David: Shannon and I are healing in all kinds of ways these days and life is beginning to regain some semblance of order and reasonability. We are reconnecting with friends, getting involved at my parents church in small ways, and somehow by his great grace God is starting to console us with His peace. But healing is a long process, and part of what we would like to do to in order to continue that process is to say thank you to some folks who were heros in the midst of the tragedy. We are not intending to dwell on the accident by retelling some of the narrative. Instead, we think that by recounting some of the events we can share how the bright light of faith shone like a beacon on the shore of God’s new, coming kingdom.
Shannon: After the accident happened our friend Olya Kornalook met us at the hospital. I am still unsure how she heard about the accident. Her mother works as an ambulance driver, so she has both experience with the hospital and amazing English. She helped translate the entire day for us and made sure we were receiving the best care possible. Some other friends named Olya W., Olya M., and Natalya also arrived at the hospital to help translate if needed and give support.
At one point the doctors wanted to know if anything had hit David in the head. They were very concerned his face did not look symetrical. I looked at David and said that is how he always looks. Olya had to translate this because they didn’t believe our answers (in Ukrainian). In the midst of chaos we had to smile.
After David had his x-rays taken and CAT-scan performed, I received a phone call from Hero. Hero is a fellow missionary in Lviv that works with the Presbyterian Church. He asked if there was any way he could help. I said I had no idea, but would let him know. About an hour later I received another phone call from Doug. Doug works with Hero also as a missionary in Lviv with the Presbyterian church. He said, ‘Shannon, this is what we are doing. Hero is headed to the hospital to be with you and help however possible, I am at your apartment with the Sugar Land team.’ All I know is that Doug and Hero helped gather a scattered team, tried to comfort them, got them fed, and answered their questions to the best of their ability.
Hero and Doug both ended up at the hospital with us and helped me to think about what was next. Hero explained to me that the medical care I thought existed in Kiev, in fact, did not. They helped call airlines and try to figure out where we should go and how quickly we could get there. What ultimately happened is Hero called his sister, Jaqueline, who lives in Munich. She knew of ADAC. ADAC is like the American equivalent of AAA, except on steroids. They offer medical evacuations in and around Europe. Jaqueline helped me for the next 36 hours to schedule the evacuation. She made phone calls, sorted out paper work, found the exact people I needed to talk to and even did some emailing, and then told me exactly what to do. She was amazing. During a time when I needed some hand holding, she did it, all the way from Munich, a woman I had never met.
My friend Katie H in Houston heard of the accident. She was my roommate in college and is now a nurse. She called A LOT to make sure everything that was happening in Lviv was happening as it should have. It was super helpful. She allowed me to ask questions, to find clarification, and Katie was especially important at one moment when there was medication confusion.
Our friends Ben and Kristy heard about the accident, but were out of town. (They are also missionaries in Lviv who work with a para-church organization called Josiah Venture.) Upon their arrival in Lviv they began helping however possible. Ben became my personal taxi, and their apartment became my personal office. My apartment had been taken over as a ministry space and I could not go there and expect to work in the expediency that I needed to. Ben helped me scan documents, fax documents, email documents, talk to the embassy and use their Vonage phone. Kristy held my hand, helped me pack and the next day they took me and the boys to the airport for the medical evacuation. Doug made sure the ambulance was secured for David’s transportation to the airport; he rode with David. Everyone stayed with us until we cleared customs and was chauferred onto the tarmac. Our language teacher Ludmilla even came to the airport to sit with us, and made sure we were being treated professionally and with courtesy.
Upon our arrival to Munich, my sister Susan, who lives in Barcelona, was able to meet us at the airport. She and her husband had already secured a hotel room for us to stay at and therefore she was able to take the children to the hotel and I was able to meet David at the hospital, after he was transported by ambulance from the airport. She was able to stay for four days until David’s parents arrived. David’s parents helped ‘take shifts’ at the hospital to be with David and care for the children. They were in Munich with us for three weeks, and upon their departure my parents arrived to be there for us however we needed it. They actually returned to America with Jesse and Jeremiah and without us. This was a big deal, and they made it. I can’t even explain how wonderful it was to have family with me the entire time we were in Germany.
Finally, as most of you know, we had trouble locating long-term housing. After my post on the blog about our need, I had all kinds of people trying to help. My friend Esther who now lives in Kentucky read the post. She then emailed her sister who lives in France who emailed a pastor friend who in turn emailed the pastor at the International Christian Church in Munich. The pastor read our blog, called and talked to me and said he was willing to ask his congregation for help.
We received multiple phone calls from people wanting to help, but no one had the room we needed until I received a phone call from Bobbi. She and her husband Mark are Americans living and working in Germany. They live in a house outside the city, and said they had plenty of room, beds for everyone. She said the only thing was that they would be leaving in a few days to spend 3-4 weeks in America with family. However, we were more than welcome to stay, and if we were still there when they returned, that was OK too. When we arrived at the home, we couldn’t believe it. It not only had beds, it had a yard, was only 1/2 mile from the public transport stop, was an hour from hospital when David was there and two hours from the rehabilitation center when he moved there. It could not have been more perfect. Bobbi cooked meals for us, cleaned up after us, played with the babies and prayed with us. Mark welcomed us into their home, made us feel welcomed and answered a lot or our questions. Did I forget to say that Mark is an MD?
There were multiple other people along the way that did our laundry, offered home cooked meals, brought snacks to the hospital, served us communion and just visited. Considering we were in a country and a city where we did not originally know anyone, David had a nice flow of visitors which helped all of us.
Thank you to our community and the missionary community in Lviv. Thank you to all of our family. Thank you to all of our new friends in Munich. It felt so great to be a part of something so big, that often times feels so small. In times like these seeing kingdom people at work is humbling, and in our case life saving.