How We Began ...

Ukraine was a distant place until, like most, we heard of bombs and tragedy, loss of life and loss of innocence for millions.  Refugees both inside and outside of Ukraine, fleeing for their lives and for some, losing the race. 

For years, we have had contact with people on the ground, within Ukraine, who have been involved in humanitarian outreach.   These people have now gone into overdrive, knowing that they are best positioned to deliver assistance exactly where it is needed.  

He Had Compassion  is an upstart group of people who have dedicated ourselves to lending a hand.  We have, thus far (June 30, 2022) participated in the distribution of over 24 tons of food, water, medicine and hygiene supplies to communities in or near each of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Mykolaiv and Zaporizhzhia.

Trips are made using vans and small busses with the seats removed, carrying about 1800 kg's of supplies each trip, and travelling up to700 km's each way to take the food near the conflict, where need is the greatest.

The House of 64

On one such trip, we came across a farmhouse that had evidence of activity.  Taking a closer look, we found 64 people living there - refugees from four different cities in the east of the country - nearly all of them women with children.  We dropped off what we had left with us, and returned later with a bigger load.   We have now committed to supplying this house for as long as it takes, each week dropping off $1,000 - $1,200 of food and supplies.  

 What Else Are We Doing?

We've paid for vehicle repairs.  We've paid for an eye operation for a man in desperate need.  We've provided shelter for a mother and daughter who were 3 weeks on the road in search of refuge, providing food, medical care and respite from the war.

 You Can Help

We are uniquely positioned.  Through generous sponsorship, we can guarantee to all who contribute, that 100% of the funds contributed will make it into service, on the ground in Ukraine.  No credit card charges, no wire transfer fees and and no admin fees of any kind.  All those normal costs have been waived, discounted or covered by others.   Further you will receive a charitable donation receipt for income tax purposes.  Receipts are issued by International Christian Mission Services, of which He Had Compassion is a member.

Finally, when donating, if you choose to provide your email address, we will keep you updated with occasional emails, not more than monthly, and you can always check for updates on this website.

He Had Compassion ... is a reference to the well-known story of the Good Samaritan, who chose to stop and lend a hand, though others passed by.

Please consider donating today.

 A Step In Faith

Ian and Oleg with Bible Story Book

This summer, a member of our team made a trip to Ukraine, in order to better understand the needs and to connect with those in need.  What follows are edited versions of his reports back home, forming a diary of events during his time there.   His initial flight was to Germany, where he met up with Pastor Oleg and family.  

His first note home registered some concern, as they travelled through Poland, toward Ukraine:

August 23, 2022

The US State Dept has in the last few hours, issued an urgent request for all US citizens to leave Ukraine now, if they possibly can.

Here's a link to the story (might be a paywall) 

Meanwhile, we are driving 130 kmh east toward Ukraine ... Oleg must go back home, under order of the govt.  We will not get to Ukraine until tomorrow morning and will re-evaluate at that time, but I think we are likely to go in for reasons above ... but Oleg and I have already made plans for me to drive his family back out, in the event that becomes urgent.

Given the assassination near Moscow on the weekend, and now this order by the US government, almost certainly informed by State Dept resources, a potential for trouble may await.

August 24

Oleg, Iryna, Diana and I, as well as Oleg's mother and father and Iryna's father, entered Ukraine mid-day yesterday, Independence Day.  

 Sunflowers  Ukrainian Countryside

The border crossing going in was very light traffic with a line in front of us of about five cars. After crossing in, we observed a line of traffic heading west, out of the country that was at least 15 km's long.

We drove to Lviv where we stopped at a family favourite: a fast-food perogy restaurant at a shopping mall.  As we were loading plates of food, the mall was ordered to be evacuated.

The young staff in the restaurant quickly loaded our food into containers to quickly pay and go. We were directed to exit through a parking garage, where we sat on concrete barriers and ate our food, before getting back in our vehicle to continue south to our ultimate destination: Ivano-Frankivsk. 

We learned later of that day's missile target - a train station, with devastating results for 24 souls.

Such is what passes for normal in this nation of people who seek only what others have: to live free.

We took the family elders to their home in the countryside, where Oleg was born and raised. We spent an hour there as they settled in and Oleg showed me around.  A beautiful rural property with a bounty of fruit, vegetables, honey and more ... that was ready for harvest.  

