'More of the same'
We know that many of the photos posted on our web-site look very similar. You may think we should vary the content. That is not easy, as the workers we are supporting with appeal funds deal with very similar tragic stories day-by-day. And they work hard, routinely now in the same way, day-by-day. 'More of the same' kinds of cases, yes, 'more of the same' kinds of photos and stories, yes....but above all with more of the same vigour and zeal for the Lord they love. We would like to be able to help them look after their health, as they never stop working. But they are not finding it easy to step away for a while, as we discovered recently on talking to Ola and Sasha, for example.
Ola couldn't make the Zoom call
It was a Friday in the second part of May. We were trying to chat with Ola (whose full name is Aleksandra) Cybula. The aim was to see how we could help her to get some time out after nearly three months of incessant work with Ukrainian refugees. She has been a key figure in setting up a well-ordered and efficient refugee centre that was fully functional within days of the first arrival of displaced people in Poland. Ola (sister of EMF missionary Adam Urban, who with his wife Dagmara serves the Lord in Siedlce, eastern Poland) is no stranger to hard work. She and husband Sławomir have three small children, and are committed and busy members of Zagorna 10 Evangelical Church in Warsaw.
Now, we may have fewer images on our TV screens than a few weeks ago of refugees arriving in Polish railway stations, being greeted by an army of hi-vis-coated volunteers bearing hot drinks and directing them to the nearest aid centre. It is true that fewer refugees are arriving in Warsaw now. But many thousands of those who arrived in the first fleets of coaches remain in or near the eastern towns and cities of Poland, looking for work, awaiting visas, or simply hoping that they may soon be able to go back home. If 'home' is still left standing, that is.
The Zoom call with Ola didn't happen that day. Here is her explanation of why she never made it to the Zoom room!
'I am very very sorry . Yesterday I have to help my son with homework in the morning; he didn't remember about his history lessons and mum have to help him :) I haven't got more time to connect with you and Adam becuase my time has run out. I catch my brekfast and go to church. Last week stay with us two familiy with children. One mother with 3 kids and marriege with two kids (woman is pregnant) and one older woman with grandson. Yesterday came to us one sick woman (she is alone) she has got stomach problem. Those people stay in our church longer waiting - theire waitng for visa and ticets. Yesterday we looking for shoes for kids (with single mum). We can't finde nothing and I bought them new pairs in shop, shorts and t-shirts too. They were so thankful - they are Christians too, mum is alone becuase her husband drunk and go to another woman, she has to left home in Kijów. Her family and brothers still stay there for helping people. She talked all way in Ukrainien (I didn't understand everything but she needs to talk with sb) she cryed so much. It is so hard time for single mums now (most of them are alone) they have to start new life in new country with childrens without help. Pregnant mother was in clinic yesterday with her girl is everything ok. So many stories, so many tragedies but we knows that God help us and use those trubles to save people.
I hope so I made not so much mistakes in my message.
P.S. Today we stay at home for lazy Suturday. :) God bless you!'
Maybe you feel as amazed as we do when you read this! :) And do you wish you could speak Polish as well as Ola can speak English?
Sasha doesn't want to stop!
You know a bit about Sasha, we imagine. He is a church deacon in the 'Heart of Jesus' church in the city of Chernivsti, western Ukraine. His work in the church's refugee centre and with evacuees from war zones who are now in his home town is legendary. The team there are delivering food packages to refugees from all over Ukraine who have flooded this city in recent weeks after fleeing from unspeakable suffering and destruction. Sasha and his helpers weep with those who weep as they go from place to place, and have countless opportunities to speak about the true Gospel to those they visit. 'Every story is heartbreaking', Sasha says.
He tells us :
'We have a desire to start a small project to communicate with people in our shelter at school. It will be something like a homegroup. There will be an opportunity to learn more about people's stories, pray with them and talk about spiritual topics. We will be helped by brothers and sisters from the Kyiv Church, who themselves turned out to be refugees. We would like to share the stories of people with you. It is also possible that people we helped will come to these meetings.'
We asked him if there was any chance of his being able to take a break, to get away for a day or two with his equally hardworking wife Lesya. To get some rest, a little respite from making up packages, visiting, listening, worrying about where fuel will come from ....
('Diesel fuel is another story' Sasha explains. 'Now we have all become "hunters" for fuel. We collect wherever possible. And of course we see how God helps us in this. Literally before the scheduled departure time,we managed to fill the bus completely.)
To our enquiry regarding a rest, Sasha replied:
"God gives us the strength to do this and we are glad that there is an opportunity to help people more. Physical fatigue, which is not so much, is worth nothing in comparison with the heaviness experienced by people throughout the country. And we also see it in the people who came to us. We have many friends involved in military operations. It's hard for them. We can't rest for now. When the war ends, we will definitely rest and gather people. Let's make a beautiful feast for the Glory of the Lord. But now there is a lot of work and we will do it."