Saturday, December 18, 2010

Visa Adventures in L'vov, Ukraine

Greetings from Ternopil, northwest Ukraine and a quick post before I hop back on the train and head back to my beloved Rostov-on-Don. A few favorite sights of the last two weeks. Came to L'vov, Ukraine to renew my Russian visa at the Russian Consulate there. Here are a few quick highlights.

This building warms my heart. It's the Russian Consulate in L'vov.

The Russian flag a little closer. I do love this flag. Actually what's most precious is the many wonderful folks who live under this flag.

Always fun to catch up with dear Larisa in L'vov. We met on the train in September 2008 and have kept in touch. Larisa is a university professor and psycho-therapist. She's a walking encyclopedia about local history and such a lovely person. Larisa's son studies in Canada and so she understands the gypsy life quite well.

Decided to wait a week for my visa, a way to save $$$. Actually, more than that, wanted to spend time in Ivano-Frankovsk with beloved Christian friends there.

Ivano-Frankovsk is 2.5 hours south of L'vov by train. Dear brother Bogdan met me at the station. Bogdan was a priest in the Russian Orthodox church in years gone by. He has a great wife, Lydmila, and three neat teenagers. I appreciate his love for God and his deep love for the little flock he serves in Ivano-Frankivsk.

Oh, here's a familiar face. Time out for a quick photo at the Ivano-Frankovsk station. Oh, it's nippy outside. Glad I'm an Ohio girl ~ so freezing temps were part of childhood!

Apparently, it was walk-your-child-in-the-snow week in Ivano-Frankovsk. People are into getting some exposure to the sunshine, regardless of the temperature. Here's Little Miss Pink with her grandpa. Have to smile at his patience, letting Little Pinkie do her own driving.

A public beating in progress. Heard a whacking sound and saw this fellow was beating his rug in the snow. This is a common way of cleaning a small rug. Guess it works. They say it's more effective than vacuuming. Well, Mr Whacker caught me taking his photo. What could I do but wave ~ and he waved back. Seems folks are more accustomed to being photographed nowadays. Glad for that. . .

But the dearest sights of all, are seeing the faces of beloved Christian brothers and sisters. Here with dear sister Alina Timofeyovna (meaning Alina, daughter of Timothy). Loved being with her because our first names are nearly identical. More than that, she reminds me of my beloved Grandma Bauman.

Sisters in Ivano-Frankovsk were happy to tromp through snow and cold for a ladies' Bible class. So I pulled together a lesson ~ about the value of keeping a prayer journal and the blessings of memorizing scripture ~ and we had a special time together. Dear sweet Larisa, left back, baked this magnificent cake from scratch for the occasion. Larisa also walks 40 minutes to church on Sundays when the buses don't run from her neighborhood. Now that's heroic.

Back to L'vov for 2 nights to pick up my visa and wait for the train back toward Rostov. L'vov has so many historical buildings. Larisa tells me that Nazi invaders spared L'vov during WW2 in an effort to charm the locals into helping as they invaded the former USSR. So, many buildings are hundreds of years old.

Lots of new life in L'vov of course. Including this computer center. In fact, the sign above the door is basically transliterated directly from English into Russian - and says Notebook Center, pronounced almost the same as in English.

The road to Ivano-Frankovsk is that-a-way, as is the road to Ternopil, the next stop on my little trip, two hours s'east of L'vov.

So thankful for an open door to return to Russia. This is the answer to many prayers. There is never a guarantee that my visa will be renewed. That the door has remained open for me is simply the answer to so many prayers.