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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

On his way

Garry is , as I type, somewhere in the sky between Paris and Minneapolis. In about fifteen hours he'll land in Winnipeg (our flights had a long seven hours in Minnesota this time). He had been so busy at home with chopping corn and doing things with the students (and freezing the sweet corn in the garden) that he didn't pack until two hours before leaving for the train to Kiev.

I happened to phone him so he could look for the Hebrew book I wanted him to bring along for Max Boradin ( he has signed up for Hebrew this fall at college, and I had one of the books he needed) when Garry discovered that he had his Canadian passport but not his Ukrainian resident document, which looks like a thin passport. It was not in the cupboard where he keeps it (sometimes he has it out for some official need, like banking and forgets to put it back).  He ended up coming without it as he did not find it in time, He said it took a while to get through customs without it, not sure what happens when we get back at the end of the month!

Image may contain: 23 people, people smiling, people standing, tree, child, outdoor and natureHe had just returned from a last lunch with the students, a hot dog roast at the pond, and was telling me what a wonderful time it was. Earlier this week the group from Kiroy Rog that many of our last year students were sent by had come out with some American visitors to the farm and put on a program for the students which impressed Garry very much. There's even a photo I found on facebook.

Well lots to do before tonight, I have a dentist appointment to fix a bad filling this morning (the last of my medical appointments for this trip) I have to finish cleaning, make lunch for the guys working on third cut hay (if the rain has not stopped them for a second day) and hope to help with more painting of granddaughter rooms if I can squeeze it in today.

For our MB readers, we plan to be at the early church service in Steinbach this Sunday and at the Wednesday prayer team meeting at Emmanuel next week. Its going to be a busy ten days, with Garry's parents visiting us, Garry's appointment with the foot doctor and a trip out to Brandon to meet a couple who may become part of our team in Ukraine.

Friday, August 11, 2017

here and there... again

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Dnepro train station
Yes I am in Manitoba again. In one week Garry will join me here, but he's busy dealing with broken things whenever I talk to him.

 I said goodbye to him August first when he  took me to the train station so I could get the train to Kiev to get my flight (its way cheaper to fly home from Kiev unless you book way ahead). On the way to the train station he dropped off the part for the chopper that they needed to start chopping corn.

This week he wanted to start chopping corn for silage on Monday. It has been hot (40C, over 100F) and dry so they needed to get started so the corn plants wouldn't be too dry before getting to the last fields. He tried to pick up the part Friday but it wasn't ready yet. In fact on Wednesday afternoon in Ukraine he was still anxiously waiting for Victor to call and say that it was ready.

The week I left they were busy baling straw under the hot summer sun. They finally finished and they made 18,000 small square bales of straw this year. They still had the third cut hay to bale, I believe that may have happened this week but we did not talk about it.

I talked to Garry briefly on Thursday evening his time and he was trying to fix the milking system. The pulsators had stopped working and they couldn't milk the cows. He was trying to rig up the old ones from the other barn, so we didn't talk long, and I have no idea if it worked.

 I do know that they were finally chopping corn, so at least something was going right. Garry says that even though the corn plants are only six feet tall there are nice cobs so it should make decent silage if it is finished on time. 
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Meanwhile I've been busy hanging out with our kids and Maxim Borodin, who liked the Ukrainian chocolates I brought him, although he shared many of them with people who work on the farm. I also got to celebrate Isaac's second birthday, hold his baby brother, go to Abigail's first Birthday party last weekend and go to Matthew's church.
 I crocheted a hungry Caterpillar for Abby to go with the party theme. Lots of family fun.No automatic alt text available.Image may contain: one or more people and indoor
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if you look closely the two little babies are here

Saturday, July 29, 2017

It's over

Well SEI is over for another year. As normal I was so busy it was hard to find time to write a post!
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One of my classes this past week
Garry did make it in to Dnepro on Tuesday this last week, he was our special guest speaker in assembly. We have a short time of singing praise songs in English with a message half way through each teaching day. Its optional for the students to attend, but is when we can talk about Jesus during our three weeks of English teaching. Garry and I plan to teach a follow up class that will be a Bible study this fall, and  if as many people come as have signed up to get an email when we start, we will overflow the room on Patona.

