Bruce has been hoping to see a Sunflower field ever since we arrived in Donetsk. He had heard that they were beautiful and we were beginning to think we would never see one. So when we drove by this one he not only insisted we stop but he had to go have his picture taken and it wouldn't have been as much fun unless I joined him. So here we are in the Sunflower field.
July 30, 2008
July 27, 2008
This is what we found when we entered the church building today.
Today was Sunday. I love Sundays. I love that we set this day aside to honor our Heavenly Father. I love that we call this a day of rest. I love that we have made a commitment to worship him on Sunday not only at Church but in our home. I love going to church. I love everything about it. I love pulling into the parking lot and seeing little boys and girls dressed in their Sunday best getting out of their cars and helping their younger siblings safely maneuver the parking lot. I love how when you enter the building the prelude music just washes over you like a thick warm blanket. I love that you can always count on certain families to occupy their "self assigned" pews. I love to see Daddy's wandering the buildings with babes in their arms. I love that so many of the women and men who occupy the space in our home ward with my husband and I on Sunday's are no longer strangers but Brothers and Sisters. I remember the first time we walked into an LDS Chapel it felt like "coming home" and I love that it has continued to feel like that no matter where we are. Until.........
Today I woke up and found myself thinking, "Ugh, I hate Sunday." I know, that is awful that I even thought it and even worse that I admit it. I'm sorry, but Sunday is a little different here in Ukraine because we don't speak Russian. I was not really looking forward to going to church because I feel like I miss so much when I can't understand what is going on. I don't know what the talks in Sacrament Meeting are about unless some poor missionary translates for me. I am still having difficulty singing the hymns because I can't read fast enough so I struggle with something that use to give me so much comfort. I feel sad that I can't talk to the members of the Branch and I can't participate in class discussions. I was feeling like "what do I have to offer." So, I was definitely starting the day out all wrong. I was in desperate need of an attitude adjustment.
I decided just before we left for church to e-mail a brief note to my daughter and her husband and tell them I love them and I saw that I had an e-mail from someone whose name I didn't recognize. I really didn't have time but I have to say, I felt prompted to open it before leaving. It was a comment that had been posted on our blog from a Woman in West Africa. She wrote,
"You have made my Sunday truly a day of worship. My 10yr-old daughter and I are the only church members in Burkina Faso and it's a glorious day when we can find a way to keep a little Sabbath in our Sunday! We're the little red dot in West Africa and we love the sweet spirit of your blog. Book marked for FHE lessons.
I should have gone straight to my knees to thank my Heavenly Father for such a gift. It completely changed my attitude about the day. I noticed I felt HAPPY as we were waiting for the bus to take us to the Chapel where we meet with about 50 members and 10 missionaries each week. I felt happy when we walked inside and found 10 or12 umbrellas all opened and scattered across the tile floor. The umbrellas that these faithful Saints had used to stay dry as they walked to church today. I felt happy when just like every Sunday, some sweet sister approached me with a big smile and a kiss on the cheek as I was making my way to my seat in the back. When I sat down and opened the hymn book and the piano began playing one of my favorite hymns, "because I have been given much", I could feel the my Heavenly Father's Love for me. The members beautiful voices blended, and as they sang in their native tongue. I could feel a peace engulf me as the words ran through my mind. I felt incredible peace as a young man of 17 who had just recently joined the church offered the blessing on the bread. I was loving Sunday by now as I thought of the faith of this young man. He is the only member of his family that has been baptized. He was brought to church for the first time by a classmate. He is 17 years old and he is such a righteous young man. Every week he shows up dressed in a clean white shirt and tie, and every week he attends the youth night even though sometimes there is only 3 or 4 other young people there. He has attended every Branch activity and every Service Project we have had since joining the church. I was finding myself filled with gratitude when I looked over at one of the Sisters and saw that she was sitting next to her husband who has only attended church once before since I have been here. I know that it has been the desire of her heart to have her husband sit beside her as she worships her Heavenly Father. My heart was touched as I reflected on the sweet members of our branch and what a blessing it is to be here in Ukraine witnessing the growth of the church.
I love being able to see people enter our building for the first time and see a member welcome them and know that they too are having that "coming home" feeling that I experienced so long ago.
