Last Day in Khust :( and on to Kiev

Monday, January 15, 2007
Khust, Ukraine
Alas, it's my last day in western Ukraine As I've said, I love being here. One of my immediate issues is to get as many Russian Bible Study Courses and Swedish "Road to Eternal Life" in my baggage. I'll probably be overweight on my flight to Lithuania from Kiev, but I'll be OK with paying some overweight. I brought m gym bag to stuff with as much as I can for our church office in Estonia and to take the Swedish booklets to Sweden. They are heavy. I get exactly 50 pounds of literature in my gym bag and get my regular suit case to exactly 50 pounds. Then I have a computer bag and camera bag. In Ukraine I jettisoned the wheelchair, a few hundred toothbrushes and 70 pair of eyeglasses along with gifts.

Out of the blue a phone call from Khust's mayor's office comes to our home: "Please come to the city council building for a presentation .". Ivan and I rush down and we are both granted letters of special appreciation by the mayor for our work with children.

Then Ivan and I stoppe by School of Art and the high school associated with it downtown. Inna Ivanovna Chernechuk, the director greeted us and we talked for half an hour. It was this school that granted us room to begin our LifeNets computer program that started in 2000. We toured the computer lab that had our original IBM computer using now outdated Windows 98. The teacher was Larissa and she was teaching the class how to use Microsoft Paint. We hope to be able to help this school update these computers to new ones.soon.

Then we came back to Ivan's home where I wanted to have some focused time to just get have all the rest of my questions answered about printing literature, sending it to Estonia and Sweden and the future of the computer program. It's so hard to get him to sit still or go off on a tangent. But, I did . In 20 minutes we were interrupted only three times by people calling him on his cell phone.

Our last stop is to see Ivan Ivanovich Babich, the head of the Baptist Mission called "Blessed News" in the village of Zarriche (which means "Beyond the River").. This mission is going to ship our literature to our destinations in Estonia and Sweden. They are so kind about doing that and we really appreciate it. This is the really the only we can get our literature out of the country without customs hassle. I had been working with Ivan Babich last year in confirming the copyright status of a Ukrainian Bible translated in Canada. We found that it was no longer under copyright and that they could freely reprint it in Ukraine.

When we arrived at the Mission, a famous Ukrainian singer Ivan Popovich was visiting. I had never heard of him, but he is indeed very well known. I had really wanted to visit with Babich, but the conversation was dominated by Popovich and Natalya a young lady choreographer who I believe was part of his music group .

We had to cut our visit short to make it to Mukachevo so I cound make my overnight train to Kiev. For once we got someplace in plenty of time. It's getting dark; there are virtually no lights at the train station and we try to figure out where car 9 will end up by the platform. Ivan is concerned about me having something to eat on the train. He quickly rushes off to buy something for me. I yell "don't get too much." But, to no avail. He returns with a whole rotisserie chicken in aluminum foil, four huge buns, a sack of bananas, three big dessert pastries and a liter of mineral water. He hold true to Ukrainian form: anything worth doing is worth overdoing. This I add to my huge amount of luggage and we get on the train and I find my overnight sleeper and part with my friend Ivan.

A lady then follows me on the train with a HUGE amount of things. A baby stroller, rolling suitcases and many bags. I help her get all these things to her sleeping compartment .

I have so much food with me that I stop by and ask her if she'd like to share the rotisserie chicken with me. She was shy, but relented. She was on vacation in Shayan at one of the resorts. She had a bottle of homemade dry Carpathian wine and some fried bread called "ponchiki." . She works as a nanny in Kiev for a rich businessman. I asked her to divide up the chicken. At the next stop another women by the name of Natalya, came on board and stayed in the same compartment as Galya. We talked for about an hour.

When I told Galya about our working in Chernbyl she said that her family was one of the earliest settlers in Pripyat. They lived in the first few homes built there. Her father was a building engineer. Then they moved from Pripyat (which is about one mile from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant) to Kiev in 1985, a year before the terrible accident of 1986. Her father was transferred to Greece to work on another power plant .

I went back to my compartment and when our train stopped at Strij in the Carpathian Mountains, Volodya Sokolovisky came on board and became my compartment mate. He was a friendly chap He was wearing a suit and as we talked I learned that he was the owner and director of a singing group called Kobza that performs in many places in the world. He's been to the United States several times and his group has performed in 17 states. His family lives in the mountains and he commutes to work in Kiev every week. Wearing his suit he was going to go straight to work after the train arrives in Kiev. He also is a developer of a hotel and resort in Yalta and talked about many other things. He indicated that he was a millionaire by explaining how we earned his first million.

I told him about my work in the ministry and about my travels to Ukraine. We talked a long time and I did some typing of my blog on this computer. It was finally time to turn in but we talked some more . I decided to take some Melatonin, a natural sleep aid and he gave me a lecture about how no vitamins or "natural" products are what they claim to be. He said that I would gain nothing from taking Melatonin and that only a peaceful mind was needed to be able to fall asleep. He went on to say that we need to be forgiving of people who have wronged us and have a clear mind always. He was Ukrainian Orthodox and told me how he was helping to finance the building of a Ukrainian church in Sumey.

He continued the discussion by saying that one way we have a peaceful mind is through prayer and we together discussed every element of Christ's model prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. I told him that I had given a sermon on that topic last weekend.

I told him about all the literature I was carrying and how I was really concerned about my flight from Kiev to Vilnius, Lithuania. I was waaay overweight and didn't even know if my baggage would get on. He said, "no problem." He knew a friend by name of Tatiana well who worked for one of the airlines and that if I mentioned her name she would make sure my baggage would get on. He got out his mobile phone and called her. We'll have to see if this works. Everything on this trip has worked out so well and I'm expecting another blessing. Maybe, I can stretch it to being a "miracle."

We talked probably until 11:30 PM as the train chugged along on the 16 hour route to Kiev. Sleep on Ukrainian trains is comfortable as the train does not move particularly fast and it rocks gently. The Melatonin I took kicked in and I was out for the night.
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