Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dinner, Ukrainian Style

Get comfy....

Well, I mentioned that we had the privilege of being invited for dinner at the home of a Ukrainian family here in Knoxville this past Monday night. It's Thursday now and so I suppose if I am going to tell you about it, now is the time!

We really had a great time. I mean it. They were so friendly and Vera, the lady of the house, speaks quite good English. Her husband, Alex, has improved greatly in his ability to communicate in English since Steve first met him! They have five kids who were hidden somewhere in the house for most of the time but appeared sometime later in the evening. Beautiful kids. And our kids were so well behaved, well...except that despite our 'talk' in the car on the way over, Annette refused to try the Borscht! She missed out, though!

Vera served us a veritable feast and kept insisting that we eat more! We had Borscht, mashed potatoes, pork, Palmanyee (that's as close as I can get to spelling it in English) which is a kind of meat filled dumpling. There was also a pretty three-tiered serving tray with a tomato and cucumber salad on the lowest level, fruits and something else I can't remember in the middle and chocolates and Baklava on the top. Oh, slices of white bread with the fruit.

Now, normally, Steve avoids anything with potatoes (except fried), cucumbers, cabbage or tomatoes. So I was wondering how he'd enjoy the meal. We have been joking among ourselves about how we will be in Ukraine all this time and those are some of the main staples there!! But I'll tell you what-- We both raved about it all the way home! It was so good!!!

Steve ate all his soup, and had seconds and was pressured into thirds--not because he didn't like it but because we were both getting full! He really loved the dumplings and I think he even ate some mashed potatoes but I'm not sure. Of course, except for the tomatoes which were easy to avoid, I love all those foods and assume that is what I will eat in Heaven!

I loved seeing how the culture was different from ours. There was Babooshka in the kitchen cooking and taking care of Deodooshka (Grandfather). Vera and Alex called him Otyets (Father) and so I don't know his real name but he was my favorite! He wandered through where we were every once in a while and said stuff we couldn't understand and grinned, gold tooth gleaming. I think he was trying to show off some English but he was timid and mumbled and I couldn't understand a thing! Seriously, I wanted to hug him!

The funny, or at least different to us, thing was that the table was set for just us. There were 6, maybe 7 seats at the table and Vera sat off to the side and Alex sat at a place setting and ate some but he had already eaten. It was nice to visit during dinner but I admit, at first I was a little nervous that the plan was for them to stand around and watch us eat! Vera did keep a close eye on things and every time our dishes neared empty she was asking if we wanted more. Saying things like "Why you don't eat more? Alex always eats three bowls of borscht when he is eating". And, "Have some more palmaynee, don't you like them?" I did and had said so, but three helpings and two bowls of soup, a helping of mashed potatoes and some pork, not to mention the salad and bread were making me a little on the stuffed side!! Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining! It was all absolutely wonderful!

Before we left, I went to the kitchen door and waited while Vera packaged me up some borscht and dumplings and insisted that I must take some home. Babushka was there washing dishes and I wanted to help but got the impression that that wasn't something to offer. I did tell her the the food was "Ochin Khurasho!" (very good) and she smiled and nodded, pleased but unable to reply. I guess she suspected (correctly) that those were the few words I knew!

And I have to tell you that after the meal we went in the Living room and watched a few clips of DVDs that they have of some of the work Vera has done with an organization that ministers to the orphanages there. Very touching stuff. One that I that I can't help but mention was of a project to reunite siblings who were adopted apart. They had several groups of children but the children did not know what was happening. They were told to sit at a dinner table and when they did, they found that across the table would be their missing brother/sister. The one that was so precious was a girl, probably about 8, who looked up from her plate and saw her brother across the table and she just started sobbing with joy. She reminded me of Hannah. That is just what she might do. So precious. What these children have been through in their short little lives is unfathomable.

Really. My life is such a cakewalk. I have never been beaten or purposely burned, raped by a relative in my own home, or ripped from my family and sent to live in an institution. I have never been so poor that we could only afford my father's liquor or had to go to bed hungry, again.

You know, this is one of the reasons we are adopting. Because, in the grand scheme of things, any reasons not to are so shallow. Not enough room, not enough time, where would we keep that much more stuff?, they aren't biologically ours, money, etc... Do you see? They are all reasons that challenge our comfort, the bubble of "perfect-ness" that we have created for ouselves. Us, OURselves, Me, My.... If I have the capability to be a forever home for these children, how can I say that my "quality of life" is more important? God has sacrificed so much for us. Jesus certainly paid a price for my adoption into His family. How can I do any less? And you know what? What greater joy is there than to do the will of God?

This whole thing is ups and downs, joy and elation, but throughout every step we have joy. From deep within. From Him. And I am filled with Love for these children whom I don't even know yet. They're a gift. Not an obligation. Not a charity but a labor of love. It won't be a cakewalk, but it is a very worthy endeavor, for now and especially for eternity.


Dawn said...

What a precious post, Melissa! You have a wonderful outlook on this. So very true.
Your experience at your dinner is much like the things that Jessica shared after her summer in Moldova last year. It was a life changing experience for her. Part of her heart remains in that place with those people.

Tami said...


Nataliya said...

What a great experience! I also sent you an e-mail with my observations!

Stange Family said...

This was a very entertaining and moving story, Melissa. I continue to pray for your journey.

adopting2fromUkraine said...

What a great opportunity to get a taste of what it will be like in Ukraine! What I liked most was the sharing of your heart toward your future children. I feel exactly the same. You said it eloquently:)

Adopting2 from FRUA

Debbie said...

Thank you for sharing this, Melissa! I feel the same way. We're praying about when God will allow us to start the process--I want to jump on a plane right now and bring home armsful of kids!

BethPie said...

Thank you so much for sharing your neat experience. The food sounds delicious and the fellowship sounds delightful!

I'm so excited to see your family grow & I'm praying for the children who will be blessed to be a part of it! Your obedience to Christ pours out of everything you've written. :o)