Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ukraine 2000

In the summer of 2000, I returned to Ukraine once again, this time leading a teach of 10. There was a certain comfort in being able to return to same village in which I'd already spent time. Many of the same kids, many of the same staff. In many ways, it felt like going home. I was able to pick the language back up very quickly and old friendships were renewed even quicker.

Some things had changed. My great friend Rouslann had been adopted and was no longer there. There were new presures and responsiblities of being a leader. Some of my team I met on the plane.

We were an interesting group. There were six of us from the college, two alumni, and two moms from the mid-west whom we'd never met before. Not an ideal situation, but we made it work. In fact, we made it more than work. We thrived. We knit together in a way that was surprising.

I look back on this group with the greatest of pride. Nearly 10 years later, from this group of 10, there came a missionary to Japan, a missionary to Russia, a married couple with 3 beautiful children, four teachers, social workers, and two moms who went home and sold out to Christ, completely changing their families' lives.

I look back on this group and still feel highly responsible for them. I keep in touch with nearly all of them. I want to protect them, push them, see them succeed. Nearly 10 years after we've come home, I still want the very best for all of them.

This is Alosha and I. There were three of them in the family: Alosha, Slavic, and Marina. Marina was in my girls' group and Slavic and Alosha were fantastic big brothers. Having such a huge value for family, I loved keeping the three of them together as much as possible.

This was Sasha from '99. One day he was playing in the hallway and our translator told me he was pretending to be Eesus (Jesus). So here's my picture with Jesus.

My old friends Oksana and Natasha were still at the orphanage. Oksana would eventually marry our translator from '99 and relocate to the United States. Today she is a wife and a mom.

Here's the 10 of us:

This was our American team and the Ukrainian staff that we worked with.

Camp was broke into age and gender groups. These were the girls that I worked with over the youngest girls group: Kari, Oksana, and myself.

In 1999, I left Ukraine knowing that I would one day return. I knew it in a way that I never questioned.

When I left in 2000, I had no idea if I'd ever go back. No idea that three years later, I'd not only return, but I'd return with my husband.

For 1999 photos, click here.

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