All posts by Teresa Fillmon

…God showing up…again

THE EARRINGMarch 10, 2017

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single house to his life?”  Matt. 6:26, 27

I have what many people refer to as, great ‘travel hair’; very low maintenance, very dry, and carefree.   I have really super dry hair, so I only wash my hair every few weeks.  It is long, thick and takes a full 24 hours to air dry.   Yesterday was our day off, so I decided to wash my hair.  All went as usual, went to bed, up the next morning, off to run errands, when I noticed one of my five earrings in one ear was missing.  I was driving, so I scanned my brain for where it may be.  Hummm, lets see, the night before I washed my hair, so more then likely, it is down the drain.  And if it didn’t make the drain, this morning I washed the new pup, swept the floor and mopped it, then washed the van…there was no way I was going to find that tiny earring.  So I went about my day trying to find another earring for that hole, as I didn’t want it to close up.  I said a quick prayer about it, but really didn’t want to bother God with such trivial things matters.  I had been dealing with a lot of stress over some fairly important things with the center.  I had to fire someone and the backlash of that has been just short of frightening.  Their behavior has been shocking, and I have spent a lot of time praying and meditating on the situation.  It hasn’t gotten any better since fall, and in some ways worse.  I hate to, and won’t question God on this, I know that something will happen, and ‘light’ will shine to show truth.  But when you are in the high tide of troubles, sometimes you just don’t see God in all of it, you wonder, why these troubles, when all you have tried to do is bring Jesus to the world.  Praying to God for ‘break through’ with some people; I didn’t want to bother God with this earring matter.    But as I went about my day, I would mutter a prayer, here and there, and look, but not finding anything…

As a tidied up in the kitchen, I thought of my coat hood, and that maybe the earring was in there, but as I reached for my coat to check the hood, I saw something just under the kitchen table on the freshly swept and mopped floor.  My EARRING!  So blown away for this, as God cares about even such small details that we don’t want to bother Him with, He is ready and waiting for us to call on His for His intervention.  He knew I had been struggling, and He was assuring me that ‘he’s got it covered.’

Luke 12:7

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 

God, showing up…

March 6, 2017 –   Seems we are in a famine here, a God famine.  The shelling was very loud into the evening.  Uliana and I sat and talked for a long time, and after retiring, I decided to fervently pray for the ‘noise’ outside.   I thanked God for His continued grace, mercy, iron clad protection; He is a good God, faithful God, and I begged Him to stop the noise,  jam the guns, stop the killing, stop the madness, and the noise immediately Stopped!    It didn’t trail off, it didn’t trickle, it STOPPED.   Shocked, but reassured I praised God, thanking Him for His promises, answered prayer, hearing little ole me.  God just showed up, amazing.   I decided to get some rest,  laying down meditating on ‘what’ just happened.  Dozing off, it wasn’t but about 20 minutes the shelling started again, I immediately popped up from resting, and started to pray again, the same prayer; and the shelling immediately, stopped….and didn’t begin again that night! Thank you Lord!    

Tires, tires everywhere…

March 4, 2017 – leaving early to pick up Oleg and Lena, we headed to Block post 1 to drop off food.  The men are glad to see us and thankful for not only the visit but the food.  War transforms people into an image of their former person.  There is a new normal for the person, because no one can see what they see, do what they do, and feel what they feel and not be changed.   Men who were once computer programmers, once college students, bank executives, teachers, miners, fathers, mothers, brothers, husbands, uncles and the list goes on, but they places their country, the freedoms in their country more important then their comfort and safety.  Courageous men and woman, fighting the ultimate David and Goliath story, that they are out gunned and out ‘manned’..but they perservre.  After our visit, our next job was to find tires for the men at the Blockade for Coal trains.  Seems that the UA gov. is hauling coal to the occupied areas to help those still there, but the fact is that it is being resold to Ukraine.  The whole situation is crazy, 5 km. are russian troops that shell the area, and then we have Ukrainian volunteers blocking Ukrainian trains, against the UA government.  There is a ‘crack’ in the unity of this country and it isn’t fixed, the crack will become a wedge and then a total split.  To survive this war, UA must reunite and work together, otherwise, it will implode and russia will just take over.   So the railroad tracks are being blocked by volunteer soldiers, veterans, and just civilians, so that the trains can’t get through to the occupied areas.   Blocking the coal filled trains is the objective, they don’t want violence, and actually, they are quite peaceful men and women.  Barbed wire surrounded the area, and their only weapons were chainsaws, sticks, and a few brass knuckles.  But again, they aren’t about violence, but a peaceful resolution to stopping the coal from entering occupied areas, to the military responsible for the deaths of so many UA citizens and soldiers.  They were in need of more barricades so we decided to get tires.  My first thought was my friend who owns the local tire shop, and he gladly gave 12 old tires.   Then to my next automotive friend, where he had a huge pile, giving us 15 more.  Collecting those, the van was full, and we headed to the rail blockade.      Arriving, the men immediately unloaded the van and started to make barricades at the tracks.  They thanked us profusely with shaking hands, and hugs.  The men were not drinking, or anything like this, they were serious volunteers, protesting the situation with coal being trained to occupied areas to be sold at a very high prices, or even sold BACK TO UA…the whole thing is crazy.    We were offered replenishments, but refused, seeing that they had many mouths to feed, and 5 more wasn’t something they needed…We decided to go and get more tires, with the assistance of our friend, Alexander and his trailer.  Meeting him back in town at the same repair shop we had been to previously, it seems that the manager isn’t ‘for’ the blockade, and seemed to think that we were providing tires for the protestors, and at first refused giving us this old, useless tires.  After some talking, and convincing, we were able to get 10 more from him, then going to a few other places I knew of, we were able to retrieve 10 more.  Returning to the blockade, the men were very surprised, and insisted that we part take of some borscht with them.  It was a pleasant day, and a time to meet and make new friends.  

