Hello family and friends,
Winter has returned to our village with life-disrupting weather. High winds knocked out the electricity and blew out the pilot light to the on-demand water heater, causing the house to cool down gradually. Those inconveniences, along with four of five adults in the household fighting the flu, February ended leaving Sveta and me without energy, once again. Let’s see what is happening in the rest of Ukraine.
February brought an end to violence in Kiev. As the new government has adopted the 2004 Constitution, they have put out an arrest warrant for Victor Yanukovych for the murder of more than 80 citizens in the Kiev demonstrations. The Swiss have launched a money-laundering probe (click on blue highlight) against Yanukovych and his allies. He has run to Russia for protection. You can read more here.
Politically, we have serious work to do to hold the country together. (click on blue highlight) What you will not read in the news is how day-to-day life goes on in the cities and villages that are not close to the conflict areas. For instance, in our household in the village, there are very different views. Sveta’s parents are pro-Russia and Sveta and I are pro-European Union. They see life as it was in the past; we see reality and the future of Ukraine as a free democratic country. This is typical of the older generation who grew up dependent on the Soviet government. We don’t have political conflict in the family, mostly because life keeps us too busy.
Life is always here: food, water, transportation, and work. Without electricity in the village, we have no water. Summer preserves are stored in the underground cold cellar, the chickens have to be fed, eggs collected, and chickens are killed, all for food. Trips to the store are a necessity, also. That requires cash. Those on a pension get their money at the post office bank. Others are using credit or debit cards at the ATMs, which brings me to somewhat of a current crisis. Eleven years ago, the ATMs were new to Ukraine; today everybody and their brother are using them. Eleven years ago, people kept their money under the mattress, and some still do today.
In December, I could withdraw 1500 grevnya at a time and continue to do so for as much as my bank would allow. In early March, most ATMs limited me to 500 grevnya, one time per day. Sveta went to shop in the city for food. She spent 400 grevnya (about $46) and was dismayed at how little food she had. If you live in the village, it is difficult to do a big shopping without going to town a few days in a row to collect money. If you live in town, you can walk to the ATM each day, but you still have to wait to shop.
When the ATMs crisis began, people were standing in lines ten-deep, waiting to see if they could get money. I saw no anger, but the people felt that they were being thrown back into the old mentality of oppression, “This is our life; what can we do?”
In many cities, the statues of Lenin have been torn down. To my delight, Sveta told me that the local government of Nikolayev asked our pastor and a number of other pastors what they think should be put in place of the removed statues of Lenin. Our pastor suggested, “It would be nice to have the Ten Commandments displayed.” What a turn of events that would be; can you imagine?
I am very impressed that the whole country did not go crazy during these events. The people in key cities have protested, prayed, made their point, and stood their ground. Others, for instance, in Froonza and Saki, a regional city, and one of its villages in Crimea, continued life as normal. Talking with our manager in Froonza, I was told that things were operating as normal.
Walking in His shoes,
Sveta always has a unique view on our life in Ukraine. Here is her story.
The current developments in Ukraine are disturbing and frightening, but it is our hope and trust in the Lord, Jesus Christ, that He will give protection and assist His people during this difficult time.
After the referendum, Crimea has begun to be a part of Russia in the eyes of Russia and many Crimean people. The main banks have closed, and Ukrainian money is not readily available. The goal of Russia is to change the money to Russian rubles. How soon that may happen is unknown. We have a massage therapy program in Crimea. The future of it is questionable for two reasons. First, the transfer of money using a banking system may not be realistic, as it is now. Second, is that the freedom for us to travel to Crimea without a visa may no longer be a freedom.
Because of your financial support, we are able to meet some of the needs of the children in the different regions of Ukraine and Crimea, and visit them twice a year. When we do visit the children, we don’t bring them physical gifts to build our relationship with them. Rather, we bring them God’s love.
I was looking at pictures of the children from our visit in the fall of last year when Mark and I were at the orphanage in Marganets. I re-read short notes that the children wrote for us. I gave them an assignment to write their dreams of what they want to be when they become adults. Some children did not understand the task and just wrote short wishes and declarations of love, drawing pictures of us and writing “Mark and Sveta, we love you,” “Aunt Sveta, God bless you,” “I want you to come more often, we all will be glad to see you,” “we love you.”
The other children have written about their future professions: I want to drive a tractor, be a teacher, manicurist, a taxi driver, masseuse, foreman, hairdresser…
I kept these cute little pieces of paper with the children’s handwriting and decorations with hearts. Sometimes I take them out and reread them. It brings me joy and delight.
I see that the children, who are serious about their futures, wanting to be a significant contribution to society, are a little worried about their future. Will their dreams materialize into reality, the stark reality of life, and lead them on the waves of life’s storms?
I trust God that He will be always near to these children, and His assistance and protection be with them when they enter the adult world.
Every evening during our visit, the children accompanied us to the gate, and we have long goodbyes, hugging and wishing each other all the best. — We miss them.
Help for children should not stop due to the situation in the country. They continue to need our help. According to a conversation that I had today with the manager at the orphanage in Marganets, the government is giving less of the basic cleaning supplies for the children. MUCH makes a big contribution at this orphanage each month. Even so, not all of the needs of the children are being met.
Your sponsorship for the children of Ukraine meets their basic needs of clothes and shoes, improved education, and some medical conditions. Thank you for your constant care, showing your love and mercy.
Living my dream,
Ukraine is building a new government. It is cleaning house of corruption and Russian influence. During this time, those who will be in greatest need will be the elderly and the children. Let’s help Ukraine influence its children, the future leaders of Ukraine. Maybe our children will not be the future leaders of Ukraine, although, how we care for them will influence the society that they live in, and those who will lead their local government. The ripple effect is far reaching.
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta