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Hello family and friends,

Sveta and I hope that you are having a great fall season. Winter is right around the corner.

We have returned to our home (a place for the two of us) in Bobova, Poland. Tomorrow, we will begin our journey of adaptation and emotional healing. The past eight months have affected our subconscious more than we realized. Our trip back to Ukraine brought many emotions to the surface.

Here are some stories with links related to our time in Ukraine. Please bear with the ads in the videos. Some ads you can skip after five-seconds.

It was a difficult three weeks for me. Here are two reasons why: First were the air raid sirens. Every day, sometimes a number of times a day, the sirens would interrupt our lives. Buses would stop and everyone would get off and find cover, if they were smart. If children are in school, they are sent to the basement of the building. Shops close and the streets seem empty. Even the night we returned to Poland, our granddaughter’s school concert was cancelled at the last minute. Our neighbor took us to the bus station to guarantee that we would get there on time.

Second, we were living on the 8th floor. If you scrub through this video to 3.18 minutes, you will see that a whole vertical section of a building can be destroyed. This video shows the same in the city of Kherson. Last night, November 10, a building was hit in our city of Mykolaiv. Sveta received this picture this morning from a friend who is still living in Mykolaiv.

When we hear sirens after dark in Ivano-Frankivsk, it was most unsettling for me. We were reassured that the city was safe. For three weeks, I didn’t care what anybody thought or said. My emotion, my memories of March 2022, returned.

The ultimate experience of our three week adventure was when we were stopped at a check-point on the bus ride back to Poland. Two or three female soldiers entered the bus with semi-automatic rifles hanging from their shoulders. They checked the passports of each passenger, and the two drivers. I was not expecting this at all. In hind-sight, I am grateful that the security of the roads was heightened. What I took for granted most of my life, in America, is a treasure that Ukraine will not give away.

The mayor of Kiev explains that Putin does not want to control the people of Ukraine. He wants the land. For that, he is trying to destroy the infrastructure of Ukraine, and kill the people in the process. We have friends in Kiev. It has been, and continues to be, the greatest spiritual and physical challenge of their lives.

I remember when the country of Georgia was at war with Russia in 2008. Today, the Georgian Legion, a group of trained soldiers, continue to train and fight beside Ukrainian soldiers since the beginning of the eastern Ukraine war, in 2014. Their goal is to eliminate Putin.

The most moving story that I have seen is that of a journalist from Kherson. He has videoed the story of his young family, his pregnant sister and her husband. If you want to understand the day to day of a family under occupation, take 15 minutes and watch this video.

I have great respect for all of the Ukrainian people who stay and fight for their land, their home, for freedom and democracy in Europe and in the world. I am honored to be married to one who loves her country.

Mark and Sveta

You can see all of our videos at our YouTube channel.

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