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. 

Visits from Will & Sophie

Posted by Amanda on February 5th, 2008

A few weeks ago Darryl got an email from someone he served with in Russia.  Incidentally, Will (the guy), lives in Seattle with his wife, and we have been to their house.  Well, turns out they were in Ukraine, and coming to Kyiv!  We met them to go to church, and then had them over for dinner.  It just seemed so ironic that we had dinner with them over a year ago in Seattle, and now the next time we see them we are all in Ukraine.

Will’s wife, Sophie, is from Ukraine originally.  She is working on a PhD at University of Washington and has been to three different countries doing research.  She was in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and now Ukraine.  Will came for a few days to visit.  Sophie has been travelling for months.  We were able to see her the next two Sundays at church, and had her over for dinner once more. 

Last week she brought a CD with pictures she has taken.  She also commented on them and told us some of her experiences.  It was extremely interesting and I wish I had taken notes on some of the things she said.  I think most of her time was in Tajikistan, and that is what she was telling us about.  It sounds like a very interesting place, and frankly I haven’t ever really thought about that country before.  It was part of the USSR, but the people were able to retain a lot of Muslim culture.  She showed pictures of men dressed in Western clothing – pants and a t-shirt.  Women were always dressed in what you would see Muslim women wearing, heads covered, etc.  Sophie was interested in (and it pertained to her research) the treatment of women.  Also she said the current president of Tajikistan has close ties to Russia and Putin, and school children have started to wear Russian type uniforms to school.  It is the kind Sophie wore to school when she was a child in Ukraine, however Sophie said for the Tajikistan culture, it was inappropriate for the girls (the skirts, I think).  She had pictures of the markets there, that resembled what we see here.  However, there were rows and rows of stalls/kiosks with silk material and all sorts of material that we don’t see here.  All the women in dresses.

It just made me think of how many places there are in the world, and how many people and how little I really know.  That is perhaps my favorite thing about going to other countries.  I realize how much is really out there and see a glimpse of the diversity of Heavenly Father’s children.