This week I have had flashback after flashback about Ukraine.
There are days like that. When a smell, a breeze, a taste will bring back a memory, and suddenly I am walking down the street to Тамара's, or I am standing at a bus stop in Mariupol, or in the church building in Kharkov, talking with Саша about the Plan of Salvation.
There is only so much I feel I can say about my time there. It is so personal to me. And those moments--those flashbacks which bring me away from Provo, Utah, to Donetsk, Ukraine, are very real. They remind me that I am here . . . but I left my heart there. And at the same time, I have brought Ukraine with me to Provo. A part of the Ukrainian soul will always be with me.
Not long ago, my Russian professor was talking about his experiences in Eastern Europe. And how . . . how being there makes him whole. Like how he never knew how much he needed Eastern Europe until he was there.
In many respects, that is how I feel.
Even though Ukrainian culture is so different from American culture and even though I had experiences there that broke me, those experiences brought me closer to God and helped me come to an understanding of my true self. I was reborn in Ukraine. I became a new person; there was a transformation.
My new self is a conglomeration of bits from my old self, with pieces from Ukraine--the language, the people, the mindset, the lessons I learned, the people who touched my life and gave pieces of their heart to me. A Ukrainian patchwork quilt.
And these pieces have made me whole. Whole and new.
I never knew I needed Ukraine until I was there. And she didn't know she needed me until I was there.
It's amazing the impact 18 months can have on a soul.