UKRAINE 2010

Well..my dear Ukraine..where do I begin? I’ve been back for 3 days and am finally adjusting to the 8 hour time difference so if this post sounds kind-of all over the place, excuse my frazzled brain. I will try my hardest to describe my trip day by day.

Pre-trip:

We all waited anxiously at the church till the prayers and mini Bible study was over. The day we have been waiting on for over a year was finally here. The team was filled with excitement and eagerness to finally embark on the journey we had trained for. After sappy goodbyes and maaany “love you’s”, we left for Houston! The flight from Houston to Amsterdam was better than I could ever imagine. Unlike my last Ukraine trip, I sat by the BEST mother and daughter ever! They were soo funny and inviting. The mother called me her daughter the entire time..and she shared her red and blue gummy worms with me:) The plane we flew on was a double decker so let’s just say it was HUGE. Which is great because there is almost zero turbulence. Nine hours later, our flight arrives in Amsterdam. There was a five hour overlay so we had plenty of time to stretch our legs and buy overpriced souvenirs and coffee. Just as I began to become comfortable with solid ground, we left for our 2 and a half hour flight to Kiev. I don’t even remember buckling my seatbelt..I was OUT as soon as I sat down until I felt the wheels nail the pavement. Let me just say that is such a beautiful feeling. I never understand why people do not break out in an uproar for safe travel. Each time I feel those wheels on the pavement I want to break out in cheers and chants…but I always get those strange looks as if they’re saying ” Which parent lost their crazy child!?”

First day in Kiev:

Lena, the wife of the camp leader, warned us ” If you wake up at 5 a.m. tomorrow.. GO BACK TO BED!” We were all thinking that woman is nuts why in the world would we wake up that early ESPECIALLY after 24 hours (with time change) of traveling! …So 5 a.m. came around and guess who was WIDE AWAKE..That’s right, ME! My whole room was wide awake. We couldn’t help but laugh at how bizarre this was. Thanks to the time change our bodies were ready to get up.

After a few hours of orientation and prep, we set off to tour the city.

I can never take normal pictures, haha. They always turn out so awkward.

The pictures of the locks are from the Lock Bridge. The tradition in Kiev is for newlywed couple to put a lock on the bridge. The bigger the lock the better the relationship. Some of the locks were massive and some of them were tee-tiny! It is so beautiful to see all of the brightly decorated locks.

First day of camp:

This is always an exciting day for us. We get to great the campers with crazy music and dancing. A group of us would wait at the bus stop for the students to come and when they arrived we greeted them with a huge Louisiana “HEY YALLLL” and from that point on we all fell in love. They accepted us with open arms.

They are all soo amazing at soccer. Nike donated several soccer balls and basketballs. As soon those balls were pumped the games were on. I was instructed to take some action shots for Nike, showing them how there balls were put to use. Well I thought that standing behind the goal trying to get shots of the ball getting kicked in the goal would be a great idea! I told one Ukrainian boy to kick the ball in the goal as hard as he could..MISTAKE. He kicked it but it went right under the net and slapped this photographer in the thigh. Everyone gasped, apparently they thought American girls were fragile. Luckily my camera did not get smoked, but 30 minutes later I looked down and saw a niiice soccer ball print right above my knee. They thought that was just hilarious.

Nathan and I made an awesome photo team. I made the mistake of letting him shoot with my Big Daddy camera..from that point on every hour I heard “Hey Kristen can I take a picture?!!?” So I wanted to give him his props on the two picture below haha..Thanks naynay

This was my wonderful English class. They were SO smart and artistic. When I asked them what they wanted to be in 10 years, most of them said musicians, artists, photographers, actors, and one girl said a political advocate:) Which is also sooo cool!! They asked me what I liked to do and of course I said photography! I leaped to my backpack and pulled out my Big Daddy and all of their eyes lit-up and the room was filled with oooooo’s. From that point on, I knew we would all click quite nicely.

This montage of images was taken by Nate. And YES Christian punched my head in the last image it was quite hilarious.

That outfit was DEFINITELY a hit with the campers and staff. Showin’ Ukraine some love:)

Oh us girls LOVE our toms…and LSU:)

Oh Luda, such a beautiful girl! As soon as I found out her name was Luda I shared with her that there was a rapper in America named Ludacris. I also told her that it means crazy. From then on I called her Ludacris she loved it!

These are some of the fantastic campers I was able to share my time with. They were all so loving to us. The boy in the third picture was from my English class 2 years ago! The moment we saw each other was outof a slow motion commercial with two people running towards each other in a field. No lie. I yelled “IIIIGOR!!” and he returned with “KREEEEESTEN!!” and we hugged. On the last day he gave me that bracelet. It says “you have a piece of my heart”.

I love the coloring on this gate. It is SO rich. This was from the last day in Kiev. We spent the entire day in Kiev shopping and touring the city.

The next few pictures were shot at my waist. Pictures were not allowed in the church, in fact, if someone caught you the police could arrest you.. but knowing me..that wouldn’t stop shots from being taken. Don’t be fooled by this gorgeous architecture. That church is dead. Spiritually there in nothing in that church. As soon as we walked in, we all felt the heaviness of the atmosphere in there. A person would buy a candle and light it hoping the “prayers” (smoke) would reach heaven. It was quite heart-breaking.

About 180 students out of 210 were saved on the night the Gospel was presented. It was presented so simply, no emotional music or lighting. It was very powerful to watch almost the entire camp want to know Christ and have his Spirit in their hearts.

Every mission trip is a different experience. My first Ukraine trip was full of excitement and new adventures. Going to it a second time was a lot more comfortable and peaceful. I felt as if I was at home. Nothing came off as being out of the country, besides the language barrier of course. God was there and waiting for us. He blasted all of our expectations out of the water. I was so sad to leave but it was so wonderful to be home. It’s amazing how spoiled Americans our. We thought we were gonna die without being able to have AC and ice in our drinks. Simple things like that are taken advantage of here.

The box I had God in concerning this trip was completely shattered.

If you have any questions about Ukraine or my trip please leave a comment!

Thaaaank you

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