We arrived at Oleg and Iryna's home just south of Ivano as the last light of day faded away. 

After two long days' travel from Minden, Germany, the family was so very glad to be home.

Today begins our first full day in Ivano.  We are safe, healthy and looking forward to the day.

August 27

A wee update for those who would pray for these, our friends in Ukraine ...

In my life, I have only ever heard jet fighter aircraft at air shows.  Last night, we prayed as we heard them go over, knowing that they were heading into the "danger zone." 

Today we read that last night, the Ukrainian Air Force took out another Russian command post and an ammunition dump.

The morality of war and how to pray are philosophical conversations for us in the West, but those notes are written in blood in the midst of battle.

On Friday evening, we attended a prayer meeting at the church. 

Of the prayer requests, there was a family who prayed for the safe return of their son, a young man of 22, serving in the military. 

As the translation was clarified, we learned that their son had been killed in battle ... and that the prayer request ... was for the safe return of his body. 

We learned that the church worship leader was recently called up to serve, and released when it was determined that he had a heart condition.

As the war has progressed, he has been called up once again.  Outcome: TBD. 

Two other families present asked for prayer for family members, also recently called to serve.

And finally, a man, a refugee from Kharkiv, has been in Ivano for six months, since the early days of the war. He had sent his wife on to Germany to stay with relatives though his wife's health is poor. He is not sure when or if he will see her again.  An older man, he has work here and is asking God to protect his family and to give him strength to endure.  This story, he translated directly to me, using my phone to give me the details.

After the meeting, we returned home, shared a bowl of soup and prayed.

One needs time to ponder these things.  Life happens quickly here ... and is, at the same moment, frozen in time.

People ask "when will life go back to normal?"  I think the answer is that, no matter the outcome of the war, there is no going back.  Ukraine will go forward into a new reality.  A clearer definition of nationhood. Harder lines drawn. More patriotic.  More people drawn to faith and understanding of eternal truths ... what defines us collectively and individually ... and the difference one person can make.

You can make a difference ... by praying for these people.  Pray for wisdom, patience, courage, protection from aggression and from discouragement, both from without and within. 

Finally, pray for many to come to the saving knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ.  

I understand anew ... that it is our only hope.


Also August 27

Privately to you, R ...

I have been asked in four different settings in Ukraine ... if I'm not too afraid to be here.  I asked Oleg:  are there no other foreigners around here? 

He responded:  No.  They all left.

A bit unsettling, that. 

And yet, I do not feel it unwise to be here.  These people are incredibly grateful that I'm here.  The entire group of those at the prayer meeting welcomed me enthusiastically, and thanked me for being here.

Just thoughts ...

August 30

Sunday was a good day in the church as Pastor Oleg preached.  The entire service was filled with warm fellowship, good teaching, meaningful prayer, and a warm connection to those who were in need of a fresh touch from God.  Worship was particularly beautiful and warmed the heart. 

And in the midst of this, we learned during prayer time of one more family who had, during that week, lost a son to war.  The outpouring of grief, while measured is heart-felt ... for those who have suffered loss ... and in silent anticipation of similar news likely to come for others.

On Monday and Tuesday we went shopping at various "wholesalers" for all kinds of goods to take to the east.  Dry goods: flour, sugar, salt, pasta, corn meal, oatmeal, cracked wheat, oil, jars of tomato paste and sauce, spices, and cases of canned beef, chicken, fish and more.  We bought cleaners, soaps, hygiene products, hand lotion and bathroom supplies.  

Food for Mikolaiv 6  Food for Mikolaiv 5

Ian Loading Van with Sleeping Bags  Pastor Leonid Receiving Sleeping Bags in Mykolaiv

There has been a request for bedding to help keep warm for those areas in the east that are likely to be cut off from electricity and gas this winter.  So we invested in 20 good quality sleeping bags to take to the Mykolaiv area, when it is safe to do so.  If they seem to be what they want, we know now where we can get more, at a discounted price.

We took all these supplies to a warehouse space that Oleg and his team have secured for the purpose.  There, we off-loaded all that we had bought and organized it in order to more easily draw out what is needed in appropriate quantities for each load to go.

Finally, in addition to the above, we purchased fresh meat, bread, tomatoes and watermelon to take for a kebab BBQ to the "House of 64."

Once there, we were welcomed at the gate like heroes, with kids running, shouting and grinning broadly.  Yes, they were expecting us.

