Monday, August 26, 2013


 I love that I'm home to observe the biggest holiday of the year besides New Years, the birthday of Ukraine and the liberation of Kharkov from the Nazis, back to back. I'm not sure which one is a bigger victory in the scale of history. But now Ukraine is officially twenty-two years old!!! That is incredible. To celebrate, we went to watch our team the Metalists play at the stadium downtown. I felt a little like a tourist, returning home to find that everyone had an official league Metalist jersey except, well... me. That's okay. I have a bumper sticker for the Metalists on my car in the USA to keep up the fan pride. Especially now that my brother Steven is a star player on the Metalist league team! In their last game, he scored 4 out of the 6 goals. I was thrilled to watch him play so well and I got to mess around with my action settings on my camera! They didn't turn out that great, so I have to keep working on them. Next week is labor day for the United States, which is a silly holiday to me, the end of the summer. Here, autumn is already full in the air and winter is just a few weeks away. I cannot wait for my favorite season! Happy Birthday, Ukraine. I'm glad the Metalists won to make the day just a little bit sweeter.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Grand Openings

 It's cooling off in Kharkov, the weather slipping towards autumnal temperatures as September creeps closer. Soon the climate will be rounding the corner towards the death of the trees, and winter will bring in the end of the year. Hard to believe so much time has passed since I've been home, since my graduation, since the beginning of the year. So much has changed on me.
Even my city. The latest shopping avenue, Frantsuski Boulevarde, has opened not far from my neighborhood and Steven and Nina have enjoyed taking me there a few times to hang out. I'll have to post some pictures of the magnificent Eiffel Tower replica and Parisian decor on another post. Frankly, I was speechless. It's downright fabulous. Not what I usually think of when I think of my city, Kharkov. But it's been lovely, really, to see the progress towards civility as the city pulls in resources from the West. And today? A big happening in the Kharkov business circle - the grand opening of another McDonald's restaurant at the Frantsuski Boulevarde shopping tower.
Astonishing enough to open another modern dine-out in Kharkov, whose options are limited to eight McDonald's restaurants for oh... a few million people. And no other options - not a single other Western restaurant has ventured into the eastern side of Ukraine. And now there's nine McDonald's here, a slow accomplishment over twenty two years of freedom. I'm not really sure how my neighborhood was selected for the implant - it's a poor sector, just over the bridge from the massive turbo-atom factories - and the almost all of the others are downtown. But I'm not complaining.
So here we are at the grand opening of the newest McDonald's. It was fun to participate. A good break from long weeks of hard work on the church building construction. At the end of summer, it is simply perfect to share a milkshake with my family in Kharkov.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Coming Home

 Maybe it wasn't the longest time that someone has been away from home, but a year and three months was the longest time for me. Roughly four hundred sixty-something days. Not that I keep track of how time moves around me, or anything... And it isn't really even the place that is home, as in the country, the city, the neighborhood district. Ukraine, Kharkov, Frutzendskii Rijon, respectively. It wasn't even about coming back to a place where I grew up, among dirt streets and cheap Russian cigarette smoke and leather European pumps, a life that no one in Oklahoma City could ever understand about me. Mostly, I think, it was coming back to something that was particularly mine. Something no one else could claim, no one else could take away from me. Something about lifestyle, about missions work of my parents in this city, about waking up on the other side of the planet, about my family just over in the next room. It was coming home. And the first thing about coming home was making a place to come to, for my own room had not yet been built in the attic of the church building. So it was a trip to the market of interior design and, voilĂ , the pieces of elegance I'd long since envisioned began to materialize into reality. But the crystal chandelier tipped in rose-gold finish wasn't all that the room required - but much grueling, hands on construction in a cloud of dust and dirt. If you can imagine, it was a welcome change of labor after so long in the restaurant industry. I'm glad I'm never going back to that, Lord willing. All I can say is, it has been good to be quiet for the summer. But now that summer is over, I have so enjoyed to be home.