Category Archives: war in Ukraine

Twice a refugee, Always a Ukrainian

Hello family and friends,
We are grateful for your concern, your kindness to the people of Ukraine. Our great victory has been followed by more attack on Kherson from the opposite side of the river.

The infrastructure in Ukraine is under attack. Electricity grids are being damaged daily. We are receiving reports that electricity in Ivano-Frankivsk is turned off for large parts of the day, along with heating. So many chicken farms have been destroyed that Ukraine’s big export product is now an import product. Eggs are being imported, driving the price of eggs in Ivano-Frankivsk to $2.16 to per ten eggs, and in Kiev to $2.71 per ten eggs. That is at least 325% increase in ten months. The exchange rate is $1 for 36.95 UAH. 

This is only a small picture of the challenges. It will be a difficult winter for all of Ukraine.

Ira has been one of our managers for many years. Her husband, Platon, is pastor of a church in Ovidiopol. He and Ira sent us updates with pictures. Below are excerpts from their letters sent to Sveta and me.

Ira’s Insights

Each photo is a life story, a tragedy.

Many families were forced to leave their homes because, as we say today, the “Russian style of peace” occupied their village, town, or city. Some people left their houses because they were damaged. Some have lost their jobs because of the war and have no money for groceries. Some lost their families.

About 10,000 refugees from neighboring regions, such as Kherson, Mykolaiv, Donetsk and Kyiv regions, are now living in our Ovidiopol region. Since there are not many people in the local government social services department to help, many refugees turn to the church as a social service to get food, clothes, medicine, and diapers for children.

One of the refugees, who now lives in my town, Ovidiopol, survived the war twice. The first time he lived in Donetsk. He had a big business: a chain of stores that were seized by the Russian military in 2014. Then he lost not only his business, apartment, and car, but also some relatives and friends who were killed by Russian soldiers. He and his family had to move to Mariupol to live and start business again.

On February 24, after hearing the sounds of bomb explosions and realizing that it was a Russian invasion, once again. He gathered his family and left Mariupol. He already knew the “Russian style of peace” that this horrible army would bring to Mariupol. Now he and his family live in Ovidiopol as refugees and hope that the Russian army will not be able to come here.

All of these families are grateful for your compassion and financial support. Each grocery bag is delivered to people with God’s word — the complete Bible — for people to read. And with this, you also help people to hear God’s word. We don’t know if they will accept the message of the Gospel, Jesus, the Christ; but we know that we did what we should do. Please pray for those receiving this help to come to know our wonderful and merciful God, Jesus, the Christ.

We are grateful to God and to everyone who prays for Ukraine and who helps financially in this difficult time for Ukrainians! We thank God for your participation and partnership in the difficult times for our country. May God abundantly bless every heart whose desire to help the Ukrainian people endure, whose heart encourages us in our sorrows. Thank you for being a part of our lives!

Mark and Sveta

You can see all of our videos at our YouTube site 

https://www.youtube.com/user/smMUCH/videos

The war crept back into my soul

Hello family and friends,
Sveta and I hope that you are having a great fall season. Winter is right around the corner.

We have returned to our home (a place for the two of us) in Bobova, Poland. Tomorrow, we will begin our journey of adaptation and emotional healing. The past eight months have affected our subconscious more than we realized. Our trip back to Ukraine brought many emotions to the surface.

Here are some stories with links related to our time in Ukraine. Please bear with the ads in the videos. Some ads you can skip after five-seconds.

It was a difficult three weeks for me. Here are two reasons why: First were the air raid sirens. Every day, sometimes a number of times a day, the sirens would interrupt our lives. Buses would stop and everyone would get off and find cover, if they were smart. If children are in school, they are sent to the basement of the building. Shops close and the streets seem empty. Even the night we returned to Poland, our granddaughter’s school concert was cancelled at the last minute. Our neighbor took us to the bus station to guarantee that we would get there on time.

