Okay, let's see how much I can type in 10 minutes until my uncle will make me get off and get back to the apartment.
I made a B in organic chemistry. I also made a B+ in music theory. Yucky. There goes my 4.0.
We arrived in Kyiv Sunday evening, after being delayed one day in Paris. More on that later, because it's a very long story, but yes, I got to see the Eiffel Tower at night. :-)
Vespers at St. Vladimir's Ukrainian Orthodox. Part of it at least. We didn't arrive for the beginning, and we didn't stay until the end, but it's the type of service where everyone is constantly going in and out and moving around. Pretty church, and the choir was magnificent. Chanting AND choral music. We managed to catch the prayers of the people, and the cantors were obviously well trained as singers. Grandma has been talking my ear off ever since we arrived. She's also a terrific cook.
Visited a couple of mom's friends, as well as the government sponsored orphanage that they help out with. Getting there was quite fun - first to their apartment on the outskirts of town - took about an hour, what with subway, and then bus, and then locating the apartment. They then drove us to the orphanage, which is about 30 km from Kyiv. I'll go in more detail when I have time, but my first impression is that having things look pretty is very important. You can have your toilet broken and not enough food, but everything has to look very pretty - paintings and embroidery everywhere.
Spent the morning going around the tourist sites - monuments to St. Vladimir and St. Olga [separate], walked around St. Michael's but didn't have time to go in. Had a couple of lunches...even with all the walking I'm doing, I won't be losing any weight soon. Hospitality demands that people feed their guests, and it also demands that I eat the food. Of course, the food is far better than American food, so I'm not complaining. ;-)
Met with another one of my mom's friends, who are working with a well-known and established organization, also in charge of orphanages, which my parents' organization has decided to sponsor. This is a privately run organization, not run by the government. These people are doing excellent work. The orphanage is far nicer than most private schools in America, and the children are talented and very lively. The impressive thing is, I talked to some of these kids, and most of them were on the streets 6 months ago. Initially headed by a local church [nondenom], the board has expanded and includes Christians from all circles, Orthodox and Pentecostal alike. Their goal in the long run is to have the kids spend as little time in the orphanage proper as possible, enough to get them through psychiatric rehab and the like, and then to get them placed in foster homes [volunteers], who will be continue to be sponsored by this organization. Their goal is about 10 kids per family.
Final Random Thoughts:
Some things are exactly as I remember them, such as my grandparents' apartment and the like, and other things have changed greatly. The economy is growing in leaps and bounds. The food is far better - artificial processed food has yet to catch on here, even in the supermarkets. Some things are cheaper, others rival American prices. We were able to have a nice lunch in a cafe for the equivalent of $5, for 5 people.
I got to see a pipe organ today, in the Roman Catholic Church of St. Alexander [Polish]. In fact, it has 2 - a large, 3 manual one, and a small, wooden, antiphonal in the front. Was able to get some close up shots, but no wide ones, as I would have to do it from the front of the church, and it was currently open for prayer. They'll have a concert next week, and I'll be allowed to mess around with it afterwards.
Even with all the dirt and grime and traffic and stuff, the city is far prettier than any I've seen so far, so there. (Paris maybe rivals it.) Tis also huge. The temperature is normal, about -5*C. Finally, some decent weather. :-P I'll have pictures later, and I'll need to return and get proper pictures of St. Michael's at a similar time of day (around lunch). The sun shining on all the gold highlights on the exterior icons is a magnificent sight. I'm still trying to get used to the sun setting around 4:30 pm. I really need to get the marketplace sometime and buy proper gifts for people. It's 21:15 now, so I need to get off, get back to the apartment, try to make an excuse not to eat dinner ;), and get to bed.