July 8, 2008

HUMAN KINDNESS

We had a wonderful 4th of July but it was time to get back to work. We visited two hospitals yesterday and today to discuss the possibility of doing a major initiative vision project. The humanitarian missionaries in Ukraine are trying to find some hospitals to partner with to improve vision care to the poor and needy. This is a program that uses a short term specialist (opthamologist) from America to come and meet with local Opthamologist to see how the Humanitarian program may support their services with equipment or training, or both. Our job is to do an initial screening and then Salt Lake will have the short term specialist come and do a formal meeting with the hospital administrators to determine their needs and write up a formal request if it is determined that they would be a good organization to partner with.

I would like to share an experience with you. I debated about sharing this because it is so personal but as you know my goal in writing this blog is to give you all a better idea of what day to day life is like here as missionaries from America.

Sometimes it feels like everyday I am reminded of some reason I am extremely grateful to have been born in the United States. Bruce and I were waiting at the bus station for our interpreter Olga to join us. This is a place where buses pull in and out every 5 seconds. There is a big parking area and many lanes for the buses to pull in to pick up passengers. I was standing there day dreaming when I saw a very old hunched over woman with a cane walking through the parking lot. She was wearing a thick coat and house slippers. Her eyes were fixed on her feet as she slowly took one step and then brought the other foot forward always leading with the left foot. It was more of a shuffle then a walk. I couldn't stop watching her as I saw buses pulling forward to pick up passengers. She knew they were there but she stayed focused on her next step. She finally made it to where Bruce and I were standing and headed for a railing that Bruce had been leaning on. I asked him to step forward as now I could see she was missing one eye and didn't see very well she was reaching out to locate the railing. As she shuffled past I watched until she reached the end of the rail and she bravely let go and maneuvered toward the next railing about 3 feet away. There were 3 men standing there and she had to shuffle past them before she could grab the rail. I could see that she had a small little bag on one arm and I assumed she was headed to the Reenik across the street to buy some food. She soon had to let go of the railing again and head up a very broken sidewalk that was on an incline. I couldn't watch any longer. I found myself walking up to her not really knowing how I would ask if I could help her when I saw her mumbling something and reaching out to people passing by. It appeared that she was trying to get someone to give her a hand. I walked up next to her and offered her my arm. She quickly grabbed on to me and together we walked up the incline, stepped down the curb and crossed a very busy street. When we finally got across I thought by now she must be exhausted. There was a bench nearby but she just kept shuffling toward the Reenik with her arm in mine. I don't know why but I stopped, perhaps to let her rest but I gave her a hug. She let out a few little muffled cries and looked me in the eye and off we went again. It was at that moment that I saw she had only a few teeth left in her mouth and one eye was missing and the other was clouded over with a cataract. As we walked up to the Reenik I thought about Bruce and Olga waiting for me at the bus station and I knew I had to go. I knew I had to let go of this dear woman but I really didn't want to. I worried how she would complete her shopping at make it all the way back on her own. I finally stopped and hugged her again and she mumbled something to me as I walked away. When I got back to Bruce and Olga I started to cry. I thought about what a journey it was for this poor broken old woman to get from her home to the Reenik and how unsafe it was. I couldn't help but think how scary that must have been for her but she had no choice. There was no meals on wheels. There was no volunteer who would come by to check on her or go to the Reenik for her. She must not have had anyone to help her.

When I told Olga why I was so sad she explained to me that people aren't so good about helping each other out here. She said something like, " they don't want to show emotions in public" which is why no one stopped to help her. She has explained to us that this country has no volunteer organizations. The missionaries encounter this all the time. We try to find opportunities to do service here and they don't believe that we don't want anything from them. They don't volunteer in schools or hospitals. Some of the Women's Organizations we have worked with try to do Charitable work but it is usually having parties for children during the holidays or raising money to send children to camp. Olga told me there are no homes for the elderly. There are no programs that offer assistance to people that are home bound.

This made me so sad. We got on the bus and headed for the hospital and to inspect one of the missionary apartments. We finished our work at the hospital and then met the missionaries to go to their apartment. As we approached there was a man laying in the middle of a walkway. He had no shirt or shoes on and his feet were dirty and swollen. He appeared to be asleep or passed out. The very sad thing was there were 3 little boys ( 6 or 7 year olds) nearby who were throwing sticks at him. We did see him move as one hit his back so we at least knew he was alive. I asked the missionaries if he was there when they came to get us and they said they had come a different way. We went on and spent about 10 minutes in the apartment. When we passed by again there were still little boys there and this time there were a lot more sticks laying on the ground all around him. Bruce stopped and tried to see if he was alright. I marched up to the little boys and told them to stop it. Olga followed and translated what I said but it didn't seem to phase them one bit. The whole thing is so incredibly sad. Another human being lying in the middle of the walkway and people just walking on by. Even worse then that children throwing things at him. An old woman reaching her hand out for someone to help her cross the street and no one even seems to see her.

