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Travel and First Impressions

All nineteen of us left Columbia, Missouri at 10am Sunday. Our journey, in stages:

  • drove two hours to St. Louis by bus
  • flew almost nine hours to Frankfurt, Germany
  • flew an hour to Budapest, Hungary after a four plus hour layover
  • took a four-hour bus ride across the border from Hungary into Ukraine
  • arrived in Uzzhorod, Ukraine around 7pm local time.

That’s 26 hours of traveling
and three new stamps in our passports.

In about five hours, the Dnipro team will take a 20-hour train ride to Dnipro, Ukraine.

I haven’t been this tired since I peeled my eyes open and dragged myself out of my top rack on the ship while on deployment in the South China sea. And I’m decades younger than some in our group!

Our group got together last night to speak of all the highs and lows of our trip so far – and there were many highs. But the most common low was exhaustion.

I tried to write this blog post last night, but I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. But when I woke up and read my devotional in Jesus Calling, the following words were all I needed to start the day,

“When you are tired, I am your strength, you take pleasure in leaning on Me.”

Pictured is the border into Ukraine.

by Sian Tweeddale, Dnipro Team

We are one day in and already the unexpected has happened…David didn’t have a ticket! We don’t know how, don’t know why, but David did not have a ticket. After not too much trouble, we were able to get David tickets so he can enter Germany and then Budapest with the rest of us. That was unexpected but fixable.

When we finally reached the Ukrainian border to go through passport control and customs, I expected grown men with machine guns ready to examine our luggage, surely give us the evil eye and stares as  one-by-one they would ask us many questions as to why we’re going to Ukraine. I’ve been two third-world countries previously, and this is usually how it goes.

But not here, not now, not this time.

It took us all of 5 minutes to get through (maybe 10-15 if we want to be generous), so let’s say it took us maybe 15 minutes to get through everything!

They opened a door, glanced at our passports, and let us through. We all got out of the van, looked at a lady who smiled at us, and gave her our passports. And just like that, we got through and…

we were in a war zone.

I didn’t expect it to be that easy but then again, who would go to a war zone from a nice cushy country that has Disney plus and Netflix?

Why would we all come there unless it was to help?

Why waste men at the border of a country nobody really wants to enter when you need them to fight to keep your freedom?

And then there were the men at border patrol. One of them looked all of 19 years old, like he’d have to try for two to three years to grow a beard. He looked too clean-shaven to be a soldier. In that moment, I thought “He could have been one of my foster boys.”

So, my foster boys are guarding the borders of their country because older, eligible men are stationed further west, giving their lives.

Lord, have mercy on them.

by Rebecca Buchholz-Szántó, Uzhhorod Ministry Team

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