вівторок, липня 31, 2007

home again, home again, jiggety-jig!

Okay...home and back in the swing of life, so it's time to blog!

The program at DCU finished up with a talent show/graduation ceremony on Friday afternoon. Everyone who'd scored a 70% or higher in the morning classes (which were graded) received a certificate of completion. For the talent show end of it, we had lots of singing in English, Russian, and Ukrainian, plus a Greek dance. I was part of a choir of some of the Americans singing "Wonderful Grace of Jesus" in four-part harmony acapella. I also sang two songs in Ukrainian by myself--"Ти ж мене підманула," which is a folk song that goes through the days of the week and the reasons why a girl stood her boyfriend up each day (it's probably the most popular folk song in Ukraine, and half the audience was singing along with me), and a Ukrainian translation of "You Are My All in All." I was applauded vigorously--I think after two weeks of putting in a lot of work to learn English, the Ukrainian students were happy to see someone trying to do something in their language.

Earlier that morning, Stephanie, Lana, and I had gone into the center of Donetsk to do some shopping. We were amused by how many people asked us for directions. On our way back home, as we were walking down the street from the trolley stop to the university, a guy a little younger than us asked us a question in English. Assuming that he was a Ukrainian wanting to practice English, I answered in Russian. After a minute or two of confusion, it was determined that we had, in fact, met an American looking for DCU. His name is Brian, and he was a Christian visiting a Russian friend of his who works in Donetsk, and having some free time, had decided to look up what sort of Christian organizations/institutions there were in the area. So we showed him around a bit and he was our photographer during the talent show. In the evening, the four of us went into the center and walked around, swapping stories. We went out to dinner at a place called (in translation) "The Three Fat Guys", which had good food. I had a barbequed pork steak with grilled onions, french fries, and a coleslaw-esque salad. After dinner, we walked down to the river and met up with his friend Kostya and Kostya's girlfriend Nastia. It was a nice evening and a good way to end the program.

Saturday, I went back out to the Good Shepherd children's home, said goodbye to lots of people, made one last trip to the Very Nice Supermarket, and boarded a train home around 9:20. The train ride home was much more pleasant than the ride to Donetsk had been, since I was no longer sick with a fever.

I got home around 3:45 Sunday morning, slept until 8 am, and then got up and went to church. I'd really debated whether or not I wanted to go versus sleep in, but I had really missed being at church over the past month, and I was glad I went. Inna, our usual pianist, was on vacation with her parents, so I ended up playing piano. I guess this makes me the official assistant pianist! Yay, I have a responsibility at church! Yula and Serhii were up visiting her parents (they live in a different town now), so I was able to catch up on how they're doing (went to the Sea of Azov for their honeymoon, she's waiting to get her in-country passport [it's like an ID card] updated so she can get a job).

After church, I came home, napped for an hour, and then went with Robert, the new PCV in town, to a picnic with my friend Natalia and some of her neighbors. We drove to a little village a few kilometers away and spent all afternoon and evening there. We swam in the river (wow, I'm out of shape...my arms ached yesterday!) and ate shashlik. For those sad individuals who don't live in countries where shashlik is popular, let me explain: it's sort of like a shish kebob. Anya, Natalia's neighbor, had marinated chunks of pork in mayonnaise with salt, pepper, and onions sliced into rings. Then, she threaded the pork and onions on metal skewers and roasted them over a fire. It was incredibly good. Who's up for trying it in the US next summer?

The last two days have been quiet, just settling back into everyday life--lots of trips to the bazaar and stores, as I had almost no food in the house; researching grad schools on the Internet; wondering where all the tiny black fly-type critters came from while I was gone and how to get rid of them.

My most interesting experience happened yesterday when I went downstairs to return a couple plates to Oleg and Lesia. Oksana, a former classmate of theirs, was over and they were recording a song that Oleg had written in Russian. However, Oksana also wanted to record an English version, so I ended up translating the song into English, rewording things so it flowed with the music, and helping Oksana with pronunciation. Lots of fun, and one of those experiences that makes me love my crazy, unexpectable life here.

