New Friends

May 26, 2015 – Tuesday  – I’m off to the hospital with pastor Sasha to feed the 6 soldiers that are there.  We pick up Sasha to feed the 6 soldiers and go into the main hospital, where we find a man sleeping, but we know him from BP #1.  We slip in and leave him a welcome gift on his bedside table.  We then go over to the surgical ward.  As we walk up, there are gypsey’s everywhere, probably 30-35!!  Something has happened to someone in that community, and I have no idea ‘what’, but we go to the second floor, and there are more gypsies up there in the waiting area.  The nurse appears at the door, and asks us to wear shoe coverings, as it is the surgery ward.  It is almost funny, if it weren’t so sad, that they are worried about such things as paint is peeling off the walls, dirt on the floor, people not wearing gloves…cat on the 5th floor, and they are worried about the soles of my shoes…but we comply, and Sasha goes to the pharmacy to purchase shoe coverings.  Just then 2 men walk up trying to get in the ward, and the same nurse that was fairly nice to us, ‘laid’ into the men, disallowing them entrance to the ward.  Demanding that they go and get the shoe coverings…the nurse shifts her eyes to me and then back at them.  Discrimination is rampant in Ukraine against the gypsy culture.   Sasha returns, and the same nurse, then escorts us to a room, and they tell my to ‘go in’, but all I see is a room of a gravely ill child.  I don’t want to go in, but they keep telling me to…so once I the room, I see that there is another room behind the first. And that is where the soldier, Dima is.  Dima is from BP #2, and he was near a mine when it exploded.  He turned just in time to NOT take the full force of the blast in the chest.  He had fragments in his chest, lungs, and a crushed arm.  He was obviously in a lot of pain.  Dima’s friend wanted to leave, but when Sasha asked if he could pray, he decided to stay through the prayer.  I was glad that Sasha was there to minister to Dima, and he talked with him for at least 20 minutes, then we left; climbing back over all the people in the next room, tending to this small boy.  As we left the building, I wanted to give them some of our food, since we had left over, but Sasha said that it wasn’t a good idea, so we went home.  I dropped Sasha off  at the Moscow market, and then went to the center, where Alyosha was waiting for me.  Seems his classes get out at 2, so he is free then to come over to the center.  We talked for a while, and then I mentioned about the boy at the hospital, and he knew all about it, as the boy is Nastia’s (his sister) neighbor.  Seems the boy was playing near a house that had been ‘shelled’, and a wall fell over on top of him, crushing him. I told him that I wanted to pray with them, so Alyosha suggested that we call Sasha and ask him to come along..finally after several tires, Valia reached Sasha and he said, he ‘could not go with us.’  So we decided not to go and just pray on the house for him hourly. 

Sergie returns – I was woke at 7:20 a.m. as Sergei was at the gate, but had no keys.  I stumbled over to the gate, and opened it, handing him the keys.  He went to the center, I went home, but I was up, so I decided to tidy up my house, incase the men wanted to come for a visit.  Food was prepared, so that wasn’t an issue.  I finally go over to the building, and prepare some breakfast for Sergie and I.  We leave at 11 to head to Konsytanivika to do a little shopping and then pick up the men at 12:45.

We get through the check point, just men anamoured at my US passport; and the many stamps from so many countries…they got so caught up in all that, they failed to ask Sergei for his passport, which was good, as he forgot it. 

The train has just arrived, and they are walking up the platform.  It is great to meet the men, Aaron, and Keith are pastors, and then there is Andre a student, and Cory, on an internship.

May 29, 2015 – I just can’t make this stuff up – Friday evening, I need to take food over to Lena’s grandparents and I remembered that someone had painted over 4 of the flags we painted with red/blue strip.  I really want to ‘fix’ that, so we took the paint with us, since it is literally on the same road.  Sergei and Alyosha paint several poles , then we deliver the food, and we go back to paint some more, since it is getting darker.  We are stopped at the corner by the turn to go the back way to the hospital, via the cemetery.  I’m parked on the side of the road, whereas Sergei and Aloysha are painting the poles behind me..  All of a sudden a car zooms up and comes to a screeching halt…and the guys are talking to Sergei and Aloysha, but I only can hear Sergei responding.  Words go back and forth, and then the next thing is Sergei is walking to the car, and puts some money down on the seat, and says, ‘those guys over there, just paid us money to buy the paint and paint all the poles on the street.’  Paint all the poles on the street!  Then I count the money and it is 1000gh!  Not completely sure what to make of this, as it could be a trap, maybe legit, just don’t know at this point, but it was decided that we are to meet them tomorrow night.  We head home, but I notice that I need gas, so we pull into the Route 20.  There are usually a lot of military cars there, and this night was like all others, and there was one car there.  Sergei decides that he needs to talk to the military men, and exits the van and goes to the side patio where 3 men are talking.  Sergei talks to the men, and Sasha the ‘leader of the group’, agrees to come out tomorrow night and check out the situation with the guys that gave us the money.  We can’t be too careful. 

