Ukraine Day 1 – Cody Mertz

Thank God for a good nights rest after some long travels! We woke up hungry and ready to try some more interesting Ukrainian food. Breakfast consisted of crepes, boiled eggs, and weird pastries coupled with upbeat sounds of Ukraine’s version of EDM music. We got a small taste of the culture last night and even more on our walk to church. The streets are filled with dogs and a mix of traditional and modern buildings. The wind is refreshing but a bit frosty so we hurried to the church where Kaylee and I were asked to lead some last minute worship music. Everything went smoothly and Andre spoke some good truth to the group and the rest of the guests there. We got the opportunity to meet so many amazing people who showed us kindness and welcoming attitudes.

After church, some Ukrainian friends led us to an underground lunch spot. Now that we are familiar with some of the food, we could identify a couple of the dishes while also getting to try a potato pancake and a special dessert crepe for the first time. Full and excited for our day, we headed to the Zhytomyr Park, which was right on the water. The park was filled with many food vendors, music, and activities such as rock walls and obstacle courses. We got to try some food from the street vendors and then made a quick trip to the local mall to check out Ukrainian brands. I picked up some cool white sneakers and indulged in a McDonalds milkshake with Dylan, Sarah, and Katherine before we headed out.

We met back up with Andre and the others at the Day Center for a pizza dinner. After a tour of the place, the boys went to a sauna and the girls stayed to do hair and nails with some of the Last Bell staff. Talking with the women and making connections was really special and makes me excited for the rest of the week. We all met back up at the hotel and talked about our favorite parts of the day.

Cody Mertz