At the end of last week, Sasha and I drove Rob Hindman and the family dog, Kona, to the airport in Kiev. The Hindmans made the difficult decision several months ago not to return to Ukraine, but it was only until mid-October that Rob was able to come and sort through their things. In twelve days, Rob gave away and sold what he could, and boxed up and shipped everything else.
We made the six-hour drive to Kiev on Thursday afternoon and sent Rob off early (early!) morning on Friday. Sasha and I then stayed in Kiev Friday and Saturday before returning to Kharkov Sunday morning.
We had a good time in Kiev together. We got to spend time with different friends we have there, and we participated in a quarterly “Youth Church” function that is put on by the Let’s Love organization.
One of the other things we did while we had some down time was visit the now infamous “Euro Maidan” in Kiev’s city center. This was ground zero for all the protests late last year which eventually led to the kidnappings, fighting, and killing which sparked the unrest in the east which has plagued Ukraine ever since.
I have been to Kiev’s city center many times over the years, but knowing the chaos which unfolded over this last year made the trip a much more solemn affair. Though the tents and mess have been cleaned up, the damage is visible. The places where tires were burnt are still black. The walkways where bricks were pulled up and used as weapons are still empty. The fire set to the building on the square is still charred.
Kiev’s Independence Square is now a living monument and museum. There is an official photography exhibit honoring those who stood and fought on there, but there are also unofficial memorials set up all along the streets. There are collections of the homemade armor and helmets. There are memorials marking where some of the “Heavenly 100” were shot and killed. Photographs. Gas masks. Glass bottles for Molotov Cocktails. Ribbons. Everything.
As I walked around and took it all in, it was impossible not to hurt for this country. No matter which side you stand with politically, I don’t think anyone would disagree that what happened on this square was a tragedy. Did it need to happen? Was it right to have happened? That doesn’t really matter because the fact is, it did happen.
Though the battle has moved from the capital to the east, these problems are far from over. We must continue to pray for Ukraine. For peace. For stability. For healing. For forgiveness.