Uliana is helping me at this time. She is a lovely girl from a very large family in Kyiv. Her heart is for children, and love of Ukraine. She is very glad to be in Dzerzhinsk, and enjoys being literally at the front line of the action. She constantly says how she had, ‘no idea things like this were happening in her country, because in Kyiv you don’t know about these things. ‘ I’m not sure if I should attribute this to the country not wanting others to know what is happening, ignorance, apathy, youth, or just exactly is the reason for this lack of knowledge…

Lost 2

August 16, 2015  Sunday, we are up early and off to Kostyantynivka to pick up our guests for the week.  We go by the store and pick up a few items, and then back to church.  Sunday is relatively quiet,  and leader of #43 comes by to take Sema and I somewhere…I don’t know where, but he says, ‘get in the car’.  We aren’t afraid, just concerned…we know we didn’t do anything wrong, and he is overall a pleasant man, but rough around the edges.   We drive for a long time…out of town and to the Kostyantynivka check point, where then we turn off to the direction of Karmadufka.  Humm, interesting, this is not a safe area, but he assures us all is fine.  I can tell, as I know the landscape, as to where we are,     I can see men ahead, pacing the road, thus, I can imagine that we are coming up to something…’what’ is the question.  We veer off the road to a driveway, which leads to literally a shack, ‘who, or what’ lives here???   Alexander explains that their outpost was bombed and gutted, they lost all their equipment, and the men lost most of their clothing and belongings.  It was an artillery compound, so once ‘hit’, the warehouse repeatedly exploded, and the inferno was so hot that a lot of the metal melted.  We go up to the house, and meet another man, seems he is the actual commander of the entire group of over 400.  A polite man, but very stern, he gets right down to business as to ‘what we want, and how we can help the army’.  I’m alittle taken back, as it wasn’t me that called the meeting, but ‘he’.  I start with a question back to him, ‘what do you need?’  He covers the whole warehouse explosion, and the needs of the soldiers, as fall is approaching and he needs 400 fall/winter uniforms.  He wants to know ‘what’ he can count on from me.  I start to go over what we have supplied, and that I’m not real sure where those items are, thus, I’m little unsure about supplying more.  He seems agitated as 2 men walk up, and he ‘barks’ some order at them, ‘what are you doing here…you have work do to.’  They reply that ‘they finished,’ and he barks back, ‘no one told you to come here, get out.’…  Seems something else is going on, but I’m not sure ‘what’..but there is tension in the air, for sure.  He then asks me about ‘what they can do for me.’  I say that I want to be sure that Dzerzhinsk isn’t going to be given to the DNR, and just like that, he slams his fist to the table, and gets up and abruptly leaves.  I’m sure that he didn’t care for my comment, or that it was translated incorrectly, but I’m later told that he wasn’t upset at me, but that he had a wounded soldier, that needed attention.   When going back to the SUV, indeed there were 4 medics and 3 other soldiers and the commander at the road, talking.  We left, without saying good-bye, or even finishing our conversation at all.  Once on the road again, we head toward Kardumfka, little did I know we were going to the old brick factory, which was their former ammo depot.  Arriving, we walked around and could see the destruction, melted metal and more, buildings with huge holes, gutted vehicles and piles of rubble.  We were off again, heading for the Artomosk highway, as we approach there is a big check point, but with Alexander at the wheel, we are flagged through to the highway.  I’m nervous, as we get closer to the highway, I know that means closer to the enemy.  We stop at the road, and then Alexander goes across the road to show us ‘Ziagsava (the bunnies), where Svitaslav was sent..they point out where the enemy is and where our guys are…I just pray that God plants an invisible hedge of protection around our guys.  We get to ‘0’, and since Alexander is with us, there isn’t a problem…and we head towards #1, when we see a train on the overhead tracks.  Seeing that train means that a train coming from Gorlovka, filled with who knows ‘what’ is crossing over into UA territory.  The train is up on a high overpass, so no one can see what is in it, soldier’s, explosives, ‘what’???   Someone needs to question this.   We drive on to #1 then head home as it is getting late, and we don’t want to at a blockpost anywhere close to 6 or 7.

