Goodbye from Ukraine -- 13th August 2006

The time has come again to say goodbye to another set of friends we have made and another country! We leave tomorrow morning and head into Kiev, where we will catch a bus late at night and travel overnight to Liviv (city in the east close to the border of Poland). We will spend the day there and then catch a train that night (again overnight) over the border into Poland. We aim to spend 3 days in Poland, one of which will be a trip to Auschwitz. We then aim to travel to Germany and spend 3 days there, and then onto Holland with 3 days there before we head back to London. We want to get to London about the 25th or 26th August. School starts about a week after that. My brother Jono will come with us most of the way and then head back to Ukraine as we head to London.
It has been a great time here, and been mind-blowing to again experience another culture and how they respond to life and God. The people here are passionate and real about their belief in God. It is there first love and much more authentic than what I have seen in the 'western' world. We would love to come back next summer if it is possible.
We also really enjoyed our trip to Odessa, where we parked up and camped wherever we pleased, swum in the Black Sea, and had a good holiday with 3 Ukraine young people with us. It was a long road trip with about 8 hours in the van. The wheat and sunflower fields on either side of the road where very impressive though, as they went for miles.
On our last morning as we were packing up, Jon went for a wash in the sea, checked carefully to see if it was deep etc. then dived in but hit a rock. He came back up to me with the towel on his head and warned me he had hurt himself before he showed me!! Just as well, because I couldn't help clean up the gashes as I started to feel queasy. So Jono cleaned him up. He had a deeper gash on his forehead, and on the bridge of his nose, with scrapes up his stomach, arms and cuts on his feet. As we traveled back that day, and stopped for lunch, he got a few stares, as he looked like a war victim out of a cheesy movie with a big bandage on his head!It has healed really well though, and almost gone now. We are thankful that it was no worse!
Last weekend Jon attempted to busk again on the main street in Kiev, and got a good response. It was really interesting to watch a crowd gather, and then come up and ask for songs. This week we have spent time around the house fixing the pump, concreting steps, making a BBQ/hosting area, and other odd jobs. Playing a bit of Settlers and spending time with people before we go.
Last night we went to a traditional Ukrainian wedding of a couple from the church here. It was interesting to see the many many traditions they have. One which is to steal the bride's shoe and then they have to do strange things to get it back. Also another one is that the groom washes the bride's mums feet with watered-down vodka and leaves and then once they are washed he gives her a new pair of shoes and then dances with her in the new shoes. There where so many more as well-- about 800 years worth of accumulated traditions! Interesting to watch, but made the day very long!
Well that's the news from our end
Until next time...

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