the state of Ukraine’s medical field

Many people in the states have asked me about medical care in Ukraine. Not having experienced it first hand, I’ve only been able to say what others have experienced. But, based on what they’ve said, I really don’t want to have to go to the doctor here. To read a first hand experience (and see a couple of pictures) click Here.

In a blog she posted yesterday, Sarah (the same blog author as above) describes good care given at a private clinic. I’ve also talked with a missionary friend here in Mukachevo who says that adequate medical care can be found, you just have to ask around and get recommendations from those you trust.

On Sarah’s post she links a recent news article from the Kiev Post that talks about the state of Ukraine’s doctors. I think you will be shocked and amazed at how different Ukraine’s medical field is compared to America’s – especially their monthly wages. To read the article click HERE.

As i have been sick this week, please pray that God and Dayquil will heal me before I have to resort to a doctor!

A Meeting and a Beating

Thank you for all your prayers concerning the meeting with the orphanage’s programs director.  The meeting was originally scheduled for around noon, but due to a seminar we met later in the day.  When we arrived, she still wasn’t there, so we sat down with the Head Director, Yuri.  Although he was amicable and open to our program, he made it clear to us, “No Preaching.”  He went on to explain that the kids come from many different religious backgrounds and he doesn’t want us imposing our religion on them.  He also said, “art – okay.  But we really need sports equipment.”  Sorry, no athletic abilities here – only art.  He agreed, said there’d be no problems.  After discussing all the details with him, the programs director finally showed.  When meeting with her, she had a different opinion about what we could do: “Bible lessons  – okay.”  Olga is a Christian and said that she teaches the students Bible and tells them about God.

So, the dilemma – who do we follow?  The Head Director who says no and could ban us from ever coming back if we do talk about God, or the Programs Director who says that talking about God is okay.  Fortunately, for this particular art program, we have no dilemma.  The program itself is not Christian focused – meaning that it comes from a secular University and does not directly include Bible teachings.  However, it was written by a Christian who incorporated all Christian themes into the curriculum.  The teaching will not be preaching; thus following the Head Director’s request.  However, because the themes are Christian, and we who are helping lead it are Christians, we can easily talk one-on-one with the kids about those themes and how they are a part of our Christian beliefs.

The planning of this trip has been a rollercoaster ride.  One moment things were all planned out, but the next minute everything changed and we had to start over.  Several times throughout the last month, we all thought that this camp was not going to happen.  Yesterday was proof that God is always working even when we cannot see it – we just have to be patient and let Him do His work.

On the way home, there was an older man, drunk and possibly a little mentally off, sitting on a window sill begging for money.  His clothes were dirty and disheveled.  His skin dark and leathery.  Not feeling compelled to give money, we continued to walk by.  But just as Josh was directly in front of him, the man took a large, heavy stick (think wooden broomstick but heavier and thicker) and hit Josh on his arm.  Josh stopped, turned in shock, and just looked at the man.  i wasn’t sure what was going to happen.  But Josh quickly turned back to us and just kept walking without saying anything.  I can’t help but think that this drunk man should be very glad that Josh is not a violent person.

A stranger’s hospitality

Monday began a new chapter in my life here in Ukraine:  traveling alone.  Josh and I have split up our language lessons 2 days a week due to the fact that we learn at different paces.  So, Mondays I venture out solo for a few hours.  This first day Josh was sweet enough to walk me to the bus station (about a 20 minute walk).  I wasn’t nervous at all, but Josh still is quite protective of me being alone in this still-fairly new environment.

As I was sitting in my seat, waiting for the bus to leave, a small lady in front of me, maybe in her 60s, turns to ask me a question.  Not understanding her I said (In ukrainian), “I speak English.”  She kind of giggled, then said a slew of sentences.  (by the way, this happens so often and It always amuses me – I will tell someone that I don’t speak their language, and then they immediately proceed to talk to me in that language for several minutes – all I can do is stand and smile, or mimic their facial expressions).  She then stands up and comes and sits in the empty seat next to me.  For the entire 40 minute bus ride, we try to engage in conversation.  I struggle to tell her where I am from, why I am here and for how long.  Maria tells me about her nephew who is a Medical Professor in New York, shows me where her son is buried, and explains that she is going to visit her sister in Uzhgorod.  I’m not sure what was wrong with her sister, but whenever she spoke of Elena, her eyes teared up and she would just shake her head in sorrow.  From what I gathered, her sister is diabetic and is having problems with her feet.  Also, they are both pensioners, and cannot afford much.  Although I was only able to understand bits and pieces of her story, i could feel her heartache and her love.

