Monday, June 10, 2013


Napoli Central Station
Wow! What a day! I had a bit of adrenalin running last night making it a bit difficult to sleep. I kept thinking about all the things that could wrong in the morning causing me to miss my flight. I kept reassuring myself that everything would be fine. I've plenty of time, and I'm in the Lord's hands - no worries! My alarm went off at 6:00 this morning. It wasn't long before I was ready and headed off to the Napoli Central Train Station, grabbing a pastry for breakfast on the street market as I walked. Upon arriving at the station, I had difficulty locating my train. Where in the world was my train back to the Roma Termini? The train that matched my departure time was for Roma Tiburina. Ten minutes before my departure, I was assured by the train personal that this was indeed my train - #17. Perhaps Roma Tiburina stops at Roma Termini, I thought. I got on the train and then rechecked my ticket. It was Roma Tiburina, not Roma Termini as I had thought! A moment of panic set in. Had I ordered the wrong ticket? Had my finger slipped when selecting Roma Termini when ordering the ticket? How was I to get to Roma Termini to catch my train back to the airport?! Roma is Rome, so at least I was heading in the right direction. Thankfully this was a much nicer train than the one I was on previously. This one was even equipped with wifi! Praise the Lord! I jumped on line and discovered that Roma Tiburina was several metro stops away from Roma Termini. The only problem was, I would only have fifteen minutes to do it - a near impossibility. While reading posts on travel forums, I noted that there was a train that departed from Tiburina to the airport. I thought, perhaps I can order another ticket at that train station. Then it hit me to check my other ticket ... and sure enough it departed from Roma Tiburina! Praise the Lord. Why did panic so? He also works everything out. I just needed to pay more attention to my tickets. Next time I won't assume I travel back the same way I came. The Lord has been reminding me over and over again to just trust Him on this journey. After being reassured that my journey truly was set up correctly, I began to enjoy the fields, the towns, and the mountains of central Italy. The second ride from Tiburina to the FCO airport was nice. This one made several stops along the way unlike the direct route of the Leonardo Express. Once at the airport, I know had a decision to make. Which terminal do I walk to? My flight was not yet listed on the small display board at the intersection. From the destinations of the other flights listed it appeared one was for America, one for domestic flights, another with only a few departing flights, and the last with the majority of the international flights. I assumed the latter, and once inside the terminal, my guess was confirmed. My flight was listed here. Upon first glance, the line for check-in was incredibly long! Good thing I had arrived extra early, but soon I discovered that this exceedingly long line was not for my check-in but for another.

I found my way to the Ukrainian Airlines and was soon greeted by a Ukrainian man who was trying locate his check-in line. Although I told him I spoke English, he didn't seem to understand me. He kept asking me questions. Finally he held up fingers for options. One: Italian, Two: German, Three: English - Oh yes, English! The then stopped for a moment, trying to remember his English. He then said, German, and proceeded to count. I replied by repeating the English numbers back. "Ah yes," he exclaimed. This must have jarred his memory. He then proceeded to count to fourteen, but couldn't remember fifteen. He then clarified with numbers that he was in the right line. We then attempted a half decent conversation. Throughout the course of the conversation I discovered that his name was Sergei. He was from Ukraine and had spent his vacation in Italy for fishing and the sun. Whereupon he proceeded to show me his tan line on his upper leg ... little more skin than I was wanting to see!  He lives just outside Kiev and has two children in their twenties. Upon discovering that I was a Christian and was going to Ukraine to visit a missionary friend, he proceeded to tell me that he too was a Christian. "Ten and five years ago - together," he had attended a Bible college in Kiev run by Campus Crusades for Christ International. He attended to learn how to plant churches and has now been involved in five church plantings. He currently attends a couple churches, and plays piano for a Pentecostal Church. At one point both to express his knowledge of English and to affirm that he was a Christian. He proceeded to sing "He made something beautiful out of me" and "This is the Day" as well as quote John 1:1. Amen! He was unfamiliar with World Gospel Mission, but kept asking that it was not the One Mission Society. Neither did he recognize Berdyansk, Ukraine - where my missionary friend, Shushan Richardson is currently serving (though I can't vouch for pronouncing it correctly).  

