Sunday, February 19, 2017

Marshrutki, continued

After just long enough for people to calm down and get used to paying 5--I think it took about a day?--the court went and overturned the new fare. Now it's back down to 3. But again, the drivers are kind of on strike. Very few marshrutok are on the roads, and those that do come by are too loaded down to take more passengers. Some people are trying to pay 5 to be nice, and others are arguing. I hear that if you pay with bigger money you get change back as if you were paying 5, but if you offer 3, they take it.

We walked to church. (Why does this have to be at such a yucky time of year?!? February is just a gross month.) One bus did eventually pass us, but it was so loaded down that we laughed; it almost looked like it was dragging on the ground. Of course, taxi drivers are raising their prices, too. They had an official "icy roads" fare. I wonder what they call this one? The "you have no other option" fare? Lots of people are angry and frustrated all around, but I do see nice moments, too. A taxi driver brought Will and Jaan home yesterday for way less than we've ever been charged. Some bus drivers are insisting on giving full change, even when people don't want it.

I wonder if a compromise would work. What if the fare was changed to 4?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Christmas fun day

On February 3 we finally got to do the annual Christmas day with the groups we work with at the orphanage. The main tradition every year is decorating cookies, but there's always more, too. We get to use the separate building behind the orphanage, so for the kids it even feels like an outing.

This year was the first time more of our family has been involved. Jaan, Raia, and Asya started the day off with a whole little concert. I was so proud of them. Just a few days before, I asked them if they wanted to do it, and they jumped into gear, pulling together a full program of solos and duets that they know. I think their friends thoroughly enjoyed it, too.

After the concert part, we started on crafts and cookies. Alys and our girls took kids one-on-one into the kitchen to decorate cookies, while the rest of us did crafts.

Then we played games, sang songs, ate lunch together, had tea and cookies, and told the Christmas story again with the flannelgraph. We laughed together when I was asking the kids for the names of the main characters in the story, and the answer I got was "Jesus, Joseph, and Maria Alekseyevna," one of their favourite nannies!

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Strangely empty. See those fives?
Yesterday the fare went up from 3 ($0.11) hryvnia to 5 ($0.19). It sounds like not much, but it really is difficult for many people. It's probably more realistic, though. There has been debate back and forth since the beginning of the month, when it was supposed to change. At the last minute they cancelled that change, and the drivers went on strike. That was pretty crippling for the city. Then they really did raise the price yesterday. I saw people sticking their heads in, asking if it truly would cost them 5, and then saying that they'd walk instead. And I hear there was a protest in the center of town, too.

As part of the ongoing discussion about this online and in person, I keep noticing people complaining about the level of service and saying something like "They want 5 hryvnia for this?!?!" And I keep wondering how the drivers are supposed to run buses on so little, not to mention keep them fixed up. I went to London last year. Their public transportation is Amazing: sparkling clean, fast, efficient, fancy, handicap accessible, and... expensive. Two different worlds. I think I can be thankful for what we have, even if it is dirty and falling apart sometimes.

UPDATE, February 18: court ruled that the increase was illegal, so we're back down to 3 officially, with drivers still trying to enforce 5. I'm reading that they're on strike again today.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Baptism of the Lord

А той третій празник – Святе Водохреща, радуйся!
Ой радуйся, земле, Син Божий народився!

When I mentioned Baptism before, this is what I was talking about. Bogdan didn't remember or hadn't been to a blessing of the water, so I wanted to be sure and take him this year. On January 19, when we celebrate Jesus' baptism, everyone else in our family was busy, so just he and I went. The week before the Dnepr had been frozen, and because of that I told him people would be jumping into a cross cut in the ice. Apparently there was only ice at one park this time, though, not where we went. (The river completely froze over again right after, too.) He kept asking me where the cross was. He was fascinated by everything, the procession down to the water, the prayers, the Cossack carrying the cross (he had a sword!!!), all the swimmers, and being blessed--soaked!--by the priest himself.

Then we went to a cafe to warm up. I ordered hot chocolate for Bogdan, but they were out of it and offered decaffeinated (!) coffee. I wish I could have gotten a photo of him with his own tall latte and huge plate of cake. Again, the cake wasn't exactly what I was thinking; I just ordered it, thinking we'd split a piece, but the waitress assumed that I wanted two portions. When they brought it out, his eyes got really big, and he said, "Better not tell the girls about this" (i.e. they would be jealous). We had so much fun together, just the two of us. Now I think he'll remember, both the story of Christ being baptised in the Jordan and the tradition of blessing the water now.

Вся наша родина, славна Україна, радуйся!
Ой радуйся, земле, Син Божий народився!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

We love our library!

The local library set up shelves behind the librarian's desk where they're displaying "bestsellers" from three families. Our family is one of them. You can see our shelf behind Asya in the photo. People had checked out what Raia set up there last week, so Asya and Bogdan and I put out new books when we visited. Fun, eh?

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Events repeat

Facebook sometimes shows memories of "on this day," and recently I noticed that several memories in a row repeated in life this year.

One was a Baptism photo that popped up from one of the most beautiful days I have ever seen. That same day Bogdan and I went to Baptism here, too.


And now:

Not long before that were the banquets for the orphanage workers.

And now:

Also something that repeats in our lives, that I don't need Facebook to remind me about, is documents. We just barely got our papers submitted in time to renew our residency. Please pray that the rest of that process goes smoothly.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Friday events

This most recent Friday was the wonderful yearly Christmas celebration for "our" groups at the orphanage. But more about that later. For now, the Friday before that....

I got to go to a regional conference for people who work with orphans. The director of the orphanage was there, too; you can see her in the foreground of this photo--black coat, white-ish hair--and I'm way back in the back, trying to translate into my friend's ear. I pray that it was especially good and interesting for the director to hear what believers are doing in her world. It was all very encouraging for me. Nikolai Kuleba came down from Kyiv to speak, and there were lots of other speakers from this area and beyond.

A view from the 11th floor where the conference was
That same morning Raia woke up and told us that, by the way, she had a concert that day. So, of course we didn't get to go, but she went and played. It was actually two concerts at a local school, for the younger and older classes. Her teacher sent us photos. Here's one:

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Иней today

The title here is an example of the way thoughts are worded in my head. People should be glad I usually try to sort out the languages before I speak or write.

Today we had my one of my favorite weather conditions again. Last time we saw it, I enjoyed the beauty on my way to the orphanage, but I didn't have any way to get photos. Today I sent my personal photographer (Raia ) out to see what she could capture, and these are just a few of the beautiful photos she got. Our street looked like a fairy tale.

Right now Jaan is at a music exam that he's been working really hard for. I'm praying that it goes really well and he's rewarded with a good grade. No matter how he does, I am really proud of all the effort he's put into it!

Tomorrow will be the yearly Christmas cookie decorating day that we do with the kids at the orphanage. Jaan, Raia, and Asya will be helping for the first time. They've prepared a little concert of all their Christmas music, and I know they're excited to present that and spend time with their Tsyurupinsk friends.