At first the emails came occasionally. The US State Department recommended all American citizens leave Ukraine, due to “increased threats of Russian military action.” Josh and I discussed the troop buildups. We talked it over with my parents, also missionaries in Ukraine, and with my brother and sister-in-law, who live in Ukraine (my sister-in-law is the most loyal Ukrainian I have ever met!). We all agreed that we should stay alert, but the likelihood was that war would remain closer to the Russian borders.
The emails increased to several a week, and then they came daily. At that point, the State Department began calling us all, telling us we should get out. Worried friends and family in the States asked if we were going to leave. We still felt certain our city would remain safe.
I went out for coffee with a Ukrainian friend just two weeks before the full scale invasion. The topic of war did not even come up in our conversation. I got home and had four messages from people in America who were worried about our safety. I asked Josh, “Are we still ok?” We all believed it was still ok.
Ukraine is our home, our history, our people. Our sons were born there. Our children don’t remember a home outside Ukraine. Most of our married life has been in this country. Our lives are intimately entwined in the people, culture, language, and values of Ukraine.
The question put to us was, “Will you get to safety?” But the questions in our minds were much more. “How can we leave when our people are being attacked? Should we not stay and help? Will we see our friends and the people we love again? If we stay, will our kids be in danger? If we leave, when will we come home? Will we come home? What do we tell our kids? What should we take? What should we leave?”
At night I battled nightmares of my children in a war zone. In the daytime my heart ached to be in the country we love so much at a time when people would be hurting so much.
Ukraine is home.