God and His Role in Getting Out of Ukraine

get out of Ukraine


I’m Andrew from the USA. I have an apartment in Odesa and lived there prior to June 28, 2022. I taught English and subcontracted for the US embassy. My partner Katya was newly pregnant and very sick. As you know many female doctors left Ukraine and the technology in public hospitals is poor. Instead, we traveled from her mother’s in Poltava down to Odesa again. We went to her parents after Feb 24, 2022. She caught COVID and was stressed. We lost our unborn son on March 5, 2022. The tests showed he had six chambers of the heart, not four, and other issues with his neurological health, and one side of his body was 40% larger than the other. God was telling us it was okay to let him go inside her womb. He was not healthy and would have suffered. That was the hardest, easy decision I have ever been involved with. Katya and I agreed that we didn’t want any child to suffer, especially our unborn son. We traveled to Odesa and got that 3D ultrasound that showed all the bad things wrong, fled up to Moldova, and then down to Romania. In Poland they have abortion laws, even if medically necessary, that need to be brought to court for a three-judge panel to decide. I found that horrible for Katya to have to relive all of that. I called ahead to Regina Maria Hospital in Romania and it was a private, modern hospital up to EU standards. There we repeated the ultrasound twice by two different teams. Both teams found the same things wrong and had the same medical opinion… an “emergency intervention” was really an emergency abortion to preserve her health. It was hard because it was a life, a life that we created with God’s hands. However, I believe God gave us the wisdom, and the doctors the same wisdom to make the right decision, both morally and spiritually, as well as health-wise. On March 5th, 2022, at 9:53 pm the baby ascended to heaven to watch over us. I believe this and I will tell you why!

  • The first miracle was getting cash from the bank. A limit was placed on withdrawals but she had a brother that worked at something like the Ukrainian version of our US Postal service, but also with some UPS or FEDEX characteristics. There the guy let her use my card to charge the card at his point of sale, charging us just $5 (I gave him 20 in Ukrainian hryvnias) so we could get her to a higher level of care. He didn’t have to do that and likely later needed the cash. That was in her tiny hometown of Gadyich, Ukraine.
  • The next miracle happened when we got to the Poltava at the train station. Air raid sirens came on, we went into a Soviet Era bunker complete with 2 ft thick blast doors. A missile was shot down about 4 blocks away while we were in the shelter. This blind family sat across from me on these old wooden benches and their son, maybe 10 years old just looked scared. He didn’t hear anything but his eyes said it all. I just started teaching him how to play rock-paper-scissors. We played for about 10 minutes after the air raid stopped. It was after midnight when the train arrived. We had tickets to Odesa for an 8.5-hour trip that turned into an 11-hour trip because the train was running pitch black for safety and we had to stop many times because of air raids and artillery.
  • The next miracle… all of the airports had been bombed and the rental car companies ALL shut down. I called the company and the emergency number was for the manager. Clearly, the message on the voice-mail was made before the war started. I called the guy and he told me all of the cars were moved to Moldova. I told him to be safe with his family and began to hang up. As soon as I hung up, within 30 seconds, he called back to tell us that he did have an SUV for $300 for a day. I said HECK YEAH! And he said to pay him when we arrived…? Yes, it’s Ukraine as they say in Ukraine about the roads or other stuff that seems to happen only in Ukraine. Hell… I started saying it! His assistant brought us a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe. Imagine every call I made that day before was to every car rental company in Ukraine. Nothing… absolutely nothing. Some even called me back to ask if I knew there was a war going on.

We left at 6 a.m. and sat in traffic at the border that was 20 hours and 16 kilometers of gridlock! Because of how long we sat originally I said it was longer, but my Google Maps showed me it was shorter than I thought. We arrived in Moldova after dark because every single affordable hotel or Airbnb were booked, and the Moldovan people were gouging the hell out of the latecomers to the capital. I jumped a curb at an upscale market parking lot that was closed – was locked for the night and it had the gate down. The guard did come over after five minutes and I explained in 50/50 Ukrainian and Russian that she was pregnant, sick, and super tired. He was so kind and told us where the emergency room was if we needed it, and asked us to leave the lot by 9 a.m. to avoid causing him trouble with his boss.

We left for the first peaceful breakfast in 12 days. That was the morning of March 4th. I took her to a good breakfast at a place that served a French-style menu. We had crepes and fruit salad. The day went on as we walked around, sat awhile, and had Italian food. She had never eaten semi-genuine Italian food but it was good. When night fell we took bird baths in the car with baby wipes, wipes I had packed in my suitcase to take to Ukraine. There was a gender reveal kit, some maternity clothes, and some other nice stuff for her and the baby. Sometimes I wonder if I somehow put some bad mojo on her and the baby for bringing all that stuff. It’s a passing thought but still… it hurts.
We dropped the car off with the guy that was CLEARLY fleecing me. I knew it was not a real rental with Budget Corporate because the contract was handwritten, the fee was $300, and I was taking it to another country, which is a no-no usually. The banks there would only charge about $100 of Ukrainian hryvnias… just once, for all Ukrainians and the banks didn’t allow anyone that was not Ukrainian to do the currency exchange. Strange but either way we couldn’t access my bank card for the $300 cash. It’s a common thing when you exit one country for another and don’t notify the bank. We had been so busy and had so much going on that I forgot to call. He accepted $75 cash and the remaining Ukrainian hryvnias that we had. I sent him the rest a month later even though he said it was okay. Yeah, he was trying to pull a fast one, but he did something no one was doing… renting a car. He told me later the company told him to move his fleet to Moldova, so why not make some extra money while helping us? I don’t think he was gouging us, because any company would have charged me that much given the situation. He was cool about it. That by itself probably saved us from some really horrific stuff.

