Ukraine Day 5 – Cooper Sayre

Today, we split into two groups by job preference for the morning. One group woke up earlier and headed to do construction with Restoration Project and the second group woke up about an hour later, ate a quick breakfast, and walked to take the trolley to the shelter.

The other group went to the same house they worked on a couple days ago, but this time they tore up the floors plank by plank. After one floor was gone, they sledge-hammered for what seemed like hours. They said it was a fun way to get exercise but most importantly, to help those people restore that home for someone in need.

Restoration Project demo day 2.

Once at the shelter, my group did crafts with the young moms while a few of us chose to hang out with their kids. We made picture frames with Bible verses in either Ukrainian or English and decorated them with yarn, flowers, ribbon, and drawings. When that was finished, the rest of us went to play with the kids on the second floor of the Shelter to help keep the young children busy so that the moms could rest for a few minutes. This consisted of playing mini soccer and helping the kids not get hurt while they played. It also involved chasing the “escapees” who wanted to play a not-agreed-upon Hide-N-Seek. 

Handmade crafts with moms.

It was a lot of fun and when it was over, we headed to the Day Center for a wonderful lunch of fried chicken, seasoned carrots, and mashed potatoes. There we played cards, ping pong, and other games while we waited for everyone to arrive for English camp. The Ukrainian boys are all amazing at card games and ping-pong, almost always beating us without struggle. We split into two groups for English lessons, one more advanced and one more basic. I was in charge of the more advanced group and we practiced things like simple phrases, colors, the alphabet, and counting by tens. The kids had a great time and earned prizes like candy and pens. 

After this, the groups rejoined and Andrey Pankyeyev, the leader and founder of Last Bell Ministries, gave a powerful message about believing in yourself. He paraphrased the story of Louis Zamperini, the famous runner whose story had been told in the Novel and eventually film of Unbroken. 

English Camp Day 1: after our first lessons!

Following this message, Ukrainians and Americans alike were divided into three teams for a scavenger hunt across Zhytomyr. We were required to work through the language barrier in order to emerge on top and complete embarrassing challenges in the local mall like singing a Christmas Song aloud or clapping for random people as they entered the building.

After this, we returned to the Day Center and loaded up our vans to head back to the hotel. Everyone emerged in great spirits and ready for whatever the next day brings.

-Cooper Sayre