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When the numbers don’t add up...

When we met at church at 5:30 in the morning it was dark and cold. Fourteen men were ready to drive seven vans with food, clothing, bedding, tents, tables, chairs, and necessities in a convoy from Bucharest to Palanca, Stefan Voda, Moldova. Our purpose was twofold; first, to support and encourage churches in Moldova who are receiving refugees and, second, to help our Ukrainian neighbors on their journey from crisis to safety & stability.

The GPS says it's only about 350 miles, but it couldn’t predict the unexpected challenges along the way. The wind was tremendous - at times drivers fought to keep their vehicles steady. Snow flurries that made it impossible to see any distance. Then sun, but bitter cold; “Sunshine with a bite,” an expression that every Romanian knows well. Roads were mostly clear of snow, but some areas were already covered over. We were counting the kilometers and hours until our destination, each one of us knowing that on the return trip the roads would only be worse.

Twelve hours after departure we approached our destination, the border town of Palanca. Just forty miles from Odessa - less than an hour drive on a good day. But these are not good days.

We drove our seven vehicles into the huge parking lot that is a waiting area for people leaving Ukraine on foot. Standing in the cold, huddled together around their handbags and suitcases they wait, some for friends or family who will come, others wait not knowing where they will go next or who will help them. There is a tent where volunteers offer hot drinks and food. But nothing could stop the howling wind and the bitter cold.

Volunteers from our local partner churches helped us connect with people needing help. A group of three in the white van, plus two grandmothers, a mother and daughter, and two cats. In the big van; a family of three headed to Barcelona, plus a family of four that will stay in Romania, plus one seat for someone who is alone. In the Renault; a family of three that wants to go to Czechia. Can we help them get there? (Yes) Plus a family of six that has no plan whatsoever. And so it went. In ten minutes all the seats in our vans were full. We turned up the heat and closed the doors.

What we saw next tore our hearts apart; those who would be left behind. Two mothers with their two daughters. Two grandmothers. An older gentleman. Desperation on their faces. A small pile of luggage. A pink suitcase. A pink stuffed unicorn. We had to leave them in the cold.

Fifteen hours later we arrived at church and breakfast was ready for our fifty Ukrainian guests. One step closer to safety, stability, and refuge. And for the men who had been driving for more than 24 hours, exhausted as they were, only two questions mattered: When do we go again? How can we bring back more?

Autor: Andrew Postema


Ukraine Bucharest Churches '22 (UBC22) is a Christian-humanitarian-Christian initiative to help refugees from Ukraine. This initiative brought together 9 local churches and Christian organizations that put their resources together, to be a blessing for those who are going through the suffering caused by the war in Ukraine. Find out more on this Facebook Page. Ajutor Refugiați - UBC22

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