Saturday June 26

We attended our first church service this morning. Pastor Sveta leads the congregation that we’ll be doing the work for. They currently share space with Kiev First Church on the main level of the building we are staying in. The order of worship was liturgical with a rhythm of scriptures and songs throughout. We knew all the songs and it was interesting to sing them in our language as the congregation sang in theirs. Pastor Sveta preached and her daughter Zena interpreted. The service lasted about an hour and 45 minutes.

After the service we had lunch with everyone who was there. Borsch with bread and some delicious desserts. It was very good and the tables were a mixture of Americans and Ukrainians. There was much laughter and conversation.

After lunch we loaded the vans and headed to a section of The Lavra where there is a monastery and the Church of the Trinity. Monks came to the area in the 12th century. At that time they would live in caves that they dug. In the 1740’s a young man came hoping to join the order but he was not welcomed in. Over the years many people came to see the young monk because he listened so intently and gave such good counsel. In 1744 Empress Elisabeth, Peter the Great’s daughter, came to see him. The monk was so helpful she gave orders for the monastery to accept him into their order.

In time the monk became ill and as death approached he instructed the others not to wash or prepare the body, just bury him. They did as he wished. Later the Church of the Trinity was built in his honor laying the church’s cornerstone near his gravestone. Many came to visit the site but one day a woman came and declared that this young monk was her sister. The only way for her to serve the Lord was to become a monk and therefore she disguised herself.

We arrived at the Church of the Trinity just before services began. A number of the faithful as well as the resident priests, monks, and those preparing were in attendance. The bells rang. The incense smoked. The priests sang…and oh did they sing. I have never heard anything like it. I don’t know what they were saying but it was heavenly.

We then went up to the Friendship Arch where a crowd had gathered to watch the world cup. There were also inflatable games, rides, and activities for children. We walked around and took photos of each other looking over the Dneiper River.

On our way to dinner we stopped at Lybid (swan) a monument to three brothers, one being Ki and their sister Lybid. They are credited with founding Kiev (the city of Ki). They were visigoths and came down river finding the high ridges suitable for living and good for defense. Kiev is the oldest major city around at 1500 years old, compared to Moscow at 800 years old and St. Petersburg at 300 years old.

Lastly we gathered at a restaurant for a traditional Ukrainian family style dinner. There were three different kinds of salad, homemade bread, borsch, and something similar to what some call ‘pot-stickers.’ A few of the guys were going to Josh and Robin’s house to watch soccer but I thought I’d be asleep before the game started so I came back with the group.

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