Ukraine: Sisters seeking meaning, light and Resurrection in the midst of darkness

Sisters: Antonia Estrada Vázquez, María Jesús González and Maria Mayo from the Congregation of Santo Domingo have returned to Kiev, Ukraine to continue their mission in the Children’s House Dim Ditey. In the latest letter, they share the struggles in the reality of war as well as beams of hope they find in their daily life and service.

Externally, the war continues. For how long we don’t even know. Weapons continue to arrive and training for their use continues… Let us not forget that weapons are a business and obsolete models must be disposed of. Other efforts, such as the efforts and protocols for a just peace, are still in process, at a much slower pace.  Peace agreements go slowly; nuclear weapons continue to threaten, food security remains; the exchange of prisoners of war is stalled; and civilians and children continue to be forcibly held in Russia.

Our news continues to be sad: Fathers, brothers, sons, friends remain in the line of fire; cities and towns are conquered or overrun until reduced to rubble; and indiscriminate attacks on civilians continue to produce victims and orphans. There is a continuous tiredness as time moves on. Many teenagers are fearful that when they turn 16, 18, they will have to notify the authorities and be available in case they are called up. We continue to assist orphans thanks to you and the work with so many people of good will, to get children and mothers out of terrible situations, while others are lost in the midst of the attacks. With each other, the recovery activities continue.

Life is celebrated. We are alive. They think we are dead, but we are alive.

Many elderly people suffer in occupied territories, because they do not accept Russian passports. They are not cared for in sickness, or in the purchase of the necessary things to live. Though our arms do not reach there, other arms bring them their medicines and supplies by bicycle Some people are very creative people, with initiatives to gather people to share, sing, recite, baptizing these moments as time for us, where the poems and songs created are celebrated in celebrations for all, Life is celebrated. We are alive. They think we are dead, but we are alive, although every day there are burials of young people killed in combat. 

In April the Embassy facilitated a very positive meeting with Spaniards who are involved in humanitarian work. With the help of the Ukrainian Red Cross, 17 different nationalities of the European Red Cross are collaborating; there are Spanish volunteers from the Lazarist brothers giving emergency courses to control haemorrhages, and there are representatives from other European institutions, among them, the UN and UNESCO.

Now in Kiev in the midst of so many flowers, so much light, it seems almost unreal to think that we are at war. God continues to give us rain and sunshine, and the earth, flowers and fruits. The cherry trees have given a super tasty harvest, the linden trees are full of flowers, which will help us as tea infusions in the coming winter, the potato fields are blooming, and the wheat is sprouting… However, the dark nights, the power cuts, the loss of internet, present us with another reality. It is necessary to prepare for worse times, to conserve energy for the cold and dark times. We are all getting generators, pellets and fuel reserves so that next winter we will be able to face whatever comes.

From within: Our soul is united to you, and your right hand sustains us.

 The wisdom of our foundress, our dear Mother Teresa Titos, who lived through times of revolutions, helps us. We share it with the people around us, with those who come to us, with those with whom we make our way. Be Calm, each one of us is necessary where we are, now, she tells us with humor, it is not time to die, but for each one to remain in her work. How much her words help us in these times! How necessary it is to do the ordinary as best we can! Doing good, even if it is for only one person! It is not in the number of things we do, nor in the number of people who pass through or are in our Center, but in seeing the History of salvation, in each one, in us, in this world groaning in labor pains! How many times we find ourselves with one or two boys or girls, when the bombardments have been more general! And at other times, with four or five, small groups that help us to share intimacy.

And this heart-to-heart sharing has also made this year a time  of depth of soul, of life, of faith, of learning that our peace is not in the external, but in the acceptance of wounds, and above all, in seeking meaning, light and Resurrection, in the midst of darkness, of impotence, existential wounds as we sink our gaze of faith in the Son of God who opened the way for us with his death. This helps us to be able to glimpse in small steps that our God continues to write the Passover of Salvation from so much death with us and for all of us.

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