March 8 was International Women’s Day! A whole day devoted to celebrating women and girls all around the world! Originally an American holiday – somehow, unfortunately, it did not catch on in the USA. However, in many countries around the globe, including Ukraine, March 8 is an official public holiday! The day is filled with words of friendship, flowers, chocolates, and small gifts for ladies of all ages.
This time last year, it was the beginning of the unprovoked war in Ukraine, and all of our energy was focused on organizing and implementing evacuations of women and children. Last year, International Women’s Day was put on hold. So, this year, I wanted to do something special for the ladies I know personally, who stayed behind to serve at the orphanage and with our ministry in Ukraine.
So, in January, back in Atlanta, I put together 48 small gift bags of essential goodies and managed to eventually get these to my super star team leaders Inna and Lena in Ukraine. From there, the girls managed to find fresh tulips, nice boxes of chocolates and gorgeous greeting cards to complete the Women’s Day gifts. I wrote up an encouraging note, and Lena translated it from English into Ukrainian and printed it onto each card. After they received my list (which was larger than they anticipated!) the girls made a driving route, filled up “Franko” with diesel and headed out for the day, delivering my gifts one by one – all in a country in the midst of a war.
Inna and Lena sacrificially spent their whole holiday driving and delivering. Inna said, “It took a bit longer than I thought it would, but everyone was very happy and surprised. I wish you could have seen their faces. Thank you very much for making this day so special!”
And then, I started to get messages from some of the ladies! They show how grateful, sentimental, and lovely these ladies are – even in the midst of this cruel war.
“Wow! What a surprise! Inna and Lena brought tulips and gifts!! Thank you! I am wearing the necklace already! ~ Olga L.
Cyndee, thank you so much for the gifts 🥰 they are so nice! I'm always amazed at how well you know how to choose gifts, everything has a meaning, it makes me emotional ❤️ Thank you for the nice words. Thank you that when I had a hard time at the doctors in the fall, you were there and supported me! Love you! I also congratulate you on this holiday! You are an example of a strong, caring, loving woman. Your heart contains all of Ukraine and even more. May God bless you 😘 ~Tamila N.
Hi, Cyndee🌸 thank you so much for flowers and the present. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness. May God bless you. ~Svieta ❤️
Dear sister! You are amazing! Thank you very much for the gifts, flowers, and the joy of friendship! It means so much. May the Lord bless you and keep you. ~Svitlana K.
Dear Cyndee! Thank you for your attention and care, you always surprise with your love and care. Your support and kind words are very important. May the women of your family always be happy and know God. Love you! P.S. Your flowers smell like spring in my room right now! ~Natalia Y.
Thank you Cyndee! You are just a wonderful sister in Christ’s family! We are doing fine. It's a lot of work here, both spiritual and physical. The Lord is faithful to meet the needs of our people. ~Lida Y.
Just got your gift :) Thanks a million This is really cute! ~Diana G.
Hi Cyndee! Just had a surprise visit with a gift from you! Thank for your thoughts, prayers and all the support for our people (and for us! Hope you and all your family are doing well! I got beautiful tulips and chocolates as well). Thank you! ~Alla P.
Dear Cyndee, Thank you so much for the greeting and the gift. And also, for very nice words written on a postcard. I know that God sees everything and loves everyone. ~Ludmila V.
Dear Cyndee! I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the gift. It was unexpected and very, very nice! Thank you for such kind words! They touched the depths of my heart! I thank you that there is a place for me in your big and kind heart! REALLY APPRECIATE IT! We pray for you and your family! We want to learn to love as you love people! I love you very much! Thank you!! ~Luda O.
Hello Cyndee, thank you sooo much for your presents! It was so unexpected and sweet of you ~Vitalina V.
Happy Women's Day, Cyndee! I was very pleased to get the presents and flowers from you! And thank you for keeping me in your prayers! ~Julia O.
Hi Cyndee! Happy Women's Day!I wanted to say a big thanks for your present, it was so unexpected and all the more so pleasant You are a great woman ~Sasha G.
Cyndee, dear! Thank you so much! It was a great surprise to get gifts today! I was so delighted to see girls with flowers and gifts from you. My eyes got wet, and the greeting note made me cry. Thank you so much for your love and attention! Thank you for everything you do for people of Ukraine! May God bless you! ~Oksana L.
Thank you very much for your greetings, for these lovely things, for these flowers and especially for this little card that you wrote to our hearts. I know your life now is not easy. You are always very busy caring for everyone. I know God loves you, and He opened your heart for us. I am so happy to know you and people like you. And of course, I’m very happy to have spent this past year with my people, with my country, and with everybody who needs me here. I know many people need you here, but also in America too. God bless you! I love you, hug you, and you are in my heart. ~Lena V.
As if spending an entire day driving around a war zone, delivering candy and flowers to other ladies on Women’s Day was not enough, our dear super stars Inna and Lena spent the following day at the orphanage! They wanted to deliver the gifts to the caregivers that I had put on the list, bring boxes of chocolates and fruit to each of the children, and take the drama team from Sophia School out to put on a play at the orphanage. So, they loaded up “Franko”, refueled and headed deeper out into the countryside.
Inna wrote, “Hi Cyndee! We visited the orphanage today! The weather was wonderful!!! But we had 7 hours of air raid sirens / attacks during the night. This was the longest in our region. It means that the children at the orphanage spent the whole of last night in the bomb shelter. So today they were all very tired. And I thought the Director would cancel our visit, but it happened anyway! I also gave presents for the ladies on the list. They were so happy to receive them! On the way home, I took the kids from Sophia School to a local café for drinks and donuts. And another mom bought pizza for the kids. We also stopped at the monument which is the geographical center of Ukraine – I love that our orphanage is in the heart of Ukraine!”
I also received a note of thanks from the Assistant Director and the caregivers at the orphanage.
Hello dear Cyndee!
Thank you very much for your constant attention, help and support. It was very nice to receive such wonderful gifts from you! Even much needed laundry soap! Thank you for being there for us! Love you! Natasha S., Svitlana K., Valentina T., Lyudmila K., Lyudmila V. and Vitaly V. each asked me to convey to you our words of gratitude, congratulations, and a big hug! All school employees and children also send you our congratulations on this holiday! We hope for Victory and Peace! We look forward to our warm and unforgettable meetings again soon! We hug you tightly! ~Olga K.
Back in January, the drama team from Sophia School had originally planned on taking boxes of Christmas chocolates out to the orphanage, and to put on a Christmas play. Unfortunately, the orphanage Director cancelled their visit due to another bout of Covid. But they just prayed for another opportunity, kept the chocolates safe, and created a new Christian drama. When Inna called, they were ready to go! The principal, Natalia, said “Thank God! We succeeded! It was a wonderful time; I hope that the children will have fond memories of this meeting! As we were returning home, our Sophia School students said that they really liked the trip and loved getting to know the children from the orphanage. Thank you for this opportunity to serve with you.” ~Natalia
Today in Ukraine, it seems that celebrating holidays is even more important now than ever before. Small tokens of friendship show that we care and that we have not forgotten about our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, even as this war drags on after a year of heartache and pain. Please join me in praying for our unstoppable team of volunteers, for the courageous women and children we care for, and for the brave soldiers we do our best to serve. Slava Ukraini!