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!