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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Afternoon drive

Yesterday afternoon Garry was going off for another drive and I tagged along. He had already driven to Zaporoshia at 7 am with a couple of the orphan guys staying at our house for more medical tests and to pick up another one who was coming in on the train, and to pick up a few things from the EpiCenter (one of the homedepot like chain stores in Zap) for the work over at the barn. Soon the brothers living here should be at the "boys house" with the rest of the students who have already arrived in the village. This weekend we will be driving down near Odessa to pick up a student from there.
There was a lot of rattling as we passed this truck!

When he got back, around two o'clock, he had to go breed a cow, and then he was driving to Salone (towards Dnepro) to pick up a sample of the sunflowers combined yesterday and then drive it back past the village on the highway to Zaporohia to have it analysed at a mill.

Here are the photos so you can see some of the things we saw in Salone (Sa-lon-neeah) and Zap.

still hard to take photos out the front window of the van
First in the town of Salone, I got out my camera to take a photo of the pigs in the back of the trailer being pulled by a van, after I had missed getting one of the big city sign repainted in blue in yellow. It seems every city and oblast (regional) sign in this part of Ukraine has been repainted in blue and yellow paint this spring or summer.I did get part of the words painted on the wall at that intersection that reads "Glory to the Heroes"  in blue and yellow.

a little clearer when you snap it out the side window!

Combine (in) on the road as we go around town to Vitaly's business

The gate lady who let us in and out at Vitaly's 

Two guys on a scooter- the one behind is holding onto the rack

Garry goes in the store to buy something cold - He has learned to ask for cold
cola, as they often have some under the meat freezer, which is colder than the
the bottles in the cooler, which are cool, not ice cold, most Ukrainians feel that
cold drinks cause illness, so it is hard to get really cold ones.

You can see part of this Glory to the Heroes sign in the pig photo, too.

Hard to get a good photo of the repainted city sign
 out the far side window, but I took one on the way out of town

Photos in Zaporoshia

They had to repaint the letters on the city sign again, it faded 

our destination

 We found the right place and delivered our baggie of sunflower seed for testing at this mill, Garry had a discussion with the lady from the laboratory and had to run back to the car for his cell phone, so he could call Maxim Rudei. They would call Maxim when the report was finished so we drove around to waste some time. Garry was unsure if we had to return there, after talking to her.

Then we went to the famous old oak in Zaporoshia, which is sacred not just to the Mennonites, who talk about meeting under it in the Chortitza settlement 200 years ago, but also to the Ukrainian Cossacks in earlier times. It is thought to be more that 400 years old, from what I understand. We had not visited in a number of years so were surprised to see there is still one live branch on the tree as before but one of the big branches supported by wires and ropes has fallen down. There seems to be more development about Ukrainian history at the site now, as you can see in the photos.

view from the parking lot- there is an Orthodox church at the site

A mix of the old stone statues at every history site and woodcarvings

mosaic over the church doors

 You could hear someone playing an old Beatles tune on a trumpet as we walked into the park, and although we never saw them, we heard several more songs, including the Ukrainian national anthem, before we left. There are many houses nearby.
the old tree is supported by many poles and wires

New Ukrainian atmosphere- a tiny cottage 

the metal horse you can climb up on is a favorite of the children

Me with another new Cossack carving

Kids hanging out near the playground under other oaks

Peeking over the wall behind the restaurant, we see even more new stuff!
We drove to the other side of the city to a restaurant for dinner. Interestingly there was a group of teenagers hanging out near the underpass and what mischief were they up to? Singing the Ukrainian anthem! 

