The story of Elena from Ukraine / Priča Elene iz Ukrajine

Informativna protestantska agencija donosi vam razgovor s Elenom Martynenko iz Ukrajine. Nedavno je doselila u Hrvatsku te nam u razgovoru donosi svoje viđenje rata u Ukrajini, povezanosti Hrvatske i Ukrajine te važnost vjere i Crkve u njenom životu. Ovaj intervju možete pročitati na hrvatskom (niže na ovoj stranici) te na engleskom jeziku. Razgovor je vodio Igor Peričić.

A Protestant news agency brings you an interview with Elena Martynenko from Ukraine. She recently moved to Croatia and in the conversation she brings us her view of the war in Ukraine, the connection between Croatia and Ukraine and the importance of religion and the Church in her life. You can read this interview in Croatian (below on this page) and in English. The conversation was led by Igor Peričić.

   What can you tell us about you and your family?

My name’s Elena Martynenko. I’m from Ukraine. I’ve got small family: husband –Volodymyr, son-Dmytro (18 years), daughter-Milana (11 years), and a big Christian family. We were born and lived happily in a small city Ivano-Frankivsk (Westrern part of Ukraine). Unfortunately, war has come to our Motherland in 2014. We (our Church) being as volunteers helped people who lived in the zone of war and who moved from there. Our pastor used to visit this war area while serving as chaplain. My husband joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces to protect the Eastern part of Ukraine and not to let Russian forces go further (2016-2019).
On February 2022 our country was bombed by Russian Army, it was the beginning of war on whole territory of Ukraine. We had to solve not easy decision-to leave the country. So me and my daughter left Ukraine and came to Croatia, we had never been before.

   We heard from you that Western Ukraine has a lot of similarities with Croatia regarding your language or dialect? Tell us more about ‘Bijela Chorvatia?

Croatia has plenty of similar things with Ukraine. War experience with ambitious neighbors is from one side and culture –from the other. Croatian language has lots of the same words and grammar rules as Ukrainian has, so it is not so difficult for us to learn your language. Especially we were surprised by using such words like ‘se”, smo”, ‘ste’, ‘ si’ in the meaning of “be”, ‘ujak’ ‘stric’ and “teta”, frases ‘ u srpnju’, ‘u travnju’. These words are used in western Ukraine like anciant dialect of this land. You cannot find them in other parts of Ukraine. For instance ,we say ‘v serpni’, ‘v travni’ according to our official Ukrainian language. I can explain it only taking into consideration following research. More than 50 kilometers from Ukrainian city Lviv, in the middle of a beech forest, there are earthen defensive ramparts which resemble once developed city of Stilsko ( VIII-X centuries). Stilsko was the capital of the Slavic country, known as White Croatia (this is the modern Ukrainian foothills of the Carpathians (Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, Lviv regions, part of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary).

   You told us that Ukraine consist of three parts (Western, Eastern and central part). Tell us more about it.

Historical and ethnocultural regions of Ukraine can be divided into 3 parts: Western Ukraine (Volyn, Transcarpathia, Northern Bukovina, Northern Marmaroshchyna, Eastern Galicia), Eastern Ukraine (Podillya, Dnieper, Slobozhanshchyna) and Ukrainian territories outside the official territory of Ukraine (Brest, Don, Western Galicia, Kuban, Podlasie, Starodub and Kholm, located in the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Poland and the Russian Federation).
I can divide Ukraine in three parts conditionally: Western, Eastern and central part. The Eastern part most of all speaks Russian language and has its own mentality, which was formed by the influence of Russian neighbourhood and the Soviet policy of forced resettlement of Ukrainians to distant regions of Russia and settlement of Russians in their place.The Western part speaks Ukrainian and supports and saves Ukrainian traditions and custorms. The central part is like mix of Western and Eastern part. The language is Ukrainian officially but people use mix Ukrainian-Russian for speech there.

   How is your life now in Croatia?

Croatia accepted us very warm and with open heart. Most people are hospitable and sincere. Croatian people can understand and support us because you have had the same trouble and have felt the same pain of war. They gave us accommodation for a while, food, clothes. I feel how God shows His love through all these people.
My family’s life and as for millions of Ukrainians has divided on two parts: before and after the beginning of the war. I realize that we can linger longer in Croatia, so I should decide where to live and what to do. Now we just trust Our Lord and believe He will put us where we should be to serve and to glorify His Name.