Since I last wrote, Garry was on local television from Zaporosia on July 21st, showing some of the students in our program in the village. I was hoping to have a translation for you of the piece, but none yet, so here is a link to it on youtube-  Hope for Each on Zaporosia TV News.  We were on at 18:44 minutes into the half hour news program (so skip ahead to that point to see it), before the stories about dogs!

 You can see some of the students making jam at our house and over at the barn and a couple of them talk about the program- and Garry with translation. You can see Garry's new translator Nellya standing near him in the program- of course I was off to Dnepro to teach English that day!

That same evening we had the SEI team out for dinner in the village, I think they all enjoyed seeing the countryside. We couldn't find it on TV that night but someone found the link to see it. I am told they did not translate everything Garry says, but we did have someone contact us about our program. We still have three girls staying at out house while we are finding new group home parents for the girls house, so it can be louder than normal here.

The guys have been busy getting straw baled and are getting ready to start green-chopping corn to add to the feed mix for the cows. It was a hot week but we got rain on Wednesday when thunderstorms moved through the area and a bit more this morning. This should keep the corn growing so they won't need to start cutting it for silage yet. It was also help the sunflower yield as the heads are staring to bend down because they are filling with seed already!

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and indoorI am spending the weekend doing all (or most of) the things I haven't got done in the last three weeks before heading home Wednesday from Kiev to hold our new grandson, his brother and all his cousins  for a couple weeks! Garry has a ticket to join me in a couple weeks when his parents are scheduled to visit Manitoba.

Garry and our friend Clay, who was teaching with me at SEI; are on their annual trip to the sea. Like last year, they are visiting the Sea of Azov. We really miss going to Crimea and the Black Sea, to the prettiest place on earth, Alupka and walking through the gardens there with the sea on one side and the mountain in the background.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Weekend update- plus!

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Saturday Garry managed to take time off from students and farming to come with me to Dnepro for the annual SEI picnic. Most years it is very hot at the picnic on the island, but this year it was cool and overcast in the morning. However by two o'clock the sun had come out, and I had not brought my hat so I was getting a little hot.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing, sky, cloud, ocean, mountain, child, outdoor and natureSunday afternoon we went south of Zaporosia for our friend Jessica's groundbreaking for her organization House of Compassion. It will be foster homes for young orphan children, they hope to start building with the foundation of the first of four planned houses this year, although they will have to wait for the electricity until sometime next year.

There was singing, blessing, prayer and of course a shovel in the dirt. The farmer had not gotten the wheat harvested off the 4 hectares that was purchased last year overlooking the Dniper river, so we mashed a little down for the ceremonial afternoon.

 For more about Jessica's organization you can check out the website: 
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On Saturday the combine arrived and started the wheat, so Garry had to check on it as soon as we got home from Dnepro. Garry is very pleased with the yield. In spite of the dry spring the crop is running twice as much per acre as last year (about 70 bushels I think he said). Of course last year’s crop was very disappointing, but it is good to know we will have grain to sell to pay the bills for a while besides having some to feed the cows and some to give away for shares. We still have more people who take the goods rather than cash for the rent on their pie or share (5-6 hectare piece of land).

Besides getting a couple tons of grain and some straw bales, and some sunflower seed, they get a 50 pound bag of sugar, so on Saturday after the SEI picnic Garry and I picked up 12 bags to deliver to people's houses. Right now everyone is making jam- there are some apricots ripe now that survived the frost this spring- so they are all happy to get their sugar now.

Interestingly, the lady at one house we brought sugar to on one of the other streets in the village on Saturday told Garry that she follows us on facebook.