This post is turning out to be horribly long, and I really do need to go over to Robert's to pick up his GRE book, but first, a quick recipe of what I had for dinner tonight, created by yours truly from various online recipes, my imagination, and the contents of my fridge/cupboard.

Simple Summer Pizza

Pour a small bit (2 T or so) of sunflower oil into a cup. Mix with 2 cloves of crushed garlic. Spread over pre-baked pizza crust (mine was probably about 8 inches in diameter). Add 1-2 chopped fresh tomatoes (I removed the seeds but kept the skins on) and a little bit of chopped-up hard salami. Sprinkle with oregano. Add a thin layer of grated cheese (I used a marbled cheese from the supermarket, but if you live in a country where mozerella doesn't cost an arm and a leg and is only available in large cities, I'd recommend that instead) and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese (also costs an arm and a leg but keeps longer). Bake 5-7 minutes in a hot oven until the crust has browned a bit on the bottom and the cheese is melted. Enjoy!

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середа, липня 25, 2007


My best story from today is, in fact, not my story, but rather that of Joni and Shauna, two college students who have also been afternoon teachers at DCU this summer. Shauna related it to me over McDonald's this morning, as we were both running errands in Donetsk (she got her hair cut, I finally was able to access my US bank account!).

So anyway...Joni and Shauna have a soft spot for cats. Last night, they found a pregnant cat who had been in a fight and looked pretty rough, so out of compassion, they took her in. The cat thanked them by having three kittens in the middle of the night, all over the bathroom floor and more specifically, on Joni's pillow which she had given to the cat as a bed. I guess it was a rather traumatizing experience, to hear them retell it.

вівторок, липня 24, 2007

quick update

I'm sad to report that the family from the Kharkiv area who's immigrating to Pennsylvania who were all beginners in English didn't come back for the second week. There wasn't a teacher for Elementary 1 and so they were all in Elementary 2, which was too advanced for them, so they decided it wasn't worth the money and went home. Which I understand, but it was disappointing. We exchanged contact info, and I might try and meet up with them before they leave for the States in September.

This morning (it's around noon now), part of our group went to Good Shepherd, a children's home out in Makeevka. It's partly a shelter where children stay for up to three months while the government decides where they go, and partly a long-term children's home for kids from dysfunctional homes. It's very well done, but seeing it, and realizing that this is one of the better options for kids in those type of situations, made me really happy that the Yukhemets kids have a real family and home to be part of.

I made friends with some of the little kids, who finished off my water bottle and were fascinated by the ice in it. :) There's a chance I might go back on Saturday, since my train doesn't leave until the evening, and I hope it works out.

понеділок, липня 23, 2007

new diet strategy: advice from strangers

Odd moment of the morning: I was walking from the dorm over to the academic building for devotions, sweet roll in hand for a late breakfast. A man, probably in his 50s, who I hadn't met, stopped me and said in Russian, "Why are you eating that? You need to lose weight." I mentally sputtered and then explained that it was my breakfast. He replied in English, "Lunch," and so I said, "No, breakfast." Then we went our separate ways.

I'm used to random comments from people about various things in my life, but this one seemed a bit uncalled for, since it was a complete stranger about something quite personal. Ironic, since most Ukrainians tell me to eat.

неділя, липня 22, 2007

there's within my heart a melody

The hymn-sing just now was wonderful. It was the group from Virginia, an older couple from Alabama (the wife is British), and an older man from Colorado. Apparently there is a tradition of a capella singing in Mennonite churches (should have realized that if I'd thought about it), although it's not as common nowadays, and everyone was singing parts without needing a piano. I loved it! We did, among other songs, "The Solid Rock," "And Can It Be," "In the Garden," and "Wonderful Grace of Jesus," just to give you a sample. I can't remember the last time I got to sing hymns with other people in English. I think we're going to do it again sometime this week. Bonnie commented that I must have been a Mennonite in another life (don't think about the theology involved there!) because I knew most of the songs and I sing out.