H64 Ian and Kids Sitting at Table  H64 Oleg Signing Books for Kids

H64 Women 1

Ian and Child    H64 30 Plus Kids

Near as I could count, with kids running everywhere, there were about 40 of them, ranging from 2 to 17 years.  Then another 15-20 adults, mostly women from 20-55 years of age, and a few men who were there to run the place, provide protection and do what they could to help with various things the families needed.

While the dinner cooked on a makeshift barrel stove, we were able to distribute illustrated Story-book Bibles, one to each child, up to about 17 years of age.  Pastor Oleg wrote the child's name and dedicated each book to each child.  It's a beautiful edition of the book, translated into Ukrainian, of which I was able to obtain 200 copies, for distribution to children, along with food that is heading to eastern cities and enclaves.  

A few spoke haltingly in English and apologized for not being able to speak more fluently.  I encouraged them to be brave, that their English was better than my Ukrainian.

I said in a small group that I wanted to hear their stories, that I might be able to take their stories back to Canada, so that we would know better how to pray.  

A woman named Marina stepped forward and said that she would like to tell her story, and proceeded to tell me, through interpretation that her husband, a soldier, had died in May.  She has two boys, one is 16 and one is 8 years old.  She made her way to this house in April and knew no one, and now, they are all close and have become her family.

I learned while here that the children of this home are primarily, but not exclusively, orphans and/or adopted.  I will include a photo of a little girl on my shoulders.  She and her sister are about 3 and 4 years old and were adopted only 3 weeks ago.  Their mother had died and their father had abandoned them.  They were taken into the care of a husband and wife who were fleeing west and ended up in the house we were helping.  The adoptive mother said the girls had been frightened to death by events of the war but were coping well here in this place, having been here just a short while.

Looking around, I saw and felt great hope and courage from this lovely "family."  We ate with them.  We sang with them.  They wanted to know about Canada.  They wanted to say "thank you, Canada," for caring enough to want to help.

At dusk, we left, having known that we had done something important for these people ... and for ourselves.  

I came to hear, to learn and to understand.  Today, we saw and touched the open wound of this war, and saw how it ravages those in its way.  But we have also felt the heart of God for His people.  This house full of souls have been rescued from terror and uncertain death.  May God continue to have mercy on them ... and untold others whom we have not yet met.

A footnote: we had planned for a trip to take supplies to the Mykolaiv area, but while speaking to some in the home yesterday, they made a call to relatives there and confirmed that it is too unsafe to make such a journey right now.  They are constantly being shelled in that zone ... and they said to wait for a better day.  

The food, supplies and sleeping bags are all ready to go.  We wait.

And today, while we wait, Oleg and I went to his parents' home and hiked a hill near the property ... a place that Oleg enjoyed when he was a kid.  When we returned to his mother's yard, she had prepared an absolutely amazing lunch for us.  All of it came from her small farm.  

Meanwhile, back home in Ivano-Frankivsk, the air raid sirens sounded off again, reminding us all of the darker side, somehow just out of sight.

Onward ...

 September 3

It's Saturday afternoon ... and we headed into Ivano early, a few hours ahead of worship practice.

I was invited with Oleg and Diana to something that was billed as a meeting of Christian youth.  Oleg had been invited to bring a short devotional.

Turns out it is a seminary with 20 students, that managed to escape and relocate from the eastern city of Kherson (currently occupied and largely destroyed) in the east to Ivano-Frankivsk. 

They, their instructors, some of their families and several local pastors and officials had a meeting room in an apartment building where they sang, prayed, and heard about 8 mini-lectures or sermons.

The first was from the director of the seminary, who said that, before convening today's inaugural meeting of their Kherson Seminary, now in Ivano, he wanted to give tribute and have a solemn time of prayer and reflection for the estimated 87,000 people that have died during the siege of Mariupol.

He then took a large beautiful glass plate, wrapped it in a white linen cloth, which to me seemed reminiscent of the shroud on the body of Christ, and smashed it on the marble floor.   He then stood in silence for a time before quietly saying;  Amin.

Some families sat huddled, parents with younger siblings, with tears flowing freely. 

Each pastor and seminary leader in turn offered their thoughts and devotions, passages of scripture.

This was their inauguration of their Seminary School year ... the Kherson Seminary in Ivano-Frankivsk.

How beautiful.

I whispered to Oleg that I would like to offer something to support these students financially.   He was certain that this should be shared from the front. 

He spoke with the seminary director, and moments later, I found myself ushered to the front, and with translation offered by Oleg, brought greetings from Canada.

I said that I had come to see and to learn and, if possible, travel further to the east, where suffering has been most severe.. 

As that has become impossible at the current time, God has seen fit to bring me to a place where the east had come westward and has allowed me to see first hand ... their faith and dedication. 

I told them all that the financial support was not from me, but from all the Canadians who have a heart for Ukraine and wanted people in this country to know that they are not alone.

The amount that was committed to each student was just enough for a warm winter coat or a good pair of boots ... both things they were not likely to have packed in a hurried escape from their home.

Kherson Seminary

Upon reflection, I think I have found two ministries in the Ivano area that are worthy of additional support:  the House of 64 ... and now the Kherson Seminary in Ivano-Frankivsk.

We will do this .... and continue to send food, sleeping bags, humanitarian supplies to the east.  Yesterday, we loaded (overloaded?) a large 15-passenger van, ready for Mykolaiv.  Logistics and missiles both have prevented the van from going just yet, but it is parked securely at the church, loaded, full of fuel, waiting for the all-clear to go.  That will hopefully happen in the coming week.  Pray for these guys when they make the trip.  They are all young family men, active in their church, with kids to raise and businesses to run ... but their dedication to serving their Lord is the foundation for it all.

It's impossible to miss their sense of purpose in it all. 

I am nearing the end of my time here. 

I have  been in my own personal seminary these weeks, directed by circumstances not in my control or influence, really.

I leave here on Monday, beginning my trip homeward.

But tomorrow is Sunday. 


I will treasure it.

Ian returned to Canada on September 7 ... and after some time out to reconnect with family at home in Langley, Ian has returned to sharing with others, regarding his time in Ukraine. 

If you have read this far, God bless you.   Please know that the need in Ukraine is greater than ever, as the Ukrainian forces liberate cities, towns and villages that lay in ruins. 

Update:  2022-10-05

As we write this letter on October 5th, Pastor Oleg and friends are travelling with two 15-passenger vans, one of them pulling a trailer, and travelling from western Ukraine all the way to a small village called Vovchansk, in the extreme north-east corner of the country.  It took two days’ travel to get to the city of Kharkiv where they spent the night, before travelling to Vovchansk.   The city of Kharkiv was hit with two missiles the night Oleg and team were there. 

Oleg wrote to us yesterday that they were expecting the last few miles into Vovchansk to be difficult because there is nothing much left of the road.  Until just weeks ago, this area was under Russian control.  Now liberated, there is virtually nothing there for the people, and the route to travel there remains dangerous due to unexploded ordinance. 

And still, Pastor Oleg and team have determined to make the trip, before winter sets in, in this remote corner of the country, literally within sight of the Russian border. 

We write these things that you may know that your contribution – whatever it may be – is being put to invaluable use, on the ground, in Ukraine.   The funds are, quite literally, saving lives there.   Lack of food, medication, disease from lack of clean drinking water, exposure to the elements as winter approaches – these are all being addressed in whatever ways we can. 

We know that a number of you have taken a personal interest in what we have called the “House of 64.”   Please know that we have made supporting this home full of refugees our highest, single priority.   Having been there, we can tell you that their stories are heart-wrenching … and yet, together, though most of them have lost many or all family members to the war, they have found family in fellowship with each other.   

If you have a heart for suffering people of Ukraine, but choose to contribute elsewhere, please do so .. and be at peace.   However, if you’re looking to find a way to be certain that 100% of your contribution will make it to Ukraine, without deduction of any kind, then this is it.  

All normal deductions and expenses incurred sending funds into the country and put to work – have been covered by generous sponsors and/or waiving of fees.   Funds donated are converted to local currency in Ukraine and devoted entirely to making possible the humanitarian distributions like the ones I have described in this letter. 

If you have questions, please reach out.   

And for complete transparency: Ian covered his own expenses for his trip to Ukraine.   He went to see first-hand the work that is being done with the funds sent, and to help out where he could.   When the time is right, he will go again, and once more, will cover his own expenses.  

