Life at the Front

Chapter 17

8-12-14 – Tuesday, still no water, and looks like it will be a while.  It is dry, hot, no breeze at all…just dead heat.  I can’t imagine my ‘new friends’, and what they endure for the safety and security of this country.  They are layered in gear, bulletproof vests and or body armor, long pants, socks, boots, knee pads, all sorts of gadgets and gear.   I pray for their safety all the time.  It is just me and God, so I talk to Him a lot.  We have had some very long conversations about life…what’s important, and what’s fluff.   In America there is a lot of fluff…life here is real and ‘in your face’.   Living on the edge is quite literal.  One minute you are talking to a friend, and the next you are shaking in your shoes, running for ‘cover’ from an unexpected explosion a few miles away.  God becomes, very real, very fast, and the way I spend my time is more deliberate.   I just don’t drive into town for one thing, I have a list, know exactly where I’m going, and go and return to the house. Not many people out on the streets, as it is just too dangerous and unpredictable.

I’m thankful for the internet, but it has become more and more sporadic in that last days.  Who knows why…the torment of intermittent communication with the rest of the world is enough to make one ‘go’ a little whacky.  One minute you are talking to your loved one, and then just ‘gone’…internet shuts off.  No warning, no reason, and does not coming back on.    I think that it is some sort of demoralizing ploy by the russians to torment us. Who knows, but it does the trick.

Today I will go and pick fruit for juice.  Juice is very expensive now due to delivery trucks refusal to bring food to the grocery stores since it is dangerous to travel the roads. One never knows when a band of DPR will appear on the road, flag you over, eject you from the vehicle and hijack it, and since the DPR needs food, delivery trucks are a prime target. They even go so far as to try and take the ‘back roads’, and that is even worse than the main roads, in addition, if they ‘hurt’ the driver, it will be days until someone finds you. Most people here ‘can’ or ‘jar’ their garden foods, but I haven’t had a very successful garden, as the kids at the center run through it when playing ‘chase’, and with the lack of water, gardens will get the last water, if people need water to live, so I need to continue to harvest the local street fruit and make my own.  It is very odd, the people here won’t pick this fruit, I keep thinking that I’m doing something socially wrong, but after 15 years here, I haven’t really taken notice, but people rarely pick the fruit that is literally everywhere, ‘free’ for the taking. There are MANY abandoned houses with fruit trees, but really, one doesn’t need to go into the yard, as many of the streets are lined with fruit trees. Of course, I’m picking my juice fruit from the trees on the next street over where there appeared to once be a house, but is no more. There are several types of fruit trees just full of fruit, rotting on the branch. So I’m picking it… people see me, they don’t say anything, so I guess it is fine. Picking the fruit and making juice for immediate consumption is fine, but it doesn’t allow me to ‘jar’ any for the impending winter, thus, if I’m here in winter, I will be forced to pay high prices, as I won’t have any stored.  I can’t even imagine what people that have fled will do, if they return to Dzerzhinsk.  Our once 100k population has dwindled to 33k, houses sit empty, gardens are dead, or overrun with huge unusable produce, completely bug infested. If they return, they will be facing a very bleak, expensive winter.    Right now, I have an abundance of plums (for jam), grapes (but they aren’t very sweet, due to the lack of water), apples (tart, but good for juicing), and squash (canning).   I have beets, potatoes, carrots, pumpkins and even celery but those won’t be ready till September.  I may not be here then, so I may lose all that myself.   I could pull it early, but then, if I do return, it would have been better to leave it in the ground longer…it is all a big decision.    I have been eating zucchini stir-fried, and fried almost every night.   It is at least healthy for me, but I’m getting tired of it.  I can’t imagine what the people do that live here, but I suppose they are used to it.  Bread, a staple for most people here, if you can find it, is now up to 6.50gh whereas it was 4.25gh.  Gas just jumped again today from 15.15 to 15.50 per liter.  I limit and combine ALL trips, no just driving people around.  All trips are combined for efficiency.  I always enjoyed being able to assist people when I would see them walking, and I still do, if I’m ‘going that way’, but gone are the days when I could just go across town and drive people home, if I wasn’t ‘going that way.’    So today I picked fruit, for tomorrow, I will make the juice.    I picked 50 apples from a combination of trees, so I have 3 different types of apples, but it doesn’t matter, as I’m juicing them.  My plum tree at the little house is amazing, and has wonderful plums to eat fresh from the tree, I will eat those, not ‘jar’ them.  I have made a grab stick from my paint pole, and it extends about 4 meters up the tree, so I can now reach many that would have normally fallen to the ground and rotted.  They are wonderful!   I’m thinking that I should ‘can’ some, but it is a huge mess to do all this canning, so when I do it, I like to have a lot and do many different things, canning, the juice, the jam, and even squash.  The water that the canning takes, and then there is the clean up, that is the mess, and with water rations, it is virtually impossible to get everything clean.  You have to sterilize the jars and lids too.  So even for those of us that ARE here, that ‘jar’ harvest our crops; we have the difficulty of canning.  Freezing is out of the question, since the power is completely unpredictable, and will shut off in a whim and we never know when it will resume.  It may go off for use a few hours, or a day or 2, and I can’t lose all that food.  Presently, my freezer only has cooked meat in it, and some grains.  I also have some frozen cherries that I will be using in my shakes, as I need to deplete those.  I can’t risk going back to the states and the power going out for days…what a mess that would be!   So I don’t purchase a lot of food, and watch what I do purchase, as the ability to keep it fresh, cooled, or just keep the bugs out of that has been an issue in the cabinets.  I keep most of my ‘grains’ in the freezer, due to flour bugs.  I have lost some food because of that, and that is not a loss one wants to take, due to the cost of food.   And then there are the pesky mice, one must keep everything sealed. We do not have cats, due to allergies, but that would solve our mouse problems.