   Can you tell us more about Reformed Church in Ukraine?

In Ukraine, the emergence of Reformed churches dates back to the mid-16th century. In the first half of the 17th century. Up to 150-200 Reformed communities existed on its lands, mostly in Western Ukraine. In the 20th century during the period of persecution by the Soviet authorities their activities declined. And after the collapse of the Soviet Union, they began to revive.
In independent Ukraine( 1991), there are several associations of Reformed churches. The Reformed Church has appeared in my native Ivano-Frankivsk for a little over 10 years. It is called the Evangelical Reformed Church of the Holy Trinity. In 2016 our Church founded Children’s Day Center “Nazareth” . The primary purpose of this center is to provide children from the streets, who are devoid of parental care and attention, with all-around support and to teach them how to find consolation in faith in Lord and in learning of His Word , but not in dangerous temptations of the world (drugs, alcohol , premarital relations, criminal offenses and so on).
The Centre began its work with one day a week during the school year and 15 visitors. This year 2022 we have had 6 days a week and almost 50 children.

We had really busy schedule: master classes of handmade or of art / contemporary tabletop games to develop logic, attention and abstraction / sports/ Catechism lessons/ doing school homework (purpose-to teach children how to do their homework by themselves and to make it interesting for them to learn and discover the world around us; to give additional individual explanatory lessons of subjects that are the most difficult for children) ; sport competitions, watching films about actual for teenagers topics with following discussion, picnics , educational excursions , summer camps, concert performances in honor of Easter, Thanksgiving to God, Christmas, in which children can take part and to which they can invite their relatives and so on.
Each member of our Church was a part of this wonderful service.
Now our Church surports our Ukrainian Army and support people from the most ‘hot parts’ of the country.

   What role a church has in your life?

I consider God and Church to be the integral part of my life, of my family life and basis for the other parts of life. We used to visit Sunday worship. My children visit Catechism lessons on Sundays. We took part in service in Children’s Day Center “Nazareth”. I believe that everybody has skills which can be used for service in Church and For God’s glory.( Corinthians 12: 8-11). Church is family for me.

   I know it sound unbelieveble but some people (on social networks) and they even call themselves Christian justify this invasion and support Russian government. You saw everything and you told us that every city in Ukraine is bombarded.

Russia’s propaganda machine is very well funded and has been working for many years in Russia and in other countries as well.
Even Ukrainians have encountered this phenomenon: when you explain to relatives or acquaintances in Russia what is happening and they do not believe you, claiming that all photos and videos of the war in Ukraine are Hollywood productions. Most Russians are influenced by propaganda and sincerely trust their media and authorities. Sooner or later the truth will be opened and for such people. It is very painfully that we cannot to convince them but we don’t stop to say the truth. And for now only by entering the territory of Ukraine by themselves they can reveal our terrible reality.

   How can we help you and your daughter?

First of all, thanks to your Church for your prayers and for supporting us. I hope to have opportunity to join Reformed Episcopal Church in Croatia as soon as possible. It’s really important for us especially in such situation. We would be happy to be a part of the church again and to serve with skills God gave us and let His name be glorified through it.

Što nam možeš reći o sebi i svojoj obitelji?

Zovem se Elena Martynenko i dolazim iz Ukrajine. Imam malu obitelj: supruga Volodymyra, sina Dmytra (18 godina), kćer Milanu (11 godina), ali sam dio velike kršćanske obitelji. Rodili smo se i živjeli sretno u malom gradu Ivano-Frankivsku (zapadni dio Ukrajine). Nažalost, našu domovinu je 2014. zahvatio rat. Naša crkva je od tada pomagala ljudima koji su iz ratom zahvaćenog područja doselili u naš grad. Naš je pastor posjećivao područje zahvaćeno ratom gdje je služio kao kapelan. Moj suprug se pridružio Ukrajinskim oružanim snagama koji su branili istočni dio Ukrajine od Rusa i sprečavali njihovo daljnje napredovanje (2016.-2019.) Naša zemlja je u veljači napadnuta od ruske vojske i započeo je rat na čitavom teritoriju Ukrajine. Morali smo donijeti tešku odluku i napustili smo našu zemlju. Moja kćer i ja otišli smo iz Ukrajine i prvi put došli u Hrvatsku.

