Before Bump Journeys

posted on: Monday, January 24, 2011

Kiev, Ukraine 2007
My first trip out of the country was amazing. My heart came alive in a special way when I traveled to the Ukraine in 2007. I had a desire for years before to go and spend some time with the kids in the orphanages and on the streets there. So many of the children in Kiev and the outlining towns choose to live on the streets and in the gutters rather than in their own homes because of the alcoholism of so many of their parents. I was able to spend some time with kids anywhere from 8-16 years old who had lived or presently lived on the streets for years. There are a few local organizations that have homes to help the kids that want to get off the streets and into a safe place to grow and learn. Some friends and I got to visit one of these places and spend some time with the kids. All the boys who heard we were coming wanted nothing more than to play a match of soccer against the Americans. Yeah, we got our butts whipped, bad. We were lucky to even kick the ball in the direction of the goal. It was a blast. My heart was broken but came alive in a way as I spent the rest of that evening bringing a little bit of supper to a group of kids who lived on the street. Their eyes were so hungry for love, but totally guarded. I want to go back. The country was beautiful especially at sunrise. It was sad in parts but beautiful.

Being my first trip out of the states it was pretty eventful for me. To start it all off the day we arrived a mini revolution started with hundreds of protesters in the streets right outside the airport. My stomach had a little bit of familiar culture shock too. Never in my life had a seen potatoes cooked so many ways. Everywhere I looked was a fast food spot that featured potatoes. I didn't want to see a potato for the rest of my life after that. haha It was always cloudy while we were there, (it was winter) so even though it was kinda dreary-when ever i would see color, it stood out more vibrantly than it might have before. The people are so beautiful there. Their culture, their traditions and their textures are intriguing.
I thought this little girl was 7 years old but she was 12. She had suffered from malnutrition.
I got to go to an orphanage when we first arrived. I was SO jet-lagged but so in heaven.
We also visited the Jewish center where we met and got to hear the stories of severalHolocaust survivors. It was life changing. The sweet woman in the picture below was telling me her story through an interpreter. The man in the pic after that burst into tears when he saw me. I almost never wear my hair down, but that day I did. He told me the very first time he had seen his wife he had fallen in love with her because of her hair, just like mine. She had passed away and seeing me reminded him of her. It was such a sweet moment.
Dr. Borris is a leader in the Jewish community in the Ukraine and is a scientist and professor. He became my good friend on that trip. I miss him a lot. He spent time with me and my friends, teaching us life lessons and teaching me and my best friend Ukrainian. It was a magical time.
My friends and I labeled this guy as the Kiev Cowboy. There he was, in the middle of the city with all the cars and big buildings he was on a horse smoking a cigarette. haha
They had cool cars too.

10 thoughts:

  1. I have always wanted to travel there. I have friends who were adopted from there and they talk about how they want to go back and adopt one day. Some of the stories they told were so heart wrenching. Its awesome you got to travel so much!

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  2. :) it was an amazing trip. heart wrenching at times, but amazing. i would love to adopt from there some day too. it was so hard to leave some of those kids.

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  3. So special :) I don't know if I could handle that emotionally. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story, and that picture of you touching noses with the baby! How precious!

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  4. i'm loving these travel posts!

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  5. it´s kind of crazy - most people i know working for charity like that have gone to southamerica, to work with streetchildren, and you went to europe. great exchange :)
    i understand your big impressions. i´ve been to russia and poland in the past, and althoug its so nearby (i live in germany, berlin), it´s also sooooo different (the cultural aspect). i´ve never felt so strange, and not just because of the language i didn´t understand.
    i´ve never been out of europe, but i hope i´ll visit more different cultures in the near future. these are the best experience in life, right?!
    <3

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  6. So cool! I want to travel all around the world!

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  7. I went to Kiev, Lviv, and Cherkassy, Ukraine in 2005 for a missions trip and it was absolutely the best experience of my life! The people are amazing and I fell in love there. I was crying when I had to leave because I felt like I was leaving home!

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  8. That post made my heart smile! Im from Germany but my families roots are in Rumania (thats next the Ukraine btw). This year i took my boyfriend with me for the first time and he had quiet a cultural shock too. Great that you had such a good time there and learned a lot. The story of that old man is beautiful - sad but beautiful. Much love from Germany

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  9. Wow, that was pretty brave of you for a first trip out of the country. It looks like it was an amazing, life changing journey. I like this new series, by the way. x

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  10. I've not yet had opportunity to visit the Ukraine, but hope to someday in the near future. My family has friends who live there as pastors--an American man from Oklahoma and his beautiful Ukrainian wife, and their sweet little boy. Missions is in my blood so I love to hear travel stories! Thanks for sharing yours.

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