7ish, and the bombs start…it gets earlier and earlier each night…we hear the booms, and go to the house and stay inside, shades pulled, and supplies gathered.  We hear from Kolia that things are bad at #1, and they are being hit hard.  We are being hit from all sides… Two hours go by and it seems like it will never end, we continue to have internet, so this is nice to talk to others…but I don’t want to ‘alarm’ anyone to this very difficult situation we are in…  We can see the splashes of lights, then hear the resounding BOOM of the incoming, or the boom, and then BOOM of the outgoing.    Finally, things subside, but only after we get a call from Kolia that 2 have died at #1.  Katia, a 25 year old radio repair tech. from Rainbow had gone out to try and fix their radio.  She climbed up on top of one of the 2 bunkers covered with the camo netting.  Somehow, maybe they saw her, who knows, but she was hit with a shoulder missle.  The other was, Oleg, one of the new rotations, only there 3 weeks, he was in his early 20’s.  Kolia had been asked to go to where they were and look for them, as they didn’t answer when called.  He went, and found Katia; her left chest blown to pieces, and one leg gone, she was dead…when he found Oleg, half his head was gone, yet he was still gasping for air, then died in Kolia’s arms.  Katia leaves behind her husband, who is fighting in Lughansk region, and her 3year old son.  Oleg leaves behind a wife and a small child.  Kolia repeated to Sema over and over the story of what happened, obviously, he was in shock… As he repeated the events of the night, his voice would race, then slow in pace.  To make matters worse, they have only one car at the block post, and it isn’t reliable, so Kolia loads the bodies in the car, along with another soldier who is wounded, and then a group ‘push start’ the car…Kolia drives them to the hospital and morgue, but just as he gets to the hospital, the car ‘stalls’, and he is stuck in the road.  The car refusing to restart, Kolia  sees some military Dr.’s standing outside and asked them for help pushing the car, since he has these people in it, and he doesn’t want to ask any others on the street.  The Dr.’s refuse to help him.  Frustrated, yet still in shock, he finds some local police men to help him push the car off the road.  There are no words that can resolve the issues…there are no words that can soothe, there is no therapy, no counselor…just frustration, and pushing it down, moving forward, desensitize yourself to what you are experiencing…numb out….Kolia returns later to the blockpost, but he is clearly ‘shaken’, and not over this experience at all. 

August 17, 2015, Monday, Kolia asks to come over and just ‘see’ us, he needs to see ‘his family’, and to see people that care about him.  ‘Of course’ we reply that he is welcome anytime.  He and 3 other men arrive for showers, and a meal, and just some time away from the ‘front’.  He is far from his wife and daughter, he has no one, just as all the others, have no one to talk to, just to give them a hug. That is one thing that I try to do every soldiers leave the building, first, they walk under the wall hanging we have of the Lord’s Last Supper we have over the entry/exit door, then in the corridor we all pray for the men and lastly, they all get a hug. Days are long and nights are short, with most of the ‘activity’ going on at night, but after a boring long day, where many men are drinking and sleeping, they unfortunately usually aren’t so alert to the enemy.  The enemy counts on this, and then have surprise attacks.  We must ‘cover’ our defenders in prayer.

Life goes on…

July 2015 – Saturday, finally a day off, rest…I’m so tired, weary, exhausted…people don’t get that, who don’t live here…you never get a good nights rest, or just when you start to sleep normal again, the shooting and bombing starts, and you are woke in the middle of night with flashes of lights and crashes of bombs!  You’re shaken to the core.  You never know when it is coming…but that is the pan, that is the motis oprendi for the enemy…keep them on the edge, keep them wondering when I will fire on them again…the not knowing is the difficult part.  But today, right now, it is quiet…so I must do some of the work that needs to be done, that gets neglected through the week.  Tomorrow we have guests,  Sema’s father and Tanya arrive for the next weeks camp for physically and mentally challenged people.    Sema and I need to go today and make sure that all the kids remember the camp, and know to be up and ready for us to pick them up.  We need to clean, as you never know when there is going to be bombing, and they can hit the water canal, and we may be without water for a day, a week, or a month.      There is a lot of preparation for the camp, from curriculum to craft activities, music, physical therapy for those that need; special diets, drinks, juice, snacks…so much to remember, yet there is such joy on their faces when they accomplish a tasks, make a bracelet, clap to the music; all the work and preparation time fades away. 

Oleg V.  stops by with sheets…200 of them, from the ‘Rainbow’, headquarters, telling us that they have a rotation, and that they all left.  Alarmed, Sema makes some calls, and sure enough, most have left, and the rest will leave Monday.  This isn’t good; we have formed relationships with these people, connections with them, that if there is a problem, we can call them, and they will come over…in addition, if there is ‘something’ that may happen, they will call us, and give us a much needed warning.  Without this connection, we have no one to call if we were in desperate help.  We make a few more calls to see who we can meet with, as yesterday when we were at ‘rainbow’ and got the bread, one of the commanders, Alexander walked up to me and introduced himself.  When I went to say my name, he said my name, and said, ‘I know’…not sure how to respond, I just said it was good to meet him.  He then, to my surprise, started to speak in English to me.  He talked to me about the situation, and said that he was part of the new rotation and that they would not leave for 2 months.  He gave us his number and said that if we needed anything, to call him.   All I could think was, ‘hummm, time will tell…’  In light of the recent news, we call Alexander to ask, ‘what is going on??’  He confirms that there are some leaving, but NOT from his group.   He assures me, if we need anything, he is here to assist us.  This news, eases our minds that we continue to have familiar faces to help us.

Back to the laundry, 12 loads in all, 3 bottles of bleach and loads of soap…still they don’t seem to get very clean, but we did our best.  The afternoon was spent just cleaning and preparing for the night of bombing…we try to go to bed somewhat early, as the shelling usually starts around midnight, but for the past few days, it is getting earlier. 

Goodness, 10 p.m. the bombing starts, and I didn’t get any sleep at all.  I just lay, think, pray, and try to think that I need to go home, I miss the babies, Rich, the rest of the kids…but I’m so pulled about being here, I’m needed here, but this NOISE, I can’t deal with it. God help me.

War is a place you lose who you were and not sure who you will find at the other end.

A New Normal

August 2015 – living in a war zone is not easy, what it is, is unpredictable, scary, and a real test of faith. It is a total faith walk. God has shown up over and over. Comforted me when I ask, performed literal miracles when needed, provided when there was no obvious way for provision…His faithfulness surely out gives everyone…and for this, we are forever grateful. God protects: 

Today we decided to give Random Acts of Kindness.  We have so much rice, and we have access to bread, so this is what we will do; drive around and give away rice and bread to anyone that wants.  First stop is the headquarters to pick up bread.  We stand at the front of the entrance, and talk to some commander.  I notice there is a very sweet dog wandering at the ‘stop’  He is larger than Happy, and Rich and I have talked about getting a replacement for Happy, if I take her to the states.  This looks like a very sweet dog…so I ask if it belongs to anyone… and no one says.  One soldier  says that he doesn’t belong to anyone, and we ask if we can ‘have’ him.  He offers another dog, not so nice looking, and I say that I don’t want ‘that’ dog.  Sema and II try to get the dog in the van, but it won’t come to us, but he seems like he wants to come to us…The soldier then just picks him up and puts him in the van…so NOW we have a new dog!  He looks at us, so sweetly, and he will be perfect as long as Sema stays at the center, or someone is there to feed him.  So now he is in the van, and we still have all this food to deliver.    The dog settles in, and we decide to try to get rid of the food quickly, thinking of a neighborhood that is easily accessible, and lots of people. 

We venture out to the gypsy area of town…there are usually people in their yards, so we don’t have to look too far for ‘customers’ to bless.  We head that way, and it was a great experience…people never expect what you are going to do, and they are always so surprised.   Few people turn away free food, but some do…but over all,  it was successful.   The gypsies asked for diapers, which we had forgot, so I promised to return today.  We finish giving out all the rice and bread, and head back to the center.  

After Bible study, we know that we must go back to the gypsy area of town to deliver diapers.  We hear gun fire, which seems very close…over and over, it seems very loud and close..  I go in to get the diapers, returning and getting the van through the gate, when I hear an extremely loud boom and ‘crack’.  Sema jumps in the van and yells, ‘GO’…as I step on the gas, I hear more booms, sounding VERY close.  I’step on it.’ And we head away from the center; where we left windows open, as we had no idea this was going to happen.    We head towards the gypsy area, and we can hear the bombs and see smoke in Zabalka.  We must stop and get petrol, and we can actually see bombs hitting the slag mountains.  Next we see fire, and 2 slag mtns. are in flames.   All we can think is ‘how did this happen…where are our men…how did they reach those mountains?’  We can’t go home, the shelling is so loud, and so close to us, it isn’t safe…so we go to the gypsies and give diapers, and then the shelling starts there.  We go to the Pastors house to drop off a load of cardboard, Marina invites us in, but I tell her that we need to get back to the center, as soon as possible.  We drive to ‘Christina’ (small grocery store), and watch this unfold.  Repeated shelling of Zabalka, there is so much smoke, we can’t see houses, or even the slag mountains, only the fire on top.  The smoke is all over the area, we have no way of knowing if our property is safe, gone…no information at all.  Thank you God for your continued protection that Sima and I left the center, just as this was starting, only You, God, know what could have happened, you are the holy, you are lovely, you are mighty, you are the only one worthy of praise, and we praise you for putting in my mind to deliver these diapers, otherwise, we would have been there, during this terrible shelling.    This shelling was louder and closer then any other, it was like they were in our back yard!

Forty-fine minutes we are able to return home and see that all was fine.  We hurried to get the van put away, and get the van cleaned out.  We hurry inside, and clean up and prepared to go to the house, when we can hear bombs.  They are further away, but that gives no guarantee that they won’t be closer very soon.  I hurry Sema, and I run home.  Even though I know a bomb would ruin my house, somehow I feel safer there than at the center.  Maybe it is due to the sheer size of the center, that it seems like a very large target; I don’t know, I just know that I feel safer at the house.    I get home, and Sema arrives later…we don’t eat, we don’t do anything, but communicate with our loved ones, that we are ‘o.k.’ since Dzerzhinsk has made the news since end of July.   We get showered, and though it is quiet, that can change at any minute, that is the fear…that is what they ‘bank’ on, that is the strategy…terror, boredom, terror, boredom… it is  constant. One needs to be really prayed up, because your life can be gone with just one ‘coordinate’ off; like the time they hit School #2, just 4 blks. away…we were told they got the coordinates wrong.  I lay and pray every night thinking about my prayer perspective and focus on Gods glory, His protection, His continued love…and then I drift off to sleep. 

Words of Encouragement… from a friend

August 13, 2015

Every night, without fail, we are bombed.  Thursday night was exceptionally loud, to the point they hit us about 15x in a row, one after another, I wasn’t sure it was going to stop.  I talked on line with a few friends, prayer warriors.  I tend to not talk with Rich, as it just worries him, and he feels helpless to help us…it is a frustrating dilemma to be in for any loved one of someone in a dangerous situation.  You try to convey to people what you are experiencing, but words can never define what you are experiencing.  Sheer fright, sheer terror…and the noise, it is unbearable.  You can’t put in ear plugs, because you have to hear the bombs going and coming, you have to listen…you have to detect the direction that it is coming, the type of bomb being used, and listen…listen for the ‘whizzing’, how close is it, then you discern what to do next.   This is life…it isn’t ‘water coolers’, clean houses, pushing papers, party planning, back to school shopping…it is surviving the bombs.

