Monday, August 23, 2010

Missionary Monday - Transportation

Most of you will never come to Ukraine {though I wish you would!}, so "Missionary Monday" will also be dedicated to teaching you about the culture and things we see here.

For example, in a church that runs about 120 in both hearing and deaf services, there are less than a handful of people who own cars other than the missionaries. In the picture below, you can see our church and church parking lot... Still looking for the church parking lot? Well, we don't have one! And, we don't need one! Our church is located on the corner of a neighborhood block, so we just park along-side the church building and have never once... not ONE Sunday.... had a problem with not having enough parking spaces!

Most of our people depend on public transportation, which costs about 40 cents to ride. We have taken public transportation hundreds of times, and we even lived almost an entire year without a car. (This was by choice. We were rookies to the mission field and wanted to be immersed amongst the people to learn their culture and language.)
We have owned several different cars since living in Ukraine. Now, before you start thinking we are rich, you have to understand that buying/selling vehicles in Ukraine is also very different. When you drive a new car off of a car lot in America, it immediately devalues by several thousand dollars. Here in Ukraine, that is not so. In fact, vehicles actually gain value with time here. We have bought several cars here that we drove for a couple of years and then sold for nearly the same price we bought them for. Not bad, huh?
The car we currently own in Ukraine
Now, Ukrainians have a different taste and style of vehicles. One popular type of car here is what I call the "boxey" car. About 1 in 5 cars here {yes, I have counted... while hubby drives, I look around and observe!) is a "boxey" car. It is hard to tell without getting close if the "boxey" cars are old or new because each year they keep making this same model without updating the look. So, you can be sitting in a parking lot with cars that look exactly alike but are 30 years different in age. Even though our car is not one of the "boxey" versions, it is certainly a Russian-made brand. These cars are much less expensive for us than the European vehicles, the parts are much easier to find, and mechanics here are much more familiar with these cars. I do not know if we will ever own a "boxey" car, but we will most likely always drive a Russian-made car here. Vehicles are driven very much past their "expiration date" here. Certainly there are laws about safety of cars on the road, but clearly these laws are not fully enforced.
Sometimes we get quite the entertainment out of watching vehicles ride down the road. Just a few weeks ago, though, after eight years of "vehicle observation" even I was even impressed at a new sight. I was driving and pulled behind a car that was completely without windows or tail lights. In fact, there was a two-liter bottle sticking out of the place where one of the tail lights was supposed to be. My American guest, Tiffany, and I gawked at the sight. Even I couldn't believe it! However, when I pulled around this car, we both burst out laughing when we realized that, even though this car had a driver, someone was pulling it! Whew, was I relieved...

Even though we do see fine equipment from time to time, it is more common to see an old "grandpa" tractor like this, still working hard: And, how about the time we went to a Ukrainian wedding and followed behind the groom's brothers to the reception, who were both riding together in their finest clothing like this?: Below is the bus that comes out to our village three times a day (about every 5 hours) during the winter months. During the summer months, a larger bus comes four times a day (about every 4 hours). I am looking forward to showing you our bus stop here in the village in a future post! Can you imagine having to depend on transportation that only comes by every 4-5 hours?!
Yes, and sometimes you even see very expensive cars here, like the one below (a couple of our church ladies are posing by it... and drooling...!)
The only transportation law we have here for kids is that they have to be in the backseat until the age of 10, I believe. Seat belts are optional.... except in our car where Dad and Mom make the rules.
And should I even tell you that when the Thompsons (family of five) were our guests last month, that we squeezed all ten of us into our car on several occasions?! Ah, yes... the men sat comfortably in the front while the two Mommies and our six children squeezed into the backseat. Were we comfortable? Hmmm.... let's just say that we were all enjoying the air conditioning in the car, which is the only place we have air conditioning. We enjoyed the slight relief from our 100 degree Fahrenheit weather and the great fellowship so much, that we barely noticed we had all "gelled" together once we reached our destination!
(By the way, Tiffany... you won't believe me when I tell you how much it has cooled down here already... in just one week. I am even wearing socks and have a blanket over my lap as I type this evening!)
One of the things on our "to do" list before our October 5th departure to America for a 5-month furlough is to sell our car. (We just bought our tickets today!) And, our reason for selling? We are outgrowing our car! Our family of 5, which will soon be 6, is going to need a mini-van when we return! Hooray for baby #4!


  1. I eagerly look forward to reading your posts, especially the "Missionary Mondays"! I am currently a Senior in Bible college, majoring in Missions. Although I'm not 100% sure where exactly the Lord will have me, I know I'll serve where my husband (identity currently unknown =) will be, so I love reading blogs by missionary wives! Thank you for such a descriptive glimpse into Ukrainian life! Keep them coming! =)

  2. Russian and Estonia have carseat laws for kids. I don't think Russia enforced theirs much, but mommy sure did. With all the crazy driving there I felt it was very important for my little ones.
    It is nice to "see" how things work in Ukraine. Many things are very similar to what we see here, but some things are different. Thanks for giving us a look at life in Ukraine.

  3. I love to read about other fields and "experience" them. Several years ago, Uganda passed a seat belt law, enforced it for a couple of months, and now they don't even ticket you when they pull you over. (We even had to sell Keith's motorcycle to pay for seat belts to be installed in our van.) Our van is usually so stuffed with people that there is no way a seat belt could be put on. And there are no laws concerning the children in the vehicles.

  4. I had to smile! I really enjoyed this post. Fizzie and I got some good laughs as we read it together last night.

    Love you!

  5. Joseph and Michelle MaxwellTuesday, August 24, 2010

    Jolene and David,
    Thank you for posting these updates. It always good to hear how things are going for old friends. We are blessed to be able to say we know faithful servants such as you! We are praying for you!
    Joseph and Michelle Maxwell

  6. Read your post today and enjoyed seeing your life! When I grow up :), I am coming to see you!

    Mrs. Z

  7. Rosemary LechnowskyTuesday, August 24, 2010

    Wow! This was so fun to read. Very informative. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. Can't wait to be there.

  8. I so enjoy reading your blog, it makes life as a missionary look like real life. I have always wondered what wives did on the field, its nice to know that you can care for your kids while hubby works for God. Such a blessing to see your mission field is the same as mine, the home. Keep up the good work.

  9. Jolene, this post was so interesting. I learned a lot! Thank you for sharing things that we in America, may never even think of. How blessed we are to have such reliable transportation. I am reminded by your post that I shouldn't take this for granted. *smile*

    I prayed for your family today and want to remind you of what a blessing you are to so many. Our Savior shines through you, my dear sister!

  10. Wow! October is right around the corner!!

    I loved this post. Would you believe that I actually miss riding the bus in Ukraine? And I really miss walking, too. There is nowhere to walk in my little town. Most neighborhoods don't even have sidewalks. :(

    I guess we will just have to come back for a visit!


Thank you for your encouraging comments! "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." Proverbs 25:25