This morning, Stephanie, Lana, Ervie (a professor of ESL, linguistics, and German from Eastern Mennonite University) went with Dave and Laura (American staff members at DCU) to their church in the next town over (which is actually closer than going into the center of Donetsk...we're right on the city line). I liked it a lot...it was bigger than my church in Balaklia, but had the same feel to it as far as service structure. I've been a bit homesick for my church, because I haven't been there all month, and being at Dave and Laura's church helped with that. But my church sings more! I'm beginning to think that I have the singingest church inUkraine, and that makes me so happy. :)

sweltering heat

It's really hot here...I don't know how many degrees exactly, but it's just hot.

Yesterday, a group from DCU went up to Sviatohirsk Monastery. It was my second trip this summer, but this was much nicer and more laid-back (i.e. no one was forcing me on long walks to look for monks' graves or constantly urging food on me at lunch). We drove up to the top of the mountain by the old Soviet statue of Artem (a Soviet hero) and took pictures (Stephanie took one for me on my camera of my feet in my new flipflops!). Then we came down, toured the monestary, and had lunch.

After lunch, part of the group hiked the mountain to go up to the upper churches, but since I'd done that once this summer, Stephanie, Lana, and I had "twenty-somethings bonding time", which meant a long discussion about polygamy, particularly how it relates to some fundamentalist Mormon sects, and then we went shopping in the bazaar for scarves.

Lana wants to change her name to Sara so we'll all have names beginning with S. I suggested "Svetlana" because it's Ukrainian and sort of sounds like her name anyway. :)

I wanted to post about church today, but we're going to have a hymn-sing this evening (in English), and so I'm off to that.

пʼятниця, липня 20, 2007

new shoes

So my Tevas flipflops officially wore out last night. They've been falling apart all summer, but last night they acquired a visible hole in the bottom. Since I wore them for two years (bought mid-summer '05), I think I got my money's worth out of them.

So last night, when our students took us on a walking tour of downtown Donetsk, we stopped at a store and I bought new flipflops. They're blue and white with accents in a lot of bright colors. Hopefully they'll break in easily. Everyone else's comment was, "Wow...colorful!" Well, it seems impossible to buy plain black flipflops for women here.

Afterwards, Lana, Stephanie, and I went to McDonald's for twenty-somethings bonding time, which was much fun. Then we attempted to come home, which involved a) missing the right trolley because I couldn't understand the conductor; b) getting on a trolley that had the number of the route on it that we wanted but in fact went somewhere else; c) watching another correct trolley toodle past our stop without stopping; d) calling Dave at DCU for the correct route number for the marshrutka (mini-bus); e) riding a very crowded marshrutka home. We eventually did get home!

I found out yesterday that half of our beginner class is related. It's an older woman, her son and daughter, and the daughter's husband. All of them, plus the daughter and son-in-law's three little girls, are immigrating to Pennsylvania in September, and they've just started learning English. The classes are going too fast for them (this program is INTENSE!), so they've started showing up to my conversation sessions because I can help them in Ukrainian. They joked yesterday about filling up all my time slots. :)

середа, липня 18, 2007

not much news, I just keep teaching English

Funny moment from yesterday: the student in one of my classes who thought that I was a Ukrainian who had lived in the US for several years (apparently losing my fine-tuned grammar skills but still remembering the language). Everyone is amazed that I only had three months of actual lessons! One of the guys today told me that my Ukrainian is better than my English...not sure what that says about my English, because while my Ukrainian is okay, if it's better than my English, I have no business as an ESL teacher!

Today I went with some of the Virginia group to the big Western-style supermarket. I like Stephanie and Lana--Stephanie bought a Russian cookbook and Lana, who's an elementary school librarian, bought Charlotte's Web in Russian, even though neither of them could read their purchases. I understand. :) They've convinced me to go on the trip to Sviatohirsk Monestary on Saturday. I hadn't been planning to go, since I'd been with some PCVs back in June, but hanging out with them for the day will be fun.

I taught my classes the Um Game today! For anyone who doesn't know it, Sally Ingles taught it to my sixth grade class to improve our speaking skills--you are given a topic and you have to talk about it until you say "um...," "ahh...," or other such sounds. The students thought it was hilarious!

