David McKay Jr. and his group lodged in a building that was originally built as a hotel.
The owner, “a nice Russian man,” allows Baptists on Mission to live there for the length of their stay. The women stayed in one room and the men stayed in two separate rooms; each room had its own bathroom.
Food is brought to, and stored, in a large warehouse there. McKay helped with loading up food to send out. During his time there, McKay learned that massive amounts of food was being sent from Hungary for the displaced Ukrainians.
McKay’s eyes lit up as he described the relationship between himself and the hotel owner.
“I couldn’t speak any Russian and he couldn’t speak any English, but we became buddies right from the start,” McKay recalled. “The others were medically minded, and I was more hands-on.
“He owned the hardware store and had two old men that worked with him,” McKay continued. “They built their own doors and did other woodwork. He and I would go out there together and I would just watch the men work. It was amazing to see the woodwork. The only time we ever spoke to each other with understanding was when I got the interpreter to go with me before we left.
“I told him to let the hotel owner know I appreciated the time he spent with me and the friendship he gave me. Through the interpreter, the hotel owner told McKay, ‘Until we meet again.'”
McKay became emotional: “I understood what he meant and knew then he was a Christian.”
The group was extremely tired from their travels when they arrived at the hotel, so they turned in early. When asked to describe what his days in Ukraine were like, McKay began talking about his first full day.
“I got up about 5:20. The sun was up, which surprised me,” he said. “I got myself a cup of coffee, went outside and read my Bible. After everyone got up, the Hungarian cook prepared our breakfast, we ate, then went to the warehouse and loaded up the medical van with supplies. We then drove about ten miles down the road to a daycare center where the medical team would begin seeing patients.
“At first there was no one around but when people saw us, the word spread, and they started coming out from the rooms,” he continued. “That first day, the people that were housed there in that little community were treated by the medical team. I think that first day twenty-seven were treated, all women and children, no men. If the men are seventeen or older and able, they are obligated to join the armed forces.”
McKay said they worked until about 5:00 that day, went back to the hotel, ate the food prepared by their Hungarian cook, and had devotions before going to bed.
Editor’s Note: This is the second of a five-part series on McKay’s mission trip to Ukraine. Click here to read part one.