Was Honked At Today And Am Glad

Was honked at on the drive home today.

When I looked over, a Ukrainian man smiled and gave me the thumbs up.

Was trying to figure out why… no bumper stickers on my car, wasn’t driving particularly well… was he able to tell from my diplomatic plates that I was American?

At the next stoplight, he got out, ran over, gave me a Euromaidan/Ukraine ribbon and told me “Thank you” in Ukrainian.

I had tears in my eyes.

I love the soul of the Ukrainian people.

(And Kyiv friends, if you see a man driving a car with “Bullet” for the license plate — that is the kind young man who did this today!)

I’m pretty sure his response was related to the Ukraine Freedom Support Act 2014.

In a blitzkrieg vote on Dec. 11, both chambers of the U.S. ​Congress ​passed a landmark bill known as the Ukraine Freedom Support Act 2014 that authorizes Kyiv defense weapons worth $350 million.

Now it’s up to the U.S. President Bara​ck Obama to enact this bill by signing​. In the next few days​, Obama will get it on his table. But if he fails to sign by the end of the year, the bill will have to go through a new cycle in the U.S. Congress.

“Now we are rallying to ask Obama to sign the bill,” said C​onstantin Kostenko one of the leaders of ​the Pass2828 campaign that was launched by the Ukrainian diaspora.​ ​The campaign asked Americans to call their representatives and ask them to support the bill.​

More.

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Looking for an “Angel Donor”

I wrote about my visit to Logos Center last week.

The heating system is still not fully funded, and the winter is getting colder.

There are rolling blackouts in parts of Ukraine, including Kyiv. This is to conserve the state’s energy resources for the winter.

The Logos Center heating system will help them be more independent of the state heating system, and allow them to both keep the current residents warm and welcome more refugees/IDPs.

With the Fedoriw Family Foundation’s generous pledge to match all gifts to the heating system, JUST ONE ANGEL DONOR who can give $10,000 will result in full funding of the remaining budget for the heating system!

Is there an Angel Donor out there for Logos?

Give online via Logos Go Fund Me.
To have your gift doubled, please earmark it: Heating System Fund Doubled By Fedoriw Family Foundation

Logos Center – Holistic Help in Ukraine

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting Logos Center, a holistic community health center which has been pressed into service to house over 200 people fleeing the war in eastern Ukraine.

Founded and in large part supported by Ukrainians, Logos Center has been involved in their community for many years. The seizing of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine by Russia has resulted in nearly half a million people fleeing their homes, often in fear of their lives for supporting a unified Ukraine.

These IDPs (colloquially known as refugees, officially these are considered internally displaced people, as they are in their home country), were at first welcomed with open arms, but are now facing more suspicion and discrimination. Some people mistakenly feel these people from eastern Ukraine “let” the Russians in, or should stay and fight. Yet, these are people who support a united Ukraine and have often been targeted because of that, leaving them no recourse but to flee to protect their families.

When I visited Logos Center, I was impressed at how much people were caring for one another. Cooking and cleaning schedules are well-organized, with everyone chipping in to make things run as smoothly as possible. Those who have been able to find jobs are working, children are in school, and people come together daily for times of prayer and community support.

Our guide was very respectful of people’s personal spaces, and yet we were allowed to visit one bunk room. In the space of my living room were about eight bunkbeds with makeshift privacy curtains made from sheets and blankets. Each bunk houses a family unit — in essence, a “new apartment” for them.

The Logos Center building previously housed a kindergarten, and so there are some classrooms which hold a smaller number of family groups — providing more privacy and dignity. Logos Center has been helping families successfully transition from the east to lives elsewhere, whether here in Kyiv or even in other countries. But even as families are leaving, they are getting calls every week of people in need of shelter and help, fleeing eastern Ukraine.

In our tour we were able to see the wing of Logos Center which is currently being renovated. I don’t know the details, but when this wing is finished I assume that Logos could double the number of families it is caring for. Work is stalled right now, however, due to funds.