After a long morning of fruit picking, I took 5 kids to the lake, but it started to lightening after only about an hour…so we had to leave.  Took the kids home, and called it ‘a night’, taking a quick 3 minute shower, ending with cool water, preparing for a hot night.  I usually try to stay up until it cools off around midnight…but there is just ‘dead’ heat, no breeze.  The lightening continued till about 9 p.m., and NEVER a drop of much needed rain.  UGH!

8-13-14 – Wednesday, canning day.  Off to the center to can juice and whatever else I can find.  I have about 50 apples, and 6 huge zucchini and squash, plums and some grapes.  I will do what I can, with the time and water I have.  

From the 50 apples, I’m able to compress about 4 liters of juice, using just 2 cups of sugar, so that isn’t bad considering everything was free.  I will keep it stored and share with the kids later.   I also was able to compress 1 quart of applesauce from the apples, the kids will use the sauce on their cookies during tea time.  I made 48 muffins, which I may take to my ‘friends’, if time allows today.  I hate to bother them, as they are busy people, and to have someone wandering around their camp is probably not so good and a distraction for them.  So we shall see.   The kids arrive and want to go to the lake.  Understandably, it is terribly hot, and with the stove and ovens is hot in the center.  I tell them they will need to wait till I’m finished, and they impatiently wait.  It is interesting to me, after all we do to sacrifice for them, it is NEVER enough.  Reminds me of my own 3 Ukie kids…never enough and always ‘entitled’ to more…they complain about everything, like I have some sort of control over their happiness.   I have never played that role, of the ‘fixer’, so what makes them think that I can fix the weather, or that muffins take 20 minutes to bake??  They are very impatient children.     

We leave late for the lake, due to muffins in the oven, and clean up, but when we get there, after only 30 minutes the afternoon ‘rumbles’ and lightening starts…we must leave.  I return them home, as they are so impolite to me, I don’t want them at the center, plus if it does rain, they could be stuck at the center for hours waiting for it to ease.   

Never does rain, but rumbles a lot, so I decide to go and pay my ‘friends’ a visit.  I have 48 muffins, and I can’t eat them all, so let’s give them away!!   They are delighted to see me, and Andrei is gracious to take the box and goes around man to man and hands them out.  He INSISTS that I take some g’ifts’ back with me, and loads me up with 120 liters of water, 100 kilos of gretcha (a grai), 20 kilos of sugar, 48 cans of fish, and 60 1- kilo bags of pasta!  What a kind man he is, and he is so excited to GIVE back.  Leaving their compound, I stop on the way home at Larissa’s as I know she needs water, and some food.  She is gracious to receive it, and then I think of Olga and her 3 nephews, and stop off and give some to her too.  She is very receptive and happy to see me.   She has taken on the responsibility of 3 rowdy nephews, after her twin sister passed away. Her sister had 9 children, an older girl and boy in Kyiv, 2 boys were adopted to the U.S. and are friends of mine, Olga took the 3 younger brothers, and the 2 youngest kids, 2 girls live with Olga’s daughter just around the corner. The 3 boys eat alot and Olga is thankful for any gifts of food. She is part of our food box delivery program when we are able to do that. We were very regularly doing that, but since the war, the cost of food, and just plain lack of food, we are not able to do much. With this wonderful gift from our friends, we can gladly ‘share the wealth’. Tomorrow, I will make a water run over to Artuma and help Dima (Lena’s father), and Lena’s grandparents, but for now it’s too late. 

