Sunday, December 31, 2006

O Christmas Tree

Here is another photo from Freedom Square. It's hard to believe Ukrainians have only been celebrating Christmas for 14 years now. Before 1992, Christmas had been illegal for 75 years in Ukraine. No one was allowed to publicly celebrate. Today it's a different story. Decorations and celebrations are in full force. Although the snow is scarce and the grass is still green, it's easy to feel the "Christmas Spirit" with all the brightly colored decorations.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas - take two!

As our Christmas celebrations were coming to a close things were just gearing up in Ukraine. Although some individuals may celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December, the nation as a whole celebrates on the 7th of January. This is in accordance to the Russian Orthodox Tradition which still adheres to the old Julian calendar. So here is a snapshot of a wonderfully decorated downtown Kiev...if you look really close you'll see about a dozen Santa Clauses across the street mingling with the crowd :)

Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas Branch Anyone?

We finally did see live Christmas trees being sold on the streets of Kiev. They started selling them a little later than we're used to but I think having a tree is relatively new here so that may explain the late starting date. The really "odd" thing that I noticed (in my humble North American worldview) is that they often just sell the branches. So after work you can pick up a nice "Christmas Branch" to bring home and decorate with the kids. Perhaps I am merely used to the SUPER-SIZR ME mentality of the West. We need a monstrous tree so we can stuff as many presents as we possibly can under it...but I digress.

If there is one thing I've learned about living in Kiev it's, "if people will buy it, there's someone selling it on the street!"

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Mother Motherland

A beautiful photo with Mother Motherland looming on the horizon. This is a very large statue erected in Kiev by Russia to commemorate their victory in the "Great Patriotic War" (WWII). Ukraine was not the only recipient of Russia's "generosity", Motherland statues were placed in other various countries of the former Soviet Union. This specific statue is 102 meters tall and weighs in at a whopping 1/2 million kilos! That's one big momma :)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Feed the Birds

A candid of a local showing compassion for the bird population by tossing down some seed. Well, I guess depending on your view of pigeons this could be seen as perpetuating the problem!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A White Christmas!!!

Well, you'll never guess what happened yesterday. After many weeks of hoping and praying it finally came...snow! We woke up Christmas morning to gentle flakes gracefully falling from the Heavens; just enough to create a nice white layer on everything. It's amazing what a difference a dusting of white snow can make to your surroundings. So thank you Lord, we no longer have to just dream of a white Christmas :)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Just A Tease

No - this isn't Christmas snow; it's actually a picture we took at the beginning of November. The first and only snowfall we've had since we've been in Ukraine. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a winter freak I just really want a white Christmas. Time is running out...I guess we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Salad Anyone?

This is our friend Kay posing with her salad. A few weeks ago we went out to lunch at this Ukrainian "cafeteria styled" restaurant. As you go through the line you can pick from a variety of dishes that are on display. Since we can't understand most of what we read this was a treat because at least we could see what we were going to buy. Kay ventured out and bought this mystery salad, which we thought consisted of mushrooms and sour cream, etc. Once we got back to the table she took a big 'ol mouthful and through clenched teeth exclaimed, "It's liver!" That's right; nothing says good eatin' like a nice cold Liver Salad!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Remembering the Children

Children were among the largest number of lives massacred.

The Children's Memorial is one of three monuments at Babi Yar. It sadly represents the majority of those slaughtered here during WW II.

Three bronze colored figures sit here replicating the many discarded toys of those killed. Most of the people brought here were told lies about being relocated so they had their few belongings with them; many children had toys in hand. The chunk missing from the marble base represents that through the death of these children a part of us has been lost that can never be replaced.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I thought since today is officially the first day of winter it would cheer me up to post this old picture from the end of summer. These fountains line the canal that leads to the Dnipro River and during the summer the city turns them on every weekend. The rainbow reminds me that winter shall soon pass and summer is just around the corner...there is always hope!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What a deal!

Here are some great lunch specials in downtown Kiev! A sandwich and coffee for only $1 or a sandwich and tea for $1.20 (USD).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Snack Time!

I snapped this picture in Boomie Market last week. Coming from America, the chip flavors we find in Kiev are often quite strange. Here are two common flavors: Bacon & Chicken! They don't sound that strange but their taste is quite odd to my pallet. We've settled on buying Sour Cream 'N Onion (a new arrival here) or Cheese chips. Interestingly enough, we haven't found any "plain" potato chips here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Nadra Bank

This large bank borders Independence Square in Kiev. I always enjoy the bright red flower as I pass by. It seems more like a Hawaiian Airlines logo rather than a Ukrainian Bank.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Yellow House

A beautiful Building overlooking Independence Square.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Missing Starbucks

These Starbucks-style coffee shops are popping up all over Kiev. This one looks pretty inviting, makes me want to stop in for a coffee!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Movie Time

