Early in the morning on February 24, 2022, a nurse opened my hospital room door, woke me up, and said in an urgent voice, “Take your baby, wrap him in a blanket, and go into the hall—now.”
I didn’t know what was going on, but I immediately took my two-day-old son in my arms and walked out of my hospital room. Other women with babies were also there, but no one else seemed to understand what was happening either. Moments later we were told that Kyiv, Ukraine (where we were), and other cities were being bombed and attacked by hostile aircraft.
We needed to decide how to move forward.
I felt numb. Later, as I was leaving the hospital with my husband, I still couldn’t believe our new reality. We didn’t know where to go or what to do. Everything was happening so fast. So, despite our fear, we took a moment to pray together to know if we should go back to our hometown outside of Kyiv or stay there in the capital. We talked to different family members who believed that Kyiv might be better protected and that we should stay there. But my husband and I received a different answer from the Spirit, and the next morning we started our journey back to our home.
As we were driving out of the city, we suddenly had an impression that we needed to help someone—we just didn’t know who. We had only two free seats in our car, but we decided to see if we could help anyone who was trying to leave the city to find a safe place. So the baby and I waited in the car while my husband went to the metro station, where he saw hundreds of people standing in lines, trying to catch any transport they could to get out of Ukraine.
That’s when he noticed a man with his child standing to the side of the line and felt that he should offer them a ride. It turned out that this man also had his wife and his other child with him. We all somehow managed to fit into our small car.
As we drove together, this sweet family explained that they had spent the previous night at the bomb shelter, and they had been standing at that metro station for almost two hours, unsure of how to get out of the capital. The traffic lines to escape Kyiv were terribly long, but we still felt a very special spirit that we were meant to find each other as we escaped together.
Later that day, we learned that the situation in Kyiv had worsened. I was worried because my sister lives there. We had asked her to come with us, but she felt she needed to stay. And after, as I talked to her about her decision, we realized if she had come with us, we wouldn’t have been able to help the family who escaped with us. Of course, I was still concerned for her safety, but we both felt that Heavenly Father would protect her.
Many days have passed by since then, and many more things have happened in this deadly conflict. But despite the uncertainty and fear, we continue experiencing promptings from the Holy Ghost, and, as we obey them, we have been protected. At one point, my husband and I felt that it would be better for me and our little son to go to a different country for safety. Because of current circumstances, my husband wouldn’t be able to go with us, so making that decision was really hard. But after many tears and prayers, we received confirmation that we should do that.
I never imagined my first days of motherhood would be so difficult, or that these circumstances could ever happen to Ukraine, but despite all the hardship and challenges, I am focusing on and counting all the blessings and miracles I have seen. I am blessed with beautiful friends who picked up me and my new son straight from the border and then helped us settle into our new living situation. Many friends, including my mission companions, reached out to help me. Some sisters from my mission even came together and fasted specifically for me and my family. I am also amazed by my husband, who is doing lots of voluntary work right now, helping others in Ukraine.
I could go on and on about the miracles I’ve witnessed. I have felt Heavenly Father sustaining me and so many who continue to have faith in Him.
At the same time, my heart aches for everyone who is suffering right now. I miss my husband, and I fear constantly for him and some of my close relatives living in cities that are experiencing severe bombing almost every day. A simple message from them telling me that they are alive and well makes me happier than anything else.
I took comfort in the words of President Russell M. Nelson during general conference, “None of us can control nations or the actions of others or even members of our own families. But we can control ourselves. My call… is to end conflicts that are raging in your heart, your home, and your life. It can be painfully difficult to let go of anger that feels so justified. It can seem impossible to forgive those whose destructive actions have hurt the innocent. And yet, the Savior admonished us to “forgive all men…”
“We are followers of the Prince of Peace. Now more than ever, we need the peace only He can bring… I know what I’m suggesting is not easy… I plead with you to do all you can to end personal conflicts that are currently raging in your hearts and in your lives.”1
Right now, it’s hard to love my enemies. It might seem impossible to ever forgive those who have caused so much destruction and harm to my country, but as a disciple of Christ, I have faith that I will be able to (see Matthew 5:43–48). I know that because He respects agency, God cannot always interfere when terrible things happen. But I do know that we can always see His hand, even amid adversity. I know that all the people who have been killed will live again because of our Savior, who made it possible. I know that there is hope and peace in believing in Him.
I don’t know all that will happen in the future—to my country or my family—but I know that keeping our covenants will allow the Spirit to be with us continually to guide and protect us—allowing us to feel joy and hope, and to end the personal conflicts in our hearts, even during difficult times. I have felt His presence guiding, blessing, and comforting me every day.