I am so thankful for that sweet Sister in West Africa and her 10 year old daughter who have reminded me once again to count my blessings. God Bless You. What an example you are to all of us. I promise you I will never look at Sunday worship with the attitude I started today with again.
When I woke up this morning I just wanted my daughter to know that I loved her and was thinking of her. I think that's probably how it is with our Heavenly Father. He knows when we are struggling with something, he knows when our burden seems too heavy to bear. Sometimes he just wants us to know that he loves us. I pray that our eyes will be open, that our ears will hear when he sends loving reminders of who we are and why we are here.
July 24, 2008
How cute is this little guy with the ball?
Look at that face. Give me a blanket under a shady tree and a bunch of little children and I am good to go.........
You could just come back to get me in about 4 or 5 hours and I would be perfectly happy.
We went to a facility today that was called a Sanitorium. They use the term differently here then we do in America. Here a sanitorium is a place people go to recuperate. This facility is for children ages 1-7 who have special needs such as cerebral palsy, down syndrome, or language delays as well as children with psychological problems. The child on my lap was born in a prison.
I was told most of these children are orphans but they don't live in orphanages they live in hospitals. I am still trying to understand who determines where the children are placed. Everytime I think I have it figured out I learn something new. At some point it is determined if they can go to a "normal school"or if they will be sent to an "internat"(orphanage) to live. One facility told me before children turn 4 they are evaluated at a hospital to determine where they will be placed.
Here is where I got lost. I don't understand how they can go to a "normal" school if they don't have families. Sometimes I get overwhelmed while communicating through an interpretor and it is difficult to go back and ask questions. I guess that is why I am still piecing together information.
So here is what I was able to understand. This facility has 2 buildings each house 25 children between the ages of 1-7 who have various "special needs". The government pays for them to come here 36 days each year for therapy. They receive Physical Therapy, Massage, and Speech Therapy. One of the ladies told us they try to focus on "social adaptation" and education.
Here is an interesting fact. The highest paid employee at this facility would be a doctor who makes $240.00 per month. The teachers/nurses make about $140.00. The lady who does the laundry makes $100.00 per month. No wonder they have a hard time finding staff. Another interesting fact is, the government allows the facility the equivalent of $1.66 per day per child for meals, clothing, medicines and any other needs.
I find this disturbing!!!!!!!!!
The other thing I want to share is the unbelievabe truth is that I found myself thinking "this is a nice place." Something I never would have thought when I first arrrived in the Country.
They have a nice big outdoor area where we found the children playing. They have some really nice therapy equipment. There was a room with a big tub filled with balls, there were large therapy balls, squishy toys, wooden toys for stacking and stringing, lots of books, walkers, and standers. I even saw a nice wheelchair. As I have mentioned before, this is a nice facility
but, that is what it is, a facility where children are being raised. I am a little alarmed that I am becoming accustomed to seeing childen institutionalized. This is not a home. There is no mom, no dad, no brothers and sisters, no consistant person in these childrens lives.
When these little ones go to bed at night one woman prepares 25 children for bed. She takes all these little ones into the bathroom where they are given a sponge bath every night of the week except one day when they have a real bath. These sweet little ones aren't allowed the luxury of playing in a bath filled with warm water and rubber toys, spongy letters, or bath paints. There's no lap to climb into for a bedtime story. This one woman sits in a room outside 3 little sleeping rooms.
The very sad truth is these little children are being raised in intitutions and this is their Disneyland. This is a nice place to come and run around outside throwing balls, and digging in the sand. This is a great place to come where you can play with other children. This is a wonderful place to come and sing songs, and listen to the piano, to have a nice person rub your back with lotion. But how do you tell them it's time to go home?
The sad thing is this, they are only allowed to come once a year for 36 days. I wonder how a child feels when they realize they are not staying but have to go back to the hospital where we were told "nobody cares about them" and "nobody has time to pay attention to them."
I find myself saddened once again by how this country treats it's children. I don't know how this makes any sense to anyone. Once a year for 7 years children are allowed to come here and stay for 36 days. And when they are not here they are being raised in a hospital by a nurse who doesn't have time to care for them. They are not placed permanently until they are 4 and then they will probably end up in an orphanage or an internat.
I won't go on anymore. This is one of those times that I have to look at the glass as half full and not half empty. Tonight I have to be grateful for what they have and not for what they are missing. I have to be grateful that these children are some of the chosen few who are given this wonderful experience each year. The staff members were nice and seemed to enjoy the children. I am thankful for the dedicated staff who work for practically nothing so that these children can experience joy in their lives.
