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  • Writer's pictureNery Duarte

Three recent interaction notes with friends from Ukraine, USA and Venezuela.

Note from a college humanitarian/rescue worker in Ukraine:

Hello Nery, 

It's Scotty here.  

I hope you're enjoying your time with family and friends back home. I'm currently in Mykolaiv at a Red Cross shelter. I was evacuated here from Kherson after the train station attack on Dec 26. If you recall, I was leaving Kherson as I thought I had broken my ribs and needed to get some treatment and recover a little. If they weren't broken before the attack, they sure were after. One hundred fifty people were waiting to board the train when the first shells exploded, parts of the ceiling fell, and the windows showered us with glass. After a few minutes, we were sent down to the basement for cover, but before we had all made it downstairs, a shell exploded near the entrance, which blew the doors off and collapsed some of the roof. During that explosion, one police officer next to me was hit with shrapnel, and I was blown down the stairs. Unfortunately, at the top of the stairs where the shell exploded, a police officer was severely wounded. At first, I wasn't sure what had happened, but after a few seconds, we realized a man was injured and needed medical help. I ran up the stairs and was confronted by absolute destruction. The ceiling and doors had caved in on him. His left hand was mangled, and his right foot was nearly severed from the ankle down. It was barely recognizable. However, a Red Cross medic began applying tourniquets and then dragged him down the stairs, where we had a little better cover from the shelling. We worked on him for an hour or so while under continuous bombardment. Unfortunately, he succumbed to his injuries and died in my arms.  His body was moved into a back room in the basement, and we all waited for the bombing to stop, which continued for another hour. I had lost track of time, and at some stage, we were rushed up to the platform where I collected my gear, only to find one of my bags, which contained the last of my cash, GoPro, and medication, destroyed. My other two bags had many shrapnel holes through them. We then were evacuated to Mykolaiv, where another train was organized to take people to Kyiv; I, on the other hand, was taken to Mykolaiv hospital as I needed x-rays. Turns out I had three broken ribs, a concussion, loss of hearing and many bruises. Fortunately for me, the Red Cross offered a bed at one of their shelters to recover, and I'm still here. I'm nearly fully recovered except for my hearing constant loud ringing and a sore neck that gives me hell. Please let me know when you're coming back. I love to catch up. Cheers from Crazy Australlie.  Scotty 

Hello again Nery. I do have a request and it's not money even though I need it.  I have hundreds of children that require laptops, tablets and mobiles for online schooling. Got an old mobile? Donate it. We can certainly use it. Three kids for one phone. You can imagine how difficult it would be.  Address to Diana & Yuriy Bazenov, 76018 PO. Ivano-Frankovsk, Ukraine. Thank you! Also, any donations are welcome.

Scott Webster

Dear Scotty,

So good to hear from you. I appreciate the update, as I was wondering about you. All I heard is that you had been medevacked from the Kherson train station after the rocket attack.  Three broken ribs, ear damage, and sore neck. I could tell you had at least two broken ribs when I examined you.  I am glad you are alive and survived two deadly rocket attacks in less than two days.  God is looking after you, my friend.

This is my side of the story of that night. We wanted to take you to the train station, but Segei said we had to go to another emergency since several homes were hit by rockets near the train station, including the home of a soldier friend of Sergei. Upon arrival, we did not encounter medical emergencies, so we started with the clean-up as two homes had received direct rocket hits. Suddenly, we started to hear the shelling at the train station. Sergei ordered us to evacuate since we were close.  One rocket had hit a gas pipe, so the flames were horrendous.  Early the next day, we went to the train station and saw the devastation left behind. We spent the whole day rehabilitating apartment windows damaged by the shelling, including the train station’s chapel. I noticed that a rocket hit the exact place where we usually park our van, so I was glad we did not drive you!  I also spent time with a number of police officers mourning their comrade. 

I pray for a quick recovery, my friend, and on behalf of the Ukrainian people, thank you for putting your life at risk for the sake of others especially children and orphans. I share some words from Jesus in the book of John:  "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life..." Keep in touch, my friend, and I pray for a prompt recovery.


PS.  I will include your request for assistance in my blog and be certain I will send support to your project.  

Note from a member of my Costa Rica Bible Study:

Hello Nery, I want to express how much I value and respect you.  I was once driving behind an RV.  Suddenly it swerved off the road into the pillar of a bridge, struck on the passenger side without deceleration, spun with centrifugal force, and began to disintegrate.  Parts of the vehicle flew apart like a shotgun target after it is struck in mid-flight.  I pulled over and ran up to the disaster of debris spread over about 100 sq. meters.  I began to assess the situation as my first aid training taught me to do.  Then I saw the bodies and an old man frantically trying to enter what was left of the RV.  Another older man ran up, entered the melee and then called to me, “Don't just stand there help me with these people”  I snapped into action.  I took charge and didn’t allow those with spinal injuries to be moved.  I accessed the front of the vehicle with the old frantic man through the driver’s door.  Help me get him out he pleaded.  His grandson was crushed to death in the passenger seat.  His granddaughter lay dying on the road.  His daughter or daughter in law was sitting there with a head injury, and broken bones including her collar bone so that she was physically deformed.  I ended up sitting and praying with her while the paramedics tried to save her daughter.  I watched her daughter dying over her mother's shoulder. Her mom couldn't turn to look.  I told her to pray.  God was her daughter’s only chance.  The grandfather had fallen asleep at the wheel.  I've never been the same, but I know from your courage and resolve and perseverance that I would follow you into any crisis.  Jessi

Dear Jessi,

So good to see you again and chat at our support group last night.  I am glad the group has stayed together since it has ministered to many expats, I feel honored this group was born at my home! I appreciate the sharing of your story. I can indeed relate to that story since on a few occasions in Ukraine I had to sit beside wounded people about to die. There was a prevalent feeling during my mission into Ukraine and it was fear.  Every day at the front lines I had fear yet at the very same time there was peace within me. This verse inspired me: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you.  Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10. We may have been interpreting this verse wrong since at the end of the verse there are promises for those who experience fear.  Notice how differently it reads if the order of the translation is changed: “Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Therefore) Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.” By changing the order of the translation fear becomes the vehicle of God’s works and presence rather than a source of guiltiness.  

Note from (…), one of the most powerful Venezuelan gang leaders. 

Pastor Nery,

Greetings from Venezuela prisons. We have paid attention to the messages you have sent to us from Ukraine.  We know that those messages were sent to us by daddy (God) and thank you for sharing it with the “union” (gang). We watch the news and realize you are in a very dangerous place.  You have remembered the prisoners and God remembers you. Thank you for remembering us.  Pastor Jorge, walked with my dad years ago. They were tough “sicarios” (hitman) over the Andes (east Venezuela).  My old man (father) was discharged (killed) by the pigs (police).  Pastor Nery, rest assured that at this penitentiary, the entire “union” (gang) remembers and prays for you.  May God be with you as your serve in Ukraine. You are a brave man, and you certainly have our respect. You are now an honorary member of the “train” (gang). We don't know what is goi=g to happen to us since we are also at war.  Thank you for your care and for keeping an eye on us. (…)  

Dear (...)

Thank you for your encouraging note.  I only have one response to you and all the men you have at your command. The quote is coming from the book in the Bible, Habakuk: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”   Keep well bro and thanks for your prayers.

Pastor Nery

Santa Ana Penitentiary. Venezuela.

My neighbourhood in Kherson before and after the carpet bombing.

Live debut. I Thank God. Director: Jonathan Duarte

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