Second, we were living on the 8th floor. If you scrub through this video to 3.18 minutes, you will see that a whole vertical section of a building can be destroyed. This video shows the same in the city of Kherson. Last night, November 10, a building was hit in our city of Mykolaiv. Sveta received this picture this morning from a friend who is still living in Mykolaiv.

When we hear sirens after dark in Ivano-Frankivsk, it was most unsettling for me. We were reassured that the city was safe. For three weeks, I didn’t care what anybody thought or said. My emotion, my memories of March 2022, returned.

The ultimate experience of our three week adventure was when we were stopped at a check-point on the bus ride back to Poland. Two or three female soldiers entered the bus with semi-automatic rifles hanging from their shoulders. They checked the passports of each passenger, and the two drivers. I was not expecting this at all. In hind-sight, I am grateful that the security of the roads was heightened. What I took for granted most of my life, in America, is a treasure that Ukraine will not give away.

The mayor of Kiev explains that Putin does not want to control the people of Ukraine. He wants the land. For that, he is trying to destroy the infrastructure of Ukraine, and kill the people in the process. We have friends in Kiev. It has been, and continues to be, the greatest spiritual and physical challenge of their lives.

I remember when the country of Georgia was at war with Russia in 2008. Today, the Georgian Legion, a group of trained soldiers, continue to train and fight beside Ukrainian soldiers since the beginning of the eastern Ukraine war, in 2014. Their goal is to eliminate Putin.

The most moving story that I have seen is that of a journalist from Kherson. He has videoed the story of his young family, his pregnant sister and her husband. If you want to understand the day to day of a family under occupation, take 15 minutes and watch this video.

I have great respect for all of the Ukrainian people who stay and fight for their land, their home, for freedom and democracy in Europe and in the world. I am honored to be married to one who loves her country.

Mark and Sveta

You can see all of our videos at our YouTube site 

https://www.youtube.com/user/smMUCH/videos

3 Weeks in Northwestern Ukraine

Hello family and friends,
We will arrive in Poland from Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine on November 10. While in Ukraine, our tasks that we needed to do require small amounts of time. This left very much down time between appointments for Sveta and me. Our daughter Olya is working long days, leaving the children home alone.

Sveta is busy cooking, encouraging, and sometimes disciplining the grandchildren. As for me, my time is used for writing, playing chess with the grandchildren, and listening for the next step for MUCH. We are blessed to live in Bobova, Poland through September 2023! It is a peaceful community, where we will emotionally recuperate from our reactions to the eight months of war that has changed our lives in ways that we would never have imagined.

For me, being back in Ukraine has been somewhat stressful. There have been no bombs or missiles in Ivano-Frankivsk, but any place in Ukraine could be a target. Knowing this, my three weeks on the eighth floor apartment has not been so comfortable for me.

Mark’s Moments

While walking through the streets of Ivano-Frankivsk, Sveta saw what looked like a castle, high on a hill. We learned that it was a hotel. Intrigued as she was, this view had to be investigated. Sveta, Daniel, and Anya accepted the challenge. The long hike was quite rewarding. They could see the whole city, even on this overcast day.

Anya stands at the doorway, inviting you to come and sit with her. She has many stories to tell. This year she has been a refugee in Slovakia, Germany, and England. She has returned to Ukraine with her older brother, sister, and mother. They have found new beginnings in this city of hope.
The grandchildren are attending online classes one week, and in-person classes the next. For the in-person classes, the grade levels, for instance third grade, divide their children into one group in the morning, and the other group in the afternoon, for lessons. This is, as I understand it, to protect half of the population of children in case of an attack.

The history of online schooling began long before there was a line to be on. When education was a privilege, the opportunity to be educated had greater respect than it does today in some countries.

When I came to Ukraine, my first experience was that school was still a discipline that was followed. The teachers were deeply respected. As time went on, I learned that some teachers were selling grades. The teachers of corrupt character “taught” the children disrespect for education, and teachers through their example.

