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Trip Start Jan 08, 2009
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Trip End Feb 02, 2009


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Monday, January 19, 2009

Today is our last day in Ukraine and the Polichko's. This has been a most memorable visit. We have gotten to know Vasyl and and Irina better as well as Vasya and Maria, the married couple who have been married about two years now and work for and with the Polichko's.  Theirs is a life of reliance and submission to God, prayer, sacrifice and living by Christian values.  
 
As we had breakfast, Alyona who also works with the children came by as well as another dark-haired Marichka who helps out with the children. We all sat around the breakfast table and talked and laughed. That's the best way to describe it.  At least, that's the way it sounds to everyone.  We were enjoying the fact that Scott and Carolyn were visibly enjoying the entire experience and really participated in the discussion.  
 
There are so many wonderful personal things said and filtering them through another language and culture is so interesting, fascinating and entertaining.  I never get tired of my travel to Ukraine as I've witnessed this culture transitioning from Communism to a shaky to democracy to still an uncertain future. 
 
I'm the translator and keep communications moving as I go back and forth between Ukrainian and to English. While we live on opposite sides of the earth and speak different languages and perhaps do some things differently, what we find is that so much of the basics of life are exactly the same.  We all have the same feelings towards people, family, ourselves.  We find that that no matter how different we think we are from one another, the more we find that we are quite alike. We all want to be loved and appreciated. We love children, out mates, our friends and children no matter what culture we're from.  Children in any culture act similarly.  People relate very similarly to one another as they seek commonalities. This to me is the most fascinating part of our travels abroad, whether they be Ukraine, Africa or wherever. God loves diversity, but He also created Man to live by common principles and values.
At the table the conversation first turned to Alyona and her plans. She has worked at a car parts factory in Vinogradov that is run from the Czech Republic.  They makes parts for Fords and some Japanese cars.  With the economic downturn, the factory has laid off quite a few people, in that number Alyona, but she is confident that she'll be back to work soon. The Polichko's think very highly of her as she is an exacting person.  At the factory she is a foreman in quality control.  Because of the Sabbath her shift has been changed on Fridays.  She continues as foreman even with another crew...that's how much trust they put in her.  She works well with the children both in the orphanage and the soup kitchen. 
 
A question at breakfast came up about how Vasya and Maria (or Marichka) got together. Both worked at the center and knew each other for years.  Neither thought that they would be marrying one another.  Marichka was a social worker in Khust who volunteered at Polichko's.  Vasya has been Vasyl Polichko's handyman, driver, and musician...on and on. He has truly dedicated his life to the work of the Polichko's. 
 
Vasya was coming to his late 30's in age and asked God to show him what he should do regarding seeking a life with a mate.  He prayed to God for answers.  He had a dream of going on a walk with a female friend in the Carpathian mountains where they live. They were walking hand in hand.   He then in his dream saw himself in the soup kitchen food preparation area.  Marichka came behind him and touched him.  He felt a definite feeling in his side.  And he heard the words, "You are bone of my bones."  He woke up. 
 
He then consulted with his best friend and pastor Vasyl Polichko and asked about his thoughts towards Marichka.  Vasyl was positive. All this time Marichka was hoping that Vasyl would feel this way towards her, but did not make her feelings known. 
 
After several days Vasyl decided to propose to Marichka.  It's done differently in Ukraine.  It can be a more public event than in our culture.  He took Vasyl Polichko and perhaps another friend or two and drove to the home of Marichka's parents where where she lived.  They all walkd in.  Marichka and her parents were present. He proposed.  The answer was a positive YES.  The parents were in agreement.  The marriage would go forward.  About two months later in May 2007 they were married. It was a beautiful story. 
 
We talked right up until the time we had to get in the van and drive to Chop for our 2:15 PM train to Hungary. There was packed snow on the highway and Vasya was visibly having trouble seeing.  His eyes were tearing up and he was holding his hands in front of his eyes to shield him from the brightness of the snow.  I was a bit concerned about Vasya....but also concerned that Vasyl Polichko is almost blind and Vasya was impaired by the brightness of the snow.  But, we finally got to Chop about an hour before our train was to leave. 
 
The Chop train station is a relic of Soviet times.  There is an intereresting Soviet mural of the history of life under Communism in the departure hall.  Mostly events glorifying uprisings of people, revolution, labor, World War II, the Soviet's first man into space and more.  The hall is too big, ugly and unwelcoming. 
 
We got on the train for the 17 minute journey across the Tissa River into Hungary.  Enroute we went through Hungarian passport control and customs.
 
Then a treat.  We were able to upgrade to a first-class car on the Intercity train that would travel without any train change all the way to Budapest Nyugatti  A really nice ride for the four of us. 
 
We have become very fond of Scott and Carolyn.  They are very good friends now. Bev has met them for the first time on this trip.  I met Scott and Carolyn in San Diego back in February 2007. Absolutely nothing went wrong on this trip outside of losing our wives in Budapest.  But we were all happily reunited under the "I'm lovin' it" sign at the McDonald's at the train station. 
 
With Scott and Carolyn we prayed together every day for God's guidance and success in what we were doing in Vinogradov.  This common work in Ukraine is in its eighth year. We thank the Rock Valley Christian Church for supporting this work with their prayers and financial support so consistently.  Without them we could never have done any of this.  We all feel that we are directed and guided by God's higher thoughts and will. 
 
We pulled into the Nyugatti and took a short cab ride to the Le Meridian Hotel.  The Scharpens took us out to a Hungarian Restaurant a block or two away.  We had a nice quiet meal and reminisced about the wonderful events of the past four days.  We sure got a lot in that short period of time. 
 
Our waiter's name was Atilla.  We called him Atilla the Hungarian.  I suspect Attila wasn't his real name and that the ambiance of his waitering was being called Attilla the Hun or Hungarian.  But, I could be wrong.
 
Tomorrow our adventure continues as we fly to Poland and spend spend a few days with long long acquaintance Andrew Lee, his wife Karen and children. 
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