Wow! What a long day it has been. A day filled with lots of laughter, many memories, and multiple yawns. A total of 28 hours of traveling and we are finally settled into our hotel in Zhytomyr, Ukraine.
Our trip began at the Austin Airport, Friday morning, where we checked multiple bags of supplies that we have collected over the past few weeks to bring to the people in Ukraine. These bags included things such as houseware, food supplies, and most importantly, many articles of clothing and warm coats collected by Mrs. Burns AMAZING 4th grade class! Thank you to Mrs. Burns and her 4th graders!!
After sending our belongings through, we endured 3 different plane rides. Austin to Newark, Newark to Munich, and Munich to Kiev. The group did an amazing job staying together, staying calm, and embracing every aspect of international travel. We spent time in conversation and played cards, while also roaming international terminals and people watching as if it were a sport. It was a rather seamless travel day (minus recovering a bag left on one of the planes…crisis avoided!), and we thank God for that!
Once we arrived in Kiev, we were welcomed by our friends at Last Bell Ministries: Andre, Oksana, Abram and his wife. Andre and Abram showed up in plaid shirts, cowboy hats and cowboy boots. I’d say it was a proper welcome! We quickly loaded the vans and took off towards a favorite restaurant of theirs.
At the restaurant, we experienced many “firsts” of Ukrainian meals. For one, we had “smoked apple juice”. It tastes exactly how it sounds. Oksana and Andre ordered multiple types of Ukrainian dumplings; some with potato filling, some with meat, and the other with cherries and sugar. I believe we ate our body weight in dough. We also got to try a famous Ukrainian soup. I will not even attempt to try to spell out the name of it… but it was delicious! It was a great time of fellowship with the Last Bell staff.
After our wonderful dinner, we loaded the vans and headed out for Zhytomyr. About an hour and a half later we arrived at our hotel, unpacked our bags, and settled in for the night. At this point it has been 34 hours since we have slept (well), so we are all looking forward to a restful night in a bed and not crunched in an airplane seat.
For everyone reading: Thank you for your prayers. Please keep them coming…. they are felt!
Prayer requests would include: health/safety of our team, for open hearts for us as well as the people we will encounter, and for experiences and relationships that will shape us more into an image of Christ. I pray that this trip truly does leave an impact on multiple people, both Ukrainian and American.
Stay tuned this week for more blogs from the students to hear what our days here in Ukraine have looked like. Again, we appreciate YOU! Thanks for making this experience possible.