Tag: Ukraine

101 Uniquenesses I Noticed in Beautiful Ukraine | Part II


1. Emoticons are typed differently in Ukraine.  Instead of a smiley face like so: :), you will see them like this: ))).  The bigger the smile, the more of those: ))))))))))))))))))))).  And of course the same goes for the opposite sad face ((((((((((((((((((.

2. Ukrainians and Russians have their own version of Facebook called Vkontkte.  It means Contact.  People can have all kinds of music and movies uploaded on their accounts.

3. It’s a lot easier and a lot more regular for people to take things illegally on the internet including music, movies, books, software, etc.

Body Art

1. Tattoos are not near as commonplace in Ukraine.  Usually if you have a tattoo it means you were in prison.  Each tattoo means something, prison tats that is.

2. Body piercings are much less frequently seen here as well.


1. The public buses do not have an electric strip or a cord to pull to chime a bell.  You must walk to the front of the bus and tell the driver where you would like to stop.  Or, if the bus is packed full of people you must pass your fair up through the crowd.   People are extremely cooperative with this in Odessa.

2. To make the bus stop you must hold out your hand.  They won’t just stop because it’s a bus stop.

3. Sometimes there’s no bus stop, or at least a sign that there’s one.  Ukrainians often know the route and seem to instincively know where to catch the buses.

4. Buses in Ukraine are much smaller than the ones in the States.  They can get pretty crowded at times.

5. The bus drivers are pretty crazy.  One guy I know calls it surfing.  Often all the seats are taken and you will have to stand, hold on, and keep your balance.  Watch out for screaking sudden stops.

6. Previously the Odessa airport had no arrival or departure signs.  Well, a new update — they just had em put in!

7. Trains have departments where people can all sleep in open rooms with other people.  It gets quite hot and uncomfortable and there is little privacy.

8. The trains are all pretty old.  I think they have ridden them until the wheels fell off and then just put on some new wheels.

9. A few weeks ago our friend Mark had the front of his van hit buy four policemen out of uniform at 50 MPH, racing four policemen in uniform.

10. Odessa has lots of narrow streets and no freeways. It is a city of over 1 million people and it hugs the curve of the sea, so if you want to go to the other side of town it takes forever!

11. They cannot build a desperately needed underground subway in Odessa because of the endless paths of catacombs.

12. Instead of a fire extinguisher on the trams you will find boxes full of sand for putting out fires.

13. On the airplanes they give you a white papercloth for your head. Why didn’t we think of that?


1. You will not find paper toilet seat covers in the public restrooms. I had grown so accustomed to this. Guess us Americans are spoiled.

2. Like many places in Europe you will sometimes have seperate small rooms for the sink and the toilet.

3. Sometimes public restrooms will not even have a seat.  I’ve even heard stories of people carrying them with them on trips.

Having Babies

1. Often when people are having children they have to travel to their hometown where they have their names registered at the hospital.  It is quite a time consuming ordeal.

2. Due to the low birth rate in Ukraine, when people have a baby they are paid a good amount of money.  I am not sure of the exact amount, but after a month after birth you will be given 1 or 2,000 dollars.  I believe for each child this number increases a bit.

3. The birth rate in Ukraine do to poverty. The poulation in Ukraine and Russia is actually decreasing every year.


1. Rental agreements can be very unreliable.  We recently almost had to move out of our flat again because the owner was thinking to sell.  We prayed and he changed his mind.  :), excuse me, ))))).  You’d be as well off spitting in your hand and shaking on it then signing any forms.

2. All the flat buildings, even the new ones being built are the old Soviet style concrete buildings. I do not know why they continue to build these types of buildings, it does not seem very time effcient.

3.  These buildings do not have fire escapes.

4.  All these buildings are heated by radiators.

5. When looking to rent a place, you will not have much luck using a classified.  Maybe use the internet if you want to get ripped off.  People usually hire someone to find a place for them.  Once the place is found and an agreement is signed this person will collect their share.

6. The perceived value of the flats is way too high for what you get.  A nice one bedroom flat would go for 100,000 to 200,000 dollars.

7. When they count rooms in a flat they count every room.  A two bedroom house in the States would be considered a three bedroom house in Ukraine.

8. Many people extend their building size by building bigger balconies.

9. One good thing is there haven’t been any earthquakes or tsunami’s here, so that is good. Just an occasioanl flood. Odessa was flooded this year because the drains are clogged with too much litter.

10. Some people have a second vacation home not far outside of the city by the beach. They call these dachas.

Cultural Dont’s

1. It is considered rude to point at people in Ukraine.

2. Sometimes saying thank you to them sounds insulting.  Don’t be offended if you give someone something and they don’t say thank you.

3. Don’t spit on the street, although it is said to be very common for Ukrainians.

4. Don’t where hats inside buildings. No biggy there right?

Interesting cultural things

1. The number of roses you give someone usually has some kind of significance.  It is not good to give a woman an even number of roses, make sure it is an odd number.


1. The handicapped are called invalids and usually really looked down upon.  Many of them are stuck in their homes to be ignored by society, if they have a home.

2. It is not very common to find delegated parking for the handicapped anywhere.


1. People in Ukraine say thank you after the meal, not before.

2. They like to eat Carp in Ukraine.  Of course they eat it in China and other places as well.  Only in the States is it considered garbage fish.

3. McDonald’s is usually crazy busy.  I have never seen McDonald’s so crazy busy in the States, except maybe New York, as it is in Odessa almost every time I go there.  Sometimes you can’t even find a place to sit.

4. Ukrainians have very good manners and are very picky about washing their hands.  Often people will want to wash their hands just from coming in from outdoors.

5. Ukrainians in some ways are healthier than Americans as they are satisfied with much smaller portions of food.

6. They eat a lot less meat in Ukraine at far less frequent meals.

7. It is common to see people come back to Ukraine from the States a few pounds heavier than when they left.

8. My wife is a great cook!

At the beach

1. Many guys are into speedos and it is not a thing.

2. People in Ukraine tend to be pretty unashamed of their bodies and don’t have many inhibitions about themselves on the beach either.  In one way I suppose that’s a good thing.

3. The beach along Odessa is great although it gets very crowded sometimes.

4. The water is a little polluted but everyone swims anyway.

5. Many people seem to live on the beach in the summer and look like they go there every day.


1. In Ukraine they call their cats differently than Americans do.  In the States we say, “here kitty, kitty, kitty…”  In Ukraine cats understand, “ksss, ksss…”

2. There are lots of stray dogs in Ukraine.  Because of the poverty I suppose and not being able to have adequate places to house the strays.  There are quite a lot in our neighborhood.

3. Many people own dogs in Odessa.  It is very common, which I don’t understand because most people live in flats.  They are good sized dogs too.

4. Often people, including ourselves, bring their leftovers or old bones outside for all the stray cats and dogs.

5. It is not good to bring strays into your home as they often carry sicknesses.


1. No definite and indefinite articles.  Russians do not use the words, “the” or “a”.  It is in the syntax.

2.  Russians tend to stress every word differently than I naturally do as an American.  It is just one of several things which make learning the language a challenge.

3. Pronunciation is very important.  Unlike English where you can pronounce words different ways, in Russian this can sometimes mean very embarassing things.  Be careful with your pronunciation.

4. Russians know it is hard to learn their language and respect anyone who’s willing to give it an honest try.

5. In Russian people are usually allowed to mix around the sentences more. This is helpful in translating, at least from English to Russian anyway.


1. I have seen some ads of girls on buildings that definitley wouldn’t legally fly in the States.

2. Girls in Ukraine definitley like glamour and showing their femininity.  A friend who was recently visiting commented that they all look like they are on a runway.

3. High heels and boots are everywhere.

Safety Protocols

1. Often on kids toys at restaurants or public places you will see safety hazards.  In the States these would definitley be some kind of insurance liability.


1. In the movie theatres they use the same 3D glasses over and over.  If you don’t return them they will charge you $50, even though they are sometimes old and scratched up.

2. The public movie theaters show movies in Russian although most the populace speaks Russian.  I have a friend from Russian who can’t even understand them.

3. At the movie theaters in Ukraine, when you buy your tickets you have assigned seating.  You don’t just buy a ticket and then go in and find your seats.

4. Many people do not go to the movies or buy DVDs but rather download their moves for free on torrent sites.  It’s the way people do it in Ukraine, movies or digital products are usually pirated as a normal part of life.


1. Cigarettes in Ukrain are dirt cheap.  People can buy a pack of Marlboros for about $1.20, and cheaper cigarettes for half that.

2. Smoking is extremely common in Ukraine. I think they have the second highest smoking rate in all the world.


1. Payscale is crazy.  Once we had a poster of the payscales for the employees in our flat building.  The cleaning lady was the highest paid.  It is not uncommon to see a claening lady making more than a doctor or a teacher.

2. $500/ month is considered excellent pay and is well above the average earnings in most cities.

3. Most jobs are paid under the table as people wouldn’t survive very well if they paid their required taxes. Most of the economy is in the shadows.

4. In February 2013 a new law will be inacted where people exchanging dollars will have to pay a 15% tax. This is because people will hoard dollars, wait for the value to go up, and then exchange them and this hurts the economy. However, if your check is coming from the States this rule doen’t apply to you.


1. In public buildings people don’t usually actually stand in lines.  If there is a line for some public service people randomly sit around the room.  So, what you do when you enter the room is ask who is last in line and you know you are after them.

Garbage Cans

1. Garbage cans are often made of heavy thick concrete.  The people who clean them out have to actually reach down inside and take out all the trash.  What a time consuming way to so it.


1. The bottoms of the tress are painted white in Odessa.  I have been told that people do this to keep bugs off the trees.  It made sense to me then until I saw they painted the bottoms of the concrete poles too to match.  I guess they like the way it looks!

2. In the summer Odessa is beautiful with full green trees everywhere. As well the white flowers come out for a couple weeks on the cherry trees.


1. Go off randomly.  Sometimes through out the year somebody will start lighten off fireworks in your neighborhood.  What would be illegal in the States, here is a birthday celebration!  You can walk into most grocery stores anytime and find them for sale.


1. When someone is playing music on the street to make money, instaed of putting a cup on the ground there will usually be another person holding a hat and walking up to people.  Guess they have to split the tips between the two of em.

2. It is common to see people faking a handicap or being mute to try and ask people for money.  You can usually tell.

3.  Sometimes beggars can be agressive and even get mad at you if you don’t give them anything.

4. If you get on a bus in the city center sometimes you will have someone get on and give their speech to the entire bus asking for money.  They usually seem to get a couple bucks out of the deal.


1. When posing around a monument, a statue or some kind of interesting thing people, especially girls like to hug it.

2. People smile less often for pictures.

Grocery Shopping

1. At the grocery stores you do not weigh your produce in the check out aisle.  Their will be an employee or two in the produce section to weigh everybodies fruits and vegies for them.

2. Bread is often bought without packaging and I wonder how many people’s hands have been on my bread.

3.  Ukraine has amazing chocolate, cookies, sweets, vegetables, and dairy products.

4. There is still no peanut butter here yet.

5. The aisles are usually a much tighter squeeze in the grocery stores in the States.


1. It isn’t much of a surprise if people get a little edgy or hot tempered with each other and then go about their business as if nothing happened.

2.  Many people are extremely polite and it is common to find etiquette and manners that often seems to be forgotten in the States.

Good Deals

1. I had some pretty good chiropractor appointments for under $20 when I was having back problems.  That’s pretty good!

2. There are places here where you can have good sushi for two people for $15! That’s a pretty good deal!


1. Books are quite a bit cheaper. Usually about half what they would cost in the States.

2. Bibles are usually hardbound instead of leather bound, at least most of the time. There is one modern translation from last year, but they have far fewer translations to choose from than English speakers do.

Good hymns

1. The selection of good Christian hymns to sing is much fewer and far between although there are some around. In time we plan to help these numbers some.


Read 101 Uniquenesses I Noticed in Beautiful Ukraine | Part I


Have you been to Ukraine? What kind of interesting things did you observe?

If You Only Read One….Make It This One!

Monthly Ministry/Prayer Update

The last couple weeks at camp has been one of the most fruitful and worthwhile things I have ever been involved in! To hear more just follow the link to the NEW VIDEO UPDATE. If you only ever watched just one of my video updates, please make it THIS ONE. :)


Click on this sentence to read why some short term missions might be a waste of time when they are not relational.

To read up on our current prayer needs simply scroll to the bottom, just above the “People” pics.


Just Before Camp the Ladies Had a Craft Day at Our Place


The ladies figured the first step in sparking a Jesus Movement in Ukraine would be to turn everyone into hippies. :)

…and Mexican Food for the Guys!


What’s a better way to get the guys together than to invite them over for scrumptious burritos. We were happy to have a couple Muslim friends over and had a great discussion over a quote from C.S. Lewis book “Miracles” comparing men to Limpets when trying to describe God.

The Team Prepares for Camp


After the team from South Africa flys in, we head to the camp for some training and preparation time. We had servant leaders from many countries working together! South Africa, Ukraine, Nigeria, Conga, U.S., & Canada!

Campers Arrive


After the campers arrive and we help them with their bags.

English Assessment Tests


Very soon after the campers arrive they go through an exam for placement in their English classes. This is for a lot of us and them, our first contact with them.

Conversations Over Meal Time


One of the greatest things about the camp was all the one on one conversations we had. Meal time was a good time to meet new people. As all of the leadership was very intentional about talking to new people I don’t think I sat by the same group twice the entire week.

Morning Meetings


Every morning was kicked off with some silly song that got our blood flowing. Then we’d have announcements and a trivia game where throughout the day the campers would have to approach the leaders to find out if they matched the trivia question. This gave us more opportunities for intersting conversations.

Bible Reading and Discussion Time


To start off the day we’d have a group come together for a time of Bible reading and discussion. For many, this became their favorite part of camp!

The same group would meet in the afternoon for another discussion time about other topics where we focused on getting to know people and helping people practice their English.

English Class


Gert & I were the teachers for the Advanced English Class, so we had the translators as well. The trick was finding words they didn’t know but would be useful for them. We had a great time and I was very impressed by their learning abilities! Poor Sergey, he was the only guy in the class.

Evening Meetings


In the evenings we met for some worship in song and a teaching from the Word. Each night focused on a different attribute of God. We spoke about God as creator, God as perfect, God as a just judge which was the night I spoke, God is love, God is Father, and finally a Gospel call night.

Bible Teaching


It was a great opportunity to show the youth that the cross is the best display of where God’s justice and love meet!



All the different conversations we had with the campers was what it was all about. We were very relationship focused and is my favorite thing about these camps! From the first day to the last we worked hard to connect with those God opened up. Many were open and we were surprised at their openess. They saw our sincerity and let us know how much we were appreciated!

Optional Discussion Times


The afternoons were open for free time but many of the campers joined us for an optional discussion time. I did a knot tying lesson one day and on another did an intro to the Bible talk. We also talked about God and suffering, had a first aid class, and a premarital talk all of which went very well.

Crafts & Tea Time


Various crafts and tea time were prepared for the ladies in the afternoons as well. We are not sure how some ladies actually made it through the door undetected.



The evenings were always filled with a different fun, competitive, and challenging activity where we had to work hard to work as a team to win.

Many of the campers also stayed up late playing all kinds of different games.

Skit Night


Our discusiion groups each had to plan and perform a skit together on skit night. You’d be surprised at how creative some of these guys and girls are!

Gospel Night ~ Decisions


On the final evening Arkadiy gave an invitaion for those who wanted to repent or had questions regarding it. I was very happy about the way we went about it, not using emotionalism or some kind of spontaneous decision tactic to get people to say a prayer.

I believe for the first time I saw a sound model for how to do an “altar call”.



Of course none of this could have been done without the help of the translators! Thank you thank you thank you translators!

Banquet & Certificates


Back in the City


After camp, we are not done yet! We spend more time with the campers at church, the catacombs on a guided tour, seeing the city center where Daria and myself guided a tour for the group, some time at the beach, walking through 411 WWII park and ice cream at the church where the campers say their goodbyes to the team heading home.


After Camp


After camp is over it doesn’t mean our work is over. The people at our church are very intentional about relationships and discipleship and go the extra mile to stay in touch with as many as we possibly can. New friendships have been forged and a large handful made decisions to turn over their lives to Jesus!

We’re already planning another mexican food and movie night after we finish the second camp.


Prayer Requests


Please pray for the second camp, the family camp which begins this weekend.
Please pray for those who made a decision and for those whioch are seriously thinking about spiritual things.
Please pray against legalism and empty traditions and for clarity of the Gospel both at these camps and in Ukriane as a whole!
Please pray for the team as we need an extra measure of strength to get through these camps.
Please pray about whether or not God would have you or your church to be involved somehow!
Please pray for Odessa!
Please pray for Ukraine!

Missions exist because worship doesn’t!



Get Involved


Some ways you can be involved:

Prayerfully. If you would like us to send you a prayer card to remind you to pray for us we would be happy to! Just let us know.
Last month a few individuals were extraordinarily generous and we are unspeakably grateful! We are still in need of month to month supporters! Please pray about being involved as a sender of meaningful missions. To give, CLICK HERE!
Let us know if you would like to come in the future on a construction crew, to help with one of these awesome English Camps, or to give away your life so that God would be worshiped by more Ukrainians! Pray about full time missions in Ukraine! It’s worth it!
To send us some socks and underwear (or clothes) for the homeless, CLICK HERE!


For More Info on the Camp, watch this video:


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nydAyemH0Is?rel=0&w=640&h=480]

Click on this sentence to read why some short term missions might be a waste of time when they are not relational.



Camp Pics


Many more great pics from camp can be viewed HERE.

Monthly Ministry/Prayer Update | March 2012

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

1 Corinthians 9:27

*To see our SPECIFIC PRAYER REQUESTS, scroll to the bottom. Thank you for praying!

There was a man full of the Spirit who went to preach. He prayed and prepared and studied and prayed and he was ready. As he stood to preach, he looked across the room and there was only one person who had come to hear his message – one. Returning home after delivering his message he reflected on all the hard work he had put into preparing the message. Throughout the course of his life God had strengthened him many times and brought him through many hard trials. He knew that to be a pastor he would have to endure many let downs, and many pains, he knew he would have to have the hide of a rhinoceros and the heart of a dove, he knew that though there was only one person in the crowd, he could not allow the numbers to deter him from doing God’s work. He had to remain faithful and he had to continue trusting in the goodness of God. He told his heart to put its hope in God, although he couldn’t help but wonder why only one person would show up to hear him speak. Finally, he returned home and went to sleep. The next morning he rose early to feed his cow. As he stood feeding his cow, the Lord spoke to him, “here you have just one cow, and do you not rise every day to feed it?”

One month ago I flew into Oregon from Ukraine and I have to say things are going great. There are days when the thought to give up has crossed my mind. I considered throwing in the towel at moments when I just thought I didn’t have any emotional steam left, after preaching in a big room with just a few people, then having to pack up and hit another meeting right away. However, these feelings are fleeting and soon are discarded as the Lord strengthens me to continue on, even when I see no fruit. I’m having to learn more and more that I cannot put my trust in the word of man, but my confidence must be in my heavenly Father. When things looked defeating, my wife and I resolutely determined to continue giving sacrificially, as God would have us do. And from unexpected people and places God began pouring into our cup. Will it overflow?


For the last month I have been going to Bible studies, churches, sending out invites and calling numerous people to invite to our missions presentation on Ukraine. I suppose I naively thought in preparation that missions work would be as much a thrill for people to hear about as going to a ballgame or the flea market. The turn outs to these meetings have overall been very poor. Sometimes I don’t raise one single small monthly supporter. However, somehow God has continued to bless the work through unexpected means, be individuals wishing to honor God with their finances who I’ve never met before, or by steadily growing promising financial partners.

One Saturday, after inviting many people to the meeting throughout the week, only one guy showed up. That one guy was a blessing to see. The next day I went to a church where more people wanted to support our ministry in one day then in the whole last month combined.

For a short season, February through April, my focus of ministry will be support raising, while Lera serves with the church in Odessa. Lord willing, by God’s grace, we will raise the needed missionary support in just three months. Many missionaries can spend up to two years doing this. Support Raising is a ministry because we provide an opportunity for people to examine how they are stewarding God’s money, which they’ve been entrusted with, and because it helps foster a missional vision in the church. It is a reminder that each of us should be as directly and radically involved in the great commission, as God is. In some way each of should be doing our part. In Revelation 5 and 7 we see people from every tribe and nation and language worshiping before Jesus. This happens through the work of missions. Missions exist because worship doesn’t!

I would love to ask everyone to sell their house, quit their job, get rid of most of their earthly possessions, leave behind their comforts and privileges of living in the United States and come help us spread the Gospel in Ukraine. Well, if everyone went, there’d be no one to send out and support the goers. All of us have our part.

Do you believe in what we’re doing in Ukraine? If you do, would you team up with us? As we give our lives completely over to furthering the Gospel in Ukraine, would you be a part of the sending team? If you believe in our vision would you join us with just 10 DOLLARS PER MONTH? If a relatively small number of people supported us faithfully with less than the price for two frappacinos a month, we will be full time, long term lifers in Ukraine, penetrating the sub cultures with the Gospel in a country which desperately needs the Gospel!

To worship God in this way and team up with a solid evangelical team, click HERE.

Please notify us if you have made this decision. As part of these ministry endeavors my wife and I would also like to recommend this financial course we took during missionary training in Odessa. You won’t regret it:

Crown Financial Ministries

We would also invite everyone to make a visit to Ukraine, or any other impoverished country for a time. It will forever change your entire perspective!


Preparation, invites, and many many phone calls.

Home meetings!

Sharing Jesus, missions and testimonies in public Schools, a Christian school and an addiction Rehab home!

Old friends!

Great food and a fish fire pit! Mike is a great metal worker!

New friends!

Bible Studies!

For my Valentine!

Few people!

Lots o’ people!

Signing up for prayer support!

California Jesus!

Praying for Ukraine!

Staying connected to home and my lovely misses.


1. Pray for daily faithfulness on my end and the end of others involved in the ministry. That hearts would be fully committed to the work even when it’s hard or there is no immediate visible fruit.

2. Pray for Lera who will be taking a trip to Poland with some staff from church to a missions conference. She will have to return home alone as others stay and sight see and I would appreciate prayer for her safety.

3. Pray for the salvation of many souls in Ukraine.

4. Pray for me as I learn Russian. Pray for quick learning and fluency.

5. Pray for our future church plant and for the team God will bring us together with.

6. Pray for Lera as she looks for our next flat and that we get the right deal.

7. Pray for Katya and Marina in Uganda. They were having some difficulties with their situation such as not being treated too well in the house they are staying and the pastor were they are serving teaching that it is okay to have sex if you don’t have HIV.

8. Pray for funds for the Redemption book to be translated into Russian.

9. Pray for Christian rec centers in Ukraine.

10. Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the field and for the government.

Thank you all so much. In this battle we truly need your prayers!

“And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, [the church] multiplied.”
Acts 9:31

Jacoby & Lera

101 Uniquenesses I Noticed in Beautiful Ukraine


1. Toilets in Ukraine are almost always smaller than toilets in America. Perhaps this is to conserve space or money spent on porcelain. Toilets, or “squatters” can sometimes be found in the floor, or even lacking a seat. I have no idea how the babushkas and dadushkas (grandmas & grandpas) can handle this, especially without rails to hold onto. I’ve heard of people on trips actually carrying a seat with them in their bag.

2. Public toilets are much more scarce so good luck finding one, unless you’re in a shopping mall or a restaurant. Somehow this doesn’t seem to present a problem for most people. They must be experts at “holding it”.

3. Often public restrooms can only be used after paying a fee. Sometimes they will give you some paper in exchange for your payment. Don’t waste it!

4. The toilet paper they use is far less fluffy and soft and does not have a hole in the middle for a roller. You can buy American toilet paper there, but typically people stick with the cheaper rougher kind.

5. Water heaters for the shower in Ukraine are usually about half or third the size of water heaters in America.

6. Often a small room for the toilet is seperated from the room where the bathtub is.

7. Many people, in order to save hot water when showering, will turn the water off while lathering up the soap and cleaning themselves, instead of just letting the water run.

8. Sometimes the water will randomly stop working, which is why it is a good idea to keep extra jugs of water stored in the house somewhere. For a hot bath people may boil pots and teapots full of water.

9. Many of the bathtubs are smaller than American bathtubs and often do not have a place to hang your shower hose.

10. Ukrainians do not call their bathrooms “bathrooms” but “туалет”, or “tooalyet”.


1. Usually at the crosswalk you cannot wait for cars to stop. You just have to start walking and expect the cars to stop. This took some getting used to for me especially at the rate of speed people drive. Somehow it doesn’t seem to cause any accidents and people always manage to somehow see you and stop to let you cross.

2. Police do not chase speeders down in cars. They stand on the side of the road and flag people down. Often they are a little out of shape, waving a wand, and puffing a cigarette.

3. On the marshrutkas (buses), although people often tend to squeeze their way through people or don’t like to step to the side to let people pass through, they will gaive up their seats readily for a babushka or a woman with a child. Their culture seems to have a lot of respect for the elderly.

4. Although there is plenty of poverty, drugs, crime, and mafia in Ukraine the amount of violent crimes is relatively low and gang members can not be spotted so easily as they can in America. Everyone tends to look or dress very similarly with not a lot of variation in styles. Although individualism is slowly being seen more and more.

5. If you are an American tourist be careful who you accept help from at train stations, airports, or public places where lots of people are. They may be scammers, thieves, or just looking to charge you extra for being an American. Which may be okay with you since many people are underpaid and just trying to make a living.

6. It’s generally a good rule not to talk too loud on the marshrutka’s either. People are usually very quiet on these rides (for me it sounds like glim and glum communist oppression of the human spirit) and it may upset people if you are a loud free spirited American. I do see signs of this changing as well, but it is small.

7. At any given time of the day, any time of the year, in any part of the city you can look out your window and see people walking. There is always somebody out going somewhere.

8. Far more often than in America you will see couples walking down the street or on the bus holding hands.

9. Cafes are less popular. There are cafes but many people go there to eat or smoke. It is not like a Starbucks in America where people go to read, do homework, have a business meeting, or use wireless internet. I went to a coffee shop once to read and felt like people looked at me like “what in the world are you doing”, it felt incredibly awkward. I do suspect in time this will change as well.

10. Parking is often scarce and people park on the sidewalks. Parking lots are only at a few large stores and most people park along the street, even if they have very nice cars.

11. In Ukraine people pay when they get off the bus instead of when they get on.


1. If your friend or family has a birthday there it is important to try and see if you can be the first one to say happy birthday. The birthday wishes are more than just a simple wish and you will want to be sure and include something that you wish for them, a toast of sorts, speak a word of encouragement, or a blessing upon them.

2. Always take your shoes off at the door and never shake hands over the threshhold as this is considered bad luck.

3. Although Ukraine has been called a “christian nation” (which it is not) during Christmas it is next to impossible to find nativity sets for sale. However, you can find Grandfather Frost decor and red stars everywhere.

4. On New Years everyone buys lots of tangerines, a favorite of my wife’s. I do not know why, and neither does she, it’s just what everyone does.

5. For almost any occasion or holiday it is normal to buy a woman flowers.

6. Christmas trees don’t go up until just before New Years and can be left up for a month or two afterwards. New Years is a bigger holiday than Christmas and some people celebrate them for weeks.

7. At first I thought it was weird when people would always tell me to tell my wife hello. I’m not sure what people would think in the States if someone said this all the time. After awhile I realized it was something many people in Ukraine say, and is a typical and polite way of saying goodbye.


1. The bride and groom are the first to enter the wedding ceremony together.

2. Married couples where there rings on their right hand.

3. When gifts are presented at the banquet people often stand in line to personally present each gift along with an encouraging word, expressing their love, a prayer or a blessing.

4. There is often much more food at the weddings in Ukraine and will sometimes be celebrated for days.

5. Excluding rings and costumes my wife and I spent a total of only $3,000 for a relatively nice wedding!


1. The grocery stores always have someone standing at the door to check your recepit and your bags as they watch for people stealing things.

2. Although most of the grocery stores do not have parking lots, they have replaced these with cubbyhole lockers in the front of the store where you can leave your bag while you sre shopping.

3. The shopping carts are smaller and so is the room between isles in most stores.

4. Most things are packaged differently. Sauces such as ketchup are in foil type pouches and often lie obnoxiously sideways in the refridgerator. Milk comes in cardboard cartons different than America’s.

5. Be prepared to pay for your bags when you check out, which are called “packets” or “pakyet”.

6. Many people work and shop on the street corners or in the public market. You can find good deals here. it may not be the greatest quality but the products are usually sufficient.

7. Imported goods generally cost 30% more to twice as much, such as cars, electronics, or name brand clothes from Europe or America.

8. When purchasing things such as protein or creatine for weight lifting you may get a placebo powder. Be careful who your merchant is. Make-up for women can be fake too with a designer name on it.

9. A store clerk will weigh and bag all your fruits and vegetables. However, on your way out of the store, be prepared to take care of all your own bagging, the great majority of the time.

10. At retail stores which accept visa, be prepared for them to print up two receipts and ask for two signatures and even sign one themselves. God knows why. Perhaps many of them rarely run a visa card.


1. Everything is ordered a la carte on the menu, so if you would like a salad with your meat dish you will have to have two seperate orders delivered on two seperate plates.

2. Make sure the way you order your food is how it is on the menu because generally cafes do not take special orders and don’t really care if this bothers you. A few nicer restaurants will take special orders.

3. Your check will not be brought to you unless you call and ask for it and don’t expect a waiter to come by and ask you if everything is okay with your meal.

4. The portions are usually small compared to America and they are overpriced. They seem a bit delusional as to the quality and portion of the food they are delivering you. (However we have found our favorite restaurants where you can get a good value for your money).

5. The waitresses do not seem to have enough to do much of the time and will sometimes stand and watch you eat like a Russian guard, making things a little bit uncomfortable.

6. Small tips are acceptable. The 20% rule does not apply here and 10 or 20 hryvnas is plenty ($1-3 dollars). If you give more they may just think you are a sucker…or just unordinarily generous.

7. Even the non-smoking sections are often full of smoke. There are lots of smokers in Ukraine.

8. Water is not complimentary. Neither are smiles. :)

9. If you ask for a plastic knife (at McDonald’s) they will grab a napkin before handling it to give it to you. This I like.

10. Pizza’s, mexican food, or sushi has all very many different ingredients then restaurants in America has. It takes trial and error to learn which places serve good dishes. They try to have a European image but fail to delivier in the quality of the dishes, for the most part anyway. The restaurants themselves are usually very nice but with few people in them.


1. Homosexuality is extremely rare in Ukraine and if you went to a village some people there have never even heard of it. My friend said if you told them about it they would think you were making it up. So much for the theory of the homo gene– at least in Ukraine I suppose.

2. The movies, after being translated into Russian and Ukrainian often have less or no cusswords in them. Cussing in movies and pornography was not allowed during the Soviet era and has still influenced the culture somewhat today. This is reason enough for all of you to sell your homes and all your belongings and move your entire family to Ukraine as missionaries!

3. Men’s underwear in ukraine is just terrible! Be sure to bring your own. The quality of socks is not that great either. If you would like to send us some we would love to distribute them to the homeless for you!

4. The cost of living there is far higher than people’s income and people often survive by crowding into flats owned by relatives since the soviet era, or find other ways to make ends meet, such as living in not so nice flats, or eating far less meats and things than Americans typically eat.

5. Many movies and American TV shows can be found on the internet to watch for free on websites such as their Russian version of facebook called “kontakte” which means “contact”, or ex.ua, and others.

6. Kitchens in Ukraine are very small and the rooms are most often built much narrower than in America. When you rent a flat often it already comes filled with old furniture. If you have to buy new furniture, you will have to go new as there are no used furniture stores in Ukraine. People tend to use things until they’re completely all used up.


1. Doctors, teachers, and police are some of the lower paying jobs in Ukraine which leads to lots of bribery and corruption. To help find a good doctor people don’t generally trust ads but go by word of mouth and experiences of friends.

2. Most jobs operate in a shadow economy so often people are paid cash without paying taxes.

3. Sometimes people don’t get paid or have to wait longer than they should in order to get paid. If people find a job making $500/month they think they are making “really good money”!

4. Businesses without a license, which is most businesses in Ukraine, can expect a monthly visit from the mafia to collect payment.

5. The “free market” isn’t exactly free and high import costs keep competition levels lower, selection less wide and lesser quality of products as well.


1. Dental work in Ukraine costs 20-30% what it would in America.

2. Public transportation costs only about 30 cents a ride. However, hang on as the drivers like to whip between other vehicles, have lead feet, and love to push on the brakes hard.

3. High speed internet can be purchased for around 10-15 dollars/month.

4. Unlimited internet for the phone can be purchased for around $15/month although this price fluxuates up and down a few dollars at times so be sure you can read the notifications in Russian via text message.

5. By making a trip to the 7th kilometer market, the largest outdoor market in Europe on the outskirts of Odessa, one can find almost anything among all the important goods they need from china, turkey, and other places, for decent prices.


1. Be prepared to pay way too much for your flat rental or hotel room as they tend to have a perceived value of these places which is way too high.

2. Refrain from accepting a taxi at the airport or the train station. It is far better to call a taxi and ask in Russian what will be the price of the trip before the taxi arrives. They will text you back with the cars description and license plate number.

3. If you are in a hurry to get somewhere you can stand on the side of the road about anywhere and stick your hand out. Within 5 minutes someone will stop and pick you up and you can negotiate a price.

4. Do not carry your wallets in your back pocket, keep your camera strap around your neck, and don’t act afraid of the dogs. If you’re not afraid of them they will leave you alone.

5. Try borsch, olivye, varenyky, deruny, and napolean cake.

6. You might want to visit the Dolphin show, the Eastern Orthodox monastary, the city center, the beach, one of the many outdoor markets, the catacombs, or one of Odessa’s many saunas.

7. If you ride the overnight train, be prepared to share the room with strangers and unless you’re an exceptionally heavy sleeper you probably won’t sleep that well on the loud and bumpy train.

8. Learn to say “Adyessa” instead of “Odessa”.

9. Do not drink the water unless it has been boiled well.


1. Odessa has no freeways so be prepared to spend at least an hour on a bus weaving through the narrow network of streets if you have to go to the other side of town. Unfortunately because of the catacombs they deemed it unsafe to build a subway system.

2. A staple of Odessa humor is to answer a question with a witty question.

3. Odessa is known as the city of humor with it’s own unique Russian accent highly influenced by the Jews who used to live there. This influence is waning as more and more urban people are moving into the cities to find work.

4. Many saunas can be found in Odessa all across the city. Health spas have been here since it’s beginnings.

5. Odessans are not morning people and at 6 AM not many people can be seen out. Definitely no coffee shops are open at this time.

6. The zoo in Odessa is kind of run down. There is a much better zoo in another city a couple hours away.


1. If you’re going to Ukraine, I hope you like sour cream, as they love to eat it with many meals.

2. Bread is often served dry without butter and mashed potatoes without gravy. Do not complain. :)

3. Potatoes are often prepared in many different ways and pickeled vegetables are common. Ukraine has the best pickles I’ve ever tried. Be sure to try the pickled tomatoes too.

4. On the street or in the supermarket you can purchase small expensive bird eggs you poke a small hole in and suck out the yoke, small shrimp you crack and suck out the small piece of meat, salted squid tentacles, or dried fish, a snack equivalent to chips.

5. Kvas is a traditional drink made of black or rye bread.

6. Ukrainians are surprisingly hospitable people and will continue to bring you tray after tray of different items, all of which no human being could possibly eat. If you enjoy pure sliced lard, try the salo with some tea!

7. Tea is a favorite of Ukrainians and they like coffee too, but mot likely the cups they serve it in will be much smaller than you are used to.


1. The favorite sport is soccer and lots of kids are really good at it. And it’s not called soccer it’s called football, but you knew that right?

2. The method of payment for cell phone service can be done at small machines placed throughout town. I am not sure exactly how these phone bills work yet, all I know is it works differently than it does in the U.S. and you pay up front each month. Good thing my wife is in charge of these things.

3. If you are renting a flat you can expect at random for the electricity, the internet, the elevator, or the water to stop working, anywhere from a an hour to a week. Be prepared with candles, internet through your phone, workout pants for the stairs, and back up jugs of water.

4. Warrantys on products can be sketchy as the service centers can be outside of the country. My wife had a Swarovsky ring which was under warranty and a stone fell out. They just told her it was her fault. lol

5. I find it interesting that in almost all the stores and restaurants you can hear English music playing although very few people know what they are actually saying. Of course Ukraine has it’s own stars and musicians as well, but these don’t seem to be heard as often. Sometimes you can hear covers of American songs done with a Russian accent.

6. The methods of teaching and education are much different in Ukraine. I think there, people might actually learn stuff even though there are those who bribe there ways into and through school.

7. The standard size of printing paper used in Ukraine is different. It is slightly narrower and slightly longer. In their notebooks, instead of standard lined paper they have paper with squares.

8. Government offices tend to be somewhat unorganized and inefficient. If you have to go to a tax office or something, be prepared to stand in line way longer than you should have to and it may be multiple lines, often the same line more than once to accomplish one task.

9. In Ukraine laws can be twisted and manipulated, or often changed overnight. It is a very uncertain place to be as far as the laws go. Part of the reason I suppose bribes go so far there.


1. It’s okay if the president has a criminal record and it’s okay to throw the former prime minister in prison.

Read 101 Uniquenesses I noticed in Beautiful Ukraine | Part II

A Means to a Means to a Means

Hello everyone. Just some thoughts from the hearts on asking people for money. Have any thoughts? You’re welcome to comment below.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_R4IUV5M8Q&w=640&h=480]  
For anyone curious, here is a link to the missions agency which oversees our monthly financial allowance:
Link to blog on Scriptural Support for Support Raising —>HERE
Link to a sermon on tithing and giving by John Piper —>HERE
Tim Conway sermon on money. Thumbs up!
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hY0V3hJTJ-g&w=853&h=480]  
Check out our missions vid if you have a minute!