My friend wrote this to me about a vision she had, so I thought I would share it:

“I was thinking a lot about you today and chatting to God about you. Were your ears burning?

And I had a vision of a beautiful natural bridge one made of wood. It was over a large river away from houses and people. Green grass and forests nearby. On the opposite side was sunny and luscious plants trees and sun. Lovely children ran across the bridge and I felt the vibrations and loud sounds as they ran across. On the other side they ran Free safe but they kept going on. I didn’t see any further. But the bridge remained. I believe you are the bridge across the river and the bridge is supported by God. You will feel the vibrations and sounds of everyone God brings to you. You will enable them but they will go on and you remain so that more can cross. You will enable more and more. God is your support and foundation. But more but more he built you up here because he knows you stayed when others left. Amen x

Teresa, you are the bridge He is the support and foundation. Just because you stayed when everyone else ran away, you have already served your purpose. You will feel the stamping of the feet running through you, you will feel them all, and you wont always know or see what has happened to them, the precious ones running through you. You are amazing and golden. You don’t know what you have achieved yet, one day you will see in all the Glory how many people you touched and helped. God knew you would not run away, he knows your heart. He knows what you are suffering now. Sacrifice loss, fear anxiety so many things. But you are an enabler and an encourager; you give strength just by standing in that place and not giving up or leaving them in their hour of need.

God is with you now and always.

I am praying and so proud of you Lady

I cannot tell you how proud I am of you to tell people that there is someone who did not leave and doing so much. I am proud to know you

when trouble first started Teresa, there was a mass exodus of people who claimed to know God, missionaries priests etc, I will not judge them it is not my place, but I felt angry they left, Sorry, I am Irish LOL

True Courage Teresa: ‘Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”  Ambrose Redmoon

We are exactly that, human, and we feel fear, we are supposed to. It’s having fear but acting anyway

That is what God enables us to do

He gives us the strength when we are most afraid

when we do not know or understand, because without God I would only have fear, with God I am enabled to have courage

Deep in our souls we know who we really are, but the present and clear dangers are in front of our eyes, we see death and we know the reality of life on this Earth. But God sees beyond that, he knows what is in front beyond what we see and know

So, we stand still in the midst of everything that is chaotic, and wait for the still peace calm of the Holy Spirit to sustain us

Teresa, God is with you completely now and always”

Romans 8

The whole chapter is so encouraging

 Romans 8:28 – 39 Amen More Than Conquerors 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

My response to her: “These words encouraged me, because really no one except those who have been here, understand this fear, and challenge to be here and help those in need.  The day in and day out challenge to discern needs, and decide what to do in each situation.  Thanks love, you are the best, XXX”

Back into the Abyss

July 27, 2015 – My 3 week rotation is over, and I’m back to Ukraine with 120 uniform sets, 35 pair of boots, 100 t-shirts, and a lot of other misc. military gear.  The airport was shocked when we brought in so much luggage, 12 bags in all.  Sadly, they refused to help us on the bags at all, and I had to pay $2260.00 in fees!!   Got through all the airports, and then off to Kyiv, where we expected a ‘search’ at customs check point.  Nicholia (SBU) was to call ahead and make arrangements for me to get through without ‘issue’, so we shall see.  The luggage takes forever to arrive, and I line up the 5 carts at the ‘customs’ area, and there are 3 customs agents waiting…so I wait, after about 15 secs of silence, I look at them and ask, ‘do you need to check this?’….they all look at me, and one woman replies, ‘no, you can go.’   I about fell over!  Never have I seen this, with all this luggage, just walk through customs.  Nicholia ‘came through’, as did God!!   Amazing.  

A fellow volunteer, Alexander is picking me up, and after a search we find one another, as I could not leave this luggage unattended.  Alla was completely past the point of exhaustion, and was not any help, she could barely walk, and had had 3 nose bleeds on the flight, so she was weak too.     After loading all the luggage, we stopped for a soda and had the chance to meet Alexander’s wife and son.  Alexander would like to spend time with us in Dzerzhinsk, but his son has an eye problem that keeps him in Kyiv driving him to and from the Dr. for appointments.  Maybe in August, he will be able to come and stay for a while. 

The Abyss – after a very busy day of soldiers at the center for showers, taking them back, and then taking a tour of the ‘front line’ encampment, clearly, we are under ‘gunned’.  The living conditions are o.k., but primitive to say the least.  The men have done a VERY good job of building with the tools and materials they have, but still, it is what it is.  They even have a garden!!  As we leave, the men ask if we are interested in really helping them.  We of course ask, ‘how’…and they explain that they would like us to have a radio transmission over their walkie-talkie’s in English…seems the enemy has been able to hone in on their frequency and listen to their conversations, so we decided to give them something to listen to!   We agree, and they ask us to return at 5 p.m. for the conversation.  Paul, Sima and myself practice what we say and how to say it…  We get the call to head towards the block post, but 1/f way there, Kolia calls and says that they are being shelled, and to ‘wait’.   We stop on the road and wait for about 10 minutes, we can hear the shelling from the 3 pt. crossing…  Paul would like to move closer, so I agree to move down just past the electric train post.   The shelling is much louder there, as is the machine gun fire.   The firing continues, but Paul urges me to move closer, so that if we get the ‘go ahead’, we will be close enough to make it quickly there.   I move again to the last house before the ‘white cross’, and we sit and wait.  The fighting is intense, and loud.   We sit quietly, as we all know what is going on, and each of us deal with it in our own personal way.  All of a sudden, we hear a very loud hit, seems to be behind us, thus they went over the top of us, hitting past us, meaning we are in the ‘line of fire’.  I move quickly to turn the car around and go back towards town…we can hear the firing out the open windows, and it is all around us, and God just gets us back to the zone where they may not reach us.  At that point, I make the decision that this isn’t going to let us, and we need to return to the center.  It is just too noisy and we don’t see a ‘end’ to it. 

