Today I’m writing from a church in Kaufbeuren, Germany. We are in the little playroom and Evie is playing with her bag of toys that she brought from home. When fleeing from a war zone, it is recommended to bring along a bag of Barbies, FYI.
Last Saturday, March 5, 2022 we made the unimaginable decision to leave our home, not knowing when we will be able to return. The bombings in our city were becoming more frequent and it was becoming more and more clear that the Russians were targeting civilians. Nowhere in Ukraine is safe anymore. We agonized over the decision, as we had been determined to hunker down at the Homestead and wait it out, but the nightly low-flying planes over our home and airstrikes that shook the house and set off car alarms made us rethink our plans. We are responsible for some of Ukraine’s most vulnerable people and our boys couldn’t tell us how the war was making them feel. They could definitely feel our tension, see the fear in our faces, but their understanding was/is lacking. They couldn’t ask us to please bring them to safety, so we had to make the call for them. I’ll tell you what, I never in a million years imagined I would be crouching in the hallway in the dark with my children as our house shook from explosions a few miles away. I never thought Jed and I would be agonizing over when it might be “too late” to get out safely with our kids, should the fighting move even closer. I never ever dreamed we would need to flee from the home that we worked so hard to make a safe haven for all who entered the front doors. But, here we are, a week later, refugees in a country where we understand nothing and have no idea what our future holds. It’s unbelievable to us all.
There are 36 of us here in Germany together. That group includes 10 people with disabilities, and 14 of our group are teens and children. The rest are our team members and family members of our team. We are living all together in a church. The church body here has opened its arms to us and shown us such incredible love and generosity. I don’t know where we would be without them. They really made our evacuation possible because we knew we had a safe place to land. We will be forever grateful to them.
Back in Ukraine the rest of our team is busy on the Homestead taking care of each other and working with our city and village councils to distribute humanitarian aid to our region. We also have 3 moms with adult sons with disabilities from our big Wide Awake family who are living together at the Homestead. I’m so proud of our team both here and in Ukraine. The work they are doing is important and necessary.
You know before, when we lived in the US, I encountered a lot of refugees. I guess I showed them kindness, but to be honest, I didn’t really give them a lot of thought. I think I assumed they were just happy and grateful to be in the US. I knew they needed assistance getting their physical needs met in the beginning, but their emotional state was completely off my radar. I had no idea how emotionally devastating it is to be a refugee. I’ve never experienced such deep sadness before in my life. I don’t know how else to describe it, except that I am deeply sad, devastated at the loss, and unsure even how to begin to grieve and move forward. I’m stuck in my sadness of losing what was. Yes, I worry about the physical things- our house, the duplex, our dogs…but more than that I grieve the loss of the life we had that I know will never ever be the same. I remember the night before we left our home I was sitting on the couch with my Hava and she was crying. She said, “I’m just realizing that our lives will never be the same again.” Right as she ended her sentence our house shook from an explosion in the distance. Yes, we had definitely crossed over into a new reality: a before and after. One day we were celebrating another birthday party in the duplex with our big Wide Awake family, kids were heading off to youth group on the bus, doing homework together at night, dropping Evie off at preschool that she loved oh so much, grocery shopping, and planning IEP’s for our boys…and the next week we were seeing the sky light up as buildings in our city were destroyed by Russian missiles. In a matter of days, we went from planning the next fun outing for our boys to planning the evacuation of 36 people across the border. It still doesn’t feel real.
To be a refugee is to put all your hopes and dreams on pause, never knowing when or if you will get to pick them back up. To be a refugee is to fully and completely rely on the kindness and generosity of others. To be a refugee is loss and grief and pain. It is relief that your children are safe, but also guilt that you left so many behind. It is coming to terms with the fact that no one will understand how you feel because you can’t even understand yourself. It is realizing that your church is spread out across a continent, and not knowing where everyone is and when or if you will ever be all together in one place again. To be a refugee is to reassure your children that all will be fine, even though you know you have no business giving them that promise. Life has already shown you that everything is not fine and will not be fine for a long time. We had something so beautiful and now it is gone. So, we try to recreate what we had here, in this new place. We do this for our boys, for our children. We go on picnics and make borscht and play games. We hug and reassure and comfort. We try to live, not to just exist, not to just wait for the moment we can go home. Therein lies the struggle.
But, we do believe we will go home. We believe that Ukraine will be victorious. We believe that light will conquer darkness, that good will overcome evil. We believe that our soldiers are the bravest and strongest. We believe that our President is the best there ever was or ever could be. And, we believe that the work God began in Ukraine will continue. So we have hope.
Thank you for loving us, for praying for us, for donating, and for reaching out with contacts and offers of help. Please remember Ukraine. Pray for her victory and that it would come soon.
I didn’t make this video, it was sent to me. But I think it’s important, so I’m sharing it with you. 👇
This morning I read psalm 37 and thought of you. Vs28 and 29
For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake His faithful ones
Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed and perish
The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it
Hope in the Lord and keep his way
He will exalt you to inherit the land
Thank you for that. Many people have shared Psalm 37 with us, so I’m thinking God wants us to pay special attention there.
Yes. I’ve read a stream of refugee books over the past few years. I’ve felt very close to foreigners and immigrants and refugees for years (especially since being deported myself), but now I’m trying to dig deeper into what all this means.
Dearest Kim (ooh, that aged me),
I have never commented before, but you and your family, your large beautiful Chosen family, are now a part of mine. Actually, I don’t have a family that includes a spouse or children. I.have my precious Mama, who was recently diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and is in Home Hospice Care. The one person in my life that truly loved me because I was her daughter. I am 64 years old. You, along with pretty much everyone I meet, would not believe this.
Truly, My God has Blessed me with a Spirit of Youth! 😉
I have followed your journey from way back in your foster care/adoption days, to your early visits to UK. I have rejoiced as doors opened for you to permanently move your lives to living an EE country. Your obedience in walking through some of the scariest doors that He called you through has been a true witness of what Faith is. There have not been many times that you and Jed have wavered and I have been touched by the two of you have worked together to come to a place of agreement. I so believe that He has poured out so much goodness over Wide Awake International, due to the love that you have poured into caring for the most vulnerable.
I do realize that I have written a lot today, and I hope that it brings a few moments of distraction from some of the pain that you are experiencing. I am praying for each of you. For a Spirit of Peace and calming effects for your Boys. I know that they are keen on seeing and feeling how and what the “Parents” and Staff are feeling and showing. Those are some big shoes to fill!
I am specifically praying for you, Kim and Jed. Prayers for all that you need to minister to you children. So many different age’s and different levels and types of personalities. Give your little bug, Evie a hug for me. Her Barbie’s must give her a special place to deal with all of the changes that have occurred.
I am BELIEVING that your Faith will be blessed and that beautiful things are coming to all that your hearts desire. The earthly Blessings may be different from what you see and want, but they will be good… they will be God.
Sending much love to you all and continuing to be in prayer for you all.
God Bless You! Jo
Thank you for sharing. I can’t imagine being a refugee and having to flee my country. However, I know that God’s hand is upon you all and those you serve. I know His hand is upon Ukraine and all who are caught in the path of war. I know He has and will deliver and provide and that He has already crushed the enemy. (((Hugs))) to you all. Is it okay if we share the video and your blog on Facebook?
Your vlog is having me think deeper about things than I have. Very glad those of you that are in Germany are physically safe. I cannot imagine how difficult and torn it must feel. Keepin you all in my prayers
We continue to pray for you, your family, Wide Awake and Ukraine. ❤️ Sending you love, hugs and many prayers.