Let's Start Talking Team 1
I started my time in Kyiv as part of a team from Let's Start Talking, an organization that teaches English using the Bible. My four teammates were students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Here we are outside a store close to Nivki Church, where we met for sessions with our readers. From left to right are: Carrie Corlew, Tafanie Gregory, John Miller, and me. Andy Fischer took the photo. Tafanie and Carrie were my roommates for my first six weeks here.
Carrie had experienced an ailment we called "black tongue" for a couple of days after arrival. We later learned that the discoloration was caused by mixing Pepto Bismol with airplane food. (You'll have to ask a doctor for more details.) The rest of us were just busy looking as American as possible in our LST T-shirts and sunglasses.
We were soon befriended by some terrific members of Nivky church, who also happen to be students at International Christian University. They took us shopping for gifts, helped us find McDonald's, and introduced us to vareniky, a favorite Ukrainian food akin to a dumpling.
This is the crew in my apartment on one of our weekly vareniky nights with the spoils of a shopping excursion. From left to right are: Oleg, Zhenya, Carrie, Nastya, and John. That's me in the front.
The LST team was responsible for hosting a party for our readers once a week. I think the party we (and our readers) enjoyed the most was the Tennessee Party.
Oleg and Chris Lovingood, our host missionary and an alum of both Lipscomb University and UTK graduate school, joined John and Andy in singing the "Tennessee Waltz." The people who came to the party loved singing along, especially when we started "Rocky Top." We also had a special time devoted to learning about Tennessee foods, like biscuits and gravy, okra, and sweet tea.
After being in Ukraine for about a month, we ventured outside the city with our new friends. We visited Peregova, an outdoor museum not far from Kyiv that features life-size examples of traditional Ukrainian homes, gardens, and farms. It was a really beautiful place.
This is Andy, Carrie, me, and John outside one of the houses, waiting for the rain to stop.
Nastya and Zhenya were a little smarter than we were-they got under a roof to avoid the rain.
Zhenya, Nastya, me, and Oleg. I was trying to blend in, and I like to think I had some marginal success in looking Ukrainian.
Meanwhile, John was making friends with the animal life.
A traditional village church made completely from wood. It doesn't look very large from the outside, but inside, the top of the dome seems to just keep going up and up. The sanctuary was quiet and beautiful.
Here are a couple of shots of the buildings at Peregova, and especially the wheat fields. At one point in time, Ukraine was called "the breadbasket of the Soviet Union," and after visiting this place and seeing the wheat fields, it's easy to understand why. The fields go on for miles.
Even now that Ukraine is an independent country, wheat is still an important symbol. The Ukrainian flag consists of two color panels: yellow on the bottom to represent wheat, and blue on top as a symbol of the sky.