Garry and Max delivered the rest of the bags on Sunday, but we need to get more this week to take care of everyone. Max made sure everyone got one, but some people have more than one pie, so they get more than one bag.

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Garry has been busy with baling straw, trying to get all the work done as quickly as possible. On Monday  he helped stack it on wagons and then stack it under the new shed, so he was pretty tired by evening.

This has been his day this week, make feed for the cows in the TMR around the time I leave for Dnepro- he kindly backs the van out for me onto the road first- and then helps with baling, and stacking the bales along with feeding the guys working with the straw (and the combine driver when he was here) lunch, and fixing things that break

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This was the straw shed Sunday evening,
by Wednesday morning it was looking pretty full
(but I didn't get a photo)

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This is one of the regular cornfields near the "new barn"

Here is one of our sunflower fields I pass everyday as I drive.
They are looking good.

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Many fields are bright yellow now

Sunday night when we got home, Garry had to go to a village to breed a cow for the lady who had phoned around noon before we went to the groundbreaking.   I went along and got a couple photos of Garry breeding the cow inside their barn.
Of course the phone conversation was in Russian (and them asking him to check on another cow that was not bred yet this year. ) Garry even admired their nice calf, and asked if it was female.
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They had  a nice looking heifer calf and a couple of cute piglets too.
Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing, shoes and indoorThis week I have been busy driving to Dnepro everyday for English teaching, and twice one of the girls has ridden along with me so Victor could take her to visit the dentist, she is having a root canal done.

 Today we had our annual SEI celebration of Canada Day. Of course since I am not Canadian I have to try harder than everyone else. Here I am with my big bow on my head with the other teachers at assembly. Esther and I planned the assembly = all Ron (the director) asked was for something different than last year, so I had some active games for some students, shooting chocolate pucks with mini- sticks and assembling Canada puzzles and she made an informative powerpoint about Canada and had adult Canada 150 coloring pages for everyone.
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Saturday, July 15, 2017

That's how dry it is...was?

Image may contain: plant, outdoor and natureGarry took this photo of corn that has just come up 3 months after planting. That's how dry it was this spring, it sat there until last week's rainstorm!

Its overcast today, but no rain in the forecast. Garry is hoping to finish putting the roof on the hay (straw) shed this morning, before we go to the SEI picnic in Dnepro. I am making pickles... back to work. I'll try to get some photos of the shed later.

This week- English, visitors, driving the van and lots of bales

So before I tell you about my week teaching English in Dnepro at SEI (Summer English Institute- the 25th for the EFCCM), let me give you some highlights of Garry's week. Many people at classes have asked me why Garry is not teaching this year, as he has for the last several years, and I tell them he does not have enough time to get everything done in the village when he teaches for three weeks.
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If you are wondering, this is pea straw -what's left of the plant after combining 
Image may contain: cloud, sky, tree, outdoor and natureThis week he has been particularly busy, since they have baled alfalfa in squares which are up the getting pretty full haymow, and pea straw in both round (hired a guy) and small square bales. They hope to start combining the wheat (tomorrow) Saturday. We actually had a bit of rain Thursday night, although it really was not much moisture, since baling still happened today.

There were some drops on the windshield when I left for Dnepro this morning, and a few puddles in the holes in the street. It was disappointing compared to last weekend, which got things growing a bit. They even stopped watering the irrigated field for a couple days early this week.
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The sunflowers are starting to bloom in Garry's fields along the highway. He says that the field in Maroshinna  looks really good, he thinks they got more rain in that nearby village than here, he says the field was muddy when he looked at it tonight.

This week while I was in the city Garry had some expected and unexpected visitors. First the mayor of the village stopped in with some regional ag officials, who wanted to know how they could help our project. Garry may have upset the mayor when he told them that he promised to help many times but doesn't and put the new town dump next to our barn three years ago (Garry has avoided him since). Garry mentioned getting title to the land under the barns would help, so we'll see what happens. So far the mayor phoned Victor and wants (threatened?) to register our male students for the army draft, so not sure anything will change.