It seems every bridge in Ukraine has a new coat of blue and yellow paint

The new bridge is in limbo again - all road projects are stalled now

that's the 4 Points Sheraton poking up in the distance

downtown on Lenina (street)

A billboard for Ukrainian Independence day  downtown Zaporoshia

a little loving Ukrainian graffiti on the bridge
 Of course the laboratory phoned Maxim, who phoned Garry just as we were ready to order, so after a nice meal (I had salad, Garry had pasta and we shared some homemade bread) we drove back over the bridges and island to pick it up. I guess we needed the official paper, Garry had thought the lady said they would phone with the results, but we had to go back to get them. He had originally told me we'd have to go back to get them, so he must have suspected we'd need to return.
Lots of these billboards going up around the city

If you look closely the Lada ahead of the motorcycle (yes the driver has a
helmet, not the guy on the back) is being towed with a blue towrope strap

 The results were in and according to Max who read the report when we got back to the village, the sunflowers were a little dirtier than Garry thought; but then he did not take the sample either. The sunflowers that were combined are sold to Vitaly in exchange for mookooka - the ground waste after they press sunfloweroil, it is a good protein source feed which will be used next winter during the time that there isn't any pivtravina (brewers' grain) available to buy because the beer plant closes for a month or so for the holidays.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Corn and sunflowers

Well, I was gone for five long weeks, at least three of which were hot and dry; so things are looking rather brown in the fields. Garry was hoping for some rain to keep the corn growing a month ago, instead he got weeks of over 40 C (over 100 F) weather. He says it was so hot there wasn't even any dew in the mornings.

Here is a photo of me in one of the corn fields yesterday, holding an ear of corn, luckily there are ears on the stalks as you can see, but there won't be any 100 bushel an acre corn as he had hoped earlier this year.
They were only able to purchase one of the bunkers at the barn site

Unfortunately, there wasn't a rainy day until last week, long after the corn stopped growing. Three weeks ago they chopped silage, now I have photos of the full silage bunker. Since we don't have giant piles of old tires to hold the plastic covering the pile down, it is covered with dirt. There was a mix-up while doing this, as one part of the plastic that still needed to be pulled out from under the folded plastic to cover the rest of the pile ended up under the dirt on the side Garry was not working on. They were dumping the dirt on with the tractor bucket, but had to spend hours moving the dirt off that area with shovels to free the plastic to cover the pile correctly. This year they were able to purchase good quality silage plastic (thick, white on one side, black on the other) to cover the pile, last year they had some very thin clear "film" as it is called here.

They are chopping fresh sudangrass for the cows everyday, so they have not opened the bunker to feed any of the corn silage, saving it for wintertime eating! The corn is drying nicely, they hope to find a combine to do some of the early planted fields so they can use it for grain for feeding the cows, since they ran out of last years and have had to feed some of the remaining wheat, which they plan to use to plant some of the fields in winter wheat next month. They have made arrangements to purchase some additional wheat seed for planting also.

Monday they had Vitaly's combine out to do some of the sunflowers. Some of the farmers in the village have already combined sunflowers and they have been getting about half a ton, so Garry and Maxim pleased to get more than two in the field where they had planted the expensive seed. Unfortunately, one of the bags of expensive Sygenta seed they bought this spring was counterfeit, so that one field did less than half of the real stuff, only 700 kilograms. The rest of the sunflowers are not ready to combine yet, and are not as good, because they were planted with the cheaper Ukrainian seed. At least they weren't planted with expensive counterfeit seed!  

Another guy to feed dinner to, you need to feed the guy driving the combine. Yesterday I made stuffed peppers, Garry showed up at noon with the guys working over at the barn, but dinner had just gone into the oven, so they got to relax for half and hour. So there was Garry, Maxim B, Andrey and the two orphan guys, Nikolei and his brother that are living here until they move into the boys house with the rest of the students. Max Rudei, who eats at home now that he is married, took a dinner for the combine dinner as we sat down.  As Garry was cutting the last two peppers in half to offer them to the boys for seconds, Andrey reminded him that Sasha, who is driving the tractor that has been discing fields to prepare them for planting wheat needed dinner too.We filled another plastic container with a stuffed pepper, extra filling, macaroni and coleslaw, add a fork and a couple slices of bread. They took it with them when they left to finish getting ready for pouring cement in the afternoon and I got back to peeling tomatoes to can.

