Sunday, August 26, 2007


We have been here for a week. It was wonderful to connect with our friends at the Kutuzovka church, the Mennonite Centre, and the community. Syllable by syllable our understanding of the Russian language is emerging. But the problem is that the syllables come fast, they are many, and our hearing is not precise, and our understanding weaker. Not a good combination.

One of the things that all North American Directors go through is that when they first arrive there is a pent-up list of issues to deal with. They all are very important, and people want responses “baystray” (right now)!

One of our biggest frustrations has little to do with Ukraine and everything to do with technology. Our internet has been virtually non-existent during the week. The problem is that it works intermittently. One of the few things Ben remembers from his early Psych courses is that variable reinforcement is a powerful incentive to keep you hoping. The internet wizards have this down to a fine science—some days, after trying for 2 hours we can send one email, and just when we are ready to call for fire from heaven to burn up every computer in this land lo and behold the computer says, “sent”! Now we know that success breeds success and therefore we try to replicate the same situation we had when we sent the last message—same body position, same thought pattern, same way of touching the keyboard, anything to get the next message sent.

The weather is of no help in cooling us down during our internet trials. Now, we have not been to hell but we suspect that the weather here is hotter. Yesterday at 6:00 p.m. our thermometer said 42 degrees. Apparently it was hotter in June. But the weather did not restrain last night’s Independence Day celebrations at the Zentralschule. After a few “blah-blah” type speeches from the local authorities we got down to a good programme of contrast. Early on we had 8 Ukrainian men of ample voice, breadth, and ability vigorously worked their way through some folk songs. This was followed by 4 young willowy, energetic Ukrainian children going through some amazing gymnastic routines. The men could sing octaves—these girls could jump them. We have funded some of the gymnasts’ equipment and probably their outfits.

Our son Joel and his wife Tracy also arrived yesterday to join us for a few days before going off to Kyiv. One of the first things Tracy asked was whether we had laundry facilities—they have been traveling in Romania for well over a week. Of course we have a fine German-made machine in our apartment. It works very well, however the only problem is that it requires water! And for the last several days the “gods” of the internet and water have decided to take a summer holiday. It gives a whole new meaning to a “long weekend.” Due to the internet and blog problems we haven't got our blogsite going properly. Hopefully soon.

Ben and Linda