As for me and my house we will serve the Lord....

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It took 3 days, and we're almost there!

Garry and I left Winnipeg Friday afternoon as the sun was setting with 2 suitcases and 2 carry-ons each, Josh dropped us at the airport after a couple last minute stops along the way, to pick up some little replacement parts for the milkers for the trade school barn parlor. Since Turkish Air allows 2 bags per person for free, we had two suitcases packed full of milker parts that Garry was busy scrubbing up on Monday morning to come with us.

After that flight to Toronto on Air Canada, we were on a Turkish Air plane flying out at 11 pm, after getting new boarding passes (we had been unable to print the final ones to Dnepropetroesk at home- actually on the printer in the barn) and waiting for the plane to be de-iced. The flight was OK, the plane was packed and the legroom was a little tight for Garry (he is 6'5") and carry-on space was packed too. There was a large man in the row ahead of us who snored really loudly for a least and hour and a half, but Garry enjoyed lots of movies to watch on the little television in the seat back, and the meal was good. When breakfast time rolled around (an hour before landing at 4:20 Tuesday afternoon Istanbul time) my stomach was a little upset so I only ate the roll and had a cup of cola, while Garry enjoyed coffee, scrambled eggs, cooked mushrooms and tomato, a tiny triangle of grilled cheese sandwich (wait I ate mine)  and both our servings of cheese, cucumber slice and fruit cup (except I ate my two chunks of fresh pineapple!) This was our first time on Turkish Air and first time going through Istanbul, and I would say we'd do it again.

We landed, got off the plane, found the buy a visa line (by the way, Canadians pay $60 US dollars for one while Americans pay 20!) got them, then waited in the longer line for passport control for other passports (as in not Turkish citizens) they sent some of us to the other agents to catch up! Then we went out past the luggage belts (our bags were checked all the way through to Ukraine) to find the booth for Turkish Air hotels. Garry had heard from Justin, that Turkish Air would give you a free hotel stay if your itinerary had a layover of a certain length in Istanbul (without there being a flight you could have taken)  and at 20 hours ours would qualify! We found the right place, gave the guy our boarding passes and waited at the cafe (Garry checked his email and I read) as instructed. It took a little while but before too long, we were following someone to our shuttle van and after a half hour ride as the sun was setting, arrived at the something by Hilton had a great night's sleep in a very nice room with a king-size bed and a wonderful buffet breakfast too.
Garry went across the street to search for pop (soda)

Returned with his prizes, ready to eat!

Garry went out for a walk after we went up to the room, and walked over the street (look at the photo to see what I mean) to find a bank-o-mat to get some local cash (lira) and found what he wanted a bottle of pepsi, some cookies and corn chips, tangerines at a grocery store and some street food, a meat and peppers sandwich on a bun. I was still feeling a bit off, so I let him eat the whole sandwich, although I ate some cookies before falling asleep around 8 pm, we were up a couple times- like midnight and 4 am, but jumped out of bed for breakfast about 9:15 because the shuttle was picking us up at 10 am. Jet lag is an amazing thing, especially when we fly in this direction it seems, it drives your internal clock for a loop and then some.
In the morning (same view from 8th floor room)

Istanbul from the shuttle bus window

It was raining around midnight and still raining steadily on the Wednesday morning ride to the airport, but I tried snapping a couple photos anyway. We didn't have to de-ice, but we did have to take a bus out to the plane, and the wind was whipping as we went up the stairs to the plane, although the rain had stopped by noon. Nice lunch on the plane ( salad, sandwich, dessert - I was finally feeling like eating something, too) As the plane ducked back through the clouds nearing Dnepro we discovered everything was covered in snow, there were drifts all over. When we went down the stairs to get the bus to the terminal, I thought not as cold as Winnipeg (-15  and windy instead of negative 30) but it looks a lot like it!