We return to the center, where Vika is waiting with open arms for Paul, Sima and myself.  She was, and rightfully so, worried, and praying for our safe return.  We aren’t there 10 minutes, and Kolia calls saying that it has calmed and wants us to return.  We eat very quickly and then back in the van to the block post.   This time, it is almost dark, and I need to turn off the lights as we approach the post.  I can’t see, and I know there are trees in the road, as they put them there for barriers.   I flash my lights just once so that I can see the road, and pull into place, the guys are at the block post, and they come to escort us to the block post shelter.   Once at the shelter, we talk with the commander about the dialogue, what to say, what not to say.   We can hear shelling in the distance, and it is a very intense situation..  My adrenaline is running very high.  Finally, we receive the ‘go ahead’ and Paul starts the dialogue.  We become Alpha 1 (Paul), Alpha 2 (myself), and Alpha 3 (Sima).  We had rehearsed, so that we could be clear and concise.  The talk was about getting people in place for a ‘mission’, thus there was a lot of ‘check your position…are you in place….move forward 50 yards….retract your team.”  We went on like this for 15 minutes, back and forth.  At the beginning, things were quiet, it was as though they were listening to us, and maybe they were…  that we will probably never know, but we tried to made our point…’we are here’.  As we left the block post all the men thanked us for ‘trying’ to side track the enemy.  ANYTHING we can do to help. And I never really feel we do enough.   They asked us to return the next night and do it again.   As we drove home, we could hear the bombing start again…praying our guys are o.k., praying that if they heard us, they may a little fearful of ‘what’ may be out there. 

7/29/15   my hands are trembling as I type this, 2:34 a.m. I was woke by a ‘flash’, and a huge bomb, seemed like it was outside my window, though it was probably more like in the fields to ‘New York’.  BUT nonetheless, close to us.  This was repeated over and over, lots of whizzing of bombs or bullets, or something.  I decided that I needed to pack and also wake Alla and have her pack.  There was a huge bomb and we lost electricity, so now packing by flashlight.  I’m upset with myself, as I meant to do this about 3 nights ago, and didn’t.  So now I do this in the dark and probably forgetting ½ of the stuff I intended to take.  Most will get left, just some clothing, shoes, and a few personal items.  It is all too much.  I’m trembling, as I wake Alla, trying hard NOT to alarm her, but the flashes out the window and bombs are intruding on my ‘calm’ approach.  She gets up and starts to pack, hearing the danger, no one has to say a word. 

3:20 a.m. we walk over to the center to check on Sima and Kristina and see if there is any news from any of our men at the front.  There is a HUGE full moon and it is beautiful.  So very sad of the devastation that I’m sure was inflicted by those bombs.   The girls are up and say that they have heard nothing from the men concerning ‘leaving or  staying’….etc..  Sima tries again to reach them, and they say that all is ‘under control’….we are questioning that!  The noise is out of control, and flashes of light, look like a lightening storm.    Sima also was woke by the flash, and had been up since we had been.

We talk for a while, and then prayed, and decide to wait till morning to figure out what, if anything, to do.   Alla and I return home and try to sleep.

4:10 a.m.  more rockets and bombs, whizzing noises and seems ru is telling us again that they are ‘out there, and not giving up.’  !    After about 10 minutes, it is over, and now quiet.  4:21 a.m..


Each morning is a re-assessment of the night before.   Because all is fairly quiet in the day, we have a false sense of security.  We go about our day to day activities, with hearing a few bombs in the far distance, but for the most part, we move without consequences…but then night falls.   I hate the night…we just never know what is going to happen.  The enemy uses the night to lash out in the darkness, so that their victims are faceless, nameless, innocent civilians.  Cowards, all of them…

I finally drifted off to sleep probably 5 a.m…, waking at 10 a.m., which is so ‘not like me’, but the sleepless nights, and interrupted sleep is getting to me.  We push the days with camp for 4 hours, driving campers to and from the camp, and then kids in the afternoon…then no sleep at night.  I keep thinking, if the group had stayed, they would have definitely left after last night.   And what will tonight bring…

2:10 a.m. I wake, I’m not really sure ‘why’ except that maybe my body is so used to it by now, it just wakes by itself.  I drift back to sleep, but at 3:20 I spring up, woke by a CRACK of a bomb, and boom so loud that I immediately go into panic mode.  My breathing is short and my hands are shaking, my adrenaline is shooting through the roof.  I can feel my heart racing, as I try to decide what is the best option.   I go and check Alla, but she is already up, using the restroom.  That is one thing that we do, is use the restroom, in anticipation of having to go in the cellar, and maybe losing water, flush all toilets.  You never just leave dishes in the sink to be done the next day…everything is clean and put away before bed, as at any given point, a bomb can hit the water station, electric station, and we can be without a utility for days or weeks.  A person needs to constantly ‘think ahead’, having water, supplies, and clothing, near the entrance to the cellar.

