Yeah, I'm still alive. My apologies to all of my faithful readers who keep checking back and wondering why I haven't posted recently...it's a combination of general busyness, Tif's visit, and three days when the Internet didn't work. However, my Internet guy has put my connection on a different channel (I don't know exactly what this means in English, but it seems good) and now my connection is a lot faster...and I can upload photos! (See previous post.)
Let's see...going back about two weeks now, before Tif came. My friend Andrey's church did a series of evangelistic tent meetings for four nights in an area of town where a lot of my kids live. Each night, they would have a general meeting explaining the basics of Christianity with music and a sermon, which was then followed by a meeting that was more youth-oriented on topics like AIDS, alcoholism, and drugs. At least 25 of the kids from my school were there (we only have about 280!), whether sitting and listening or occasionally drifting over from the cafe/bar across the road. I don't believe that anyone got saved during the meetings, but hearing the Gospel is a rare occurence over here, and I simply pray that seeds were planted that will come to fruition later. I know that the mom of one of my seventh form boys really enjoyed the meetings and wants to start attending church regularly. I myself really felt convicted to pray for my kids...the barriers of language, culture, and my role as a PCV limit my ability to witness to them in words, but going to the meetings regularly and praying fervently for each child by name were things that I could do in spite of those barriers. It was a boost for my own faith.
Tif arrived last Friday, and we've had a grand time! She knows the language and the area, so a few days she was off visiting people she knew from before and finding souvenirs, but we've been together a lot, especially in the evenings...cooking, listening to the music she brought, and having random conversations on any and all topics. Oh, and finding out that the cafe on the corner has a lot of good food at cheap prices! I enjoy eating out once in a while, but I would feel odd doing it by myself here in town.
Sunday was Yula and Serhii's wedding...I had wanted to do a huge post about that event alone, but I think I'll just leave it with all the comments I wrote about the pictures in my last post. If you have questions, let me know.
Monday we bummed around town, took pictures by the statues of Lenin and Taras Shevchenko (Ukraine's greatest poet), and stopped by to visit Robert, the new PCV in my town. He works at a non-profit organization that helps invalids, large families, and families with invalid children. The organization had gotten a LARGE donation of used clothes from Canada, and the director had invited me over to look through and see if there was anything I would want. Most of it wasn't anything I would/could wear, but I ended up with two sweaters.
Last night was the school-leaving ceremony for the 11th form (US graduation). It involved lots of music and dance numbers, including small children dancing (very cute), a harem dance (weirdly fascinating and not what I would consider appropriate for the occasion...Tif caught some of it on video), and me singing "Fly Me to the Moon" in English. It was a very nice ceremony, and the kids were all dressed up--the boys in suits, the girls in prom-type dresses. After the ceremony, there was an all-night dance for the kids...last year I stayed, but we were planning to go to Kharkiv today and so we left after the ceremony.
Woke up this morning at 7 am to a severe thunderstorm and me having a sore throat and feeling exhausted, so we stayed home and are planning to go to Kharkiv tomorrow, as we thought it better that I rest today rather than keep pushing and get very sick when we go to L'viv next week. So I went back to bed and slept until after 11. Then we had pork stroganoff on toast for lunch (don't ask, we invented the combination earlier this week and it's really good), and Tif went off to go exchange money and look for Harry Potter books in Russian to complete her set, while I attempt to catch up on blogging.
Next Monday, we head for L'viv in western Ukraine, which is supposed to be a beautiful old city reminiscent of Prague or Krakow. It'll be about a 24 hour trip from Balaklia to L'viv, but we're up for the adventure. Then we get back to Kyiv on Thursday and Tif flies out on Friday morning. We're planning to go out to McDonald's that morning for her birthday, but we'll see how that goes. I think I'm going to visit the Malkos in Zgurivka next weekend, then come home for a few days, and then I'm off to Donetsk again.
Tif's back, so I'll close for now. :)