Back to life…or…?

July 12, 2014

Saturday, July 12, first full day back in Dzerzhinsk, I’m not sure what to expect, but it started out quiet… a good day, until the bombs started about 1:30 p.m..  Three loud bombs, one could hear in the distance.  I shutter, and wonder what this is going to be like.  Saying a quick prayer of protection, I go about my business with the kids at the center, playing games.   Then around 4 p.m. SEVERAL bombs went off close to us.  We ran outside to see what we could see, but saw nothing, but we could tell was close; and by close that means a-2 miles from us.  Kids called their parents to let them know they were o.k, and then they all headed home.   It’s amazing how this ‘war’ has effected us, one minute we are all playing, having fun, the next, we are terrified and running in all directions for ‘cover’.  This constant, fear of the next BOOM, when and where it may strike, is what causes PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It is abundantly clear to me that I’m beginning to see the signs of this. The ‘unknown’ causes the stress. Things are calm, and then from no where, with no warning a bomb goes off. Children continue to show little emotion, unless the shelling is very close when the windows shake.  They seem numb to the chaos.

The center is quiet, as are the streets.  No one ventures out on the streets where they have an enforced 7:00 p.m. curfew.   I think about a plan…what to do ‘in the event’, that I have to leave quickly.  Most of what I brought in the suitcases was stuff to live on, if I had to, and a few clothes, and gifts for others, so I use one of the suitcases to pack a few things, get all my documents ready, something to eat…all things that I must think about, living in a war zone.  Everything is very unpredictable.    I hear bombs in the distance most of the night behind the closed windows.  I dare not to open a window, in fear that someone could jump the fence ad come through the window; I don’t even sleep with a fan on, so I can hear everything…I want to hear everything, as if someone is jumping the fence, I would not be able to hear much of anything with the fan on.  I lay there, thanking God for the safe journey, and reflect that just 48 hours earlier, I lay in the safe comforts of my bed in my U.S. home.  I think about my family, my life in the U.S., and how ‘this’ is 180 degrees different. But then there are many people living in such conditions around the world, we are just insulated to that in the U.S. I stay in close contact with my U.S. ‘connections’ to let them know what I am experiencing, not spying, but what is really going on here on ‘the ground….at the front.’ If possible, I stay in contact with my family every day, and sometimes 2x a day. They all have been here so many times, so when we talk they know exactly where I am, ‘who’ I’m meeting with, ‘where’ I’m going; but they don’t know the danger around me…and I only share what is really going on with my husband, as to not scare our kids.

714-14 Chores

Regardless of what is going on, people continue to move through life.  Being gone took its toll on the yards.  I have so much work to do.  No one of those that are here ‘helping me’, do much outside, most people stay inside with their windows closed, blinds drawn.  But I have to deal with these yards, as if I wait too long, they will be unmanageable and we will have mice, and maybe rats.   The grass at the house is at least 3 feet high, but the center has more people moving in and out of it so I tackle the Children’s Center first, since kids may want to play outside, though I don’t see that happening, due to the unpredictable ‘noise’.…The weed eater isn’t working right, and I just have to stop and pray over it, ‘God, I NEED it to work’, that is the bottom line…I need to get this work done. As the condition of the yard, may or may not attract these DPR people to think that no one is living in this nice house and they may just come and try to ‘take it.’   Praying over a weed eater, probably sounds pretty crazy to any normal person, but when you live in place where things are changing daily; the condition of your yard and house matters.  Praise the Lord, the weed-eater starts, and I am able to get the center  yard done.  The center yard is about 1 acre, so cutting that with a weed eater, takes a little over 2 hours.  I’m exhausted, but I need to keep going, as I have this thing working, and I’m already dirty, so I must continue.  UGH!   Since our house and the center share a back yard gate,  I move over to our house and continue.  It’s difficult, as the grass is really more like weeds, and it is thick!   I’m hoping that the ‘string’ will hold out and cut through these thick ‘weeds’.   I get the front yard completed and move to the back, as it needs it…but I run out of gas.   I’m exhausted, my back is killing me, and I’m filthy, to say the very least.  I have no time to go and get gas to finish tonight, as the kids will arrive soon, and after they leave, everything ‘shuts down’ by the 7 p.m. curfew.  I’m glad that I have these abilities, to cut grass, but sometimes it is a lot to do, even for me.  The weed eater is big and heavy to help, but thankfully, I’m able to do this. Tomorrow, I will finish.     I run in to clean up, as kids will arrive to the center soon.

Lera, 13, a pleasant girl, arrives to the center at 3.  Her parents are divorced, mom in Russia trying to work, father in Dz.  She has an older brother, and wonderful grandparents that tend to take care of her most of the time.   I pray for her, as she is easily pulled by the world, and her family; she WANTS to believe, but they don’t want her to be anything but Orthodox.   Lera participates in Bible study, comes to the center every day we are open, and loves to be involved in our activities. 

Olya and Rada, sisters, 12 and 13 also arrive.  Olya and Rada have 2 brothers, Artur (10), and Bogdan (6), who is autistic, though the family won’t admit to that due to the stigma of that ‘label’.  Olya is nice, but both Rada and Artur are rude and arrogant.  They don’t appreciate the center, the opportunities that it affords to them, and that we are here to help them become productive citizens, growing to love God and serving those around them…instead of being served.  The sad part, is that they all CAN play nicely, but then at one word they are like oil and water…don’t mix well, start arguing and fighting, sometimes to the point of physical punching.    I’m praying God can use me in some way, even without a translator.    God only knows how this will go, as Lera and this family don’t get along 100%, especially Rada, Artur and Lera.  Lera really tries, but her fuse is short, and the stress of this war doesn’t make it any easier.   The kids tend to get anxious when they hear bombs in the distance, but then who wouldn’t?  Not knowing how to cope with the situation, they end up displacing their frustration on each other, which many times turns to shouting, crying and even punching.   

But, today, is a quiet day, and the kids all play nicely, having our afternoon tea and cookies, working on puzzles.   The ‘noise’ level outside is at a minimum, so our stress level inside is thankfully, low.

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