Monday, April 30, 2018

Morning Thoughts from Budapest, Hungary

It is our first morning in Budapest, Hungary.  In the last few days I have been in Switzerland, Germany, and for a short while, Austria.  Hungary is the 29th country that Beverly and I have traveled to.  Romania will be number 30.  Persephone has now been to 16 countries.  When we had her, I wondered how much we would be able to travel.  I have traveled more often since she has been born than I had before she was born.  She is learning so much, seeing so much, and experiencing so much. 
The view from where I am writing.
The sun is coming out and the birds are chirping.  I feel that I am truly entering a new phase of life.  I feel that same feeling of excitement I felt when I went to Ukraine.  It is a beautiful thing to travel and see the world.  It is a wonderful thing to explore and open the mind.  I missed it here so much, and I think that Europe is a place where I feel at home.  I feel that it is more "me" than the United States is.  Not that I dislike the US, there are a lot of great places there, but Europe is where I feel that I may "belong."  I love the lifestyle here.  Traveling by train, walking everywhere, the food, the languages, the culture, the history.  These things are more of who I am.  I don't know if I will ever live in Europe again, but if I was to settle down somewhere and live a life in the corporate world, I think I would want to live in a place like Munich rather than a place like New York. 

We are in Europe for around 90 days.  We will be visiting a few more countries before we arrive in Egypt.  Most of our time will be spent in Ukraine and Georgia, and I am really excited to be back in Ukraine.  And I am thrilled to visit Georgia and experience living there for a short while. 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Two Years Ago - Leaving Ukraine

The following post was written on April 9th, 2016 in Kyiv Ukraine.  It was one of the only entries on my old blog that I could find.  It is very interesting that this was the entry that came up.  Anyway, now that we are about to return, this entry gives me a lot to think about:

Our Final Sabbath in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday April 9, 2016

The day after tomorrow, at this time, we will be close to landing in Dubai.  I remember, just over a year ago, telling our families goodbye and driving off towards Seattle in order to depart to Kiev, Ukraine.  I vividly remember telling Beverly's parents goodbye as we picked up our rental car from the Spokane International Airport and preparing to drive off.  Everyone was very sad and we wondered just when we would see each other again. 

Earlier that day we had said goodbye to my parents and sister at my father's workplace.  I could tell everyone was sad and upset about us leaving. 

We were incredibly excited to come to Ukraine.  We had waited for a few months for everything to work out for us to be able to finally depart for what would be our new home.  We had recently went to San Francisco for visa information and later received our visas.  We were told about our classes and Friday Night Club from Tania, the director of ELC.  We applied for a passport for Persephone and were now staying with Beverly's parents outside of Spokane.

After arriving in Seattle, we went to Uwajimaya, an Asian marketplace, to get dinner and spend some time before our flight.  Afterwards, we went to the airport and Persephone was rather upset about being in the car so long.  She was so little back then and it was her first time in a forward facing car seat.  We dropped off the car and waited a couple of hours for our flight.  I felt very sad, and for a while I would feel immense guilt for taking our baby away from our family when she was so young (she had just turned one year old).  Now I feel so much guilt for taking her away from the friends here that she loves so much...  People that will never see her as a little baby again.

We boarded our plane and it did not take long for us to fall asleep.  A few hours later we awoke as we were flying into New York City.  We were exhausted and hungry and would spend a few hours at the airport waiting for our next flight.  I remember that the food at the airport was very expensive and we bought Persephone a banana to eat which cost about $2.00.  We checked into our flight with Aeroflot and I remember that most of the people were Russian.  It was strange to me, but I imagined that this was what it would be like when we arrived (except, Ukrainian instead of Russian of course).

We flew to Moscow and then changed planes quickly to come to Kiev.  In Kiev we met with Tania and everything looked so different.   It was truly a different world here.  But, as I write this now, everything is so familiar to us.  I guess that things always look new when you are in a new place for the first time.

Our language school in Kyiv, Ukraine
Within a few days, we met our pastor, Sergey, and had dinner with him and his wife and their daughter, who is younger than Persephone.  I went to the school and watched another teacher teach her class.  Later on we had our first Friday Night Club while Tania played with Persephone on the stairs.  She was so little then and could not walk yet.  It would be a couple more months before she started to walk.

I would teach my first classes and met a lot of great students who were a lot of fun to teach.  Some of my favorite students were in those first classes and some of those students I got to teach over and over again throughout my time here in Ukraine.  And others I never saw again and always wondered how they were or what they were doing.  For instance, one of my first students was a very friendly young man who left after having a baby.  I always enjoyed having him in my classes and would never get to congratulate him after his child was born.  I hope his family and him are doing well.

A couple of months after beginning teaching we asked about having someone move in to help with taking care of Persephone instead of having a baby sitter, as we had a spare room and thought that it would be good arrangement.   Tania said that she knew just the person and we spoke with Julia over Skype and she later moved in with us.  We are glad that she did, as she quickly became a great friend of ours.

