Ukraine; Saturday, March 26
Updated: Mar 29
Interesting day. We had enough humanitarian supplies to send into Kyiv this morning, and if they get another load, the church will send another convoy early next week. As it appears and taking advantage of my credentials, I may have to go to Kyiv with the next convoy of supplies. This morning there was an air of positivism in the city after learning that the Ukrainian resistance has been made inroads at several fronts. This afternoon, when I was at the main square attending a concert, air sirens went off, and we all had to run for cover. Three loud explosions rocked the city. Soon after, thick clouds of black smoke covered the west end of the town. Later on, we learned that the main refinery had been hit. Several hours later, I can still see a thick cloud of smoke and flames from my bedroom window.
This is a story worth sharing, although, it is up to you (and me) to fill the dots due to poor translation. A few days ago, while having lunch, I shared my table with a lady and two young kids. All seem very hungry with the familiar face of uncertainty, as I have seen hundreds of refugees fleeing their homes. She said they were running from a farming town near the Russian border while her husband had stayed behind since he had joined the resistance as a bush guide. She was taking her kids to somewhere in Europe to meet a distant relative. She shared with me that some nights ago, late at night, while her husband was at the front lines, two very young Russian soldiers knocked at her front door. Scared, she decided to open the door and behold two very young men, and obviously, Russian soldiers apologetically were asking for food and shelter. She said both were suffering from frostbite, with their military fatigues covered with mud. She had some bread soup which she shared with them and helped with the frostbite. Both young soldiers were kind and apologetic and asked for forgiveness for being in Ukraine. Both said that only one month ago, they were excited about going into Ukraine to what appeared to be a party reunion since Ukrainians would receive them with open arms. They were proven wrong… She said that these two young soldiers were from a town near the Russian border, and I am not sure if she meant her family had friends in that town or if the city was friendly. Her literal translated words were: “Their village and my village are friends…”. I could gather was that there was some social connection between them and these young Russian soldiers. She said that early next morning, the last thing she did for these two young men was to share with them her husband’s civilian clothing, and they proceeded to put their military uniform and weaponry in a garbage bin outside the home. Both started to walk back to Russia. Pray for this young mother and her family as she is set to start a new life, and indeed like her story, there are many more.
Pastor Dmitry Budhy. We still have no word of his whereabouts, and I have not heard from his wife Helen in the last 24 hours as communication has become even more sketchy. She has come across as a strong woman of faith, and on our end, the pastor of this church is coordinating a letter signed by many pastors from Ukraine to the US State Department on his behalf; keep praying.
The church I am attending has well-attended prayer and teaching sessions every evening. A couple of nights ago, while attending a meeting and sitting at the very back, I saw a soldier in military fatigues walking into the service. He was a big man, around my age and, judging by his military patches, a man with some authority. During our last prayer, I was moved to come near him and lay my hand on his head while praying. I did not know what to pray for, so all I did was to keep my hand on his head. Suddenly he broke down crying and soon we both had tears in our eyes. As the prayer time finished, he asked me where I was from. I do not remember my answer since where I came from creates so much confusion for many. I am a Canadian citizen, born in Guatemala and I live in Costa Rica but works in Venezuela. He proceeded to give me the sincerest bear hug I have ever received. While still whipping off his tears, he graved his military hardware, put on his hat and quietly left the church. A few days ago, I asked one of the pastors what I should do and what kind of work should be prioritized. His answer was. You can just hang around. You have come from so far away to support us, and just your presence amongst us as an encouragement to all of us…
In pictures. Just in case I have to escape this city I got myself an ATV.