Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Back in Canada...Again

It's hard for me to believe that 3 months have gone by already and my trip to Ukraine is over for this time. I arrived back in Halifax on Sunday night. My travelling overall went really well despite my bag being delayed in Frankfurt. But in the end it turned out to be a blessing as my heavy bag got delivered directly to the apartment the next day and I didn't have to haul it on and off of the 3 transit buses from the airport.

In the past month I stayed pretty busy with the Loads of Love team in Kryvyi Rih. I was again able to visit the Boorie Ooglie Men's home with some treats and went to another service there. I also did some more school visits with the team. Even though the public schools are now closed for the summer we went to a year round private language school to spend time with the students there.

Then I was able to be a part of a camp at the Church of Praise in the village of каменое поле (Stone Field). This is also one of the Loads of Love sponsored camps and it's the largest of the local camps. This year we had around 120 kids. It was a very busy and hectic but an amazing week.

My last week in Kryvyi Rih, and in Ukraine was spent tying up loose ends, running chores and getting things packed and stored to go back to Canada. Because I ended up having time between my train arrival and my plane departure I was able to play tourist for a day in Kyiv. That day was also the 1031st anniversary of the baptism of the Kyivan Rus, carried out by Kyivan Prince Volodymyr the Great in 988, and was the start of Christianity in Ukraine. The anniversary is a huge deal in Ukraine (and russia) and the city was filled with Orthodox believers on pilgrimage.

So now I'm back in Canada looking forward to the next time I go to Ukraine. I still hope to get things together so that I can live there long term again. I'm praying it'll happen soon. Please continue to keep me and Ukraine in your thoughts and prayers.

Thank you for seeing my heart...я люблю вас!

Getting treats ready to to go to Boorie Ooglie with Pastor Sasha

At Boorie Ooglie

At Boorie Ooglie

At the language school

again at the language school

Stone Field camp

Stone Field camp

Stone Field camp

This is one of the crafts at Stone Field camp

Stone Field camp

Statue of Kyivan Prince Volodymyr the Great

St. Sophia's Cathedral

It was somehow humbling being in this cathedral with over 1000 years of history.

Tomb of the cathedral's founder Yaroslav I the Wise

A view of St. Michael's monastery from the bell tower at St. Sophia's cathedral

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Kyrgyzstan Fun Day

Wow the summer has just flown by and my time in Ukraine is winding down for now. In one week I'll be headed back to Canada.

Before I left Canada in the spring I was able to send some money to Loads of Love to help our friend Sergey in Kyrgyzstan take the kids from Orlovka Orphanage on an outing to Lake Issyk'Kul.

For those who are unfamiliar, Lake Issyk'Kul is the world's 2nd largest salt water lake and has some of the nicest beaches anywhere. Just like going to the sea to relax is a big deal in Ukraine so it is in Kyrgyzstan as well and kids in an orphanage just don't get there without the kindness of others.

The outing took place this past week. As Sergey mentioned it provided a day to relax and a boost of energy to the kids for the upcoming school year. It also provided a relaxing day for the hard working orphanage workers who deserve a break. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Thank you to those who helped make this possible. Everyone will remember this for a long time.

Please continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers. я люблю вас!

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Another Month Gone By

It's hard to believe that a second month has flown by already for this trip. Pretty soon it'll be time to get ready to go back to Canada, but I don't want to think about that just yet.

This past month I've continued to be busy. I paid another visit to the Boorie Ooglie home taking some treats for the residents and attending another service there. I can't believe how much better the general atmosphere is at the home with the corrupt staff gone. I can see a new brightness in the faces of the residents as well as the current staff.

For the rest of the month I tagged along with some of the Loads of Love team visiting public schools. The team has a network that now includes 21 schools that they visit regularly during the school year doing various activities to spend quality time with the kids. The team's presence in the schools is an encouragement to the students, teachers and school staff alike. My role was to practice English with the kids through games and conversation or just spending time with them. I have some photos of some of our visits below.

In my last blog entry I mentioned about buying an apartment here in Kryvyi Rih. The apartment I've been staying in is still available. As I mentioned last time real estate prices here are at an all time low and this would be a great opportunity for my work here. Having a permanent place would be a big help with costs and logistics and I could finally look into coming to Ukraine long term. It would make a lot so much easier. I can put together enough for half of the price but I have a ways to go to make it happen. Would you like to partner with me in this work?

