The spring rain is falling heavily outside, and the weather seem to be constantly changing its mind. While there is great uncertainty about what is going to happen next in our region (the explosions in Transnistria adding yet another element of dread as we look towards our Moldovan neighbours), at least we know that the summer is just around the corner.
Looking around the table, knowing that behind each of their smiles is more sorrow than any one person should ever have to carry, and at the same time knowing that they are safe here and that we had something to do with it, was very emotional for us.
Over the last two weeks, we’ve had the great privilege of celebrating Easter twice, first during the Western Easter (which coincidentally overlapped with Passover and Ramadan this year), and then again during the Eastern Orthodox Easter. During the Western Easter, we travelled south to visit our Ukrainian friends who’ve settled there. By the time we arrived, the table was set, a feast was prepared, but we didn’t even make it to our seats before we all started crying. Looking around the table, knowing that behind each of their smiles is more sorrow than any one person should ever have to carry, and at the same time knowing that they are safe here and that we had something to do with it, was very emotional for us. After a weekend of speeches, toasts, stories, laughter and tears (the elderly gentleman from Bucha, his eyes so full of life, did not stop crying the entire time we were there), we returned back home, filled to the brim with gratitude.
The following week we prepared for another Easter celebration with our Ukrainian friends here in Cluj. Liviu’s mom, who’s still connected to her oxygen machine day and night, recovering from Covid-19, cooked over two hundred sarmale (traditional rolls of meat and rice wrapped in cabbage or vine leaves), six cozonacs (traditional romanian sweet bread), chicken soup, meatloaf, and a lot more. We also helped with cooking, preparing plenty of appetisers and desserts to complete the meal. We then made food packages and delivered them to some of Ukrainian families here in Cluj, so that they could have a rich Easter celebration of their own in their new homes. While exhausted from cooking, shopping, driving around and making house visits, we’re so privileged that we could have such a rich and wondrous Easter celebration this year, truly encapsulating the message of Easter itself: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15, 13).
On the day of Easter, Violeta, with a group of fellow moms here in Cluj, organised a day-trip for sixty Ukrainians to the local salt mine, 120 meters deep underground. She writes, “Walking through the narrow salt tunnel descending into the belly of the earth, moms would walk alongside me with their young kids who were talking fast, asking a million questions in Ukrainian, mesmerized by the experience. Motherhood unites us. What a gift to have this in common.
Never underestimate the power of showing up. I wish we could do more, connect instantly, heal fast, but there is beauty in the small steps, faithfully serving with the gifts we do have.
Along the way I was touched by unexpected kindness. The bus driver was all smiles and warmth. For a scattered confusing holiday he had to work he was a testimony of generosity, doing the same trip twice back to back, to accommodate the double number of Ukrainians wanting to come. Before we reached the long waiting line at the salt mine, I was met by a representative, greeted warmly and invited to the fast track to purchase the group tickets and we got a guide. I feel we all received royal treatment, in these small gestures of acknowledgement and warmth. Our 18 year old friend who speaks Ukrainian and English fluently, translated the guide’s story of the salt mine and we stayed together, strangers who emerge as friends with slightly salty brows. As we thanked them for their company on this adventure, while the kids enjoyed the chocolate treats we bought and shared, their smiles were broader than ever. Never underestimate the power of showing up. I wish we could do more, connect instantly, heal fast, but there is beauty in the small steps, faithfully serving with the gifts we do have.”
As exemplified by Violeta’s trip to the salt mine, we’re doing everything we can to make the lives of the refugees who are here in our country and in our city easier, more liveable somehow; planning day-trips and excursions, inviting them for coffee or a meal, responding to their needs, big and small.
Over these past two weeks, we’ve been preparing our office in order to transform it into a resource centre, to provide a space for community as well as some essential services, such as language classes and psycho-social support for the Ukrainians living here. Thanks to your generous gifts, we’ve also been preparing to send a few truckloads of food, water and other essentials that we’ve received requests for from our contacts in Ukraine. These should be ready to send sometime over the next couple of days.
As always, if you have any questions about what is going on, or suggestions for people we should be in touch with, please do not hesitate to contact us. If you know anyone who would like to contribute or who would like to receive our updates, please tell them to get in touch with us. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@polylogos.eu).
We are immensely thankful to you for continuing to be with us and supporting our work. As you know very well, we couldn’t do any of this without you.