8-14-14 – This morning, I will go to meet Dima and then off to Artuma to give water to Lena’s grandparents.  I decide that they will all receive food too, as we have so much.  They are happy to see me, and kindly give me fruit for a ‘thank you’ for the water and food.  Very kind of them!  Their granddaughter, Lena’ has been a friend of ours since we started to go to Ukraine, and many years ago, we brought her to the U.S. to study, and she now has a masters in Music Therapy, working in a hospital. I have known her grandparents for many years, lovely people, but grandpa is frail. I’m happy to share food and water with them, they just live, literally on the opposite of town from us. So I combine trips with other stops to deliver food to others over there.

Back at the center, there are things I need to do.  The big job is to cut the grass, but if I do, that means I need to shower, as it is so hot and dusty, I can’t have kids in the afternoon after cutting grass most of the day.  I have little water for 2 showers, as I always shower before I sleep, just to cool off.  I decide cutting weeds/grass is out…People really do not do much at all, just to try to stay cool.   So I need to tidy up some from all the previous week of jarring food.  I was putting away some jars I didn’t use, and open a cabinet, and oh my goodness, what do I find, but 3 exploded quart size jars of zucchini salsa.  Well, I guess you can’t ‘can’ that, as all 3 exploded, and what a mess.  My afternoon is now defined.  The stench of rotten zucchini is terrible.  Interestingly one evening last week, I was laying in bed and heard several ‘pops’ and thought someone was in the house, so I carefully came to the kitchen, but never saw anything.  I didn’t put it together that it was those jars, so I returned to bed.  I’m so very thankful that I didn’t leave for the states without looking in that cabinet.   Took me over an hour to clean up the mess, and with little water.   Worked up a good sweat, and now I will rest till the kids come at 2.  This heat is exhausting, and zaps all your energy.

The weather looks like it will be good for swimming today.   Olya, Vika, Vlad, Larissa and baby Sasha join us today.   We had the best surprise today, as Lera was at the lake today!!  It was great to see her again!    The kids had a good day of swimming, though Artur and Rada just don’t ‘get’ the concept of sharing and playing fair…reminds me of another Soviet I know, i.e. a little leader of RU, little man complex!!  Anyway, Artur, who is small for his age, desires any and all attention.  He will be a pest to everyone, splashing all the kids relentlessly, even after they ask him over and over to ‘stop’!  He completely ignores them, and me, and even when I tell him to ‘get out for a time out’, he will NOT.  So he will not swim with us for several days.  As for Rada (his sister), the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, she selfishly takes the Styrofoam float but never even uses it, it is like, ‘I have it, and no one else will use it.’  On top of that, she refuses to try to learn to swim…she just stands there in the water with the float, while the other kids wait on her to allow them a chance to use it.  Artur will take the float and use it to splash water on others, just being a pest.   So I think it is time for this family to feel a little squeeze of discipline.    A few days of ‘no lake’ may be the wake-up call for them…we shall see… 

These kids find the strangest things to be amused with.  While looking in the bushes around the lake, they spot some bathing suit bottoms, and are fascinated with them.  One needs to remember, that this is a place that people go to the bathroom in the bushes, they change clothes in the bushes, so to me, this is like, ‘ok someone was changing clothes, and they just forgot their bottoms.’  Nothing more then that, but for them, it is a great discovery, and something to be stared at over and over, like it was going to ‘move’ or something.  The kids took turns running to the bushes and glaring at these swim trunks.  Then there was the drunken couples that were basically ‘locked up’ in the water.  Absolutely disgusting, and probably 50 kids there to see this, they were all over each other like animals in ‘heat’.  All I could think was ‘what’ these kids are exposed to.  This same man was not more then 10 meters from us, and was throwing up prior to getting in the water, where he proceeded to repeatedly rinse his mouth spitting in the water…you now understand why I am not swimming in that water!!   The woman on the other hand, removed her bathing suit top and stands there completely exposed to anyone, then puts on ‘his’ over sized shirt, with nothing but her swim suit bottoms.  Then she goes in the water and removes the shirt!  All the while, Vlad and Artur are laughing and staring from the shore.  I walk over to them and insist that they turn around or go somewhere else to play to stop their gawking.  But, there really is nowhere else to play, as the lake isn’t that large, and all can see this couple.  I finally had had enough and motioned everyone to get out, that we were leaving! They didn’t like that, but totally understood that I was extremely uncomfortable with the cheap sideshow of this couple.

We return to the center at 5:45 for Bible study, and I’m so ‘fed up’ with them, I tell Sasha that I’m going to the house for a while.  I return at 6:30 and all the kids are gone, but Larissa, Nastia and Angel.  Sasha said that all the kids were so ‘bad’, he told them to ‘go home’, and I was not to take any of them swimming tomorrow, except maybe Nastia and Angel. He made sure I understood, as to not give in to them.

Nastia from Artuma (who is fled the war from Donetsk, and has a 6 month baby) calls Sasha saying she is out of water, and do we have any.  We do, so Sasha and I drive over to Artuma to give her some water.  On the return home, there is, what appears to be fog in the air, but why, is the question?  Later in the evening, I realize that it is smoke, and it smells like burning tires, or something horrid.  Don’t know what is going on, but I hear shooting in the distance, machine guns, not big booms, but ground combat. 

8-15-14 – I’m told that RU is heading this direction with ‘humanitarian aid’, or that is what they say, as probably just a cover to bring more artillery to the separatists in Lughansk.  RU is not allowing the Red Cross to transfer the shipment into UA or their trucks, thus one must question not only their motives, but ‘what’ is in those trucks.  One would need to think, if it is all good, then what do they have to hide?  Nothing, they should gladly allow anyone to look in the trucks.  Now they are driving those trucks to the border crossing that they have control over and the trucks will cross over into UA there.  Hummm! doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out.!

I am supposed to meet Vitally, Sergey, (Larissa’s husband) and little Nastia to go to Novghorosk to get water today.  There have been a lot of explosions from that direction, so not so sure about that today.  One never gets really used to this, but you have to continue to live, so risks are taken for the sake of one…or many in this case.

Well, 4:00 rolls around, and Vitally and Kristina show up at the gates, ready to go, so we are off.  We stop to pick up Sergey and then to Sveta’s to pick up bottles.  Sasha prays over the trip, and off we go. Go through the UA check point, and make it to Novghorosk no problems.  You never know when there will be a ‘strike’ and since this block post was once a separatist’s block post, they know EXACTLY where it is, and could try to hit it from a distance at any time.  I have no trouble getting through; it is just the whole process OF getting through.   You slowly pull up, show all your documents… get out of the car… and they look around…explain what you are doing… where you are going, then usually they wave you on. 

We arrived to the same house we got water from before.  We fill the bottles in record time only 1.5 hours, and head back to Dz. With Nastia in Artuma being our first stop.  Then Lena’s grandparents, and then off to Zabalka to off load the rest of the bottles, drop Sergey and then home to try to get the yard cut.  With only one shower a day, I must combine everything for max. efficiency.  If I’m going to cut grass, make it in the evening when I’m already hot, and it isn’t so hot outside, and I’m NOT going anywhere else…as I get really dirty when I use the weed eater.  We have no mower, just a weed eater, as there re too many stones, and the ground is too uneven for a mower.   After dropping Sergey, I go over to Sergey Shafer’s house, as he needs food.  Igor lives with him, so I give them, sugar, canned fish, gretcha, pasta and 3 large bottles of water.  Igor, who is the only one home, is very appreciative, and thanks me profusely.  Then I head home to cut grass, but not before passing the ‘water truck’ with 50+ people standing getting their water.  Well, ‘brown’ water, which is only good for flushing toilets, and boiling the heck out of it to wash dishes…Maybe bathe, but doubtful on that.   Drinking is out of the question…at least for me. People have been there most of the day waiting for this precious water.  I’m thankful for this family in Novghorosk for their generosity to give us their water, so freely and without question or complaint.  

I finally get home, and am able to complete cutting both the yards, the center and the big house.   I’m physically exhausted, but more work needs to be done before calling it ‘a day’.  I’m already hot, so might as well just continue.  Next project is to fix the motion sensor light on the house.  Security is vitally important in this crisis we are living in.   Everything needs to be working, for maximum protection.  These motion lights will deter most from coming in the yard.  I’m 20 ft. up a ladder, and the bulb doesn’t want to cooperate.  I’m alone, and if I fall, I’m quite doomed.  I just cry out, ‘in the name of Jesus, help me.’  I climb down the ladder, and try the switch, and the bulbs works!  Thank you God for divine intervention.   Off to the shower and then sleep. 

