The past two days have been difficult for me (maybe this is true of most days currently).

I continue to pray for everything to work out and I can return to Donetsk. Yet, I know that I need to think and plan for the future. So, on Wednesday, I met with my supervisor and a colleague to discuss future plans. With things looking so chaotic in eastern Ukraine, it doesn’t appear the situation will improve anytime soon.

As I listened, I felt that I was sitting in a discussion that one doesn’t want to be a part. There were times when I sensed that I had zoned out and wasn’t enthusiastic to what I was hearing. I guess you could say that I was trying to “hold” on to the way things have been for the last 4 years. I am not ready to release myself into an idea of moving and “starting over.”

At the end of the meeting, we made some plans for the future that I can hold on to for the near future. Yet, I am praying for an outcome that will allow me to return to the city I have grown to love.

As difficult as decisions are to make from time to time, today’s decision to meet a family traveling through Kyiv was easy. They are from Emmanuel church in Lugansk. Some may remember that I worked with Emmanuel in its infancy from 1994-96.

I did not know this family, but the reason they were traveling through Kyiv made me want to help them. Olga, and her daughters, Miroslava (age 7) and Ruslana (age 4) are heading to Mukachevo, UA. Mukachevo is situated in far western Ukraine.

Olga and her husband, Dima, made the difficult decision to have her and their daughters relocate away from the war that is going on in their city. When we met the train from Lugansk, it was 2 1/2 hours late due from the route the train has to take now that fighting is going on in the Lugansk region.

Miroslava was more open than her younger sister, who was very shy when I first met her. There is a media team here so we did a quick interview with Olga and then we took them to lunch in a buffet in the train station.

Miroslava proudly told us that she was learning Ukrainian in school so I encourage her to speak to Shannon, my supervisor, who speaks Ukrainian. As she spoke to him, I noticed that she would often start off in Ukrainian and then would slide back into Russian.

After lunch, Olga had promised the girls some ice cream. We found a soft serve place and got the girls what they wanted. Then, we went to the platform and loaded their bags into their wagon. While we waited, the girls played a game.

Just before it was time to leave, we prayed over this sweet family. We said our goodbyes and Miroslava gave us each a hug. As I hugged her, my instinct was to “hold” on to her. I wanted to assure her that everything would be okay.

As they made their way into the wagon and their seats, we waved them goodbye. Tears were in many of our eyes as we realized the sacrifice this family is making at this moment.

One thing that makes the situation more bearable is that Olga’s faith will help sustain her and the girls in the days and weeks ahead. One of the last statements Jesus made was a promise to be with his disciples forever and ever. THAT is something all believers can HOLD on to during difficult times.

2 thoughts on “Holding

  1. Praying for you, brother and friend. I know you are grieving the loss of dear friends, your home, your “stuff”, and the dreams, plans, and visions you had for Donetsk. Glenn and I are still praying for things to settle and you to be able to return some day in the near future. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Don’t give up hope. Hold on while you wait for God to lead. We’ll all continue in prayer for you.)

  2. Praying for you, Joe! Dealing with a similar but much smaller situation. Praying that God will encourage your heart and remind you that He knew about this long before Putin was even born. Trusting God to direct you to the next right step and give you joy and peace along the way!

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