On Christmas Eve, 2006, Rodion calls from Melitopol, Ukraine, to ask if I am coming to his graduation from the Kharkov university next June. I say yes, having no idea where the means will come from. But I am now committed, having promised and wonder who might sponsor a musical mission. I think of approaching Mormon stake president Russell T. Pack.
Rodion is the young cousin whom I met on my first trip to my father's home town of Melitopol in May 1996, a year after my brother found all of Dad's relatives, after 75 years of not knowing! These included first cousin, Evgenia, for whom I was named, now in her 90s. She was the oldest of Dad's three nieces, the daughter of Dad's sister and only sibling, Katya Kovalenko, for whom my daughter was named.
Rodion was 11 at this time, but was eagerly trying to learn English and plan for becoming a computer programmer. It was this intensity and determination that convinced me that we, his newly discovered American family, should help him with his education. So, when he came of college age, we arranged for him to study in the best technical institute of his choice. He is now finishing a Master's Degree in computer programming and speciallizing in web design.