The soup kitchen and the wedding

Sunday, January 18, 2009
Vinogradov/Khust, Ukraine
See a couple YOUTUBE postings from this day:

1. Drive to the Soup Kitchen from the Orphanage
2. Children sing "As the Deer"
2. Carolyn and Vasyl sing at the Wedding


The day began with lots of talking as usual and a huge breakfast. Today's we're going over to the soup kitchen and the wedding in Khust. Light snow is falling. It always brightens a drab winter.  
At the Center we start with a music program. It was good to see others we hadn't seen on Friday such as Gabriella (whose friends call her "Goby"), who looks so much like her aunt Edita. For a moment I thought it was Edita. And also her sister Adrianna, who also goes by her Hungarian equivalent of Ondika. The girls have really grown up since we've known them as little children. Then there's Lolita. Diana and her sister Anyuta were there as well. And, of course, Katya. We have really become attached to these children and love them very much. They have really liked Scott and Carolyn and asked all kinds of questions such as, "have you ever met a famous movie star?"  They told Scott and Carolyn that they looked like famous celebrities.  
All the boys from the orphanage were taken over by van to the Center. It took two trips. The orphanage and soup kitchen are four miles apart.
The Polichko's do an amazing job with both the soup kitchen and the orphanage. They have a gift with children. Never having any of their own they have dedicated their lives to this special service of filling an important void in this area. They literally saved children from becoming criminals and prostitutes by showing them love and providing a family atmosphere for them. They want so badly for the children to become converted Christians and perhaps try too hard. In any event the children are shown a better way that they can choose when the time is right. We marvel as to how the children coming from horrible family situations look to the Polichko's for love, approval and direction. They are very fortunate after have come into the world by irresponsible or dysfunctional humans. The government cares for orphans by first putting them into government care center until the child becomes 10. Then they go into another institution until age 16. Then...they're turned out into the street.  
The children were gathered in the assembly room for singing and a short Bible lesson. And then more singing. It is so wholehearted and beautiful to listen to. Then Scott and I have a few words for the kids. Then Scott, Carolyn and Beverly sang a few hymns that included "How Great Thou Art", "As the Deer" and "Amazing Grace."  The children joined in with "As the Deer" as it is popularly sung here in Ukrainian. This is one of my favorite hymns and it was absolutely beautiful to hear it consecutively sung in English and Ukrainian. The gathering concludes with prayers and finally the Lord's Prayer. The Lord's Prayer is spoken in Ukrainian here. In Church yesterday it was spoken in Russian. Everybody is bilingual. And some know Hungarian and the local Ruthenian language. This area of Ukraine is called Ruthenia. The Ruthenian people spread into neighboring Slovakia as well.  
Now, across the hallway to the dining room. Bev and I sat with Goby and Adrianna who were in good humor. Also, at our table was little Vika Danko. She's about seven years old. She now lives with her sister Ondia across the street. We were invited to visit at their apartment after lunch. After lunch the Scharpens passed out a bag with gifts for the children. We were disappointed that Edita was not there. A friend of hers came over earlier in the day and she decided to go somewhere with her.  
We were invited to a wedding at 3:00 PM Kiev time in Khust. We certainly won't make it by then, but weddings go on and on with all kinds of greetings and festivities. We'll get there when we get there.
But, first, we go over to Goby's and Adrianna's apartment across the street and meet their mother Ondia. It was a two minute walk across to an apartment house. She is a pleasant lady.
Then Katya, the twelve year-old gypsy girl invited us to come to her mother Nadia's apartment some distance away.  
We started walking, but Vasya the driver told us that he'd drive us over. Nadia was spirited and talkative. She has had a hard upbringing. She grew up as a total orphan in government homes where she said children were treated very harshly and without much love. At age 16, unless you go on to school they turn orphans out into the street...and that's what happened to Nadia. She hung around railway stations where she got money by stealing. She was in trouble with the police again and again.  
She stole some pills and tried to end her life. Her next moment of consciousness was seeing a nurse who started talking kindly to her. The nurse started telling her that Jesus Loved her and cared for her. This was the first time that anyone talked with kindness to her.  
The nurse invited Nadia to come to church with her. Nadia came for a while but slide back and went back to the life she lived. Again, she was in trouble with the police. Again, she was despondent. She had also been drinking, smoking and on weed. She prayer for someone to care for her. The next thing was the nurse appearing to her and helping her again. This time she made a greater commitment to right values. Since we have known Katya, her mother telling us this story really moved us. Now she is taking a correspondence course with a college in Kiev and wants to become a missionary. She has just been able to buy the apartment she is living in. She was so proud of it. Vasya later told us that from what she came to where she is now is certainly remarkable. We were so glad to be able come and visit Katya and her mother.  
Now, off to the wedding! Late? By three and a half hours? No problem. Weddings go on and on. It's amazing since there is no dancing. But, there are many statements of well wishing made throughout the evening. We missed the one and a half hour wedding ceremony and came to the reception of Slava and Maria. He's the one who finished dental school and will be doing his internship in Moscow.
We are immediately seated and given a full meal. I'm asked to stand up and give my greetings and well-wishes which I do. I'm followed by Scott who gives his. Then there are more songs. They are all spiritual songs. Every single one.  
Then Vasyl Nemesh plays his accordion and sings with his booming voice. He needs no amplification.
Then Vasyl has an idea. He would like some of us to sing along with him. Carolyn is our singer and she is talked into singing. She and Vasyl do "Amazing Grace."  It is absolutely beautiful! Then they sing "It Is Well With My Soul." And then "How Great Thou Art."  Wow! Carolyn steals this part of the show. The people love it.
We finally leave after 9:00 PM back to Vinogradov. We are driven back by Vasya. But, since in Vinogradov they go by Central European time it's an hour earlier. The night is still young and we spend a few more hours talking at the Polichko's. We have taken an interest in getting more information about the children in the orphanage and the new kids at the soup kitchen so that we can help them more. This summer we will be doing the Teaching English as a Second Language Program again and worked out some of the details about dates, classrooms and other logistics.
What a full day! Tomorrow, Monday, we start back for the Hungary and the continuation of the trip for me and Bev to Poland and back to California for Scott and Carolyn.
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Hello, from Ken Zahora
Victor and Bev,
Great to read your blog and hear about Lolita, Diana, Anyuta, & Katya. Hope all are in good health and the rest of your trip is a wonderful success.
Cherie & Ken


Special Gifts
Hi Vic and Bev,
Thank you for sharing the details of your visit to that unique part of the world. I find it amazing how God uses your talents as spiritual gifts among people who would not otherwise would have such relationships. You love it, they love it, and we love you! Thanks for being the unique tool that you are in helping so many.
Your friends, John & Merrie Elliott


Re: Special Gifts
Wow! What kind words. All we want to do is to make a difference in this world with disadvantaged people. We are thankful that we have had not only the opportunities, but the means....from the physical and spiritual standpoint. We feel awed by how things 'work out' to do things...that's been the story whether it's preaching our message or helping people physically.

We're about to leave Tartu for Tallinn and will be with our good friends the Spenser's tomorrow night.


Re: Hi from the Erickson's
Hi Colleen and Don,

The trip has been wonderful. We're leaving Estonia for Sweden where we will spend the weekend. We were greatly inspired by the kids that we've worked with now for the past eight years in Vinogradov, Ukraine. If you go to my Web site at you can see a YouTube video of them singing 'As the Deer' in Ukrainian.

Our love to you,

Vic and Bev


Re: Hi from the Erickson's
It's been a great trip. The kids are all waiting for you this summer!