July 23, 2008
I would like to answer a few questions people have asked me about the Humanitarian Program of the Church.
Where does the money come from?
- first the money that is used comes from members of the church worldwide who donate to the Humanitarian Fund
- the funds are used to assist organizations who help the poor and needy
- we do not provide assistance to individuals
- we have worked with; hospitals, schools, institutions for the handicapped, boarding schools, orphanages, women's groups, a veteran's group, and an organization that supports people raising large families, a blind school, a day program for "invalids", and shelters.
- sometimes we will get a letter from an organization that has had assistance from the church in the past.
- sometimes a local church member or Branch President will know of an organization that could use some assistance and they will make a referral.
- when things are slow we go looking for places that are doing great things to assist the poor and needy.
- we work with other non-governmental agencies like the International Relief Development who will recommend possible organizations to partner with.
- we (the Humanitarian Couple) write a letter supporting their request for assistance and it has to be approved by our directors in Kieve and then they send it to the Directors in Moscow for approval
- we don't give any organizations money. LDS Charities pays the vendor directly for the items that have been requested. The whole process takes 3 or 4 months.
- when the items have been delivered we meet with the organization one last time to celebrate the arrival of their new equipment.
- Those items are sent to the foreign countries in large containers by ship. We have to have a partner organization like The International Relief Development (IRD) work with us to bring the containers into the country.
- In Ukraine we have partnered with IRD. They are the consignee for the container and they locate organizations who have a need of the equipment and distribute the items to those organizations. They are very good about inviting us to see the containers unloaded and attend the distribution. I have posted some of these experiences in previous post.
- I appreciate your desire to help with our Humanitarian work in Ukraine however, it is not that easy. When large quantities of items are sent they have a difficult time clearing customs. There is a concern that the items will be sold. We have even had items disappear sometime in transit from America. There is also a tax or duty added to items that are brought into the country. So the church has been very clear that they do not want friends or family members sending items here.
Go to the blog http://www.peaceablewalkldshsp.blogspot.com/ for my post about how to help.
or you can go to the church website: www.lds.org/ldsfoundation/welfare/welcome
Today we went to a hospital that asked for some assistance to purchase some wheelchairs. When we arrived we had a meeting with a Surgeon who does Surgery on patients with decubitis ulcers(bed sores). He said they have many patients who develop decubitis because they are bedridden or wheelchair bound and when a bed sore develops "nobody knows how to treat it" and it becomes infected. We met with the doctor for about an hour.
The first thing I want to say is this..........
HE MAKES $300.00 PER MONTH AND HAS BEEN A SURGEON FOR 38 YEARS!!!!!!!!!!
(Olga told us teachers make about $160.00 a month).
We learn things here everyday that are so hard to comprehend.
As we toured the hospital once again, I was so sad to see the condition of the equipment they use or the lack of equipment. We went to the floor that this doctor works on. It is where patients go who are recovering after surgery on their decubitis. They usually stay in this department a few months. We met one young who was probably under 30 we found lying flat on his stomach with nothing for entertainment. There were no T.V's, or VCR's in the room, absolutely nothing. He had placed a mirror on the head board so that he could see what was going on behind him. When we spoke with him we discovered he had been lying this way for 4 months. The doctor said they don't allow the family to stay because the doctors have to visit patients 3 or 4 times a day.
You must know what I am thinking about now. ........
Did I just hear him say no family?
I never stop being amazed at what goes on here.
When I worked in the hospital the family was such a support to the patients as well as the nurses.
So what if the doctors need to see the patients. At home the patient and his family see the doctor.
What did he just say????????
I bit my lip and went on with the tour.
The hospital requested 4 or 5 wheelchairs that would allow the patients who must stay on their stomach's an opportunity to go outdoors or at least leave their rooms. They told us they only have one now for all of their patients to use. After a little bit of searching we found this young man using the wheelchair to go outside and enjoy some fresh air. We stopped to ask if we could take a picture and to visit for a few minutes. I was so touched. He had a beautiful smile and was so sweet. He is 24 years old. He was injured in a fall 7 years ago and has been in and out of the hospital many times since because of bed sores. The doctor told us they had to bring him back from "Hell" twice. He does not have the use of his legs anymore. The doctor said he had such bad infection that they should have removed his legs but didn't want to because he is so young. I can't imagine how hard that would be at such a young age to be left without the use of your legs. I know that this young man will not have the opportunities young men in America have to attend college and eventually have a career. This country has just not recognized anyone who is handicapped in any way. They can't even get around the streets in a wheelchair not to mention public transportation.