8-16-2014 – It is just HOT, there are no words about that.  Another hot night, I wake up with back pain from the day before.  When it is so hot, you just never really get restful sleep.  Tossing and turning in the heat, and then intermittent booms, you just don’t wake in the morning feeling 100% rested.   Absolutely no breeze, no way to cool off…Americans are spoiled, to say the least…A/C, clean water, access to food, water, transportation, and freedoms that I don’t know if Ukraine will ever be able to grasp.  Today, I just have to breath and rest/recover from cutting grass…I go over to the little house and try to complete the video on plum preserves.  In my boredom, I made some YouTube videos on how to make all natural juices, and the apple tree at the little house is a nice backdrop. 

I know that we have Bible study tonight, and we shall see who shows up, since swimming is contingent on Bible study attendance.   Don’t know how that will go….   Well, we ended up with only Nastia, Angel and Rada, because none of the other kids would come to Bible study.  It is terribly sad that after all this time, they are so disrespectful to Sasha and really to me, and the work we are doing…  so ungrateful.  I have often thought, ‘if I could sell everything, I would leave Ukraine’, the people don’t seem to care one way or another, and they will ‘turn on you’ when you least expect it.    Yes, I have so much invested, but we sow and sow, and do we see fruit.  What does God say about fruit…if the vine isn’t producing, cut it off, so where do we draw the line, how do we know when ‘enough is enough?’ 

8/16/14 – Wish List!

I think today is my mom’s birthday!  I always get she, my grandfather and my sister, all confused, because they are right in a row, 16, 17, 18 of August. She is 83, but extremely active, walking 3 miles every morning, cuts her own lawn, takes care of my step-father and her mind is clear…I miss my family, and this day makes me think about my mom, and what she may be doing, but I can’t call her, so I’m sending my best thoughts and prayers her direction.

I’m working on videos this a.m.  It is terribly hot.  The phone rings at 12 and it is Andrei wanting to know if some people can come over and bring sweets for the kids.  I say, ‘sure’ so I RUN and get dressed and ready for guests.  About 12:30, the big suburban pulls up; UA flag proudly waving in the wind, and to the door comes a stout, hefty man.  He introduces himself as Dr. Seva. and enters the center, and looks around, asking ‘where are the kids.’  At which I tell him that the kids don’t arrive till 2 p.m. and we will go swimming.  He asks if I will bring them over to the compound at the stadium, and I say ‘sure’.  Then he asks, ‘if I could make a wish list, what would it be?”  I’m shocked, and I ask if I can think and bring a list when I come at 3 with the kids.’  He says, ‘sure’, and so we arrange to see him at 3 at the stadium.    WISH LIST.  WOW, can you imagine!!!  Never really thought too much about that, but what an incredible thing to be asked.     

The next thing I know the men are bringing in boxes of aid.  I have no idea what is in the boxes, but later I see, cookies, cookies, cookies, candy, tea, and toiletries.  It is great stuff!!!   I’m going to try and combine it with the other stuff I received Wednesday and make larger aid bags to give away.  It is very difficult to keep all this straight, and not duplicate people, and aid.   I’m working on a way to advertise the aid, but at the same time, not draw attention to ourselves…that is a dilemma.   If you advertise, people will come from everywhere, arriving at 6 in the morning banging on the gates, demanding food.  We are systematic about the aid, with people needing documents, and trying to not give to the same people/families over and over, as there are so many people in need.  It is hard to keep track of everything, and then you run out and some aren’t served, and people get angry; you just can’t win. 

3:00 – we arrive at the stadium and the guards don’t know who we are or what we want…it takes a while for the Dr. to arrive, but finally he does, in this little range rover all-terrain vehicle painted in camo.  He tells us to climb in and he drives us around the field.  The kids find it very interesting, and fun, though I can see that they are NOT as interested as most kids would be.  They are bored and ask, ‘when they can swim?’  It is embarrassing to say the least.  Such boring children, not understanding the opportunity this is.  Vlad acts like he is 4, Rada, Olya and Artur are impatient, Nastia is the only one interested.   The men at the canteen offer them bread and they rudely refuse it, though Nastia gladly accepts.   I meet with the commander, his assistant, and the good Dr. about what kind of aid we need.  He receives my list and we go out for a photo shoot, and then drive to the gate in the range rover, and say our good-byes.  The good Dr. promises to ‘deliver’ the goods…just don’t know when.   We shall see.

Off to the swimming lake, all goes well, though Artur just can’t behave, and he can’t take his hands from people.  Vlad complains several times about Artur and his obnoxious behavior bothering everyone.  It is odd that he doesn’t see how annoying this is to ALL others.   I finally have had enough, and instruct all out of the water, and give them all cookies and milk and we leave.  Frustrating at best, though I know that they desperately need good snack foods, I just hate to make them think I’m rewarding such poor behavior.