A Christmas Update:  2022-12-13

We are so very grateful for all of you who follow this blog.  This fall, we set out to raise enough money to provide winter clothing and footwear for everyone in the House.  Every woman.  Every child.  We let that information be known ... and you responded.   People in our local church made and sold crafts, creating an amazing result in funds raised and hearts turned to the needs of these "others" this Christmas season.  Still others have sent financial gifts.

An Amazing Opportunity

In recent days, an offer was sent our way:  A donor would like to make a contribution to match any donations made by others - dollar for dollar - between now and the end of the year.   I write this with some trepidation, as I am not a "fundraiser," as you might think of someone in that role.  We are just a few people who have been deeply touched by all that we have heard - and witnessed first hand - with the pain and suffering of innocent women and children in Ukraine ... and we decided to do something about it.

However, whether I am a fundraiser or not, I cannot turn away from a genuine opportunity to have those who may wish to contribute to this cause - see their contribution doubled.  If you have already contributed or prefer to invest your charitable contribution elsewhere, we bless you.

However, if you are at all considering donating to this work, there has never been a better time to consider a gift.  Between now and the end of the year, a donation online (or a cheque postmarked by year-end), all such funds received will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to a total of $20,000.

Are We Making a Difference?

Have you ever wondered if what you gave made a difference? 

I'd like to introduce you to the children in this place we call the House of 64.  After we took them shopping, the kids themselves put together this video.   As to whether we're making a difference? ... Well, I think they should have the last word on that.

Please consider making a generous donation to help the people of Ukraine.   

The Good Samaritan.  He stopped to lend a hand, when others passed by.

He Had Compassion

To Friends and Supporters ... 

Here is a long-overdue update from earlier this year ... and if you read to the end, you'll learn of plans for more news to unfold in May and June of 2023.

In early January, 2023 from a two-week trip to Ukraine during which time, we managed to accomplish all of our objectives.   We established a network of contacts – in Germany, in Poland – that will assist us in moving humanitarian goods into Ukraine, to be picked up by our ministry partners there, and distributed where needed most. 

As you might imagine as you read the notes below, I came home flat-out exhausted, but all the more determined to make a difference for the hurting people of Ukraine.   However, this is completely a joint effort.   We simply could not have the impact that we have now … without your support. 

Please read the notes below for a full update of my time there.   I was able to sit down occasionally and process my thoughts before the confusion of time.  I sent those notes home to family and close friends, and so some of you may have seen these notes already, but for most, this is the first you’ve heard from me since I wrote to you in late December, saying that I was planning a trip to the region. 

And .. there’s a few photos on the bottom of this email. 

Once again, from the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine … thank you so very much!! 


Note:  2023-01-02 

Still in Westfalia ... trying to get over jetlag. As you can see, it's not working!  😊

We will be here for 2-3 more days, getting vehicle and 2 trailers ownership sorted out, insurance, etc., and buying sleeping bags and generators, test-driving the van with trailer, connecting with and thanking local people who have helped us get these big things together.

I'm probably leaving here on the 5th.

Next stop: Berlin, for 2,000 hot water bottles ...   and other supplies.

Local temp here yesterday was 17C ... but with huge wind.  I think it is supposed to gradually return to more seasonal temperatures and winds ease. That would be better.  Remember, one of my core requests was for favorable weather.  That request remains high on my list. A van pulling a trailer at speed in high winds is not a comforting thought, especially while the trailer is empty and light.

Went to church here on the 1st ... mercifully, an evening service.  Church has a large contingent of Ukrainian refugees whose mother tongue is Russian. The service was in German, translated into Russian.  From my ears, all the prayers therefore, were in tongues, with interpretation!  😁

Beautiful worship, tender testimonies on an individual level.

Was invited with Mark & Elssi, Oleg & Iryna to the pastor's home for a lovely meal after the service. 

Over dinner, learned of a Ukrainian mother with two kids, 4 and 5 yrs old.  Father has abandoned them. 

Mother has cancer with only weeks to live. She has asked the pastor couple to adopt her children. They have agreed.

She does not want the children to be given to her own extended family.  She wants to know they will be raised to love Jesus and be cared for by people with gentle hearts.

In the midst of war, the dying wish of a loving mother, doing all she can to chart a course of protection, hope and faith ... for the loves of her life, knowing that she must trust the outcome to God.

Makes me cry just writing about it.  I cannot imagine living it.