Now we are preparing to leave.  I feel that so much has happened so quickly.  It is hard to imagine that it has been over a year since we arrived.  We have met so many wonderful people, and I feel more sad to leave here than I was when we left home in the United States.  I ask myself why, and I think it is because I know that I will never see many of my students or friends here again.  I know that, no matter what, we can never return to what this was.  Sure, we can come back and teach one day, but it will be different.  People will have moved on with life.  Persephone will be older.  We will be older.  Some people will have left Kiev and maybe Ukraine.  ELC will be different.  It has been such a great year and it's hard to let go of something and move on.  I feel that this has all come to an end so fast and I wish that somehow I did not feel this way.  Yet, the reality is that I do. 

I do not know what will become of my life in the next few months, or even years.   Right now I entertain the idea of one day returning, yet I have no clue if we will.  There's no way to know.  Today we heard a sermon about Lot and his family and Abram (Abraham) and his, and Abraham was much closer to his family.  He lived out in the country and lived to serve.  Lot, on the other hand, lived in the city and was distant from his family.  When his "brethren" asked to have relations with the angels that visit, Lot offered up his own daughters.  That goes to show how little closeness there was for family.  I realize that it is time for me to create something for Persephone where we can raise her and let her grow up knowing about God and about what is "right" in the world.

I want to do more missionary work in the future, and I want to visit again and see the people here that we came to know so well.  Today at church we were given a going away present I felt very sad to be leaving.  Everyone here has been such a blessing in our lives.  I hope they know how much we have enjoyed their company.  I have not always been the most talkative or open person, but I have always and will always pray for the best for these people.  I hope that they live rich and blessed lives.  

Friday, April 13, 2018

Leaving the United States Again - Going to Teach English in Cairo, Egypt

We are leaving the United States again, and therefore, I have decided to take up blogging again and write about life and the experiences we have overseas.  I would like to start by talking about our journey and then going deeper into the information of what our future may look like.

Overview of the Journey

We are currently in Spokane, WA.  However, on Tuesday, April 24th, we will be flying out of Seattle to Zurich, Switzerland.  We will make our journey towards Ukraine via Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania and Moldova.

We will spend around 4 and a half weeks in Odessa. I will take the CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) while in Odessa.  We hope to take a weekend trip to Moldova while in Odessa and see the disputed region of Transinistria.  

After Odessa, we will head north to Kyiv for a week to a week and a half.  After Kyiv we plan on taking a ferry across the Black Sea to Georgia.  We have an apartment reserved on AirBnB in Tbilisi for the month of July.  During that month we plan on exploring the region.

At the end of July we plan on flying to Cairo, Egypt, where we will be teaching English.  We plan on having some time to enjoy some of Egypt before going to Cairo to teach.  

It's hard to say what the future will look like, as we are not God, and things change all the time.  These are just plans and outlines and they always change.  When we first thought of going to Europe, we didn't expect to stay there before going to teach in Egypt.  In fact, a year ago I would have not imagined going to Egypt to teach, but instead was considering going back to Ukraine in the future or going to Thailand.  When we mentioned where we were moving, one of Beverly's sister's actually guessed Bangkok, which was a good guess, as that's one place I have been thinking of for a while.

But life is often strange and unpredictable.  Our life sure has been.  I have written in the past of places I have lived, and while I don't really want to talk much of the past on this blog, I may go into such things when they are relevant in future posts.  

So, why Egypt?  Well, we were both thinking of going and teaching again.  We thought that we may go back to Ukraine but we saw a position advertised in Cairo and I showed Beverly.  She told me to apply.  I was not sure if she would want to live in Cairo, but was surprised that she was interested.  So, I wrote an email to the director and got a very enthusiastic reply back.  And the rest is history.

We were one block from here when we were in Egypt in 2013.  We watched the crowds from the rooftop hostel where we were staying in Tahrir Square.
Of all the countries I have traveled to, my experience in Egypt was my favorite.  It was an amazing journey and one that I will never forget.  We were in Tahrir Square when the uprising in 2013.  I skipped my law school graduation to go to Egypt (I will also be in Egypt when I graduate my master's program and probably will not go to that graduation either).  The country was an amazing place to experience.  The history, the scenery (especially the Sinai Peninsula, which we loved).  We also enjoyed the food and the people.  We never felt any danger.  Day to day life in Egypt is just like anywhere else.  And that is one thing I will show as time goes on with this blog.

I could go on and on about why we like Egypt and why we are excited to live there, but I think I will let time speak for itself.  I am not sure how long we will be in Egypt.  Maybe two years, maybe longer.  Again, it's hard to say what life brings a person and where life leads a person.  But, I am excited to write about our travels and our life in another part of the world.  Persephone, our daughter, is very excited as well and talks about going to Egypt all the time.  I think she is going to like it there a lot.  Things are going to be different for her, but this will be her third continent that she will live in before five, and she has already been to 12 countries, so she is used to change and really loves to travel.  

There's more to come.  I will write more especially once our journey begins.  Thank you for reading.