8/17/14 – Sunday – Early morning after a HOT night.. I woke in a sweat…didn’t sleep much at all, but have a busy day, as I need to be in Artuma by 9 to pick up Nastia , mom and baby, then to Dima, and then to Ira and Vouldia, then back to the center for church.   We had 18 for church, and it was good.   Again, Sasha seems to go on to long, and I think it is more about ‘time’ for him, then content.  It is like he must ‘go’ till 11:45 or longer, or he hasn’t preached a sermon or something…people are hot, tired and want to move about…anyway, we have a great tea time, and then I return everyone home, where I go through the check point and speak with the soldiers and give them a Bible tract.   These fellows at the block posts are probably the lowest on the rank and file.  Though they are nice, they are the ‘grubby group’ and they literally sleep their in tents, using the fields as their toilet…and no shower, to say the least.  They need God too, so I give them a smile and a tract.  One never knows who you may give a tract to that it will impact and change their life. God does that…changes your life.

Back at the center, Larissa and Alena are there for Bible study, and they are singing.  2:30 Olya, Rada and Nastia and Angel show up.  Not really sure why Angel comes, as he makes more noise then baby Maxim…but he is here…  They have the study and about 3:30 after the study, Artur and Artum show up.  I inform Artur that he will NOT be swimming the next time we go, at which he proceeds to make excuses, as usual for his behavior and why he wasn’t there.  At that point, Sasha decides to give them the lecture about their disrespectful behavior towards adults, and the center.  Olya interrupts repeatedly trying to make excuses for her and her siblings behavior…typical teen, but disrespectful none-the-less.   I have decided to impose a t-shirt over the bikini rule, as the girls are showing too much flesh, well, actually Alena is showing too much flesh and allowing the boys to touch her.  Nastia’s bathing suit is very skimpy, though she is just a child.  Rada is wearing underwear and NASTIA’s TOP, so we know that is too small!   They all complain about the t-shirt, but I tell them, ‘if you go with me, you wear it, or I don’t take you.’  They really balk at this.   Way too much flesh in Ukraine, that is probably why many people are in the predicaments that they are…sex too early, babies too early, single parenthood, drinking to deal with their problems and employment.  It is a vicious cycle that they have gotten themselves into, and it is going to take a few generations to get them out, since it didn’t get this way overnight.   

4:00 and the kids want to swim.  So I agree to take them for 45 minutes, since I want to be back to be a part of our church services in U.S. via SKYPE.  Thank God for SKYPE!!   Alena , Nastia and Angel are the only ones allowed to go, as it looks like rain, but no rain yet.   Swimming is fine, and few are there…the t-shirts are fine, though Alena complains hers is ‘too big’.  What she needs to say, ‘it isn’t skin tight!’ which is what she really means anyway.  Thankful for these soccer jerseys, many have been given away (Latoya Washington), and we will use them, just have to wait for the right time, but for now, some are being used as bathing suit cover-ups…  Stopped at the ATB on the return home and was waiting for Nastia to purchase bread for her family, when I military truck comes down the street with a very nice silver car behind it.  It was a very nice sports car, but front and back windsheilds were blown out, and part of the driver side.  The front bumper was literally just hanging as it was bumping down the road.  All I can think is, ‘who was in the car?’  I wonder what happened to them, and I pray that they are o.k.

It was very loud night, and either the war has moved closer, or the lightening was VERY close, as the sky lit up till after 2 a.m.  I finally had to get up and close the window due to the noise.    I laid in bed praying as I looked at the flashes in the window rest of the night.

8/18/14 – Monday – the start of another week, and it is a beautiful 63 degrees, and windy   We still have no water, and my tank is OUT.  I’m trying to figure out how to get the other tank to fill, but can’t figure that out.   There is no way I used 800 liters in 10 days.  So that is the project for the day, to get water…otherwise, I will go the center to shower, as we have water there…

My friend, Dema Grischuk sent 3000gh for me to spend on food for people, so I will go today and get it with Igor’s mom, Natasha at the bank.  It requires a bank card, and I don’t have one, so it puts me in a situation.  Anyway, I will probably wait to purchase food till I find out when the food shipments will be here.  Andrew is sending his shipment for Wednesday, but I need to figure out a way to get it here from Khartsyzk is 70 kilometers from here, on a bad road.  The army will bring food to the center for free, so I may just let Andrew’s go, as I unfortunately can’t get to it.  I hate to lose such good food, but I do not know how to retrieve it.  

