Mission trips update by Jeff Goertzen’s

Mission trips update by Jeff Goertzen’s!
Sunday we arrived at the Cherkasy mission house where Ruslan is living just after noon. Tim, Ruslan and myself unloaded around 150 boxes of food aid into the small garage/shop. Usually there’s more people to help and we had to walk it in from the street so it was a job but skinny little Ruslan carried the most of anyone. We shared a cup of tea together, visited just a little and again he seemed delighted to be together. Big hugs and if Tim wasn’t there to interpret we just grinned at each other.Now he has to figure out how to distribute it to help the most people. We had to run to get to the church camp so hugged him goodbye, kissed cheeks and kept driving. At the camp the first person I saw was Konstantins wife and daughter. They are the young couple I visited with earlier. When I said “hi how are you?” She made a little face and said she knew that you always say ok but she wasn’t. Their friend Alina was headed to Kyiv and she wanted to go too but was scared to cross the bridge in Cherkasy because it was bombed and Kyiv gets several rockets/ missiles per day so she had to stay in the safe countryside. I said that I crossed that bridge and spent several nights in Kyiv and all went well but she was unconvinced and sad. We ate a quick meal and the pastor gave Tim and I neck and shoulder massages to relax us for the road. We said goodbyes and I gave the scared young mom the tracts “Peace of mind in a troubled world “ and “Free from fear”. The trip back to New Odesa was the worst driving experience since I got here. Tim took a short cut that saved a lot of time but was really rough potholed road for hours. We also went on dirt field roads for quite a ways. Wheat harvest has started here, lots of combines going in the south and some in the east also. Mostly John Deere and Claus combines, next most would be New Holland, a few Case IH and 1 Gleaner. All big and mostly all modern. The kids are very friendly and try to visit some but using Google translate isn’t the easiest way to carry on a conversation. The kids all gave goodbye hugs and Tim and I spent another night at the single pastors house. Monday was the long drive home but it was good to see Brian and Venya (Ben P) again! Tuesday we hauled 3 van loads to the east to some small villages. We’re trying to get as much aid out there as possible before it gets to hot to go there anymore. Those towns are getting hit but so far not while we’re there. Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Bakhmut are all in the news as the next cities in the crosshairs so we’re taking aid there as much as possible. Again on Wednesday we headed that way with 3 loads and tomorrow 2 vans will go to Kramatorsk and Sloviansk. Going to Bakhmut revealed many more troops, tanks, armored carriers etc than a few weeks ago. Since Ukraine pulled back from the Luhansk region now it’s obvious that the lines are reforming. Smoke was going up multiple places on the horizon from cities in the Donetsk region. The wheat looks ripe for harvest but didn’t see combines there, hopefully they get their harvest in. The man we delivered to at the church said fields were burning from the war. It was very hazy but when the temperatures are in the 90’s you’re used to it being that way. We had tea with the man afterwards while the artillery rumbled away, it was Ukrainian guns firing at Russians and one battery of artillery set on a rise behind the church fired over the church and shook the ground good. We were all hot and sweaty so we stopped at a small lake we’d spotted going in and jumped in for a welcome relief. I can’t imagine how hot the soldiers must get traveling in tanks and personal carriers which of course look like hunks of metal or standing in the sun in 90 degree weather in uniform, bulletproof vests and helmets! The vests are heavy and snug so they’re hot by themselves. Traveled back to Dnipro with a gorgeous sunset over ripe wheat and sunflower fields.

Thursday morning we all went to the warehouse to load vans, 2 vans will head to Kramatorsk and Sloviansk and the team will all spend the night in Kramatorsk…