Wednesday, April 9, 2008
I arrived in Kiev last Friday night after a marathon of traveling that started at 4 am that morning. I was met at the airport (about 2 hours after my originally scheduled arrival) by a friend from Smithville, MS- now an IMB Missionary here in Kiev. Darrel and his wife and three precious daughters have only been here a few months since transferring from Belarus late last year. They were there for about 5 years so he's pretty fluent with his Russian language.
It was a treat to have someone pick me up at the airport. Had it not worked out that way, this would have potentially been my most expensive stay from the get-go. Just getting to a decent hotel from the airport would have been plenty!!
Since then they have taken wonderful care of me. Fortunately I don't have much of an agenda so I can just tag along with him everyday. And also fortunate for me, he hasn't had a whole lot to do since his ministry is still in it's early stages. We've talked a lot about what it might look like for me to work here. He has introduced me to as many of the other missionaries as he can; I even met some from Odessa yesterday.
I've forced the oldest daughter to share a room with her two little sisters all week, I've eaten their food, watched their tv and mooched their wireless internet. If that wasn't enough hospitality extended on their part- Darrel has also taken me to the doctor two times this week with another trip coming up tomorrow.
I finally completed my application for service with the International Mission Board; the application is complete and I will be invited to the Missionary Candidate Screening Conference in July PENDING completion of my medical file. Their insurance company requires some follow-up regarding my high cholesterol found earlier this year and some additional information about my history with kidney stones. Thus the visits to the doctor. So far, I've had 2 x-rays, Ultrasound, Lipid Profile and Urinalysis- all for under $500.00. I would guess the same work at home would be about $10,000.00. (I'm not ready for socialized medicine back home, but something is broken and needs to be fixed [and I doubt Hillary is the one that can fix it btw]).
So, it looks like the cholesterol is down a little bit; I don't know yet if it's enough to satisfy the bean counters. And it looks like I might have 3 small stones but not big enough to warrant a procedure and the doctor thinks I'm good to go. I'll have to wait and see what the insurance people say.
I've been able to walk all over some parts of Kiev. It's a city of maybe 8 million or more people. It's more difficult for me to get around in than in most other places I've been too. It's getting more and more westernized, but not to the point where all the transportation options are in English and easy to follow. It can be daunting to get around but doing so on public transportation is probably doable. Prices are sort of high in comparison to a lot of places I've been.
There may be as many as 50 universities, colleges and schools here...I'm not sure though. One guy suggested a nearby University had 50,000 students which is completely believable. There have been several times here when we were just covered up with students. But it's been much more difficult to have meaningful conversations with them. It reiterates one of the burdens of being a lone-ranger in ministry. Unless you're connected with a church (or in the process of starting one), then you don't have a "body" to connect people with if/when you get to that point in a conversation. I want to promote the Passion Conference here in May, but I don't have any material to do so and it would be so much more effective if local churches and ministries were doing that. People that are invited to the conference need to be able to associate it with a local group for follow-up purposes.
I really haven't met missionaries from any other agencies although I tried to get in touch with a Campus Crusade guy. I'm sure there are LOTS of people working here from all sorts of agencies and churches but I get the impression that it's such a big place in comparison to Peja in Kosova that it's really hard for them to get together. There probably needs to be something like a "Passion" in which a lot of these ministries can rally to. I liked it better where all these guys and gals knew one another and were working together for the Kingdom. Here, I feel like there's a lot of turfism and not so much unity in the greater body.
I don't want to leave Kiev until I know for certain that my medical file is complete. Hopefully by Friday. Then I'm headed to Lugansk by overnight train to spend a few days with another missionary, then to Odessa via overnight train where I'll catch a flight to Timisoara, Romania and I'll be there for at least a couple of weeks. I'm also hoping to catch up with one of the guys and maybe a couple students from when I was in Odessa in 2004.