Wednesday, 9 February 2005
I woke up at four this morning, so I’m gaining ground on the jet lag. Dobre Utra! Good morning! I read for a while, then prayed at 6 AM to share the same time as family says good night prayers in
People here have a different comfort zone for physical contact. It’s bumper cars out there. Maybe it’s the cold and all the heavy clothing, but I have folks running into me all the time. Lots of dogs. No rules about dogs and leashes, many roam the street and many others on leashes being walked by a variety of people. Big dogs are in fashion in
Tonight I teach a Bible class on Anger, but at the last moment I remember that there will be some in attendance who have been invited from the English as a 2nd language class just before, so the gospel is an imperative. I start out with the anger of God toward sinners and move toward the love of God in Christ, and I make the good news clear from several different angles. They love citing memory verses together, and I get to hear John 3:16 and 1 John 1:9 in Russian. I think of the Christmas my children recited John 3:16 in Greek from memory and it hits me in about the same way. Great response: they laugh at my jokes and cry at the touching parts, so I know Margaret my translator is on the ball. At the end I invite the audience to sing (it seems like about 75 or so there) so that I can hear a hymn in Russian. They are thrown off because they usually don’t sing on Wednesday nights, but then whatever they sing is beautiful, a tune I have never heard, in a language I don’t understand, and tears are streaming down my face – they are praising God and I think of “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess” in a whole new light. I would have been blubbering out loud if there had been a second verse. I have barely seen Jim and Phyllis, because there is so much else to do and so much time I want to invest in the students and church members.
What are the Ukrainian people like? They are stolid, responsible, industrious, and serious. They trudge to work and back like the automatons of the American inner cities, caught up in the devil’s world just exactly like everywhere else. Many of the older folk remember the Soviet days very well; you see it in their demeanor, and their bearing; there is a certain dignity and pride in the way they look, but also some hard to define sadness. They’ve seen it all, and even after fifteen years of freedom they haven’t adapted. The new generation imitates young people everywhere in joy and fervor and belief in the future. They have civic pride and I think for many pride in their nation. There are beautiful women in full length furs and balaclavas, the new upper class or upper class wannabes. Young men in various professions trying out the affections of the Ukrainian GQ or the latest public servant chic. There are soldiers once in a while but I have no idea whether they are police or fire or Army, but I have a feeling they aren’t dogcatchers. None of those around here. As I walked home this afternoon, three drunk men stumble laughing down the street toward me, sobering for a moment as they pass then resuming as though I was a symbol of disdain they wanted to avoid. I had no idea I could invoke that in anyone else but my children.
My late night snack is sunflower seeds and Zhubchuk, a Ukrainian lemon soft drink. Not too bad! The label is promoting Knights of the Kingdom from Lego, the toys for the whole universe apparently..