Sunday, May 3, 2009

5 Years Ago I Was in Ukraine...


Im in a very nostalgic mood and Scott is at the library studying SOOO...I will blog. It will be a very long post, so beware...
At this time 5 years ago, I boarded a plane to Kiev, Ukraine to live for 6 weeks! I know, crazy eh? I was in the health program at BYU and I signed up to go help change the world out there (or at least spread the word about the dangers of tobacco). I did not speak any Russian, Ukranian, OR Ukrussion (a mixture of the two), but thank goodness for all the RM's in our group of 20 that did. Above is home sweet home for the next 5 weeks. We lived on the 5th floor and yes, it almost WAS as scary as it looks. The elevator smelled of urine and mold, was rickety and small. The halls were dimly lit with cracked tile everywhere. It's really like what you would see in the movies...a couple of times I really thought someone would be waiting for me on the other side of the dark hall when I got off the elevator.

Awww...so cute right? The beloved puppies that lived with us that stayed cute for only 5 minutes. They became a constant terror in my life! Picking out the dog hair in our food became a daily ritual, Im not even gonna tell you what our clothes looked like, one "puppy" snuck right under my foot one day, and let's not forget the pooh/pee that was so frequently found on the kitchen floor. I think this experience is what turned me off completely to indoor pets (no offense anyone). The little girl was my host sister who was cute at first, but things got weird with her and she soon became the little "sister" from hell. The lady and boy were visitors one night. I think the boy loved his life.

My favorite building that we got to walk past everyday. I bought a water color of it at the end of my trip.

Some of the group. We got to attend the first stake conference held in all of the former Soviet Union. It was the coolest experience. Elder Nelson and Callister were there and promised that there would be temples...but there was still a lot of work to be done.

We visited some Catacombs and got to see mummified Monks. All the girls had to cover their heads because it was disrespectful to have an uncovered heads in the sight of God. Here my roommie, Nicki and I decided to make fools of ourselves. The Monks believed that they should live life as uncomfortable as possible. To truly sacrifice, one must live a life of pain. We were on a hill, and thought it would be funny to act like we were in total discomfort, but the people behind us didn't think we were so funny!

Awww...the crazy host mom. At first I thought I was just being ultra sensitive to her not really taking care of us, or having scantily prepared meals (mind you, she was paid very well to be a hostess and that was her job to take really good care of us) or none at all, but the guys in our group that served in Ukraine pretty much affirmed what we already thought...that she was just plain crazy. She would boil these nasty chicken heads, and give them to her "puppies" to shred, BUT would use the broth to make us soup. When I figured that out one day, I stopped eating dead in my tracks and just said I w as full. I continued letting my poor roommie eat the soup and would laugh quietly as she gulped it down. She was gonna kill me when I disclosed to her my little discovery! Haha...I still laugh about it.

Cherynobyl. I can't remember the WHOLE story in it's entirety, but what I do remember is this. Some men were working in this highly radioactive plant and were doing some testing (which the tour guide said was very illegal and dangerous) when one of the generators exploded sending highly radioactive fallout in the surrounding areas. It was 400 times the amount of fallout at Hiroshima. So you can see how deadly and dangerous it was. Since we were from the US and a health group, we were given special permission to tour the plant and the city which was hit the hardest. What was sad is that it was kept quiet at the time of the explosion. There was a new carnival that was just built and people were out and about riding the Ferris wheel, pick nicking, riding the bumper cars, not knowing they were getting exposed to deadly radiation. Once the severity was realized, EVERYONE, except the old timers who wanted to die where they lived, were evacuated, never to return again. It was crazy being in the empty city, seeing only overgrowth and empty buildings. Kinda scary. We had to go through a radioactive detector after the tour to make sure we weren't over the limit (whatever that means). I hope my unborn children don't come out with deformities because of that tour...

We got to go on city tours (we really played more than worked) and this was to Lyviv. Absolutely beautiful, but cold, cold. I made the mistake of only bringing one jacket that happened to not be waterproof. No where would you find indoor heating so I was always freezing.

At the top of the Carpathian Mountains. Gorgeous, but the city tour that followed was torture for me. Not only was I hungry, I was FREEZING. So, needless to say, I turned into a raunch really fast and was not kind to the tour guide (only meaning I ignored her and rolled my eyes when she wanted to take us one more place before eating).

We got to "cruise" down the Dniper River and into the Black Sea. It was a tiny boat, not much to do. But we managed to have fun.
The night we entered the Black Sea was "Pirate Night" We decided to go all out for the "show." The old German people were amused by our spontaneity and energy.



Sunbathing at the "non" pool.

I still tried to get a morning jog in. We lived right by a "lake" that was probably 3/4 of a mile around the whole thing. It started sprinkling and I thought I could finish my rounds, when it started down pouring!

We called this statue "Big Mamma" I can't remember the significance behind her

We got to listen to this awesome Black Sea Choir and this HUGE man (around 6'7") tried to get me to come on stage to kiss him during the show. He was singing to me in Russian. I was too embarrassed and wouldnt. SO he came and found me after the show. Went to kiss my lips and I turned my cheek.

Sweet hat that I decided not to get cause I would never wear.