I offered a thought to this pastor couple ... that they might suggest to mom that she write a letter to each of her kids, to be given to them when they are old enough to understand, explaining all the circumstances, as to who they are and why she made certain decisions and chose the caregivers that she did ... that such a letter, coming seemingly from beyond the grave, might answer important questions for future teenagers, struggling with identity. (hmm ... where do you suppose I got that idea? 😊 )

As this was translated on my behalf, those at the table visibly brightened, as this idea had not been previously considered.  A tangible comfort they can offer to the mother.

After dinner, i asked Oleg to translate as i read one of my favourite Christmas stories ... actually, one from The Vinyl Cafe "Story Exchange."

The second night in a row that I had occasion to share a story.  Both times made me cry.

It was a wonderful evening in their home.

Hugs all 'round as we parted.

That's it for now.  I'll close my eyes for a bit and see what happens. I have two hours now before my day begins in earnest.

Love to all ...

============================================ -- Ukraine Trip -- News 2023-01-08 

It's been several whirlwind days since I last sat down to compose my thoughts.  I thought it best I try to catch up before more events push recent days into the fog.  

We left the Westfalia area of Germany with two vans, each pulling a trailer, and headed to Berlin, where we were expected at EBTC - European Bible Training Center.  They have collected all manner of goods to take to Ukraine, and they manage to ferry a good part of it into Ukraine on their own.  They helped us load up with 1200 hot water bottles, about 1000 kg's of canned fish and five large generators.  They then prepared paperwork for us to use at the border between Poland and Ukraine - itself a Herculean task. 

Finally, they led us into the building where they have a church, and ladies there prepared and presented a lovely meal, hot and fresh for us and some of their own workers. 

I said finally.  Not so fast.  Next the pastor and wife couple that were helping organize all these things directed us to follow them to their home, where they boarded us for the night.   Breakfast in their home was served the next morning at 0600 in order to get us on the road in good time. 

Next stop:  about 600 km's east to the warehouse in Poland where we had ordered a thousand sleeping bags.  We purchased them at significant cost, but great value, discounted between 55-58% of their list price ... as a friend to Ukraine.  

It was a holiday in Poland that day, but the fellow who cut the deal for us agreed to be at the warehouse on his holiday, in order to get us everything we needed without delay.   

In case you're wondering what a thousand sleeping bags look like, they come in boxes of 8-10, depending on the quality, and in our case there were eight pallets with 12 boxes on each, and piled a bit over my head. 

We filled both trailers to the top and also put several boxes in Oleg's van.  We left 1.5 pallet loads at the warehouse where a young man named Gideon will stop enroute from EBTC with his next load, and  bring them to Ukraine for us. We'll arrange ro meet him in Lviv. 

That night, we travelled 200 more km's across Poland to the home of an IT executive who offered us the use of his home.  While driving there, he contacted us to ask when we would arrive because he had arranged with a local Ukranian family to prepare dinner for us. 

If you're beginning to get the picture from all these events, we have discovered an entire "underground railway" of sorts, receiving and caring for Ukrainian refugees, and at the same time, receiving and caring for those who wish to lend a hand to Ukraine through any number of humanitarian efforts.  Oleg and I were caught up in ... and swept along by a strong current of support, heading towards Ukraine. 

Such an experience.  Oleg and I felt like Paul and Timothy, travelling to the various churches of Asia, where their needs were met, fellowship was offered ... and received with thanks. 

Thus far, we had crossed Europe with relative ease.  The van and two trailers had both been purchased and were working great.  The sleeping bags, hot water bottles, food and generators were all on our shopping list .... and now? were all in hand. 

What came next was a bit hard to comprehend and even a bit difficult to explain. 

The Border.

It requires a bit of explanation if your image of a border is based on what you have observed between Canada and the US. 

When one drives across the border from Poland to Ukraine, you must first pass through a Polish border exit control point.  The Polish exit authorities have procedures that are at least as complex as those encountered when entering Ukraine.  The "entering Ukraine" region of control is some 200-300 meters further down the road. 

Starting with Polish Exit authorities ...

We were yelled at by one border guard, sent 35 km's back into Poland to get more paperwork done, and wait about 90 minutes for that to happen.  Then we were directed by authorities to cross at a different border crossing that was an hour out of our way ... reason being, they thought our vehicles should be weighed, so  certain were they that we would be fined or declined entry for being overweight.

We were prepared for a fine ... but noooo ... no mention of a fine when we got to the second border crossing.

