The day was warm, with a light breeze blowing, as we headed for Galesburg, Illinois for an adventure which would be very foreign to us.
The summer before, my niece, Carolyn, and nephew, Lee, had made a trip to Ukraine, and was so impressed that they were convinced that we would love to go there to tell people of the love of Jesus. We had made plans to go to Italy that year. We were longing to see all of the sites in Italy; but we decided we would go to Ukraine just one year. It would be fun to spend 3 weeks with them and see what they did over there.
When we arrived in Galesburg, after greeting Carolyn and Lee, the heavy luggage had to be moved to Lee’s rental car. The trip was to be for 3 weeks, and he didn’t want to leave his car in Chicago for that length of time. As we loaded in the car, Lee said, “Well are you ready for one of your greatest trips in a life time?” We were not totally convinced that we were.
We headed for O’Hare National Airport, and eventually boarded a huge plane, and headed off for our first stop, which would be in Frankfurt, Germany. We arrived there around 6:00 a. m. without any sleep the night before as we could not sleep on the plane. From Frankfurt, we flew to Kiev, Ukraine, arriving around noon. From there, we headed via bus to Cherkassy, Ukraine, and by van, another 6 hours to Kirovograd.
My first shock was when we departed the plane in Kiev. In Germany, there seemed to be quite a few English speaking people, but Kiev seemed totally foreign, and we hadn’t picked up our translators yet.
What fun, when the bus headed for Cherkassy, and made a stop where there were a few trees, waving his arms and trying to get us to understand this was a “potty stop,” and the women were to go one direction, and the men the other. Carolyn just laughed and said, “Well, we’re in Ukraine. (I skipped the potty break.)
Praise the Lord for translators, and we picked them up at Cherkassy. His should solve all of our problems, right? “Wrong,” but at least we could decipher most of what our translator spoke in English. She spoke British English, which was quite different from American dialect, and besides that, she had a huge Ukrainian accent. We soon knew enough to cling to her, because no one but she could speak both languages.
We arrived at the pastor’s house to make our plans for the 3 weeks. We learned that my husband Paul and I were to stay at a different home than Carolyn and Lee, and that the people didn’t have room for our translator. I think I nearly passed out. I could not imagine staying with Ukrainian people in a strange house with no way to communicate.
We finally made the pastor understand our dilemma, and another lady was called to see if she could keep us. She was not expecting us; but welcomed us with open arms. She made up a couple of beds for us, the davenport for the translator and one for herself on the floor. She was elderly and I felt guilty about her having to do that.
There was no water. That had been shut off at 4:00 p.m, but she had a pail of water for us to pour down the stool, and we were not to put paper down the stool. There was a tiny waste basket for that.
Can you imagine what it would have been like without an interpreter?
The next morning we had our first contact with a group of Christian Ukrainians. Among these people, the language that we spoke was “love.” Never had people welcomed us so freely with hugs and kisses, and never had we met so many lovely people that we loved at first sight. No, they weren’t beautiful, many were almost toothless, and many had rougher hands than I’d ever seen on a farmer.
Oh what a wonderful bond, the bond of love through Jesus Christ. There was nothing foreign about that language.
We experienced many good, and some bad situations, but needless to say, we are going back in June, for our 10th. three week stint. No, we still have learned very little Ukrainian; but the best language of all, is not foreign.
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