Then Thursday morning Garry spent a couple hours with a group that had phoned him, and just this evening he talked in Russian with 40 German Mennonites on a bus tour! (no one spoke English on the bus). He said before getting back on the bus they sang him a hymn in Russian.

Of course he says he is enjoying the experience of being a group home parent. Me less, since I can't understand them, and they still ask me for things anyway...they cook food at 9 every night, let in lots of flies when they don't shut the outside door while talking to people in the doorway and the bathroom is like a sauna after they take four very hot showers, and that is the one door they close tight! Garry has been trying to get them in their room at ten pm and up for 6 am milking.
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Meanwhile I leave the house at 6:45 to drive the  van to Dnepro. On Tuesday I had one of the girls with me for the dentist, on the way home I brought a new tire back for the baler. Since then I have been going by myself (although next week she goes back to the dentist). The only time I have to be more careful than driving the other van is in the city changing lanes with the longer van requires more space, at least in my mind.

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However. the part of the four lane highway where the construction is can be a bit unnerving at times, since both directions are on one side and it does not really slow down the passing much. Remember in Ukraine you must be alert for the expensive usually black car with the right to pass you at at high speed at all times and in all places... and you can imagine what happens now. Somehow the passing traffic squeezes in with a few feet or inches to spare or everyone creates a center lane for the passer if necessary to avoid collisions.

Thursday morning I was proceeding along this section (on the shiny new pavement part), when the small bus ahead of me pulled one of these maneuvers, passed an old Lada Universal (station wagon) and a slow moving truck. Apparently this inspired the driver of the Lada and he decided to try to pass the truck after a few more cars had zoomed past us with success. I have an "only where the road is wider and the truck is very slow passing policy", patience is a good thing. I watched as he would swerve out a bit to see what the ongoing traffic was like, then get back in line. The thing that amazed me was after the first time he did it, I watched him pull out his seat-belt and put it on and then after much arm waving, his female passenger in the front seat did the same. In Ukraine only front seat passengers on the highway (not in the city) are required to wear them, but it is not something that everyone does. Obviously they felt they were taking their lives in their hands, but they never did find a good place to pass before we were back on the regular highway.
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Anyway week one is done, all is well, and the annual SEI picnic is tomorrow. I could use more sleep, but I am finally over jet lag, after about half of this week.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeupGarry was going to drive Kolya to Solone for his soccer game Wednesday evening along with some of the girls who wanted to watch and ended up with fourteen passengers since eight of the village team needed a ride there.

I found out the 5 dollar used Nike soccer shoes I bought in the thrift store in Steinbach did fit Kolya and he's wearing them for games. He had bought a new pair to start he season that had fallen apart after a couple games.

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Some of the players ended up getting home another way, Garry, Kolya and girls got in the van and left. Kolya says next time they will know that when Garry says  ce chas (now) he means it. They did win big, scoring five goals.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sunday, Monday

Monday night and I survived driving into Dnepro in the new van (and the three guys students who wanted a ride to the city, too) teaching my classes as I had planned- in spite of dropping a breaking my power converter for my computer and breaking it as I was starting my first class!

Sunday morning we had a bit of a change with the four girls at the girls house moving in here at our house until we find new group home parents. Our new translator was unsure if she wanted to be a group home parent and after almost a week with the new girls she was unable to cope anymore with girls who never slept.
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3 out of 4 are staying here now
So there is a 1000 piece puzzle all over the living room floor, way more flies in the house, and Garry has banned junk food and set a 10 pm curfew for the girls- and got them up for 6 am milking this morning before I drove away. One of them goes with me to to the city in order to see the dentist in the morning, Garry says she needs a lot of work done, so Victor will take her there.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

7/7/17- a big day

Image may contain: 1 person, sleeping, baby and closeupYesterday was a very eventful day. While we were busy in Ukraine with registration day for Summer English Institute, our newest grandson  was arriving in Winnipeg. Meet Eli Gerrit Verhoog, who was born a short time after they arrived at the hospital, a little earlier than expected, but weighing seven pounds three ounces.