We stand in the corridor of the house and listen…boom, boom….silence, then a HUGE BOOM when it hits.  Over and over, we talk about going in the cellar, which would be very difficult, if not impossible without Alla putting on her shoes.  I can’t imagine other invalids with no one to help them, or that it is impossible for them to go in the cellar.   We decide that we ‘wait’… we stay in the corridor, and wait.  

Waiting is always interesting, because it is like, ‘what’ are we waiting for?  Because if you wait to the bomb hits, that is too late…but few want o go in the cellar, where it is damp and cold, and a very small space.   But waiting is a 2x edged sword.

Thursday night  – Sima, Alla and myself, we leave for Kyiv for a conference on working with people with post traumatic stress syndrome.  I really need a break, but I’m thoroughly exhausted and want to sleep.  Alla and I have top bunks and Sima is next door with some family.  The fellow in our compartment is from Donetsk and is slowly moving his things out of there.  His father lives in Gorlovka; staying to protect property, but he is moving from the area, taking small amounts at a time.  Said that he spent 7 hours at the ‘border’ control that the line was like 2 kilometers!  Said prices are about 3x those of Dz. and 4x those of Kyiv.  Few people are on the streets, and things are somewhat unpredictable.   We had a good train in to Kyiv, and I was able to sleep, though it was how, but I was so exhausted, I rested well. 

7/31/15 – Arriving in Kyiv, we have the day to shop and gather supplies as the conference begins at 6:30.  The transport to the place is 1 hr. 45 min…a long way there, and a long way back, but we go via public transport and then walk the rest of the way.

The conference is useful, though if you are going to speak about something, do a little research on the country, culture, the military situation; as the speaker talked about many ideas to implant, but that without the support of leadership, those great ideas, committees, services, support help, can’t become a reality.  I found most of the information things I already knew, but that it was good to hear again.  Now our job is to find someone to implement these great ideas in Dzerzhinsk.  That will be the next task.  God is able, if we pray over it. 

New Volunteers…

JULY 6 , 2015 – MONDAY – Sergei calls early to the nurse about Tonya, as we have guests arriving today, and if we can get this document, we could feasibly get Tonya and Olga on the train today to Kherson.  The Nurse says that she won’t be able to do the form till Tuesday morning.  Hummm, not good, as the longer she is alone, the more possibility that she will drink. 

Our guest from Kyiv arrive today! And we have soldiers arriving in the afternoon for showers.  We will need to go to K. to pick up  Aloyna and Sema from pastor Keith’s church in Kyiv.  We drive to Konstanivaka but in my haste, I fail to bring my car documents.  What a mess… we get to the border, and I realize that I have forgotten my car documents!  I’m so mad at myself.  And we think if it is best to call Nickolia (SBU) and get help from him.  The border guard doesn’t believe me, and thinks that the van isn’t mine.   He keeps, my license until I return with the papers.    Because we had to sit and wait at the block post over 30 minutes, and then to be detained even more…so we didn’t get any shopping done, so we will do now.   We get to the train station, and the girls are waiting for us.   We need to buy boots, and we get to the place to purchase them, but she is closing, but she agrees to stay open for us, to purchase 10 pr. of boots.    We run to ATB and purchase some items and then we are off.  Going down the straight way, we hear something break, and there is a noise, and then a light on the ‘dash’ goes off, and a slight electrical smell.  Not good!   We make it to the block post, and one of the patrols recognizes me, and gets my license back, thankfully, we don’t need to go back to the block post today!  I instruct everyone to pray for the van, so that we get home.   

Nice girls, it seems we are on the same page for vision for the ministry.  They really want to serve soldiers, orphans, IDP’s, the church…just be a worker for the Lord.  All good!  We have 5 soldiers coming today for showers…I leave to pick them up with Sema while Aloyna and Sergei cook.  Arriving at the block post, they men are ready and carrying food and dirty laundry to the van.   Sema is mesmerized by the equipment!  We need to leave, have a lot to do…  So we get them back, and they all go and shower, while I finish preparing the food.  One of the men asks to use the guitar, and he starts to sing, Let It Be, by the Beatles.  You would never think that ‘that’ voice came from ‘that’ person…he has a very unique tone, but we all enjoy it, and he is very happy to play the guitar. Julia drops me a note, that we are feeding hospital men today, so I’m shocked, but Sveta can’t do it…so we agree, and we pack food for when we take soldiers back to the post, we will stop on the return at the hospital and feed soldiers.  The girls are a great help with preparing food, and the men enjoy everything.  We dash back to the post, but the van won’t start when we go to leave.  Seeing that we are in distress, all the men from the post run towards us to help push.  In no time, I pop the clutch and the van starts, and we are ‘off’.  At the hospital, we decide that I will stay in the van while they go and serve.  There are only 4 men… They are gone about 20 minutes while I drive around the streets near the hospital.  They finally come out, and tell about the delay, that there were 4 new men…2 were ambushed in a tank, and were shot, one in surgery, one badly wounded (head mid body, and leg).  2 other men with wounds also.  We leave, and run past the ‘big letters’ so that we can fix the ‘R’ in ‘blue’…  NOW the sign is complete. 

