Wow...Day 18. You know, I know a lot of stuff I didn't know before, thanks to spending so, so many days in this country. I figured out that we will have spent a total of about 8 weeks here between April and now. I am actually beginning to understand what people are saying and can answer them. Not too complicated, of course, but I can read their facial expressions and pick out enough words to kind of figure out what they are saying. I also don't see the letters the same way anymore. It used to be that they all looked like our letters used the wrong way, but now I am starting to sound things out without having to think about it first.
I also know a lot about things I never thought I would know about...and most of them are things I never even knew about.
I can navigate in the metros (as long as I don't have to change lines...just got my first experience with that today and there is definitely more to know!), on buses, in stores, pay for things, ask for things and I even know "the drill" on pretty much everything that is needed to survive here. I also don't feel as uncomfortable or out of place.
I know how long we will swelter in an overnight train before it starts to cool off. I know how to get on and ride a tram and how to know if there is someone to take my money or if I have to pay the driver. I know how to pay for metro coins and how much they cost. I know what I can cook here without the staples of flour, oats, etc. I know how to survive on four plates, seven forks and no cups...with four children to feed. I know what brands of milk and butter and cottage cheese are the best. I know how to say words and describe things I couldn't even hope to remember two weeks ago.
It's been hard to transition from city to city and doing it without the help of Marsh's Russian, but the experience has been worth it. There is no easy way to learn anything. If you really want to know it, you have to pay the price. And that payment is usually uncomfortable, even painful at times. But, like all things, the difficulty will pass and you will be stronger for it and know more than you could have anticipated.
I'm not sure where all that knowledge will go, but maybe it serves its purpose just in showing me what I'm capable of. I have to admit, the experience has required me to turn to the Lord in prayer MUCH more often than a typical day on our little farm does. Before we even left the apartment this morning, I must have prayed every five minutes. I needed His help with the recording session I had, I needed His help in giving me wisdom and patience and love in a trying situation.
Perhaps He is trying to show me that it's not just in the challenges of being in a different country and mothering two children who don't speak the same language that I need to turn to him every minute. After my bazillionth prayer, I thought about our "hearts being drawn out in prayer continually" and wondered why I don't turn to Him more often on a daily, hourly, minute-to-minute basis in the comfort of my own home. Sure, when it's hard, I'm right there on my knees (or in my head) begging for help and His wisdom. But, I need that help every hour, not just in the hard times.
So, that is how my day started...pleading with the Lord to help lift the burdens with which the Adversary was hedging up my way. The Adversary likes to do that. He thinks it's fun to watch me suffer.
We had a lot of great experiences again today. I'm going to take you on a picture tour of our day, but you have to imagine how we got from place to place...metros, buses, trams...all packed with people and really, really hot and humid. If you see faces glistening in pictures, it's not an optical illusion. We are sweating. I have learned to accept that washing is not going to change the sweating factor. It is only to take off a few layers, not solve any problems.
After going grocery shopping, AGAIN (nothing like feeding teenage boys and two young ladies), we went home to have lunch and then headed out to meet my sweet, sweet, sweet (I can't put enough "sweet"s in here) friend Zoya who was taking us on a walking tour and then helping us get to the recording studio where I needed to play a little part in Marsh's most recent project...
|Once at the top of the hill, there is a fabulous view of the Dnepr River.|
|Here, the kids look at a diorama-type display of the tram track and the sites around it.|
|Posing with a 350 year old tree.|
|Chris took this shot of St. Andrew's spires near the old tree. QUITE an impressive picture, Chris! St. Andrew's is right by the SDA office and is a really visible landmark on this upper area of Kyiv.|
|We made our way to this cute park area with statues and benches that are quite whimsical. It was apparently started to protest the "old way" of art here, but it has become a landmark itself. Here are some fun pictures of this children's area...|
|Strong brothers protecting little sisters. :)|
|The kids are on top of a huge set of play equipment with slides and ladders and such. I don't know why I didn't zoom out and get the whole thing! Sorry. The tiles were so hot that Ruslan couldn't hold on to them so he had to keep switching hands.|
|Believe it or not, this is a sculpture! It is called, "Just Like Home" or something like that...it had to be translated. :)|
|Another great bench...overlooking the city and the three hills that Kyiv was named for.|
|Teeter totter bench!|
|The view of the city from the eye glasses bench.|
|Notice the sculpture behind Chris?|
|Yes, they are sitting on a bench.|
|At the end of the walk we found the cutest little park with sculptures all around. I love how the big kids don't feel like big kids all the time.|
Then it was off to the bus, then to a tram, then for a walk to the recording studio...
|The kids came in to say hello to Dad and Uncle Dave. Uncle Dave met Nastia for the first time over Skype. :)|
|After another tram ride and two metro lines, we were home and found this optical illusion outside the apartment building...|
|...the cat is actually sitting on wire mesh up in the air! It was so interesting, I had to get a picture.|
|Back at the apartment, Ruslan helps Nastia put in the earrings Zoya gave her. Zoya is the best substitute grandma in the world!|
|And since we didn't get home until almost 8pm, dinner was sausage, cheese, bread, watermelon and the Ukrainian version of Ramen Noodles which are even cheaper here than they are at home! All this food, and then some, was gone in a matter of moments.|
Zoya was so cute when she found out that we were staying an extra day...she said we can do something fun together again. It was a good way to respond because I was choking back tears.