Saturday, April 19, 2008

Day Eight - Ukraine Trip, Part One

Day Eight, our last full day in Kherson. We wanted to give at least one full day to Zina and her groupa, so we planned to spend all day Saturday doing nothing else. When we were traveling to see Rimma on Friday, we received a call from Zina. We were able to deduce that she wanted to be with us on Saturday, too. She kept trying to explain something in her limited English, but couldn't express it adequately. We handed the phone over to our interpreter, Sergei, and he told us that the groupa was going to a museum at 10:30 am on Saturday and that she wanted us to accompany her. We gave a hearty, DA-DA and told her we would be there at 10:30 sharp. We asked if it was OK for us to tag along with her, the groupa, and her caretaker and she said, "Of Course!" Throughout the week, that has been the Ukrainian way of saying "yes". Everyone does it, including Zina.

So, we got up around 9 am from our exhausting but rewarding trip to Odessa. We had just finished breakfast when Zina called. (By the way, when I say Zina called...this is what happens. It cost for her to call us, so she "drops" a call to us or sends a free text msg saying to call her. We in-turn call her back.) She is frantic about something and we don't understand. We called another interpreter friend who calls her and finds out that the museum tour starts at 10:30 and they have to leave at 10 am. She has told us the wrong time, we aren't there, and the caretaker wants to leave at 10 am sharp. It is 9:50! We immediately launch into action and start power walking! The place we staying is only two blocks away, but it seems like an eternity as my legs start to burn from the fast pace. Halfway there Zina texts us again and we call her, explaining that we are 5 minutes away. We arrive with no time to spare and show ourselves up to her third floor living quarters. The groupa is waiting, but happy that we have arrived. It is all smiles and hugs from Vika and Zina. We are introduced for the first time to Zina's second caretaker. She is a younger woman and pleased to meet us. We ask Zina if she received the gift we left for her and she says yes.

We head out to what will be the best day of the trip...and all of the days were spectacular! We took the bus to the museum with the kids and we payed 2 grivnas for two bus trips, the equivalent of 40 cents. We enter the museum hand in hand and find out that the museum is about the forced famine of the 190's by Stalin. This is a sore subject for all Ukrainians and we listen to a guide explain to the kids the events during that time. Vika and Zina are less than interested and for the first time of the week I go into father mode and shush them, telling them to be respectful. They straighten up and for the rest of the tour they listen attentively. Later I find out that they are taught this in History class and were bored.

We discover that the trip back to the internat will be done by walking through the city center, past beautiful parks, a few carnival rides, and about 5 miles of pavement. We were happy for the slow pace and exercise. Heidi, the girls and I, made the whole trip back holding hands and taking pictures. Vika became my new buddy, never leaving my side and holding my hand. Whenever we had to break, she came running back to grasp my hand. What a wonderful girl! Our friends, the Carmans, plan to adopt her this year or next. That makes us happy as she and our two girls will be reunited one day in Colorado. Anyway, I arrange the four of us so that I can hold both girls hands. I'm such a softy, but I love these young ladies, one being my daughter.

On the walk back, we pass many parks and a few carnival rides. The caretakers (there is another groupa with ours) stop and tell the ticket agents that the kids are from the orphanage. It seems that there is a law or something that allows all orphans to ride the bus for free, get into events for free, and go to the movies for free. I'm glad that they get out on the weekends and aren't locked away from society. The kids get on a few rides and have fun. On the centrifuge, the girls talk me into going with them. It was fun, despite my fear of the rusty, Soviet era contraption flinging itself into the sky. When we get done, the girls ask Heidi to ride the "umbrella" cars with them. She has the same fear, having noticed the duct tape job on the hinges of the car ahead of her. We live through it and the kids are overjoyed. Vika and Zina are beaming with joy. Zina has cool parents that aren't afraid to try anything. My heart soars when I see her being a kid and enjoying life, despite her situation. Zina always makes the best out of any situation.

After doddling along for a couple of hours in downtown Kherson, we arrive back at the internat. We go up to the girl's room and spend a couple of hours with them. Sooner than later, the boys show up and Heidi gets treated to a picture album show from one of the boys named Toly. I play computer games with Zina (I had brought the laptop and she remembered the games on it from December). She also gets a look at all of the weeks pictures we took. After two hours, the battery dies and I use this excuse to put it away and get back outside. (Never mind that I brought the power cord). We get outside for a game of volleyball with the kids. Our translator friend, 16 yr old Andrea, shows up and we play VB with no net. More on Part two.


Debbie said...

Wow, wow, wow! It is so wonderful to see God at work in your lives and the lives of the people in Ukraine. I am eager to read the next installment. I didn't realize you had posted the day-to-day updates because your arrival home post was still at the top! :-)

I'm glad God used you on the trip He told you to take!

Heidi & Felix said...


I just posted them today and did a back-date on the blog format. You didn't miss them. Thank you for your prayers and coments. We are still fighting the jet lag and trying to get back into our routines. Our garage sale is this Saturday, so we've got lots to do.


About Us

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Longmont, Colorado, United States
Heidi loves to play sand volleyball, sail and garden. Felix loves to fly at the local aeroclub, sail and fish.