She gives me her address in Mukachevo and motions for me to give her mine.  I don’t usually just give strangers my address, but 1.) I’m a missionary who desires to reach out and meet new people and 2.) I felt safe with her.  After we exchange addresses, she tells me to come over anytime.

When we get off the bus, she takes my arm and tells me she wants to buy me coffee.  Having arrived to town early, i say okay.  We stand and drink our coffee in silence – I feel awkward as she just stares at me and smiles.  Afterwards, we walk to the mashrootka taxi realizing that we are going to the same area.  During the entire mashrootka ride she talks about me to the women facing us.  Even though i did not understand one word, I knew she was talking about me because Maria kept gesturing towards me and the ladies kept glancing over at me.  I just smiled (and felt like a complete freak show on display).

Finally at the center of town, I plan to say my thank-yous and goodbye…but no, she is not done with me yet.  She pulls me along, through the bazaar, into the market, down an alleyway, into a courtyard, and through the front door of her sister’s house!  Oh my goodness, what have I gotten into? I am now late for my lesson, I don’t know these ladies, i don’t want to be rude, but i don’t want to end up like poor Gretel caged up in some old ladies kitchen.

The time with them turned out to be wonderful.  We all three chatted as much as we could despite our language barrier.  Most of the time they just laughed and smiled and patted my hand.  Offering me food, i accepted, remembering that you never say no to a Ukrainian’s offer of food – it’s a major offense.  No problem, I can eat a little bread and cucumber.  Instead she sits in front of me a HUGE bowl of green borscht, complete with the finest chicken parts, skin and all.  Oh my goodness, I can’t eat all this!

“Eat. Eat” they say.  So, I eat it.

I finally had to be firm (in a polite way) and say I had my lesson (which started 30 minutes ago). They walked me to the door, telling me to come to both there houses anytime.  One of them says something about God, and I, having learned the word for “heart” over the weekend, turn and say that God is in my heart, too.  They just laugh.  I walk out, wondering why they were laughing at that.  Then,  I realize why…I just told them that “God is in my puppy!”

Oh well, I’ll try again on Friday when I go for more Ukrainian Hospitality.

A Father’s Love

The son asked his father, ‘Dad, will you take part in a marathon with me?’. The father who, despite having a heart condition, says ‘Yes’. They went on to complete the marathon together. Father and son went on to join other marathons, the father always saying ‘Yes’ to his son’s request of going through the race together. One day, the son asked his father, ‘Dad, let’s join the Ironman together.’ To which, his father said ‘Yes’ too.

For those who don’t know, Ironman is the toughest triathlon ever. The race encompasses three endurance events of a 2.4 mile (3.86 kilometer) ocean swim, followed by a 112 mile (180.2 kilometer) bike ride, and ending with a 26.2 mile (42.195 kilometer) marathon along the coast of the Big Island. Father and son went on to complete the race together.

Here’s their story…it’s 10 minutes…but take the time to watch it; you’ll be blessed.

I finally got my Chinese…

FOOD!! Since moving here to Mukachevo, I’ve been missing two foods that I ate constantly in America: Mexican & Chinese. So, I was super excited when we came across a Chinese restaurant in Budapest – it was so yummy!

As for my Chinese visa, I was once again denied; this time due to proof of residency – which i was never told I needed nor has this ever been needed in the past nor was it posted on the website. We’ve done a lot of thinking and praying about our next step. We both feel that the best thing to do is to just cancel our trip to China. We no longer have the time or the budget to continue pursuing this visa. Although the China trip would be an amazing experience, we’re content about this decision and have peace about it. God is doing great things here with us, and He will do great things in China without us.

So, after being denied early Wednesday morning, we just relaxed and spent the day enjoying one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to.

Kiev Day 3

This was was one absolutely beautiful day.  However, with more rain in the forecast for the remainder of our stay, I dragged Josh all over the city, hoping to see as much as we could.  Can you guess who the tourist is?

the Golden Gate with parts dating back to 1037!

Josh joins a group of students as they peer into the original gate. – isn’t he cute?

The campanile leading to the most famous Cathedral in Kiev…

St. Sophia’s Cathedral – the oldest surviving monument to Kyiven Rus

Monument to Kyiven hero – Bohdan Khmel’nyst’ky

From the hero monument above we saw this beautiful towering cathedral. when the sun peeked through the clouds, the golden domes illuminated in awe-inspiring shimmer.  We slowly made our way through the gate, still in awe of this towering church and walked around it’s detailed arches…but something was strangely familiar…then we figured it out…we had been here yesterday, we had just entered from the opposite direction!