Last night we also received word that we lost 2 men from block post 0.  Considering that this post is closets to the ‘front’, and the entry way from Ghorlovka, I would not be surprised, but then we heard of 9 more men that were wounded.  So we head to the hospital with food and clothing.  Stopping off to pick up Lena, and then to Julia’s parents for more items, Julia’s father joins us for the trip.  We arrive, and go to Zhenya on the 1st floor of the surgery unit, he is still waiting for appendix surgery.  Then up to the 2nd floor, room #3, where we are met by Oleg Odessa (2022, Oleg was killed in action), who is visibly upset, Andrew from #2, and 2 other men from another room, that came to visit.  I go about making plates of food, while the men speak to the soldiers.  Oleg starts to tell about what happened, when he just starts to cry.  Sergei unsuccessfully tries to calm him.  Andre returns from the restroom, and immediately climbs into bed and pulls the covers over his head.  I lightly rub his back, and he reaches out and touches by hand and softly rubs the top of my hands.  He so desperately needs the kindness of a nurse, wife, mother, sister, just anyone that cares, someone to sooth him, from this trauma that he suffered.  He continues to hold my hand, and then drifts into sleep.  Total sadness for this very broken man.  All I keep thinking is ‘what’ is going to happen to these men when the war is over, where will they go, what will they will they live psychologically with what they have seen, done…experiences???

Saturday – Mr. Toads’ Wild Ride!!! – The started with preparing food for the blockpost, and meeting people to pick up food for the post, and then off to Julia’s parents to pick the rest of the food up along with them.  On the way to the block post, we observe several DPR flags on the bus stops, and some buildings.  I mention to Sergei that those will need to be ‘dealt with’ tonight, he agrees….WE arrive to the post and the men are as usual happy to see us.  We unload and speak to the men for a while, when the commander approaches that needed the belt and cell phone.  I have nothing!  I feel terrible about this, but we needed to know if he needed the SIM cards to go in the phone, or if he has them, and we never could reach him, prior to today.  So now having the information, we can purchase the phone and return to the post with the phone.  He is very happy about this.  We leave promising to return with a phone!  WE get back to Julia’s and then we are off to the big market to get the phone, and some paint for tonights activities.  We purchase paint and brushes too, as this paint if very difficult to get off the brushes, and it is easier to just toss them.   While at the phone store, Andre calls, saying that everyone is ‘there’ and waiting on us, are we coming?’  Coming to what??  When he explains that the meeting and ‘road rally’ is TODAY, not tomorrow, as we were previously told.  So we race out the door and get to the center of town, and get in line for the road rally.  UA flags everywhere, it was great to see the patriotism of the people.  Granted, I would liked to have seen hundreds, not just one hundred or less, but we will be happy with what we have, and show the town that there are indeed people here that are pro-UA.  Many ‘lookers’!!  People need to know NOT to be afraid of being proud of being Ukrainian.  Putin has made ethnic Ukrainians feel bad for loving their country!  The rally starts with us all walking to the monument and singing the national anthem!  We sang that 4 times, with Oleg in the front, it was all very nice.  Then we lined up, with an armored vehicle in the front, we drone through the streets of Dzerzhinsk, blowing horns and raising UA awareness.  We had a police escort, and police at every crossroad to stop traffic for us.  It was great, and so very exciting.  Granted, it made it clear to all that I was pro-UA; but at some point in time, you must stand up for something.  All through the town, we trailed, and then circled back to the parking lot in front of the Moscow market.. People were everywhere starring at us…after photos, Oleg asked me to go to Rainbow and speak with a journalist, Tatiana C., from Kyiv.  She lost her husband at Mayden, and has since run for public office, and is in Parliament.  Her goal is to improve dietary needs for soldiers.  She listened to Oleg’s concerns about the currant mayor, and though that is a big concern, if the leader of your town is pro-ru, my concern was for the soldiers morale.  After our initial meeting with Oleg, his church member, and this Sergei (in question), I asked the others to leave, so that I could speak with Tatiana alone, as I wanted to speak about the soldiers equipment needs, and their morale.  She listened very intently and interested.  I just wish I had been given some notice about this meeting, then I could have been more thoughtful with my questions.  But that didn’t happen, do it is what it is…  We exchanged phone numbers, and she encouraged us to call her if we needed something.  Probably the best thing was that we saw Andre’, the summer commander, Andre Teturyuk assistant.  He is now the commander of Rainbow.  He is now the person that is to be working in Dz. to straighten out the local government.  Hopefully, this reunion will have me be able to reconnect with him, and this could be a good thing. 

