Victory Day

Posted by Amanda on May 21st, 2008

We celebrated Victory Day here on May 9th.  If I have my facts correct, Victory Day commemorates the victory of World War II.  It is interesting to me, because I always first think of WWII from the perspective of the United States, against Hitler and Japan.  But it was truly a world war, and millions of Russian lives were lost fighting Germany.  In Russia, this is a huge holiday.  In Ukraine it is a little more interesting, as someone pointed out to us.  Many Ukrainians were fighting with the Russians (against Germany), but many others were siding with the Germans, against Russia. 

It was still a holiday, though, and Darryl only worked part of the day.  Kathryn, Amelia, and I took the metro downtown to meet him in the late afternoon and to enjoy the holiday atmosphere.  There were tons of people outside in Independence Square, and along one of the main streets, Khreshatik.  It was closed to traffic, so after a visit to Darryl’s office we strolled down the street on our way to T.G.I.Fridays for dinner.  Yes!  They have a T.G.I.Friday’s here!  I had never been, so it was really great for me. 

Kathryn was really looking forward to seeing Daddy’s work.  What could he possibly do all day long, she probably wonders. 

 

There were lots of things going on outside.  We stopped to listen to some music, and Darryl took a picture of these two Ukrainian girls.  No sitting on the ground, just squatting.  Amelia liked this little dog toy, which several vendors had along the street.  This last picture is the crowd she drew.  No joke, there was no one around until Amelia started playing with the puppy, then all of a sudden a crowd was watching and I saw a couple people even taking a picture of her!

After dinner we walked back to the metro, and Kathryn had fun looking at a fountain.  We even got our first ice cream cones.

Women’s Day Part II

Posted by Amanda on March 11th, 2008

A senior missionary couple lives near us, and attends the local branch.  We saw them last week, and Sister Lackey invited me to come to the branch’s Women’s Day celebration on Saturday.  I avidly agreed.

I met them at the metro stop one away from our stop, and we walked 5 minutes to the building.  That was the first thing that made me want to attend this branch – it is so close!  We walked into the kitchen and I saw little slices of bread with mayonaise (or some kind of spread) and large, orange caviar eggs.  Later, the plate that was served to each woman also included a slice of bread with raw fish on it.  I never planned to eat it (and didn’t have to because I left early to entertain some dinner guests we were having), but I was actually delighted that it was served to me – what culture!

As we waited for things to get started, Sister Lackey showed me around the building and we met the members coming.  So many women – at least 20!  It was so fun to see all the Ukrainian members.  A couple of them spoke very good English, and many others could say a few words.  I tried to talk to some of them, and it was so much fun.  That is the kind of thing I need to really be able to learn Russian. 

Then the program started.  All the men filed in (there were 5 Ukrainians, 4 young missionaries, and one senior missionary).  The branch president talked about how wonderful women are (at least that’s what I was told), and then they sang some songs.  They gave each sister a flower.  Three of the men sang a song that to me seemed to be with different words they had written, appropriate for the occasion.  The women really got into this one – clapping to the beat, laughing, etc.  I couldn’t hardly understand a thing, but it was a lot of fun to watch everything. 

Then the children came out – 4 girls.  Each said a little poem or something, then they all sang a song together.  One girl (about 10 years old) did a belly dance!  I’m not really into that sort of thing, but I could tell she was very good.  Someone had painted pictures of 6 women (members of the branch), and we had to guess who they were.  They had a great time guessing, and again, it was so much fun to see everyone enjoying themselves so much.

 I was sad to have to leave before the activity was over.  I realized the experience I have had so far in Ukraine has not been exactly what I envisioned culturally.  Now that I’ve had a little taste, I want more!

Women’s Day Part I

Posted by Amanda on March 9th, 2008

March 8th is Women’s Day in many countries, including Ukraine.  I didn’t realize what a big holiday it is until Katya told me she had school off both Friday and Monday, and we found out Darryl has work off Monday! 

One might think this holiday is kind of like Mother’s Day, or Valentine’s Day.  But Darryl’s coworker pointed out that it is actually much more.  This coworker said besides his mother and wife, he needs to recognize sisters, aunts, female cousins, coworkers, basically any woman that you know on this holiday. 

I went outside shopping on Friday and there was such a festive mood at the market.  I had a great time just walking around.  Usually there are people selling flowers right at the metro entrance.  Well, this day (and for the rest of the weekend) there many times more people selling flowers.  They lined the walkway the whole way from the metro to the end of the market.  Men were lined up buying flowers!  And everyone was buying cakes.  It was just so fun to watch.

It seems to me that holidays are such a big deal here.  Not that they aren’t back home, but it is different.  There isn’t as much buildup (at least that I can see – so I think that means less commercialization).  But there is such a feeling of celebration on the holiday, and it is really a big deal. 

Former Red Army Day and Marriage Therapy

Posted by Amanda on February 24th, 2008

February 23rd was Former Red Army Day, also known as Men’s Day in Ukraine.  We didn’t celebrate Men’s Day per se, but we did have a great Friday evening.  We went with the two other couples in our branch, and two senior missionary couples to another senior missionary couple’s apartment for a nice dinner and presentation by Sister Lee (one of the senior sister missionaries) on marriage.  She was a part time marriage therapist for 30 years, so we joked that we were going to marriage therapy.

What a treat!  First, a couple of ILP girls came to babysit Kathryn and Amelia.  This is a treat for Kathryn because she gets lots of attention.  Amelia doesn’t like her mommy to leave, but she went to bed shortly after I left, so hopefully it wasn’t too bad for her or the babysitters.  It is a treat for Darryl and me because we can go somewhere ourselves, and the babysitters even did the dishes!  The delicious meal was a real treat.  A roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, a really yummy salad.   

The presentation was an even better treat.  She said so many wonderful things, and shared some of her experiences.  The most interesting thing to me was this:  She said when we think of our most important relationship, we always say “family”.  But truly the most important relationship is marriage.  You can get to the Celestial Kingdom without your children, but not without your spouse.

The last treat (besides the cookies and candy) was being with the senior missionary couples.  Both Darryl and I experienced this treat on our missions, but we are rediscovering the wisdom and wonderfulness of senior missionaries.  We loved hearing about their families, their experiences, etc.  One of the newer couples lives very near to us – he is the doctor for the Eastern European Area besides Russia.  Two of the senior missionaries had served together in Germany many years ago!  It was great to associate with them.  We rode the metro home with some of them, and Darryl and I both thought how cool and tough they were!