Time: Wednesday, November 9, 1994
Place: Our 4th floor flat in Kiev, Ukraine
My journal from this day reads:
I woke up this morning feeling better than I had in days. We ate breakfast than dad left around 9:15 to teach an early English class. I went in my room to do homework. A little later, mom came in a told us to get our shoes on. So, we did and walked into the living room and the kitchen was filled with smoke. Jim & Freda Lewis were here. We went in the bedroom and got all the money, plane tickets, and looked for the passports, but couldn't find them. We covered our faces and ran down the stairs outside. It was so smokey we couldn't hardly see anything. There was a fire on the first floor, and the smoke had come up through the entire building. We stayed at Jim and Freda's flat for an hour or more. Our noses were black from the smoke. When we finally went home, everything was covered in soot. The sink, toilet, and bathtub were black. We had to do a major cleaning job. Freda stayed and helped us clean. After everything was clean, we got ready to go to a Bible study. We had to run to catch the bus, but it wasn't hardly crowded at all. After we got back home, we ate dinner and wrote in our journals.
Once again, please forgive my choppy, detail-lacking, emotionless writing. However, the main idea of what happened is conveyed.
What is not conveyed is how scary this was! At this point, we had been in Ukraine for one week (and this was our first-ever trip). Jim and Freda were Americans that were there working with the same school that we were working with, but we had never met them before this trip.
I remember very clearly feeling completely panicked that our flat was going to burn down, and we couldn't find our passports!!! How could we not find our passports?!? I also remember feeling so confused. We couldn't figure out what was going on, and we couldn't find anyone who spoke English. That just added to the panic of the already tense situation. We didn't know what to do, we didn't have anyplace to go (and it was FREEZING COLD outside), we didn't know the country, we didn't speak the language, and Dad was gone.
Looking back, it really wasn't a huge deal. However, I'm sure it was the combination of culture shock and confusion that made it feel terrifying.
After all that, it was a good thing that we caught a not-so-crowded bus. In those early days, our hearts couldn't have handled cramming on a bus after such a crazy afternoon!
This is a photo of the bathroom floor. You can see when the rug had been and how bad the soot was on the ground.
This is where the smoke damaged the bathtub