Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ukraine Trip - Andrea

The next several posts will be about friends and helpers we met on our recent trip to Ukraine. I personally wanted to write about the two young men that helped translate for Heidi and me. They were Gifts from are the other folks we will introduce to you.
First, there is Andrea. He helped translate for Zina and went on three orphanage visits with us. I believe Andrea said that he is 16. His father is the pastor of the first church we visited just moments after stepping off the train in Kherson. Andrea and his father along with his mother and sisters lived in Binghamton, NY for several years. In fact, his mom and sisters are still there and he and his dad came back when the pastoral-ship was offered to them. He said his mom will be moving back, too. Andrea looks like any American kid and he speaks English perfectly with an Ukrainian accent. We joked that he looked American and stood out in Ukraine, even to us. He remarked about my southern accent, too. He was in the US long enough to tell the difference.
I first met Andrea at the first Sunday service when he was asked to translate the service to me. I remember not looking at him directly, rather the side of his face as her did a wonderful job, hitting the highlights and important parts. I didn't realize at the time what a remarkable young man he is and that we had just started a lifelong friendship. God has a way of bringing his children together.
Later, after service, Andrea announced that he would be accompanying Heidi and me on most of our excursions and helping translate. I knew that he had school to attend and was concerned that he would miss it. His father and he explained that this experience would be good for him and more valuable than what he would learn in missing a day or two of school. So we relented.
Andrea was invaluable to us because he was younger, and our girls related to him more. He also understood American colloquialisms and sayings, so he "got it" when we said something out of the ordinary. Zina and Vika warmed up to him immediately and hit off from the start.
As Andrea traveled around with us, his eyes were opened to the plight of orphans and I sensed that he was moved by our's and AGAPE's mission. He worked extra hard to help us and volunteered many hours in doing so. Sometimes he just hung out with us old folks to exercise his English skills and to be with his new Christian/American friends. Andrea was always the translator that accompanied us on visits to see Zina and joined in on the fun when we played outside with her and her groupa.
On our last day with Zina, he saw a kid riding a worn out skateboard and commented that the one he had at home was in way better condition. I asked if he still used it and he said no and was thinking of selling it. I told him that he should bring it to the orphanage and donate it to them. I didn't give it much thought and the moment passed. While we were sitting on the plane in Kiev he called me and wished us a safe trip. He commented that he was going over to the internat with his skateboard to give it the kids. Andrea had not forgotten my off the hip comment and had taken it to heart.
Andrea has a compassion and heart for the kids he met while with us and has pledged to continue to visit the internats and orphanages long into the future. He even promised me to look in after Rimma and Zina from time to time and help keep them safe. I suspect that we will start receiving texts, calls, and letter from the girls more often due to his help. I know that we and the girls have made a lifelong friend and brother.
Andrea, you are a wonderful young man and I am proud to call you my brother and friend. Come stay with us anytime and keep in touch as we will do also. God bless you Andrea, thank you for bridging the gap for us between the girls and the people of Ukraine.

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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.