Čuli smo te kad si nam spomenula da Zapadna Ukrajina ima dosta sličnost s Hrvatskom. Naime, neke riječi su gotovo iste. Spomenula si pojam koji smo učili u školi a to je “Bijela Hrvatska”: Reci nam nešto više o tome.

Hrvatska ima dosta sličnosti s Ukrajinom. S jedne strane vi ste isto imali rat sa susjedima, a s druge strane imamo sličnu kulturu. Hrvatski jezik ima puno sličnih riječi i gramatičkih pravila kao i Ukrajinski, tako da nama nije teško naučiti vaš jezik. Iznenađeni smo kad čujemo deklinaciju glagola “biti” u prezentu. Mi u zapadnome dijelu Ukrajine u našem dijalektu koristimo riječi: ujak, stric, teta, srpanj i travanj. Te riječi nećete čuti u drugim djelovima Ukrajine ali u zapadnom dijelu da. Prema službenom Ukrajinskom mi govorimo: ‘v serpni’, ‘v travni’. Sljedeća stvar iz naše povijesti je jako zanimljiva: naime 50 kilometara od našeg grada Lviva, usred bukove šume nalaze se obrambene zemljane utvrde koje su ostavština nekoć razvijenog grada Stilska (VIII. – X. stoljeće). Stilsk je bio glavni grad slavenske države znane pod imenom Bijela Hrvatska (u modernoj Ukrajini obuhvaća podnožje Karpata i gradove: Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil i područje Lviva te dio Poljske, Slovačke i Mađarske).

Spomenula si kako se Ukrajina dijeli na tri dijela (zapadnu, istočnu i središnju Ukrajinu). Reci nam više o tome.

Ukrajina se povijesno i etničko – kulturalno dijeli na tri dijela: zapadnu Ukrajinu (Volyn, Transcarpathia, Sjeverna Bukovina, Sjeverna Marmaroshchyna, Istočna Galicija), istočnu Ukrajinu (Podillya, Dnieper, Slobozhanshchyna) i nekoć Ukrajinska područja izvan službenog područja Ukrajine (Brest, Don, Dnieper, zapadna Galicia, Kuban, Podlasie, Starodub i Kholm koji se nalaze u Republici Bjelorusiji, Republici Poljskoj i Ruskoj Federaciji).

Ukrajina se dijeli na tri dijela: zapadnu, istočnu i središnju Ukrajinu. U istočnome dijelu većinom se govori ruski jezik i taj dio je poseban jer je pod utjecajem Rusije i ruske politike nasilnog naseljavanja Ukrajinaca u udaljene dijelove Rusije i naseljavanje Rusa na njihovo mjesto. U zapadnom dijelu govori se Ukrajinski i tamo se najviše drži do ukrajinskih običaja i tradicije. Središnji dio je mješavina zapadnoga i istočnoga dijela. Iako je službeni jezik ukrajinski, ljudi tamo govore ukrajinsko-ruskim jezikom.

Kako je živjeti u Hrvatskoj?

Hrvatska nas je prihvatila otvorena srca. Većina ljudi su gostoljubivi i iskreni. Hrvatski narod nas razumije i pomaže jer ste i vi imali istu nevolju te ste prošli kroz bol rata. Dobili smo smještaj za neko vrijeme, hranu i odjeću. Osjećam kako nam Bog iskazuje svoju ljubav kroz ove ljude.

Moj obiteljski život i za milijune Ukrajinaca je podijeljen na dva: prije i nakon početka rata. Shvaćam da ćemo trebali neko duže vrijeme živjeti u Hrvatskoj tako da trebam odlučiti gdje ću živjeti i što ću raditi. Sada se samo uzdamo u našeg Gospodina i vjerujemo da će nas On postaviti gdje mu trebamo služiti i proslaviti njegovo ime.

Što nam možeš reći o Reformiranoj crkvi u Ukrajini?

U Ukrajini, Reformirane crkve postoje od polovice 16.stoljeća. U prvoj polovici 17. stoljeća na teritoriju zapadne Ukrajine bilo je oko dvjesto reformiranih zajednica. Tijekom vremena progonstva od sovjetske vlasti u dvadesetom stoljeću bilo je malo crkvenih aktivnosti. Nakon sloma Sovjetskog saveza crkve i aktivnosti su počele oživljavati.

U nezavisnoj Ukrajini (1991) postoje razni savezi Reformiranih crkava. U mome rodnome gradu Ivano-Frankivsk Reformirana crkva postoji preko deset godina. Njeno ime je Evangelička Reformirana crkva Svetog Trojstva. U 2016. naša crkva osniva centar za dnevnu skrb djece – centar “Nazaret”. Glavna svrha ovog centra je pomoći djeci koja su napuštena od svojih roditelja i naučiti ih da nađu utjehu u vjeri u Gospodina i u učenju njegove Riječi, a ne u napastima ovoga svijeta (drogi, alkoholu, predbačnim odnosima, kriminalnim djelima i slično).

Centar je započeo s radom jednom na tjedan tokom školske godine. Tada smo ima petnaest posjetioca. Ove godine (2022) centar je otvoren šest dana u tjednu i imamo gotovo pedeset djece.

Imali smo popunjen raspored: tečajeve ručne izrade i umjetnosti / suvremene stolne igre za razvijanje logike, pažnje i apstrakcije / sport / sate katekizma / izrada školske zadaće (svrha je bila naučiti djecu kako da sami pišu zadaću a da im bude zanimljivo pritom učiti i otkrivati svijet oko sebe; davati im dodatnu nastavu iz najtežih predmeta); sportska natjecanja, gledanje filmova o aktualnim temama za tinejdžere sa pratećim razgovorima, piknici, edukativni izleti, ljetni kampovi, koncertne priredbe u vrijeme Uskrsa i Božića, u kojima djeca mogu sudjelovati i na koje mogu pozvati svoju rodbinu. Svaki član naše Crkve bio je dio ove divne službe.
Sada naša Crkva podržava našu ukrajinsku vojsku i podupire ljude iz najugroženijih dijelova zemlje.

Kakvu ulogu igra Crkva u tome životu?

Smatram kako su Bog i Crkva glavni dijelovi mog života, mog obiteljskog života i osnova drugih dijelova života, Prije smo išli na nedjeljno bogoslužje. Moja djeca su učile katekizam nedjeljom u Crkvi. Također smo služili u dječjem centru “Nazaret”. Vjerujem da svatko ima vještine koje mogu biti korisne u služenju Crkvi i za Božju slavu (1. Kor. 12,8-1). Crkva je za mene obitelj.

Znam da ovo zvuči nevjerovatno ali neki ljudi (na društvenim mrežama) koji se čak nazivaju kršćanima opravdavaju ovu invaziju i podržavaju rusku vladu. Ti si iz prve ruke vidjela pravo stanje: ti tvrdiš da je skoro svaki grad u Ukrajini pod napadom. Reci nam više o tome.

Čak i Ukrajinci su naišli na ovakav fenomen: kad idemo objasniti našim rođacima i poznanicima u Rusiji što se događa oni nam ne vjeruju i tvrde da su fotografije i videa iz Ukrajine djelo Hollywooda. Većina Rusa je pod utjecajem propaganda i iskreno vjeruju svojim medijima i vlastima. Prije ili kasnije istina će biti otkrivena tim ljudima. Veoma je bolno da ih ne možemo uvjeriti ali im ne prestajemo govoriti istini. Zasad samo mogu sami ući na teritorij Ukrajine i otkriti ovu strašnu stvarnost.

Kako možemo pomoći tebi i tvojoj kćerki?

Prvo, hvala vašaoj Crkvi na molitvama i potpori. Nadam se da ćemo vam se pridružiti u Crkvi čim prije. U ovoj situaciji to nam je veoma važno. Bili bi sretni da možemo biti dio Reformirane crkve u Hrvatskoj i da služimo u vještinama koje nam je Bog dao tako da kroz to Njegovo ime bude slavljeno.