The Kino Odessa shows movies in English on occassion. We caught a Christmas Flick recently with Danny DeVito & Matthew Broderick. The moive wasn't much to boast about but popcorn from a moive theater is always desirable.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


The Orange Revolution will be forever remembered by this preservation of grafitti. A series of political events and protests took place in Kiev's Independence Square following the controversial presidential election in November 2004.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Kiev Synagogue

Well, I thought I'd finish my little series on the Kiev Synagogue with a picture of the actual building. It not only stands as a reminder of the collective sins of our past but it also calls out to future generations to never allow such atrocities to occur again.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Ark

The Ark is a very ornate structure within a synagogue built to house the Torah scroll. It is named after the "Ark of the Covenant": a Biblical artifact which carried within it, amongst other things, the stone tablets on which the Law of Moses was written. It is shameful to think during the Nazi occupation of Ukraine this beautiful monument was torn out and a puppet stage was erected in its place. Praise God that redemption has come and "all things are made new"!

Monday, December 11, 2006

I Bring You More Than Peace

This is the beautiful view that members of this synagogue get to see every weekend. The stained glass windows are not only visually stunning but they also tell stories of the Jewish people and their struggles throughout history. I have entitled this post as such because the large word at the bottom of the Hebrew inscription is "Shalom", which is most often translated to mean "peace"...but in truth it means so much more!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Jerusalem Ball

Welcome to Jerusalem on a ball!
This very interesting sculpture is approximately 8-feet tall and located in the lobby of the Kiev Synagogue. Notice that its foundation is the Star of David and of course it is crowned by the Temple. It is certainly an interesting and beautiful piece of art!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Stained Glass

Here is one of many stained glass windows we found at the Kiev Synagogue. It was originally built by Lazar Brodsky, a wealthy Jewish philanthropist in 1898. Unfortunately, in 1926 it was confiscated by the Communist regime and then eventually fell under Nazi control during World War II. In 1991, after the fall of communism, it was final returned to the Jewish community. It wasn't long before it was renovated/rebuilt and opened to serve the local Jewish community, which consists of approximately 100,000 people.

Friday, December 08, 2006


We visited the first (and at one time the only) Synagogue in Kiev the other was beautiful! Here's a shot of the ablution station just outside the main "sanctuary". We got quite a few great shots so we might spend the next couple of days showcasing this amazing building.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

That's a Big Pot!

We recently visited the National History Museum of Ukraine here in Kiev. It was interesting but more expensive than we thought it would be and everything was written in Ukrainian so we didn't really "learn" a lot. I snapped this photo right before I was informed that pictures were not allowed. Well actually, it wasn't that they weren't allowed it was that you had to pay extra upon admission in order to be able to take pictures. Oh well, I got one good shot out of it!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Trash or Treasure?

I haven't quite figured out the Recycling system here. Bottles are generally left next to the dumpster for needy people to collect for a redemption value. But often objects that have more life left in them are placed next to the dumpster (rather than inside it) for anyone to take. I have seen all kinds of things: large items like old chairs and here are some smaller items. So I don't know if they recycle more than glass, but there definitely is an unwritten system of reusing.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Youth With A Mission Kiev's ( base is located on the Dnipro River. It remains docked at shore but isn't always stationary. While aboard, it's hard to forget you are on a boat when the room often gently rolls with the river's movements.

Monday, December 04, 2006

On Sale Today!

Fur is very popular in Ukraine. Fur hats, fur accessories, fur-trimmed coats, and fur rugs! Here are a few that a vendor downtown is hoping to sell.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Old &The New

I've observed the contrast between cars to be drastic. The roads are filled with boxy older cars (like the red one above) and newer sleek models, but not too many "in between". My guess is that there weren't as many automobiles purchased during the Soviet rule in Ukraine. The number of cars on the road has increased greatly since 1991, bringing major congestion to the main roads and highways. Ukrainian leaders are addressing these issues as Kiev continues to grow.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Don't Forget the Tip!

We went out for dinner a couple of weeks ago at a really nice pizza restaurant. It was a somewhat complicated experience since our waitress didn't speak English but at least the restaurant had an English menu we could look through. After the meal she brought us our bill in this little glass. So, I followed suit and put my money in the glass as well. We were worried about whether or not we'd get our change because it's really hit-or-miss here, but we did. Before we left I made sure to leave her a the cup of course :)

*(Tipping is a relatively new thing in Ukraine. From what we've heard the recommended amount is 10% but if they know you're American, they'll often expect more.)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Field Trip Flirting

When we visited the National History Museum this week, there was a local school group that had arrived just before us. The kids were running about the grounds and I could feel the excitement in the air that only a "Field Trip Day" could bring. The two girls in pink coats caught my eye and as I watched them, two boys came up to chat. Young love was in the air!