When COVID-19 arrived in Ukraine, and was followed by the Russian invasion/war, many children were without discipline and unable to organize their time independently. I don’t know about the general population of Ukrainian children, but the ones that I have experienced and heard about are not adapting well to online education. I hope that I am not correct about this.

Ukraine will win the war, and take back all of Ukraine. It must, to maintain freedom in Europe. The greatest challenge will be to take back the children that Russia has abducted. To catch-up on lost education of three years will be a big challenge. The Ukrainian people can, and will do this, but it will be a national task. We cannot afford to lose a generation of our children.

Thank you for reading and sharing our stories. Thank you for your prayer and financial support.

Blessings of love and healing,

Mark and Sveta

You can see all of our videos at our YouTube site 

https://www.youtube.com/user/smMUCH/videos

Helping children, families, and soldiers!

Hello fa and friends,

You know, dear friends, that now you are helping not only children and civilians in Ukraine, but also the military, in particular, our son Misha and his team; and our friend Dasha’s husband and his team. They protect the people of Ukraine.

Our son and his team often change locations, it is necessary to dig trenches and build temporary fortification underground structures for protection. We bought a chainsaw, an electricity generator, binoculars, and two water filter systems for the guys. Our son said: “Mark and Mom, you can’t even imagine what a huge help this is and how nice it is to feel supported.” He and the guys asked me to convey a big thank you to all of you! We are also very grateful to you!

Mark’s Moments

Sveta and I have returned to NW Ukraine for a three week visit with our daughter and three grandchildren. That is the best reason, but there had to be more reasons to endure the twelve hour bus ride. Sveta and I both needed some dental work, she had a Ukrainian document that she needed to have processed ASAP, and she has the opportunity to complete her driver training course.

Our daughter took us for a walk through the Ivano-Frankivsk Center tourism street. It is foot traffic only, and is an older historic section of town. You can see in these photographs that they honor the soldiers who have given their lives for their country. These bigger than life pictures fill the street for about a quarter mile, (440 yards). It is a powerful reminder of the awesome cost of this war.

Early in the war, all of the children at the Dobromel Orphanage who had family to go to, were sent home. The remaining children were true orphans. They were sent to other countries, to start a new life in foreign government facilities. This left the orphanage empty, and waiting for more children. As the war in our city of Mykolaiv intensified, the children in the Mykolaiv orphanages there were sent west. About one hundred of them ended up at the Dobromel orphanage.

Natalia M. continued her massage program with this group of children. Many suffered emotional trauma from their experience with the war in the places that they called home. Along with emotional trauma, poor posture and scoliosis appear. In the first picture, you can easily see the results that this girl has received. Natalia M. uses her massage skills, but even more importantly, she inspires the children with her love and enthusiasm.

Natalia believes so deeply in her work that she is successfully operating her own massage therapy clinic in her own city. Natalia M. is a perfect example of what MUCH is all about. We are so very proud of her success.

Sveta’s Journey

Life in our city of Mykolaiv is to live under shelling and bombing every day. But our friends with whom we communicate via the Internet do not complain and do not lose heart, they expect victory. Within five months, they got used to living without clean drinking water from the tap. Washing machines and boilers are out of order, unable to withstand the highly salty and dirty technical water that flows through pipes. They are accustomed to washing by hand while using a minimum amount of clean water. They are accustomed to using three to five liters of water for bathing.

It is necessary to save water for which you have to go to the place of distribution of clean water and use a special wheelbarrow or hand truck to bring this precious liquid to your apartment.
When my friend Lyalya told me all of this on the phone, at the end she added: “Don’t think that I’m complaining. I got used to it and have adapted to it.” She was unspeakably happy when she saw that money from our mission had come to her account: just in time! She was on her way to church, walking so as not to spend money on the bus (the prices for everything had increased several times).