Other than that, no big news...Mom, my debit card simply will not work in the ATMs here, so I'm going to try the bank at some point this week when I have free time to go into the city center. Aargh.

вівторок, липня 17, 2007

I am an English teacher. And a Ukrainian/Russian translator!

Two days of teaching done, and am I tired! I love teaching though...we were planning lessons this morning, and I smiled when I realized how happy I was to be trying to figure out how best to present the material. Today we did a lesson with the pre-intermediate group about travel and one with the beginner group about food. The beginners are so much fun--they know that their English is bad, but they don't get all self-conscious about it.

My students are fascinating and varied people, and their reasons for learning English are varied as well. There's Ben, one of 12 kids in a family in Odesa, who's living here with a sister for two weeks so he can learn English well enough to visit his sister in England over the winter holidays. There are Ivan and Anna, siblings ages 17 and 22, who, along with Anna's husband and three daughters, are moving to Pennsylvania in September. There's Angela, whose husband is an Orthodox priest; and Galyna, who works at an orphanage in the next town and is here "so she doesn't get bored while the kids are off at camp". And so many more people...

We do conversations with 3-4 students every day to give them one on one practice...I'm amused to notice that a lot of the beginner students sign up for my slots. I think it's because they know I'll understand them and can help translate. For myself, I find it hard not to just go off into Ukrainian with them!

As a side note, the students all like that I speak Ukrainian/Russian, the DCU staff members are pleasantly surprised, and the other Americans are happy because I can translate things...like how not to save your password on the computer! I'm useful!

Emmalea: yes, they tried to play the Mennonite Game with me, but I saw a prime example of it when we all went out for dinner with a missionary here who is a Mennonite. Oh, and I'm supposed to ask you what Jeremy's dad's name is. And do you know Gordon and Bonnie Zook? I guess he used to be a Mennonite pastor in Lancaster County.

неділя, липня 15, 2007

doing better, thanks for the prayers!

First off, the obligatory health update:

Yesterday, my stomach hurt off and on, but I felt fine most of the day. By mid-afternoon, I could feel that I'd exhausted myself and I had a slight fever in the evening, but it wasn't that big of a deal. Today, I haven't had a fever all day and am finally feeling more or less back to normal, although I'm still taking it slow so as not to relapse (skipped out on the chance to go to a Kyiv/Donetsk soccer game tonight, even though it would have gained me major Cool Points with my older boys this fall).

Yesterday we had orientation. It started off at 9 am with an hour-long Russian language lesson, all of which I knew, but I didn't mind sitting there and I was able to help out the people around me. The teacher started them off with "hello", which is pronounced "zdrastvuitye", more or less. It's one of the more challenging words to pronounce (Peace Corps never even taught it to us...we learned "hi", "good morning", and "good afternoon" instead, all of which are a lot simpler!), so I've been helping people review it ever since.

Then we had an overview of our curriculum. I swear I'm on resource overload! (Yes, Tif, that's an in-joke for you!) They have so many books and resources here--good books, that are put out by British and American companies. We have a schedule of the classes we're teaching and the times when we teach them; we go to the schedule, find the topic, then go to the sheet for the course level, and there's a list of possible activities and lessons to choose from. I'm overwhelmed by how little there is for me to do as far as coming up with ideas! Don't get me wrong--there'll still be lesson prep, and we can tweak things to add our own spin on it. But for the last almost two years, all my lessons, while based off of a textbook, have basically been done from scratch and whatever resources/ideas I could scrounge. When I worked at camp last summer, I was told, "Hey, you'll need to do two lessons on culture, one on crafts, two on writing, etc..." It's a little weird to have so much of the work pre-done, although it makes sense, since there are people here from all over and not everyone has an ESL background. Mom says I should look at it as a vacation!

