Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bread Lines & War

Today I met a little girl and her grandma as they stood in line to get bread in Krasnogorivka. As I bent down to see her face I was met in return with these piercing blue eyes.  I told her they were angelic, and then learned that her name was Angelina.  Apparently I was not the only one to have seen the face of an angel in this girl.

She couldn't have been more than 9-years-old, and yet her angelic eyes reflected signs of the war her childhood has already seen.  There was a piercing sadness behind those beautiful eyes, a sadness I so desperately wanted to remedy. I handed her a candy, which seemed a trite gesture, but it managed to produce half of a smile.  Getting much more chatter out of her proved difficult. 

Her grandmother instead chimed in and spoke of the months of fighting they've been living through in Krasnogorvka. No gas, no heat, no money.  And now the cold season has set in and the city is covered in a blanket of snow.  Grandma Tanya, like the others in the line with her, are living on prayers and the kindness of the few who show up with offerings of help.

Though our ministry has been making numerous trips in to deliver goods since late July, this was my first time stepping into what has been deemed the 'anti terrorist operation zone.'  I'd seen the pictures and read the reports our team was bringing back, but it still felt quite distant and I wanted to go and participate and see for myself.

Today as I stood and observed the line forming around our van filled with bread, 'there' suddenly became 'here' and 'them' became Angelina and her grandma Tanya
Today the war felt real as I heard the sounds of artillery blasts in the distance.

Krasnogorvka was a city of 12,000 before the conflict began in May. 
Today less than 8,000 remain.  Those who can, have fled.
Fighting continues to surround the city daily as they are caught in the cross fire of the Ukrainian army and the separatists. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed and badly damaged.

Since July, we (Orphan's Promise) have been partnering with a local church in Krasnogorvka to meet the most basic needs of food, making multiple trips in a month to bring truck loads of bread and other needed supplies such as diapers and formula.

One of the women I spoke to in the bread line spoke of having nowhere to go, and no money to get anywhere even if she did have an option.  “I have the roof over my head, so as long as that stays in tact I will remain...where else could I go?” 

There is no way to gloss over the heaviness of what I saw in that bread line, and the hundreds of individual stories that were represented in each loaf of bread that was taken. As I spoke with people it became clear that our presence let them know they were not forgotten, because most of the time that is what they feel. 

“Thank you that you keep coming and that you have not forgotten us.  Thank you for your kindness and for returning.” These sentiments were echoed over and over again.  I was humbled that even a loaf of bread mattered and was not taken for granted.  I had eaten mine that morning without a second thought about where my next would come from.

“Please tell others about us and our needs so that people will know,” one woman said.
“Okay,” I answered,  “I will.”  
 So this is my feeble attempt.  

I know this is the season when every ministry and charity is asking for funds and also when most of us are feeling strapped for cash as we look at the names of friends and family we have on our gift list.   I also know that I live in Ukraine and feel this more personally then you probably do as you read these words from behind your computer screen.

I was reading today Paul's second letter to the Corinthians where he is encouraging them in their giving by referencing a body of believers in Macedonia. 

Paul writes,  'For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints." (II Cor 8:3-4)  Their giving was to to bring relief to the saints, and they gave beyond what they thought they could give.

So I write this in part to say GIVE!
Give so it hurts this holiday season.  
Give to something that God lays on your heart...and if that happens to be Ukraine and the needs here, I promise you those funds will be put to great use. 

Today I saw the difference a 25 cent loaf of bread makes in the life of a family with not a dollar to their name.   Today I saw that every dollar matters.

If you would like to partner with us in what we are doing here in Ukraine, you can give designated funds to Orphan's Promise via our direct giving site:

Funds will be used for bread, food, medicine, warm clothing,  supplies for soldiers and school supplies for children.

Thank you for standing with us as we do what we can to bring hope and meet needs in Eastern Ukraine.

Below are more photos from the weekend...

destroyed roof
back packs for kids at a school in Krasnogorivka
pictures from my friend's daughter's class for the soldiers..