Tuesday, December 22, 2009


It's been a week since I wrote and a lot has happened since then.  We have seen more of Berdyansk and continue to learn a little more every day.  Some impressions:

  • It snowed last week and the streets are a mess.  We haven't seen a snowplow around our ministry center, and as I look out the window I see people navigating through the ice and slush very carefully.  We did see one snowplow downtown, but the streets were pretty messy there too.  By "navigating" I mean that they are walking, probably to the bus-stop just down the road.  The cars move very carefully.
  • We went shopping for some clocks and cell phones.  The cell phones are nice and probably priced about the same as they are at home.  I got one in "romantic pink"----it really is pretty and has a bunch of stuff on it.  Now, if I could only read the instruction leaflet---it's written in two languages, Russian and Ukrainian.  We didn't sign contracts, we got a starter pack which gave us our phone numbers and then we buy cards with a certain amount of time on them and enter them in the phone for use.  Somewhat like what we did in India.
  • We learned that the Ukrainian people put a high value on "image."  This includes what you wear and how you behave in public.  You would never go out in public dressed sloppily or with your hair messy.  In summertime you would never wear shorts to go shopping.  At least we understand that's true for men, I'm not sure if it holds true for women.  I guess we'll find out next June. But, you must be dressed "properly".  You must always look good, preferably in the most current fashion.  I'm pretty sure Frank and I haven't reached the proper status yet!  Along with the clothes image, the women wear lots of make-up and do their best to look really good in that respect.  Of course, it's not hard for them because the women are so beautiful anyway.  Lots of blondes, but also a lot of people with very dark, almost black, hair with blue or green eyes.  They are gorgeous.  The dark hair may be a throw-back to the time when the Tartars invaded from the east and stayed in the area of both Ukraine and Russia.
  • Ukrainians love bright colors.  Perhaps it is because they often have drab lives.  They live in tall, gray ugly apartment buildings.  In winter everything is gray, cold, and cloudy, with the sunshine only shining now and then.  The clothes are colorful, the shops are colorful, and curtains and other household linens are colorful.  We haven't been inside a Ukrainian apartment yet, but the chances are good that they are  decorated with bright colors.  There is nice furniture in the shops, but it isn't exactly like what we would find in the U.S.  Every country has its own taste in design and functionality.
  • At Christmas there are lots of decorations available.  We bought a small tree (made in China), various ornaments, garlands, and lights.  Total cost:  about $30.  Actually, although it's December 22nd here and we are in the mood for Christmas, the Ukrainian Christmas isn't until January 7th.  That's because of the Orthodox church traditions which have a strong influence on the lives of the people.  The missionaries here will have a small dinner together on December 25th, but the big celebrations will be two weeks from now.  Frank and I are looking forward to seeing what happens in the church as well as all around us.  We especially want to try some special Ukrainian foods that are prepared for Christmas. 
These are just a few of the things we have noticed.  I'll write next about our trip to the orphanage and the Christmas program we saw there.

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