The other people working at the program are very nice. The ones I've hung out with the most are a group of Menonnites from Virginia (not the conservative Mennonites with the little prayer caps like we tend to see in mid-Michigan, but more along the lines of evangelical Christians with a strong emphasis on pacifism, social justice, and simplicity...Emmalea, I know you at least know what I'm talking about!). One of the women from the group has a daughter and son-in-law who are PCVs in Mauritania (Africa), there's a retired pastor and his wife who will be my co-teachers for our sessions (three native speaker teachers in one classroom!), and a couple other people more their age than mine, plus Stephanie and Lana, who are good friends and a couple years older than me. Stephanie works for the Rosetta Stone software company and Lana is a children's librarian at an elementary school. They're teaching the children's curriculum at the English program, and yesterday, Stephanie said, "You know, we could teach them, 'My God is so great...'" and Lana and I chimed in, with hand motions, "'So strong and so mighty / There's nothing my God cannot do!'" So then we sang camp songs for a bit. :) We had a rousing game of Apples to Apples last night.

There are also some other older people here as well as a missions team from Minnesota and two college-age girls from Moody and Calvin, but I haven't gotten to know them well yet, as I spent
a lot of time in my room recovering.

And reading! I've re/read A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, Catherine Marshall's Christy, and part of Bodie Thoene's Warsaw Requiem (which isn't is good as I remember...or maybe my tastes have just changed). Currently I'm reading Soviet Evangelicals since WWII (published around 1980), which is pretty much what the title says. A horrendous amount of the book deals with church politics and splits and unions and is rather tedious, but there's some interesting information about the church services and the difference between registered and unregistered churches during the Soviet period, and when I think about it in terms of Nadia and Viktor's lives, it becomes more interesting (and gives me a whole bunch of questions I want to ask them when I go home!). On deck are Shadow of the Almighty, Elisabeth Elliot's biography of her husband Jim, and a novel about Russian Mennonites in the early part of the 20th century. Basically I'm scrounging books from everyone who will lend them to me!

Today I went to church at Tserkva Nadezhda (Hope Church), a church in the center of town that's pastored by a man who's a friend of friends of the Virginia group. The songs were in Russian and one sermon was in Russian and one in English with Russian translation (which the VA people appreciated!). As it was my first English sermon since sometime this past winter, I was looking forward to it; it ended up being part of a series on the Ten Commandments, specifically "You shall not kill." It was a fine sermon, just an odd topic for my introduction back to church in English!

After church, all of us plus the pastor went to a very nice restaurant for lunch. I had ribs barbecued with honey-mustard sauce, a baked potato, and vegetables. The latter items were okay, but the ribs were great! And I didn't spill anything on my blouse, either! The pastor was telling us a lot about Christianity in Ukraine during lunch, which was really interesting.

And now I think I'm off to lay down, read a bit, and eventually take a shower. Ahh, hot water...the luxury never grows old!

пʼятниця, липня 13, 2007

tired, even though I keep sleeping

Found out that Internet is, in fact, available more often than in the mornings, but in the office, not the library. So I thought I'd blog some more.

Disappointment of the day: only fiction books can be checked out from the library...the rest must be read there. :( I discovered this after collecting an armload of titles about evangelicalism in America and the Church during the Soviet Union. Sigh...guess I know where I'm hanging out when not lesson-planning.

Happy point of the day (one of them, at least): finding an empty room, a piano, and an English hymnal all together and sitting down to play for half an hour. I hadn't thought of some of those songs in ages!

Interesting conversation I will have with my Russian-speaking suitemates this evening: "Is it possible to move the watermelon that's in a plastic tub in the shower so I can shower tonight?"

Fever's back down to normal, but my stomach and neck keep giving me pains. Ugh.

here, more or less

In Donetsk.

Still sick, with a temperature that has fluxed between 97.7 and 103 degrees Farenheit over the last 24 hours.

On antibiotics, ibuprofen, and Theraflu.

I think it's going to be a wonderful program filled with many interesting people once I'm feeling well enough to appreciate it!

ps I think I'll only have email access on weekday mornings, so if I'm not updating, don't assume I'm deathly ill or anything like that!

