"Today, I have a small suitcase, a small box with food and blankets, and I’m not unpacking that until they say the war is over.” - Inga Friesen, Ukraine.

It is hard to escape the images and stories that are coming from Ukraine and the war with Russia. There are reports of bombings, air raids and death. Amid the terror, there are also stories of kindness and compassion.

Inga and Kent Friesen, Ukraine. (Photo submitted)

Meet Inga and Kent Friesen; two people who are working hard to offer hope and kindness to their community in Ukraine.

“People are scared, and they’re concerned and they're not sure what to do,” Kent says. So, he and his wife make time to connect with their neighbours and friends, to support them through an unimaginable circumstance.

In a phone call with Carly Koop, Inga describes feelings of stress, chaos, a different kind of busy and many unknowns.

While Kent moved 21 years ago from Steinbach to Ukraine, Inga has lived there her entire life. They will leave when they must, bags are packed, but they will stay for as long as they can.

They have experienced air raid drills and are learning to take precautions, and to plan for evacuation.

Kent is trying to coordinate relief efforts and create awareness of the help that is needed. In a couple of weeks, if the war drags on, he says local resources will be depleted and people will run out of food and money.

Donations are being collected through their missionary organization Teach Beyond.

The Friesens express a lot of appreciation for the support and prayers from people around the world.

“We know that there is a lot of love and a lot of support and a lot of prayer going up for Ukraine. We’ve witnessed that, heard it, felt it,” says Kent. “And without that, there’s really no way that we could have peace, there’s no way that we could deal with things the way that we seem to be able to, and we know that it’s not on our own strength.”

Inga’s message to people in Steinbach is filled with love and appreciation.

“This is so, so clear right now for me because I realize there is nothing more important on this earth than someone's life," she says. "And I would just, so like to encourage you guys to continue treasuring each other. Continue spending time with each other. Pray with each other. encourage each other. Because that’s what I have seen every time that I came there. And that was, for me, that was a very powerful thing. I have never met such loving and caring people like my dear Steinbach. That’s what I keep calling you.”