Last October we left for a tour that lasted 10 days in Ukraine with all our kids our parents and even our mother in law ahah! Sure, we wanted to bring our cats along, but we thought it best not to… they would probably have a hard time adapting to Ukraine pet food…
So, we promised ourselves to try to sum up the powerful moments during this trip, a trip that moved us and helped us realize that together we are stronger and also veryyyy noisy hehe. Indeed, a group with 13 people counting 6 kids where ages go from 6 months old to 10 years old, made us pretty noticeable and just thinking about it brings a smile on our faces.
1: The number of stacked suitcases was memorable if they would give out special license to drive carts in airports Michael and Jérémie would have for sure gotten them without hesitation! Thanks to Mika’s platinum air France card we passed everyone waiting in line even business men that seemed quite in a hurry! They even had to wait until all our luggage had been checked! But the worst was at our arrival Bruce and Deborah our superheroes had come to pick us up and came with a mini vane which had 11 seats… problem was and we knew we were missing two spots… and let’s not forget we had to add all our luggage… let’s just say the tétris (French game) had never made more sense!
of anything, the only one that was comfortable during the ride was Simon In his comfort car seat (at least for this trip)! We should probably mention that safety belts did not exist in all vehicles. At least the kids were happy in the bumpy rides!
2: All 13 of us were able to make our marks pretty fast and able to enjoy beautiful hikes as a family. It is during these hikes that our kids understood the context in Ukraine, especially the poverty in small villages…one of our kids said, “there aren’t any pretty birds or even any birds at all”. We realized that since the beginning of our hike we hadn’t come across any animals. At that moment Deborah explained that people here were so poor that they had probably eaten them all… I can assure you that left us with a weird feeling.
3: Later on that day we met an old man that was broken by life poverty and the cold… he had been caring this heavy bag for a couple of meters now, this bag had junk like wood and cardboard ( we assumed it was probably for warmth). His leg was wounded and as we saw he was limping the boys full of compassion offered to carry his heavy bag. During 30 long minutes, we had to climb a hill which led to the old men’s destination. A couple of meters from his shack build with old wood and cardboard the man thanked us a billion times and we left him with a lot of emotion. This shack was his we knew it but with ashamed, he didn’t want us to see it.
Maxime, Jérémie’s and Manue’s oldest son, started crying warm tears it was impossible to comfort him.
4: It’s in this sad reality that Bruce and Deborah have been working for the past 10 years as missionaries. They were during this tour our contacts and hosts in Rjytchiv.
They own a coffee shop in the city center which also offers all types of drinks delicious pizza concerts activities youth formations for those who live near. They gather around the Bible during some evenings.
The year before with Jérémie we came in this café and after a concert, we met Vova a young Ukrainian that was very moved by the message shared through our music. He wanted to know more about God.
He then asked me to write him a note in French that he would later translate on the internet. So I quickly tore out a piece of paper and wrote: « for Vova, God bless you, he loves you and will always be there for you”.
a year and a half later I have to admit I had forgotten about Vova and as we walked in the café a young man tapped my shoulder and asked if I remember him ( I noticed that he was working in for the security of the event and that he knew Bruce and Deborah).
as I tried to hide my embarrassment because I did not recognize him, he took out an old piece of paper from his wallet and I could see it had been folded and unfolded and I noticed my handwriting and the words I had written down for Vova. He hugged me and I understood that God’s love came and struck his heart, ever since I can’t contain my emotion…
5: Our arrival was well-taken care of the town deputy was very moved during our first tour and really wanted that we come back so more people would be able to hear our message and our music.
And at that moment while we were grocery shopping in the city center, we were able to see two huge advertising posters announcing our arrival and the date of the concert! “hey parents look! you guys are popular look at the signs!!” our kids eyes where so shining and our own too! they were so proud and are still today our number one fans!
But it’s important for us that they see why we leave so far away at times and to show them what we do!
6: Jeremie had been in Byelorussia, in Minsk a couple of months back to teach students about cinema and videos. And boy was he surprised when a young Ukrainian lady from this small city said « thank you for all the classes you gave and how precious they are for me » Jérémie then understood that they had already met in Byelorussia and felt very encouraged to see her serve God and invest in the café and the local church more than ever with her husband! At times we leave, we travel, and we don’t always see what happens after our passage and so seeing people who were impacted gives us a lot of joy and motivation to peruse!
7: We had 4 concerts 2 in Rjytchiv and 2 in Sumy in the east of Ukraine. These four concerts each different than the other moved us and encouraged us to continue working in Ukraine. The culture and ways of leaving are so different however the same God brings us together and it’s always remarkable to see that no matter what country or city you are in you will find a family, God’s beautiful family.
In Sumy, during the second concert we were able to put our faith in action because a technical problem kept us from playing our instruments ( a sound problem) after more than 2 hours of trying to fix the problem with our sound engineers the concert was supposed to have started since 45 minutes and we hadn’t been able to prepare ourselves. At last instead of canceling the concert we decided to play the concert without earpieces (which usually is used for sound) but one minute before starting the concert the problem was resolved. (let’s not mention the problem came back at the end of the concert but at least nobody noticed but us ahah). As we all didn’t even time to go to the bathroom before getting on stage when we started jumping and singing our first song revolution …“ D E S A S T E R” why on earth had we not been to the bathroom since noon?”
okay okay nothing too serious and again no one saw a thing hee-hee but this had to have been one of our longest concerts for all these reasons!
8: We will always remember the marvelous train just like in the old movies with its comfortable chambers, the lady controllers with their big voices but pretty sweet, who ended up disappearing to make themselves a lobster feast! We also had to take turns putting Simon to sleep regularly in his baby seat, and in these moments of unending laughter, we were absolutely not tired!
We will remember these two Ukrainian soldiers in Kiev’s train station who helped us carry our stroller in the escalators, as a matter of fact, we didn’t see any other strollers in this train station lol.!
As a mom, I’ve got to tell you shout out to breastfeeding! it helped us more than once and I think I have breastfed Simon in the most unusual places.
9: All these efforts gave us a well-deserved day off to visit Kiev!! All 13 of us wondered about in the subway, confused the controllers because we didn’t understand Ukrainian and mixed up which passages, we could take and the ones only our children could. We still managed to arrive at the “place de la revolution” which is where terrible battles had taken place 4 years back. It was a very formal moment as much for our kids as for us. To see all these faces sometimes young, parish to save their ideal democracy melted our hearts. You can feel an atmosphere of distrust in Ukraine when you meet people it’s hard to describe.
10: At last after dreaming about it for 10 days we were able to try the BORTSCH!! This marvelous soup, a real institution in Ukraine and that everyone must be able to cook if they want to get married! There are a lot of recipes and ways to cook this dish, but we had the chance to try it in a typical Ukrainian restaurant. The many miles walked by foot with our kids went away as soon as the beverage came down our throats okay okay I’ll stop before you stop before your mouth starts watering!
There is so much more to say about this trip, but I’d have to write a book; so, we hope that this sum-up will have brought you along our journey that was so important for us. It helped us understand and realize that our children are not a burden for our calling, but they are a true treasure. Spending time with them and showing them what we do and why we do it was crucial for us and for them. We would like to thank all those who supported us in prayer and financially to make this trip possible. At last thank you to our parents and our mother in law for their courage and patience. We love you! So…see you soon for new adventures!