Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kiev Pictures

What were you doing on Thanksgiving Day? We were in Kiev having our SDA appointment. Here are some pictures from our time there. They aren't really part of our adoption narrative so I never posted them before. But now that we are home for a little while, I'll go ahead and share some of them with you. Everybody's adoption journey begins and ends in Kiev. We all follow different paths when we go to get our kids, but we all have this part in common.

Here is a Google Earth picture of the area around where our apartment was. It was a 15 min. walk to the spots marked with yellow pins.

This is our apartment. If you have Google Earth, you can Fly To 50°27'15.92"N 30°30'33.85"E. It cost us $110 per day that we were there. That is the going rate in downtown Kiev now for apartments or hotel rooms. We didn't realize it at the time, but the building was unusual in that it was "small". What I mean by that is that most of the buildings in this area are long attached multistory buildings, as you can see in the other pictures. Without fail, all of the apartment buildings that we were in in Ukraine had stairwells with a certain smell. If you've been there you know what I mean. They are dark and musty and kind of creepy. I included a picture of the mailboxes. As far as we could tell there was no actual mail delivery, at least there wasn't evidence of any. All of the buildings have combination locks on the doors, so I don't see how a mailman could get in, anyway. We were told by people that live in Ukraine that nobody mails things. For example, in Odessa, you could pay your utility bills at the grocery store. We never saw any mailboxes on the street like you would see in America. But there are post offices, however. We had one of our friends buy us some Ukrainian stamps that we got for souvenirs.

From our apartment, we would go east and north to the SDA. This is the east-west street we would take. In the cities, cars park on the sidewalks, which are wider than we have in America. I guess they need to be. In fact, in Odessa, we even had to move out of the way for a bus that was driving on the sidewalk. I didn't have the camera with me at the time. I've learned to always have the camera along, even for mundane errands, as you never know what unusual thing you will see. I have included a picture of a lady changing the exchange rate sign at an exchange shop. These yellow signs are everywhere downtown. When we arrived in Kiev, the exchange rate was 6.80 grivna to the dollar. It later peaked at 9.05 while we were in Odessa, and was 7.70 when we came back home. We saw some workers painting an historic building on that street. Kiev recently celebrated its 1,525th anniversary(!) and many buildings are being spiffed up downtown.

When you turn the corner and head north to the SDA (at the Millenium Cafe, for those of you familiar with the area), the street that you take has many artists with their paintings for sale. It was fun to look at their displays. To the north, the building in the background with the red roof is the SDA building. As you get closer to the SDA, there are many souvenir vendors. The street that the SDA is on is in one of the oldest neighborhoods of Kiev. Several of the souvenir stands had Matryoshka Dolls with politicians on it. This one with Barack Obama had other presidents inside of it, such as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan.

The SDA building is located on an historic street, on the edge of a very historic hill, and is literally right next door to a very historic church. In Google Earth, Fly To 50°27'31.30"N 30°31'6.91"E for the SDA building.

The street it is on is called Andrew's Descent, in English. They have a big street fair on this street every year during Kiev's anniversary. That would be fun to see. The church, St. Andrew's, is built on the spot where they say that the Apostle Andrew erected a cross overlooking the Dnieper river in 55 AD.

According to Wikipedia's article on St. Andrew,

The New Testament records that St Andrew was a son of Jonah, or John, (Matthew 16:17; John 1:42). He was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee (John 1:44). Both he and his brother Peter were fishermen by trade, hence the tradition that Jesus called them to be his disciples by saying that He will make them "fishers of men". At the beginning of Jesus' public life they occupied the same house at Capernaum (Mark 1:21-29).

The Gospel of John teaches that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him and John the Evangelist to follow Jesus (John 1:35-40). Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and hastened to introduce him to his brother (John 1:41). Thenceforth the two brothers were disciples of Christ. On a subsequent occasion, prior to the final call to the apostolate, they were called to a closer companionship, and then they left all things to follow Jesus (Luke 5:11; Matthew 4:19-20; Mark 1:17-18).

In the gospel, Andrew is referred to as being present on some important occasions as one of the disciples more closely attached to Jesus (Mark 13:3; John 6:8, 12:22), but in Acts there is only a bare mention of him (1:13).

Eusebius quotes Origen as saying Andrew preached in Asia Minor and in Scythia, along the Black Sea as far as the Volga and Kiev.
This location next to the SDA building in Kiev is the spot where they say St. Andrew placed his cross. Wikipedia says,

Saint Andrew the apostle is believed to have traveled up the western shores of the Black Sea, to the area of present-day southern Ukraine, while preaching in the lands of Scythia. Legend has it that he traveled further still, up the Dnieper River, until he came to the location of present-day Kiev in 55 AD, where he erected a cross and prophesied the foundation of a great Christian city.
It's a strange feeling to stand in a spot where the Apostle Andrew, a disciple of Jesus, and Simon Peter's brother, may have stood 2,000 years ago.

On the day I visited the area while exploring, there was a wedding party having their picture taken on the steps of the church. I was too far away to get a picture of that, but here is the bride in front of the SDA building.

If you continue to go east on that first street and don't turn north to go toward the SDA, you will encounter two large plazas (ploshcha in Russian) with two other beautiful churches near each other. In Google Earth, Fly To 50°27'21.61"N 30°31'21.95"E.

View looking to the west where I just came from.

The view looking southwest toward St. Sophia's Cathedral.

The view looking northeast, at St. Michael's Monastery. It is a facsimile of the original which was built some time in the period 1050-1100 AD.

Near St. Michaels you will find a government building that is Ukraine's Foreign Ministry. Back in the 1930's, the Soviets demolished the original monastery and constructed a new government building. They were planning another one but with the onset of WWII it was never built.

Down the street a little ways from St. Michael's is St. Sophia's Cathedral. Construction for this church was begun in 1037, and many ancient Kievan rulers were buried here.

Looking to the west in the plaza at St. Sophia's.

Looking north from St. Sophia's. If you walked far enough, the SDA would be at the end of this street.

Just downhill to the southeast on a little side street from St. Sophia's is Independence Square. In Google Earth, Fly To 50°27'4.50"N 30°31'23.03"E. Back in the 1990's, this was the focal point of the Orange Revolution, where the fledgling democratic nation of Ukraine threw off the shackles of Communism and cronyism. The whole world watched as the political events unfolded in this place.

There is a large 2-level underground mall here called The Globe. We had our Thanksgiving dinner there in the food court. I voted for that over the nearby McDonald's. In the satellite photo, you can see a round and a rectangular skylight; these give light to the mall underground. In that inside photo, you can see the round skylight from beneath. Independence Square is bustling with people day and night.

Right now, it is the site of Ukraine's national Christmas Tree. The tree wasn't up yet when we were there in November. Maybe it will still be there at the beginning of February.

1 comment:

Joy said...

Hey! I am so excited for you that today is the day!! I am praying that all goes smoothly. ... Thanks for posting about your time in Kiev. It brings back memories for me. Though I was never in Kiev, there are similarities to my time in Moscow and Sochi. Back then, I bought some Matryoshka Dolls with Russian leaders on them. Blessings to you and your expanded family!