8/19/14 – Tuesday  – I have NO WATER in my tanks at all, all is gone!   No shower last night, so I will go to the center, as we have little water there to at least shower, or clean up.    The booms continued last night, and though it rained, I guess they fought through the rain.   I know that the UA army is trying to decrease civilian casualties, but in the effort to do this, they are not using as much ‘air’ strikes, thus this war is taking so long.  I can’t imagine Iraq, or Afghanistan, years of internal strife, years of living like a gypsy.  I guess there is an element of, ‘you get used to’ it, but I do not.   I like to shower, that is my thing, and I like to have clean dishes…all else is fine, I can sleep in the heat, I can go without drinking water, but bathing and eating on clean plates is important for me.  So I’m trying to figure out the next steps, if the water crisis continues, or if we see no solution in the fore seeable near future…

Story of the sports car I saw a few days ago…

Received very sad news today while speaking to a dear friend, Vanya L..  Seems his cousin Dima, his father-in-law was killed Sunday at the block post going into Nikitokov.  Dima and his 2 sons went ahead in another car to Artomovsk, fleeing the shooting in Gholorvka, and the father-in-law, his wife and her son were coming in another car.  They arrived at the block post, and shelling started, and they jumped from the car to the ditch.  The father-in-law decided that the car was too far into the block post, and felt he needed to move the vehicle back out of the way.  He ran to the car, and moved it just 3 feet, and the car was hit on the roof by a mortar, killing him instantly.     Well, come to find out, his car was the one that I saw being towed down the street, on Sunday afternoon, after swimming, while I sat at the ATB and waited for Nastia to buy bread.   Vanya said that his cousin was looking for the car, as his mother’s earthy possessions were in the vehicle.  I asked him for a description, then told him I’d seen a very sporty car being taken by the military.  He was shocked…what strange timing.  I didn’t even want to go swimming, as it was too late in the day, and I wanted to be at my church service in the U.S., so I made us leave early…timing was amazing, as Dima had no idea where the car was, or who had the car.  So now I will call Andrei and ask about this car.  The military was taking the car but I did not know where.  As the story unfolds, seems that he had in his wallet a card from being a Koysock and the check point guards held them at the check point for more questioning as they thought he was with the separatists, when he wasn’t at all, but sad none-the-same.  Dima’s father-in-law was thrown out of the car and left on the side of the road to die or was dead, while his wife was in the ditch, threw herself on her son and is in the hospital in Artomosk recovering.   Vanya was very sad at this loss of life, but truly happy that I’d seen the vehicle, and had some avenue to find it.  Now to find the car in Dzerzhinsk. 

8/20/14  –  Wednesday, no water, and we wait…Center of town has water, and Zabalka has none, but it is said to ‘be coming’ .   So we wait…….   Waiting teaches you many things, but generally speaking, I do not like to wait.    When I want something, and be it a reasonable ‘want’, I usually am able to get it, but not in this time…once the pipes are blown, it takes a while to replace or repair, and it is very dangerous for the workers, as russian snipers are everywhere, and would like no better then to ‘pick off’ a civilian.  

I was able to go into town, and look for Dima’s father-in-laws’ vehicle.  I remembered that the registration office backs up to the police impound yard, that one can’t see from the road.  So I went to that office, and went in to ‘ask a question’.   They know I always have many questions about my visa, and papers, so me being at that office isn’t odd to them, and they readily take me in and help, if they can. But today, I was on a mission to get a look in the impound yard. I needed to be in the correct office to get a good view, and as the Lord would have it, I was called to just that office. The clerk starts to talk with me, and I’m literally not looking at her, or basically looking ‘past’ her. So great when God provided a phone call to distract the woman I was talking with, and I quickly moved to the window, where I could clearly see the same vehicle that I saw being moved by the military.  I was able to do all that, without the woman seeing what I was doing.  I quickly concluded my business with the clerk, and left; as soon as I got to the car, I immediately phoned Vanya and let him know ‘where’ the vehicle was, and he was delighted to know the exact location, and said he would relay the information to Dima. 

The weather is still cool, so swimming is out of the question, we can’t cook or paint (no way to clean up),  and the kids complain a lot.  I worked on food boxes with Marina (Sasha’s wife), Larissa (mom of family of 7) , Alena (the neighbor girl) and Aloysha (orphan who we have known 10 years), and we complete 41 boxes!!   Tonight is Bible study for the kids, surprisingly we have 8 for Bible study, and one new boy.  Sasha did a good job and kids seemed interested, though we always have the usual, Olya frustrated that it takes so long, and she is hot, and uncomfortable, agitated that maybe what Sasha is preaching about may apply to her…who knows, but for being 13, she is acting more like 3. The other kids watch her, and watch us to see what we will do. Trying hard to show some compassion, we take her behavior in ‘stride’ and Sasha continues.

