Before this past Friday, February 27, the last time I had driven into Dzerzhinsk was April 12, 2014. It was a bit surreal seeing the city sign from a different entrance. This time the weather was much warmer and welcoming, around 50 degrees F. Last April it was bitterly cold and in the 20’s.
We were set to meet a soldier in the Ukrainian army who is also a believer. I had set it up for one of our journalist’s to interview him. After he met us in town, he took us straight to the front lines. Fortunately, the cease-fire had been holding that day and we didn’t have any problems.
As I looked toward Donetsk, I was like a child wanting candy from behind the counter. I was so close, yet it was not within my reach.
Later that day, I drove back into town to meet my pastor friend and to stay the night at his home. After arriving, I was overcome with emotions. He walked with me to the car and I hugged him three times and tears welled up in my eyes. It was hard to stop the tears. So many thoughts and feelings rushed over me.
Later, as we sat around his dinner table, joy and a sense of comfort flooded me. It was so good to be sitting at his table as if everything was right.
The next day, after conducting some interviews and going back to the front to take some more pictures, I realized that it was colder than the day before and it reminded me of that day in April 2014. Both days were full of promise, yet lacking…
Of all the places I have lived in the last 20 years, I had grown to truly love Donetsk and the region known as Donbass. It welcomed me into its arms when I moved there in July 2010. The young people I met and grew to love were all wonderful.
Now, after almost one year, I was so close, yet so far from the place I used to call home. It reminded me of this life I have on this place we call earth. This life is temporary and my life is just a vapor (James 4:14).
I must live in the day that I have, even though it is hard to do at times. So, I continue on this journey, which for now, does not include Donetsk nor those who are so dear to me.