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Two Surprises Amid the Terrible War

April 2, 2022

Another Way for week of March 25, 2022

Two Surprises Amid the Terrible War

This week I had two surprises. I found a piece I wrote for our church newsletter in 1990 about a woman from the Soviet Union who we hosted in our home. Tatyana, an English teacher, was from the city of Kyiv (or Kiev) in Ukraine, then a province. The USSR was just opening up for persons to travel to the U.S. and elsewhere.

I was a bit stunned to find that newsletter article just now. Then I remembered the book from her that I rarely opened: all about the beautiful city of Kyiv. Tatyana gave it to us as one of her thank-you gifts. It is full of photos of Kyiv with descriptions mostly in Ukrainian, but an introduction in other languages. She gave our daughters: a nesting doll, brightly painted Easter eggs, and a T-shirt in Ukrainian that fit our oldest daughter. We enjoyed knowing that her name “Tatyana” is a longer version of the name Tanya, which is our middle daughter’s name.

Our family with Michelle (oldest daughter) wearing the T-shirt with Ukrainian words.

Our church had agreed to host six teachers from the USSR who were studying English in Washington D.C. for a month. The planners of the trip wanted the guests to see the countryside here in Virginia—and meet locals.

We were all fascinated with our guest. She seemed to feel at home right away, slipping her shoes off as soon as she walked in our house. I apologized for not cooking “Russian” but she put me at ease assuring me that while in the U.S. she wanted to eat what we eat, and said she loved our box cereals! She also fell in love with our southern iced tea and watched me making it. We took her to Riven Rock Park—a beautiful escape from city life out in our mountains, where she took endless photos of wild flowers.

On the way back, my girls were hungry so we stopped for snacks at a country store where Tatyana took pictures of the gas pumps, a farmer’s tractor and wagon, and the store. Inside she browsed for at least 15 minutes, checking prices, asking what this or that item was for—and said she was comparing prices to what she’d seen in Washington D.C.!  We took her on a tour of a nearby quarry because our neighbor was a foreman there. She had studied music for years and that Sunday at our church, we were dedicating a new hymnal. She loved the singing. In a letter to us later, she wrote about how difficult it was to be a Christian where most people no longer have any faith at all.

We took her out to eat at a mall buffet. The food looked so good she heaped her plate full—and then looked dismayed when she (a small petite woman) couldn’t eat it all. I assured her she didn’t need to finish it.

It was an amazing weekend, reminding me of the many visitors from countries around the world my Mom and Dad hosted on our farm. I concluded that article saying “If we can’t afford to travel everywhere we’d like, the next best thing is hosting persons from other countries.” The weekend was far too short, as my husband said at its conclusion.

The book full of photos of Kiev which Tatyana gave us has sat on our bookshelf since 1990. I especially treasure it now.

I so wondered where Tatyana is now and whether she and her family were ok. On a whim, I used her business card to look her up on Facebook. I found a woman with her full name and photo that looked like it could be her, some 30 years later. I shot off a private Facebook message and was ecstatic in the morning when I found a message back from her! We exchanged a few messages, and I knew it had to be our visitor because she remembered how my husband made our dog stay away from the kitchen table while we were eating. You can’t make that up. I sent her a picture of our family in 1990 with Michelle wearing the Ukrainian shirt. I told her we were praying for Ukraine daily and she said “We are grateful to American people for their support. My husband and I decided to stay and help here in Kiev [She used the English spelling]. We strongly believe we shall overcome.”

What courage. We will continue to pray for all—and not only Ukraine. Let us not forget those who have been in conflict and living as refugees for years in so many countries of the world.

Can anyone tell me which river this is?

Fellow blogger and online friend, Marian Beaman, also wrote about Ukraine this week, where she and her husband spent time in 2012. Check out her post here.

***

Thoughts? Prayers? Comment here or send to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

8 Comments
  1. Ronald breniser permalink

    Thank you for sharing this Melodie.

  2. Don’t you just love it when you come upon correspondence you can use again. As you know, that’s happened to me a time or two.

    Some would call it serendipity when we get echos from an earlier time, but I think it’s providential. I’m glad you could contact Tatyana again and find out she is safe. The Ukrainian people are a brave and resilient people. I DO think they shall overcome.

    Thank you for the “share” here. You know I love Ukraine, its people and the culture. When we visited, the meals were delicious. I recall the hostesses used lots of dill in their recipes. Thanks for this timely post, Melodie! 😀

  3. The crazy thing is I was determined to purge some files and thought I could easily discard the series of “The Folding Chair” articles but am truly glad for the connection as well. It truly did give me hope and energy to keep praying.

    You were so blessed to be able to visit that country when you did and I’m glad you can continue your relationship with your friend Kathy. I hope you get some visits from folks hopping on my blog too.

  4. What a special story! And to rediscover your connection with her so many years later, thanks to the virtual world we now live in. I’m so happy to hear she’s still alive and safe – and helping others in this tragic circumstance. Thank you for sharing. My heart is filled with love and joy after reading this post this morning!

    • Trisha, and thank you for the comments! Yes, I was shocked to say the least that we connected. I wish I could reconnect with some of my friends from Spain (where I lived one year). I’m glad this lifted your spirits and hoping and praying this senseless war can end–sooner rather than later.

  5. I believe that’s the Dnieper River. Yes I just looked it up and it’s the Paton Bridge over the Dnieper River.

    Great post Mom!

    • Thanks, I was going to say Dnieper but didn’t want to go wrong. The family picture I have of them is in front of the Dnieper but I didn’t want to share the picture without permission. Thanks for your comment!

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