A week ago today I woke up for the first time in Ukraine. Guys, seriously, it’s still mind-blowing to me that I am in Ukraine. It has partially not sunk in yet and then again, partially very much sunk in. Also, fun fact: there is another guy here on a VIA trip, Josh, also serving with WGM. There are some ministries we will be working alongside each other with and others that we will be working separately on.
Last week we spent our mornings in the local schools being the “American guests” in some of the English classes. Anna is the teacher that asked us to come to the school and she will also be my Russian tutor. Can we just pause for a moment and talk about Russian for a second.. It is an extremely difficult language to learn. I’ve only been here a week and only tried to say a handful of things and well, it has been a struggle the entire way. I cannot seem to make the sounds they make as they form words..at all. I have heard that the difficultly level of learning Russian is similar to that of learning Japanese! So this should be an interesting summer..ha. Back to the ENGLISH classes..haha. We basically just went in and told about ourselves in English and the teacher (whether it was Anna or another teacher that was in charge) would translate where needed or just verify that the kids were understanding what we were saying as we went. Then we opened things up for questions. Their questions were pretty basic with what type of music we like and food and what our hobbies and work was. It was a lot of fun for sure. Thursday morning we went back to a class that we had previously gone to, so Shushan created some bingo cards with words from the things we shared about ourselves. This was an 8th grade class (I believe) and they were all about some bingo! It was hilarious! When we told about ourselves, we had to speak slowly so that they could hear the words and therefore more easily understand us. As I began to call out words for bingo they yelled at me to go FASTER FASTER so they could win the game! haha..good times!
Tuesday, my first full day in Ukraine, I was EXHAUSTED! I have always heard of jet lag but never experienced it until last week. After going to the schools I came back just for a nap. What I intended to be about a half hour turned into an hour and a half..oops. Then we went downtown and Shushan gave us a tour of the city. It was neat to be able to see the place that I would be living for the next three months. She also was detailed in giving us landmarks to tell where we were so that I wouldn’t be totally lost if there alone ever. We are located on the Sea of Azov so, a touristy/beach town. We walked along the beach and rode a bus out on the peninsula. This thing is about 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) and just wide enough for a road and some buildings.. you can be in the middle and see both sides of the sea as you go in most places. Pretty crazy. We continued and rode the bus back to our stop and came home for the evening.
Wednesday, after the English classes in the morning we had a field lunch. The missionaries from WGM here in Ukraine are: Shushan (who I am living wither) and Bill & Oksana plus their awesome son, Dennis. We all ate pizza together (not like pizza in the states..). It was a good time of fellowship and talking about the summer ahead while simply getting to know each other. I played some games with Dennis and we just hung out for a bit before they took off. We (Shushan, Josh and myself) then proceeded to make a “happy birthday” video for Anna (my Russian tutor). Shushan found a birthday rap on YouTube so we used that while Igor filmed it for it and then edited it for us. I think it turned out pretty good.. hahaha.
Wednesday night we went to the Adult English Classes we will be working with for the summer to meet them. Don, their current teacher is going back to the States for the summer so we will be taking them over for him and doing them as a speaking and listening class instead of grammar.
Thursday, after going to the school’s I had a relaxing afternoon. It was terribly needed. Guys, jet lag is a real thing and it dominated me last week. I was exhausted, I lost my appetite, I felt nauseous most days..it was simply awful. Shushan goes to another town for another English class on Thursday nights so I was able to relax in the apartment by myself and skype dad and just catch up on nothing..haha. The English class we visited on Wednesday night had a party this night as Don’s “going away” party so I went to that and enjoyed the fellowship and treats.
Friday I was able to attend a couple’s renewing their vows for their 10th anniversary – a very cultural experience for sure. We showed up at 1:00, when it was supposed to start and it didn’t actually start until about 1:35..typical for Ukraine. Events are more important than a timed schedule. The first part was more serious and similar to a wedding ceremony and then there were games! They served us a very Ukrainian meal to end the festivities.
That evening I went to a girl’s bible study that Oksana leads and I will have the privilege of getting to be a part of every Friday! I shared my testimony and loved getting to spend time with them and learn from the discussion that Oksana translate for me!
Saturday was a welcomed relax day. We have an advanced English bible study class thing that I will get to be a part of every Saturday. This time we had an fun day and went downtown together. They gave a tour of the different “hot spots” and monuments in their city (in English of course) and we enjoyed ice cream and each other’s company.