July 7 – Tuesday – We are working on the plans to get Tonya to rehab.  The problem…we find out this morning, that she has had her baby, …  1 kilo 900 grams!, tiny, tiny!!!   Darina.  The bad part is that really, Tonya should wait to go to rehab. Due to the baby and her recovery.   We go to the hospital and visit this tiny sweet baby, and she is just so very small…  Sima gives her a stern talk about the effects of alcohol on her baby, and that she must be sober and alert to have such a baby, as she is going to be a lot of work and care.    We go and try to find the part for the van, and end up having to order from Kyiv, but at least it will be ‘in’ by tomorrow.   While at the hospital, Nicholia calls and asks if he can meet with us concerning Alyona’s schooling.  We have another set of guests arriving from Zap. today, and we call and let them know that we can’t meet them, to please ‘take the bus and then a taxi to the center.’  They are fine with that, and understand the situation.  We had left Alyona at the center, as she wasn’t feeling 100%, and that way kids could come to the center if they wanted.  We go and pick up Pavel and Nickolia and we go to the Route 20 for a coffee and talk.  We call Alyona and ask her to join us.  It is a good meeting, but long.  Sima is there, which is a good thing.  As we go to leave, I mention to Nicholia that we need a ride to the train station tomorrow.  He immediately picks up the phone and makes a call.  He looks at me and says, ‘tomorrow, 3:00 car will come to center and take you 3 to the train.’  Just like that, he fixed our problem.  I think the men like Sima.    With Alyona and Sima, it will be tricky, as the men will probably WANT to come to the center and see them… they will need to be mature about this.    Personally, I think they are up for this, but I feel I need to be there to over see this.   We finish up and get back to the center, where we greet Olya and Vovo , an ATO chaplain.  Olya is who recommended Sergei to me, as she does some work with Andrew Kelley, who mentioned to her that I was in need of a translator.    Olya is very nice, and great in the kitchen.  She is great with the kids, and is ministry focused.   Vovo, a trained ATO chaplain is great with the men.  He works with them one on one, and builds a relationship with them.  I think he would be very good to work here…but a back and forth, probably won’t work.  God, send us workers.

Wednesday –  Whirl-wind –  It is always interesting to me that God puts things in our path when we least expect it, and when we really don’t have time for it.  Today is the day we leave for Kyiv, and our day is jammed packed.  We are up and out the door to the Children’s Shelter at 10, unfortunately, Anya isn’t there, she arrives for work at 1, but there is no way we can be here at 1… We go to the auto parts store but the part hasn’t arrived, they said they would call just as soon as it arrived.  Then off to the hospital to take food to Tonya, food to soldiers, and shorts to another soldier.  While at the hospital, the blockpost calls and says, if we want to come, need to do it ‘now’!   We load up and speed out to the block post.  Everyone is with us, so it is good that Olya, Vovo, Sima and Alyona all made it out there before we leave.    

Thursday July10, 2015, my trip begins to return to the U.S..  Not sure what to think about all that, but I will certainly miss the guys, and miss this work.  I only wish I could speak the language…it would really make things so much easier and complete.  The day is jammed packed by starting the day with trying to get the part we need for the van..but it isn’t ‘in’ yet…so we dash to the children’s shelter , and visit with the kids to 30 minutes.  The director comes out, reminding us that we can’t take any photos (((((, then we leave for the market, then hospital, then out to the block post.  We want to give boots, but when we arrive, they say that the boots are too hot for summer….we are discouraged, and aren’t sure what to do, but we can’t leave them…there is no point.  It is great to see the men again, and give them last blessings, and hugs…praying for each of these guys…keep your head in the game, and as Rich would say, ‘keep your head on a swivel.’   We are off to the auto parts store and to purchase cake for Aloysha.  Pick up the part, and head for the mechanic, but he is not able to do this for 1.5 hours…which isn’t going to give us the time we need for preparing to leave, and leaving by 3.  There is not enough time, bottom line.    We give up on the auto repair and head to Rainbow to meet with the commander about having a Bible study.  Vovo doesn’t seem real sure on his fee when conversing, so Semi steps in at times. 

Finally finishing up, we head to the center, to finish packing and load up, as the army is taking us to the train station.  Alyona and Sima go with the military men to the center, the only problem…they have idea where they are going and get lost for 20 minutes.  Simi is very fascinated with the guns and Range Rover..  They finally arrive, and get my bags loaded.    Sergei is still insists that he goes to the train station with us…but we tell him, it really isn’t necessary, and he needs to stay behind to be with our guests and kids.   He seems offended, and we try not to offend, but he is silent. 

We take everything outside and take some photos, pray and then make the ‘hug’ rounds.  I hug Sergei last, and it is like hugging a child…he squeezes hard, like he will never see me again.  I assure him that ‘everything will be o.k…he will do fine’  He has so much self doubt,  it concerns me, but I can’t do much about this, at this point.  I must go, I have so much to do, so many supplies to buy.   We start the journey to the train station.  On one side of me I have a gunner and the other is a sniper.  In the front is Sima and Alyona.  It is a crazy ride, and the guys are great.  We arrive, and they get us to the train, and then leave. 

Once on the train, we have about 15 soldiers in our wagon.  Sitting next to me, is a woman from Donetsk.  She doesn’t want to talk about the war…she is afraid, but finally towards the end of the trip like a last minute thought, or maybe she finally realized that we were ‘safe’… she tells us that she is pro-UA.

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.