Even more crucial than the expanded housing space, is a new heating system. This heating system will allow Logos Center to be less dependent on government heating, which itself is in a precarious position due to coal and oil being supplied in large part by Russia. In addition, their energy bill be cut by 2/3rds. This heating system will heat the whole facility, including the wing currently being renovated. Furthermore, it will provide a reliable source of hot water — currently they only have hot water about 2 hours a day, and the families take turns showering and bathing children.

This heating system is vital. And costly. The full budget for the heating system is $40,000 and HALF has already been donated by generous people in Ukraine, the US, and around the world. BUT IT IS GETTING COLDER EVERY DAY IN UKRAINE. Yesterday the high was just 19F/-7C. It is imperative that the heating system is finished as soon as possible.

And you can help.

The Fedoriw Family Foundation has generously offered to MATCH all gifts designated for the Logos Center Heating System as well as wire the money, at their expense, to Ukraine. Your donation given through this 501(c)3 is will be tax deductible, doubled, and sent to Ukraine on your behalf!

Can you send $100? It will become $200, and is a big step towards providing heat for these 200 refugees, and allow Logos to open its doors to more people in need. If just 100 of us can give $100, with the Fedoriw Foundation’s matching, then the heating system can be finished before it gets colder!

I know $100 is way out of budget for many of my friends. . . Can you spare $10? Every little bit helps, and God uses all our gifts. This is something I believe in. I have seen the families living at Logos Center and seen how they are both in great need AND working together to meet one another’s needs.

Give online via Go Fund Me.
To have your gift doubled, please earmark it: Heating System Fund Doubled By Fedoriw Family Foundation

Thank you for praying for and giving to Logos Center and the displaced people in Ukraine. Please share this with your friends.

Foraging for Nuts

 

We went to the forest with our friend Olya to gather hazelnuts.
We went to the forest with our friend Olya to gather hazelnuts.

 

She wanted to find the meadow she loves for our picnic.
She wanted to find the meadow she loves for our picnic. But since she always walks and we were driving, she couldn’t find it.

 

We ended up navigating narrow paths, spinning our wheels in sand, and getting the truck paint scratched.
We ended up navigating narrow paths, spinning our wheels in sand, and getting the truck paint scratched.

 

Our picnic was peaceful, the trees were beautiful, and we gathered hazelnuts in the woods.
Our picnic was peaceful, the trees were beautiful, and we gathered hazelnuts in the woods — a perfect Ukrainian autumn day.

 

 

 

Happy Independence Day!

Independence Day seems to be a Big Deal for me when I’m overseas. But it is also a Lot of Work for Hubby. He looked dashing when he headed off to his official function in his seersucker suit. The Fourth of July function he attended was at the end of a crazy week, following a crazy month, following a crazy year.

So we stayed low key for our family celebration. We had blueberries and strawberries in yogurt for breakfast. We picnicked on the floor with some of our favorite American foods — southern pork honey and mustard bbq, corn on the cob, deviled eggs, sweet tea, corn bread, greens. . . Our friend Olya joined us. She brought us a Kyivski torte (hazelnut, chocolate and meringue cake.)

The kids and I also went to the American Chamber of Commerce big to-do. We thought there would be fireworks, but were disappointed. Still, it was fun.

Indoor Picnic on the 4th!
Indoor Picnic on the 4th!
With our friend, Olya
This is the face A2 makes when we say “smile!” We celebrated with our friend, Olya.
Gotta love a job that calls for a seersucker suit on the 4th!
Gotta love a job that calls for a seersucker suit on the 4th!

Memorial Day 2014

 

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Hubby is outside of Kyiv.  He’s spent this weekend as an election observer during this key Ukrainian election.  He emailed me at 5:45am, while they were still counting ballots.  He’ll be home on the evening train tonight.  We will have our family memorial time tomorrow.