Currently, we are providing massage therapy for twelve children a month in Ukraine. We have only three massage therapists in Ukraine. The other eleven have either relocated in Ukraine, or moved to other countries. About twenty children at the Dobromel orphanage participate in computer training programs. We have two children in the transportation scholarship program that we support when they are having classes in person rather than online. The other children who benefit from MUCH are in the families that receive humanitarian help through the teams that we support.

When MUCH supports our Ukrainian men at war, we are protecting the children of Ukraine! Thank you for your support!

Father and Son reach out to their community!

Hello family and friends,

A new adventure has begun for Sveta and me. We moved to a small town and are meeting new people, experiencing new terrain, rules, lifestyle, and getting around in a new part of the country. We maintain train and bus transportation; one of my joys is using public transport. We have a year lease on the house in our small town, and are happy for the opportunity to stretch our wings in new directions. Our activities with MUCH continue to provide encouragement and financial help through the various groups written about in the Sept. 7 update. Life is good when you have purpose and are walking in the path that God has set for us.

Mark’s moment

In our July, 4 update, we wrote about a pastor in Ovidiopol and his church. This update, I would like to look more deeply into Platon and his son’s ministry of outreach. The war has divided their family, sending his wife and daughter to Germany. Platon and Daniel remained to do what they could for the war effort.

This father/son story is amazing. I met Daniel when he was four years old. I watched him grow through the years. His education was almost complete when the war came to town. At this point in his life, Daniel was maturing both mentally and spiritually. The opportunity to walk by his father’s side, down the road of service to those in need was now on his plate.

At this time Platon had already risen to the position of pastor in the Ovidiopol Church. For a number of years, he had been building the congregation of this church in wonderful ways. Now the time had come to serve his congregation in a deeper way. Platon and Daniel connected with World Vision to receive boxes of food to distribute. Other local groups provide bags of food or supplies.

To have such an experience of giving, of extreme service, most would have to go to another country. Platon and Daniel step out of their house, and their mission is waiting for them. The danger is waiting for them. Delivering food and supplies to people in need is not their greatest task. Platon and Daniel bring the Gospel to the people along with food, supplies and a Bible, if they need one. They are living the truth of the Gospel.

The church stands as a symbol of hope, a symbol of provision. Platon has an awesome task. People are flocking to churches. Platon’s church is filled to standing room only on Sundays. This is his grand opportunity to share the truth, the love, compassion, and grace of the God that he serves. This opportunity could not be more timely. People are looking for God, God is waiting with a personal relationship. Platon could not ask for a better opportunity to share this Gospel of New Life.

As of September 30, 4,183,841 Ukrainian refugees from Ukraine registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes in Europe. That is about 10% of the Ukrainian population. The other 36,900,000 are struggling to survive as the atrocious Ukrainian/Russian war approaches winter. Thank you for reading our stories of life in Ukraine at this most challenging time. Thank you to those who sponsor our mission, helping people in need through those that we know.

We thank God for working through Sveta and me, from this distant neighboring country of Poland.

Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta

You can see all of our videos at our YouTube site 

https://www.youtube.com/user/smMUCH/videos

From a big city to a small town

Hello family and friends,

Sveta and I have moved to a new location in the mountains of Poland!

After living in a two room flat with our wonderful hostess, Ludmila, for six months, we moved. A relative of hers has a private house in a small town a couple of hours from Krakow. They made a rental offer that we couldn’t refuse. We move on Saturday, September 17.

We arrived in Krakow with two back packs and a computer bag. We moved six months later with twelve bags. We added a few clothing items, and a few essential tools, but you would have to talk with Sveta about the rest of the inventory.

Life in this small town is so very peaceful. A number of Ukrainians live here also, but we have not met them. We will have to go to a city to do our banking, but that will give us an opportunity to learn more about Poland.

Sveta and I are truly bless!

