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До Свидания, Бабушка


I know 4 ways to say “goodbye” in Russian. None of them have the tone of finality that I feel in the English “goodbye”. All of them have the expectation of something in the future.

There is the most formal До Свидания which means “until we meet again”
There is the very common Пока which simply means “until”.
There is also a variation of the first, which is До + whenever we expect to see each other again. “Until Sunday”, “Until Tuesday”.
The fourth, used most commonly at the end of phone calls, is “Давай” which means “Let’s”. It is a very vague, with the object of the verb left unstated. Let’s meet or let’s talk later or maybe even let’s hang up the phone. This meaning I’m least certain of, other than the fact that it ends a conversation on the phone, which an expectation of talking later.

None of them have the final note of “God be with ye” = “God be ye” = “Good bye”.


My father’s mother, my grandmother Gena Bolender, went home to be with the Lord on Friday. I had called on Skype earlier in the day while she was still in the hospital, but she was already asleep under the effects of pain medication 7x more powerful than morphine. I was not able to say “goodbye” then.

I feel no sadness for my Grandma. I am happy for her, that she is free from the pains and discomforts of cancer on this earth, and that she is face-to-face with her Lord and Savior, and also reunited with the mother she was separated from at the age of 11.

I am however, very sad for my family who remain on this earth, separated from our grandmother/mother/wife. It is especially difficult for me that I cannot be there with them, separated by 10,000km, the Atlantic Ocean, and 8 time zones. I am not even able to fly home now, because my passport is at the OVIR office to renew my registration to stay in Ukraine for the remainder of the school year. I cannot fly without my passport.

It is this separation that weighs on me the most. As we’ve discussed numerous times at our English Bible Study, the main idea of death in the Bible is not the cessation of something’s existence, but the idea is separation. Adam and Eve did not cease to exist the minute they ate the forbidden fruit, but they were separated from their relationship with God. At the end of the chapter they were separated from the garden. Some 900 years later, their souls were separated from their bodies.

My passport is currently separated from me. My passport-hand relationship is dead. I am currently separated from my family. This is also a kind of death. And it is really weighing on me right now.

It is not a matter of being homesick. Regardless of all other circumstances, I know that I want to finish my education here in Ukraine before I leave. I will graduate in June, and then it will be time to go home. Until then, I am content to remain here.

But I want to be home for my family’s sake. To be in Ukraine is Christ, to go back to Texas is gain. I am learning to be content in whatever situation I am. But it’s not very easy.

I have been wanting to write this post all weekend, but haven’t been able to before now. My emotions like sea billows roll.

Please be in prayer for my family. For several of us, including for me, this is the first death in the family that has been someone really close to us. There have also been a great-grandmother, an aunt, and an uncle who have gone on before that I remember, but none were as close as my grandma.

She is both my physical grandmother and my spiritual grandmother, in the sense that she was the one who explained the truth of the gospel to my dad when he was 4 years old, and he was the one who explained it to me when I was roughly the same age.

Please pray. Prayer works. Thank you.
-Bob 3


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16 thoughts on “До Свидания, Бабушка

  1. Well said, Bob. We’re praying for you even as you pray for us. That’s the glory of intercessory prayer.

    Posted by Bob Bolender | December 18, 2012, 9:27 pm
  2. Molodets, Bob. We love you and are praying for you and your family.

    Posted by vova | December 18, 2012, 10:08 pm
  3. I know your feelings when the person you love left for God and you even didn’t have chance to say last words to beloved one. My grandpa returned to God while I was in Egypt this September. I miss him much but as you I know it’s much better for him. God give you and your family peace, try to remember good things about grandma it helped me with pain of loss.

    Posted by Lena JM | December 18, 2012, 10:57 pm
  4. Bob that is a great tribute to your grandmother. I know that you will miss her but not for long because when that day comes time will not matter. Keep up the good work in Ukraine and we are sure to see you as your Dad often remind us “here, there, or in the air.” Hugh

    Posted by Hugh Crowder | December 18, 2012, 11:27 pm
  5. Amen.
    Our separation from her is difficult today.

    “Just one day nearer Home,
    and shadows of the night descend.
    Just one day nearer Home
    and evening twilight colors blend.
    Beneath the starry sky,
    I walk beside my Guide and Friend.
    With each day’s ending,
    upward wending,
    One day nearer Home”.

    We look forward to seeing our Savior and Gena.

    Posted by ethel doud | December 18, 2012, 11:46 pm
  6. Very nice, Bob. Love and prayers to you! Until…!

    Posted by norahs | December 19, 2012, 12:27 am
  7. She is with the Lord Bob take comfort in knowing that you will be reunited in heaven with her. Stay strong in the Lord our prayers and thoughts are with you.

    Posted by Jason Gallanis | December 19, 2012, 1:16 am
  8. Great message, Robert–thanks. Glorious photos, with snow, somehow. Clearly, for reasons known only to Him, God timed things so that you could not, would not leave your unfinished work in Kiev.

    Posted by Lee Matt Smith Jr. | December 19, 2012, 1:41 am
    • It is a perfectly-crafted test, and He has in mind His perfectly-crafted solution to bring about a perfectly-crafted result. This test would not have been the same for me had I been in a different circumstance, in a different country. He knows what He is doing.
      Thank you for the reminder.

      Posted by bobinukraine | December 19, 2012, 7:32 pm
  9. glad u were able to express this. thank u for sharing!

    Posted by marci | December 19, 2012, 3:05 am
  10. Dear B3 I have lost both my parents to death but they were unbelievers. I thank God every day for His grace and Mercy .I have and continue to hold you and your family up before the Throne of His Grace For your comfort And Peace inthis time of suffering.We do do grieve as those who have no hope for she in a place of peace and blessing with our Lord and we shall be reunited in His good timing. Please call on me any time
    In His Grace alone
    Love Linty

    Posted by Linty Jubber | December 19, 2012, 2:19 pm
    • Linty, thank you so much for your prayers. I am very late in calling you, but I hope to do so soon.
      One of the great things about a friendship in Christ is the assurance that no matter what, there will always be a reunion someday. No matter how far or how long we are separated from our loved ones in Christ, we will see them again. Here there or in the air.

      Posted by bobinukraine | December 19, 2012, 7:30 pm

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