Friday, October 22, 2010

Travel Log to Kharkov

We had a Public Affairs Council meeting in Kharkov, Ukraine, which is a 5.5 hour train ride from Kyiv. We took the day train to see

the countryside, and spent the night in a nice hotel. We spent a little time in downtown Kharkov. It was quite impressive and a very beautiful fall day. Lots and lots of fountains with wedding couples everywhere. One fountain was a little different version of "The Kiss" that we had never seen before with two bronze statues stretching across the fountain.

Another eye catching display in a park was various churches encased in glass. Reminded usof the Temple crystals that have been a tremendous hit over here, at least of the Kyiv temple.

We enjoyed the train ride, but it sure was hot on the way back. They do like it warm inside here, whether at work, on the train or at home. By the way, we had a great Public Affairs training meeting in Kharkov. It lasted about 4 hours and then we had lunch before heading back home. It was a very pleasant weekend.
Bye for now.
Tom & Shauna

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fun Experience in Khmelnitsy

It seems as if everyone wanted an interview at the Blind Humanitarian project in Khmelnitsy, Ukraine. Several reporters from Ukrainian TV and newspapers covered the event. There was one shot of our missionary badge that was shown on the TV news. Two weeks later one of the missionaries serving in Khmelnitsy came up to me in Kyiv during transfers with a big smile on his face. He said everyone in Khmelnitsy saw the news story, and what a wonderful organization the church was for sponsoring it. They recoginized the missionary badge, even the local barber, and compleimented them on the grat example of the Church. Their reception on the street and in homes was greatly improved as a result. We owe our thanks the humanitarian folks who put this together.
Now the Mission President has us going back and speaking in their Branch this Sunday.
T & S

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More of L\viv, Ukraine

L'viv of Ukraine will host some of the Euro2012 soccer games. We did not see the stadium, but the town will be ready. They are working feaverishly to make the road from Kyiv to L'viv drivable. Lots done, but lots more to do. It seemed to me that L'viv was way ahead of Kyiv in preparing for the games. They are totally renovating one stadium in Kyiv, and they will have to hurry to make it in time.

The second picture is of a typical street in L'viv that accommodates a trolly for public transportation. The streets are mainly cobblestone, so not the smoothest for driving or walking. It is a clean, quaint and pretty European city. It has several McDonalds, for what that is worth.

Outside L'viv about 70 km is this castle, which is undergoing restoration. Again, lots has been done, but lots to do. They are strapped for cash to take on all of these projects. The economy has not helped at all.

This also goes for our apartment complex. Barely more than a year old, they are starting to work on finishing the buildings. There is to be a parking garage beneath each apartment building, but the concrete driveway into the parking lot does not exist. Money drives the schedule.
Tom and Shauna

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

L'viv, a Taste of Western Europe in Ukraine

I felt sorry for this dairy cow. She needed to be milked a day or two ago. There were several cows that looked miserable, but they were driving them to, I assume, a milking barn. Just some of the neat cultural in Ukraine.
Ukraine and Poland are co-hosts of Euro2012. One of the cities to host these soccer matches is a City in Western Ukraine called L'viv. It has a very European flavor to it. Fortunately it was not destroyed during World War II, like most of the cities in Ukraine. First by the Nazis and then by the Russians as they drove out the Germans.

L'viv is about 400 miles west of Kyhiv. We went there in a car with a councilor in the Mission Presidency. It was fun to see all the country and listen to his many stories. We stopped at a couple of castles taht dated back to the 16th century. It was great. But next time we will most likely take the overnighte train since you can sleep while travelling for 1q hours.

There are two branches in L'viv, and they have a big beautiful LDS building to meet in. We spent a couple of nights in L'viv and took in some of the sights. We ate at a restaurant called the G9lden Boar. There used to be lots of wild pigs in ukraine. They had one stuffed hanging from the ceiling. It was huge, and looked like a big steer ready for slaughter. At any rate, it was a fun city to visit and we look forward to going back over the next few months.

We went into a couple of Catholic Churches of various backgrounds, which was ineresting. We saw more people in the churches on this Saturday morning than any other churches we have been to in all of Europe. Most of them were older women, but a few men and younger people.

The church has been invited to participate in a religious museum in L'viv. So we will most likely be involved in building a display to go into the museum. There seems to be more religious tolerance in Western Ukraine, so we look forward to help set that up.

It seemed good to spend a little time away from the hustle and bustle of Kyiv. We also enjoy getting out a seeing a little of the country. The soil is so rich and the crops are bountiful. It is fun to see the horses pulling wooden wagons, most single horse drawn but some teams. We see lots of dairy cows, but no beef. We have not even seen any pigs even thought that is a staple in Ukraine. We will keep our eyes out for them.
So long for now.
Tom and Shauna

Life 25 Years After People

A few senior missionary couples trvelled to Chernoble, a former city north of Kyiv about 80 miles. Chernoble is where the nuclear power plant blew up in 1986 and created a lot of rediation contamination throughout Eastern Europe. Belarus was the hardest hit and many peo died due to the readiation exposure. The prevailing winds were westerly after the explosion, and then northward. So even thought Kyiv is only 80 miles away, most of the effects left Kyiv untouched, except that the Dnipro reiver runs through Chrnoble and then down to Kyiv. Needless to say, people are still afraid to swim or eat any fish that come from the river. All missionaries are precluded from eating any local fish, and of course they do not go swimming. After 25 years, people are starting to go back to Chernoble. We took a tour that started out in Chrnoble, and then to the reactor site. There was a city of about 50,000. Over three days after the accident, they were all evacuated with the intent that they could go back within less than a week. Well, that week lasted until today.

N0 one was allowed to return to get any of thier belongings once the magnitude of the accident was understood. So this city remains a ghost town. We drove through the city and took a fer pictures of what nature has done to a city in which man left 25 years ago. There was vegitation growing up everywhere, and animals have come back to run freely and without any interferrence. They built an amusement park that was scheduled to open three days after the accident occurred. Lots of fun palythings that never were used.

This photo shows the group as we were leaving Chrnoble. The world got together to fund a big tomb for the demolished nuclear plant. There were 4 in operation, and two more under construction. All work ceased but they never shut down the last reactor until the year 2000. Most thought that working in the other plants was not too hazzardous, so they continued to produce electricitiy. They are in a three year project to encapsulate the troubled site. With all the nations and organizations involved in deciding what to do, it has taken many years to finally put a plan together. And the plan is to just encapsulate the trouble spot until someone can find a better solution. Quite an interesting mess. The reactor was a Soviet design, built in Ukraine, and operatied by a team from several former Soviet countries. I asked if Belarus was cooperating with them since the reactor is less than 5 miles from thier border and they took most of the damage from the accident. The response was that there was no cooperation nor dialogue with Belarus. Too bad.

An interesgting experience to see the effects of nuclear radiation. But many lessons were learned so that it will hopefully not ever happen again. There are no more reactors of this type in operation. The have all been closed down.

Tom and Shauna