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.

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