Last Day in Vinogodrov--on to Khust

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

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Flag of Ukraine  , Zakarpats'ka Oblast',
Friday, July 10, 2009

Last night I had trouble sleeping as I was thinking about the lives of our kids in Vinogradov.   All the young people that I had pizza with last night we have known for eight years.  They have been cared for through the Polichko's through the tender preteen and teen years.  Now they have facing another hurdle.  What do they do next?  Where do they go?  Some come from very dark backgrounds.  The fear is that they might just fade into the society that they had made do much progress to come out of.  Some can go on to further education, but some are just not cut out for higher education.  Anyway---things to think about.  I do want to add at least one immediately to our LifeNets Developing Nations Scholarship Fund.

Today is my last day at Love of Life Mission.  I really wish that I could be with our great group another week, but I have to move on to Chernihev to see our friends there, too. I have not been back since the summer of 2006 when our "Revival" Centre of Medical Social Rehabilitation of Disabled Children celebrated its 10th anniversary.  We have been glad to be part of their life since the beginning in 1996. 

I really enjoy the English classes conducted by the Harper’s and Zahora’s.  I love to see the children interact and really desire to participate and learn. 

In the morning one of our boys Slava, now becoming a young man,  that has been part of the soup kitchen came by. We had a meaningful conversation about the kids who have now been growing up, who came from stressed families….who now needed to move on.  What does that mean? The town of Vinogradov has nothing to offer for vocation.  For a decent vocation, more education is needed.  In talking to him and Emile the day previously, I was really beginning to see from ground level how bleak life can look.  No education, no job…..but lots of youthful thoughts and energy.  What can we do to help to help these really nice people get a hand up on life?

 With Edita and her nieces Gabriella and Adrianna perhaps education is the solution.  Edita needs an answer right away and I’ll be finding a way for her to go to a technical school in Khust.  The cost for tuition for one year:  $400.  The others don’t need an urgent answer right away.  I have really appreciated being able to talk to our kids privately and from a different perspective than ever before. 

Then there was a chalk picture drawing contest on the patio of the courtyard.  Paul Rebrik organizes this event. 

First a note about the Rebrik’s.  A father and his son/daughter-in-law Paul and Maya are visiting from Washington State.  They are from Vinogradov originally and emigrated to the United States in the late 1990’s.  They have come back to visit and came by the our day camp and English class. They, too, are staying at the Siloam Orphanage.  They have been a big help as adult staff for the camp and have been involved in organizing activities for the children, such as this Chalk drawing contest. 

Paul and Maya have been talking a lot with our group.  Some of their stories going back to Soviet times (before 1991) are very interesting. 

Paul would recount how he was a Sabbath-keeper and the humiliation he would endure as a student.  One time a student assembly was called where teachers pointed out certain students to all the others.  In this assembly of 1500 students he was called out and brought up front with a few others as a BAD example.  What he did wrong was to not go to school on Saturday.  He was publicly humiliated.  Not only that, but pictures were drawn of him and posted around town.  Can you imagine what this does to a teenage student?   

The kids loved the chalk drawing contest. There were few really nice expressions of creativity.  One honored the Americans.  One drew a big butterfly etc.  It was fun to go around and see more than 30 drawings. 

Dan Harper got Rosetta Stone installed.  On the technical front, Dan has been a God-send.  We’ve had to set up four networked computers.  The Windows version is all in Russian, so you have to kind of guess what the commands are from what you can remember the placement of menus is like in English.  We have new equipment, but as everyone knows,  hardware and software installations are not always “quick and easy.”  There’s always some glitch that can be very frustrating and time-consuming.  Dan has plowed his way through all this and taken charge of understanding our issues at hand.  As of today we still have a networking problem (probably because of a wrong router).  But, we have a single user of Rosetta Stone that teaches English up and running.  Once the networking issue is resolved early next week, we should have the multi-user Rosetta Stone working.  I tried  Rosetta Stone for the first time.  Cherie Zahora was actually familiar with it from her working with it in school in Indianapolis.  It’s a great program.  On the pronunciation part, you speak using a microphone / headset.  The program evaluates your response and has you repeat it until you get the pronunciation right.   Again, as with grammar and writing sections and far more.  We want to continue English education after we leave.   We’re glad we got the four new desktop computers – it does take robust computers to make the program work. 

Snacks are served between meals.  There is breakfast, then morning snack is usually bread and cheese, then a snack of juice or watermelon or a fruit, then lunch, then an afternoon snack and the big dinner.  The meals are always on time and well-organized. 

After lunch we took the group picture.  Actually ten of the kids from Rokosova were picked up before the picture, but we still have a nice one.  Hopefully Zahoras and Harpers can get the missing kids photo.  

In the afternoon things wind down.  There is no camp or instruction the next two days over the weekend.   Zahora’s and me sneak off to the coffee shop one more time.  The temperature and weather overall is just perfect.  It’s not too hot. 

Time to pack up and go.  The five of us are going to spend the Sabbath in Khust and the Polichko’s give us their van (the red one).  The only hesitation is that we will get stuck somewhere with it, but we prefer not to have people drive from all over and wait on us.  We like to be able to travel ourselves.  And so we do.  We went to the Siloam Orphanage where we packed up.  I’m leaving for good and will stay on in Khust and take the train to Kiev on Sunday.  The rest will return to Vinogradov Saturday night. 

We made it to Khust…only 12 miles away and stayed at the Renaissance Hotel.  It’s a small but very nice hotel right in the center of Khust.  We have three rooms.  One room is the best room in town…it’s called the Presidential Suite that is used for dignitaries who visit Khust.  Dan and Cindy stay in it.  It has a living room and yet another room.  It will be good for all of us to get together there Friday night and Saturday morning.  Everyone seems pleased with the arrangements.  We really enjoyed this place with the Scharpens when we travelled together in January.   

We went to the restaurant a floor down and again it was a pleasant experience.  We were the only ones there and had a nice quiet meal  Ivan Yurishko dropped by and talked a while, but he didn’t stay for dinner. 

We had lots to recollect from the week and were very grateful for how everything was going.  Afterwards we went back to the Presidential Suite and went over our messages for the next day.  Ken and Dan will be speaking along with me.  We will also sing three songs from our Church hymnal for the service. 

We have great Internet connectivity at the Renaissance and I update my Travel blog and email.
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