Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas in Ukraine...Part 1

For those who are wondering how Christmas is celebrated in Ukraine, you are going to have to wait a bit longer.  You see, Ukraine follows a different calendar from the West, so Christmas is on January 7th.  For now you'll just get to see and hear how this American celebrated Christmas on December 25th and the surrounding days. 

Christmas morning at our apartment began with a Facetime chat with mom while opening her gifts to us.  Then Sveta was off to work and I baked a pan of cookies and took them to share with our friends at rehab.  Typically, cookies in Ukraine are store-bought and quite different from our fresh-baked varieties, but everyone really seemed to like them.  Sveta freed herself from afternoon patients so we headed home to cook a delicious Christmas meal together and then relax for the evening. 

Our Christmas decorations and gifts

Gotta have a red sweater on for Christmas!

We switched to pajama pants and t-shirts for our meal. 
See my mom in the background?
On Friday evening we had a small dinner party with two of our fellow therapists, Alla and Ira.  We enjoyed taco soup and homemade tortilla chips (this is a potato chip society, but since tortillas are now sold consistently in the stores I get to enjoy making tortilla chips and introducing them to my friends!).  We also introduced our friends the idea of a cookie exchange.  Unfortunately Alla had no time to make cookies, but Ira came over and I shared one of my recipes with her and helped her make her first batch of cookies.  All of our cookies were delicious and the evening of fellowship and fun was a blessing!  
We had plenty of cookies left over so on Saturday we packed some bags and headed out to share them with friends with disabilities.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the new tastes and we enjoyed our visits!
On Sunday afternoon we hosted a girl's time at our apartment for a few friends with and without disabilities.  We introduced more new foods to our friends, including white chili and chicken salad on croissants and then we had a white elephant gift exchange (another new concept).  The girls were all so considerate of their friends that almost no stealing took place, but we had lots of laughs anyway.  To conclude our afternoon we invited a guest speaker who shared her story of life as a single woman until her late 20s and now as a wife and mother of 3.  She encouraged us to find our full satisfaction in God in all seasons of life, to serve God as single women, and to not pursue men.  She used Scripture to help us see the God-given roles of women.  The girls had several questions at the end and we are hoping to have the opportunity to have a similar gathering again in the future.
Mariika pondering her gift selection

While the events of this Christmas season have been different for me, it has been and continues to be a blessed time of celebrating the birth of our Savior and pointing others to Him!  I am so thankful for all of you who encourage and pray for me and for the work here in Ukraine!  
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
 Stay tuned for "Christmas in Ukraine...Part 2" (after January 7th of course!).


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