Day 14 of Anne’s Journey Back to Ukraine

Day 14 of Anne’s Journey Back to Ukraine

I woke up at 5:40 a.m. before my alarm this morning. I quickly showered so that I could finish packing for our trip today. I ended up Skyping with Tony who had just gone back to read bedtime stories to Gabe. We have been trying to figure out when I will be needing airplane tickets for me and the children to return home. By 6:30 a.m. Lucy and the children were up. The children are so good about getting packed up the day before we move anywhere. We loaded up the kitchen, took a last look around the apartment, and headed down to meet the two taxis that were scheduled to take us to the bus station. The company that we called required that we take two taxis, even though we figured we could squeeze into one taxi as we have been doing all along the way. Oh well. We drove away at 7:00 and did not have far to drive. We were the first ones on the small bus. There was a line of waiting people hoping to get on the bus. I was very glad that Lucy had made reservations for us the night before. It is amazing how many people smoke, even at the early hour of the day, people were puffing away, some were standing next to the door opening of the little bus, so we too were unwillingly puffing away on their second hand smoke. By 8:00 everyone was loaded on the bus and we, along with many other buses, headed out of the parking lot and for the road.

Jonathon on the bus to Lutsk

Hyrum on the bus


I was surprised at how very nice the freeway road was. Lucy said that they are trying to improve the freeway roads. They are doing a very good job. The bus driver was able to drive quite fast on the road. We almost had one accident when our bus driver was cruising on along and didn’t seem to notice the cars in front of him had stopped. At the last second, we swerved into the lane to our right and avoided making the two cars in front of us very compact. I was certainly glad that there happened to be no cars in the lane to our right. Driving here reminds me a bit of our family’s three week trip to Mexico where I feared for my life. In order to keep my sanity on that trip, I had to sit in the back seat of the 13 passenger van we were renting  and try to read a book so that I did not look ahead of me. It worked, all except the one time we were passing a bus and I happened to look up and saw a bus coming straight at us. The bus to our right that we were passing had sped up enough that we were unable to complete our pass. Tony finally had to swerve off the road to our left.

The trip was to take 5 ½ hours. Included in that time is a 20 minute stop that we took at the halfway point. We got out. The children wanted to use the restroom, so they said something about a “toilette,” and I said okay. As they went running off in the direction of the toilet, Lucy came to sit by me. She said that the children probably do not know they need to pay to use the toilet. Sure enough, within one minute, Hyrum and Heather had come running back to get money. I dug through my change and in the end we had counted out 3 grievna (sp?). They ran off happily. When they returned, Hyrum said that it was strange to have to pay for a toilette. Lucy told him that they have to pay most everywhere we go. The only place they have really gone are at the orphanage, on the train and in our apartment bathrooms. Otherwise, the children have rarely traveled anywhere to know that one must pay to use a toilet around here.  The restaurants, like McDonalds, Pazata Hata, etc. have free bathrooms. While we waited, we snacked on some poppyseed bread, juice, and the hard-round pretzel like things that are not salty, but are a little sweet. We then boarded the bus once again. The children and I all thought the trip seemed long. I don’t think I have recovered from my 22 hour trip back to Ukraine. All the sitting killed my behind. We were happy when we arrived in western Ukraine at 1:30 p.m. in the city of Lutvsk (sp?). We got off the bus, and Lucy was very surprised to find that her mother we so anxious to see her after almost 8 months of being away, that she came to the bus station. We said our hellos. We then found the girl that Lucy had talked with about renting an apartment. The hotel had no room available except in the much more expensive rooms, but I was into paying less not more at the point. The apartment was going to cost us $35 a night and would not have internet and the washer is broken. We loaded ourselves and all our luggage and bags into her car to drive to the apartment.

Wow!!! We were so pleasantly surprised at our new apartment. It is the nicest apartment we have seen in Ukraine, except President and Sister Nielson’s apartment. Lucy says that she has never seen such a nice one either. There are three bedrooms, a BIG shower and Jacuzzi room with a sink, a smaller toilet room with a sink, a big kitchen and dining room with SIX chairs!! There is also an office with a fold out sofa and a wall desk and bookshelf unit. Heather and I have the nice master bedroom with some very cool light fixtures and Heather really likes. The boys are sleeping in the nice living room on a fold out sofa. There is a little entry foyer where we remove our shoes. There are three very large sunny balconies. The children and Lucy were so very excited. The children ran around looking at an in everything. Lucy took out her camera and went around the place taking a video tour. I must say, that I was very pleased that we have such a lovely place to stay for the weekend at such an incredible rate.

Our big shower and tub room!!

After quickly putting things away, we left our lovely apartment to walk in the direction of Lucy’s parent’s apartment. We waited for Lucy to go purchase her mother a small bouquet of flowers. We ended up catching a bus to get us closer. We wound our way through some apartment buildings before we found their building. Lucy pointed out to me next to the front door of the stairwell three black letters spray painted on the building. They were the letters CTR. I guess she wasn’t thinking too hard about what CTR stood for when, as a young girl, she painted those on the wall of the building. We climbed the stairs (there is not an elevator) to the 5th floor to apartment #43. We were greeting by her lovely mother. We felt very welcome. Lucy had a bedroom, then there is a nice, but small kitchen, a shower closet, a toilet closet, and a family room. Lucy’s parents bed is not much wider than a twin bed and sits against the wall in the family room. The eating table was next to the bed. Half of his sat on the bed to eat at the table and the others sat on chairs on the otherside of the table. We visited for a bit as Lucy’s mom, with the help of Heather, served up bowls of her borsch. YUMMY! We loved the borsch. She had also cubed some of their old bread and made plain croutons that we put in our soup. She served us some fresh sliced white bread. After the first course, the boys said they were full (they had eaten their borsch and all the bread, because I didn’t get any). Lucy’s mom brought in a rice dish with little pieces of chicken and little bits of vegetables. It too was so delicious that we ate much more than our bodies needed. She then brought in some homemade pickles and sausage. Yes, we ate even more food than we needed and it was all delicious.  Lucy was so glad to be home.