8/21/14 –   The day started by Alyosha calling that he had ‘found boxes’, and he had about 14 at his flat waiting for me.  For the food, we sort and repackage food into food boxes.  Boxes, are just too flimsy, and boxes are our choice for easy packing and stacking in the van for delivery.   Anyway, boxes are a HIGH commodity here, and hard to find for sure!  We had help, we had food, but no boxes to put the food in.  So I dash over to pick up Aloysha and the boxes, and then we head to the main market, looking there.  We gather another 6 and head to ATB to see what they may have, and to purchase food, catsup, mayo, and a canned vegetables.  I received a wonderful gift of 3000ghrivnas (about $120.) from a Dema G. in Kyiv, and I’m spending it on refrigerated food, when we are ready to give the boxes out.  We beg the ATB (grocery) to give us their boxes, and they finally concede with 5 boxes!  We literally could see so many useful boxes, yet they would not give to us.  We leave and are off to pick up more potatoes, onions and garlic from Andrei, as we have run out, but have all the other components of the boxes.  For being in a war, he is a very cheerful man…one time he shared with me he is a Christian, that he must have an inner peace about everything, his Savior and his eternity, if something is to happen to him; he knows where he will be.  It is such a blessing to have a man of faith in the UA military.   

Upon arriving to the compound, I asked for 1 bag of each, but he insisted that I receive 4 bags of potatoes, 3 bags of onions and 1.5 bags of garlic, and ANYTHING else I wanted.  I took some toilet paper, as we had none left for the boxes; thought that would be useful, to say the least.   Also, their cook, what a nice man, I don’t know his name, yet, but I will get it!   He is just always so happy to see me, and happy to help in any way.  Such a nice man, and never will take anything from me!    He insists on a photo with me for his phone, so I do this.  He just is a very nice person, and I can’t imagine that he is away from his own family to volunteer for this army.  Anyway, all the men are very nice and many speak English so it is a perfect set up for either English club, or Bible study.  I have given out so many bible tracts; I have had to make over 200 copies for the food boxes and the army men.   We may not be able to sit with each individual soldier or family and share Christ with them, but we can ‘plant a seed’ with these Bible tracts.

Aloysha and I return to the center to begin repackaging the potatoes, onions, and garlic.   We give Alena a call and see if she will agree to come and help.  Her grandmother went to the hospital today with chest pains, so we are worried about her, as she is really the only caregiver for Alena, but Alena says she is home and laying down resting.  Alena agrees to come and help at 2.  Lera calls and agrees to come and help too!  So we have a good group, and we can get it done.  We make 24 MORE boxes, to add to our 41, so now we have 65 food boxes to give out!  Praise the Lord, from whom all blessings flow.  We will be able to bless these people with 30 lb. boxes of food and spiritual food.   I’m really excited because Valia is supposed to return tomorrow, thus, our outreach can be bigger, as my language skills are poor, that I can’t go and visit orphans, and ‘new moms’, so I’m really excited that she is returning, plus, I miss her terribly!  The food distribution will be so much better with her input and organization, and God can be glorified, not me or anyone.  I’m not able to explain the ‘where’, ‘who’, ‘how’ of the food boxes in their language, so when we give the boxes, people think that they are from ME, personally, so it will be great to have this cleared up.  

Vanya L. called today also, letting me know that Dima did receive his father-in-laws car…sadly; it was striped of everything including the spare tire.  The people were fleeing to Artomosk, so the car was filled with their belongings, and now this man has nothing.  Dima lost his wife, (the father-in-laws daughter) 2 years ago, finding her dead on the floor from unknown causes, and now this.  He has only his 2 sons, and his mother-in-law and her son left.  It is just terribly sad, why so many people need to suffer, I say this so many times to myself, but more to the Lord, a son losing his father, wife losing her husband, mother losing her son, brother losing a brother; the list goes on, and there is no reasonable explanation.

I spend so much time alone, God has become my bouncing board for conversation. I question my purpose, and why did God have us build this community center, here, in this place, and then allow this to happen…the future is so uncertain, and quite scary; there must be a plan, one that will unfold in time, but the waiting is difficult. God almost always never just lays it all out, but shows us a bit at a time, when we can receive it, and digest it.

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