When the train was thirty minute west of my departure city of Ternopil, I was sound asleep.
The porter woke me to alert me that my stop would be soon. As I looked at my watch, I wondered why he had woken me so soon. It was ninety minutes before my stop. As I sat there, beginning to wake up, I realized that I had not set my watch forward one hour to account for the time zone difference. As my three cabin mates continued to sleep soundly, I quickly took care of my bedding, gathered by backpack, coat and hat, and headed for the exit, just beyond the porter’s cabin.
As I stepped down from the train, memories from my many visits to Ternopil met me. Looking toward the station, the time now being 2:30 in the morning, I saw a tall dark figure walking toward me. As Andrew approached me, we shook hands. He explained that his car was last in the driveway, so he had the privilege to come get me.
Later that day, I caught up on news with Andrew’s parents while he and his wife Nadya went to work. Bogdan and Luda and I shared our activities of the previous year over meals and free time. The following morning, Bogdan put me on the morning train to Truskavyets.
In three hours, I was in Truskavyets, ready for my next adventure. Pastor Volodya met me with a hearty “Hello.” We drove ten kilometers to the city of Borislav, his home town. A nice meal was waiting for us as we arrived at his home. His daughter, Lena, would translate for us. Lena had finished University as and English teacher, and her mother spoke English pretty well.
Because of my change in travel plans, I now had only two days to meet with my contacts in Borislav and Dobromel. It was Friday afternoon, and my ticket to Odessa from L’vov was set for Sunday evening at 7:30. I had to make the most of my time.
Lena set up a meeting with the neurologist at the orphanage for children with cerebral palsy. We had to move quickly, though, because his day had finished and he was ready to go home. He said that he would meet with us. Volodya drove us to the orphanage. We found him still working. Once I had gathered my thoughts, we talked about the different therapies that they use with their children. I explained what we were doing at the massage clinic in Illichevsk, and we talked some more. After an hour or so, we walked to the bus stop. We waited about 20 minutes, and rode to our stop. Because a recent flood had destroyed a central bridge, the ride was a little longer than normal.
Early Saturday, we headed to the Dobromel orphanage, two hours away. We stopped in Sambir to pick up Maria, who also works with the children at Dobromel. The time passed quickly. The scenery is very beautiful, as we were in the Carpathian Mountains.
At the orphanage, Mikola, the director, greeted us and took us to see the school and the additional building, diagonally across the street from the orphanage. The additional building was in need of remodel, but it belonged to the orphanage. They had to figure out how to make it functional. They had almost completed remodeling an apartment in the first floor. It would be used as a transition home for the boys when they graduated and would enter the real world.
At the school, we visited the wood shop were the boys were refinishing door and window frames for the building that we had previously visited. Also, we stopped in the sewing classroom where some girls were sewing costumes for future performances.
We talked as we walked back to the dormitory building. We discussed other needs, and shared plans for future communication. One thought was to connect the Dobromel and the Marganets orphanages for a competition between the children. Being in different parts of the country, it would be geographically interesting for the children.
On the return trip, Volodya made his regular stop in Sambir to buy some sour cream, the best in the region. During Soviet times, milk products were a main industry in Sambir. After a number of other stops, we continued on to Borislav.
Sunday morning, we went to a mountain community church not far from Borislav. When this quaint little church was full on this snowy December morning, there were ten adults and a few children. I was to speak after the second sermon. It was a great opportunity to share with the people. My message was well received in their hearts. It was a warm ending to my week of travel.
At 3 PM, Volodya and Lena saw me to the commuter train in Truskavyets. This transport was interesting. It was filled with businessmen and college students. When I arrive in L’vov two hours later, my final challenge met me.
There are two train stations in L’vov. They are close to each other, but you can’t see one from the other. I had been there before, but, as is typical, things don’t look the same as I have remembered. I had an hour and twenty minutes to find my way, and my train. Everything worked out ok, and I had fifteen minutes to spare. I arrived in Odessa twelve hours later and took the bus to Illichevsk. All was well.
Stop by next week when I write about the first annual Charity Ball held in Illichevsk, that I attended.