The first truly Ukrainian thing we experienced after stepping off the plane was traffic. Even so, it is worth mentioning what we learned from Pastor Danny Foote as we were waiting to straighten out a slight situation we had with the four large boxes of clothes we had taken for Love Cradle. As we watched cars pass endlessly in front of the airport, we noticed a great deal of commotion: every police car we saw had its lights on and a few of them had sirens or loudspeakers blaring. Alarmed that perhaps the airport was currently under attack (ok, not really), Ashlee politely inquired what could possibly be the matter, and Danny explained that as part of the current regime’s fight against government corruption, the entire police force of Kiev recently had been more or less replaced overnight by all new members, and these now going around with their lights flashing constantly is a show of a fresh commitment to an honest police force and eventually, hopefully, honest leadership. We pray that such a trend would continue.
So, traffic. It is an hour-plus drive from bustling Kiev to humble Kaharlyk, and i spent a good portion of that trying to keep calm as our driver, one Danny Foote, weaved and whipped across the road, his tiny Skoda hatchback like a mouse among stampeding hippopotamuses. That is only a slight exaggeration, though the discombobulation our trip across the sea had bestowed on us probably clouded the more mundane aspects of our first Ukrainian car ride. All i could think about were the YouTube videos i had seen of Ukrainian traffic incidents, the freshest of these now building before my eyes as each pass felt tighter and more daring than the one before.
Being in such a state of mind, i confess i do not recall most of what we talked about on the way, though i do remember we talked at some length about Danny’s condition, called adrenal fatigue, and the effect it has had on him. Due to this debilitating condition, he is actually leaving the country, which leaves a void that only God will be able to fill. We certainly were able to see in our short time at Calvary Chapel Kaharlyk how perfectly Danny and Wayne Zschech–the other pastor–balanced each other in their ministry, and we are compelled to ask everyone to please be praying for this small church where God has done big things. This is a time of major change for them, and they will all need the grace and peace of God to carry them through it.
We arrived in Kaharlyk without incident, and went to dinner with Danny, his wife Annaliese, and Wayne. We sampled a few delightful Ukrainian dishes that we will never remember the names of, got to know each other a little bit, and then Ashlee, Emersen, and i went to bed around 8pm. We slept in a basement room with no windows, and when we finally woke up, we discovered that it was 3pm the following day (Wayne claimed that we broke the record). Thus began our Ukrainian adventure, and somehow the pattern of sleep was set in a most disagreeable way, but that will come up again and again as we relate more of our experiences in the incredible far off land that is Ukraine.