Ukrainian Independence Day in Dnepropetroesk

That's the back of the stage wrapped in blue and yellow
Sunday after church we went downtown to check out the celebration of Ukraine's independence, they left the Soviet Union twenty-three years ago. The street was closed off, and there was a stage set up for music performances in the parking lot close to where the statue of Lenin was until this year. Now even the pedestal is gone also, where the heroes of Maidan were celebrated after the fall of the government. Instead of Lenin Square, it is now the square where Lenin stood.
Where Lenin used to stand- there's a fresh pavement patch

One of the singing groups onstage

Even a girl on stilts adding to the festive fun

Even some of the older generation was out to show their Ukrainian pride

  It was a pretty festive atmosphere with families enjoying the warm afternoon, strolling around the area. Mc Donalds was giving out blue and yellow balloons for the kids, (I'm loving it in Ukrainian .я heart м)

Many people, like this family, were wearing traditional embroidered shirts
  going on the carousel 

Some  of the lucky children were getting a ride on the two story carousel that is between the Passage Mall and Mc Donalds. It is the last holiday before school begins on the first of September. Some families have gone out of town, with The Black Sea near Odessa or the mountains of western Ukraine being good options with the traditional Crimean or Azov Sea destinations being less desirable because of the war.

There were vendor tables set up in front of the Euro-Mall, mostly selling Ukrainian crafts, although one booth seemed to be selling ribbons to support the troops. Many of the injured soldiers from the Eastern territory are flown to the airport here and transported to the city hospitals by ambulance.

some amazing wheat weaving displayed

Friday, August 22, 2014

It was hard to fly back to Ukraine...

Safe and sound in the village! A little tired, but the adventure is over.

It was hard to fly back to Ukraine...

...literally, not because so many friends, relatives and strangers on the street, said they were worried about my safety in Ukraine, (if the American, or Canadian governments or our mission director says our area is unsafe we will leave) and praying for me and Garry while we are here (thank you and pray for everyone else in Ukraine too),  asked when we are coming back, (at Christmas for a month) how far we live from where they are fighting, or where the plane was shot down (my standard answer about 200 miles, is a little over the actual distance, but Americans don't think in Kilometers anyway!)

Truth is the Malaysian Air flight 17 crash caused me all kinds of problems. My mother passed away on Sunday July 13th, I flew out of Dnepropetroesk on Austrian Airlines on the 14th, landed in New York on the 15th. On the 17th the plane was shot down over Eastern Ukraine. The next day at the funeral, I assured numerous people that my plane had not been in any danger because it flew west after taking off from Dnepro. Since I had planned earlier this summer to fly to New Jersey for a family reunion on my mother's side of the family in mid-August, we had booked my return flight for a long five weeks in the future (we have never been separated for more than three weeks when I fly back).

Two weeks into my trip I sent cheap-O-air an email, asking what would happen to my return flight, since Austrian had cancelled flights into DNK airport for security reasons. I got back a reply that they anticipated no difficulty, since the flights were only cancelled through August 5th, and my flight was for the 20th.

I gave up for the time being, until I received an email saying my flight had been changed to two days later (unable to see the writing on the wall, since the airline had changed the no fly until the 21st,  they thought it would work then) I phoned, was on hold for half an hour or more before talking to the first of many people in the next days with Indian accented English... I told them that the new dates wouldn't work. I had been away for five weeks already and wanted to see my husband. They told me that the new day was the way to go, right into the city I wanted ( I admit,  it is hilarious listening to people trying to avoid having to say Na- pro-pet-trousk), but agreed that maybe they could fly me to Kiev instead. Next day. talking to Garry, he I don't know if I have time to drive you, and says tell them to fly you right in DNK, almost everyone leaving after teaching English go flown into Kiev on a Ukrainian plane to fly the rest of their itinerary. So I call back and talk to young lady this time, she says of course, Kiev, DNK, no problem, watch for confirmation email...
48 hours later, it's Saturday morning, no email has arrived. Phone India, I mean cheap-O-air again. Another apologetic man, says he will be back on the line after confirming itinerary, says I can fly through Istanbul, right into Dnepropetroesk. I check with Garry, check the Turkish Air site, it seems to be able to book a flight there then, OK. Call to confirm, print it out. Tuesday morning, guys come to work on electricity at my father's house, no power for hours, check email in the morning, things look fine.

