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In December 2015, the weather was favourable with occasional snowfall and temperatures of maximum -8 degrees centigrade! We enjoyed the "warm winter weather"! However with the growing number of olim/immigrants leaving for Israel, our workload was greatly increased with trips to the airport in Dnepropetrovsk, to Kharkov in the east and to Borispol, near Kiev! On December 28th and 29th we used various mini-buses to transport Jewish families to our hiding place or directly to the airport!
We thought to ourselves that things would go smoothly, not foreseeing "hindrances" that might hamper the last trips at the end of the previous year! Then I received a call from our Aliyah field worker Nataliya, to inform me that one of our chauffeurs was stuck on the highway between Odessa and Kiev! I had not the faintest idea what she was talking about initially! But very angry farmers had, unexpectedly and without consultation, erected roadblocks all over large areas of the country, in protest against tax reforms that would negatively impact them. And they were not about to accept that! After Nataliya’s phone call, I received a call from another chauffeur who said: "Koen, I’m stuck!"
As I was on my way to a small village, I did not anticipate obstacles on my route! We had an elderly couple, who was leaving permanently, of whom the man was almost blind. They were extremely nervous when the bus did not arrive due to the extensive strike!
All chauffeurs were advised to attempt to collect the Jewish families by taking alternative routes, and it worked! The "shortcuts" were extremely bad with huge potholes over long stretches of the roads. But what’s important is that more than five hours after the appointed time, all of us were enjoying a warm meal at the hiding place! Though tired, everybody was thankful for arriving safely!
And we had a celebration as well: after living in the hiding place in Kiev for a period of many months, all the documentation of one of the refugees and her two young children from Donetsk was ready, so they could leave on December 29, 2015! The olim/immigrants listened attentively when we spoke about God’s promises and faithfulness. There will always be obstacles when His people return, we read in Isaiah 62 verse 10. The next morning we took the olim to the airport, where they were given extensive information and received their tickets from a representative of the Jewish Agency. We assisted the elderly couple in checking in and accompanied them to passport control where we said goodbye.
Winter’s icy fingers got hold on the country in the days to follow, causing temperatures to drop to -22 degrees centigrade. And when it warmed up afterwards, heavy snowfalls brought with it its own share of misery! Different areas of Ukraine have been cut off from the outside world by the heavy snowfalls. Extra travel time is taken into consideration by all chauffeurs. In the new year we will transport olim (immigrants) to the airport in Odessa in the south, and Lvov in the west more often. The war continues in Eastern Ukraine and it doesn't look like there is going to be an armistice or peace agreement soon. This year, as always, our priority will be to focus our attention on the Jewish refugees!
Koen Carlier - Aliyah Field worker Christians for Israel
For more photographs about the trips, during this winter in Ukraine, you are referred to the C4I Facebook page on www.facebook.com/c4israel and underneath this article.
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|Olim saying goodbye to friends and family|
|Together at the 'shelter' the night before departure to Israel|
|Luggage of olim families to start a new life in Israel|
|Olim (immigrants) Christians for Israel assisted at the airport|
|Instructions by the Jewish Agency and handing over of the 'one way plane ticket' to Israel|
Winter in Ukraine 2016
Fishermen on a frozen river in the Ukraine