вівторок, липня 10, 2007

my writing style suffers when I'm sick...I apologize in advance

Ugh. I'm sick.

I'd had a sore throat/runny nose/lots of coughing the first week Tif was here, and while it got somewhat better last week, it never really went away. Add to that the 46 hours or so I spent on public transportation (electrichkas, passenger trains, buses) last week, and I have pretty much no immune system left. Today it all hit, with exhaustion, chills, over-heatedness, and a fever. I ran a few errands before it all struck, but when I came home, I went to bed and stayed there for about 4 hours. I want to get healthy enough that my first few days in Donetsk aren't spent in bed recovering, so today and tomorrow I guess I'm taking it a bit easier than I had originally planned.

I think my body's been trying to tell me to slow down for the last month or so, and I haven't really been listening. Oops.

Anyway, I loved L'viv. It was small enough that we could walk everywhere easily (although we did take the 50-kopek tram from the train station to the center once, which ended up giving us a nice little tour of the outskirts). The architecture was beautiful--it really hit me that when you build something, you have a choice. It can either be simply utilitarian, like much Soviet architecture (or large and grandiose), or it can be pretty. For example, a concrete balcony versus a wrought-iron one. I'll try and work on posting pictures if my Internet connection is happy with me in the next day or so.

I also liked staying at the hostel. First off, of course, there was a hot shower and a bathtub with even better water pressure than the shower. :) But really, one of the neatest parts of the experience was meeting people from all over who were also staying there. While we were there, there were people there from Great Britain, the US (other PCVs!), Finland, Switzerland, Spain, Canada, and Australia. Most of them knew little/no Ukrainian or Russian, so I helped some people out with understanding their train tickets. It was interesting to hear some of their stories--the guy from Switzerland, who was probably my age or a little younger, had spent the last six months in India and China, just backpacking around. He had then gone to Kazahkstan and flown to Ukraine (to avoid having to get a Russian visa), and was now going to travel around Eastern/Central Europe a bit, although he said he was a bit tired of travelling by now.

[Side note: Tif didn't end up shooting an AK-47 after all, as it was more expensive than she'd hoped for. You can all breath a sigh of relief/regret (take your pick) now.]

Tif and I also had a good day in Kyiv, although Andriivski Uziz, a street that usually is packed with souvenir stands and art booths, was pretty much deserted, and we couldn't figure out why. We met up with my friend Tanya and went out for milkshakes, which were very good. The only bad part of the day was that we had been planning to get a hotel room at the train station, but there weren't any available. The receptionist, who spoke English, wasn't very polite about it all. It was raining, and we didn't know where we'd end up. I was on the phone with Tanya, who was looking up Kyiv hotels online and sending me the info. Kyiv is notorious for being expensive, and we were trying to keep costs down, which added to the frustration. We ended up renting an apartment for a night (a common practice in Ukrainian cities, as apartments are generally nicer than most hotel rooms...PCVs often chip in together as a way to cut costs), which ended up costing us the same as if we'd stayed at the train station, plus the landlady was very friendly and impressed that as young American women, we could speak the language and were capable of taking care of ourselves in a strange country. :)

Friday morning, I said goodbye to Tif, who took the bus to the airport to begin her long journey home, and after lunch, I headed out to Zgurivka to see the Malkos. Sasha had left for L'viv the day before (trains passing in the night?), but I had a good visit with Mama Luda and Tato Kolya. Saturday, I took the train home from Kyiv, and I got back to Balaklia around 3:45 am Sunday morning. No, I didn't try and go to church later on...I was asleep!

The one thing I'm sorry that I didn't get to do on my vacation was go to "Festival of Hope", the Franklin Graham crusade in Kyiv last weekend. I wanted to, and I considered taking a later train Saturday night that went to Kharkiv and then taking the elektrichka home Sunday morning, but I decided that really, I was tired and needed to get home. Based on how lousy I feel today, that was a smart choice, but I still wish I could have gone.

This week has included being interviewed by a 14-year-old for the local newspaper, dealing with a burned-out lightbulb that appears to be corroded and impossible to remove from the light fixture, trying to get money off my US debit card, and hanging out with my neighbors last night. Today was mostly spent in bed. Hopefully I'll feel a bit better tomorrow and can get a few last-minute things done, and then tomorrow around midnight I get on a train to Donetsk for the English-language program down there.

I think I'm going back to bed now!

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середа, липня 04, 2007

L'viv, Day 2

Today we got our train tickets to Kyiv (only upper bunks, and a bit more than we'd hoped for, but still okay), and then went back to the center and wandered around. We bought more of the linens we'd liked (off-white with crocheted borders and ribbon embroidery)--I now have a dresser scarf, two smaller doilies, and a case for a throw pillow. I think I'm on my way to having a pretty guest room at some point.

The lady at the linens stall at the art market remembered us and said that we'd brought her good luck yesterday. Somehow we got to chatting and I mentioned that I lived out east, near Kharkiv, and then she completely switched over to Russian, and how old was I, and wasn't I just a clever little thing for being only 24 and having moved over here and having learned two languages.... She still wouldn't give us a discount on the linens, because we were buying the smaller pieces (she was willing to haggle for the larger ones, but we couldn't afford them), but she was nice anyway.

We also saw the Church of the Transfiguration and the Armenian Church. I was fond of the sign tacked to the door of the latter, which asked us to please keep the door closed to preserve the warmth between God and humans. :)

Then we ate lunch and walked home, stopping at a clothing store where I found a good deal on certain items of female apparel that I've been needing to replenish. Mom would be proud.

So now we're just hanging out at the hostel, enjoying the amenities. It's been a really great place to stay, and the people are interesting as well. The owner is Norwegian, married to a Ukrainian, and there have been people here from the US (all PCVs!), England, Switzerland (a guy who had spent the last 6 months backpacking around India and China!), Japan, Austraila...

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вівторок, липня 03, 2007

I haven't changed countries? Really?

We survived the train ride, which actually wasn't that bad, although a little hot during the night, because we couldn't open our window because it was an emergency exit. Yeah, that made sense to us, too...

Our hostel is wonderful...the shower is heavenly, we can do laundry, the people are nice...and reading the hilarious phrases that the Lonely Planet phrasebook provides for those people wanting to know Czech made for 10 minutes of entertainment. And did you know that the Czech equivalent of "up a creek without a paddle" is "not even holy water will help him"?

L'viv itself is beautiful with a shabby Central European charm...old architecture, little cafes, cobblestone streets, and even a few street musicians. Today we visited several churches, the pharmacy museum, the art market, the used book market, and mostly just wandered the streets. Tomorrow we'll plan out what we haven't seen yet, and then we're off to Kyiv on the overnight train.

Pictures will come once I'm home again in Balaklia.

ps Mom, I got the email. That sounds good...sorry, I didn't have enough time on the computer to email you seperately.

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неділя, липня 01, 2007

and we're off! (but we've always been a little off...)

Well, we packed our bags, took out the trash, washed the dishes, and we're off to L'viv tomorrow!

We've found what appears to be a really nice hostel to stay at, complete with satellite TV, a hot tub, free Internet, free laundry, and the chance to learn how to shoot an AK47 (Tif's hoping to, I'm not). We've joked that we just might stay at the hostel the two days we'll be in L'viv rather than go explore the city...but we're mostly kidding.

(There is a story told of a group of Ukraine PCVs who went on vacation to Germany and spent all their time at their hotel. When I first heard it, I was shocked, but I definitely understand now.)

However, the bad part of the trip is that I haven't been feeling very well the last few days...I seem to have picked up a possible head cold/sinus infection/whatever makes you have a sore throat and a runny nose. But I'm packing medicine and plan to rest on the 20 hour trip from Kharkiv to L'viv. Please keep us in your prayers.


For anyone who wants to write me while I'll be in Donetsk (hint, hint), here's my address. Letters generally take from 8 to 14 days to get here, and I'll be there from July 12-28, so plan accordingly.

Sally Behrenwald
Donetsk Christian University
Prospect Ilicha 106A
Donetsk, 83059

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