There were three moments in my trip to Ukraine when my heart was absolutely broken stirred. I briefly skimmed over them in my last Ukraine post because I knew that I would need to explain them a little further elsewhere. So here goes…
Anya As Janna, Mrs. Tina, and I worked we got to swap stories amongst us. Ms. Tina and I mostly listened as Janna shared testimonies- theirs and the kids at Komrivka (the orphanage). Many of the kids in Komrivka are social orphans, meaning their family is either unfit or doesn’t want them. One child in particular stood out to me, Anya.
Anya has some bone issues and had to have corrective surgery immediately while it was possible. Once Anya was admitted to the hospital (which was a very trying ordeal) she was there for about a month- a month!- before her surgery. In that month one of the missionaries tried to visit her every day and she had a lady from a local church stay with her. Anya is a social orphan but they still had to get her mother’s permission for all this. Her mom visited her once the whole month and then only talked to her for ten minutes. The surgery finally took place after a lot of stress physically and emotionally for Anya. Normally this is a surgery done at about seven years old or younger and so it was very painful for Anya, who is fourteen. Also the Ukrainian people are not big on pain medicine, so they would only give Anya a minimal amount. Janna told us that when she would cry one of the other moms in the room (there were three kids to a room plus their parents) would snap at her and tell her to stop crying and toughen up. There was also absolutely no privacy or attempt at privacy for her. It was so heartbreaking to hear and to think about this young girl in pain, in the hospital, alone, and so lost.
Mrs. Tina and I were able to visit Anya in the hospital on Friday, and she is a beautiful, brave young lady! (To read Anya’s story in more detail here is Janna and Daniel’s post. They also have some updates!)
Dinner and an Analogy As I mentioned, we were able to go out and have dinner with the Stoddards and Rosses Thursday night. Daniel and Janna had not only prepared a slide show of pictures from Komrivka for us (because we were unable to visit (a three week quarantine)) but also a short but moving analogy.
We arrived at dinner to find the table scattered with Ukrainian coins- kopeks. A one-cent kopek is worth one-eighth of a penny. They are absolutely worthless, even in Ukraine. Janna told us that is the view Ukrainian people have of their orphans as well. Even those who work in the orphanages have that attitude. How could anybody say someone is worthless? much less a child? Looking at and holding the kopecks, even now, I think- each of these represents one orphan. It was very sobering.
Understanding the Fear
The last thing that really stuck with me we learned Friday at one of the sites we visited. ‘The Memorial in commemoration of famines’ victims’ is a museum dedicated to the three major famines in Ukraine. Its main focus, though, is the famine that took place from 1932-1933, Holodomor. This famine was artificial, forced by the Soviet Union for the purpose of killing the Ukrainian people. During that time about eleven million people died of starvation and many others were deported to Siberia. I cannot describe how or why it struck me the way it did, but I do know, walking through that Hall of Memory looking at pictures, I felt like I was just beginning to understand the fear that grips that country.
Looking out over Kiev, I knew my heart was forever going to be missing a large piece.
“Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Luke 10:2