I don't live in Balaklia anymore.
Let me backtrack...the weekend was spent alternating between social functions (visiting a nearby town to meet pupils there, which grew out of the teachers' seminar a few weeks ago and Robert's birthday party), cleaning my apartment (self-explanatory), and saying goodbye (neighbor kids, Julia, church, and the Yukhymets family).
Sunday was a difficult day for me. It was my last church service in Balaklia, and we had Communion. At the end of the service, the pastor prayed for me and my travels. Afterwards, we all took pictures and everyone hugged me and wished me well. Yula and Serogia were visiting her parents, and I was glad to get to say goodbye to them as well.
I spent the afternoon at the Yukhymetses'. Nadia had asked me earlier what I wanted to eat, and she made borsch, chicken and mashed potatoes, sour cabbage, and a salad that I love (it includes chicken, pineapple, mushrooms, onions, boiled eggs, and mayonnaise, and it tastes much better than you might think from that description), plus there was cake for dessert. The older kids were all being unemotional, for the most part (not an overly sentimental bunch, but I know they'll miss me), Valera just sat quietly all day (note: this is highly unusual), and the little kids just didn't get it.
Ihor (age 6): When's Miss Sally coming back from America?
Nadia: She's going to live there.
Ihor: But how's she going to go to church with us then?
Alosha (age 3) only understood that something about me was going on, so he walked around saying, "I love Miss Sally!"
At the end of the afternoon, Nadia videotaped me playing the piano, first singing by myself, and then singing with the kids. We all did goodbye hugs, and Nadia and I both cried and cried. I'm going to miss her so much. Then Vitaly and Oleh walked me home and peppered me with questions about what it's like to fly on an airplane.
Yesterday, I spent the day mailing out the last of my books, dropping stuff off at school, and cleaning my apartment, which included scrubbing my kitchen floor on my hands and knees. Let no one say that the American girl leaves a dirty apartment!
Robert, my director, Nadia, and Nadia's brother Tolik helped me get my bags to the train station ( the Y's van is currently more or less non-operable, and we made it to and from church on Sunday simply by the grace of God). I rode with Nadia and Tolik, and Nadia was crying. Back in October, I'd signed her birthday card, "your American daughter, Sally", and she remembered that.
Nadia, Oksana Yaroslavivna, and I stood around and talked for a bit before I needed to get on the train. I found out that Dasha, one of my 4th form girls, is legally a social orphan now. Her parents are still alive, but they hadn't wanted her, so they gave custody of her to her grandmother. Her grandmother died over fall break, and now no one knows where Dasha's going to go...quite possibly to an orphanage. Please keep her in your prayers.
Robert and I went out to dinner in Kharkiv, and then he got me on the train. This morning, I got in around 7:30, took what seemed to be a horribly expensive taxi to the office (but was told later that it actually wasn't that bad), and am now checking my email and chatting with other PCVs.
When I checked my email, I found this from two of my 7th formers:
Greetings of Ms. Salli. We very much on you have become bored. Had not time to get used to Olga Ivanovne yet. And how are you doing, how have reached? Excuse that could not lead you on a train. We very much love you and we miss. All class sends the regards to you. Good-bye, yours faithfully Arevik and Laura.
I know it's time for COS, time to come back to my life in the US. But sometimes, especially last night and right now, it's hard to leave.