Life on the edge…

July 17, 2015 Saturday – Months of silence, and tonight we are under heavy bombing.  God protect our men, and friends.  God keep us safe, and remove the enemy.  The cracks and booms are very loud and unnerving.  Aloysha called and asked for prayers, says that it is very loud in the center of town, and he thinks he saw something ‘whiz’ by in the sky.   The shelling has now gone on for 3 hours.  The sky is still lighting up…I finally drift off to sleep at 2 a.m..

Tuesday – I love to learn something new, and today was a day of learning how to bake bread.  A volunteer, Alla, bakes about 24 loaves a week for soldiers, and she invited us over to watch and learn to make bread.  Her apartment is amazing, and she is a talented artist, and craftsman.  Basically, she turns ‘trash’ into ‘treasures’!   The walls are beautifully painted she has uniquely transformed her apartment into a beach resort, with shells on the walls, and doorframes to hide imperfections.  There are glass bottles everywhere, which she has beautifully decorated, painted, and adorned with all sorts of embellishments.  She even painted the chairs, and tables, and mirrors in the bathroom.  It is all very tasteful.  We start with the yeast and water, sugar, sale and then the fun begins.  The recipe makes 8 loaves, seems like a lot, but in reality, we could use more.   While waiting for dough to rise, Alla serves us a wonderful lunch of cutlets, jarred peppers, mushrooms, cabbage salad, and mashed potatoes.  We had wine and compote.  She is just a lovely person, and we had good conversation about the war, and really, just life.  Sometimes, it is nice to NOT talk about the war.    Ukraine is a place to build relationships, life is slower, and people sit and talk.  I would like to talk with Alla more, I just wish that I could respond, though I do understand a lot of what she says.  The bread is done, and we take 4 loaves with us, and leave, as we need to purchase paint before we return to the center and wait for kids.  We really have just 45 minutes before we are to meet the group for painting.  Sergei calls at 4:45 and says that the 2 men we met the day before, Pavel and Nickolia would like to pay us a visit.  Humm, well, another lesson in flexibility, as we need to postpone, or cancel painting for the evening.  They arrive about 5:15, and we offer tea and the rolls that Alla made for us to give to the soldiers…but these are soldiers too, so we offer them.     Nickolia and Pavel are BOTH very nice and respectful.  They want to talk with us about this ‘other’ Sergei fellow, as he was pro-DPR, and seen in several videos from 2014.  Now, thought he has switched parties, or so it seems… We made copies of his ‘book’ and I was able to put them on a flash drive and give to Pavel.    The men also talk with us about the military, and we ask their needs.  Seems the mismanagement of funds results in needs going unmet!  The frustration of this mounts for me, as I KNOW that countries are giving money, and yet these men have no boots, no uniforms, no gloves, just the basics!!  That isn’t even including things like night vision glasses, or scopes.  It is like fighting a war with your hand tied behind your back.  Pavel and Nickolia outline the situation, and suggest a few items in need of.  Nickolia is even able to find the items on the internet for me, as I’m clueless as to what to purchase.  I’m just not sure HOW to get these items and return to UA with them, but I can try. 

Thursday brings a day of yard work another day of painting.   We complete our grass and the center grass, and get started on the small house, when the trimmer runs out of line.  We cut everything we could, but all stores are closed to purchase any more line…Now time to go and paint.   Though I know we need to paint, as it does encourage the men and show our patriotism, but is is really infringing on the time with the kids.  We haven’t seen the kids in days.  They stopped calling and asking in the center was open.    I have seen several of our ‘regulars’ down at the soccer field, so if they get involved there, they won’t return to the center, as they love football. 

Painting is going well, and we complete Artuma district, like ‘mafia man’ wanted.  He said he wanted to see a lot of patriotism, so we ‘aim to please.’  We even went to fa as to paint flags on buildings.  We move towards Serverna, and the goal is to do every pole on the 5 major streets of Dzerzhinsk.  I want to do this before I leave!   Everything looks very nice.  Exhausted, we arrive home at 9 p.m.

Friday – I wake to heavy winds and blowing light rain…I just want to sleep, but I can’t, as we need to go and buy more ‘line’ for the weed eater, as that place may not be open tomorrow.   Of course, even if we do get the line, we can’t use it, as the grass it too wet.  We head out, and find the line and then run into Nickolia and he would like to talk with us.  It is good that he feels close enough to us, to ask us for meeting, call us to check on us, and just be a friend.  Seems he may have some sort of scholarship for Aloyna!  I can’t wait to talk with her about this.  We head home, and decide that we will go early painting so that we can FINISH today.  I’m really tired of painting, and at this point, we have 2 full gallons of paint left, see we will be finding some things to paint today. 

We complete Servana (the north side of town), and the main street, and even the main street by the city square.  It was really good to finish early, and the town looks so nice!!  We want the soldiers to feel appreciated, and know that Dz. is FOR Ukraine!

July 25, 2015Saturday – ‘Strange’ Sergei calls us wanting to know about the road rally, but we are not going to go, and be associated with him.  We just can’t risk this exposure.  In the morning, we have men (soldiers) to the center for showers and food, and then we are told that we have hospital feeding too.  It is good that I always fix extra, as one never knows what we need. I started fixing extra food, when the shelling intensifies, things go a bit side-ways and there are always more wounded in the hospital to feed. There is no way to calculate, so it is best to just fix more and if you don’t need, save for the next day. Better to have too much, then too little.

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