Amidst exams, graduations, and flowers, I was able to get away for a few days. I had a doctors appointment and meeting in Kyiv right after a Burty visit so I got an unplanned long weekend. Drew was in Burty with his American dad, his real dad. Jim Ireland is an awesome guy. He showed up ready to feast and listen and laugh. My kind of guy. It was so great to watch everyone in Burty react to his presence with great joy and welcoming arms. I know for Drew it was a beautiful, moving moment to have his two families come together and love being together. I was honored to be there. To sit and listen and laugh alongside. When our group first arrived in town back in September, we were stared at and talked about due to being so new, so different. But now, people are totally chill with foreigners wandering around to say, "Wow, look at that!" I love Burty. I love everything and everyone. I love the way they have adapted enough to allow visitors into their culture while introducing these visitors to what it means to be a real "Ukrainian'. Not those city folks. Real village, farming, rambling, working, dancing, singing, laughing folk.
While in Burty, I got to celebrate my sweet friend's, Yulia, graduation from college, watch a community concert in which Grace, Ryan, and Vanessa sang and danced all Ukrainian like, eat dinner with a few amazing families, paint the school's gym, and, of course, let Mama Olea put me to good use in her field and kitchen and running her errands. Every day in Burty feels like a week. So much happens. Being in Burty is like going to bed exhausted and achy but waking up in a warm, soft bed. It's pure comfort and security. It's something one never wants to leave. Each visit deepens in meaning and emotion. Each departure is becoming vastly more difficult.
Maxim, Drew, Grace, and I at Yulia's party
Saturday Morning with the Boys
At Mama Olea's House
Grace, Mama Olea, Drew, Jim, and Luda (PC teacher)
Dima showed off his best version of 'Mad World'
Packing up all the treats to send to Texas.
Slightly nerve racking.
Two Families Together!
Wandering around town with Yulia
Pond Swimming. (something scared Roman just a bit)
Helping in the Garden
Baba Tonya's Backyard
My Best Papaw Friend.
Baba Tonya: I adore this woman with a fierce passion. She taking care of her farm and family. She's tiny yet mighty. Her hands have scars, burns, and blisters. I want my hands to look more like her. She has earned her hands.
Neighbor who dropped to ask why I wasn't having dinner with him. During my next visit, we will fix that problem.
Dasha and Uyla decided they wanted to wave 'Hello' to America.
This guy would hardly speak to us during English classes in the Fall. Now, he is volunteering to help out and be involved in PC activities. I am so proud of the progress Burty is making.
Dinner at Ryan's House: Three Generations, Twelve People, One House!
Sasha's Homemade Yoga. He is now accepting students.