At the check-in desk, I was told that my flight had been delayed an hour and may be delayed additionally. After finding my gate, it wasn't long before my departure was changed 15:20 (instead of 12:55). However, boarding did not begin until 15:40. Once ready for departure, an announcement was made in Russian, I presumed from the people's reaction it was a delay (later to discover it was twenty minutes). A bit later another announcement was made which seemed to upset the cabin crew followed by another. I thought I heard someone say, "Another night in Rome!" Oh no! Had they cancelled our flight? What was going on? I heard an Italian from Sicily mention a few words of English to his wife. Yes! Someone who speaks English!! I inquired as to what was going on. Where now delayed at least another hour. What a refielf! At least we the flight wasn't cancelled, but since we were on the plain I had no way to contact anyone to get a hold of Shushan that I was going to be late. Hopefully information would be passed along to the Ukrainian airport. Now the captain came out and was making phone calls ... something was certainly wrong. 

Boarding the Plane to Ukraine!
The Italian gentleman was able to look up information on his phone and soon discovered that there had been an accident on the runway. A plane heading to the Ciampino airport on the other side of Rome had to make an emergency landing. According to the Aviation-Safety website, the pane could not get the landing gear to lock into place. Although originally I had been told that there were no injuries, a later report on the website states three were injured. We now had no idea when we were going to take off. Everyone at the Roman airport was delayed significantly. The flight attendants served everyone drinks and sandwiches (which other than the drinks were not originally planned for the flight. Another message came over the system in Russian. The lady at the other end of the isle translated into Italian, and the Italian gentlemen translated into English - our own game of telephone! :) Come to find out they were planning to have additional sandwiches brought to the plane. They wanted to know if we wanted to wait for them or go ahead and take off if the opportunity was given. "Take off!" they shouted (in Russian). Finally around seven thirty, our plane began to make its way to the runway with much applause from the cabin crew.

Once in the air, the flight attendants again served us sandwiches and drinks. Upon arriving and finding my luggage, I was finally able to meet my good friend Shushan Richardson around 11:30 PM. How good it was to see her! It makes arriving so much more enjoyable to have someone waiting for you. :) Come to find out, the airline would tell her nothing as to the reason for our delay or when we might be in. Left in state of suspense, she changed the plans for the evening and booked rooms at a local hotel. Upon arriving at the hotel I met Josh and Lauren, two interns who were staying with Shushan for the summer. We spent the remainder of the evening and well into early morning, 4:30 to be pricise, talking and sharing stories and updates over a cup of cherry juice. I was so blessed and encouraged to hear what God is doing, and trust she was as well.

In Ukraine. This is the bus we took from the Airport to the Train Station
on Sunday Morning.
 The next morning ... well I guess it would be that morning, I woke up to find that my alarm had not gone off and we were scheduled to leave in fifteen minutes! After a quick shower and pack job, we were off in our taxi to the airport to catch a bus to the main train station. Here we secured our luggage and took the metro to church. Josh had been Ukraine previously. The second time he had the opportunity to work at a camp. We planned to meet one of his friends and attend church with them at the English speaking church of ICA.  The church was just around the corner from the final metro stop. ... And may I say, the Ukrainian metro is MUCH easier to navigate than Naples. Maps and stops were readily available. The church was welcoming and more contemporary in style, and Communion was served, a good beginning for my journey to the Holy Land.  Pastor Keith preached from the account in John where Jesus restored sight to a blind man. Although I didn't catch every point as was running on just under four hours of sleep, the points I did catch were very good. :)

Monument to Berehynia
For the remainder of the afternoon, we did a little bit of sightseeing. We began by taking the metro to Independence Square and then back to the main train station to reclaim our luggage and head to the Christian Guesthouse closer to the river. After a brief breather, we headed back out to see the stature of the Motherland and a monastery complex that has supposedly started by St. Andrew Himself. Reliefs nearby depict the brutality of WWII. The Ukrainians found themselves trampled upon from both sides. At the time Ukraine was a part of the larger Soviet Union. The Russians forced the Ukrainians to the front lines against the Germans. The first in line was given a gun and the second bullets. When the first soldier died, the second was to take up the gun and continue the fight. If they turned to retreat. The Russians would shoot them from behind. When the Russians retreated from Ukraine, they burned the fields as they went so the Germans could not take it for feeding their men. However, this left the Ukrainians in a state of famine in which many died. Our group took a moment to view a small museum display of tanks and planes - an additional fee to take pictures!

Cathedral of the Dormition
Down the way was a very old Eastern Orthodox Monastery complex.  Much of the monastery dates to the tenth century, but much of it had been badly damaged or destroyed in World War II.  We were able to enter a couple of the chapel buildings. Any women entering was required to cover head out of reverence and once inside one is not permitted to speak. Although, one is not to take pictures either, I was able to "sneak" a few in. :)

On our way back, we picked up some ice cream - something frowned upon by Ukrainians. They believe the extremities of the temperatures (hot and cold) will make one sick. Once back around the guesthouse, we jumped on a bus to find some dinner and internet to check on my flight status. Where does one find free internet? McDonalds of course! Although McDonalds would not be considered a "nice" restaurant in the US, here it is - often with the main order station and a second Coffee/Bakery station. Unlike much of Europe, Ukraine is not on the Euro. One USD roughly corresponds to eight Ukrainian hryvnia. For supper however, Shushan took us to a traditional Ukrainian restaurant in a mall. One proceeded through the line and added the desired dish to one's tray. The food was very good! After dinner we headed back to McDonalds to jump online once more before heading back to the guesthouse - this time using a city trolley. We arrived back close to ten, and as I had only slept few hours the night before, I came back and crashed until morning. 