The Polish authorities didn't stop us this time ... but the Ukrainian authorities took over where the Poles left off.  They said that we could only bring in 1,000 € of goods.  We had something like 50,000 € worth of goods, plus three vehicles (a van and 2 trailers) to import.

For these agents, well, this sad state of affairs was not going to do at all.  They shook their head no ... you must go back.

Oleg spoke with a border guard for some time ... all to no avail. 

She went to call a superior, but Oleg asked her not to do that because the superior would surely say no, thus sealing our fate.

He asked again ... she shook her head.  So I asked for permission to speak while Oleg translated on my behalf. 

I explained that we had come from Canada and spent all our money to bring humanitarian goods to Ukraine to help the people of Mykolaiv and Kherson, and that we had no money available for duty or other costs. 

She went back inside her building.  We waited. 

In context, "we waited" doesn't do it justice.  We were there three hours.

She finally asked me questions, including my Canadian address and other things that would verify whether I was legit.

In due course, she finally came over to her window, and with her face looking down to the ground, she made a sweeping motion with her arm, indicating that we could go.

She didn't give us any stamped paper or otherwise say a thing.

She was the hero of the story so far.  She let us in, and simply turned a blind eye to us, bringing all kinds of things for the people in eastern Ukraine.

Next came the people who helped us complete the import of the van and the two trailers.  These people were downright helpful, showing us how to complete our import paperwork, and actually filling in one of the forms for me.

By now, other customs agents were wondering why we were still there so long .. and a handful of them kept asking us to take the lid off the trailer so they could "inspect the contents,"

In the end, several of them were very motivated to help us on our way.

Not your usual trip to the border.  Everything for the success of the trip hung in the balance today ... and God put his finger on the scales. 

One more thing:   When we had final permission to leave Customs at the border yesterday .... I told them ... that the people of Canada say "thank you" .... and the people of Mykolaiv and Kherson said: "God bless you."

We shook hands with several of them and one big burly border guard hugged me! 

Not his usual greeting, I should think.  😊 

Today was our first full day in Ukraine.   We enjoyed every minute of it.  A wonderful day if ever there was. 

Tonight the vans have been emptied and reloaded ... for a trip to the those most hurting: Mykolaiv. 

Leaving in the morning. 

Over ... and thanks for listening


============================================ -- Ukraine Update -- 2023-01-09 

Hi everybody.  A quick update while we wait for pizza delivery to our room.

"We" is Roman, a farmer, and Misha, an air conditioning/heat pump  technichian, both solid citizens in Oleg's church ... and me.

Neither one of them speaks a word of English.  Misha has a few words in German, as do I, then add my dozen or so words in Ukrainian and presto ... you have three very confused conversationalists! 

Enter Google translate ... at every step of the way ... and you have the three of us driving two vans, one with a trailer, from Ivano-Frankivsk ... headed for Mykolaiv.

It's a distance of 1,000 km's and would have taken 12 and a half hours, according to Google ... except for, well, the two ice storms along the way. 

We weren't actually in them; we came along in each instance just after they occurred.  They called it a cyclone, and if it was a Hollywood set, you'd say they spared no expense. 

First, the heavy fog, then fire up the crazy wind generator, topple over large trees along the highway, and pelt the windshield of any passing motorist with "sheets" of clear, glassy-looking hailstones.  For extra emphasis, make all the motorists pass jack-knifed trucks and trailers with the flashing lights of emergency vehicles. 

Then, a few minutes and km's later, bring out the sun, melt the weird ice pellets ... and everyone's wondering what the fuss was all about.

About an hour later, run it all again.

All to say ... we worked our 12-hour shift ... but we didn't quite make it to Mykolaiv.  300 km's short, in fact.

That would leave us eating pizza in a hotel room in the city of Kropyvnytskyi.

Don't just look it up; try and pronounce it! 

OK, here's how you start.  Try saying it without the "v" in the middle. It comes out:

Crop - nit - ski

Easy -peasy.  But you're not there yet.  You've got to weasel that "v" back in there.  It actually becomes:

Crop - vil - nit - ski

It's about 300 km's short of our target.  We're planning our departure from here at 0500 in order to get to Mykolaiv in good time tomorrow.  We have quite a bit of stuff to deliver.  We have two large generators.  I'm not sure if we'll need to unpack and set them up or not.  Depends on the expertise of the people receiving them.  And we have sooo much other stuff that filled two vans and one trailer.  Yes, there's sleeping bags and hot water bottles, but there's also pasta, soups, soup mixes, sauces, cooking oil, cracked wheat ... and a generator.

Tomorrow night is at a pastor's house either in Mykolaiv .. or a wee village just out of the city.

So ... it's lights out for this boy.  I'm beyond exhausted ... but enjoying all that we're doing.  These are good days.  If all goes well, I'll be back in Ivano late Wednesday, and that would leave one full day to visit H64 ... and possibly Oleg's mother and father.

Much love to everyone.


============================================ -- Notes From Ukraine -- 2023-01-13 

Here I sit on the e-Bus, waiting to leave Ivano-Frankivsk ... and my heart is full. 

My journey of two weeks has included travelling to Minden, where I enjoyed a lovely meal in Mark & Elssi's home (thank you, Elssi), time and a meal in their pastor's home (thank you, Viktor), time and a meal with Samuel & Ilona (thank you, Samuel), I got to drive a beautiful van to Ukraine that was found by Samuel and brought to Minden by Mark (thank  you, Samuel for all your work on this, and Mark, for your help retrieving the van), we pulled two perfect trailers (again, thank you Samuel and Mark), we drove safely to Berlin (thank you, Lord), we loaded  up at EBTC where we were fed and then slept at the Pastor's home ...  and fed again (thank you, people of God), we purchased a thousand sleeping bags (thank you for finding them, good Christian friend,  Sebastion), we stayed at Sebastion's home and he arranged for us to enjoy a meal with his friends in the church there (thank you to all  these people), we travelled safely to ... and finally through ... the border from Poland to Ukraine (thanks be to God), we drove to Lviv and  found hotel rooms on Orthodox Christmas Day when we were too exhausted  to drive to Ivano (thank you, Lord), we drove to Ivano Sunday morning, arriving in time to enjoy sweet fellowship in Resurrection Baptist Church (mercies upon mercies), the remaining sleeping bags that we could not carry were transported from Poland to Lviv by a servant of God, aptly named Gideon, who is living up to his name (praise be to God), two wonderful servants of God travelled with Ian to Mykolaiv (giving thanks for these two brothers, Misha and Roman, and to their families who blessed them in this journey), for the hospitality shown by the faithful  servants in the church in Mykolaiv (daughter, Anna, her beautiful baby, her mother and father, her brother, Daniel, the two pastor brothers, the pastor's wife - I am sorry - I do not have all the names (praise God for them all), for all the people at their homes who tearfully and gratefully received what we had to offer (God's richest blessings on you all), to all the blessed men, women and especially the children of the  House of 64, the wonderful joy in which you protect, honor and  strengthen each other, you have strengthened me by seeing how you serve  each other.   Though these are difficult days, when the difficulty passes, you will recognize all the more clearly that you were protected  by the hand of God through it all (thank you, Lord Jesus, for your hand of protection over this family. Build their fellowship, build their community, build their faith, courage, and hope in you, O Lord. 

I pray now for Oleg, Iryna and Diana to return to health.  I pray for Sabbath rest for Oleg.    I  pray for Mark and Samuel as they discover business opportunities.  I pray that they remain true to your Word in all they say and do. 

Thank you Lord for giving me opportunities to see your love in action, for your people who have been called by your name. 

To my dear brother, Oleg, my sincerest thanks for all you have done to make this entire journey possible.  For your wisdom at the border, for you and Iryna graciously hosting me, for seeing to my safety as my guardian angel, by deploying your troops to protect and serve the mission when you yourself had poured out all your energy and needed rest.  For your friendship, your brotherhood, your strong Christian  witness both to me, to your church and to your beautiful family, I give you thanks ... and I give thanks to God for you.  With much love, my brother. 

Now, as I begin my journey home,  allow me, Lord, to reflect on all that has transpired, all that I have seen and heard, the weaving of your Spirit into the lives and hearts of those you love and call your own.  Grant us all peace through this time of war, courage to face what comes and protection from the evil one.   For all these things, we give thanks and praise to the One True God, in  whose name we pray.  Amen .. and Amin.


Please consider making a generous donation to help the people of Ukraine.   

The Good Samaritan.  He stopped to lend a hand, when others passed by.

He Had Compassion