Of course the line we choose was the slow one for passport control, but the guy finally stamped our passports and were were off to grab our suitcases off the conveyor belt, we had seen the red one go around 3 or 4 times while we were still waiting to get our passports stamped. I grabbed the gray one I had bought at the thrift store on Saturday (for $3.50) Two bags found, where were the other two... another bunch arrived, another lady was looking for hers also, then they came back with 4 or 5 more, and closed the black or blue bag yet, now what?
The lady who still was bagless said we had to file a report on the domestic side of the airport, so off to the x-ray machine belt and then a discussion with the customs guys about what are these things we are bringing in these suitcases? Only the bags with the milking machine parts had arrived, not our personal bags...they asked if we had someone who spoke Russian; so Victor came in to talk to the four guys now looking at our bags, who were apparently saying we might have to take them back.... but they are for the school to teach orphans to take car of cows (apparently they did not seen us on television news in 2012 or 2013)
Finally they let us go through.
 Garry was trying to find the claim tickets for the missing bags while we rolled the luggage we had out to the van and went inside the other part of the airport to find the Turkish Air office. I found the rest of the claim tags in his computer bag, but it still took more than half an hour to get the paperwork done, hopefully someone will call when they find them... that bag of rubber gaskets we picked up is in one of them, along with some AI breeding supplies for Garry, and a new puzzle; not to mention my clothes, books, Advil, some gifts and lots of yarn in the other!

Victor asked if we wanted to stop for groceries, the boys are normally out of lots of stuff when we return, but it took a while to get to Metro with the drifts. blowing snow, and hardly any cars getting through the intersections when the lights change. Yesterday there was about 8 inches of snow in the city and it was pretty much the first snowfall of the year, so some of the drivers and cars were having problems. It was dusk as we headed in the store for the basics, and dark when we got out, then it was a slow progression to the highway out of the city. There are semis lined up on the side of the road, and when Victor finally gets to the front of the line, there is a policemen, turning traffic back....

What shall we do? Try the other highway out of the city? maybe, but it is not plowed as well as this one... finally a decision is made, we will spend the night in the city and go out in the morning with Victor, he has to come for Thursday's milk to sell then anyway, and hopefully the wind, which is still whipping at 10 pm will slow down and the highway will be plowed (and it will be daylight, too!)

So we are not back in the village yet, Garry has been sleeping for a couple hours already, and we are looking for two suitcases (at least I hope someone is) in Toronto, Istanbul, or somewhere in the world!

Update Thursday morning- Safely in Ukraine, but hanging out at apartment in the city until we can safely make it to the village- 8 inches of blowing snow has a big impact here, the road was closed when we tried to leave at 5 pm yesterday, from what we have heard from the village, it's full of snow and stuck cars, SUVs and semi- trucks! I guess we'll just sit back, enjoy the internet and get some sleep until we can get there.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Getting packed

Today is what fits in the suitcases day, our quest to not pay for an extra suitcase this trip back may be successful  from preliminary weight estimates and what has gone in so far.... it's looking good. I may even get my clothes in with the yarn and Christmas presents I am stuffing in with Garry's machinery parts! We fly out Monday afternoon and Garry spent all day yesterday, with a little help, wrestling with taking a milk parlor he bought apart. Right now he is gone to somewhere near Mitchell to get the rest of the pieces, which still need to be packed up to be shipped in small boxes to Ukraine. He has some photos on his camera but I am not sure where that is right now. (Turns out it's in his coat pocket, which he left at the farm.) This will be the parlor for the trade school barn when it arrives in about two months.

Garry is going to a mens retreat with guys from our church in Steinbach at Red Rock Bible camp, so his time is limited to get this finished, and it is snowing again. I am hoping to see some of the kids this weekend, and am doing a presentation at Matt's church in Piney during the Sunday service.
We even made the Steinbach paper while we were home

The news from Ukraine's capital is not good, but we are not going through there on this trip, and we have been told things are quite normal in the rest of the country. We hope to get lots done when we get back before a work team comes from Canada (BC) mid- March to help with the project.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How do you say goodbye?

We have almost two weeks left in Manitoba before returning to Ukraine, Garry had to get our tickets bought on Sunday evening, he is a little anxious to return, but has a new project, finding a used milk parlor for the trade school barn and making arrangements to box it  (the mechanical parts, not the metal) up and ship it there.

Sunday (which was wonderfully springlike- around freezing instead of the many degrees below zero we have grown used to) after church we met the new EFCCM director for lunch, since he was speaking there, and had a good talk, before dropping in on some friends who wanted to hear more about the work in Ukraine. A busy day, and yesterday was almost as busy, with Garry going off to referee basketball with our son Josh last night (and the next two nights.) I have been working on some little doll and pony clothes for the girls for before grandma leaves presents, since it turns out the new dolls/ponies that I bought for Christmas need wardrobes.

