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Donetsk… 9 years ago

As a missionary I am used to living in different cities, countries.  In early 2010 I found myself in an uncomfortable place. A broken engagement in 2009 left me broken. I wasn’t even sure that the mission organization I was attached to would even invite me back. 

I was in Fort Worth in those early months of 2010, wondering what would happen. After some healing and time away, my current supervisor talked with me about 3 cities. 

One was in a European Union country and the other two in Ukraine. I began researching the places. Right away I leaned toward the EU country…why not? I had spent all my years in former Soviet states and I wanted some place where life might be a little easier 😉

Well, it didn’t take long for the Lord to close that door!  

So, then I was left with two cities in Ukraine. More research and prayer.  I eventually settled on Donetsk. I returned to the field in May 2010 and spent almost 2 months in Kyiv before I could move into the Donetsk apartment.  

Early on this date in 2010, I loaded up the Chevrolet Niva (which by all accounts had to be the worse car I have ever driven!) and had also hired a van to move the rest. 

After getting lost in Dniprodzerzhink and Dnipropetrovsk, we arrived in Donetsk late in the afternoon.  As we entered the city, I asked the driver if we could stop and take a picture.  We did and Facebook reminded me today of that event. See the photo above…

MUCH has happened in my life since that day.  Forced relocation due to a war that continues today, and cancer were interspersed during that time.

My ministry takes me to within 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) of that sign and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a strong tug calling me back.  

 Maybe it has something to do with the abruptness in how I left Donetsk.   I loved living in the center of the city. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get to say goodbye to lots of people… some which I still wonder how they are doing (like the women who worked on Pushkina Boulevard keeping it so clean and beautiful year round!). 

Yet, being reminded by FB of this event causes me to reflect and wonder why I still have deep feelings about my life in Donetsk and why I don’t “miss” Kyiv, Karaganda or Tbilisi the same way.  

I typed much of this on my iPad while on the train heading back to Dnipro. After trying to sleep, standing, walking, etc I prepared for the last hour of the ride. The guy sitting next to me finally woke up and so I chatted with him.

Ruslan is a police officer, living in Dnipro, but working in Kyiv. He works 10 days on and then 10 days off. He was returning to Dnipro after having worked 10 days.

He shared with me that he also lived in Donetsk until the war started, so we traded stories about the war and the events that led up to his moving to Dnipro. The Lord used him to say one thing to me as I finish this story…

Five years have passed since the beginning of the war, moved, life continues and he has made new friends and has a different life in Dnipro. “Even if the war ended, I doubt I would return to Donetsk.” It’s not the first time I have heard this, but I happened to hear it again on the 9th anniversary of moving to Donetsk.

Something for me to think about as I will begin my sixth year in Dnipro in a month!