I have now successfully survived in rural Ukraine. Take it from me, village life is hard. Coming home, I now fully appreciate running water, central heating, a good soft mattress, a gas oven, and a full night’s sleep without waking up to stoke the fire.
I will miss the view, though. The girls’ cabin sat a few feet away from the cliff, so we had spectacular sunrises and sunsets when we stepped outside. Their idea of a cliff is more of a really steep hill, almost like middle Tennessee hills. There’s a river that acts as the border between Ukraine and Moldova. There was a village a few miles into Moldova, but we couldn’t see anybody.
On Wednesday we hiked to an ancient monastery. The oldest parts of the monastery were carved into the rock, and most of that section was in ruins from disuse. Only a few monks currently live and worship there today. In their worship area, I guess is what you call it, we saw several paintings, mosaics, and Russian Orthodox icons.
I will never say that monks don’t have a sense of humor. When the time came to ring the bells, our monk guide invited us into the belltower and showed us how they work. This giant bell supposedly has healing powers if you touch it while or after it rings. Regardless, it feels cool to feel the vibration of this giant. After the first few deafening rings, everyone else mostly hung back, but I went up again with Hilary, our guest speaker. As I was watching the visible vibrations I neglected to see the monk swinging the clapper back for another ring.
I think I nearly jumped out the tower. My whole body was already vibrating, but even more so after that. Yikes. Very loud. Just trust me on this one. Afterward, my voice sounded like I was underwater or autotuned. As we left the bell tower, we noticed the sun was getting low, so we said goodbye and booked it back. It was nearly an hour hike along a slippery army road and then a scramble up the hill to the cabins. Luckily, we made it back while there was still a little light left in the sky.
So, it was cold. Remember a few weeks ago I had that blog post titled “Out of the comfort zone, into the cold?” Yeah, I should’ve saved that till now. Inside the cabin when we first got there it was 0 degrees celsius. Later with the fire roaring it got up to 10 or 15, which is 60 in Fahrenheit. That was inside. The first few days it was so cold that I was wearing 3-4 layers of clothing, indoors and out. I didn’t even look at the temperature because it wasn’t relevant. It was so cold it didn’t matter how cold specifically. One night it got really icy and it took a few minutes just to watch 15 yards from one cabin to the next.
But the teachings this week were wonderful and totally worth it! Hilary and Michele Lind have ministered in Ukraine for years, but have recently been in the States with their parents. They flew back over for a week with us in the cold and we couldn’t have appreciated them more! Hilary is a fantastic teacher. He has such a father heart and it was great to hear him teach on God’s heart as a father. There was a lot of good healing and forgiveness for several of the students, myself included. It was a beautiful time and I loved it (even through the cold).