I visit the Ukrainians we evacuated for the first time and meet the drivers with whom I had only digital contact until now. Anna from Poland, who had already booked her flight ticket, has unfortunately fallen ill and cannot be there. Christoph picks me up in Basel from the airport. It was the fastest way just to fly to Basel from Hamburg.
These people all actually exist. It was not a “Truman” show, but real people that I now meet, hear their stories and take some in my arms as if I have known them for a long time. Ala, the blind woman with her husband who has a walking disability and who had hesitated for so long whether they should really get on our transport in Poland.
She is still very pregnant and looks so happy. I learn that she is a masseuse by profession and have my permanently tense neck massaged.
That feels good. Marion is the heart of this large community of 70 people. What a job she does with so much love and expertise. Fascinating how everyone in this project fills a task that corresponds to their gifts and some discover new gifts in the process.
We had a barbecue in the garden with the riders who came for this weekend in super nice weather and a beautiful view.
Joni and Friends have offered to cover the costs of this meeting.
Saturday evening, April 23
We drive with the Koch family van to Schwäbisch Gmünd to Schönblick to meet the first evacuated group. Here I can finally embrace my friend Natasha and meet the core group from the rehabilitation center Agape Ukraine.
Ukrainian leaders/coordinators of other groups also join us. The Ukrainians have appointed a coordinator from each group before the beginning of the trip, which proved to be very wise and helpful.
Sunday, April 24 Joint worship service with many testimonies, reports and I get to give a devotion. “I am the way, the truth and the life.” says Jesus in John 14:6.
Over 350 people from Ukraine entrusted themselves to the drivers and got into the vehicles, or had themselves carried into the vehicles. Some were afraid, did not want to leave their homes, their familiar surroundings. They had to venture out to the meeting point, even partially into a disputed area. Should they dare? Will it go well?
They were full of doubts and questions:
“Where will they take us? Will we be well taken care of there? They don’t know what I need, what kind of aids, what kind of care I need. Do the drivers really mean well, can I trust them? If we stay, maybe a grenade will hit and the house will be broken, we will be injured or dead.”
There are different reasons to flee or to stay.
All those who came along relied on the fact that we were heading for a good destination. Some transports were already on the way without me having a destination ready to receive the group. Should I stop everything and leave the people where they are? Many times I asked myself this question and struggled with what is the right thing to do. But somehow I had the deep certainty that God knows each one of these people very well, loves each one more than a human being can love and also prepares a good place.
We humans can only try to do the best we can to the best of our knowledge. During the planning I always stopped and thought, I don’t know what it means for everyone to suddenly live in the Netherlands in Germany or in Switzerland. Again and again I prayed that God would direct it so that it would be a good place for everyone individually. Many a group was already on the way and I did not yet know where they could be taken in. Jesus knows each individual and not only knows where a good place is, He loves each individual more than we can ever love each other and He doesn’t leave us hanging. We experienced that over and over again during these trips.
For me it was so special to actually meet all the people and especially Galyna, with whom I have moved so many destinies in the last weeks.
Wednesday, May 4
We start with the beautiful bus from Hessisch Lichtenau and Steffen joins us with a transporter from Schönblick, which is destined for Ukraine and had to be repaired. He will then come back with another vehicle. As a second driver he has the janitor of the rehab facility in Luzk with him. Two janitors exchange ideas and give valuable tips.
An old blind woman with her son and daughter-in-law are waiting for us in Poland and are to be picked up on the way back in Wroclaw. (Bresslaw)
A Lebenshilfe institution in Thuringia is ready to take 7 people from our group, another one takes 17 Ukrainians and 19 people can be accommodated in a former leisure home in Southern Germany.
It is a comforting feeling to know already at the beginning of the trip that accommodations are available. The trip is almost routine and everything runs smoothly. On the way back, the group stays overnight again in Zamosc. For the second overnight stay in Germany I can’t find anything, Hosenstein- Ernstthal is fully booked and also the YMCA guesthouse. Nothing to find. Actually, the two Lebenshilfe facilities are not that far from Poland and in Wroclaw people still have to be picked up anyway. Can the group perhaps spend the night there in the hotel?
Phew, yes that works out and Joni and Friends now also pay this overnight stay for us. Great.
Saturday, May 7
Back in Germany, there is a short uncertainty who the 7 people are who are supposed to get off at the first Lebenshilfe facility. I quickly send the lists to the director of the facility by e-mail. Now it goes on to the next life assistance facility. From there it is not far to Kassel and to Hessisch-Lichtenau where the bus has to be returned. Sending them from up there all the way down to Königsbronn seems a bit too strenuous for the drivers and the group. No sooner do I discuss this with Andreas than he has already ordered the bus from the “Ostertag” company to pick up the 19 people. So on Saturday they are all already at home, and the Ukrainians in their new accommodation in which they hopefully feel as comfortable as possible.