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Goodbye to Our Most Difficult Summer Season!

We are saying goodbye to the most difficult summer season.   Last year we celebrated the fifth anniversary of Camp Maximum. With ambitious dreams and plans we started our sixth year. Unfortunately, the war began, Russia’s unjustified aggression against Ukraine, which not only changed all our plans, but also called into question the future of our camp’s mission and our personal lives.

 

This is the most difficult year since the day of our foundation. Maybe one day, I will be able to share in detail what kind of effort was necessary to face the challenges and what mentally and emotionally was required to persevere. It was hard. Right now, I am simply happy for the miracle  God created in my life and for Ukraine. First, Ukraine remains independent. Ukrainians all over the world have a home to return to. This is also because of you, who unconditionally and in numerous ways continue to support us on this most difficult journey. Our home is still our home thanks also to all of you! We are grateful! Yes, even now, the outcome of the war is uncertain; but we, more than ever, are sure of our victory. Today it feels so much closer. Way more real than 7 months ago.

 

During this challenging time, 60% of Camp Maximum’s full-time staff was new. As a ministry we survived the turbulence and were able to become a new home and shelter for thousands of forcibly displaced people fleeing the war zones. We pushed the bar over our weight to launch our largest humanitarian effort to date. With the new team, we were able to find strength in ourselves and despite the fears and inner experiences, focused on serving others. This is our culture. This is in our DNA.

 

We just finished an incredible summer.  Eight camps. Five in Ukraine and THREE more in Italy – this is something we could not even dream of at this time. I can’t wait to share stories from our participants, as well as volunteers who committed time off work to support and encourage children from Ukraine. I will be sharing more about this in upcoming posts.

 

A difficult winter is ahead. Russia is already shelling and destroying our energy infrastructure and attempts to blackmail Europe with cutting off gas supplies. We are witnessing a severe economic recession, a decrease in business activity, a huge social crisis. The number of people who will need shelter and basic assistance is staggering – several million people across our country: 300,000 in the Cherkasy region alone. There is great uncertainty, but we are encouraged and motivated by the recent successes of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the incredible support of Ukraine’s friends around the world. We know for sure that we are not alone!  And for that, we take a knee and give thanks to each of you. You remained faithful and committed to help us save our home and our future.

 

For our team, the end of summer felt like the end of a marathon. With the last of our strength, on autopilot and in pain, we completed everything we planned.  Truly, after 6-7 months of intense running, we are exhausted. We are now attempting to find quality time to rest and replenish our physical and emotional resources to continue our mission. We may not admit it, but each of us has been traumatized by the war.  This was especially noticeable in the behavior of the children in the camps and among the volunteers and the administration team. Tired, nervous, closed or too emotionally open, devastated, irritated and embittered, unsure, and often in despair of the future, we try to find the strength and balance to move on, but we lose it with each new terrible story of war. We desperately want this horror to end so we could return to normal life. We believe and pray that it will happen sooner than we expect.

 

This fall we continued to host visiting partner teams for retreats. Also, part of the team is alternately on vacation. My family and I had 10 days of rest in the peaceful Carpathian Mountains, away from everything that reminds us of the war.  Before the start of the school year, it was such a welcome time with our children. I did not have the strength to answer or write to anyone, I just wanted to be with my family away from everyone. I know that you will understand and forgive my silence.

 

Now, we are back in Zolotonosha and are rushing into work with renewed energy making new plans.  Please continue to keep us in your hearts and in your prayers. We believe that seeing faithfulness in small things, the Lord will open up greater opportunities for the work of Camp Maximum in the future.

 

We love you!

Vitaliy Sobko

 

 

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