Lance & Megan's Blog

A Ukrainian Thanksgiving

November29

Yes, I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving here in Ukraine. I don’t know if they celebrated just because they have an American here or if they would have still had a day of thanks with or without me. Nonetheless, I was able to celebrate and show others what Thanksgiving is all about.

For the majority of those in attendance, it was their first Thanksgiving. Ukraine does not have their own Thanksgiving day so most people do not know what Thanksgiving day is all about. As the sole American, I felt compelled to give a small history lesson on where Thanksgiving day came from and why America celebrates it.

Giving a history lesson

Naturally there was food, but sadly, turkey is not all that common. We had the next best thing, roasted peppered pork. YUM!!! Tons of mashed potatoes and someone even made gravy. We north Americans take gravy for granted. You have no idea what a gift gravy is until you have to have meat without it! Trust me, the gravy was a blessing! There were lots of salads that I am not sure I can fully describe to you. There was a pomegranate, sour cream, beet, and chicken salad, a beet and fish salad, a potato salad and a normal green salad. Bread is always present at the table as well. For dessert we had butter tarts, cookies and little squares of pumpkin pie! Hooray for pumpkin pie and whipped cream!

Yumm! The red salad at the top is a fish and beet salad. The other red polka dot one is the beat, pomegranate, and chicken salad. Can you see how delicious the meat looks?

We fit a little more than 40 people into one room where we ate and proceeded with a small program. Some sang or read poetry. Since we had invited some of the seniors that we had been visiting, they also wanted to participate in our program. One gentleman played a chromatic button accordion, or Bayan in Russian, while the others sang. We had a great night of fellowship with everyone.

I have much to be thankful for. I am so blessed to have such a great team with amazing leaders. My friends have multiplied and are always encouraging.

The Canadians and Me

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Student Profile #6

November26

Now that I have finished the Ethiopia team, all that is left is the India team. I will start with those that are in my room so you can know who I share a room with.

Here is Lena (yes, remember we have 3 Lenas). Lena and I are bunk buddies, I have the bottom bunk while she has the top. We have given her the nickname zichick it’s a combination of the Russian word for rabbit and of course the ‘chik.’

Age: 24, She just celebrated her birthday a week ago!

From: Lena is from Crimea which is a region in southern Ukraine on the Black Sea.

Lena grew up in a difficult family. She will tell you that dysfunctional barely begins to describe her family. She does not know her real dad and her step father loves the bottle. She became a Christian about 2 years ago and is hungry to know more about God and his love.

Lena enjoys sleeping and listening to music. She enjoys quiet and intimate conversations. She is very artistic and always seems to be doodling.

I love that Lena is so real and loves to be with people. She calls me Meggie and gives me a fun little look whenever she says it. She is passionate about going to India and hopes to stay there long term someday.

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Staff Profile #2

November24

The last but one of the most important members of the Ethiopia team is Marichka, pronounced Mar-eech-ka.

Age: 29

From: Lviv, Ukraine. Her home town is about 2 hours northwest of Ternopil.

Marichka makes some yummy desserts. She is always baking cakes for people’s birthdays. My favorite one she made was a snickers cake, just imagine eating a gigantic Snickers bar. Mmmmm. She also likes to sleep in really late on the weekends. She is like every other girl and loves to shop and find cute clothes and shoes and she loves massages.

The rest of her family still lives in Lviv. She is the middle child out of three kids, one older brother and a younger sister. She has a cute little niece and nephew too. She calls them her prince and princess (the princess was just born this last Friday!)

Marichka has been in Ternopil for 6 years but she also did her DTS here so that is an additional year. She ¬†loves to invest in other’s lives. She has lots of wisdom and insight about leading teams to different places. She has been on many other missions trips and has lots of experience.

Marichka loves to love on people, really truly. She calls it ‘portion of love,’ and all the girls need to receive their portion of love. She gives hugs freely which I am grateful for. She will be a great leader in Ethiopia and I am so blessed to have her as my leader!

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Staff Profile #1

November22

I will finish off the Ethiopia team by telling you about our staff. Here is Ruslan, pronounced Roos-lan. (We occasionally call him Roos.)

Ruslan in India last year

Age: He will turn 20 in December while we are in Ethiopia.

From: Ruslan is from Moldova, a neighboring country of Ukraine. His family came to the Lord through another DTS outreach and now he is able to be a part of the same program that led his family to the Lord!

Ruslan is learning to play the guitar so he enjoys music. He likes sleeping on his days off and in the summer he enjoys playing sports.

Ruslan comes from a family of 5 kids. He is the oldest and has four younger sisters. So being with all girls isn’t too big a deal for him. He loves his family and his sisters very much. He wants to set a good example for his sisters- isn’t he the ideal older brother?!

I can’t describe enough how Ruslan is like a brother. He is just a real genuine guy. He is handy at everything, he always seems to be fixing something. He is a gentleman (he treats all of us girls like ladies), but can be playful and silly with kids. We like to kid around all the time. He is quiet and yet strong. He is definitely an important part of the ethiopia team!

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Student Profiles #4 & 5

November18

It just seemed appropriate to tell you about Lena and Riza together since they are married. The only nickname is for Lena, Riza likes to call her hunichka (it’s like saying honey/hun with the infamous ‘chika’ at the end. How cute is that?!) Here is the amazing Gench family!

What a cute couple!!

Age: Lena is 27 and Riza is 33

Lena is from Kiev and Riza is from Turkey. I have yet to learn how they met, but it must be amazing!

Lena loves talking to people, this comes in handy since she is our beloved translator! She is so cheerful and loves to give hugs. Riza absolutely LOVES pizza, he may be sick but he can always muster strength enough to eat pizza. Riza also enjoys walking and reading and they both enjoy watching movies.

I had the wonderful privilege to stay with Lena’s family while we were in Kiev in October. Wow, I love her parents. They were so happy, loving, caring, and accepting. They were just a blessing to us! Lena describes her mom as having a fierce whisper, which I can see could be true. (I was fortunate enough not to hear the fierce whisper in person.) Her dad loves to preach and be with people.

Riza grew up in a Muslim family and became a Christian against his family’s wishes. He had considered himself an atheist at one point before he became a Christian. It was difficult for him to go against his family especially his father whom he was close with. Riza brings great perspective to our team since he grew up in another religion.¬†One of his favorite memories growing up was going to the Turkish baths on Sundays.

They are such a great team, I am not sure I can adequately do them justice. They are not overly affectionate in public, but they clearly display love for each other that only a married couple can do. They are both supporting each other and give the rest of us singles a great example.

I am really, really, happy that they are coming to Ethiopia. Lena will be able to translate for me and I am no longer the only one who does not speak Russian!

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