Thursday, May 22, 2008

Off to Bila Tserkva - Day 4

Bila Tserkva Central Baptist Church

Sanctuary of the Bila Tserkva Central Baptist Church

Yours truly in a shelter at the arboretum.
Our choir singing in the colonnade in the arboretum.

Lunch at the church

Ina and Jenna

Jenna and yours truly



Silhouette on the door with the tub and sink

Silhouette of a little boy

Kitchen sink

Following breakfast this morning, we checked out of Hotel Rus, boarded the bus, and headed southwest of Kiev for Bila Tserkva. This is a city of about 200,000 people, 75 miles southwest of Kiev. We pulled into the city about 12:30. The pastor of the church met us on the outskirts of the city. He led the way to an arboretum where we stopped and walked around for about 2 hours. This was an unexpected treat. The weather the entire time we were on the mission trip was just beautiful! It never rained. The skies were blue with occasional puffy clouds - the temps were somewhere in the low 70's.

In the arboretum we saw flowering trees, lilacs, birds, ponds, swans, and a few shelters. In one shelter (it resembled a Roman colonnade) the choir sang one of our favorite anthems, Adoration. It was just beautiful. There were a few people sitting in benches nearby. They sat quietly listening to us.
Next we boarded the bus and drove to the Central Baptist Church to eat the lunch the church women had prepared for us. We were served borscht (a soup with a beet juice base and shredded cabbage and shredded carrots). It as actually very good. They also served macaroni and fried chicken patties, tea and cookies. Following lunch, we drove to the House of Organ and Chamber Music in Bila Tserkva and gave our first official concert. The people loved our music and clapped and clapped. All age groups were represented. I was amazed at the young people who sat so still and listened to every song. Some of them looked to be three years old! The people of Ukraine really love and respect good music.
After the concert, we boarded our bus and returned to the Central Baptist Church and had a light supper, also prepared by the church women, and then took our places in the church sanctuary for our concert there. I recognized a few people who had come to the afternoon concert. The congregation never clapped at the church concerts. At the conclusion of all of our concerts, the spouses of some of our choir members who had come along on the trip to help with ushering, passed out free DVD copies of the Jesus film to each of the family units. One of our choir members bought and donated 3,000 copies of this film for this purpose. They were produced in the Ukrainian language.

Following the concert, the choir was assigned a home for our evening stay. Gayle and I were assigned to Natasha. Since she had to stay at the church to help do dishes and clean-up from supper, her adult son and daughter - and granddaughter - drove us to Natasha's apartment. Natasha is a widow who I would guess was in her 60's (just a guess). Her apartment building was old and looked to have been built by the communists. We went to her floor in a small elevator that may have had a 2-watt light bulb in it. I think she lived on 7th floor. There was graffiti on the walls - both in the elevator and the apartment hallway. Her efficiency apartment was very clean, but compact.
Her daughter, Ina, and grand-daughter, Jenna, got busy turning her couch into a double bed. Jenna pulled out a frame from under the L-shaped sofa and promptly took off the back cushions to form the mattress over the frame. Then together they covered the base with freshly ironed linens and tucked blankets into 2 duvet covers. They wouldn't allow me to help them. Ina put the Jesus film into the DVD player and started to play it.
Thankfully, Jenna and Ina spoke a little English. I asked Jenna if I could use the restroom. She shook her head and pointed toward the hallway. But when I looked into the room which I thought was the bathroom, I saw only a sink and a tub. Oh no, don't tell me they have an outhouse???? But in the same hallway I discovered another door with a silhouette of a little boy peeing into a pot. Inside that door was the toilet! The toilet seat was made of pink plastic and was held together in a couple of places with tape.
Once our bed was made, Ina and Jenna left. Natasha wasn't home yet, so Gayle and I made our way around the small apartment and took photos in all the rooms. By the time she got home, we were in bed with the lights out. We stayed quiet so that Natasha could get some much needed rest. We knew we could talk to her in the morning. Natasha slept in a twin bed in the kitchen.

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