This is the first entry in the series I am writing about my trip to Ukraine – I didn’t have daily internet access while there so I recorded each day for later publishing. And later is now. I’m hoping to publish each days notes over the next week (one a day) but we’ll see what happens…
Well today was the day I left for the country of Ukraine on a missions trip with my church. I’ve been looking forward to the trip but also a bit pensive about it. Not knowing what to expect AND knowing I’ll miss my family I’m somewhat pensive about the days ahead.
Here’s the route we took today…Toronto (jet) – Frankfurt (jet) – Borispol(near Kyiv)(train) – Krivoy Rog (bus to apartments)
The flights were fairly uneventful. We had about a 1 hour layover at Frankfurt which meant we basically went to the boarding gate after landing from Toronto and waited to get on the next leg of our journey.
What was interesting for me was this was the first time I had ever disembarked from a plane on the tarmac and re-embarked the same way (at Frankfurt airport). There was something surreal about getting on and off the plane in the open air versus the covered bridge-ways I’ve been used to in the past.
When we landed in Borispol, Ukraine one of the team members and myself got VIP treatment and were ushered through immigration and customs with our luggage. This was a pretty neat experience. It’s amazing what the right connections and understanding of how things work in a particular airport can get you…
While waiting for the rest of the team to get through customs I got a chance to observe the airport lobby. Definitely a throwback of about 30-40 years in terms of looks and feel. Was also a much more condensed space than I thought there would have been at the airport.
An apartment had been arranged for the team and myself to stay at temporarily in Kyiv. The apartment itself was fairly small and the staircase leading to the appartment had the lovely smell of garbage wafting through it (probably because of the garbage chute that went down the center of the stairwell). One of the things I noticed while driving around with Ed Dickson (who is the missionary in Ukraine that we are working with) is the amazing architecture in Ukraine AND the number of people walking.
I should probably mention a little bit about our train ride to Krivoy Rog. The train station in Kyiv was really big and had that old European look that gave a sense of stepping back in time. We boarded what is called a “sleeper car” – named that way because it travels overnight and people typically board it, sleep until their destination and then are ready to start their day when they arrive. Train travel is still a very important way of getting around in this country. The trip to Krivoy Rog took about 7 hours by train as it doesn’t travel very fast and will often have stops along the way. The team was pretty tired from the flight and so we were looking forward to the chance to sleep but for many of us it was a forlorn hope as the temperature on the train was extremely warm! Without any way of adjusting the temperature I tossed and turned through the night and there was more than a few times where I got up and fumbled my way out of the small 4 bunk room to get some “fresh air” in the hallway. I think I lost about 5 pounds that night just through sweating!
By the time we arrived in Krivoy Rog that morning (I think it was around 6:15am or so) – we were pretty tired and I was looking forward to laying down in the bed provided for us in the places we were staying. We ended up sleeping until around 10am when we got
Well that’s it for this entry! Stay tuned for more in the coming days!