If you would like to have more information or to partner with me please message me directly. You can reach me by email using the contact form on the right side of the blog or at blairslife1@gmail.com. Those of you on Facebook can also reach me on Messenger. Thank you so much.

Please continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for seeing my heart...я люблю вас!! Happy Canada Day!

Dina helping me to buy bananas and candy for Boorie Ooglie...

...and then helping to pass it out.

Singing songs with the school kids.

More songs at another school.

The blind object game where they wear a blindfold and gloves, pick an item out of the bag and then tell everyone what it is in English.

While the person is blindfolded...a teacher in this case...we do silly things with them to get a laugh from the other kids like take a selfie.

A puppet show at a school.  This story was about pride.

Tanya sharing a story at a school.

Sometimes the candy bag comes out.

In this game we were all tied together as a group while the teacher told a story.  (I didn't catch the translation.)  Then after the story the ribbon was cut up into bracelets.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

It's Been a Month Already

I've been in Ukraine a month already and this is the 1st chance I've had to do an update. I arrived in Kryvyi Rih on May 2nd and hit the ground running. I met with Loads of Love's country director Ira the day I arrived to plan the summer. It's been busy so far and it'll continue to be busy for the rest of my time here on this trip.

So far I've spoken at 2 village churches and I've attended a service at the new Boorie Ooglie (Brown Coals) church. To remind you, Boorie Ooglie is a home for mentally and physically disabled men. Last year the corrupt director was ousted and replaced. The new director got rid of the rest of the corrupt staff and allowed a church to be established on the property. I've really noticed a huge change in the atmosphere there. I even noticed there was meat in the meals now. The service was amazing and it was great to reconnect with the guys. Now if the new director would just get rid of that cage...don't get me started on that one. I might not stop.

I also went to one of the public schools that Loads of Love visits regularly. I helped out with English in one class and in the History class they were studying Canadian history. They really know their stuff, lots of which I had forgotten about our history. I spoke a little bit about relations between Ukraine and the Ukrainian Diaspora in Canada.

After that I was taken to the remote village of Krasnivka for several days. Loads of Love has established a camp there for the disabled and any others that don't have the opportunity to go to camp. We were painting and cleaning the camp and getting things set up for a new season. The day I left the 1st guests of the season arrived.

These last couple of weeks involved preparations for the camps that are sponsored through Loads of love. The theme this year is "Mission Possible." We made some videos for lessons, and did a LOT of cutting and gluing to get the crafts ready. Our 1st camp of the season started May 27th at the Sophia School in Kyiv for about 70 to 80 kids. My role was to help with beginner English classes and activities for them.

That's the nutshell version of my activities in Ukraine so far. Stay tuned for more things over the next couple of months. Those of you on my Facebook list will probably have already seen my photos. I'm posting a sample of them below.

On a separate note, this is something I want to throw out there to see if there will be any interest. As most of you know since I started this work in 2011 I have always wanted to come to Ukraine to do this work full time. My life in Canada is that classic exhausting North American rat race where I literally don't have the time to do much fundraising. I don't have a large Canadian salary and I don't receive a salary or stipend for what I do in Ukraine.

I would like to pause here to say thank you to all of you who have generously given resources over the years for what I have been able to do so far. You have been a huge blessing to many.

So, the apartment where I have been staying in Kryvyi Rih is for sale at an amazing price in Canadian dollars. Real estate here is at an all time low now as many people have gone to Poland to find work. As amazing as the price is I just don't have it. It would help my work here a lot if I had a permanent place. Then I could look further to making that step to move back to Ukraine long term.

If you would like to have more information or to help me out with this please send me a private message. You can reach me by email using the form on the right side of the blog. Those of you on Facebook can also reach me on Messenger. Thank you so much.

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for seeing my heart...я люблю вас!!

This is Ira & I planning out the summer.

At one of the village churches.

Before the service at Boorie Ooglie I had time to take my candy bag to the hospital section.

The church at Boorie Ooglie.  As many times I've been here over the years I didn't know this room even existed.

Talking to the history class about relations between Ukraine and the Ukrainian Diaspora in Canada.

A before and after of the fence at Krasnivka.

Taking a break on our video shoot.  I bought a cheap tent to use for accommodation at one of the village camps in July.  It made a great prop for the video and a decoration for the 1st camp.

Arriving in Kyiv to do the 1st camp.  All of this and 8 people managed to fit into 2 small train compartments.

The 1st camp at Sophia School.