Saturday, March 10, 2007

Return to Molochansk

We're back - day three!
Winter appears to be over but spring has not yet arrived. It's this in-between season of bleakness accentuating the drab surroundings; no blanket of snow or carpet of grass to camouflage the greys and the litter on the roadsides. Nothing appears to have changed much - perhaps only the bigger potholes. We had to take the long way around to Molochansk because the usual route was virtually impassible. But this is the cursory glance. Coming to the entry of the Mennonite Centre we look down to see some exquisite yellow flowers poking their heads through last year's dry and crumpled leaves. I had to think of our dear friend Dianne's appreciation for "small wonders".

The big wonder though was the warm welcome we received when we entered the doors. Many hugs and exclamations - not all understood! An invitation to supper and also breakfast. Then hugs from the "cookie lady" when we went shopping. What more can we ask for?

Our hearts are touched by many needs. At breakfast this morning we watched across the street as a Babushka went through a small roadside dumpster and walked away with numerous packages. Yesterday a father and mother with their nine year-old son came to the Centre asking for assistance. Sasha had been badly burned in an explosion several years ago. The little fellow has had numerous surgeries. What was obvious was his neck - a patchwork of criss-crossing skin pulling in different directions. He is growing and the skin isn't able to stretch. Apparently there is medical/surgical help available in Dnepropetrovsk, but is costly. Friends and neighbors are contributing as well as the parents taking out a loan. Would we be willing to help? Yesterday 80 pensioners came for a hot meal. Our capable cook, Ira, had made chicken and kasha. She told us that the pensioners had all wrapped up their chicken bones to "take home and give to their dogs". Not only is Ira a wonderful cook, she has also started a group for Moms with kids with disabilities. They had a meeting at the Centre today where they celebrated the "Moms", in keeping with International Women's Day this week. Much is made of this celebration including school closure for two days and women everywhere being presented with flowers. I was photographer for the event.

These few words are an attempt at answering the question "what are you going to be doing there?" We don't know for sure what each day brings as we continue our presence here.


Ben and Lil's Ukraine Reports said...

Our International Women's Day passed unnoticed. It is interesting to see how much importance Ukrainians put on that day. Hopefully this will encourage them to recognize the significant role women play in everyday Ukrainian life.

Do you notice that they never have an International Men's Day? Some would suggest that is 364 days of the year and others would suggest if they had one, men wouldn't remember the date...

Sounds like your weather is a bit better than our cool rainy days in Victoria. Hopefully others in the apartment will sort things out with the gas people so we won't be greeted by a stove when we arrive in the hallway. Here's our suggestion: take that old stove and drop it into one of those potholes. That should solve two problems! But don't use that rusty propane tank to fill any potholes--it could make a direct tunnel to Clearbrook.

Thanks for your note.
Ben and Linda

Ben Jeske said...

yo you two!
So good to hear from you! We read your message on Thursday night. Everyone was happy to hear positive news from you. The very best to you as you continue your work. Ben

Unknown said...

Thanks for your messages; seems like you don't have enough hours in the day to get everything done that demands your attention. As you are having wonderful (and often difficult)experiences in Ukraine, you, of course, have to miss a lot of great stuff happening out here. Last night we attended thr Abendmusik Lenten Vespers; this afternoon Neil Mathies's Choral Group presented their concert in Chilliwack. Our kids arrived this afternoon, so we'll try to get to the latter on Wed. Henry and I went to see the movie Amazing Grace portrayung the story of the abolishion of slavery coming about through the impetus of William Wilberforce. A very moving story, filmed in England.

The bad weather has been a big topic out here- with frequent occurrences of rock and mudslides and resultant highway closures. Today we got to see the sun, and the week looks considerably more promising than the last few.

We had a great service this morning with Dr. Rod Wilson in both the current issues class as well as our speaker in the Lit. Service. CBC choral group with Tony Funk served us with music instead of our choir.

I don't expect that you have much time for reading, but it seems to me you took "Snow" with you. We'll have to talk about it when you come back; I have 100 pages left to read.

We were fortunate that Brent came this afternoon and very quickly set up a Gmail account for me.

We miss you two, but know when one is as fully involved as you are with many urgent needs, we're sure time is going by very quickly.

Thanks for your updates and great photos (Everything is Illuminated); makes us feel we're there.

God bless you each day.

Mary and Henry

Mary said...

Hi I just happened upon your blog. I am researching my Mennonite history. I would love to visit where my ancestors lived. Do you have anymore pictures of the Mennonite dwellings in Ukraine, of 1870s or earlier? My ancestors left Russia in the 1870s.

Mary said...

Oh my email is