I have mentioned this before but I want to share it again. When people are born with any disability they are sent away to an "internat" to live. These facilities are usually outside town so that no one has to see them and be reminded that the even exist. Bruce and I walk the streets everyday and we very seldom see anyone with a physical or mental disability.
So once again, I am grateful to be an American. I am grateful for the Americans with Disabilities Act that assures humane, fair treatment to people who are born with special needs. I am grateful that I live in a Country where we aren't afraid to work with, or to be friends or neighbors with someone who may look or act different then we do. I am grateful for our freedoms to choose how to raise our children with special needs and for all the wonderful programs we have to support families who are raising children with special needs. I am so proud of all of my friends who have fought for the rights of their special needs children. I am grateful to my friends, both mommies and therapist who have dedicated their lives to enriching the lives of their special needs children. I am so proud to call you my friends.
Tonight I am filled with gratitude for all the blessings that come with being born in the United States of America. God bless the USA.
Today was one of those days that I found myself walking down a road I could not have imagined a year ago. This is Elder Kinghorn following Olga, our Interpreter and a woman we met on the bus. We had just walked about half a mile from the bus stop to this trail and then crossed some railroad tracks when I decided to stop and take a picture. Sometimes I just have to stop and "take in" what we are experiencing. What has become normal to us now would have been quite surprising when we first arrived in Ukraine. We were on our way to a major Hospital that treats spinal cord injury patients and we were walking on a dirt path that trailed past gardens of Sunflowers and summer vegetables. We could see the hospital in the distance but no multilevel parking garages, no ambulance entrances, no signs directing doctors to park in one parking lot and patients in another. In fact, there really aren't parking lots in the hospitals because there are so few people who drive. We have become accustomed to seeing a line of people as they come and go to the hospital from the bus stops usually carrying sacks of food. The woman with Olga said her husband is a patient at the hospital and she could lead us there. She explained to Olga that her husband had an accident and was paralyzed. This was his second time in the hospital and he had been hospitalized for two months this time. She had her hands full of two large bags which probably contained food. Most of the families bring food from home to leave because the hospital only serves borche in the evening. Now that I think of it I have never seen an ambulance entrance or an emergency room entrance in any of the hospitals we have visited. The second picture is what we saw when we actually entered the hospital.
March 11, 2008
Today we went to a school for the blind. It was registered in 2005. They have 2 very small classrooms for blind students. Each classroom is used by 4 students at a time. The students rotate throughout the day. They have a total of 24 students. However, they also work with older clients as well. Some of the students receive instruction in the home. I remember reading about this organization in a journal another Humanitarian Couple kept. I was so impressed with the Principal Anatoliy and how much he has accomplished in just a few years. We met one of their students who is entering the University soon. We also met about 4 or 5 women who we were told were all retired teachers who volunteer their services. Anatoliy really wants to teach people how to function as productive members of the society. He wants them to become educated to do more than just “menial work” He said he would like to see them be able to enter professional careers and be treated like "normal" people. He asked the Church for a computer to assist with teaching their students. He would also like to send some of the children to a Summer Camp so he is trying to find Sponsors to send his students to camp. It seems to be very common for children in Ukraine to go to camp during the summer. Many of the organizations we visit are looking for sponsors to help send children to camp. The unique thing about this request is most of these children would not have this opportunity because of their visual impairments. His goal is to give them the same opportunities as "normal" children. We then visited a shelter for young adults 18-23 who were raised in orphanages and now have nowhere to go to live or learn job skills. They are housing these young adults as well as trying to provide support in finding jobs. They only stay at this shelter until they find a job. Their goal is to try to find jobs that provide housing. Olga said these are usually unskilled factory jobs, they use to have dormitories for Mine workers but she said it is so dangerous nobody wants to work there. We found this place on our own and the lady was so surprised we were offering help without anyone asking. It is kind of a strange concept isn't it. I want all of you at home to know that this is one of those organizations who would benefit from the HYGIENE KITS, BLANKETS AND BEDDING AS WELL AS CLOTHING DONATIONS THAT COME FROM AMERICA. All these young people were abandoned at birth and lived in orphanages their whole lives. Can you imagine how special it would be to have a homemade quilt? Keep up the work sisters I am so proud to represent our Relief Society. Today, Anatoliy told us there would be a "special reward in Heaven" for people like us for doing this work and I want you to know that I am just the messenger your love comes through to them in these blankets and hygiene kits.
