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War on our doorstep

The incredible is occurring! Putin, the grandmaster, started playing chess way before the other countries even looked like they understood that the game was on.  And he has played an admirable game.  He’s managed to take over the Crimea in the south.  That is already a step of enormous magnitude.  And there is no doubt that he has taken over, contrary to the all the blustering that has gone on to the contrary.  But Ukraine has a nagging question in the back of her mind:  “Will he be content with that?” 

One of the lads with a smart phone told me after church on Sunday that Ukraine has mobilized her army.  The reservists have been called up.  I think we will be able to present about a million soldiers… although our ability to arm that many probably isn’t a reality.  Men who have trained are being called up… in Rzhyshchiv, those who are under 30.  We have a few young fathers in our church in this age-bracket.  I talked with them all and they are feeling on tender-hooks, mostly dreading the call to report.  Actually, I think their wives are feeling it worse!  100’s of Christians will be called upon to report for duty.  Many of them will be strong witnesses to their fellow soldiers.  If you pray for Ukraine, pray for these brothers in particular.  The army in Ukraine is no easy place for Christians to live for Christ.                This photo of Russian troops I uploaded from an article in The Daily Mail.

It seems as if the normal topics of conversation have very much taken a backseat to the main topic – Russia and the invasion that isn’t an invasion… but that really is.  We feel safe, albeit with a heightened awareness of the strange situation with the “potential” of it all becoming violent and devastating.  We haven’t looked at  booking tickets out of the country and don’t expect to be leaving due to Putin invading Eastern Ukraine.  Even if he had a rush of unhealthy emotion and moved against Eastern Ukraine in an attempt to annex that half of the country, I don’t think we’d leave.  Anyway, as the world focuses on Ukraine and your thoughts perhaps turned to us here, know that we feel safe and are well. 

Today I got the call that I’ve been waiting for the last two weeks.  Our van has once again been fixed and I can collect it.  So tomorrow, we shall be taking it to Kiev to do a shop and visit the optometrist and second-hand market and Maidan - to visit the place of the revolution with the kids.  Pris went there last week by herself and was stunned at the changes.  Had there been a pitched battle on the square, it couldn’t have looked worse than it did.  Here are the words she wrote:

 

First peek after last weeks battle…

I’m in the metro.  People are clutching even #’s of flowers – even numbers for sorrow or grief.

Before my head comes above ground on the steps out of the subway, the smell of old fire assails me.

The steps down to the metro are broken off, requiring stepping up 2 at times.  A few steps further and I am above ground, gingerly setting my boot onto pitch blackness.

My eyes are astonished.  The ground is a sheet of blackness the colour of my gloves…  just everywhere.  The dirt by the landscaping is the colour of tar.  The asphalt on the road, the pavers of the sidewalk and the square itself are deep black with no relief. 

Now there is the smell of fresh wood-smoke from the army-green tents that line different areas of the square. 

Rows of tulips, carnations and roses form neat lines of about 70cm wide and 20 s+ meters long.

There are piles of tires with fresh flowers woven in.

The huge central clock which I have seen shining the time for 20 years now is burned out.

Ladies wander around with tears trickling off their cheeks… men too!  It is a huge war memorial of which I, too am a tourist.

Where will all this go?  I have some hope – a chance for hope – at least.  Yes this morning I heard a definite opinion of despair that this “new leadership” for Ukraine is worse than the last.  Russia crouches in the Crimea to spring.  God, You are here.

 

I will post some photos from when we visit Kiev tomorrow…

 

I talked with Vlad an hour ago.  He says that with the ousting of the corrupt government, the director of his work-prison called them all in and told them that they would be getting paid for their work now.  (Apparently, they were supposed to be paid about $20 a week.)  The director and others were keeping this for themselves and paying those above them not to cause them trouble.  Vlad says that before the former president came to power, 150,000 prisoners were in jail in Ukraine, many of those working in factories or on farms.  Now, there are approximately 300,000.  It looks like it has been a good revenue source for Yanukovich and allies if those figures are correct.  Oh!  Vlad’s lawyer called him and told him that with the change of government, there is a possibility that his case will be looked at again; however, it will cost money and be a long process, so he shouldn’t have high expectations of an early release. 

We have home group tonight.  Shane will be taking us through II Timothy over the next few months and I find myself feeling like I’m looking forward to the break and to seeing Shane minister! 

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Hey mate, its incredible to hear Ukraine on the news every hour in NZ and on every TV channel for a couple of weeks now, who ever thought that might happen!