And then there was one…

May 1, 2015 – Prepared food for 6, though we had only 3, but we decided better to have too much, and give to others.   We could only find Oleg, and gave him some food.  He seems somewhat interested in the Bible, but more and more, he just seems lonely and wants to talk to someone about anything…we talk with him, but it goes no where…and he says that he hopes to be returning to the post in the next few days.  He will need to get his ‘head back into the game’, and it really isn’t too good for the men to stay away for so long, as they start to get comfortable, and it makes it very hard to readjust, food, habits, sleeplessness, toiletry, just so many aspects that go into ‘war’…that doesn’t even cover the readjustment to being at the ‘frontline’ of shelling. The other Oleg, the more talkative one, has returned, and we are alittle worried for him, as he seems to be careless, and the type that would drink and hold a gun, waving it around.  He just seems like a ‘loose cannon.’  I pray that he is safe, and we did share the gospel with him, just hope that it sinks in and he understands that there is life and death, and he is closer to death then a lot of us.  In some ways, I don’t think he ‘gets’ that, and he is carefree and careless, but war is serious, and Russia is slowly approaching and building up their fleets, we must be ready and alert.  Another reason that Oleg may be somewhat carefree, is that he is alone, he doesn’t have a family, whereas some others have wives, children, extended family.  Oleg didn’t want to talk about any family at all, and seemed aloof in that aspect..could be that talking about them, makes being here even worse mentally for him. 

Blankets don’t stop bullets: 

Tuesday – We have 5 for showers and lunch, and I decide to shoot a video with the men.  One thing that I try to ask the men is: 1.  What are their needs, short of the war ending and they go home, what are their physical needs as a soldier.  And the #1 answer is EQUIPMENT, HEAVY equipment.  They feel they are totally out armed.  Some of the men have guns from 1970’s, they are ill-equipped to fight this, or any battle.   I wouldn’t so much as to send my loved one out there like that, let alone go to war myself!   I feel terrible for these men…they are like sitting ducks.  The road ways are filled with broken military trucks, and then we see photos of beautiful equipment in Kharkiv, or Nickolinva, when that equipment needs to be here!   They are totally out gunned.  They explain how the enemy has equipment that can reach 3 kilometers, and their equipment can barely get to 1, how their snipers have all the night vision; how each block post has only ONE night vision goggles, for large areas to watch…it is virtually impossible to watch that much territory with one pair of goggles.      The second thing they talk about is the commanders.  Many feel they can’t trust their commanders after the situation at Debaltsava and Illiovisk.  One can’t blame them.  And with mounting situation where block posts get into situations, calling for help and NO ONE comes, it just seems futile for them.  Many are discouraged.  They say that it will take 40 minutes for help to arrive from Konstanivka, but when they called for help after several hours of heavy battle, still no one came, after 6 hours.  That is unacceptable…it does not build team morale, and it gets men killed.   The commanders are thinking with a 1980 mindset, in a 2015 technological war time.  These older commanders need to ‘move’ out, and get some young blood in there, but not just for the sake of youth, but you can’t fight a war of hand combat with video guided bombs!   The men know they are out gunned, and that isn’t a good feeling.  #3 Even simple equipment such as face masks, gloves, boots, are not available.  The men are not outfitted at all, uniforms are ill-fitted, too big and cumbersome for the smaller men, like it isn’t ‘one-size’fits-all’, and that seems to be the way the uniforms were given out.  Most are too big, few are too small.  And for boots…never enough, and they need seasonal boots.  No one wears fur boots in the summer, can’t run, and too hot.  Men are thankful for what we are able to provide, but then again, ‘blankets don’t stop bullets.’ 

Thursday – another group comes for lunch and showers.  Among them is Sergey, he was also here on Tuesday.  He pulled me aside and asked if I would allow him to shoot a video asking for help to release his nephew from a Crimean prison for charges from the Maiden.  Seems that Alexander was a police leutinent in Crimea, and he formed the Crimean battalion to go and fight for freedom in Kyiv.  There was massive fighting, and over 100 were killed, and hundreds injured.  Alexander did fight, probably did hit someone…but who, and how is in question, AND, what does the authorties in Crimea have to do with this at all…it happened in Ukraine, NOT Crimea, and Crimea has no jurisdiction in Ukraine to do anything to people.  Alexander stayed in Ukraine after the Maiden.  He went to help at the front, as commander of the group of Ukrainian volunteers from Crimea.  In February of 2015, Alexander was kidnapped and returned to Crimea where he sits in prison for crimes they say he committed at Maiden.  But where is any justice here, as any crimes would have been prosecuted by Ukrainian, NOT Russian authorities…since Crimea is no longer a part of UA, as the ru people say….  So, Alexanders’ father went to Kyiv to enlist help to get him released.  On his return to Crimea, as he and his wife still reside in Crimea, father called another son, to let him know that he had made it to Crimea, from UA, passing through the border crossing.   Father never has returned home, and no one has heard from him since.   Sergey, the brother-in-law and the uncle, is now desperate to find help for the release of his nephew and to find his brother-in-law.  His sister has had a stroke due to the stress of all this, and is unable to do anything.      

After showers and lunch, we set up the space, and film the segment.  Sergey shares the details, and makes his point, needing help to secure the release of his nephew, and to get any information on his brother-in-law.  I will edit and post this on YouTube; we can only hope that someone can assist this injustice!

Friday night, we prepare for the Saturday block post food drop.  Sergey just isn’t stepping up to the plate when it comes to cleaning, and playing with the kids.  He is on his phone or the computer most of the time, and his day is filled with texting.   I’m praying over what to do…what am I supposed to do??  God show me, send me someone, that has the vision of serving.  Someone who loves children, has organizational skills, gifts and talents to share with others, and has a deep love for the lost.  Granted, that is a tall order to fill, but someone who is sitting on the computer or on the phone constantly isn’t what I’m looking for at all.  The interesting thing is that he doesn’t preceive his time on the phone as excessive, so my thoughts are that, if he doesn’t think this is a lot of time, I can only imagine the amount of time he is on the phone or computer when he is home.  I’m thankful I have someone with me, and he has a true desire to help the military, which we have now transitioned to helping daily; but what I need is someone who is ready to deal with the kids too. God, send forth! Amen.

Up early on Saturday to boil water and get the rice going.  No sign of Sergey…off to load the van…no Sergey…car out of the garage, gates open, no Sergey…finally, he comes running out…looks like he just woke up, I have no comment.   I have no words…I asked him to be up and ready…not.   But not only that, but he acts as though all is just fine…like wow, he wants to serve, yet it is all just talk.     We go somewhere, and purchase things, and when we return, I’m carrying everything, and then when we get to the door, he turns and says, ‘oh, let me help you’…well, after walking from the car to the door, the remaining 10 ft. isn’t a big deal~~

We get to the block post, and the men come to help us carry food to the food tent.  The men seem to be in good spirits, though when we start to really speak to them, we hear the discouragement in their voices.  They NEED help, they NEED big guns, and they have none.  In many ways, it is so difficult to hear this, as I can’t give them much encouragement, as I don’t have any.  I tell them that I have done everything that I can do…write letters, send photos, anything to get the word out there to the U.S. public that they need help…they need artillery.  They are thankful, though they don’t see any result.  One man comes to us, asking us to call his brother in the U.S., in San Deigo.  I promise to do this, and take his photo to send to his brother, if I am able to get through.   Another man, asks for a razor, a belt (he is using a rope), and a cell phone with 2 sim cards.  Not a fancy phone, just a phone.  He says that he is a person in charge, and he can’t even shave!   It is pitiful to say the very least.  The men lack so much, even the most basic, a belt!   There are men wearing house shoes and socks!   But they are so very thankful for the food and visit, and just talking to someone that listens to them.   They have a ‘camp dog’, Vika..she is just a puppy, but that does help to keep them in good spirits.    I give away 12 more masks, and I only have 5 left.  The men are thankful, even for these little gifts.  I will order more, on Monday. 

May 10Sunday – Sergey will be leaving today to go home and spend some time there with his family, gather some more clothing, and just basically ‘get refreshed’, and ready for the long haul of me leaving.  He will be alone…as of now, we don’t know if Sasha , from Kyiv will join him.   He takes the bus to Kons. To catch the train to Odessa, and then a bus to Kherson.  He is very pensive about leaving me, but I assure him that I will be fine, and that he needs to ‘go and get some peace and quiet’.  Really, I have lists of things to do, and him being in my way is a hinderance.  I have the garden to plant, the yard to mow, car to wash inside and out, things to pack, and I would like to paint the inside of the center, if time permits.    I see Sergey off at the bus at 2:30 and I’m back to the center to be greeted with a fire, roasting potatoes.  The kids love a fire, and love even more potatoes.    I remember the ribs that I bought, and then the salo that the army brought, and when the potatoes are done, throw all that on the grill, and cook up some salo for the kids and their potatoes.  It was a wonderful feast for them, and we are very thankful that the army thought of us!

A new week rolls around, and we start with a trip to the Block post #1.   Pastor Sasha decides that he wants to join Oleg and I, so I pick him up on the way.  He purchased all the bread for the meal.  We arrive to the blockpost, and I see new men…some of the same, but also several new.  The new commander, Andrew, speaks English, so that is an added plus for me.  Oleg is there, and shares with us the new memorial for a friend that was killed in February.  The men have made a little memorial in the grass where he died close to the Blockpost.  It is humble, but priceless.  They are all ‘moved’ by Olegs’ words about this hero soldier.    We give all the food, and retrieve the empty containers.  A band of men come walking up, and I remember them from several visits ago, one was the team leader for the ‘scouting unit’.  I hand him a mask, as I can see he has none.  The other men ask if they can have, and the last of the masks is absorbed by the group.  So glad I ordered more!   We stay for about 45 minutes, and Sasha prays over the  men, and the memorial of the downed soldier.  We hear machine guns in the distance, and decide that it is ‘time to leave.’    Sasha seems to be glad that he went along, though later, I receive 2 messages asking me, not to post any photos of Sasha to social media, interesting, but I abide by his request, I’m just thankful that he went along to meet the men, and pray over them.

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