Central Italy Countryside

Train to Rome

More Country Side - the pictures just can't do the mountains justice

Train to Rome

yes! I made it on the train :)

Sample of Graffiti everywhere. This isn't as colorful as most.

Seven minutes until departure for airport!

Train is arriving in the Roman Station

Woah! Look at that line! (on the left ... it wraps around all the way to the line
on the right and down the hall.

Most buildings in Ukraine have that "block/square" style. 

Crossing the River :)

With Shushan on the Bus to the Train Station

Train Station - where we would be storing our luggage.

Inside the Train Station. Very Nice!

Next door is the Metro Station

Church at ICA - very similar to an American contemporary service.
Didn't know any of the songs though, but everything was in English.

The church is renting a small building shown above. (in the distance)

Hey, that's me riding the Metro!

Metro in Kiev

Shushan with Lauren on the Metro in Kiev

And Yes, McDonalds is everywhere :) ... stopped here for lunch

Fountain on Independence Square

Josh taking pictures on Independence Square

Independence Square

Notice the Giant Clock in the Background

Me in the middle of Independence Square

Okay, one of these was New York or Chicago, but I don't remember ...
Shushan, which one was to US? the km is the distance from there to the
major cities of the world.

View of the Globe

There's chairs growing on that tree! I always wondered
were they came from :)

Mall under Independence Square

Man playing accordion to traditional Ukrainian Music

Large flower shop, but there were many people selling flowers on the
streets as well.

Down, Down, Down to the Metro!

Metro Train

Lauren is figuring out how to get our luggage out the
lockers ... they seem to be stuck

View from our window in the guesthouse
Stature of the Mother of the Motherland in the distance

Campus Church building being rebuilt - view from guesthouse window

View opposite Mother of the Motherland, overlooking Kiev

Mother of the Motherland

Lauren, Josh, and myself - climbing on the Tanks

Reliefs reflecting the sorrow and devastation of  from WWII

Look at the baby Tanks!

Tanks from WWII

This and the image below revolutionized the war. Whereas previously they
could only fire one missile at time, now they could compete with Germans
by firing a bunch at a time.

It's cool to see the progression in the technology of the tanks throughout
the course of the war. 

Here is a gentleman singing on the streets :)

Entering the Kiev Perchersk Lavra Monestary

Secondary Entrance - we would end up leaving out of the main entrance

I found this interesting ... all their trees are painted at the base. I'm told
there is a two-fold reason. First is to prevent bugs and animals from
damaging the trees, and second is to help show the side of the road at night.
Almost like those poles with the reflectors on the interstate back in the states.

Cathedral of the Dormition - note the detail!

View of the Great Lavra Belltower

Can's see it well on here, but one of the things that broke my heart was the
beggars. Most were either elderly or disabled. This gentleman can barely
sit up. Another woman I saw early in the day had frequent spasms
and could not sit up and all. :(

Inside Large Green Dome - see earlier picture and next outdoor image
Orthodox Chapel

Cathedral of the Dormition

Cathedral of the Dormition

Looking up the Great Lavra Belltower

Cathedral of the Dormition - Close up on left side.

Service going on Inside the Cathedral of the Dormition - 45 seconds in they begin to sing. Very Cool!

With Shushan at the the Lavra Monastery

Just inside the Main Entrance to Lavra Monastery

Old Painting just outside the Main Entrance

Main Entrance

Another Chapel Outside the Complex

Ice Cream in Ukraine! Yumm 

This was cool - similar to the ladies I had seen in Naples, these are two
people posing as statues. When someone would drop money in they would
 move to a new position. I personally thought the gentleman on the
left did a fantastic job!

Lunch at a Mall in Kiev - Traditional Ukrainian Food
Borsch Soup with Salad.

More Ukrainian Food - You'll have to help me with the names Shushan! ;)

Restaurant that we ate at in Kiev

yeah, that's what it's called ;)

Mall we had been in (above)

Christian Guesthouse we stayed at in Kiev
Will be making another post later this evening about today :)

No comments:

Post a Comment