November 24, 2014
Housekeeping: noun 1. The maintenance of a house or domestic establishment. 2. The management of household affairs. 3. The management, care, and servicing of property and equipment of an industrial or commercial building or organization. 4. The ongoing routine, procedures, operations, and management of a commercial enterprise, government, organization, or the like. 5. Computers. System tasks, as initialization and managing peripheral devices, that must be done to permit a computer program to execute properly but that do not directly contribute to program output.
To begin my discourse this week I decided to include the listed definition of the word “housekeeping” as given by dictionary.com, with a highlight on the fourth point. This was done because it emphasizes the ever present, nevertheless obnoxious, activities needing to be taken care of in missionary work. It just so happened that this week was graced with three of such events all taking place in one day. The following will detail the course of these.
During the times of the Soviet Union, trends for housing citizens followed a pattern of building very large apartment buildings which can be many city blocks long and up to twenty four stories high. To heat these places they run hot water from a main heater up through pipes that go into the buildings and through the apartment. The water pipes will connect to radiators which give a good amount of surface area for heat to dissipate.
Our current apartment was built thirty years ago and the radiators are the same installed when the place was made. Thirty years of hot water running through a steel housing had led to some rust beginning to grow from the inside and slowly worked its way through the paint on the outside, all the while letting water pour onto the floor. Our land lord came over after a couple of days with a repair man to fix the problem. It does not really make sense to patch the hole so the only solution was to replace them. That was not so bad. It just meant that our morning and early afternoon would be spent in the apartment listening to saws cut though pipes, banging, and the occasional Russian swear word.
It just so happened that the same day as the repairs was the exact day that our senior couple of missionaries decided to make the trip to Chernigov for apartment checks. Fortunately for us, this overlapped with our time already inside. The problem was in that our apartment was, in no real sense of the word, clean. Save for the kitchen, bathroom and study room, the rest was filled with furniture from the rooms being fixed, dirt from the boots of the repair men, and the specks of pipe from sawing metal. The senior couple was sensitive to our situation and decided to pass us anyway.
Toward the end of the repairs, the third interruption came in the form of a phone call from our registration person. As missionaries, we come into Ukraine with a forty-five day, one entry visa and then are required to receive a new document called a post vidka. It looks like passport with many blank pages that are filled each time you move to a new city. This means that every time we move, we need to do deregistrations at the place where we were living, and then registration for our new residence. Because of my recent trip to Latvia, I am due to receive a new post vidka, and Elder A had used all of his available pages on his previous one which put him in queue for some new documents.
What followed the phone call was three and a half hours of moving between different government buildings, signing papers, verifying identities, and way too much sitting. What is even more inconvenient is that in two to three weeks I will need to come back to Chernigov to pick up the document, which is in itself a whole other set of trials.
By the end of this day, none of us had eaten because we had planned to go to lunch with the senior couple, until the call for registration came. None of the three of us were feeling good and I myself had a head ache of two hours already. We decided to go eat at a restaurant real fast, but another phone call came from our landlord to be at the apartment so that a repair man can check all of the work done there. This leads us into the next couple of days.
The repair man came, looked at the seals, and gave the all clear for us to switch the water back on. He left and after ten minutes, Elder A heard a loud hissing sound coming from the bedroom. Walking through the door he was met with the sight of a jet of water coming from the radiator onto his bed. Elder B then ran to the other room to see the second radiator doing the same. We shut them off and our land lord had the repairmen come back to fix it. They told us it was because the parts they ordered were from China and that the quality was just bad. They said that the problem was fixed and so we packed up and headed to the church to conduct English practice.
After everything was done and we were on our way back, our land lord called us again saying that we needed to be home that second and hung up. While walking into the front doors the sixty year old woman who guards the door said that she is going to come to our apartment as a guest. Immediately it was confusing, but everything became very clear as she pointed to the ceiling which was dripping water from our second floor apartment. We ran into the elevator and then to our door to open it. Upon opening the door, my glasses completely fogged up as our apartment turned into a sauna with a constant spray of hot water going on for an hour and a half. It was right by the couch on which I sleep, and as such, much of my stuff was directly in the path of the water, including the couch itself.
This time when our land lord came in the apartment to see what happened he was way mad. The Russian f-word was said too many times to count. He vented off to me about how the repair people were complete idiots and that he had paid way too much money for the sloppy work. The next day they came back to replace the O-rings on the fittings which finally fixed the problem. It took a total of three extra visits to get it right.
On Friday the news came in that after just under seven months in Chernigov, I will be leaving my small city to conquer the ghettos of Kiev in the Voskresensky branch. It really came as bad news to me, because I really do love this city and the members here. Upon learning that I was assigned to serve in Chernigov, I did not know what to think. Elder K, who was also in Billa Tserkva at the time, said that it would turn out to be a very fulfilling portion of my mission, and I can testify to his comments that these seven months really were.
In Sacrament Meeting I was asked to give a final talk and chose to talk about faith. During my time here I have learned the importance of hope in relation to faith, and that real hope does not manifest itself with doubt, even though many of us have a tendency to do that. My time here went by way too short and it is tough to say goodbye. I am hopeful though about my future, and anxiously wait to see what challenges Kiev will bring.