Letter from a devotee in Mariupol, Ukraine

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From a Devotee in Mariupol (names omitted to protect those involved)

Please accept my obeisances, dear Guru Maharaja!

I am going through a very severe test now and I will start my story from the beginning.
32 hours before the start of the war, people began to receive strange SMS that the war was starting and they had to leave the city. On this day, we had an evening chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord in the temple. My spiritual guide and I approached [name withheld] for instructions on what to do, but we did not hear anything concrete in response.
The next day, explosions were already heard. We did not sleep all night. In the morning I called my spiritual guide and she invited me to her house, we also took another mataji with a child and settled in with her. Then 3 more families came to us from the outskirts, as a result there were 18 of us. Three days later, the electricity, water and gas were turned off.
We had a minimum supply of food and water, but we were very lucky and Krishna provided us with plenty of food. We were at the right time in the right place. A large wholesale store was opened for the military and we took out a large amount of products. We were able to get through to some more devotees so that they could also stock up on food. We delivered food to everyone we could, while it was possible to somehow move around the city. We collected rainwater and snow. We assigned duties, cooked prasadam, read Srimad Bhagavatam, and sang kirtan. In this way we lived for two weeks until they started bombing us from planes.
Not far from our house there was military equipment and the explosions of grad guns [a type of assault rifle] and so on were very audible. The first time a shell hit nearby, but the house survived. We were very scared and took refuge in two tiny rooms where there were doors and narrow but high windows. These were the two safest rooms in the house. That night, about five air bombs fell nearby. We all thought that we would not live until the morning. The last bomb fell so close that all the glass flew out along with the frames, the doors, only the walls remained.
In the middle of the night, we ran to hide the children in a small basement with our neighbors, while we ourselves remained in our house to wait for dawn.
Gathering everything that was left, periodically running to the shelter, we freed the cars to go to other devotees who were hiding in the basement house.
Under the explosions of bombs, we barely left the house and moved safely. The brave devotees went back to the house to pick up a large supply of food and returned safely.
We were very shocked. It was creepy and scary! Only kirtan saved us from this state of terrible fear. For several more days we lived in this place; every day more and more devotees came to us. Then information came that one checkpoint was bombed and several devotees, including myself, ventured to go to Berdyansk,
Thank God we succeeded. We called back the remaining devotees and they left on our way in the morning. A couple of days later we moved to Zaporizhzhya and on the way came under fire at a checkpoint. Thank God, we were not hit and we managed to leave.
In Zaporizhzhya, we were also received by devotees. We spent the night, and went to Dnipro. Here we were also received by merciful devotees.
We decided with a small group of the devotees to go to the community in Denmark, Copenhagen. They are waiting for us there, and tomorrow, March 21, we must take a train to Poland and then to Denmark.
I tried to accept the situation as it is without getting involved in politics. I tried to think about Krishna all the time, especially when it was very scary, but it was very difficult.
My mind turned off, even during heavy bombing I chanted physically, but in my mind I could not even imagine the appearance of Krishna, everything was not clear, for a moment everything was blurry.
Only fear. I took this fear as karma for all the living beings I killed. The opportunity to be cleansed and pray, sincerely pray, having removed all the masks.
Shortly before the start of the war, I had a dream about Srila Prabhupada. Many devotees were standing in a semi-dark room opposite Srila Prabhupada’s murti, when suddenly I saw steam coming out of his mouth, he breathed, got up and went into the crowd, all the people rushed after him. A stampede began. Prabhupada turned around with a very sad and worried look, looking into the distance.
I thought it was the end of life, that we would leave the body and Srila Prabhupada came to pick us up. But after we didn’t get a single scratch from the bombings, I realized that Krishna, Srila Prabhupada and all the devotees are protecting us.
Also, the fact that you mercifully gave me shelter at your lotus feet added to my confidence that Krishna does not leave His devotees.
Today, all Mariupol devotees are alive, although not all of them were able to get out of the city. Everything material fell off in an instant, only grief for my mother, sister and nephews bothers me. I don’t know what is happening to them, it brings great suffering.
I pray every day that they are safe, fed and whole.
My beloved devotees take great care of each other. Everywhere we are accepted and cared for, and we also do not forget to serve our hospitable guests. We have a lot of realizations, the brightest is that we finally understood what the material world is like and what we would do if not for Srila Prabhupada.
A lot of everything superfluous has fallen off, stupid desires, aspirations, all this has lost its sweet meaning. Faith intensified, Krishna shed special mercy on us and took everything away, leaving his Holy Names, which are everything.
In contrast, I felt sweetness and intense joy while chanting, putting everything in the hands of Krishna, even if forced. I am grateful for this experience, although it was very painful.
But I intend to continue serving Krishna and all His servants with even greater enthusiasm.

Thank you very much, by your grace I have acquired many valuables. In this war, I was born as a servant of a servant, this most important event in my life overshadowed all adversity.

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