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From Bojano to Ukraine

After our busy Sunday, Monday morning dawned a little too early but we finished packing, loaded the van and tidied our cabin.  Both families came down to say goodbye and after a sweet prayer time we started our trip to Ukraine.

We stopped in Tchew at the home of our friends (Piotr and Marisha) and enjoyed fellowship with their family and Yanush and his family for an hour.  They had large plates of delicious pastries prepared for us, along with lots of coffee and tea. They also gathered around us and prayed for us, and we felt that we were saying goodbye to family as we pulled away from their home.

Jewish Ghetto Memorial
Poland has a really nice toll road and we traveled on this until we safely reached "Varshava" as Warsaw is pronounced.  Ben had contacted Jerzy Schmiel, a gentleman who was instrumental in arranging the tours that he and the other younger siblings took part in years ago in Poland.   It was amazing that we found his office building amid all the rest because our phone ran out of minutes and could only receive calls.


Tiniest house in Warsaw
Our dear friend Bogna, who had flown down from Norway was in Warsaw visiting her mother that week. We met her at a Jewish memorial statue and she gave us a grand tour of the beautiful, old city and park.  She grew up in Warsaw and we appreciated having her as a guide. 

Before we left Tczew, Piotr had offered to contact a church hostel near Warsaw to ask if we could stay the night.  That wasn't available, but a family he knows invited us to stay in their home just outside of Warsaw.  They are a young family with two girls and two boys and they also play music.  We ate some delicious home-made pirogi, and they put us up for the night in their spacious home.  They specifically built a large house so they could offer hospitality to others.  After dinner, Ben helped start a fun game of keep away with their four children which helped break the ice.

Say cheesy. . .or fishy!
Funny sign @ border
The next morning, after an amazing breakfast and goodbye to our new friends, we hit the trail to Ukraine. We took the route that goes through Lublin, then through Chelm.  We didn't know what to expect at the border but after 3 1/2 hours, we learned the procedure; wait a long time, open the back door (and hope the luggage won't fall on the gaurds), open the side door for roll call, wait more, drive to the next line, wait more, repeat luggage avalanche and roll call, wait again and then you're free to continue The Ukrainian border gaurds asked where we were travelling to and couldn't believe we were taking such a large family to Zholty Vody.

Poland is a lot like the States and most places have street lights along most of the highways, especially in cities and towns. Not so in Ukraine! The first moderately sized town we came to, Kovel, looked as if we'd driven back in time about 50 years.  Mom found a hotel listed in the GPS directory, so we were able to find a nice place to stay for a good price.  The parking lot behind the hotel even had a friendly security guard with a big dog keeping an eye on things. 

The next morning we set out for Kiev, where we were looking forward to seeing our friends Pasha and Sveta Agarkovi.  They are originally from Zholty Vody, but now live in the outskirts of Kiev and work with an orphan facility called Fathers House. We got there in the late afternoon, and enjoyed some great fellowship with these precious friends. They had arranged lodging for us at a friend's apartment, so we got some good rest. 

Us, Vika, Luba, Sveta and Katya
Recording in the studio
Bullet holes
 The next day we drove into Kiev and visited Maidan, the square where all the protests took place when the previous president was ousted. It was still beautiful, but the scars and bullet holes from the confrontation were obvious. Many people were killed during this time, and there were pictures of the fallen, along with flowers, flags, and other symbols of remembrance everywhere. Ukraine has definitely been through difficult times lately, and to see it firsthand was a real eye-opener. 

McDonalds is here too!
That evening we were invited to visit "Father's House," where we sang for all the children, then had supper with them, which was a treat! It's a real testimony to have three children in our own family who have a story that these children can relate to. 

After saying our goodbyes to Pasha, Sveta, and their three children, we headed southeast towards Zholty Vody. 
After seven hours of bumpy roads dotted with pot holes, we entered the quiet little town of Z.V.  Pasha and Sveta own a house here that has been vacant the past three years while they've been in Kiev.  (It needs a little repair and clean up and we offered to help with this while we are here.)  
We arrived at the house to find that the previous week they had made the long trip from Kiev and prepared their little home for our arrival.  What a blessing!     

Roadside snack
Unfortunately, the next day the clutch broke on the van while Dad was finding supplies downtown.  He was able to contact Roman, the pastor from Living Waters church, who helped Dad get the van to the church and temporarily repair the problem.

Roman asked us to sing and share with the believers during the Sunday morning service.  This day was a special day of blessing for their harvests and many people shared poems, songs and praises. It was a joyful reunion, seeing friends that we haven't seen in the four years since the adoption. It was a lot like coming home!   

A bountiful harvest

One family we had met last time invited us for dinner Monday and we enjoyed visiting with them.  The husband, Zhenya, offered to help set up the gas at our new house the next morning too.  We also asked them about our friend, Nina, who had offered us her apartment to live in when we were here four years ago.  She moved to Kiev a few months ago and her apartment was left empty.  The next morning, Zhenya came to tell us that they had called Nina and she wanted us to live in her apartment again.  We decided to move there because all the utilities were available and we could still work on the house. 
Ilohna and her boys
Wednesday evening that week, we were invited to dinner at the Mercy's Hope house where our friend Ilohna treated us to an amazing dinner. Mercy's Hope is an organization started by our friends, Cris and Karen Mahy, who were not only the first to adopt a child from the orphanage here in ZV, but also shared with us the first pictures of Kathryn, Clayton and Kevin. After adopting their own beautiful daughter, Karina, they felt the Lord's leading to come back and start an outreach to other children in the area, which has since developed into a variety of ministry opportunities.  We also made a new friend, Inna, who has become our Russian teacher (when we are in town.)  

It was a crazy first week back in Zholty Vody but we were glad to be in this special town once again.


Ned Booher said…
Miss you all! May the Lord bless your endeavors and give you protection and favor!
Anonymous said…
Reading and re-living, saving pictures and reading again :) Can hardly believe I was a part of this crazy wonderful experience...
Thanks for the well written blog. See you in a week, Lord willing!

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