Thank-you Thank-you Thank-you. It was a good day.One more day of being very thankful for Olga and these wonderful people who dedicate their lives to making other peoples lives better.
July 19, 2008
I am so excited. Ever since we left the United States I have felt like I had some unfinished business. When we first decided to go on a mission Elder Fonda is one of the first people I wanted to tell.
You are probably wondering, "WHO IS ELDER FONDA?"
Well, he doesn't go by the name of Elder Fonda anymore and he's no longer a 19 year-old young man.
He goes by the name of Blair or dad. He's now the father of 4 children, one who is getting ready to start college.
22 years ago Blair was a young man serving a mission in Sacramento California. He and his companion knocked on our door and offered to "share a message with us".
(You know, the two guys you see in white shirts and ties with black name tags riding bikes all over town.)
The rest, as they say, is history.............
So when we decided to serve a mission I wanted to let Elder Fonda know.
Over the years we have stayed in touch through letters and I have tried to express to him my gratitude for the decision he made as a very young man to serve a mission. I have always been so impressed that a young man would leave all the worldly things behind to serve our Heavenly Father for two years.
Maybe it's just me but I don't know if I could have done that at 19.
Really.............. think about it for a minute.
At 19 the most important things in my life were my friends and of course, my boyfriend. 19 is the age when you finally get some independence. Most young people are living on their own for the first time. I remember my first apartment with my best friend, Liz. We were so excited to fix it all up with the hand-me-down furniture we scraped together. No rules, nobody telling us what to do. Life was full of new adventures. Weekend trips to the coast or camping with friends. Most of us had jobs but they were usually fun jobs. Work hadn't become so mundane to us yet. Some of us were in college working towards degrees in fields we were excited about working in.
Well, I think you get the picture. When a young person decides to go on a mission they are essentially deciding to put their life on hold. Not like a summer job that last a few months but for two years. So needless to say, I have always had a lot of respect and admiration for Elder Fonda not to mention endless gratitude.
So back to the beginning of my story. I wrote Blair and basically said, "guess whose going on a mission?" and he wrote back and said, something like, "I just let out a loud WoooHOO and everyone in my office is looking at me like I am crazy" or something close to that. Let's just say, I think he was thrilled for us.
As the days got closer to us actually leaving for our mission I spent alot of time reflecting on why we had decided to serve a mission. Especially since we had that farewell talk looming before us. You know, that special day when all your friends and family come to church so that they can hear you say something profound and inspirational before you leave them all behind.
-I thought about all the wonderful blessings in our lives.
-I thought about how we felt like everything good that has ever happened in our lives was a result of our decision to be baptized.
I thought about how I have come to really know and love my Heavenly Father.
How I have learned to trust him.
How I have come to know that I am never alone. That no matter what happens to me or my family my Heavenly Father will always be there for me.
I thought about how I have come to love my brother, Jesus Christ for his atoneing sacrifice that he made for me.
I thought about all the blessings we had been showered with since that beautiful day in February 1986 when my wonderful husband and I entered the waters of baptism.
And I wanted to thank Elder Fonda once again, for being obedient. For leaving the worldly things behind to serve his Heavenly Father.
I wanted him to know that although I may not have been ready at 19 to leave the worldly things behind, because of his example I was ready now to leave my life as I had known it behind.
I wasn't giving up my friends, college, or a job and the freedom I had felt as a 19 year old. What I was leaving behind was the children I had been blessed to raise and the beautiful healthy grandchildren the lord had blessed me with.
The difference was this, I knew my children knew who they were. I knew they knew that although their earthly parents would be gone for a time, they would never be alone. I knew they knew they were sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who loved them.
This is the gift that Elder Fonda gave our family. I know that I will never find the words that adequately express my gratitude for this gift.
