The second week of the camps came to an end and both the children and parents did not want it to finish. It felt like some normality had crept back in until near the end the sirens kept sounding. Also at the end there was the news of the explosions in Vinnytsia where children died and this upset the children there. They had to use the bomb shelter for a short while.
The team found the second week harder work than the first one which is unusual but the constant tension of whether to move the children into bomb shelters and to a place of safety Bohdan said is sadly a new reality that we cannot and do not want to get used to.
Sadly the youth camp has not been allowed to go ahead this week although the youth are still coming up daily to the centre so things are being done for them. We cannot find enough workers this week as students are having to re-register and if they don’t do this they will be conscripted to fight. We hope to hold them the first week of August if we can get around the paperwork, authorities and have the team available.
In the region firefighters have started conducting security measures for all organizations and what they should we do if there is another Russian invasion so they arrived for inspection on Monday. The authorities are now predicting that an invasion is likely to come sooner than later within the Sumy region, as are airstrikes. The Firefighters are trying to equip everyone with what to do is such situations. However, Bohdan said to me that he thanks God that we held the camps on time. In a few days, I will receive more detailed reports of all that went on and I will share some of that with you. However, during the 2nd week, several children who were at our camp last summer came where they were given Children's Bibles. It is interesting that they have both read them all year and brought them to show at the camp. They have not just read once but read several times.
This couple below, Olga and Sergey, have just arrived into the area from the south. Sergey had his legs blown off by what they call a “parachute” bomb. They arrived in Lebedyn with nothing and needed help so they were referred to the team and centre. We have provided bedding, some furniture, kitchen equipment and humanitarian aid including food and pain killers as Sergey still suffers with pain. They are immensely grateful and as a result are now coming up to the centre for services and enjoying new friends being made. This is just another example of the many being helped through the work at the centre.
URGENT PRAYER REQUEST
Yesterday I had a long video chat with Bohdan to catch up post the children camp weeks. Sadly, the situation is getting worse again in Sumy oblast (county). There is increased military activity by way of missiles and air strikes and more landmines are being found so this means the Russians have undercover operatives working in the region. Many farmers are being targeted. One of the long time Pastors associated to the work lives in the northern part of the county and preached at the church on Sunday and he said that they are being bombed every day now. Landmines litter the fields so farmers cannot plough or harvest their crops as they are too frightened. Many workers have been blown up or injured. This is not something we are hearing about on the news. This is a village just 80km away. It would appear that Russia is trying to create a food crisis to starve the people into submission which is history repeating itself.
Some people who have journeyed with us will remember Pastor Andrei Boldarov. He was once our youth worker in the early days and his son Paulo did the same role until just a year or so ago and just before Valentine our current youth worker. It is this church that helped us store the aid we got from Poltava at the beginning of the war. Bohdan has asked we pray for them as a family as Pastor Andrei has been called up to fight and is now doing his training in Kiev. He has been called up because he has previously served in the military for a while before retraining to be a pastor. Up to now Pastors/ministers have been exempt from call up.
This then leads me on to the big prayer point. Bohdan shared that he had been told that he too might have to be called up to fight. The Ukraine army has lost so many and it needs chaplains within the army as many of the ones they had have been killed in battle. At present, he has been informed only but if a big invasion happens then it is likely he could be conscripted. However, because of the work the centre is doing to help the army, and he has papers giving exemption, he is trying to work with the area commander to see whether this can be avoided. In the past those with 4 or more young children have also been exempt but that too looks like it has been removed. This is obviously something we should pray about as this could have serious repercussions for his family and the work at the centre. Bohdan said that many people like him are now fleeing to the country to hide so they do not get called up. He will not do this but will trust what God has in store for him. He is fearful for his family and has asked that we pray hard for all of this. In the weeks ahead we will now plan for something like this happening so please pray for wisdom as well.
Bohdan and Alla are having problems with Zoryana as she is crying a lot and seems in pain. Monday they saw the doctor and all went well although they are now thinking she might have some digestive issues and maybe be dairy intolerant so they are having to try things out to see what works. She is still putting on weight but the constant crying, especially through the night is leaving them drained. After the busyness of the camps they took a day out to a local attraction to have a family day. Bohdan has shared the picture below and seeing the family like this makes it even harder when you have the news like above. So many families are suffering due to this war. Let us pray for peace.
I have more news from Larisa but I will cover this in my next update. Bohdan is so grateful for your prayers and support. Thank you!