Sveta’s Journey

At this time, the war is hard for everyone; those who left for other countries and those who remained in Ukraine. The elderly are especially affected. Some of them have no relatives at all, and some categorically did not want to leave their home. One of the many elderly people left behind, Grandma Nadya, has poor hearing. Although, she heard and saw the love of the Lord in action. She was very grateful to our friends in the North, for humanitarian aid, for visiting her and praying.

Alena was found by neighbors lying unconscious on the floor. When the police and ambulance arrived, they thought the woman was dead. On the way to the morgue, Alena came to her senses and was taken to the hospital. There she met our friend, who together with his team, came to the hospital to tell people about the love of God and pray for them. Alena was completely alone in this world. Therefore, her joy knows no bounds now that believers have appeared in her life who actually show the love of God and take care of her!

It is a great blessing for Mark and me to have friends who help others! It’s amazing how everyone is involved using so many different methods! Starting from the sponsorship of financial and prayer assistance of our friends, this stream of God’s love flows to us. Then His love continues to our friends and then to those who need support. It returns transformed into great gratitude to God, to us and to you, dear friends! Here is what one of our friends wrote: “I am very grateful to you and the sponsors for transferring finances for such cases in the name of our GOD! Glory to God the Merciful and thanks to everyone for such support in serving people!!!”

Living my dream,

Sveta

Thanks to all of you who read our stories and those who share our stories. May God bless you.

You can see all of our videos at our YouTube site

https://www.youtube.com/user/smMUCH/videos

How does your imagination work?

Hello family and friends,

So much is happening. So many people are seeing change for the better in their lives. News tends to focus on the brutal parts of the war. Four months ago, Sveta and I saw the war come to our doorstep. We saw fear flow into our city. Four months later, we are hearing about missiles destroying different parts of our city every day.

The good news is, we are hearing about our city that was once closing most of its businesses and shops, is coming back to life. The resilient people of Ukraine are reclaiming their cities and lands. We are seeing Ukraine begin to rebuild. Step by step, Ukraine is getting stronger and stronger. We still need help. As a matter of fact, now is a crucial time to encourage the people to stand strong.

MUCH continues to enable people who are protecting the innocent. Many mothers with children are in need of rescue and relocation. That is what our story is about today.

Mark’s Moments

Many people throughout Ukraine have been seeking safety, living underground, in the lowest level of their homes or available buildings. Can you imagine taking only your necessities underground, and living there for weeks? Each day, coming out to seek humanitarian aid, checking on the condition of your home, looking for sunshine, and rays of hope.

Each day you see more destruction, your road is littered with debris, and cars on the side of the road displaying different kinds of damage. You have read stories and seen movies of the effects of war. Now, you are in the middle of it. This war is your life for the moment. How long will that moment last?

Finally, the “cavalry” arrived. Paul and his team arrived with bags of supplies, boxes of food and canned goods. It has really happened. Can you imagine the joy that would flood your heart? Tears begin to run down your face. At what seemed to be the last minute, help has arrived.

So many of your neighbors stand in line to hear the “Good News” and receive food and supplies to last you for more days of the war. Paul and his team personally handed you food. He said a few words of hope to you, and smiled. And he moved on to share the same compassion with your neighbors.

And then it happened! You were invited to join the group of your neighbors to be relocated to a safe community in another location of Ukraine. You accept the invitation, you gather the few things that you have, and you step up into the bus.

It is night by now, and you imagine only the adventure. The reality will hit you later. Right now, your life has become this moment in time. Your mind stops looking at the big picture. You can only see, digest, each moment as it comes.

Your journey has begun. What will be waiting for you? Will a better life, happier times, new friends, be in your future? These thoughts do not cross your mind. You are caught-up in the moment, many moments, as your journey begins …

Now imagine this story, this experience, and the variations of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of people that Paul and his team have helped.

Thank you Paul and your team, for the great work that you are doing. Thank you for the opportunity for MUCH to sponsor such a great organization doing great works of compassion.

