Silver and Gold

Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver and the other’s gold.

I remember this little ditty from Pixie Scouts, first grade – Adak, Alaska.   I was a Navy Brat.  Not a full-fledged Third-Culture Kid, but with enough similarities that when I’m going through resources about helping my kids adjust, I recognize myself.

I have friends, old and new, in the US and spread around world.  I feel like Facebook was designed for people like me.  I have friends tagged by where we lived when we met – California, Texas, Florida, Gtmo. . .

The web adds another dimension.  Shared interests bring people together online, acquaintances become friends, online exchanges become real-life relationships.

I remember the first time I got together for coffee with a friend I had previously only known online.  Our husbands and kids came along, too.  We met in a coffee shop.  It was a little tentative.  This was the early/mid- 90s and people still raised their eyebrows when you mentioned friends online.

Coming to Kyiv meant that I finally got to meet, in person, a friend I’ve known for years.   Anne and her husband Vitaliy live in Kyiv, working with a church, running a rehab center, advocating for safe birth, encouraging mothers, nurturing their own three children, and basically ministering to whomever God brings into their lives.   Including me.

Anne is one of those rare friends, an old-new friend, silver and gold.

Anne and Tulip

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The New and the Old

We have been in Kyiv just over a week.  It is an interesting experience to return to a place one once lived, once loved. 

So much feels familiar, like home.  The mix of old beautiful architecture, post-Soviet utilitarian structures and new construction feels familiar.  Though I’ve heard Ukraine is technically in recession (like most of the world), the businesses and construction and improvements since 2005 indicate that the last 8 years have been good to the city.  

It probably helps that we’ve arrived in the springtime.  Green is everywhere.  When I walk down the neighborhood sidewalk (some places paved, some places bricked, some places potholed), everything is blooming.  I recognize some of the flowering, fragrant trees and bushes. 

The parks seem cleaner than last time – some have broken glass, but the other moms here haven’t warned me yet to do a check for used needles, as was the norm when we were here before.  New playgrounds have been constructed.  The new urbanism seems to be reflected in the art and design of the parks, like Mosaic Park.  

Our new flat is in a region of the city in which I never spent much time.  I don’t know how the streets connect over here, we aren’t near a metro station, and we’re learning the public transportation lines around here.  We’ve ridden the tram more times in the past week than we did in four years before. 

The boys have had so much more freedom here than in Kenya.  They’ve explored the neighborhood on their own, walked to the park, gone to the corner market for me, gotten lost on the way home. 

I know that our neighborhood is right where God has us for now.  The apartment we were assigned is about a ten minute walk from Church of the Holy Trinity, the “big sister” church of the church we were helping to plant.  They’ve always had simultaneous English translation during the service, but just recently they began an English language service.  While there is something just so sweet in the Spirit in worshiping cross-culturally, reflecting the united Body of Christ, we really so appreciate being able to worship in English.  This has become even more important to us as the kids have gotten older.   And, It really is amazing to know the pastor and trust there will be sound teaching at a new church.

Everything is new.  So much is familiar.  It is good.