"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Monday, November 21, 2011

then and now

My parents first went to Ukraine in 1997 or 1998.
Ukraine wasn't a specific choice for them at that time.
They just wanted to go somewhere and rock babies that needed cuddling.

I went in 1999, but to a different area.
And then halfway through my trip, the plans changed.
I got to stay with the same family my parents had, and play with the same orphans in the same orphanage. One of the kids had been adopted by the family with whom I stayed, because my parents had stayed there while visiting the baby orphanage, and the hosts had gone along to see what on earth these Canadian people were doing at a Ukrainian orphanage, and ... well, they fell in love with baby Katya and adopted her.

When I went, I also visited an orphanage for kids with disabilities.
It was formerly known as "The Place that God Forgot".
My parents had seen it in that awful state. No longer, when I was there. I thought it was a place of joy. I found out later that a good friend was there in between my parents and me - before we knew her. She had designed a playground for the place, but never saw it built. I pulled out my photo album and showed her the finished product of her design.

How cool is that?

On this trip, I was in that same disabled-kids orphanage again, just for a few brief minutes.

This was Stasik in 1999, on the left. Also me, with much shorter and redder hair.

This is Stasik now. He still lives there. When I saw him, he was working on some crafts.

In that first picture, Gala is the little girl on the right.
I saw her this trip too, but I didn't put it together until after I had left. She lives in another place now, where the kids from the first one go to live when they turn 18. I didn't take her picture, since I didn't realize who she was. 

I was busy taking pictures of her roommate, Natasha.

Natasha is an artist. She paints by holding the brush in her mouth. She has been on national television a few times, and when asked if she wanted to say anything to Ukraine, she said (if I remember the story correctly) ... "I think we all need to be more thankful for what we have."

I know I am.


BJ said...

WOW!!!!!!!!!! So amazing to see Stasik all grown up. In a way in my mind these kids are the same age as when we left! Frozen in time :)
Stasik was my buddy, we spent a lot of time together. Love that boy! So cool to see him NOW :)

Patti said...

Oops, I forgot to say ... BJ is the other girl in the photo! She introduced me to Stasik!

BJ ... I met Larissa who has been going to that orphanage for 10 years ... she seemed to know who you and Brian were ... she was telling the director that I knew "BJ e Brian" ... do you remember her at all?

Or perhaps you and Brian are just legends that EVERYONE there knows! That's probably the case!

BJ said...

I can't put a face to the name. We worked with a lot of workers there. I am sure if I saw a picture I would remember her. So is Dnepro a lot different than when we were there together?

Patti said...

I think she's a volunteer, not actually a worker there. I'll dig out a picture and send it to you on Facebook.

As for Dnepro ... hard to say. :) When I was with you, it was my first trip to Ukraine - everything was new! We walked and rode marshutkas. This time, we were only there for basically an afternoon. Most of the trip we were in Krivoy Rog. So we went to the big church that is there - the youth pastor is Vova Matveyev, his parents are Viktor and Tanya, maybe you know them? It's HUGE. They just got the warehouse a few months ago and renovated it.

We went there, met Vova and Larissa, went to a place in Prednaprosk (not the baby orphanage). It's a place where the kids go when they "graduate" from the invalid orphanage. We spent an hour there.

Then very quickly to the invalid orphanage where I saw Stasik.

Then back to the church for a service.

Then pizza at Chilentanos - was that there then? :)

Patti said...

BJ - meeting you & Brian on that 1st trip to Ukraine - that's one of my favourite memories!!!

BJ said...

Yes we have known the Matveyev's since the beginning. When Vova was just a little guy :)
I don't remember that Pizza place. They had very little when we were there..we had Pizza at Melrose cafe and at this gas station by house...but they used BBQ sauce as the sauce...it wasn't my fav :)
We had so much fun with you and Linda when you came! You changed our outlook on teams...we had a blast with you two ;) Funny how we were only together for a week or two but we really felt/feel like we have known you forever. Some of our best memories for sure!

Patti said...

The pizza place is a chain now - you end up eating there almost as much as McD's. :)

We had a blast too! ... you know what I'm gonna say ... "are you guys in LOVE or WHAT??!!"