It is always odd to be overseas during distinctly American holidays.  Other countries do have days similar to Memorial Day, days to remember those who have given their lives in the fight for freedom or for their country.  In Ukraine, probably the closest thing is Dyen Pobyedi, “Victory Day,” which was May 9th.   Right now, with the tumult and the fighting and the shock that it is going on here in Ukraine, Memorial Day feels even more poignant.

 

 

“Dulce et decorum est”

The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.

The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.

Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.

May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.

In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace . . . Who brought a sword.

Joyce Kilmer

 

 

 

Trusting Our Tongues

Psalm 12(ESV)

To the choirmaster: according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David.

Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the Lord;
“I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.

You, O Lord, will keep them;
you will guard us from this generation forever.
On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

Lately it seems that all I want to read are Psalms. Certain seasons of life drive me to the cries of the Psalmist, the prayers of God’s people.

“With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

Many speculate that Ukraine/Russia is in an “Information War” (here, here, and here.) It seems like there is some truth to that. I can easily imagine Putin saying, “with our tongue we will prevail.”

I am mad at how forces are manipulating the citizens of Russian and people in eastern Ukraine. I am frustrated that this out of my control, far beyond my reach. I am even more angry when I hear falsehoods echoed by those in the West, people who don’t know what is really going on, but are buying into the lies.

I feel like people who are dissatisfied with the post-Maidan interim government are being fed Russian propaganda. If they weren’t hearing those falsehoods, they would have been patient. The interim government is in place just until full elections are held — elections that the previous administration and the Maidaners negotiated, agreed upon by the Rada which represents all of Ukraine. Yet, within weeks of the interim government being put in place, there were protests and a lot of anger, anger fueled by false claims and propaganda.

I read the words of this Psalm and I see men trusting in words and clever speech. I see me trusting in words, and wanting to be on my soapbox, and counter false claims. I see my own anger and my own false hope placed in clever words.

“The words of the Lord are pure words…”

God’s words are pure words. His Word is true.

God protects His people.

Once again, I repent for my anger. I repent for my anger at other people’s speech, for trusting in my own words.

Pure Words

Lovely Lilacs

Spring in Ukraine is probably my favorite season anywhere.

Even though this winter was relatively mild, weather-wise, it was not an easy winter. Our evacuation to Poland seemed like a vacation, even with the uncertainty associated with it!

But now it is spring…  overnight, leaves are budding and flowers are blooming.  The sun is shining and I want to be outside every moment, soaking up the warmth and light.

I am filling my home with flowers.  A little babushka was selling lilacs for 7 grivnia a bunch outside the metro, and at the current exchange rate that meant I spent under two dollars for lilacs in the living room and entry. I think I’ll make some lilac sugar and lilac simple syrup before this bounty is gone.

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Христос Воскрес!

Our home church in Kyiv is the English service of Church of the Holy Trinity. We meet in the afternoon, so Easter Sunday morning was free. We had a special breakfast, and then went to visit Babushka Katya, who is a lay nun with the Moscow Patriarchate.

Easter with Babushka

Babushka helped us take care of the boys when we lived in Kyiv before. C13 was barely a year old when we first arrived. She was always her special one, though she adored all of the boys. Babushka sang Russian lullabyes to C13, took the boys exploring through the parks in Kyiv, and even brought them to her dacha in Crimea.

When we returned to Kyiv, we thought that Babushka would help us with A2 often. But the reality is that she is in a different season in life and is dedicated to her service at the church and the hospital. Babushka is a nurse by training. She was among the early responders to Chernobyl, and was the head of the radiation department at a hospital in Kyiv.

I made pascha bread for the first time this year, rich in eggs and butter. We brought Babushka pascha and eggs that C13 and I dyed. We were able to visit for about an hour and had some special time together. We watched the lay nuns all get ice cream bars after the priest left, and Baby A chased pigeons.

The Lay Nuns

The Kitchen

Babushkas Church

Христос Воскрес! Воістину Воскрес!

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

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.