Pray without ceasing…

Chapter 8

July 18, 2014

Before I take the car out, I pray over the it.  I know that may sound strange to some, but living in a war zone, where people are stepping on land mines, where there are signs along the road warning travelers of ‘MINES’.  You never really know who or what may appear on the side of the road with a gun, demanding your documents, and possibly you and/or your car; it is basically foolish if not arrogant, NOT to pray.  God is here, but God has allowed this land to reap the consequences of decades of poor leadership, and turning their backs on Him.  This is what it looks like…not a pretty picture…scary at best.   

Today I needed to go to Novghovroske, aka, ‘New York’, but I can’t take the car there, it is too risky.  The separatists have constructed a road block, and everyone must stop and they have been known to just eject people from their vehicles, and just ‘take’ them.   I would use the word ‘confiscate’, but that would infer some sort of ‘right’ to take the vehicle, these people have no rights, and deserve no respect for this illegal, hostile invasion.  But, life goes on, and I need to get to ‘New York’ to pay for the internet.  I can’t risk having no internet due to ‘failure to pay’.  I decided to get up early in the morning, walk the ½ mile to the bus stop and take the bus.  I’m alone, no translator, and though I can navigate the bus, and the office that I’m going to, if the separatist stop the bus, I’m in trouble.  As the bus pulls up, it is packed with people, not a seat in sight, wall to wall people.  I squeeze in and end up standing.  As we travel down the once smooth road, now quite bumpy from the numerous tanks traveling back and forth to the front lines, I glance at the people around me. Wondering what they think of all this, how they are coping, no one dares to converse, we all know what is coming in 5-7 minutes…the block post, where anything can happen. Praying the entire way as the road is still blocked by separatists.  The bus slowly pulls up to the checkpoint, the ‘soldiers’ (a very loose term for these men) sit there all haughty, like they are ‘somebody’, with their stolen cars…like, it isn’t very difficult to take someone’s car, if you are pointing a gun at them; I can only imagine, if I was on the bus and I saw my car sitting there, I would probably jump out of my skin, wanting to go and GET it from them.  The driver comes to a stop, and a large shirtless man boards the bus, I look down, intentionally not making eye contact with him, as one only knows if he is a ‘local’, he may recognize me, and pull me from the bus. He ‘barks’ out a few things, but no one replies, and the he just backs off the bus. We get through the check point without further confrontation.  Thank you Lord.   

Standing the entire way to the bus station, we finally arrive, and most everyone departs. I get to the internet office and it was closed!!…there is a number on the door, so I calling them I am told that they moved their office to Dzershinsk.!   Waste of 2 hours and 6 ghrivas.  Back to the bus station, wait for the bus, get back on the bus, back to Dzerzhinsk, walk home, get the van and go to the local internet office.  Thank God for the safe travel, but a lot of time wasted.  Got to the office and paid the internet, then decided that while I was in town, better pick up a few things at the grocery. I usually do not venture out to the grocery in the middle of the day, as there are too many ‘soldiers’ on the streets, and most anyone in Dzerzhinsk that knows me, knows I’m ‘the’ American, that lives there. Entering the store, the first thing I notice is that what little there is on the shelves, most are bare, with little selection of any products.  Prices have sky rocketed, due to the delivery trucks not chancing the road and roadblocks to get to Dzerzhinsk.  Many times they are hijacked and products are taken for the separatists.  Many distributors have refuse to come out our way at all; merchants boosted prices in an effort to make what little money they can, but shelves are usually only one or 2 products deep. It is not uncommon to be at the grocery and ‘soldiers’ walk through just taking items and walking out.  They may walk in and go straight to the check out, taking a few beers, and several packs of cigarettes and walking out. Everyone just glares at them in disdain, but no one says a word. Sometime the ‘grannies’ will make unkind remarks to them about their behavior, but for the most part, everyone is quiet. Most of these ‘soldiers’ will walk in front of others even if they are paying; or enter the store, gather a few items, and walk out.  I have finally found a few things to purchase, and head for the check out. At the check out three men walked in front of me, I just glared at them, wishing to say something to them, but knowing that may have serious consequences.  Instead I prayed for their weak minds, that they would be enlightened some way to the truth of this invasion and leave the group.  Each of them had a machine gun tossed over their shoulders, 2 were shirtless.  That was probably the first time I was that close to a machine gun, basically inches from my body, and though I do believe ‘perfect love casts out fear’, it did spark a shudder in my heart, but not the men who carried it.  We have heard of people dying due to the lack of training given to the ‘separatists’.  Some boys, just 17, 18 years old given a gun that could kill 10-20 in seconds, in addition that most of their equipment had not been maintained, was old, and probably things like the trigger ‘safety’ may not even work properly.   The 3 in front of me were not teens, they were probably in their late 20’s, early 30’s. They had beer, liquor, meat, cheese and chips, and then grabbed some cigarettes from the check out area.  Two paid, one did not, and he was laughing at the other 2 for paying.

Before returning home, I headed over to the gas station to see if they had gas today. Since trucks are not able to get through, gas is in short supply. Praying on the way there, Praise the Lord, the station was open and allowing for just 10 liter’s. I was able to get gas for the weed eater, and a little for the car, then off the bank to exchanged money, as one never knows the future, and banks may be open one day, closed the next. My friends in Crimea said that their local bank closed, and they lost ALL their money, as they had a bank account with money in it. Separatists ceased the bank, and no one was allowed in to withdraw their money. They lost everything. Luckily, I closed my account before the separatists moved into Dzerzhinsk, I didn’t want to take any chances of that happening to me. But I still needed to exchange dollars for ghrivas, to be able to purchase things in town. The bank was exchanging today, so I was able to exchange and returned home. 

My task for the afternoon was to make apricot jam.  Made 7 – ½ quarts…not bad for only the cost of the sugar, since the apricots were all free from the local trees!!   Every night I take a walk to the end of the street and pick apricots.  Seems that someone may have lived there at one time, as the trees seem to be in specific areas and there is a clearing in the middle, like there could have been a house there at one time…   There are apple, plum, cherry, apricot, and berry trees all right there, and free for the taking!!!   I go every night a have picked buckets full.  I freeze them and use them in my protein shakes!  I started drinking protein shakes when food became so expensive and scarce.  I bought a little hand blender, and I’m fully prepared, if we lose all food products, I can survive about 2 months on fruit, yogurt and these shakes.  Thank you God for this wonderful harvest!!   

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