Sunday, July 4, 2010

New blog!

Well, friends, although I had to leave Ukraine, I realized that I don't exactly have to leave the blogging world. So, if any of you are interested in following the progress of my reentry and readjustment back to the US, you can follow it here. I won't be posting much more on this site, but I will do my very best to keep everyone up-to-date on my new site. Thanks for all your support over the past two years. It's been so much fun!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Actual Goodbye

Sunday morning (last Sunday, of course) was about zero percent fun. Amiee and I had to finish cleaning out the very last remaining pieces of our lives from the apartment (did you love the dramatic effect I just threw in?) and turn over the keys to the landlord. Then, we headed to the train station (in 2 taxis...too much stuff) for the 7:40 train. When we got there, several of the guys from church were already waiting for us- to help us with our luggage. While we waited, more and more friends arrived to see us off. It was so very very kind.

The whole our suitcases. Oi. Those suckers were almost the death of me.

Waving from the train. That was awful.

This is my last post about life in Ukraine, but it won't be my last post. Never fear: I will keep a running update of the life of a reverse culture shock survivor. Get excited!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Goodbye party

The night before I left Poltava, my friends had a WONDERFUL goodbye party for me! It was so much fun! Throughout the night, we played Erin Jeopardy, I had to complete several tasks in Russian, Maya played her bandura, Amiee sang, and I was able to visit with many dear friends. They also presented me with a fantastic scrapbook that they had made to commemorate my time in Ukraine. I'm so blessed with such wonderful friends.

Surprise at how many people showed up!

Part of the crew

Waiting for permission to eat.

Vova giving instructions.

Part of the American contingency.

Tanya, Maya, Ira, me, and Amiee

Nastia giving instructions about how to play Erin Jeopardy. They did such a GREAT job!

Maya and her bandura.

Amiee singing "For Good", accompanied by a translation of the words for our non-English speaking friends.

My official certificate for completing my Russian tasks. It included a stamp- something that you have to have for every document in Ukraine. I just shivered thinking about all the stamps I've had to get...

My cake!

The cake had a background of the American flag, a heart in the center, a map of Ukraine (colored with the Ukrainian flag), and the words "Think of Us." Sniff.

"We miss you already!"

Olya, Amiee, and me. She made Amiee an angel and had her mom crochet me a scarf.

The Kryvabok sisters: Oksana, Alina, and little Sofia.

Mariana and Kolya and the scarf they gave me! Mariana rode the train in from Kharkov (2 hours away) just for this!

Pillow from Dasha- it's a model of these stickers they have that indicate women drivers. Ha!

Amiee and Dashenka.

My scrapbook. It's amazing! If you live near me in the States, come see me and I'll let you look through it!

Showing the scrapbook to the group.

Seeing my scrapbook for the first time. I LOVE it!

Amiee and Victoria- she came in from visiting the village just for my party!

Group shot!

Nastia wore her US shirt that I'd given her. Presh.

Ukrainian faces.

American faces.

Sweet friends: Tuesdae, Victoria, Kayla, Amiee, and Nataly.

I have the most wonderful friends and love them very dearly! I miss them so very much.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Backing up a few days...

Last Friday, we had Girls' Night at the Rowlands'. Before Girls' Night started, Felesha said she wanted to show me something she'd gotten at the bank when she went to exchange money. Why is this interesting, you may ask? Oh, because they gave her 100 grieven in 1 grievna bills! That's somewhat akin to getting $100 dollars in $1 bills. That stack was huge! The up side? They'll never have to scrounge around for 1 grievna bills to use as bus money. :)

Robby's rigging for the movie...

...wax paper screen. Molodets, Robby!

Tuesdae and Page getting the food ready.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day in the Park

Amiee and I ended up spending a lot of today in parks, which was a lot of fun! Nataly invited us to hang out/go for a walk/ride bumper cars/ride a ferris wheel/eat ice cream this morning, and it was GREAT! The weather was really pretty, and we always love hanging out with Nataly.

On the ferris wheel!

This afternoon, we had lunch with the Rowland/Mindy/Kayla clan (and Nastia) and then visited a different park than we did this morning. We had a super-fun photo shoot with Mindy's amazing photography skills. The real pictures are on Facebook...these are just a couple of shots with my camera.

The part of our crew that is comprised of sisters: Tuesdae and me on the back, Page and Amiee on the bench.

The older-younger sister looks.

Lamp post shot.

Just being our normal selves.

This evening, Nastia and our friend, Lena, came over for a while to visit and chat. I got no photographic evidence of this visit, so you'll just have to trust me. :) Tomorrow: last landlord visit, Maya's bandura concert, and Girls' Night at the Rowlands'!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This is the hard part...part 2

Today, Amiee and I spent 4 hours visiting with Ira, Tanya, and their family(Oksana, Andrei, and Anya). Their mom, Oksana, is a FANTASTIC cook and invited us over for lunch. She served goluptsi and pelmeni, which happen to be my favorite Ukrainian foods. They were wonderful, of course. While we were there, there came up a massive storm, so we got to stay longer than we might have otherwise. We were also there when the water and electricity went out for an hour or so. Oi! Apparently, a power source for the water and electricity for that part of town caught on fire! And, I'm pretty sure we saw it! We (Ira, Tanya, Anya, Amiee, and I) had been watching the rain from the window and saw a HUGE cloud of black smoke billowing into the sky. Not everyday that that happens.

We had a sweet time of visiting and chatting. It was great to be able to visit some with Anya, as well. I hardly ever get to see her, but when I do, I just love the time we have. It was difficult to say goodbye to Oksana and Andrei. Oksana was literally the first Ukrainian that I met in Poltava. They are very dear to me and will be greatly missed.

Ira, Anya, Tanya, Andrei, Oksana, Me

The girls! Top: Anya, Tanya; Bottom: Ira, me, Amiee

Sweet, sweet gifts: lined jewelry box and a handmade card. I totally teared up while reading Ira's card. Oh goodness...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Last English Club

Tonight was my last English club, and thankfully, it was loads of fun! We played a couple group games (Gorilla-Man-Gun and Outburst), Minute-to-win-it games, I talked for a while, and then we broke into smaller groups based on ability level. It was so great to have more than just me to run English Club! There's so much more you can do with a group of people to run things. I was able to share a little bit about my life story and how much I've learned about the grace, joy, hope, and peace that comes from having a relationship with God. I also got to make a fool of myself by playing one of the Minute-to-win-it games. :)

I found this little tribute to Union hanging out on the tables!

This was one of the Minute-to-win-it games...Alina was a ROCK STAR!

She finished the whole game within the minute without dropping a single piece of pasta!

Lyosha made the best faces- even if he didn't finish the whole game.

Rapt attention

Sergei's look of disgust when his carefully-gathered pasta fell off.

The goal was to get the cookie from your forehead to your mouth, using only your facial muscles. was HARD!

Amiee's imitation of the faces you have to make.

Pasha's turn

Felesha encouraging Nastia

Then I got roped in!


Oh yeah! And, I did it the fastest. :)


These are announcements. Vova calls this an "Alabama PowerPoint." Apparently, he heard me say that last year, and it stuck. Oh my.