Concert in the park

Yesterday morning we received a phone call from a young missionary family who invited us to join them at an outdoor concert in the park last night. We have been trying to find some time to get together for several months but to no avail. So this sounded like a great idea. We checked to see if their children were accompanying them, so that we could ask OUR children (Jeanne and Kolya) who were expected to arrive in Kyiv around 4:00.

The plan: Arrive early to find a bench (with a back) to sit on. Bring food and drink to share. Enjoy the fellowship.

Right after we received the call, the skies opened up and we had torrential rains. Then it cleared up. And then rained again. (I was having flashbacks to the Paul McCartney concert day…) We planned to meet at our metro station at 5:00, and by then all looked pretty clear. AND, as a side benefit, it was also much cooler. So we stuck with the plan.

We met at the metro and clamored aboard with our bags, backpacks, and blankets. Definitely bag people. We rode for two stops and exited at Maidan Nezelezhnosti (Independence Square) and walked the main street for a couple of blocks before beginning the ascent to Marinsky Park. Lots and lots and lots of steps. Across a narrow wooden bridge suspended over a busy street. To the corner of the park with the bandstand.

While Julie and I unloaded our bags of food onto plastic serving dishes — chicken, bread, grapes, salami, several cheeses, crackers, apple slices, and…of course…chocolate — her children quickly made the switch from walkers to roller-bladers. The paved area behind the bandstand is ideal for anything with wheels — tots on tricycles, child-sized jeeps, and roller blades!

James and Jim dusted off a spot on the wall behind our bench, put down a blanket, and immediately began discussions about…well, you name it. Theology, music, life in Ukraine. They DID take a break from conversation long enough to eat.

The orchestra with piano soloists played for several hours (including the rehearsal that we ate through!). A most enjoyable and peaceful evening. Good music, good food, good fellowship, good weather. I’m always amazed at the variety of attendees at concerts, operas and ballets here. From the elderly to the toddler on his father’s knees. From young adults in dresses to teens on roller blades. They all appreciate classical music.

And did I mention that Dynamo Kyiv was playing a football game at the stadium beside the park? From time to time the cheers of the crowd would drown out the music and we would all try to guess what had happened. After one outburst, William and Katya (our young roller-bladers) skated back to us with the announcement that Dynamo had scored! They just happened to be skating in that direction. Jeanne and Kolya decided to leave the concert and head back to the flat to watch the game on television.

After a few minutes I received a phone call from Jeanne. They just happened to end up at the game. The lure of football is too much for Kolya AND Jeanne. And why watch it on television when you had to walk past the actual game to get home?

As we were leaving the park, another outburst of cheering and applause exploded. We all looked at each other trying to guess what had happened. And then I knew that I could just make a quick call and get the answer. Dynamo had scored again. Hooray! 2-0!!

I’m thankful that we went to the concert last night. We had been wanting to go all summer but were either out of Kyiv, or simply forgot. And, it turns out that this was the last weekend for concerts in the park this summer.

Thanks for calling us, James and Julie.

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