Friday, August 7, 2009

Hello from Deepest Ukrane 8/7/09

Hello from Deepest Ukraine 8/7/09

We are on our 5th visa renewal trip and by several mis-directions, ended up in Kiev. The most common situation we have found ourselves in any situation we did not plan to be in. In this case, our invitation letter to go to Prague was not processed properly and the error was discovered too late for it to be rewritten for Prague so we needed a place for a quick turn-around (processing a visa) and Kiev was the best choice. It complicated our trip to Prague which was planned and paid for much earlier and has extended our absence from the mission by 5 days. Oh well.

We hired a local lady, Olga, who was a translator for Mark and Cherry Hall for the better part of a year here in Kiev as they gathered church history information for the anticipated Kiev Temple dedication next year. She was a great guide and got us to a lot of interesting places, most of which we had seen in 1990 but had only faint memories of.

While waiting for our taxi to arrive to do our visa business, we met an Iranian extended family in the lobby quite by accident. They started filtering into the lobby by family groups starting with a mother, father and three children. They sat near us as Cindy was watching a video clip from her email which featured cute pictures of animals. The mother caught a glimpse of them over my shoulder and asked in her best, but labored, English if we were involved in the environment. We finally understood that she was interested in the pictures and offered to show them to her children who were delighted.

By then most of the rest of her family group had arrived and we were introduced to everyone with warm greetings and kind words. The result was that they wanted to tell us that they loved America and were so glad that we got involved in the Iraq situation and how much better life is now with Saddam gone. That started some other friendly exchanges and we all parted for the day's sightseeing. Nice people I think. We would see them daily at breakfast and the mom and kids always came over to say hi. Yep, nice people.

We visited the Kiev, Ukraine Mission office in time to meet the local District of missionaries having their weekly meeting and the traditional lunch following. They were all glad to see fellow missionaries, but didn't offer any lunch.

We also got to peek through the fence at the Kiev Temple now about half done. They are just putting on the granite exterior slabs. Sister Cindy did most of the peeking and I got a shot over the top of the fence. It is going to be quite a dominant feature along one of Kiev's main highways.

We later drove south to see the Ukrainian Museum of Folk Architecture and peasant homes display south of Kiev about half an hour. It was quite a walk in the warm Ukrainian sun, but well worth the effort. These buildings and windmills were brought to a large (1000 acre or more) plot of farm land from areas being flooded by a dam on the river that flows through Kiev during Soviet times. It was thoughtful to preserve the homes of the peasants that were displaced by the rising water. Someone in the Central Planning Department had a real eye for historical structures. I wonder if the peasants got relocated too. (Dictatorships are so efficient.) Do you think they relocated this artist too? He looked old enough to be one of the original residents.

Ukraine is a prosperous, clean, pleasant place to visit. We felt welcome and comfortable among its people. Even the taxi driver spoke kindly to us. We're not used to that.

Ukraine, what a country.

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