Bringing Help and Hope to a War-torn Weary Land
Rocket strikes didn't stop us from getting needed food parcels and medicines to 7 communities, 4 of which had active shelling, with over a half dozen landing less than 100-200 meters away.
Yesterday was a precious day for Karla and I to help with two vans that ventured far east to do 7 food and med distributions to a city that has been under attacks since 2015, with increased intensity of shelling since the February invasion. While all distributions were incredible, numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5 stand out and will be highlighted below:
Distribution 2 started off with a bang. Literally. As we turned a corner to approach the distribution location, a stream of cars followed by bicycles followed by walkers was coming our way. In the background, were several plumes of smoke streaming to the sky.
Turns out the distribution point had been targeted by 5 rockets 2 minutes before. It missed the crowd and slammed into the building several rows behind the people. We were meeting the terrified crowd as they left to an alternate distribution point. Fortunately none were injured. I will though remember their terrified faces for a long time. And as much as this terrified them, they were so hungry, so in need, that they did not forsake gathering at the alternate site. All listened attentively to the Chaplin's teaching, an indication that we truly do no live by bread alone, but God's Words help during these times.
Traveling onto distribution location 3, we traversed through an abandoned part of town where every building has been blown out. We arrived to find them in great need of food: they were roasting two pigeons to eat. People fled under cover when whistles alerted them to an inbound rocket that landed behind the building. All returned though, grateful to receive encouraging words, food and medicines. Despite the chaos in the skies around us, we were able to pray for those wanting meds to deal with anxieties from constant conflicts. I will forever remember the elderly lady who lost who son in a rocket attack in 2015 that also left her face disfigured from the shrapnel.
Distribution 4 was to a small group that did not want to venture much from the entry way to a blown-out building. This complex had been directly struck again the preceding night, making a hole in the wall kitchen within meters of where we now parked. While we were there several rockets hit the block on the other side of the building. When these people came for the food and meds, I was shocked: I could see the person on crutches, but now up close, I noticed where nearly all had disfigured faces and arms sustained from shrapnel injuries over the years. Their bodies looked as battered as the buildings around us.
Distribution 5 was to a community that now lives under a school. It was pitch black, save for our cell phone lights (and photo shop enhancements). Chairs often were used as shelves to store all of their current worldly possessions. While underground, 4 rockets hit within 100 meters of the complex. We were without event underground. These people here spend almost all of their time living underground now, and were grateful for the supplies, meds and food.
The final 2 distributions went without incident. We picked up five evacuees and on the return route we picked up a soldier that had been wounded with shrapnel and was now heading for rehab of his injuries.
In total, it was an amazing day. Our routes brought us at times less than a kilometer from Russian troops. There were at least seven rocket attacks landing less than 200 meters, not including the 5 that struck near our original distribution site 2. Yet Gods Peace and Presence surrounded this trip: the only time my pulse rate increased was when seeing the frantic faces approaching us on distribution 2, as I was gearing up for offering medical aid to casualties that fortunately never was needed. More than 300 hundred food parcels were given out. Our two big med supply boxes we brought along were almost depleted (now restocked for future trips). So many of these people were grateful for us showing up ... to remind them that they are not forgotten.