Ira Kopitavova (Kyiv)

Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
O Lord, make haste to help me!
Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt!
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
Psalm 40:13‭-‬14‭, ‬16 ‬‬

September 1 is traditionally the first day of school, the Day of Knowledge as we call it. My parents are teachers, so this day always had a special festive mood and anticipation. I’ve always felt nostalgic and emotional on this day.
That’s why I feel overwhelmed today and choking with emotions.

Because children shouldn’t experience war, they shouldn’t have their classes interrupted to go to their bomb shelter because of the air raid. They shouldn’t bring an emergency backpack to school (a recommendation from the police in big cities) and have a 3-day stash of supplies in case the school is under rubble, and they must wait for the rescue team. They shouldn’t be separated from their friends and teachers seeking refuge abroad. They should be reading adventure stories instead of learning to discern different land mines and acquiring the “life in times of war” skills (new recommended school subjects).

Those are only the obvious “wrongs” of this war, but there are so many more deep emotional wounds that will take a while to heal – the fear, anxiety, sense of loss, identity crises, separation from family and home… Only God can heal those.

Please, pray for the Lord’s protection over our children. May He find them where they are now, may He heal them from their hurt, and may He shape them to be the generation He wants them to be. Pray for His touch upon their hearts.
And we praise God there were no provocations or massive missile attacks today!

Today’s pictures come from Kharkiv and Kostiantynivka (Donetsk region). The children came to their schools for the first day of school. Since February 24, Russia has permanently destroyed over 270 and damaged 2.7 thousand educational institutions.

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team

Photos by Viktoriya Vakhodska and Kostyantyn Liberov.

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Ira Kapitanova (Kyiv)

Today is the last day of summer, which still feels like February. It’s as if we are in hibernation mode, going through motions but, in fact, waiting for the time when we’ll be able to live and breathe freely.

When I was a kid, we had a tradition for the potato harvesting season. We would usually exchange the first couple of sacks of potatoes for the sweet watermelons and enjoy the treat right there with sticky juice dripping all over the place. The watermelons were brought on a huge truck from Mykolaiv and were sold or exchanged. Later in the fall, the same truck would again bring onions, sweet peppers, and tomatoes in exchange for potatoes. This natural exchange was an excellent solution for the villagers who couldn’t afford to buy the vegetables. It was also an ideal solution for the people in the Mykolaiv region – grow what yields a great harvest and exchange for something that can’t be produced locally. This tradition has been ongoing for over 20 years, and the truck drivers knew their regular customers.

Needless to say, this year, there were no trucks from the Mykolaiv region, which makes me wonder where they are today, if their families are safe, and if they will have enough potatoes for the winter season.

Please, keep praying for the people in the temporarily occupied territories and those living on the front lines.

Marie John (Kyiv)

Galina is 76 years old and living alone since she lost her husband last September. Her village was the battleground between the Russians and Ukrainians. She was hiding in her garage for so long, and when the Russians came to her house they searched her house and property for 2 hours looking for men or weapons. When they left they told her to put a white cloth on her fence to show they already checked her house. She went to stay in a neighbor’s basement who was also alone when her house was completely destroyed by the bombs.

To save her wedding rings, she put them in a piece of China glassware. They were completely melted together after the bombing but she found them. She’s holding the melted pieces in her hand and she keeps it safe constantly in a bag she carries with her. she is currently living in a friend’s house at night and during the day she has a tent on her property she has been living in.

Now she has a temporary shelter we built her thar she can stay warm in the winter.

Homes of Hope SDB/HoHCluj

Al Akimoff and the Slavic Ministries Team