I will be busy driving into Dnepro every weekday for the next three weeks in the new very long van.
Garry came in with me on Friday for team meeting and to help move stuff from storage to the radio college building where it has been held since I started teaching in 2008. I just hope to find a great parking place everyday I drive so I don't have to back that van up!

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Our two new teachers from SK with Lena, who is the office assistant this year
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 Garry will mostly be in the village this year instead of teaching English. However, he may be called on to substitute if any of the teachers are sick. He is hoping that he will be able to keep everything going here in the village with the farm and students and staff, it is very busy. They are still sorting out the new students. It looks like one of the new girls will go back, she is quite the handful for Nellya, the other two are quieter.

Just got back to writing this, (it's now Saturday night) Garry is staying at the girls house tonight to give Nellya a break, she has not slept in two nights, so she is sleeping here now. She arrived here at the house at the same time as the four guys who were on the baler (just before 10 pm), Garry had told them there would be pizza when they were done (since I was making it at 6:30 when he saw them last). They told me there was less than a wagon left to do, they had problems with the tire going flat on the baler today- they had to fix it more than once. Garry is going to be looking for a new tire I think.

 Rain in the forecast for Sunday, we'll see. the corn is tasseling now, so its a good time to get some rain, it may amount to something yet. At least some silage, maybe next this? month if its dry again.
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I am going to wash the kitchen floor before I go to bed, it got dirty and maybe sticky after I picked cucumbers this morning in the garden and made 10 jars of pickles.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Hay and rain

Garry was out early this morning raking hay, while I was still sleeping in until 8 am, after finally getting eight hours of sleep in a night! Hopefully the end of jet lag, for this time. They got three loads of alfalfa, I think I heard Max say, but they were also baling pea straw. They got another field to bale from the big farmer in the area.
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Garry took this photo while out raking hay early this morning
The rain arrived just before 6 pm, Garry was still hoping for more rain when we got back from English Bible study in Zaporozhye. There were some puddles when Garry and I were running around chasing some heifers in the dark that had escaped from the barn after arriving home. One of the new boys helped us, turned out he'd come around to see us because he was hungry, so I cooked him a couple of eggs with side of bread, kolbassa and cucumbers before sending him home and going to bed.
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A stork flying over the field
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Mowing more hay this afternoon

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There were two storks in the field
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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Visitors and birthdays

Esther, who has been teaching at SEI in Dnepro every July since 2009, has been staying with us for a few days. She came in a week early on Friday. Of course we weren't here since we were in Kiev, partying and waiting for the van. However Victor picked her up at the airport and drove her out to the village. She got to choose between our empty house or staying with our new translator (Nellya) at the girls house. She picked the company and even was not in the village when we arrived Saturday night, having gone on the outing to Zaporosia with Nellya and the students!

(for more on where they went check out the new post on the trade school blog- click on the bird photo at right)

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, people eating, drink, table and foodSunday morning Garry picked up Esther and her stuff before church, and that afternoon Garry found out it would be Nellie's (English version of her name) birthday on Monday so we went out to dinner with her and Esther at the restaurant in the nearest village to us on the highway. It has a lovely outdoor patio.

We really enjoyed sitting outside, chatting and eating salads and entrees (half of us had pork and half chicken with mushrooms, and then we topped it off with dessert. Esther and I split an order of cherry verenicki, while the others had sundaes.
It was novel to have a translator to figure out what to order, we have gotten better at reading a Ukrainian menu than when we first came in 2009, when we could only read Koka-kola, got our drinks and after a while had to order two of what the waitress was carrying past us! Pork cutlet and french fries. It was tasty, back then, too.

