Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kharkov and Odessa

Hello and yes, we finally made it here ty Ukraine!! We had no problems on our flight from Vienna to Kiev, thank goodness. After we made it to Kiev, we took a taxi to the train station and after about 1 hour and 15 minutes of trying to communicate in Russian and try to find the right place to buy tickets to Kharkov, we finally had our tickets. We left Kiev about midnight and arrived in Kharkov that next morning around ten. It was such a blessing to finally be there!
Rob and Dougle were there waiting for us, along with two men from the church. We hit the ground running and for the next couple days, we flew around the city. We were so blessed to have two Christian brothers (Valerie and Robert) helping us around the city!
The city itself was big with some nice looking parks, but funny enough we only noticed one mowed lawn in the whole city. The city is not known for its beauty, but the people there we thought were friendly and there were lots of them. Kharkov had a small, but good metro system, which was very convinient.
During our stay, we were able to meet with an American baptist missionary couple who had been living in Kharkov around 8 years. From them we found out some useful information about the city. Things like the fact that there aren't many expats in Kharkov (so being forign will be a novelty that may be an advantage if we work there). We also learned from them that the university population in Kharkov, which is a very large population (250,000), has not been reached by any church group they know of. Dougle and Rob were able to meet with a realestate agent who was able to recommend significant areas of interest in Kharkov to the team. We were able to visit each part of the city that was mentioned, which was great-- we videoed and took lots of pictures!
We were especially pleased to come across a supermarket called Target, it was great to find out that we would have access to a lot of the foods we were halfway expecting to do weithout. David was excited to even find New Zealand Green Lipped mussels in the frozen food section. The city of Kharkov that was a really good size, it is the second largest city in Ukraine and doesn't look like it will be losing its position any time soon. There is lots of growth as more apartments are being built and Metro stops keep geting added on, spreading further and further.
Overall, we were a little disappointed that Kharkov wasn't as aesthetically appealing as we had imagined. There were a lot of dirt roads and run down looking apartment buildings everywhere. They also do not mow their grass, so most of the city is overgrown. It did have really lovely trees everywhere, so that was nice. There is a lot of potential for it to look nice, and who knows maybe part of our service to the lost could include caring for a park where their children run around playing. Though the city was ugly, it was pleasing to the eyes to see the mothers out with their children and the people out everywhere going to and fro, maybe searching for their creator.
After spending those three days in Kharkov, we left on Saturday evening to go to Odessa by train. We left around 6pm and arrived at 8am this morning. So far, we have been able to meet with a group from the church of Christ we attended this morning, plus a lady from another church of Christ here in town. She was a big blessing and has helped us most of this afternoon. It has been so good to meet with so many people at all our stops. We hope to get a better view of the city tomorrow and hopefully meet with a man from the Christian church here in town who can hopefully give us more information about the city here. We will post more about Odessa in the future.
God has been good to us all on this trip! We have met so many different people and have really been able to get good looks at the places we are interested in. On the train ride to Odessa, our team came up with a "Likes and Dislikes" list about Kharkov. We have been able to have really good discussion and prayer time together. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we travel. Also, please pray that our bag gets to Ukraine soon. It was for Lucy and it still has not arrived-- so we hope it is found soon and doesn't end up back in Dallas with us! Thank you to all for the comments and encouragement. It was a shot in the arm and we are so thankful for all the prayers and support behind us. Please know we thank God for you! We'll post more when we get a chance-- most likely at the next stop... Simferopol, Ukraine!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Kharkov or Bust!

Hello from the airport in Vienna! Yes, it has been about 2 days since we left Lubbock and we have yet to make it to Ukraine. As you can guess, we've had a few problems with our flights! We started in Dallas and in our flight to Washington DC we were re-routed to Richmond, VA due to bad weather before we finally made it to Washington DC, 3 1/2 hours late. Needless to say, we missed our flight out. After waiting hours in line, we finally got booked for Boston where it looked hopeful that we could get a flight out the next day. We reached Boston, but didn't get into the hotel room until 2:30am due to re-arranging our flights out of Boston. (And do I dare mention that we didn't eat for 22 hours due to all these delays?) At 5:30pm the next day (Tuesday), we left Boston for Paris. The flight into Paris was 10 minutes late, and even though we ran all through the airport to get to our flight, we missed it. We actually watched them take the boarding tunnel off the plane. We were so close! From Paris, we flew out to Vienna, but upon arriving in Vienna (after 2 hours of talking to frustrated ticket agents), we have come to the conclusion that we were not going to get to Kharkov today. Right now, our plan is to fly instead to Kiev, Ukraine and then take an overnight train to Kharkov. We should arrive there in the morning-- 2 days later than expected. (That means we will have been traveling for a good 72 hours!) We are exhausted and all of us have about 10 different tickets in our hands from re-booked flights! David is just reading his book at the table and keeps waking himself in time to keep his head from slamming into the table. :) Lessons learned: 1) Next time we go to Ukraine, get the most direct flight possible and 2) Next time we're in these really neat cities, make time to actually leave the airport to enjoy them! Please keep us in your prayers as we still try to make it to Kharkov. Thank you all for your prayers this far-- we know it has helped us keep in good spirits! We will make it to Kharkov... or bust!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Survey Trip to Ukraine

Well, we have finally joined the many other missionaries in creating a blog page to try tohelp us keep all of our friends and families informed as to what is going on with us. We hope that this page will make you feel like you are experiencing everything with us.
This morning we are experiencing a few different feelings. The main one is exhaustion! Right now we are packing our last minute things and getting ready to rush out the door before we board the plane to go to the Ukraine.
As some of you may know, our team (well, part of it at least) is going to go to Ukraine for the next two weeks and scout out the land before we move there. We hope that seeing these places first hand will help us to make a more educated decision forwhere our team will move to and work. This trip has spurred us on to get going on this page so we can share what we find with all of you.
Our aim is to post information about the four different places that we will be traveling to, sharing some of what we discover so that you can comment and be a part of this process with us. Let us know what you think!
Finally, please keep us all in your prayers as we travel around. Mike McDougle, Rob Hindman, Phil Jackson (from Missions Resource Network), and the two of us will be going on this trip together for the next two weeks. Thanks so much!