St. Andrew’s Church

The Bridge of Kisses – I never got the story on this bridge, but it appeared that this is where love-stricken couples come to profess their undying love by securing locks or fabric to the posts.  Interestingly, this is exactly what couples do at the Great Wall of China!

After passing through this bridge, we were headed to a very important building – the one place that I was most excited about, the Mariyins’ky (Tsar) Palace.  I’m completely enamored and drawn to the last Russian Tsar family, The Romanov’s of the early 1900’s.  (I’m sure you may be familiar with the stories Rasputin and Anastasia?)  Well, this palace served as a home away from home for them, and after the 1917 Revolution Alexander III’s widow (Empress Maria Fedorovna) lived here.  it’s gorgeous palace.  We approached it, and here is what I saw…

Construction barriers!!!  AAARRGGHh!!

It usually looks like this…

Kiev Day 2

Our plan was to get the Chinese Visa on this day.  Once we found it (which took almost 45 minutes), I waited probably another hour or two just to talk to someone, only to hear them say sorry, come again after you have the hotel reservation.  i tried to explain that I’m not staying at a hotel, rather at a school and our contact was in charge of that.  They still said sorry.  So, despite the torrential rains, blustery wind, and cold temperatures (which we weren’t properly dressed for), we ventured out to see the city.  btw, today you will see many pictures of me because Josh manned the camera.

Monument of Independence

Monument to Kiev’s founders

a higher view of Independence square – but mainly a view of us :)

A beautiful theater

a little fun – the theater brought out the actress in me!

Dnipro river on a rainy day

but we ended with a beautiful sunset from our flat

Quick trip

Ok, so we finally received all the information I need for my Chinese visa.  So, tomorrow we will be taking a quick trip into Budapest to visit the Chinese embassy.  If the Chinese embassy there follows the same rules as the one in Kiev, then everything should go without any setbacks…however, we will have to make two trips..one to apply, and one trip next week to pick it up.  We leave tomorrow morning at 10:15 and will return Thursday.  We decided to stay an extra day just in case we need it.  Luckily, Budapest is only about a 5 hour trip from here.

Please pray that we have safe journeys and that my visa application will be accepted this time.

Kiev trip in Pictures (Day 1)

I thought it would be nice to do a quick series on our trip to Kiev, mainly in pictures and perhaps short explanations. Enjoy. btw, I do not claim greatness in my photography.


Carpathian scenery

A view from our train – Carpathian mountains

Lindsey and Emilly

Emily, a missionary in Kiev, met us to show us a round a bit.  She was an incredible help with all our arrangements.   Thanks, Emily!!

Friendship monuments honoring the unification of Russia & Ukraine (interesting since Ukraine is trying to get away from Russia, and Russia has recently threatened to point its nuclear missiles at Ukraine…)

the Nativity of Christ Church

The Funicular carries you up the steep hill

St. Michael’s

We were there on Kiev Day, which was also their election day.  There were concerts and special events going on all day along the main street.  There must have been over a million people there – most drunk.  Needless to say, we laughed a lot and got to see some very interesting things, like this next guy…

is that Cpt. Jack Sparrow playing the guitar and singing 90s songs in Ukrainian?

That’s all for day 1!

Have you eaten your fruit?

I was reading about putting on the fruits of the spirit like clean clothes over at Cari’s blog..and although I agree with her blog and she says great things, I had a thought.  The clothes analogy is a good one, but I thought, “well, clothes can easily be taken off”.

So then, I started thinking about fruit: what do you do with fruit?  You eat it.  You partake of it, chew  it, enjoy its flavor and swallow it where it gets inside of you and sends nutrients & vitamins to your inner parts.

Isn’t this what we are supposed to do with God’s Word and spiritual fruits?    We should daily chew on His word, meditate upon it and really take time to savor His truths.  To allow God’s spirit to be something that affects us on the inside, in our heart and mind.  The fruits of the spirit aren’t things we should try to do, they should be what we are. Just because we act kindly, doesn’t mean we are kind.  Just because we smile, doesn’t mean we are joyful.  Just because we don’t start the fight, doesn’t mean we are peaceful.

the natural outpouring of God’s spiritual fruits comes from inside of us – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – these are not an actions, they are the characteristics of God that become our characteristics as we replace our selfish, sinful ways with his truths.

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