June 2015 – Saturday evening, we paint poles on Artuma street, they look great, and Sergei (local mafia man) was very happy to see the work.  We completed the street, and had no hecklers.  Sasha, from Battalion 17 came for the entire time and stood guard for us.  That made us all feel much better, though it is sad that one must have an armed guard to beautify the town with country flags.    

Sunday – up early to go and buy paint for later in the day painting of poles.    Church was fine, though very long, Sasha just goes on too long,and people get restless.  He makes his point over and over and over, beating people over the head with the Bible…it doesn’t work, and people get aggravated…he goes on and one, and loses the momentum with the audience.  I would love to tell him all this, but I don’t see that happening, and Sergei, though feels the same way, he may not say, it in the ‘fight way’. 

Kids come in the afternoon, and Valia was with them, as Sergei and I left for painting the main street in Zabalka at 5.  We met the group up at the railroad crossing/street police, and worked our way down the street.  The people in Zabalka didn’t seem to care at all, they just watched.  We finished by 8:30, and all the poles were complete, I was exhausted, and covered in paint…I must figure out a way to get this paint out of my clothes.

Monday – 8:45, Oleg calls asking if I can come and get Lyuba’s food and take it to the block post, as his car is broken.  I need to get the food, take it, and then return with 5 men to the center, for showers and food, and the return them to the block post, then go to the hospital to feed soldiers there.  A lot to organize and remember details.  Additionally we have been asked to go to a rally for Nadia Savenchencko’s birthday, in the square down town.   I arrive at the center early and Sergei is up cooking rice!  Like that is important, since that is about at the bottom of the list, since that can cook while the soldiers eat.  Amist all that, the  water isn’t ready, tea isn’t steeping, details…just not awake to details.  We prepared lunch and the men arrive.  I ask Sergei if the upstairs is ready for them, and he says, ‘no’, and races upstairs to prepare the showers.  Valia and I complete the lunch, and I try not to get too upset.  All will be fine, God is in control.  We just have so much to do, and it is not getting done, due to disorganization.  Lunvh is ready, men are showered , and the men and Valia eat.  Valia is leaving today, so she needs to be well fed.   The men enjoy their meal, and then spend some time outside talking and smoking.  I don’t make a fit about it..they have few ‘vices’.  Driving back to the blockpost, I think about how it must feel to be in the comfort and safety of our center, and then be thrust out into the war and chaos again; safe >>>unsafe, warm and fed >>>>cold and hungry

We meet ‘Sergei’ in the square, and we stand with signs to honor Nadia S.  There are 7 of us…then 2 more show up, then 3 more.. so the numbers are few but she is unjustly being held, someone needs to be ‘her voice’.   We also paint a beautiful emblem of the Ukrainian flag in the center square,  with a blue and yellow heart!!   It is all very nice.  When volunteer Vovo came to the rally, he told us that reporters from the Kyiv Post were in town, and wanted to do a story on me, and our volunteer group.  I was amazed, and honored, so we arranged for a meeting.  We invited them to join us for painting. 

Tonight we paint again, we are getting this done, a little at a time.  We are clearly ‘marking our territory’! We do Myachofskya St. today, and happy to have Vovo, Diana, and the 2 writers from the Kyiv post.  We work our way down the street, and then to the police station, then to the Moscow market, and then back to the main street.  It is A LOT, but it looks great, and prayerfully, it encourages our men.   The journalists are very interesting, though I am concerned about the exposure of the story.    After painting, it is late, so I drive everyone home, and Vovo asks us to stay for dinner.  It is 9 p.m., but we agree to do this, as there has been many times, he has asked, and we haven’t been able to.  He and his wife are believers, yet they don’t go to any local church due to the persecution of protestant Christians.  Granted, they can come and meet with us, and maybe in the future they will.  The journalists, Oleg and Vlad. Join us, as they are staying with Vovo and his wife, Alla.  Amazing couple, and they have a lovely home.  I can’t wait for Rich to meet these people.  Alla serves us a humble meal of pasta and canned meat, and wonderful bread she makes herself.   The journalists ask lots of questions, and at some point, Oleg recorded me, though I wasn’t aware of it.  Oleg, is a very interesting person, and one of his friends was in Ghorlovka in an office, and they saw on a piece of paper on the wall, ‘Motoralla’ and a number.  Motorolla is the head of the Ghorlovka DPR unit, and a really mean, evil person.  He, like putin have, little man syndrome.  He is a small man, so he really likes to ‘show himself’ through his actions.  He even has a giant for a wife.  She is very young, and he is probably 35.  Anyway, Oleg’s friend gave him this number, he had no idea if indeed it was Motorolla’s number, but he called it and recorded the conversation.  When a person picked up, Oleg started the recording, and Motorolla admits to killing 15+ people, and one being the gunner from the airport.  The soldier was brutally beaten, and shot multiple times, after admitting he was the gunner, during the interrogation of all the men, and he could see that someone was going to be killed, if he didn’t admit to this position as the gunner.  Motorolla was very prideful about the killings, and cursed repeatedly, and said, that he would kill more.   It was all very ‘creepy’.

