Sabbath began early for me and for Kassie, too; we woke at 5 a.m. and nothing could get us back to sleep. We had discovered on Thursday that my alarm clock was not working, so I think that part of the early rising was my congenital fear of being late.
I wrote a little bit more in my journal. The trouble was that we were traveling at such a quick pace that there wasn't any time left over in the day to write; we were too busy doing for me to actually be able to write about it. Besides which, the entries had to be long to even begin to capture all the details. So I would get started with writing, and then end up having to put it down. One day's entry would usually take me about three days to write.
Mornings there in Shayan reminded me of rural Mountain City, where my grandfather lived for many years. That might be solely because that region of the US was the most rural memory available to me, but there was some similarity in the greenness and the chill in the air. I woke to the sound of many birds, the most notable being the cuckoo. I had never heard one before, except for the wooden ones in cuckoo clocks. I'd like to note that Wodehouse is absolutely correct: the song sounds most definitely more like "wuckoo" than "cuckoo."
The rest of the bird songs I didn't recognize, although I don't even really recognize the ones at home, so I'm a poor judge of whether they were foreign birds. And how could you ask? That was part of the trouble. If I asked what a bird was, odds were we'd have to ask Ivan, which would mean that we would only get the Ukrainian name...which isn't really helpful when one is trying to ascertain whether that bird has cousins in America.
The birdsongs were jumbled with the noise of barking dogs and roosters crowing, the occasional motor, church bells, and the conversations of the security and resort staff downstairs. Sometimes, it wouldn't really sound strange until I heard the cuckoo or focused in on the words floating up to my balcony, when I would realize that I didn't understand any of them.
Breakfast was the same as it had been the day before. I was rapidly becoming used to the ever-presence of tomatoes (pomodore) and cucumbers at meals. It was one idea that I took home with me. On this morning, we were also served a plate of lemon slices and a portion of sugar. Victor said that the way to eat them was to put sugar on top of one slice of lemon, and then eat the whole slice, rind, sugar, and all. At first, I was almost positive that he was pulling my leg, but he was serious. So all of us had to try it, although I think Bev only took a small bite. It was a very odd taste and sensation: the tender lemon, the tough rind, all sweet on top and all sour on the bottom, with the bitterness of the rind cutting through it all. I'm not sure that I would ever just sit and eat a plate full of them, but it was sure to be a great party trick when I got home. Also, later in the trip, I saw this same thing used in between toasts, particularly of vodka.
Our first destination that morning was the Sabbatarian church in Khust, which is pastored by Vasyl Mondich. The church meets in a mission in town, and we had to drive there, although most of the members don't drive on the Sabbath (this didn't seem to be a hard-and-fast rule, though). The street in front of the mission looked like a free-for-all but was really a market; we had to squeeze through a narrow passage behind stalls and tents to reach the door. We ladies had borrowed headscarves from the voluminous collection of Nina Yurishko, and we fussed a bit with them as we climbed the beautiful wooden stairway to the sanctuary.
We climbed the wide stairway, following Victor; at the top, he was greeted enthusiastically and spirited away by Vasyl Mondich, the pastor. They withdrew to the front of the room, leaving us ladies looking around us a little helplessly. A lady whom I did not know (but whom I later learned was Svetlana Mondich, Vasyl's wife and Nina Yurishko's sister) came over and led us to seats in the center section of seats. There were three sections of seats: most of the women sat on the left of the hall, most of the men sat on the right, and there were children and a mixture of of both genders in the center, where we were. Bev told me that there was no rule that men and women should or must sit apart, but that is was a tradition that still remains.
The service began with singing. Rather than having, as we do, a song leader, the pianist played and sang--and I believe that she had to read the music from one book and the words from another, as the hymnal we were using had only lyrics (and she did have two open books on the piano). I was really excited to see that my learning the alphabet had been helpful...I could sound out the words and sing along, and I could pick out a few words here and there. It was a blessing to be able to join in the service, rather than just listen.