Garry is out in the barn this afternoon, the boys' milking crew has been thinned recently with injuries and illnesses- mostly the same terrible cold Garry had last week.  Now that he is feeling better, he has been helping out with whatever they are doing, milking, chasing fresh heifers. Today the guys hope to even combine some of the corn that was left in the fields when the snow arrived in November (to clarify, the snow is still here, but the temperature is just a little below freezing instead of arctic-like.)

I haven't talked to him since I discovered on facebook this afternoon that two of the dear Christian men in our lives have gone home to God after battling cancer. We found out when we returned home in November that one of our dear church friends was in hospital. The first time we attended a mission conference at Emmanuel, the little boys were excited to attend a kids program run by "Dr Chuck" whom they insisted said they could call him Chuck, which they still do, because they loved the smiling man and his wife who sat near us in church, who always talked to them. Dr. Charles Nichols was a professor at Providence College and Seminary, so I saw him many times while I was there, in fact, he was the one who suggested I go take the TESOL course there, while we were thinking about becoming missionaries. One of the highlights of any trip home to Canada was a hug from Chuck and telling him how things were going in Ukraine, I was treated to one when I was home in September. Our whole family will miss our friend.

John baptized two in the Dniper River in August

John getting photographed with the young ladies
The other was our friend and founder of the trade school, John Wiens, who found out he had cancer only five weeks ago. It was such a blessing to meet and work with John in Ukraine for both of us, and we are so glad that he had been able to go to Hawaii on a family vacation with his wife Ev and their grown children in November. We last saw him in the summer, when we went to the baptism in Zaporosia, just before he and Ev went home to British Columbia for five months. We hope to help fulfill his dream for the trade school for orphans, it should be up and running again in the fall, after this year of finishing things.  Someday the school could expand to other programs besides the dairy track, as John hoped. His church plant in Zaporosia was so excited about his planned return for Ukrainian Christmas, they are going to miss their pastor very much.

We never know when God will welcome us home in heaven, we can only hope that we can all be people with a heart for God and people like these two wonderful men. We will miss them both greatly here on earth. Memorial services for both men are being held this Saturday.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Little Talk... and some old photos

 Garry and I spoke at the Holstein club meeting in nearby Freidensfeld as scheduled on Thursday morning. His cold was better (although he is still coughing on Saturday, he is starting to sleep better, finally) so he did not lose his voice. We may have a few new readers of the blog, although I talked to several people who read it regularly already. Thanks for the encouragement.

 I don't have a picture of me (I forgot to tell Garry to take one), but I wore the Ukrainian embroidered blouse Garry gave me for Christmas and a long blue skirt that matches it, and did the intro - 20 minutes about our farm history in the US and Canada and what it's like to live in Ukraine. Here are a couple of those photos of the early Garry and Teresa farming slides, for those who missed the presentation...
Teresa, her father Ron, and Garry 1983

Garry  feeding cows, 1987, after moving to Zurich, Ontario, Canada

Teresa with Micah and Noah August 1989

The photo that started it all- we met at the fair in NJ- 1977
Garry far left, Teresa on his right

 Then Garry talked about farming in Ukraine for an hour, we had a great response from the crowd, and might get some visitors in Ukraine, some who have Mennonite roots and some people who were interested in helping with the project for the trade school, too.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy New Year!

We are still in Manitoba, which was apparently as cold as (or colder than) Mars for the new year. Looks like we will stay here until the end of the month, but we have not booked our plane tickets.
Not too cold for these calves to play outside!

Next week Thursday Garry (and maybe me) is speaking at the Holstein Club meeting at the Friedensfeld Community Centre about farming in Ukraine, I am working on making slides for an hour and half presentation, and need to take down the Christmas tree.... but I am procrastinating by writing a blog post...

We had a quiet new year's eve, with the three oldest granddaughters spending the night; well, quiet until I gave the two oldest (the 3-year old did not make it past 11 pm) horns to blow at 11:30 pm....
 Earlier in the evening Garry did his annual official measurement on the stick (we have had it since the house burned before Jonah was born) and since our boys tend to grow even after high school, both Seth and Jonah grew a little, but the little girls (the grand daughters) grew more!

Seth grew a little this past year- officially as tall as brother Josh