Each week when I sit in District Meeting with these young missionaries and I see their love for the people of Ukraine that they are serving I think of Elder Fonda. When I hear these young missionaries praying to be brought to those that are searching I thank my Father in Heaven for guiding Elder Fonda and his companion to our home. I am so grateful that Elder Fonda and his companion were worthy enough to have the Holy Ghost who guided them back to our home each week. I am grateful that these two young men were worthy to have the Holy Ghost with them as they testified of the truthfulness of the gospel.
So, back to the beginning of this long story. I am excited because when we arrived in Country my e-mails to Elder Fonda were returned which was so depressing. I haven't been able to get in touch with him. I couldn't imagine never talking to him again. I was so sad I couldn't share with him how much I loved being a missionary. I wanted him to know all about what it was like for me and Elder Kinghorn to serve the Lord. I finally realized that I might be able to reach him through the internet search engine that listed all the missions throughout the world and.....
I found him... I found Elder Fonda again..... Whoo Hoo!!!!!!!
A few days ago Elder Fonda e-mailed me back and now I can tell him all the things I have wanted to say. I can learn about his wonderful family and how they are all doing. I wrote today and asked for pictures. I am so excited.
He doesn't really understand, and I don't think he ever will comprehend how his decision to leave everything he knew and loved behind to serve his Heavenly Father changed the lives of not just me and my husband but that unselfish decision has blessed the lives of future generations.
You'll always be "our missionary".
Every person who has ever had the opportunity to have two young missionaries knock on their door and offer to share a message knows how endearing that term is.
We will love you for time and all eternity.
July 15, 2008
Last night as I was lying in bed wide awake after several hours of tossing and turning, I found myself thinking,
"I shouldn't really believe people when they say things like, "Oh you won't really need the air conditioner it stays really cool in here", or "you won't need an air conditioner in your bedroom, the one in the living room cools the whole house."
I don't know maybe it's just me....
but I like to be comfortable when I fall asleep.
It helps if your clothes aren't sticking to you and you don't feel like your body is heating up from the inside out.
Sister Clark, this is her with the fan in front of her face was telling me that she has been experiencing extreme heat surges ( you know the ones that come with hormonal changes) for 10 years now.
"Oh", I say, "that's not so bad, I only have to put up with this for 9 1/2 more years."
So, I just went out and bought myself these cute fans. I figured I can use them at church the next time someone decides to close all the windows except one when it is 110 degrees inside.
You see we are having a little problem regulating the temperature in the church building.
Remember I told you about SWASNIK..................
well, we definitely don't want to create a draft or any kind of circulating air that might pass over.
So we have kind of started an AIR war with the members on Sundays.
The Missionaries arrive come in......open all the windows ..............turn the ceiling fans on high.......
and the Members come in...close all the windows except maybe one or two that are cracked open at the top and either turn off the ceiling fans or turn them very low so as not to create a breeze.
Members one, Missionaries zero..........................
Sister Clark and I were excited to find a few portable fans last week stashed in a pile of forgotten things in a classroom. We put them out in a conspicuous place hoping on Sunday we might be able to sit by them and actually feel some air movement.
Needless to say, we never saw them again.......
So for now we have to rely on these handheld fans and remember we are the guest here.
I decided to venture out on my own again yesterday.
I know, we have already been here 8 months and I am still thinking of my time alone as an adventure.
But this is why
I tried to give the taxi driver. 4 griven for my $3.00 cab ride!!!!!!
Hey, it looked like $4.00. It was two two's. That's 4 dollars right?
Wrong that is 40 cents!!!!!
Well, at least the cab driver and I had a good laugh about it.
So here is the deal.
5 griven is basically the equivalent of 1 USD. 10 griven is 2 dollars, 20 griven is 4 dollars. There is a 20 griven bill, which is not to be confused with a 20 dollar bill.
It is really 4 dollars, well actually it is 20 griven.
And then there are the little coins. I won't even talk about them.
It wasn't that long ago, well maybe 2 or 3 months ago. I left Bruce and Olga (our interpreter) outside a store and I went in to buy some bread. I didn't do so good that time either, I told Olga "I gave her a dollar". I was thinking, what's the problem?, after the lady looked at me strange. Well Olga said patiently,
"Sister Kinghorn that is not a dollar."
It was 1 griven which basically is 20 cents!!!!!