The service was long (almost three hours), but it really didn't seem that long. There were several speakers (including Brat Victor, of course); for most of the service, a whispered translation was provided by a very nice young man who saw our predicament when Victor went up to speak. I learned firsthand the difference between native English and English as a second language, as taught in a foreign country. English is Victor's second language, but he has been speaking it since he was five and he learned it here, so it is flawless. The gentleman who translated for us (and this would apply to other translators we had, as well) did a fine job, but it was very easy to tell that he had never lived in an English-speaking country. The words he used were, for example, a correct translation of the words spoken, but often didn't really fit the meaning as it was intended. It was easy to tell this when it was Victor speaking, as I knew the message was a repeat (modified) of one he had recently given at home.
Some things that struck me about the service:
1) The communal prayer: During every prayer, there was someone 'leading' the prayer, who spoke in a clear voice, but everyone prayed their own personal prayers simultaneously in a murmur. I cannot describe the feeing that descended in the room as each person prayed in their own tongue, in their own words, but together in voice. Fancifully, I imagined the sound of it as the sound of the Holy Spirit moving. What it impressed upon me the most was the incredible power of a God who hears all these things and not only hears and understands, but savors them.
2) The Lord's Prayer: This was recited by everyone simultaneously at least once during the service. I was moved to tears. Later, I saw the Lord's Prayer painted and hung in houses and at the Light of Love mission. I really wished I could find one; if I knew how to get one, I still would. It was the one souvenir I really wanted from Ukraine, and the one I couldn't find.
3) Brat/Sestre: In rough phonetic Romanization, this is the Ukrainian for 'brother' and 'sister.' Chris and I have always privately rather liked the custom of some American believers of referring to one another as brother and sister. I fell in love with it here. I wasn't 'Mrs. Rowland,' as almost anyone might call me; Merely by virtue of being a believer in the same God and a fellow worshipper, I was 'Sister Katherine,' or more movingly, 'our sister,' a full member of the family of faith gathered there.
4) Singing: What a joy to sing in a place where song is so clearly encouraged and celebrated! Although the brethren didn't react in the ways I'm used to, they seemed to enjoy the hymns that Bev and I sang. More wonderful to me was the hearty singing of everyone in the congregation, not one member seeming ho-hum about singing words of praise. I was so glad that I had put the work into learning the Ukrainian alphabet, as this meant I could sound out and sing along with the hymns from the book (as long as someone turned me to the right page).
5) The Messages: These tended to be more general than our usual messages, focusing more on broad principles of conduct rather than specific or lengthy explanations of Scripture. There were several short messages--Victor's was the longest, and even that was far shorter than it had been when we had received it on the Holy Day back home.
6) Facial Expressions: Smiles are reserved. It's very hard for me to tell whether people are pleased, displeased, or indifferent, because they don't smile with the readiness that Americans do. It can be quite intimidating, and I found myself second-guessing everything, because I simply could not read the faces or the body language like I could at home.
7) Shaking Hands: Both men and women shake hands, but women are more prone (when greeting another woman) to lean in, take one's hand as though to shake, but instead to lean further forward and kiss one cheek. Hugs are very rare between adults, and I've only really seen them between close male friends--Victor and Ivan, for example, embraced upon greeting. The only other place I've really seen them is with children.
Victor translated part of the service for us. The remainder was translated by a young man named Vitale. He tried very hard, but it was difficult subject matter (church vocabulary is so specific and varies so from what common conversation might use) and it was tough for him to keep up. The translation, then, was somewhat piecemeal; the most helpful thing was being able to follow along in the Bible. It was very tiring, surprisingly, to follow the translation, particularly in Vitale's case. The difference between a native bilingual speaker and a non-native speaker who had learned the language later in life was huge, and I ended up having to almost retranslate the translation, if that makes sense.
Following the service, we were greeted by several of the brethren. Vasyl Mondich came, and through Vitale, said to me, "Our tradition may not be the same, but our text is the same and our God is the same. I pray God's blessing on you." I replied that I greatly enjoyed seeing how others worship our God, and that I prayed God's blessing on him and on the church. Boy was I nervous--I wasn't at all sure what to say.
The Mondich family invited us to lunch, but we had already planned to have lunch with Ivan's family. Lunch consisted of veal patties, chicken soup, bean soup, cabbage rolls. I knew that it must be expensive to feed all of us, so I really felt trapped at times--I didn't want to be a pig, or to eat too much, but everyone urged me on so that it was hard to refuse without seeming terribly rude.