(Photo left to right: Xxxxx, Ixxxx, Ixxxx’s baba)
From former MTW Kyiv intern, Marianna: This is the story of my friend and coworker in the Sacramento area where we have a large Ukrainian and Russian population. Nadia was raised in Ukraine by her Ukrainian mother and Russian father. Her family attends a Russian-speaking church. For the past couple decades, the two groups have treated each other primarily as brothers and sisters in Christ. She says, “I never differentiated that I’m Ukrainian or Russian…but now it hurts! It’s burning me up inside,” referring to her renewed sense of patriotism. Offhand remarks from some of her Russian friends can seem callous these days, with so many of her loved ones still back in Ukraine.
The attacks caught her family completely off guard. Some of them literally went to a party one night and were in a bomb shelter by morning! Those who wanted to flee have left big cities and are in various stages of their evacuation, either in western Europe or waiting with multitudes of other refugees to cross the Ukrainian border.
Others have chosen to stay to care for aging/disabled family and church members left behind. Gas lines are often completely turned off, except for an hour or two a day, only to allow people to cook the food rations they have left. There is fear that leaking gas would multiply loss of life if were to ignite during an attack. However, it is very difficult to keep warm when the heat is turned off in subzero weather.
Not least on Nadia’s mind is her future daughter-in-law, Ixxxx. Nadia’s son, Xxxxx, has been trying to bring his waiting sweetheart to Sacramento for over a year. She is a young Bible college graduate who is heavily involved in Awana ministry in Ukraine. When Russia attacked, Ixxxx was initially hesitant to leave Kyiv alone. By the time her grandmother and mother were convinced to flee, the roads were already hopelessly congested. Days of transit later have brought them close to Ukraine’s western border. Their spirits were lifted when they obtained coveted train tickets to Budapest. However, they have been waylaid because Ixxxx’s grandmother does not have an international passport. Her exit from Ukraine is being denied. Of course, Ixxxx will not leave her elderly grandmother to fend for herself.
People like Nadia feel trapped and helpless, miles away. There is constant internal pressure to do something, but no clear action to take. It is nearly impossible to find functional banks that allow wire transfers of any significance from the west. No one wants to hand-carry cash into embattled cities where there is no food or supplies available to buy anyway. Looming over these needs are fears of greater disasters yet to come. The dam near Zaporizhia could fail if it were attacked. The residential area below, where some of Nadia’s family remains, would be engulfed in a flood.
Still, Nadia says Ukrainians on the ground affirm that they will be victorious. While her hope is in God, she admits that her own emotions are floundering on a knife’s edge each moment. She appreciates any prayers for Ukraine and her loved ones.