April 6, 2022, 6:00 PM

Day 6 ... Carrots and Tears 

 You would think that only onions could really make you cry right? But we began the day at 8:30 am by cutting up hundreds of pounds of carrots, which had to be chopped small enough so that they could be boiled down in order to be puréed into baby food. I know I already said this, but baby food is the most commonly requested food at the border. Every time I think of that, that my heart breaks a bit more. 

We were chopping alongside  one of our volunteer friends, Chuck. Chuck had arrived in Poland and found himself stranded at the airport  because he could not get a rental car. So he managed to get a ride to the city of Przemsyl where we are serving at the World Central Kitchen and where his hotel is located. The person who drove him into the city brought him to the train station, which is where many of the refugees are arriving by
train load. Chuck decided to spend the night at the train station, which is what many of the refugees were doing as well. He made the decision to do the same thing.

He saw families curled up in corners, sleeping on the floor. He saw another family with their dog all sleeping together in a clump. But the thing that ripped his heart out was the little girl who stood and looked at him while she was wearing a pink hat that had the  word  “Believe” stitched onto the front. That was too much for him. As he told that story, for the first time, my eyes began to well with tears and Chuck came over and put his arms around me. This isn’t just physical work, this is emotional work, and spiritual work.    

Lucy Woodward, former backup singer for musicians such as rod Stewart using the largest immersion blender I have ever seen in my life! Once again they will make thousands of servings of bread pudding from this custard mix. 


That’s what finally brought Cheryl and me to the Welcome Center for Ukrainian refugees located in an abandoned Tesco storefront and filling an entire huge parking lot with Aid Workers and resources so people could access the help they needed. We have been driving past this Welcome Center every single day as we travel to the Kitchen to serve, and we finally decided that we needed to see some part of the experience that those who were escaping from Ukraine were undergoing.

So on our way home we took the turn off of the main road into the Tesco parking lot and slowly found a spot to park the car. Still wearing the aprons that we had been serving with all day, we got out of our rental car and began to walk around to the different tents which were offering help.

“Reunite” was a tent specifically for reuniting family members who have gotten separated. Another tent helped with pets and pet food in case people had brought dogs or cats with them on the trip from Ukraine. The pet tent had the most beautiful blue-eyed dog that
came running out to greet me, but I’m pretty sure he only liked me because I had been folding ham for the majority of the day. Yes I still smell like ham :-).  Food trucks and tents provided meals, and of course the World Central Kitchen tent was there, which was really the only reason that we were allowed in that parking lot. One organization had made an attempt to create a spot where children could play, and while their efforts were sincere, the play area was so strange and substandard that I couldn’t look at it.

We didn’t feel we could stay long because it didn’t seem right to look at people who were in such difficult circumstances. As we got into the rental car to leave, however, a huge tour bus pulled up almost right in front of us.  Bright yellow with navy blue designs on it –- the color of the Ukrainian flag. A bus full of Ukrainian refugees had arrived. We just sat in the car and looked at the silhouettes of all those heads on the bus.

When the bus stopped the doors slid open and the people stood up and began moving around and to get off the bus. Entire families with their belongings in a single backpack got off, and families with huge pieces of luggage into which they had put their entire lives. There were lots of children and that was the hardest to see. The children looked like it might be some kind of adventure that they were on, often skipping along beside their parents. Cheryl wondered out loud what it was like to parent during an evacuation. How do you tell the story what is happening to your children in a way that helps them still feel safe?  Families and individuals headed towards the Tesco building which was filled with hundreds of cots where many of them will be spending the next several nights until they find a safe place to stay.

The people who got off the bus begin to walk by our car because we were right in their pathway and all I could hear was Cheryl saying quietly to each person or group as they went by: “You are blessed.  You are loved.” I had no words.

I want you to know that the city of Przemysl looks very normal as we drive through it every morning and every night on our way to and from the kitchen. Children walk to school, people shop for groceries and go to work. Pretty much all live in has a rush-hour where people are clearly hurrying up to get home after a long day. As I write that it hits me. The word home. When I say that word, you and I carry a picture of what that means in our minds. For most of us it means a place, an address, a building, a family gathered, a family pet or pets.  In fact a lot of the conversation between us volunteers as we work is usually about home. We share stories and we talk about the people we love and we talk about the places we live.

But the word home means something very different in a war zone. Living in a war zone means that all you can think about is safety, particularly safety for your children. We have spoken to several people who grew up in Ukraine and when we ask them about their family they almost all say exactly the same thing “Well, they are alive,”  like that’s an accomplishment instead of a basic expectation.

Too often you and I only see war as something that happens on CNN or CBS, or whatever news station you watch. We almost always have an opinion about who is right and who is wrong and we argue about our viewpoint with each other.

STOP!  Stop arguing about the politics or the governments or who is right. Instead please pray. I believe prayer is essential because it changes the person praying. I believe prayer is essential because it has a power that we don’t even understand, that becomes a conversation with the Creator who knows each of us individually and intimately, the God who calls us each by name.

Look there’s a part of me that still can’t believe that I’m in Poland and that I am getting to feed some of the people who are crossing the border from Ukraine. Honestly this just doesn’t seem possible, but the reality is that it is not only possible, it is essential. I’m trying not to overdramatize what we’re seeing or to make it sound more emotional than it is. However the reality is that this is very emotional and that this is very real. So maybe that’s the point. Maybe people simply need to hear that this is real and that this is happening, and that it isn’t just news on the network or in a newspaper.

Find a charity of your choice that will best benefit the people of Ukraine. Please say prayers and we have of those that most of us will never see or meet. Focus on the children especially. Say prayers for protection of all the aid workers who are compelled to be at this place in order to serve people with their best, with their whole lives.

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”   Leviticus 19: 33-34

It is now so late, and I must be up early. I pray this blog is giving you even a tiny window into something so much more enormous than I can begin to describe. And yet it is a place that we should learn more about in order to really understand what it means to be brothers and sisters in Christ.

Be blessed, and be a blessing to others.