Micah, who is still in New Jersey, with his new bride after attending the reunion, drove me to JFK airport in New York city. Hopefully they got to see the Statue of Liberty or something on the way back to the farm, and weren't just stuck for hours in the giant traffic jam that was developing on the other side of the Beltway due to an accident. I have not heard from them yet, my regular cell phone disappeared while I was gone, I found the one I call the US and Canada on language changed to Russian, with no sim card in it... but that's another story we are still figuring out.
They did find it! (and got stuck in traffic, too)

They dropped me at the kiss and fly with my suitcase and I found I needed terminal one, so I got on the skytrain. Found departures, tried the check-in machine, it froze after showing me flying to Vienna and then Istanbul, but no flight to DNK... I found the check in with real people after a helper at the machines says it might be the best idea, the screen could be frozen for a while. The agent says no problem, here's your ticket to Vienna luggage checked through Istanbul... I said what about Ukraine? No reaction... except to say I will get my further tickets from Turkish Air in Vienna.

Maybe a little worried in the back of my mind after seeing that screen before it froze, but on my way. Got a nice seat on plane no one between me on the aisle and the young guy sitting in the window seat, closed my eyes for a while,, even though I never really sleep on a plane, felt pretty good arriving in Vienna, and luckily decide to go check out my tickets first thing...

 Landed Vienna 10 hours before flight to Istanbul, go to TurkishAir counter, since it is tool early for regular check-in;  they cannot find a booking, go to my email, then go to the site to check my itinerary with cheap-O-air, find a new message to call the 888 number because of a problem with the booking (how do I do that with no phone in Europe, why didn't they phone or email that the new itinerary didn't work?) walk back to other end of check-in area for Austrian help desk, where a very nice lady (who spoke excellent English) told me that there really was no flight to DNK from Istanbul either, so she said they could fly me to Kiev, next plane in 20 minutes, too soon to make, but there is one at 5:50, booked that... then flight to DNK next morning, no agreement with that airline, one in the evening but it's full, we can book one for Friday evening.... maybe my husband can come get me in Kiev I say. We can book it anyway, you can check if they have room on the Thursday one, or maybe he will get you. Your luggage is here we will re-tag it so it goes to Kiev...OK... I will get to Ukraine today anyway.

I put a message up on facebook for Garry about my changed flights about 8:30 in the morning, 9:30 in Ukraine. Checked back hourly for his reaction, until just before getting on the plane, when I finally got a message back...stay at airport, will be there by midnight.

Garry had spend the day at a crop test plot tour, ate the provided lunch, then gone back to the house to get ready for some people coming from pretty far away to check out the trade school with an orphan who was applying to come. He made meatloaf  put it in the oven and peeled potatoes, and then left it all with Masha to finish, when he finally looked at his computer at five o'clock.

Garry was online when I checked after landing, he had stopped to get his front window washed off (there were many bugs dying on his windshield as he drove in the dark)  and buy coffee at a gas station, and he said less than two hours to go. He got to the airport about ten minutes after eleven, I had gone out to stand near the road before the terminal, I found that new security measures had built a fence near the pickup area for arrivals unless you have a pass to get through the gate. We went to a nearby hotel we have stayed at before and drove back to the village in the morning.

A herd we passed on the way back

We did get stopped by the police, at one intersection. he said something about a bridge being out. Garry said we were going to Dnepropetroesk, he waved up on.

 When we got to one of the big traffic circles, trucks and trailers were backed up a long ways in all directions. We passed by the lines of trucks and cars, and were able to continue on our way, apparently whatever problem with the bridge was in one of the other directions, because it was blocked off with cones, and police.

Garry windshield really was still dirty after cleaning!