Thank you so much readers for your part in the war effort through MUCH.

Thank all of you who share our stories with your friends, pray for our children, and sponsor the financial needs of MUCH!


Helping refugees. Evacuating children with disabilities

Hello family and friends,
It will be two months on Saturday May 14, since we were evacuated from Ukraine. We are in Krakow, but our hearts, as are the hearts of many throughout the world, are in Ukraine. Sveta has daily communication with our team, church, volunteers, and friends in need.
A number of years ago, Paul came to the church we previously attended. He talked about his program that was finding homes for orphaned children, even if it was only for a weekend visit. As the years moved forward, Sveta and I met with Paul and his wife Elena, to talk about massage therapy for the children in the orphanages and temporary foster homes. We wrote about them in a newsletter a few years ago.
When the war began in late February, Paul gathered people with hearts for children. They began to trek a caravan of vehicles across Ukraine, evacuating orphans, disadvantaged, and disabled children from Ukraine. Every trip they are taking as many as 200 to 300 children to safety. We are helping Paul and his team through MUCH. We need your big help with this one. Fuel is the big expense. The price of gasoline and propane has risen to between $6 and $9 per gallon, depending upon the location on the journey. When Sveta and I evacuated, getting fuel was not possible at every gas station.
MUCH is asking for your help. We have already sent him money for fuel. Will you help us continue helping Paul and his team evacuate children across Ukraine? Follow their journey here!
This is just one van load of children and some parents. If you have ever taken a day trip with your children, imagine a twenty hour trip with 10 to 15 children, times a number of vans!
Their stories are written on their faces. Most of the children are orphans or come from difficult homes. All of them have had a hard life.


Paul is now focusing on evacuating children with disabilities. This is an even more challenging journey. Let’s work on this one together!
Thank you in advance for your generous donations!
Thank you for your prayers!
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta

Chornomorsk and Krakow

Hello family and friends,
We are safe in God’s hand’s. His hands are working through us!
These first two months have been a nerve bending challenge as we struggled with moving money from America to Ukraine (MoneyGram), and later from American to Poland (MoneyGram). We have it all figured out. Sveta and I have bank accounts here in Krakow. The rest is safe and secure, enough said. Russia has big ears.
We are now getting money directly to people in need. We reported that our Dr. Natalia in Chornomorsk continues to treat children in need with massage therapy. This special child has been one of her MUCH patients for about five years. This precious child cannot chew food. She can only swallow and digest pureed food. MUCH is buying her a blender to provide fresh food, and better nourishment. Dr. Natalia is one of our Ukrainian Heroes!
If you remember Alyona, from our Christmas fundraiser, here is an encouraging update about her and her children. Alyona sat with children, imagining the dreaded experience, if she had to run for safety in another country with her two children. Thankfully, they survived the Russian attempts to attack her area. They are now finding a small amount of peace as they go about their lives. Her son has found an older friend. It is ok though, because so many people moved away. We continue to support and encourage this family.
Sveta and I were invited to the Refugee House for an Easter meal. Sveta has visited on occasion to translate or help with this or that. I have only visited one time previous. 
Something about food prepared the Ukrainian way looks so appetizing.
Sixteen or seventeen people squeezed around the large and small table, ready for a great feast, good conversation, and laughter.
What amazed me the most was that all of these wonderful dishes were prepared by the women refugees. Most of the food was donated, but the grandmother who has a paying job, used her money to buy much of what she prepared. She was the hostess, organizing and cooking/baking many tasty varieties of food.
I had a good time talking to those who spoke English. Thank you friends! 
As for Sveta and I, there remains a shock, a numbness. It is gradually fading away. Our emotions catch up with us now and then; our memories of our comfort zone remind us of what we called home. We look forward, finding home in our daily moment. We find our home, our strength in the Power of Jesus Christ Who lives within us.
Thank you for your prayers!
Blessings of love and healing,
Mark and Sveta