Babi Yar Massacre. An estimated 200,000 people were gunned down at this ravine in 1941, mostly of Jewish descent. The Nazi's told the Jews to pack their bags and if they did not do as they said, they would be shot. So, they marched all of these Jewish people down this long road to a huge ravine. The most courageous thing ever is there were villagers who knew what was going to happen and they were calling for the Jewish Mother's to let go of their children and have them run to the villagers. The brave Jewish mothers let their children escape to be raised by these villagers, while the rest were lined up at a ravine and gunned down. Their belongings were then sorted out and given to the Nazis.

Our small kitchen for 5 weeks

For the last 5 days of our trip, we traveled to Poland and Prague. Here I am in Krakow Poland. It was pretty nasty. We bought seeds to put in our hands and the flying rats had no fear and would land in our hands to eat out of them. I felt pretty gross after that event. But I LOVED Poland!

Probably a fairly dangerous outing to take in an area where people drive like mad mans, but we had an absolute blast riding bikes around Poland!

Prague...an awesome place

Picture is out of order. While in Poland, we visited Auschwitz, the deadliest concentration camp for the Jews during World War II. I could be wrong on my numbers, but I believe that 3 million Jews (among others, Traders, spies, etc) were gassed, starved to death, shot, etc. It was a very somber place. Too hard to describe the feelings we experienced.


The last day of Prague and our trip...let's end it with a nice big blob of bird poop in my nice, clean hair.
I had an amazing experience. I don't expect many to have read this whole post. It was more for me, to re live a little my time and learning experience in Ukraine.

17 comments:

emily said...

I've ALWAYS wanted to go to Prague. I feel like the thing I missed out on by getting married young was traveling. Hopefully Dave and I get to do something like this some day. What a fun post!

Jennifer Lyn said...

So fun! I had no idea that you did that. I think I was on my mission when you went. Funny with the bird poop, the same thing happened to me in Paris...sick!

Eric and Kassi said...

Wow what a trooper you were. I think I would starve over there because I wouldn't eat anything.

Emily said...

Don't worry, I'm the same way on indoor pets. Just not having any of it. No way.

Cynthia said...

I always LOVE your stories!!! They're GREAT and It's fun to SEE the places you experienced!!!

Vivian said...

You are an adventureous woman. Loved the pictures. Priceless experiences. But the kitchen: was that an Easy Bake oven?

Lindsay said...

Vivian...That oven was Horrible. The whole kitchen was! I think we used it once the whole 5 weeks.

J Fo said...

What an amazing experience! Great pictures. I really liked the furry hat. I think you should have gotten it!

Boquinha said...

What a fun post. Visiting overseas is so amazing--everyone should experience it (I wish it were cheaper!). :P

You got to visit some really neat places! Auschwitz . . . wow.

I used to live in buildings like that one in the very first picture--they're everywhere!

And that kitchen? It's my size!!

Greg and Abbey said...

Wow! What an amazing experience! I wish I could go now! I have such an itching to go to Europe lately!. Anyway, congrats on the girl!!! Isn't Lisa going to have a girl too? Guess what! So are we! :) We just found out last Friday! Yehaww. The past two weeks I have popped out so much! Isn't crazy how it come on so fast? The gap has great maternity shorts and capris. I bought some and they are pretty much all I wear cause they are way more cumphy than normal waisted clothes!

Lindsay said...

Abbey! That is sooo awesome! Im still not showing a TON, but slowly starting to pop...I bought a stretchy skirt at Target yesterday that is super comfortable and have been using the good ole' rubberbands to hold the pants together! When are you guys having little girl Phillips again? Have you thought of any names yet?

JonandLo said...

i remember that summer...couldn't wait till you got back from your trip! You've got some great stories that will be fond memories for years to come! And your hair was so sassy..love it!

Nate B. said...

That was fun to relive some memories of that trip. I always liked your stories about the dogs and crazy host family ... I guess I should have been more concerned and tried to help. Sorry about that. :) At least I got to be there when you got pooped on in Prague and pretend like I was helping. Thanks for sharing!

Tami said...

Has it really been 5 years? You came home to Sacramento after your trip- it doesn't seem like that long ago. Dan's class is on a humanitarian trip there (ukraine) right now, but he couldn't pull the time off work or away from the family. Sounds like an adventure! Fun post!

Mark said...

It's so funny how all the sudden the last couple pictures are beautiful. Ukraine is such a gray, dark place. We have many pictures similiar around our house.

You showed me all your pictures and adventures while Julie and Brian were getting ready for there wedding reception at your house. Pete and I were heading back to Michigan for our second year. Lots has happened since then. HUH?

Greg and Abbey said...

Howdy girl,
I will have to look into the Target (Targe') skirts. All my pants still fit and I wear them sometimes, but it's the sitting down that makes it quite uncumphy. I hate when the waist digs into my tum. Do you feel her moving a lot? It's the greatest! :) The due date is Oct 10th and we are planning on naming her Kathryn and calling her Kate! We love those names and kinda are already calling her that sometimes. :) I really liked your choices of Emma and Lucy. I was thinking Lucy would be such cute middle name but we are having a really hard time coming up with a middle name...not like we even need to decide one now or anything but it's fun to think about. When are you due?

katie said...

you are the funniest! i enjoyed the long blog. sorry about that bird poop 5 years ago. i'm sure that part of your hair has grown out and been cut off. it will in no way effect your growing baby :)