Thursday, November 29, 2018

Odessa, day 3

Again, this goes back to the end of October, even though we're almost at the end of November now.

Our third day in Odessa was for visiting an art museum there. We don't have many photos, because we couldn't take our camera into the museum. We walked there, and then went through the museum. Downstairs it's classic art, mostly Ukrainian. The kids' art teacher told us about some of the artists. Overall everything was very dark. The pictures were beautiful, but they seemed old and maybe dirty, and just dark. Then, upstairs was an exhibit of art that had been repressed. The colours were wildly bright (and the lighting was better), but I didn't see the same beauty as in the older works.

Raia in the museum
Downstairs: Beekeeper
Upstairs: Communism triumphs over religion

Afterwards we just walked back to the hostel, got our luggage, went to the bus station and had a late lunch near there. Then we headed home. The trip back seemed endless, but we finally got home.

And that ends our amazing Odessa trip!

Monday, November 26, 2018

So thankful... and so overwhelmed

Thanksgiving week was really wonderful and really a lot to keep up with. After being sick for so long, I have been starting to get back on my feet. On Thursday the family currently adopting from Tsyurupinsk arrived to pick up their sons. We had them and their nurse practitioner over for dinner. I did a halfway Thanksgiving meal for them: turkey breast and pumpkin pie.

Then Friday, in addition to our usual orphanage visit, Jaan and I got to be there for some of the process of getting their boys out of the orphanage. They spent that night in a hotel in Kherson, and their little guy had a really rough first night and day out of the orphanage. We tried to help some, and Jaan rode his bike to get medicine for them and deliver it, but they had a really hard time of it. Please continue to pray for them. They're in Kyiv now, hoping to fly home soon.

Saturday was the wonderful expat Thanksgiving that has become such a wonderful part of our family traditions. We didn't take any photos at all, but Jennifer did, and she posted a few.

Then there's a new guy in Kherson, here to learn Russian, and Will's been helping him get set up. Our landladies are trying to sell our house. Both girls have had music contests to prepare for and do. Current events are overwhelming... but let's focus on the thankful part. I am so thankful that two more orphans have families, that we have such wonderful friends here, and that we can live this life.

Happy Thanksgiving! Even if it's a little late, we're still thankful.

And just one more photo of the two boys with their PARENTS:

Both boys have waited 16 years for this.

(Photos are not ours, but they're used with permission.)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Odessa, day 2

On our second day in Odessa we went to the "Museum of Interesting Science." It was insanely crowded, probably because of the fall holidays from school, but definitely fun and interesting. First we had a tour, where a guide explained many of the exhibits to us, then free time for the kids to explore everything themselves, then a science show just for our little group. I think this museum was the highlight of the trip for all the kids. For me--since I am the science teacher for half the kids in the group --it was wonderful see the connections they were making; they got really excited about seeing concepts in action that they had read about before.

We ate a late lunch at the museum restaurant and then walked back toward the center for a session of drawing the train station.

After that it was dark and cold, but the kids really enjoyed their long-awaited tram ride back to the hostels. I was feeling pretty awful by then, so I went to bed at our hostel, but Will accompanied the group back to theirs and watched the kids while their teacher shopped for dinner supplies. Then he brought me more Chinese food.

Sunday, November 18, 2018


Our next October trip was a three-day field trip to Odessa with our art school. It was wonderful! (Even though that's where Will and I got so sick.)

The first day we met up with our group at the bus station and got off to a little bit of a late start, because the bus we were supposed to take was cancelled. We got on the next one, though, and made it to Odessa without any more problems. The kids and their teacher were staying in a Harry Potter themed hostel (they loved that!), so we went there first and dropped off all the luggage. Then we started out to find the opera house and lunch in the basement of it. After lunch, the kids and teacher went to their first painting session in one direction, while Will and I went back in the other direction to get more warm clothes for some of the boys. We met up with them later in the park where they were painting. After I got to paint with them for a while, too, we went for a beautiful walk around the port and then back to the hostel. Bogdan was really too young to be in the group, but someone had cancelled out at the last minute. Because of that, there was an extra space already paid for, and they offered it to him. He decided that he could be brave and sleep without me, so we left him and all of them to cook their dinner and eat, while we went off to our own hostel and our own dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

Beautiful autumn!
Planning their route from lunch to park

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Trip to Novokyivka

At the end of October we took a day off from school to go with the Agape Photo Project group to an orphanage outside Kherson. When we got there, they didn't have electricity, but they were working on getting a generator going and running cords through the whole building. We sat around in the dark for a bit, and then got started without electricity. Our girls were there to watch the photographer's toddler, and they did a wonderful job of that. The rest of us helped with set up, crowd control, getting kids ready for their photos, and take down. It was such a good day to work together and with a wonderful team, while getting to spend some time with really great kids.

Here's a video about the Photo Project, if you haven't heard of it before.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Asya's contest

Yes, we are alive. I have been terribly sick, but I'm finally getting better, and it's snowing today. 

Yesterday Asya was in her first music contest. It was just for our music school, but when I saw the photos today, I realised that it was actually a pretty big contest. And she won! The music school will probably post photos soon, but for now, here's one that I took from one of the teachers: