Life in eastern Ukraine

If you watch any news, you are aware of what has been happening in Ukraine over the last 2-3 months.  Needless to say, much has changed and the future is still unsure.

As an expat living in Donetsk for almost 4 years, I have grown to love the place.  I guess that is why it is so hard to see so much uncertainty, pain and worry in the lives of so many.  No one wished this, but it is what it is.

Over the last few weeks, I have experienced a roller coaster of emotions. Rumors of an invasion from the east have begun to take a toll on some, including myself.  This past Friday, I thought about packing a bag and going to visit friends for a few days just to see what might happen, since many thought an invasion might take place by the end of March.

But, as I took time to pray and seek God’s face, I did not get a peace about leaving.  So, I decided to stay.  Then on Saturday, a friend called and invited me to the banya.

An eastern European banya is an experience that if you are ever in Russia or Ukraine you definitely need to try.  Imagine sitting in a sauna for long periods of time, sweating and then taking a quick cold shower, and repeating this several times.  THEN, having someone take birch tree limbs, soaked in hot water and “beating your back” with them.

Well, I don’t necessarily enjoy sitting in the hot sauna for long periods of time, but what usually happens when people are sitting around is some great conversation.  One young man had a problem and asked us for some input and so for the next few hours we talked about his issue and, hopefully, we gave him some insight to think about.

Even though the “bigger” problem didn’t go away during those few hours, at that time we were able to not think about it and help a friend.  Time well spent and a respite from all the other talk.