Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."

Monday, February 21, 2005

Tuesday, 8 February, 2005

I woke up at 2 AM this morning, my body sounding the trumpet as though this was just right. No use to try and sleep, but I kept my eyes closed another few hours. It is cold in this apartment – not intolerably so, but certainly enough to notice it most of the time. There is always a cold spot trying to reach under the blankets. Tomorrow I will sleep with an extra layer of clothing. Finally at six I get out of bed and pray at exactly the time my family is saying their goodnight prayers back home. I now have a breakthrough as to why Europeans don’t bathe: it’s really cold in their apartments. Getting out of the shower and getting dry is invigorating like a mountain lake. I am sure it is not to everyone’s taste.

Jim Dumas takes me over to the school. It is freezing: long underwear, a sweater, a sport jacket, and my parka are just enough to keep the cold out. Traffic here is a miracle of confusion. There are no lines in the road, yellow white or whatever, and freestyle is an art form. The people in cars ignore other cars and pedestrians, and pedestrians likewise; the traffic lights are vague suggestions. No one has been killed yet though. Five minutes later we are there, in the same building where Alene is staying.

This building reminds me of the upstairs chapel at Bethel Baptist before we cleaned it up. No, it’s clean, just decrepit. Through a dungeon door and up three flights of stairs to their tiny space. I am concluding that Kyiv is the Russian word for freezing. It is cold inside the school, just not as bad.. Suddenly I feel like a whiner about our building situation. It’s one of those perspective moments. I sit through Nina’s first year Greek class, catching the occasional sigma – omega –beta, etc. Hearing linguistic jargon is too much is Russian, you need two translators, I think.

Then my class starts with my translator Margaret. She is making it easy right from the start. Our first agreement is that the opening prayer will be in Russian and closing in English. One of the students prays, and off we go. Working with a translator functions in several ways – regarding the powerpoint slides, the lecture, the questions and answers. Margaret is worth a ton in gold. My students are two Victors, two Sashas, Antonin and his fiance’ Ala, Oleg and Yuri. They pay attention, and soon we are engaged with one another, trying to understand God. The students are often one step ahead of me, so I know it is going well. We breeze through several pages of material in the three hours and we seem to be ahead, which is good for the two week schedule. Already they are concerned about the final exam. My students learn my dad is an American Indian, and they are fascinated. “Amerikanski Indian”

After class Jim Dumas takes me shopping, and here is where I begin to observe the culture in earnest. First we exchange money, so I get my first $100 in Ukrainian currency, the grivens. Off we go to the open air bazaar, a sort of mini-market with vegetables meats and cheeses. As we cross the street there are these guys selling hardware right on the street, toilet plungers and the like, hawking their wares. MacGuffins of Kiev. Then the bazaar. There are big tables and old fashioned scales with weights on them. There is a lot of availability, but not much of anything Americans would think buyable. The bananas and apples look bad, but the grapefruits actually look fantastic. There are some vegetables that I was not aware existed on this planet. Jim actually knows just the rudiments of Russian, but he gets by through panache. No guts no glory. In the sausage section they have us beat; there are dozens of sausage varieties here, hanging in the cold. I shiver to think about what this smells like on sweltering summer day. After a few purchases, including the grapefruit and some red peppers and cucumbers and one of those sausages (I can’t read so what the hey, that one). It is maybe cat intestines or something from the gleam of the seller’s eye.

From there we go to the supermarket so that we can buy Coke Light (diet) and a few other necessities. Jim Dumas knows his way around, and it is packed on noon today. Again there are strange products and familiar ones with strange lettering. Out we go, and we go home for late lunch. After conversation and a nap I am caught up for the day. Very fun day!

No comments: