Ukraine Update: March, 13, 2022
Shalom from Poland!
I am writing this letter from the city of Ostróda in Poland. We flew in yesterday early in the morning to Warsaw. We rented a car at the airport, and four hours later we were there. The place is a campground owned by the church where, over the past fourteen years, we have run about thirty camps for children and Holocaust survivors from Israel. This time, the purpose of our trip was completely different.
We came to help refugees from Ukraine whom the Lord brought here, some of whom we helped escape. Now there are 190 people here—117 children from newborn to sixteen years old and seventy adults. Only four are men, since men from age eighteen to sixty years old are not allowed out of the country! Thirty children live here without parents. There are believers and non-believers, healthy and disabled, but they all have one thing in common: they came without anything—without items or spendable money. Many have Ukrainian money—hryvnias—but no one wants to accept them and exchange them for local currency in Poland.
Also, they have nowhere to return. They thought they were leaving for a week or two, but now they understand that reality is different, which is worrying them very much. On the first day, we got to know people, talked to them, and found out their needs. We heard sad and sometimes scary stories about what they experienced and how they fled under shelling. Wives worry about their husbands, and children worry about their fathers. We had a meeting where I spoke God’s word and prayed together in the evening.
My wife Slavna and I live in an apartment with our friends and have slept only six hours. Today, at 7:00 in the morning, we were already at the camp and again talking and listening to people. After breakfast, buses came for us, and we went with the children and a few adults to the sports center. They prepared trampolines and free treats for us. Children rejoiced and jumped, and played basketball, volleyball, and other games until lunch.
After lunch, Slavna and I went to the city and bought fifteen kilograms [thirty-three pounds] of cookies for our evening meeting. Also, two children had a birthday, and we bought gifts for them. One woman with two children wanted to work online but did not have regular Internet, so I bought a hot spot modem on a SIM card and gave it to her. She was very grateful and will start working tomorrow morning. We congratulated them on supper and afterward gathered together to worship the Lord and meditate on Scripture. We returned home at 10:30 pm, and I am writing this letter.
Local believers and residents of the city help the refugees a lot. A large tent is set up on the spot where residents bring humanitarian aid, and this place is called a shop. Everyone can go and take what he needs. There are many necessities there. As always, however, many things are missing—for example, underwear, footwear for children, and fruit. Tonight, after prayer, I asked people: if they had the opportunity to turn to God and ask for something that would please them and make their day more fun, for what would they ask?
The answers were different, but they all unanimously said that they would ask that the war would end and peace would come. They also asked for ice cream and pizza, a delicious and unusual dinner. Some asked to go and spend one day in the water park. We want to make these dreams come true with your help and prayer support. Tomorrow, we will order pizza and ice cream for everyone. On Monday, we will take the children to the store, buy shoes for everyone, and buy underwear for children and women. Slavna, with local volunteers, made a list of who and what they needed. On Tuesday, I want to prepare a special surprise dinner for everyone. Of course, every day, I will continue to hold meetings and Bible studies. One request that impressed me very much was Maria’s, who has a debilitating disease and can hardly walk. She asked for the opportunity to undergo an excellent rehabilitation to help her walk better. She has been dreaming about this for a long time, but she probably won’t be able to do it anymore because of the impact of the current situation on her motivation. Please pray for her and this request. I also ask you to pray for those who could not get here because there are no places to stay.
Unfortunately, more people cannot be accepted here, and there are a lot of applications. Now, on the way here are two girls who were volunteers with us in Israel and helped in the ministry. We tried to help them leave for ten days, but it did not work. Thankfully, the Lord did a miracle, and on Monday, they will already be here with us. Unfortunately, another problem has arisen, as they have nowhere to settle.
Please also pray for several people who have Jewish roots and decided to make aliyah to Israel. We are now helping them with this.
Thank you, dear friends, for your support.
Maxim and Slavna