Friday, February 25, 2005

Pictures! Pictures! Pictures!

Pictures! Finally! Not organized, labelled, or even right-side-up, but PICTURES! I hope it works... :)
http://photos.yahoo.com/mbinukraine2005

Friday, February 18, 2005

So I did actually move...

Maria and I had our bags packed to move on Monday last, supposedly she was going to reserve one of the UCU vans (that picked me up from the airport and that drive visitors around and staff and stuff) for us to move that afternoon. She didn't reserve it until that morning, but there was a slot from 4-6 open so theoretically it should have worked, except someone overrode the reservation sheet and there was no van for us that day. (As I think about it now I wonder if I had played "help the foreign visitor" up more maybe we could have gotten something sooner, but maybe not.) So the next day was Stritennia, the feast of the presentation (candlemas), which was a day off for students but basically staff day to celebrate kick off of new semester, intro new staff, etc. So we had big fancy liturgy at this church a ways from downtown ("the Pope church", for those who know) and then a dinner in the church hall (but they had tons more people show up than were supposed to apparently cuz they dint have enuf seats or food). So that took all day and her dept had a van reserved to drive folks back to UCU afterward, so she thot maybe we could hijack that one and get it to move us. The thing that was most stressful in all this was the not knowing when it was going to happen and having to organize a van, helpers, and the landlord of the new place (who actually works at UCU). Then there was the idea that if we coudl't get an UCU van we'd just call a taxi van, so that option always kind of being out there made it more stressful. So the banquet ended and after much discussion we decided to not try to move that night, but she talked a driver into swearing we could have a van the next day. (we actually ended up getting a ride back to UCU with the original van, and Alex and Kevin this other American came over and ate drank and were merry with Marie Aude and I) So of course the next day President Yushchenko decides to come to Lviv. he was supposed to come the week before but didn't show up, so I wasn't entirely convinced he woudl show up that day. But he did. Well, it seemed that he would, and all of UCU was going out to greet him, as they were trying to lobby him to sign this agreement to give academic freedom to UCU, National University of Lviv, and this Academy in Kiev. So of course he was supposed to show up in town just when we were supposed to move. Actually Maria called me that morning and said that her main priest-boss had called her with an urgent need for her help for some other big deal thing happening at UCU that day, so if we had gotten the van it was only going to be me who would have been moving at that time. Alex and Kevin were supposed to help me move, but Alex called me that morning too and said he wanted to go see Yushchenko. So I said, forget it, I'm going to see Yushchenko too! So we stood up the van driver, which serves him right as far as I'm concerned, but of course Yushchenko stood us up, too, got stuck in some admin. meeting, but eventually he did show up, and there was a meeting with academics, at which Father Borys, the rector of UCU was given a medal/award personally by Yushchenko for UCU's help with the revolution, AND Andriy Andrushkiv got special recognition and HUGGED by Yushchenko b/c he lay down in front of a truck at some point during the revolution to stop it from doing something against them, like bring troops somewhere or something (sorry I forget the important stuff!) AND Olya Bosik got her hand kissed by Yushchenko for all her work with Christmas Together program that UCU organized to bring students from the east and south to Lviv to experience Xmas and build unity. So it was quite a wonderful time and I'm not quite sure what actually happened with the requests for academic freedom (and recognition of the philosophy/theology degree at UCU), but we'll see if that comes through eventually!

AND SO...

Thursday morning Father Ihor, who is a priest in the pastoral dept at UCU and Maria's good friend and spiritual director, came with his own car and moved both me and Maria in the course of a little under two hours.

I really like our place. Moving in there has given me another little boost. For those who know Lviv, it's on a little side street behind the Arsenal museum, in the first building past that open area that they told us was the old Synagogue. It's a really cute area, lots of little coffee shops and such a historic part of town. It's on the fourth floor and there are plants in the windows on the landings on the way up the stairs :). And I have a big room with a double bed and three windows with ledges big enough to sit in!:) And there is a big living room and a TV and a cute little kitchen with a table and a nice window (the light is really great, all the windows and up high so you get light over the buildlings). We are learning the eccentricities of the place. Last night I locked the bathroom door from the inside, but I was outside. (It has the doorknobs that lock by pushing and turning). I ended up taking the doorknob off and jimmying it open. (I felt good about that!:) And then Maria came home and we noticed the heater went out. Of course. I had turned it up a little and then it went out. Well we spent a few hours trying to relight it -- rather to make it stay lit. Finally we bundled up and Oleh came this morning and fixed it. It wasn't that cold last night so we were okay :). But now we know how to fix it :). Okay, time to go for prayer group. I'm nervous b/c I'm supposed to play guitar for it but it's these Ukrainian songs and I don't know them very well so I mess up a lot. But all shall be well, very well! :) Hugs to you all! :)

The proleptic poem and the moving adventure

Jaime wrote:

"'And I hear them saying
you'll never change things
And no matter what you do,
it's all the same thing.
But it's not the world
that I am changing.
I do this so this world will know
that it will not change me.'

...As Christians we have a unique calling to help cure the world of its evils. Sometimes that involves taking the road less traveled by. Then again, we mustn't forget the words of that American sage Jerry Seinfeld:'Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.'"

Indeed. Am I here to change things? Hmm. Dobre pitannya. "It's not the world that I am changing" - Here to see myself change? Perhaps. - "so that this world will know that it will not change me" ... but won't it? Doesn't it every day?

The other night Marie-Aude and I had a long talk about the state of things here - it was the "What's wrong with this country?!" talk. She has studied Russian history far more than I, and did her doctorate on the Gulag in Russian literature. It's like, if I were in India, or Ethiopia, or Columbia, or some very obviously third world country, I feel like it would be very different. Obviously people are starving. Obviously the water isn't clean. Obviously the government is messed up. You wouldn't have expectations of civilization, safety, functionality, timeliness, modernization. But here, it's like there's this facade -- maybe it's only in my head -- that somehow things can't really be THAT different than western Europe. Maybe it's b/c the old parts of Lviv so closely resemble other old cities of Europe. But it's funny, b/c when I was here this summer one of the things I said I appreciated was the absence of a facade, that things were at face value, that people didn't try to hide the rotten past, try to hide the rotten buildings, rotten utilities, rotten government. The trip I was on this summer was meant to be one of exposition, to some extent, and the people I talked to were interested in telling westerners the truth about their country. But now I think I am seeing more of the efforts to hide, to pretend to be western, to pretend to be modern. Maybe that's the thing with everybody having cell phones -- everybody has cell phones, it must be a "modern and efficient country". That and that UCU isn't really in Ukraine, it's in a parallel universe that can deceptively appear like the West.

So it's a hard thing to put your finger on. Marie Aude was talking about the lack of recognition of the individual. That in the west you know there was the Enlightenment, and humanism, and the overthrowing the absolute monarchs in favor of democratic republics based on human rights, etc. but here...Eastern Europe/Russia, then there's China and all that's probably a whole nother story, that just didn't happen. They went from tsars and serfdom directly into communism. Why? Why did history evolve so differently here? Marie Aude said that they don't teach you to think here, they don't teach you to solve problems, to ask questions, to be an individual, it's all about being a group, you can't do things on your own, YOU don't really exist, only as part of the group. Why at the state university here do they have 40 hours of lecture a week and their exams are mostly regurgitation, if the professor shows up for them, and almost everybody gets almost a perfect score? Why are the streets cleaned of snow and ice by little old ladies with brooms and sharp shovels instead of snow plows and salt? Why do you have to pay for ketchup packets at McDonald's? These are just a few small examples, and it's more a general sense to me still than a list of empirical evidence, but it's just something that eats at you -- it all seems so normal, but...then it's very obviously NOT! (Sorry, I'm being culturally centrist!) But I put the question to all you historians and sociologists out there -- WHY IS THIS SUCH A TWILIGHT ZONE? What exactly is it that has happened or failed to happen here that it's so messed up?

Wow, this was goign to be the story of my move, which was actually another example of messed-up-ness. Actually, though, you know if I were a native Ukrainian, or even if I'd lived here for a few years and had more of a clue what was going on, I'm sure it wouldn't feel like such a Twilight Zone. I think I said this before, Jeffrey said it's like going back to being five years old and having to grow up all over again, not knowing the language, not being able to communicate with people, to read signs, needing people to help you with everything, everything, everything. It's started to get to me about having to accept so much "charity of time" from people -- then I try to think of it like Jeffrey talks about fundraising : you are giving them the "opportunity to give", so I am giving them the opportunity to be helpful! But it is really like being five years old again! (So if you feel old, move to another country!:)

Birthday: Lotsa Love, the Ukrainian shopping vortex, and a little vulgarity (in translation)

So my birthday was wonderful -- thanks to SO much love received from both sides of the Atlantic! Especially the HOURLY emails from my crew at home! Props to y'all for your amazing thoughtfulness and dedication to friendship!!! (And I REALLY loved the Mustard Seed thank you card SCANNED in for me to see -- I kept trying to print the page with your signatures but it didn't work. It was so cool just to see your handwriting!!:) I must say I especially enjoyed Jaime's poems. I'll quote one later as a PROLEPTIC prelude (thank you, Anders -- how do you like my redundancy?:) to the story of my moving adventure this week. But first, more news of the American in Ukraine birthday experience... highlights of the day included:

* Beginning to receive email birthday greetings the day before and continuing to receive them for the next several days -- including the awesome Mustard Seed card that I got a few days ago! That was so cool, you guys!

* Having my birthday announced by the rector after Liturgy, including a wish in English, and "getting Mnohiya Lita'd" -- I've made this up into a verb, it's really this song they sing for people on their feast day or birthday or to welcome someone or say we love you or thanks for buying me that vodka, or gosh that's a lovely hot pink hairstyle you've got there, etc. But I LOVE IT!:) So I was really pumped to have the whole congregation (well, it's a daily liturgy, but still!) sing it to me (and the lady who'd just had a baby and the other one who got married recently, but neither of them were actually there so I felt like it was just for me ;).

*The women from the Lay Leadership Center (whom I had just told the day before that I wasn't going to be working for them anymore) gave me a card and a cool candle.

*Shopping with Pavlo for a boombox, which actually ended up being a mini-stereo, which I am quite excited to have. Paradoxically, that shopping experience was both a heck of a lot of fun, while also convincing me that shopping is one of the most frustrating things to do here -- well, actually, they take what can be a very fun pasttime and make it quite disagreeable. First, (pardon the growing frustration level with society here which is beginning to manifest in increasingly sardonic sarcasm) you can't actually do anything for yourself here, because well that would be either too difficult or dangerous b/c you're probably not trustworthy, so you always need a clerk to help you look at things. This electronics store was actually much better than grocery shopping -- there you have to ask for everything from behind the counter, and there are three or four counters in the shop so you have to check out several times if you want items from multiple areas, which means you have to "queue" (I'll end up British yet!) that many times for usually a long time. But back to Eldorado, the Best Buy of Ukraine. So the boomboxes were out on display and all but of course they weren't plugged in so we had to have the guy plug stuff in that I wanted to hear. Then we figured out that if I wanted any flexibility over sound quality I wasn't going to get it in a boom box, and we figured out that the ministereo things weren't that much more expensive and they at least gave you those fun preset tone settings "rock" "jazz" "classic" etc. And they were all plugged in so I could play with them. So we'd have a guy with us for awhile but then he left cuz I was being putzy about trying everything, and then when we wanted to ask a question we couldn't find a single clerk in the entire store (well one was back in vacuums) but the rest had like all taken a break at the same time. (Which I guess could happen at Best Buy, too, except that store is usually crawling with clerks.) Then we found one and I was ready to buy if this one had a remote, but the guy said we had to find the guy that had helped us originally (I suppose so he coudl get his commission), so we finally found him but he said he didnt think you could get a remote for that one b/c it was the floor model and there wasn't one out with it. And he said he'd only give me a 2 percent discount So, I finally decided on one and the guy went and got one out of the back. Then you go to the service desk and he opens up the entire system and sets it all up so you can see if it actually works. Then you go up to the front to pay for it, and get your warantee card, which is apparently HIGHLY important here b/c everything you buy has one (I wonder how good they are at actually redeeming them!). So I had already gone to the ATM several times that morning b/c I got money out to buy the boombox and to have some dollars on hand since my ATM card is going to become extinct soon (bank merger, another story), and you can only take out 200 dollars at a time from the ATMs here. But of course the stereo I was going to buy was more expensive than the boombox I had intended to buy, so I needed more money and, while this store accepted credit cards, it wouldn't take mine for some reason, so we had to run back outside to an ATM so I could make my fourth withdrawal of the day, then go back in, pay for it, take the receipt and warantee to the guy at the service desk, who them repackaged the stereo and, after showing the security guard the receipt (also like Best Buy), we happily left. [I guess it wasn't quite as amusing as my hair dryer-buying experience, which was in a small appliance store where EVERYTHING was locked in glass cases and when you wanted to buy something they took it out and took you to the back room where they did the whole plug it in and make sure it works thing, and it was so funny to see these women having Cuisinarts demonstrated for them and blenders and stuff, and then me with my hair dryer, like, yup, it works, okay, thanks! can I go now?:)]

* The actual party. Okay, intro to friends you'll never meet (probably). Olya (there are basically five girls names here and five boys names, each of which have 25 diminutives to them) who lives in the girls' dorm across the hall from me, who is engaged to Oles who came to Madison last fall (some of you met him). She is really nice and she's been helping me with Ukrainian somewhat formally since she's been the one who I've found best able to really help me with it. She came over and gave me the biggest rose I've ever seen - well, the longest. It had to be over three feet. (Pavlo said, Didn't you see the Rose Revolution in Georgia on TV? They had tons of roses that big!) And Maria, my kindred spirit with whom I'm working on Evangelization stuff and now rooming with, came over and gave me a necklace she'd made me of Indian beads, and a huge bunch of balloons that we hung from the ceiling. And she and Olya helped me cook (when I came home from buying the stereo our water had gone out - it was the first time this had happened and I had 8 people coming over for dinner in an hour and a half, but somehow I managed not to panic and thankfully the water came back on soon) the pasta and apple crisp (which was good since I'd never actually turned on the oven there - everything is gas, light-it-yourself). Anyway, then Nastya came over (she was my host-sister this summer) and she gave me a little picture frame and a reindeer shower scrubby thing that I think I will just use as a puppet b/c it's really cute. I only list the gifts b/c it was interesting to me what people might give as gifts here. (and of course giving so generously out of not a surplus). Then Alex showed up - he's from NY, teaching here for the year. He's a historian, I forget if he's on a Fulbright or not. He studies western historiography of Eastern Europe. He's also a folklorist and plays a sweet folk guitar. He's really funny, one of those people who just come out with these super witty comments out of the blue that make you double over laughing. And then Pavlo came (guy I met at ESS, international relations major at the state U here, best guitarist I've ever known personally, Anglophile, awesome guy) and he gave me a cd of Ukrainian music - it's actually Ukrainian '80s I guess, and it's funny part of it sounds like reggae, part of it sounds like disco, part of it just sounds like '80s. And Marie-Aude and her friend Halina showed up really late cuz they are work-a-holics (sorry ladies, but it's true :). Eventually Alex's friend who was visiting him showed up, Stefan, also American, but with Ukrainian roots. He was hilarious. At the end it was just Alex, Stefan, Pavlo, Marie-Aude and I and they were doing all these funny accents - Marie Aude and Pavlo both speak English with very little accent, but they put on their "native" accents, which was hilarious, and then Alex and Stefan and I did a bunch of American regional accents. Then Stefan told this story about slavic language speakers learning English and how they have such trouble with prepositions, and they just kind of stick them in when and whereever they want and the story that lives on from that night is about his grandfather who was ransacking the basement looking for something but his cursing was always "For fuck! Where's my .... For fuck!" So that became the household version of the f-bomb for Marie-Aude and I.

So, wonderful day, so much love, why should I have anything to complain about ;).

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Apartment Irony

Mariya and I might move into an apartment together. It is a place that Marie-Aude and I looked at a few weeks ago. The webmaster at UCU, who is a nice guy who is friends with M-A and I, grew up in the apartment (he is now married and living elsewhere). His parents have moved to California. It is a decent apartment. I didn't mind it so much when we looked at it the first time -- there was really nice light and a lot of plants :) and it was in a very good location and it seemed pretty clean. It has one large bedroom and one small one, which was one reason M-A and I didn't go for it. Also, it doesn't have 24 hour water, but it does have a resevoir so that you can flush the toilet and run cold water from the sink during the day, but only have hot water between 6 and 9am and 6 and 9pm. It has a nice large living room (everything is always furnished here), with a couple couches and a dining table set and big china hutch/cabinets along one wall, with a whole china set :). The kitchen is kind of cute. It is on the 4th floor and so it gets really good light b/c it is above the surrounding buildings. Marie-Aude decided that she doesn't want to move from the guest apt right now, b/c she is so busy with her work at UCU and it will only increase this semester (the institute she works for is preparing for its grand opening this summer), and it had been causing her considerable stress to be looking for and at apartments. So, while I would have liked to live with both her and Mariya, her decision to stay actually kind of helps things for me. Mariya found out about the place M-A and I had looked at and wondered why I didn't like it. Her biggest concern is cost (they would quote much higher prices to an American than a Ukrainian), but Jeffrey had liked this apartment and wanted to probably take it for UCU use anyway, so we will see if there is a possibility that UCU could subsidize our rent a bit. (Regardless, I told her it would make sense for her to pay less than me if she had the smaller room). I forget exactly what we had been quoted for it to begin with, I think it was around $170. So we hope to talk to Jeffrey soon and I guess if the price works out we might move this weekend. I feel good about it.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Latent Jet Lag and other phenomena

So last weekend I had a lot of fun with the potluck I think I wrote about last time (with the successfully mutated carrot cake recipe), and Sunday a nice visit to a friend's parents' for dinner -- which included a walk through a beautiful snow-filled forested park where I got to make a snow angel. The time spent with these friends, this one girl in particular, bumped me out of my super-shy mode about speaking Ukrainian and this week I've jumped back into studying and practicing and this girl is going to be my tutor (she lives in the student dorm that's across the hall from the guest apt I'm living in). So I was super excited about this. Sunday night I got to talk to my family for only the second time since I've been here, so that was really great, too. Then Monday I was supposed to go visit this potential site for the English Summer School, except I thought I was coming down with a cold so I stayed home to rest. Well, I was hit with this super super tiredness -- like just all energy has left the building, like I don't usually get this tired with my colds. When I can just lie in bed and not be bored because I have absolutely no energy to make me want to do anything else, I know I'm really tired. So Tuesday I tried to go to work, and I went to liturgy and had some lunch and talked to some people about apartment-looking, and then I just lost it and had to go home. Mariya was great, she gave me the best hugs I've had since being here when I needed them most, and she affirmed what I was beginning to realize, that I was being sucked into a workaholic vortex at UCU where I'd just go to and from work everyday and never do the rest of the things that I wanted to do here, like learn about the history and explore places and, gee, learn the language, and like have time for fun and stuff -- and like how I wanted to get away from the whole doing things only because I felt like I "should" do them, not because I actually wanted to do them. So I went home and went to bed and then she came over a little later and showed me how to make a "chutka" which is this prayer bracelet thing that is really big in eastern christian prayer and then she worked with me on language stuff for a bit. I have a copy of the Humesky textbook (Anna, you'll know what that is -- and it's the newer edition) and I've just kind of jumped in and started working on various things and doing the assignments. So I stayed home almost all week, sleeping and studying Ukrainian. Thursday I was beginning to have some normal energy again. The cold hadn't really materialized, until Friday, when I was back into normal just having a cold mode. It seemed like the tiredness was some kind of latent jet lag or just the result of not having really stopped moving since I'd arrived here a month ago. And Friday morning I realized that I hadn't really processed my leaving at all. The Gospel for liturgy that day was when Jesus says that those who give up father and mother, spouse and children, home and lands for the sake of the gospel will receive a hundred-fold more of the same now, with persecutions (like it's a side dish!) and eternal life in the age to come. So I was reading that and then I started having all these flashbacks to the day I left...remembering the all-nighter of packing, with Gayle (God bless her!) staying with me all night. Just all these images of the apt I left and I drew some pictures of it. Then I remembered saying goodbye to my family and all of a sudden it just hit me and I cried and cried. It was literally like I hadn't realized I had left until then. Everything those last few days before I left was such a blur, I just had to keep going and going and I couldn't stop to think about it at all. And apparently I didn't actually stop until this week. So now I've actually "left" Madison. Whether I've actually "arrived" to Lviv yet, I'm not sure! But during those days of resting and absorbing, I sorted through the tasks that I'd been offered at UCU, and I met with Jeffrey last night to process a bit and reassess what I will be doing here. He put it well when he said that this is the time of discerning what my role here is -- am I realizing a call to mission work and this is just the beginning? Am I here to have a cultural experience, to receive and be changed? Am I here to realize a different direction? Because it's not like I'm one of their Fulbright scholars who comes with a very specific goal, to teach x,y,and z. They have a contract, they have very clear expectations. But then he said too that it can be good to have the flexibility that I have. Unlike Fulbrights, or Peace Corps workers (of which we have a few, too) I'm not stuck somewhere with no say in where I am and what I do. So we talked about my work with Mariya and her Evangelization project -- the summer mission trips to eastern ukraine and her vision for a School of Evangelization, some kind of ecclesial movement for developing evang. in ukraine. We talked about how I can be of help to her, bringing support and experience, being able to help plan the preparatory sessions as well as eventually lead some of the programs myself. But also the perspective of a foreigner that I bring, and, what he especially went off on, was that if this is to be a viable movement, a viable long-term effort, it will need money, it will need logisitics to give it roots and stability. And he talked about how fund-raising (as Tim Kruse explains it) isn't about taking people's money, it's about giving them an opportunity to give. And it makes sense, if you think about all the people in the past who gave skads of money to found monasteries and build churches and stuff liek that -- they firmly believed it was helping their own salvation that they were giving that. And so asking people to share in your ministry by financial support is a form of evangelization itself -- it's a form of invitation, of reaching out to others. And he said how 95% of fundraising is telling a good story, and only 5% is passing the hat. Some of you know how before I came here I was thinking about making connections with people at the Herald or the local papers and seeing if they woudl run columns from me about the stuff I experienced here. And when that missionary came to St. Paul's in December I remember thinking how it's only half the work to go somwhere and help people, but that the real work is to go home and tell their stories. So anyway, Jeffrey was talking about me working on creating some kind of newsletter or magazine or some way of getting stories out there about the mission work in Ukraine. I don't know what it will look like, it's all from scratch, but I am excited about the idea of interviewing people and writing stories about them and their lives and about things that go on here. So I feel a little more clarity about that end of things. And I think that will by my main focus ministry-wise here. We postponed the presentation to the pastoral dept board until next week about my previous experiences with university ministry. I thought if I did stuff with that it would be redundant to the programs I'd be plannign with Mariya, even tho her stuff isn't directed only at UCU students. But Jeffrey said to follow the open doors, and her stuff is all set up and organized already. She's been having a prayer group on Friday nights which in its third week had about 10 people, which was really cool. It's kind of becomiong more a faith sharing thign that just prayer. And in March we'll begin weekly formation nights, supplemented by a couple retreats. So basically I'm still going to be helping with prep for the English Summer School, recruting teachers and stuff and then being academic director at the school itself (it overlaps with the mission trips, but I'd be able to go away for a few days with the mission trip and then return to camp). Mostly Jeffrey said he wants me there as a westerner who can provide a unique leadership, espcially dealing with the other westerners who are the volunteers. So I won't be working with the Lay Leadership Center (I have to tell them that yet!;) and I won't probably be doing stuff directly withthe pastoral dept here. And I think I have a better office space, where I am now, it's near the chapeland near Mariay's office and it's more quiet and homey. the other exciting news is that yesterday Mariya and I got interviewed on this Catholic radio station about the mission trips and evangelization stuff in general. It was pretty cool. I got to talk, too, and Mariya translated. So I think it airs next Friday. We might keep in contact with them, too, giving updates as things progress with the program.

So, in other news, my birthday will be this Wednesday. I hope to have a few friends over that night, something small, and maybe do something more on the weekend. But I haven't actually talked to people yet to see who can come. And I think I will be following the Greek Catholic calendar for Lent. I'd been going to UGCC liturgies during the week at UCU but still attending Roman Catholic Mass on Sundays at the Latin Cathedral here, which is actually in Polish, because most of the Roman Catholics are Roman Catholics here because Lviv was part of very Roman Catholic Poland for many many years. And as I become more familiar with Ukrainian and the UGCC liturgy (while not learning Polish) I am almost beginning to feel more comfortable at UGCC liturgies than at Mass! We'll see though. I mean, I'd still go visit the Latin church and there's alwyas goign to be stuff that UGCC can't replace, but I want to explore their liturgical year, and too if I'm workign with students and people who are following that calendar it might be better for me to be in the same time frame as they are -- like when RC lent starts on Wednesday, it will still be Christmas season for another week in UGCC land!

So, I'm still trying to get some photos posted. Grr. I tried to upload some to my Yahoo photos site tonght but now I can't find the ones I saved on the shared drive here. So y'all will just have to wait!!:) So, time to go home now. I miss everybody and think about you often! Hugs!:)