Monday, July 14, 2014

Living in a Country at War

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine Ukraine at war.  Ukrainians are a peaceful people.  In fact, one of my greatest frustrations over the years has actually been their passivity.  Coming from a culture of "pull yourself up by your bootstraps", I couldn't understand why the Ukrainian people seemed content to be the doormat of corrupt officials in every realm of life.  Talk about dysfunction!  I wondered what it would take for Ukrainians to stand up for themselves.

Then it happened, the "Revolution of Dignity," and I was dumbfounded.  They actually had had enough and were not going to take it anymore.  I couldn't have been prouder of Ukrainians than I was back in February.   Knowing that it took huge courage and a defiance of hundreds of years of culturally-ingrained passivity, what the Ukrainians accomplished on Maidan is a testimony to their strength, unity, and deep-rooted desire to live in a country that values transparency, justice, and the opportunity to pursue a better life.

Ukrainians want to live peacefully with one another and with their neighbors.  They don't go looking for trouble.  That's why what happened on Maidan is not what is happening in the East.  Countless evidence proves that the war raging in the regions of Dontesk and Lughansk is due to the direct influence of Russians.  There are multiple theories and explanations as to why Putin does not want to see Ukraine prosper under European-values.  It's complicated and I'm not about to get into that.

So, here we are.  A successful revolution behind us and a war before us.  Reports are becoming, once again, increasingly alarming with rumors (or more than rumors) of an "invasion" by Russian forces, perhaps under the guise of a "peace-keeping mission".  What does it mean for us living in Kyiv?

Up to now we haven't been impacted by the unrest in the east.  Our lives have settled back into normal.  Our evacuation box has been unpacked.  I haven't been obsessed with reading the news or trying to guess Putin's next moves. I started feeling comfortable with planning for the foreseeable future. Concern that school would close its doors or that we would be forced to live somewhere else has ceased. I am tired of those scenarios.  I'm tired of uncertainty.

But the future of Ukraine is far from certain.  Destruction and death have already devastated much of the eastern part of Ukraine.  Tens of thousands of people have fled.  How far will it spread? When will it end?  How can peace be restored? Will this war soon effect us personally?

"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; 
do not fret when people succeed in their ways, 
when they carry out their wicked schemes....
The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; 
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.  
The LORD helps them and delivers them; 
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, 
because they take refuge in him." 
- Psalm 37:7,39-40

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunny Street

July 1 we moved into a house at 2a Sunny Street, Petropavlivska-Borshchagovka which is just outside the Kiev city limits.  For the past 13 days we've been busy making it home.  We've made a lot of progress but there are still a few big projects remaining.

We moved because the house we stayed in the for the past year is usually rented by another missionary family who needed someone to stay there while they were in the States.  After moving 3 times in the past 2 years, I'm ready to get settled into a house that I hope will be home for a very long time.  We signed a two year lease which, Lord willing, we hope can be extended. [You can pray for that to be the case.]

Now, without further ado, here's the tour (but forgive the clutter, we're still unpacking)...
After having to open and close three gates to park the car in Mukachevo, the automatic gate and garage door are a dream come true for George.

Although not technically a "townhouse", that's the description we use since this is one of three identical houses standing side-by-side - not typical for Ukraine.  Apparently, the lot used to be the tennis courts of the wealthy landowner to the back of the property.

 Washing the garage door is on tomorrow's to-do list.
An apartment complex is being built across the street.  George refers to it as our mission field under construction.

The front door from the inside.  A full-bath/furnace room/utility room is visible through the open door.  To the right of this picture is the kitchen.
The kitchen is cozy with just enough space for our dishes and kitchenware but not much for food.  It does have a dishwasher though! Abigail (in yellow) loves cooking.  She and her friend (in white) are making crepes for breakfast. 
Beside the kitchen is a large closet room.  It will be very handy for storage and we've made a make-shift pantry out of it too.
Looking from the front door, the kitchen doorway is in the corner, the closet on the left of the hallway, and our dog in the middle!  Stairs lead up from the right and the living room/dining room is in the back.
Dining room.  We are still trying to figure out what do for curtains.  It's hard to invest money into something you don't know how long you'll use.  Complicating factors, we can't figure out how to blend all the color combinations in this dining room/living room.  I guess we'll have to make a decision sooner or later.
Living room with fireplace.  The purple couch and chairs are the landlady's.
The backyard (as seen from the second story window).  A good size, I think.  There's a little vegetable garden growing along the back wall.  I don't know when I'll have time to tend to it, though.  A chain link fence separates the backyards of the three houses and the brick wall encircles all of them.  Our next door neighbors are Muslims from Turkey and their teenage son is giving Matthew soccer lessons for fun.
Tiled floors and tiled staircases.  The bedrooms have wood floors.  We're not sure what to do with the space under the stairs.  Right now it houses disassembled furniture and boxes of belongings waiting to be unpacked.  It's also houses the water tank.
On the second floor is Matthew's bedroom.  We plan to buy a futon bed to go along the wall where I'm standing so that we can turn it into the guest room when we have visitors. 
 Across from Matthew's room is the office with a wall of shelves that came with the house.  Believe it or not, we still need another bookcase for the overflow books and all the kids books are upstairs!
A workplace for George and me.  I think this arrangement of chairs is a collision waiting to happen.
The master bedroom.
Master bath.  Yippee!!! (Not sure what to do with a bidet. I'm thinking of putting a table over it, cover it with a cloth and use it as a counter space.) There's another bathroom on this floor for the kids.  I forgot to take a picture of it.
Up another flight of stairs and you have the finished attic.  One side of the staircase is the girls' room.  We're going to hang a white curtain along the staircase and in front of their room to give them some privacy.
The family room is also in the attic.  Wii.  Exercise bike. An all-purpose area.
On the other side of the staircase - a table for games and crafts and our monster wardrobe which didn't make it into the picture.  Our piano is in the box still but maybe we'll get around to getting a piano teacher if we're not living the next year under threat of evacuation.

And that's our home and I love it! Come visit us on Sunny Street.  Now you know where we live!

Google Maps to our location