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My favorite Ukrainian food
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Happy birthday Nellya (Nelly)

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On the way home we stopped in to see how  (grad) Kolya Mazhara (#16 in photo) was doing- he plays on the village soccer team, Unfortunately they lost this time, 2-1. They are in second place in the local team league. You can see one of the donated nets that the Steinbach team brought from Canada in the background. This year they have home games.

Oh well, it's after midnight, you can thank jet lag for all the blog posts lately, next week I'll be busy teaching English with Esther and all the gang in Dnepro. Not sure about driving that big van to the city myself, we'll see how it goes.

It rained today, not a lot but enough to cool it off and make the crops happy for a day or two. Garry is looking into getting some round bales of pea straw done, he can get it for free (only paying for the baling) on the fields that were combined recently in the area. We may need extra feed next winter, the heifers may be very happy with it in their food mix.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Back in the village for Canada day... evening

Well, no fireworks to celebrate our anniversary this year. At least not here, I am sure there are some in Canada. Yes, we were married on Canada Day in the US, so we are not just celebrating Canada's 150th birthday today!

Garry met me at the Kiev airport Thursday afternoon as planned, and we had a lovely two days and nights at a suburban hotel that had a water park. We got two free hours with our stay and had fun Thursday evening sliding down water slides, much to the confusion of one of the staff, who said we were the oldest people she had seen on the tube slide.

He planned to drive to Poland with Victor on Monday and return with the new used 9 passenger van he was buying. However, if you have heard about the computer virus in Europe, you might realize the problem they ran into on Tuesday when they got the van from Poland into Ukrainian  customs just as it was all shut down. They thought that the guys who were importing it could drive it out to Kiev on Thursday... or Friday, so Victor dropped Garry at a hotel near the airport to wait for me. He found the new hotel for an anniversary get away, and a taxi met us at the airport. No A/C, the windows down and hot air in my hair.

Friday we relaxed in the mall and our air-conditioned hotel room on a very hot day- it was 39 C ( 102 F) and struck out by taxi to the Metro (subway) and then by foot to find the Canada 150 celebration. Garry had received an invitation by email while I was gone and realized I was going to return the day before. We had met the ambassador last October, and some of his staff.

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The ambassador even remembered Garry and Nikolaipolia when we went through the receiving line. It started at 6:30 pm, and we had a lovely time, met some nice people, and had delicious food to eat as we walked round the St Sofia church grounds.

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One band was from Winnipeg and a Ukrainian band featured traditional instruments playing pop tunes.

There was poutine, salmon and other Canadian treats, including maple flavoured ice cream.

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Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, tree, grass, outdoor and natureYou might notice most people were in suits and fancy dresses, while were were wearing Canada 150 t shirts I had bought in Manitoba. We introduced ourselves to everyone in Canada shirts and jerseys, but we were in the minority.

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Then around nine thirty pm (still light out) we reversed the walking, subway and taxi route to the hotel. Saw a musical fountain show downtown as dusk fell while walking back to the subway.

We received exciting news after returning to the hotel, they were able to get the car out of the customs lot Friday evening.
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After breakfast we were waiting for the phone call to say the car had made it to Kiev all morning. We tried the pool,packed up and watched a movie on Garry's computer, before we finally got the good news.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, car and outdoorWe ending up  redoing the taxi/subway route to meet up with the guy driving it to Kiev after noon checkout today and Garry had to drive right through Kiev (luckily it was Saturday.) We finally got lunch around 2:30 in a drive-thru and were headed out of the city around 3 pm.

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 We made it back to the village as the sun set. Of course Garry looked at lots of fields as he drove past them. He said some of the sunflowers were more in bloom than on Monday.
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When we got home, he had to check a couple of his fields with Max. They got the barley baled up while he was gone. There is a chance of rain overnight, but don't count on it. Yes we are still are having very dry weather and its hot! The crops are suffering from Kiev all the way home.