With dear friends in Ukraine again

Trip Start Jun 28, 2009
Trip End Jul 16, 2009

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Flag of Ukraine  , Zakarpats'ka Oblast',
Monday, July 6, 2009

Today is our first day of day camp here in Vinogradov.   The camp is held at what's called "The Center" which is where the soup kitchen, church building and a new addition for a new enterprise that we’ll talk about soon.  We could never have managed this program without the sponsorship of Scott and Carolyn Scharpen of The Scharpen Foundation.

Cherie begins our day with coffee.  The Polichko’s brought a coffee maker up to our section of the building. 

The first day is not without its hitches and schedule changes.  We spent the night at the “Siloam” Orphan Care Center.  Irina and Vasyl  Polichko are here early….not sure if they spent the night there or not, but they seem to be doing something 24 hours a day that involves the street children  or orphans.  On the other hand, we seem to be in no hurry to get out to the Center.  Everything is in stride and confidence that all will be done as the day goes on. 

As everyone who has travelled to this part of Ukraine, we have unending confusion about what time zone we’re in.  The local towns use West European time. The official government time is Kiev time.  So we’re always disputing what time it really is.  It’s one way to gain an hour when you’re behind….change time zones on the fly!

Harpers and Zahoras are full of questions and repeatedly ask  “what’s going on?”  and “What do we do next?”  English is in short supply and I’m glad to get be of use.  In the morning the campers arrive.  They bring their medical certificates and “register.”  There will be about 40 campers and they come from Vinogradov, Rokosova and from a few others places in the Transcarpathia oblast (province)  I asked the Polichko’s how they chose who came and they said that they worked through their network of social agencies and acquaintances who worked with children who were from stressed, large or otherswise disadvantaged families.    Most of the children are preteens. 

After the registration period we all moved into the assembly hall.  Three campers did not show up yet, but were going to tonight.

Vasyl Polichko opened the assembly by talking about the Great Creator God that everyone needed to be aware of.  Vasyl  never wavers from his impassioned message about God and our relationship to him.   We sang a few songs that I’ve become familiar with.  A happy spirit of anticipation prevails.  Prayer precedes and postcedes every activity.  As we get in the vans to go somewhere, we pray.  Of course, before a meal we pray….then we pray afterwards thanking God for the food.  As we get into vans for any length journey, we pray.  In a day, we easily get our half hour of prayer!   In the Sabbatarian community, consciousness of God is always very paramount.

Then comes lunch.  But, this is the third time that food is served.  There was a snack of a cheese sandwich about two hours previously and before the assembly a frozen ice cream cone was passed out to everyone. 

In the morning young Ivan Yurishko came by to set up a printer and copier.  We really have great equipment with four computers, a networked printer.  Being with Ivan Jr. is such a joy.  He has become like his Dad—entrepreneurial, savvy, knowledgeable and honest.  I’ve known him since he was a little.  I remember once staying at the Polichko’s when he had an appendicitis attack and taken to the hospital—that was in 1994. It’s great to see him filling his Dad’s shoes and taking over the printing part of his Dad’s business. 

 Dan and Cindy will be teaching the more advanced class while Ken and Cherie in the church hall will teach the beginners.

After lunch there’s more play in the courtyard. There’s a ping pong table, a trampoline, volleyball and other play with a soccer ball.  There’s a lot of activity and play. 

Then, the English program begins.  It’s put into the afternoon because of all the delays with “registration.”  Cindy explains the program to everyone in her warm and friendly, yet business-like manner. The group will be divided by those who took this class last year and/or took English in school with beginners.  The classes looked about the same in size.  We photographed each child with their name on a card. 

I went over with Ken and Cherie to the Church hall for the starting class.  I have known Ken and Cherie for nearly 14 years, but have never seen them in their work role.  Ken has been a schoolteacher for 33 years while Cherie has worked with a school as a librarian and other similar roles.  It was so much fun to see them work together and relate to the kids.  Ken takes on a new personality (at least for me) as a pedagogue and one who is continually in front of children and teaches. 

They went through the Genki  Program of greetings, phrases, days of the week etc.  All mixed with music, repetition. The children really did well and were able to repeat the phrases remarkably well.

Class came to an end.  Time for the excursion.  The Polichko’s decided to go to the Tissa River.  We stopped by the public beach, but Irina Polichko is not pleased with the cost of admission and asks to speak to the owner.  They negotiated for a 50% off rate, but not until Wednesday.  In the meantime we drove on to a free beach on the Tissa….where the kids splashed around for 45 minutes or so.  We had four vehicles of kids.  I drove the red van. 

Back to Center.  Dan and Cindy along with Zahora’s set up for classes the next day.  Then supper….our fifth time to eat today.

Then we load up the white LifeNets van to bring a load of kids spending the night to Siloam.  We are tired….it’s been a long day getting going.  After we got back we wanted to go to bed, but the Zahoras (minus Ken), Harper’s  and I ended talking for about two hours and went to bed about midnight.  A great day.  Looking forward to tomorrow.
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