June 19, 2015 – Friday, I received a message from Valia asking us to take food to Tonya, Vanya’s sister.  Saturday, we went over to her place, but no one was home.  We talked to the grannies, and they said that she ‘comes and goes’, but drinking a lot.  I was concerned when she didn’t show up for church for several weeks, as she was coming regularly.  The ladies agreed to call us if she showed up.  Sunday afternoon, I decided that we really need to try again, and we go over to her place, looking for her, but can’t find her.  I remember Valia sent me her number, so I call, and we finally get a hold of her, and she said that she is staying at her boyfriends’ house, providing the address.  We drive over to the address, but have some difficulty finding it, until we see a group of kids, and I recognize Olga, Tonya’ 6 yr. old daughter.  She is covered in dirt, looks terrible!  We ask her to show us where her mother is, and she walks in front of the van,
walking us to the house. 

I have lived in and out of UA for 17 years, and seen some pretty terrible
conditions, never any like this, where children were playing.  Walking
through the gate, front door wide open, glass in the windows broken, piles of
trash outside, broken glass everywhere.  Sergei and I go in and I see
Tonya getting dressed, and some man naked on the couch.  Sergei yells to
Tonya to get dressed and come out, and she does, and I follow that up by
telling the man to get dressed too.  They both eventually appear at the
door between the kitchen and the living room, where a T.V. is blarring
cartoons!  It is like, ‘grow up’, your kid is out playing in the garbage
and you are in here having sex with this piece of trash, of a man.  Just
disgusting, truly.  Sergei ‘unloads’ on the man, questioning him about
their relationship, his honor, or lack of any honor at all to Tonya, being
totally drunk.  Her face is red, hands are shaking, if I would have really
thought about it, she looked like she was in ‘labor’, but it isn’t time…she
looks to be 4-5 months along.  We continue to question Tonya about her
commitment to Olga as a mother. Olga is running in and out of the house, and
then the neighbor shows up.  Appears to be a nice woman, she too questions
the man about ‘what is he doing’ with pregnant Tonya drinking, and Olga playing
in the dirt.  They have no answer, Tonya is embarrassed, but the man wants
to beat Sergei, and repeatedly curses him, and gets in his face.  I ask
Tonya, if I can take Olga for the night…give her food, bathe her…Tonya at first
says ‘no’, but then we finally convince her…and then we are able to convince
Tonya to leave too.  The man isn’t happy at all.  He doesn’t want to
lose his free sex with  no strings attached…just disgusting.
  He sways between, ‘she is my girlfriend, you can’t take her’ … to
‘she is with me today, and with someone else tomorrow.’’   Finally,
they decide to leave, and Tonya and Olga het in the van and we go to the
pharmacy for some ‘medicine’ to help with her ‘drunk’..   Sergei
mentions that his church has a rehab. Center, and that he could see if Tonya
and Olga could go there, so I insist that he get the information.  He
makes some calls, so that we can let Tonya know if there is even a remote
chance that she could go to Kherson for rehab.  We aren’t sure she would,
but we need to know of there is even space available.

The medicine works.. I think… but she drinks a lot of water, used the rest
room a lot, and then she starts to shake.  Her face is very red, and hands
are almost blue, they are so red.  She is cold, then she is hot…I’m
thinking she is in labor, so I call nurse Tonya for help.  She totally
understands, but says that she doesn’t want to take responsibility for this,
and get her to the hospital if I really feel she is in labor.  We
wait..and see.    After about 15 minutes, she is feeling a
little better to eat, and then shower.  I take her upstairs to shower,
yet, I don’t think she does, as she is barely wet, and Olga is running in and
out of the room.  I’m glad that I bathe Olga earlier, and she is very clean.   
Sergei hears that there is space, and they welcome Tonya to the center. 
We need one paper, which we will try to get from the hospital tomorrow. 
We decide that the best place for them is back at their apartment, so I drive
them back, and Sergei and Aloysha take her upstairs, while I wait with the
van.  It is late, and no one is out on the roads, so separatists may be
lurking.  We take Aloysha home, as we don’t want him to walk either, and
we arrive back at the center exhausted around 10:30.  What a day.  I
continue to be amazed by what God challenges us with…all we wanted to do was
give a box of food to someone in need, and we end up in this mess.   Lord, please surround this little girl with love and peach; give Tonya a conscience to know what she is doing, and putting her child through is not good; and help her to receive the help we so desperately are trying to give her.  


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