laughed at, laugh at them (one of the girls from the TLC was being silly), and laugh with them (two of the kids from Church know Spanish well and they would have them speak it and the group thought it was quite funny).

Most of the kids aren’t as shy with me anymore, so that’s very nice.  About half of them have looked at all my photo prints I brought of family and friends and know some about my life.  Also, there’s more English speakers around than I first thought there would be, so that is very nice.  They may not know much but it’s still a comfort, they can understand more than they can speak (I guess, well, it seems like it would require less effort and courage to listen than to speak).

Well, I’m going to get ready for bed.  I hope all are doing well and thank you for the comments.  God bless us all.  Oh, I still have a cough and many of the kids are getting colds, so prayers for health would be nice…and that I will be a good student in my Russian.  Thanks.

January 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I am now in Ukraine

Well, I made it.  It took me a little while (I got stuck in Germany overnight because of weather), but I finally made it.  Today was somewhat of a “rest day,” there wasn’t anything I had to do but I met my Russian teacher and also helped with dinner.  My Russian teacher is pretty serious, he expects me to learn more than Andrew Kelly (who was his student…and has also lived here for like 3 years) during the three months I have to study with him.  The kids are all being pretty shy right now, but a few of them are warming up to me a little.  Most of them are 16 to 18 but there’s one boy who is only like 12, his older brother is here and I guess they didn’t want to split them up.  There are 6 girls and 8 guys.  Oh, and I was told none of them knew English but a few of them actually know a little bit (one girl helped the house manager find out what I wanted for breakfast).

Tomorrow I have my first Russian lesson.  I don’t know what else it will hold or require, so prayers are always appreciated.:)  Thank you for all the prayers that went up concerning my safe travel.  Well, I’m going to go see what’s going on and study for my Russian lesson (my teacher wants me to know what sounds all the letters make and also know how to say/use like 10 words).  God bless us all.

January 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments