I went to Lugansk, Ukraine in October of 2009. We went with ServantLife to put on a camp called "Camp Friendship" for the orphans in the area. Not only was this my first overseas trip, but it was the first time I had flown. We started out flying out of Pensacola, FL to Atlanta, GA. The people on my team said that they said goodbye to the old me at the airport in Atlanta. We flew from Atlanta to Paris, France. I did not like the security at Paris in the least! We then flew to Keiv, Ukraine. Coming back we took an overnight train from Lugansk to Keiv. I will treasure this trip for the rest of my life. It is special to me for so many reasons.
This was a priceless trip for me; getting to and meet the kids and translators was amazing and funny. I formed amazing friendships that I cherish forever. There were a few intense games of volleyball between the Americans and Ukrainians. On top of meeting the people, I got to share my relationship with Christ with them. Putting both of those together for me was priceless. I loved every minute of the trip. It was a life changing trip for me.
I got to see parts of Lugansk and the differences in the culture here and there. The differences are very noticeable between the US and UA. In Ukraine you see mostly dark colors and not many smile, if any at all. Whereas here some people smile and you see lots of bright colors. Ukrainians do not show much emotion at all. They are very stoic. Americans will show more emotion. Those are just a couple of the ones I encountered.
The kids touched my heart in many ways. They were quick to jump in and start playing games with us. They were willing to sit for hours with you just making simple friendship bracelets. They loved playing just about any game with you. One child named Kolya really touched me. I would play a game like rock-paper-scissors with a twist with him for a while. I would draw or sit or play Frisbee with him. We managed to understand each other pretty good to do these things, sometimes without help from a translator. He is really special to me and I hope to see him again one day.
The translators were amazing. They always seemed to be around when they were needed. They were all great but I really connected with woman called Victoria. Most people called her Vicka. She was a dancer and is also into photography. She has an amazing testimony and I love her. I call her my sister now because we got really close and I feel like she is my sister. She was really good with the kids; she helped lead worship by singing and playing the guitar.
Overall, I learned that I am very blessed to live in America, have both of my parents, live in a house with running water, and have people around me that really care for me. Those kids are amazing and deserve to have people loving them. I came back with new eyes and saw things very differently. I learned to treasure the people around me and that things are very different in third world countries. I will never forget the trip I took or the things I learned over there.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.