The boys saw some young children playing soccer down in the playground area between the apartments. They asked to go down there, so I went with them. While the children were playing, I was watching them along with people watching. I love to watch people. At one point, a gentleman arrived on a bicycle with a large, plastic water bottle strapped to the rack on the back of the bike. I was sure that was Lucy’s dad. He was wearing a white dress shirt and black pants. After quite a while, I told that children we should go back up to the apartment, so they very willing came with me. Sure enough, we met Lucy’s father as we came in the door. He immediately warmed up to the children, and he engaged the boys in conversation. He was giving them fatherly counsel. Most of the people that have helped me with the children over the past two weeks have been single people that have never been a parent (Lucy, Victor, Natasha, and the missionaries). How refreshing and grateful I was it to be interacting with two lovely people that look at these three new children of mine with the eyes of a parent. They want to help impart to them the wisdom and knowledge that only a parent can. Lucy’s mom teared up as she said how beautiful it is to hear these children call me Mama. That comment brought little tears to my eyes also. What a sweet lady.

Lucy’s father served in the military. He showed the boys pictures and let them try on some of his hats. We took pictures. He then got out some boxes of T-shirts, hats, rubber bracelets (I’m sure they have a name), notebooks, etc. that he had from a woman that ran for the Ukrainian top position. They had supported her. She did not win. He gave the children so much stuff. I told her dad that I would need to buy another duffle bag to get it all home. Lucy’s mother found out that I was trying to learn Russian, so she found about five books for me to take. They are like children’s early readers and one is of Ukrainian stories for children.

Jonathon, Heather and Hyrum with Lucy’s Dad

We all gathered together to have some rose tea and cookies. We took some photos by stacking a couple of stools and placing the cameras on top. We turned on the timers. Lucy pushed the buttons and then ran to get in the photo.  After a bit, the boys wanted to go play soccer again. They headed downstairs and a came a few minutes later. This is a very nice little neighborhood. There were children playing all over as parents stood around visiting with each other. It had quite a homey feeling. In fact, to top things off, there was a woman walking around in her bathrobe and slippers. She walked across the play area over to where a couple of ladies were visiting. She stood there visiting with them. Later when I look in her direction I saw her with a rug hug over a bar and she was beating the rug. There was another lady leaning out her window cleaning her window sills. She hollered down to a couple of ladies. They carried on a brief conversation. It is a very nice neighborhood. I noticed that almost every little girl had on a cute little hat. I assume the hats were to add a tad bit of warmth. I thought they were darling. Heather really enjoyed helping a few of the little girls. Hyrum and Jonathon were great playing with these younger boys. All of my boys are so good with younger children, so I was very happy to see that Hyrum and Jonathon are also very good with interacting with young children. We still needed to stop by the market, study some English, and read scriptures before going to bed, so we headed back upstairs to get Lucy and say our goodbyes to Lucy’s parents. As we loaded up our stuff, Lucy’s father gave Jonathon the two nice hats that he had been showing him. Wow! What a treasure. It does have a USSR symbol on it, so he won’t be wearing it around town. But it is a cool hat, nonetheless.

On our walk home, we were discussing when we would return to Kiev and how. We decided we would prefer to take a longer trip and go by sleeping car than to sit for 5 ½ hours again. So instead of catching the bus to take us home, we walked to the train station. We found out that there are no train tickets left. It is the end of a holiday weekend.  So I guess we don’t have a choice in the matter, travel by bus it will be. Lucy will buy our tickets in the morning. My son Sam called while we were walking to deliver information from Tony who was on the phone calling from work. Tony and I talked to each other through Sam. Because of the higher cost of plan tickets, it looks like we are going to be traveling for about 24 hours to return home for a reasonable price. My behind is already hurting as I think about it. I am sure it will be a tough day, but in the end we will be home!

We made a quick stop by the market as we hurried home to meet our landlady who was bringing over more bedding and towels. We made it home just in time. While she was there, she tried to light the water heater and was unable to do so. She finally had to call her dad. Her mother and father had remodeled this apartment and then moved out to a house. They just rent the apartment. The lady had to call her father. She returned with her father a short time later. He managed to get the water heater started up. Yea! He was a big Italian looking man. Lucy said they must have lots of money.

We studied more scriptures, had prayer, and went to bed.

2 Responses to “Day 14 of Anne’s Journey Back to Ukraine”
  1. Wendy says:

    Wow! How neat to see regular folks interacting and loving and raising their families! Ugh. The bus trip makes MY behind tired and so does thinking about your 24 hour flight!
    One of my friends from blog world mentioned that she bought tons of Ukraine DVD’s (like Disney) and has her daughter watch them to keep her language. They call it Russian homework. I thought they wouldn’t work in our DVD players but wish I had looked into it more. Maybe someone knows? Anyway, I thought it was a good idea. Your children will probably not lose their language as there are three of them, and especially your oldest boy but my Alex can’t speak a lick after two years.
    Good to know you’re alive! Thanks for posting

  2. Stephanie Holbrook says:

    I’m trying to decide what is more shocking to me: you waking up at 5:40 a.m., or waking up before your alarm clock? I don’t think I’ve ever done either:) I second Wendy, it’s great to hear from you! What an awesome trip.

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