I share this with you to express my gratitude for the millions of Americans that volunteer their services providing love and care for those less fortunate. I am thankful for foster grandmothers like my mom who volunteer their services in schools, hospitals and institutions, Thank you to the men and women who work in homeless shelters and soup kitchens, to the hospice volunteers, the volunteers who visit the home bound. The volunteers who visit men and women in prison.

I am grateful to the mothers and fathers of the missionaries I serve here in Ukraine with for teaching your children to love one another. I will end this on a positive note by leaving you with an example of this love. When we got home yesterday the missionaries were coming over for our weekly district meeting. Two of the Elders had arrived there before us and were waiting outside our apartment with a man with a big gauze wrap on his hand and wrist. I had to hurry by because my arms were loaded with groceries. I had assumed they were just talking to someone they met while waiting for us. When the Elders came into the apartment they explained they had just been approached by this man with a bleeding ugly wound. He had asked them for help and so they went to the store and bought first aide supplies and dressed his wound. Now how cool is that. They even bought antibiotic ointment because they said it looked infected. I was so proud of them. See they did learn something in scouting or was it all those family home evening lessons on service. What ever it was they did the right thing.

7 messages from friends and family:

Heather said...

Thank you for sharing this. It made me cry! That was the absolute hardest thing for me when I lived in Ukraine - not being able to help everyone. We could have spent all of our time doing service, but it just wasn't possible. I found that the best thing I could do was to teach the members about service, and hope that it spreads that way. We would take members when we went to visit the elderly or to help someone harvest their vegetables on their dacha. You helping that women, standing up for that man, and the elders helping the injured is being noticed by others, and your example and the member's examples will go a long way with changing the compassion in that country. I love the people in Ukraine so much. Thank you for being there for them!!!!

~Heather

dixiewhitehead said...

Your story really helped me understand so much more about this great country of Ukraine. I'm so glad you decided to share. These stories have strengthened my testimony and made me think of a quote that I love:

“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. … The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature” (Conference Report Oct.'85).

Ukraine desperately needs the gospel now more than ever. I'm so happy that my son has the opportunity to really make a difference.

Reading your story I was just hoping that you would go over and help that dear poor woman. Thank you for setting the example as Heather's comment said. Christ's gospel is one of love, service and doing good. Keep up the doing good, Kinghorns.

pearsonfamily said...

Hi Sister Kinghorn,
First of all thank you so much for a wonderful dinner in your home while we were there with our son Brad..I only wish we had had more time with you. It was a perfect meal and great company. Thank you also for sharing this story...I cried because I could picture it and it makes me so sad! There is so much hardship in Ukraine and we have so much to be thankful for here in America. Thank you for serving there...for loving the people, for taking care of the missionaries and for loving them as well. You were so good to Brad and he loves you so much!

Thanks again for everything!
love, Kathleen Pearson

Jane said...

Thank you for sharing this story, it made me cry and I realized even more how important it is that our son is there trying to share the gospel. I think it probably seems overwhelming at times but it all begins with planting seeds and hopefully they will take root.

dmdhall said...

Bruce & Melinda! I received this post from a friend who was touched enough to forward it on. I didn't even realize who it was until I saw your names at the end and then I was not only touched by the story but pleased to hear how you are enjoying your missionary service. I'm so glad you shared this story as it really puts things in perspective. I look forward to checking in from time to time to see how you are doing. God bless you and thank you for your service. Love, Dale & Melanie Hall

angie said...

Elder & Sister Kinghorn,
Thank you for sharing your mission experience and spreading the missionary spirit across the globe. We all should do it! My parents served in Kiev a few years ago, and we are now serving ourselves. We love it! Thank you for all you do.

Jan Myers said...

I, too, cried as I read your story. How spoiled we are in the U.S. and most don't even know it. Thank you for finding my blog. I feel like I have another new friend. Your story is so inspirational. I know the Lord must be so glad to use you as a instrument in His Hands.

It so made me think of the poem about the violin that begin..."'Twas battered and scarred..." Three examples you gave of finding the music within the "Old Violin".

Keep sharing your stories. They inspire us!

Jan and Larry Myers

Saints in Ukraine (put music on pause)

My music


click on the photo to see the captions

Armenia Trip

Our last Zone Conference

Some of the faces we will miss

Our trip to Mariupol

March Zone Conference in Donetsk(click on photo to view a larger version)

Missionaries helping the International Relief Development unload a container from America

Health Fair click on the photo to see what is coming up

To listen to this talk you will need to put the music on pause first

Sometimes we forget what divine gifts we have been given. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Thanksgiving

Look at the fun equipment we got to deliver to this internat for Special Needs children

Europe East Area District Meeting

I LOVE THESE MISSIONARIES

OUR APARTMENT (this is not an average missionary apartment)

THIS IS WHAT MISSIONARY APARTMENTS LOOK LIKE ON INSPECTION DAY

CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO SEE A MORE COMPLETE VIEW

LEADERSHIP TRAINING IN THE KALINSKY BUILDING

Click on photo to see more photos of the Open House at the Kalininsky blg