I booked an Airbnb with a guy named Adrian in Bucharest, Romania. We took a 10 p.m. bus to Bucharest and arrived at around 7 a.m. The guy we rented from had helped a small family of three people and told us that they had a medical emergency and went to a good hospital. When they got back they told him that Regina Maria’s health care system was giving free care to all people fleeing the war, no matter their nationality! I called and was transferred to the Ukraine coordinator for the hospitals and she asked me to message her in WhatsApp. She told us where to go, and how to do it, and always checked in with us. Uber was giving free rides to any hospital or clinic in their healthcare system (I assume Regina Maria paid a discounted rate).
Katya slept for about two hours, I arranged an Uber and away we went. We know the rest that was written at the beginning of this… they covered the cost of the 3D ultrasound tests, and the exam along with the hospitalization, the surgery, and a private room along with any and all follow-ups. Truly remarkable and so kind of them! I stood in the rain the next morning for about two hours because they weren’t supposed to allow any visitors because of COVID still. That was hard for Katya because she had never been admitted to a hospital but had seen her mom in rooms like the one I had in Kharkiv, Ukraine with six or seven people in one hospital room. Crazy I know but I have the pictures. She took pics of the room, her dinner, and her breakfast. She was shocked and surprised that the room was private and FREE. Again I arranged an Uber and again it was FREE… $20 or so in Romanian Lei.
Katya was sad and in pain and we really wanted a totally private apartment. We Googled “Ukrainian housing assistance” and found a site there in Romania that listed FREE houses of different sorts. Again more great luck… we both had been messaging for a few hours. I found a nice apartment but the gentleman said another Ukrainian couple was coming to stay in a day. Maybe two hours later I got a message that they were delayed and we were welcome to the apartment. I have pics of that place too! It was new, maybe 3 years old, and fully furnished, 1 bedroom, 1 large bathroom with a tub, a washer for our laundry, a full kitchen with two decks attached, giant TV, internet, and even a desktop PC to use. WOWOW. We couldn’t have done any better. The apartment was big enough for easily 6 people because of a large closet that had a pullout bed inside. It was 8′ by 10′ with plenty of room.

I often wonder if all of these really unique streaks of luck were because we had a God and a little angel on our side, helping us along in the hardest times I have ever experienced, without question the toughest! We stayed in that apartment, just the two of us for quite a while and it was FREE, but on top of that, he was giving 100 euros to every person that stayed in his extra apartment. Again WOW. I have those screenshots as well. So many bad things have happened but that experience could have been so much worse… a nightmare really. Now I’m sure we have an angel watching over us. I’m sure all of this pain and suffering will pass, but for now, I feel a deep sense of loss and regret.
I have gone over every scenario from the day I was back in Ukraine after my 5 weeks from December 7 to January for passport purposes… I had overstayed and needed to leave for a while. Usually, a person must be out of the country 90 out of any 180 periods but I sort of paid a legal team in Kyiv to hire me on with an NGO, so I could get a different type of visa to go right back. Ukraine is visa-free unless it’s NGO work or abnormal situations. All I had to do was pay 5,000 hryvnias to the state border service. That is about $170 US. NOT BAD! I sent the cash to Katya and she went and paid it, sent me the receipt, and I attached it to the application I got for the NGO. It was accepted and a D visa was slapped into my passport. Even that was amazing and abnormal because the way had not started. After all of those blessings, I feel extremely lucky to have gotten out safely. From cruise missiles going over our apartment in Odesa to the checkpoints, the medical care, the free apartment, and so on.

I’m going back soon I hope, but only after they do surgery on my lower back to insert a Spinal cord stimulator. That’s a 4 to 6-week recovery time and it pushes my goal to get back to Ukraine before the end of March.

I can’t leave this story as is without thanking some very special church members. American missionaries in Bucharest helped me so much. It was super. I made some solid friends there and of course, my older friend Mr Cori Lupan of Bucharest. He helped me out spiritually as well as a really cool Mish from England, well, born in Ireland I think (I always get these two mixed up, sorry. I know my geography but I don’t remember for sure if he was Scottish or Irish. Sorry brother!

I hope to add to my life story in Ukraine and I hope that it will heal some old wounds. Right now I’m looking for a unit to help, and I’m working on medic training here in the US and I hope in Ukraine with a private Western group training soldiers and medics for combat medicine. I bought two sets of body armor vests with extra light armor. A friend has given me his old Army helmet and all the accessories plus other stuff he has laying around. I am available to help and I’m excited to go. If you know someone that needs a volunteer, I’m that guy!

Slava Ukraini!
Glory to the Heroes!

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Author: Andy Scoggins

Andrew has traveled extensively from his home on the Outer Banks of North Carolina having starting his journey through the former Soviet Union in Winter of 2012 to Novokuznetsk, then on to Ukraine's Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkov, and finally his second home, Odessa.  

5 Replies to “God and His Role in Getting Out of Ukraine”

  1. Richard Brown says: 10/02/2024 at 20:50

    It is the best time to make a few plans for the future and it’s time to be happy.
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  2. James says: 19/02/2024 at 05:51


  3. Catherine says: 19/02/2024 at 05:53

    First hand stories like this don’t make it out of Ukraine. Thank you for sharing. Sorry to read about your child.

  4. James Snay says: 13/03/2024 at 10:23

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