Throughout the ongoing war in Ukraine, a believer named Aleksandra has served as one of our local storytellers in Ukraine. She has interviewed many grateful Ukrainians in need as they have been helped by SGA-supported churches — and we have asked her to share her testimony of what life has been like for her over the past nine months.
This is part one of Aleksandra’s story . . .
“My life is a real roller coaster now; we face many challenges daily. I’m writing this letter during the power outage. The power has just gone out. We had an emergency blackout three hours before it was planned. So, I decided not to start complaining about another unpredicted inconvenience, but instead to take my time and write this letter. I’m not sure I will finish it today (today is Saturday, Nov 12th). I’ll be writing for half an hour, and then I’ll switch off my laptop to save the battery. When the lights are back, I’ll continue working. Now I work six days a week, not four as it was before. We have electricity for four to six hours a day and it’s not enough to complete the tasks of an eight-hour workday. Let alone the housework (cleaning / cooking etc). So, whenever the power is back, I try to catch up with all the tasks. How do I feel about it? Well, even though it’s not easy to live in a time of war, it can still be a blessing if you slow down and pursue the aim of seeing Jesus in the midst of the raging sea. Psalm 46:10 says: Be still and know that I am God! My choice today is to experience God.
“I’ll start to tell you my story about the early days of the war. That’s a real challenge for me! On one hand, this story is about something I used to consider a painful experience. I didn’t want to keep the photos I took at the beginning of the war. I wanted to delete them all not only from my device, but to erase them from my own memory as well. But then a verse from Deuteronomy 8:2 came to my mind which showed that a painful experience can be a blessing for us and a testimony for others, so we don’t have to forget about it. (‘Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.’) On the other hand, I can barely find the right words to express my feelings. Even if I clear up my head and sort out my thoughts, I’m not sure it will help me to fit all my memories into a short story. Have you ever tried to put a huge ball into a tiny box? Looks complicated, doesn’t it? That’s how I feel. But I’ll try to eat an elephant one bite at a time. So, this is part one …
“Two weeks before the Russian invasion I started receiving messages from my friends abroad who expressed their worry about my family. They followed the latest news (something we didn’t do) which would bring up the topic of a possible war daily. They begged us to come to their place and stay for a couple of weeks until the situation was figured out. I smiled and said: ‘No worries, we’ll be fine, everything is okay here, we don’t see any subtle signs of a possible intervention. We keep working, studying, going to church, serving, and having a peaceful life. We can’t come now because we can’t leave our jobs, house, or ministry and go on an unplanned vacation.’ However, one week before the war, we had a family dinner at my parents’ house. My dad warned us to prepare all the documents and put them all in one backpack, as well as essential items and warm clothes. ‘Do you believe [the enemy] can attack us?’ I asked. He said they already did that in 2014, so there’s a huge possibility they will continue what they started and go further this time. My mom said they already bought some canned food, and bottles of water and left them in a basement where we usually store produce and canning jars. That place would be our shelter later on.
“That night my brother-in-law called us to say that his boss, who is American, put the work on hold and went back to the U.S. He also recommended his employees leave Ukraine because of the huge threat. So, my in-laws, who have two children, decided to go to Poland for a month, they packed their belongings, exchanged money, and were ready to set off in the morning. (They didn’t go anywhere in the end because their friends laughed at them, saying no war is possible. So, they unpacked and the next morning my brother-in-law set off to another city looking for a job. My sister-in-law stayed at home with their two kids.)
“We prayed that night and I talked with my husband. We shared our thoughts and feelings and we both agreed that we had peace in our hearts, and even though we were not sure the war would start, we were not afraid. Maybe because we don’t have kids who could be taken out of the country. In fact, we didn’t see God calling us to leave Ukraine. Instead, we felt that He would protect us and lead us through. We knew our parents wouldn’t leave Ukraine, so we wanted to stay by their side. That was one Saturday night. In five days, the sounds of explosions would wake us up. On Thursday, February 24th [the enemy] attacked Kyiv.
To be continued . . .