We walk the streets of Borispol and Kiev in 1993, climb dingy high-rise apartments, find no hot water or toilet seats-search empty shelves
in grocery stores for soap to wash dishes, clothes, and floors.

We seek respite from roaches for our mission team, American teens eager to share the good news of the Gospel with those who lost their land and means to the Communist Manifesto.

We sense the cost of collectivism, vacant streets a camouflage to dens where Ukrainian and Russian mafia plot to rape the country’s remaining riches.

We sing to Ukraine’s children, hear men speak of decapitating and toppling Lenin’s statue, and wonder what took them so long, marvel at their endurance to suffer bondage and starvation.

We befriend a band of women, cooks who serve us bowls of Cream of Wheat with red raspberries fifteen mornings on white tablecloths.

I hope their smiles, sons and daughters, thrive, wish to compensate their kindness, seat them around my family table, place bowls of Cream of Wheat with red raspberries before them, share our will to work with those who will.
—Iris Lee Underwood March 11, 2014

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com.