Navigating faith, love, and life in the Netherlands

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ukraine Memories

Slowly, unexpectedly, the memories come back to me.

The worship team at the Obolon church singing "хвали, душа моя, господа, аллелуйя"
Different song, same church
Bringing flowers or chocolate as a sign of gratitude for hospitality
Flowers from KCA for International Women's Day
Bundling up for the frigid temperatures during the winter
Photo credit: Amy
Older ladies with hair in all kinds of colors -- especially purple or "babushka red" as I call it

The overwhelming selection of dairy products at the grocery store

Eating Chinese food with friends on Sunday afternoons

Reading books to pass the time on the metro but looking out the marshrutka windows

KCA faculty/staff prayer time on Tuesday mornings and meetings on Friday mornings
Fellow KCA teachers and friends
Being EXTREMELY warm indoors thanks to city heat that you cannot regulate yourself
Our dining room was always very toasty, especially when I kept the door closed while Skyping
The way passengers could pass up a 10грн note for a 3грн bus fare, via the 10 passengers that stood between you and the bus driver - and still get the correct change back!

Overhearing conversations in the hall or in my classroom, or chatting with my students

Listening to student worship teams practice their music after school

Milk and ice cream in a bag
The movement of my students between Ukrainian culture and their own "third culture" school

Cramming into friends' minivans with at least 8 others after KCA sports games

Hoping that I wouldn't watch the bus I needed pass right by me

Walking with friends in the city center
Masha and I after walking in the center
I want to go back. But I know now it is only to visit, and that so much has changed in the past 18 months, particularly in these last two months.

The experiences, memories, and of course friends/people will be a (huge) part of me forever.

The Move to America

// Thoughts of Home //
I had already wanted to write about what I missed about Ukraine, a place that was home for three years, and here are some ways that I have adjusted to being away:

1. Find similar activities, foods, routines in your new land.  For me, this is an ongoing hunt of finding and developing deep friendships - which takes much longer when you're NOT in a missionary-international context!  I miss my friends in Ukraine, and the supportive community that I found at church and school.  It will take a long time for me to figure out my niche here in Holland.

2. Keep in touch.  With all the recent events in Ukraine, I have been keeping up with the news, but also talking with friends and hearing their perspectives.  If at all possible, try to meet up with friends in person.  While I lived in America for a year, I had coffee a few times with a former student.  Here in Holland, I've reconnected with another former student, and friends from Ukraine came to our Dutch wedding.  The benefit of living here in Europe is the travel time back to Kyiv is much shorter and cheaper than from America!  It is our hope that we will be able to visit Kyiv again soon!

3. Show hospitality in your own home/life.  Invite new friends over for tea/coffee or dinner.  Play games.  We have slowly been doing this, but it takes a number of regular visits to "normalize" the relationship and grow it into a friendship (at least in my American experience).  It's almost like the old cliche - "If you want a good friend, BE a good friend!"

Do you have any additional thoughts?

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