So, you get the picture. Going out alone for me is definitely an adventure.
I don't know how my mind works but I am sure quite different from most peoples. My mind does this filtering thing.
Information in..........let's see will I need this again?........ probably not..............and out it goes.....................
How many things get filed this way? or shall I say, not filed.
I think knowing what the bills are should be a keeper................
Of course I am going to need this again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Maybe the fact that I have had Bruce by my side for nearly 30 years and his brain seems to use a more efficient filtering system then mine has contributed to the decisions my brain makes.
I mean why waste important storage space if someone else got it right? All it takes is a quick check, "you got that right" and we're good to go.
Needless to say, It takes money to ride the bus, buy anything at the Reenik, get a drink of water, or use the public restrooms. ..................... you get the picture right?
I'm not even mentioning the Language. It takes a little Russian to.....
I digress......... Let's just say,
I think I better stay close to Bruce for while longer........................
July 10, 2008
July 9, 2008
Elders Hunt, Oldroyd, Kinghorn, Summerhays, and Bassett
Wehad just finished our District Meeting. Elder Hunt and Elder Sumerhays are the two young men who had given first aide to the man I spoke about in my blog entry on Human Kindness. I love these young men they are so awesome. We meet as a district once a week and do planning and study together. We study the Preach My Gospel Book, the Book of Mormon, we have a Russian Language lesson, a spiritual thought and scripture. We plan the activities for the week; including service opportunities, English classes, and youth night. We discuss ways to strengthen the members in our branch and support one another. It is a great way to start the week. With scripture, prayer, singing hymns, and some study time. We are so grateful to be included in this special time. It helps strengthen our relationships with the missionaries.
July 8, 2008
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.
July 7, 2008
God bless the USA. What an incredible experience. I came outside and found the Elders all saluting the flag and reciting the pledge of allegiance. Elder Fedotov in the light blue t-shirt is from Ukraine and you can see from his reaction that he didn't quite know how to react. It was very moving. It was a great way to end our day. I think all of us have really come to appreciate the freedoms that our country has offered us. The missionaries see everyday how the many years of Soviet rule have affected the people of this country and have developed such an appreciation for the men and women who have fought for our freedom and for all that it means in our lives. I don't think I have ever felt such gratitude for being an American on the 4th of July as I did today.
I love Elder Pearson's "last words" which were printed in our recent newsletter, "see you in the land of the free and the home of the brave."
After our football game we all hopped on Public Transportation and headed to the church for a Barbeque. We stopped by our apartment for an hour or so and by the time we got to the church the meat was on the grill. I have to say I was so impressed the Elders and Sisters had everything under control. They had purchased everything they needed for a real American style barbeque. Many of the companionships had even made shish kebobs complete with peppers and onions. It was fun.
July 4, 2008
July 1, 2008
AS WE WERE WALKING HOME THE OTHER DAY I THOUGHT ABOUT ALL THE THINGS WE SEE ON OUR WALK THAT WE HAVE BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO. THIS IS ONE OF THEM. THERE IS ACTUALLY A PERSON IN THIS BOX WHO SELLS TELEPHONE CARDS FOR CELLULAR PHONES. MOST PEOPLE JUST BUY MINUTES FOR THEIR PHONES AS THEY NEED THEM AND THIS IS WHERE YOU BUY YOUR PHONE CARD.
THIS IS WHAT A MARSHRUKA LOOKS LIKE. IF YOU ARE LUCKY YOU WILL GET TO SIT IN A SEAT IF NOT YOU JUST GRAB THE HANDRAIL AND HOLD ON. AS PEOPLE GET IN IT CAN GET VERY CROWDED. IT IS QUITE CHALLENGING IF YOU END UP PUSHED TOWARD THE BACK AND HAVE TO SQUEEZE BY EVERYONE TO GET OFF AT YOUR STOP
I was thinking about what everything looked like when we first got here and we couldn't tell what was in all of these buildings. We still can't read what the signs say but at least now the snow and dirt is gone and we can see in the windows.
This is where people stop to buy their cigarettes and magazines. The two ladies are buying a quick snack. They sell sandwiches. I have not been able to tell what is in the sandwich but they are loaded with ketchup. They also sell roasted chickens in little booths and meat on a skewer that looks like gyro meat. I haven't been brave enough to try that yet either.
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