LENEXA, Kan. — A Kansas City area church takes several Ukranian refugee families under its wing during the hardest times of their lives.
Thursday, they got to celebrate Thanksgiving for the first time. Even through the pain and destruction of what’s happening in their home country, they said there’s a lot to be grateful for, and a local church and couple who are former refugees themselves have a lot to do with it.
When war broke out in Ukraine, five Ukrainian families found themselves fleeing their homes, lives and country to come to the United State where it was safe.
Lenexa Baptist Church committed to take care of them for a year. Since about May, each family has been staying in an apartment in Johnson County.
Gleb Gluhovsky and his wife Sasha led the charge.
“We’re just so grateful to all the people who played a part in bringing us here to the states and surrounding us with everything we could possibly need,” Ukranian refugee Misha Lystukha said.
An army of volunteers took care of everything from grocery shopping to providing clothing for the cold months and furniture inside the families’ home away from home.
It was all donated and what they couldn’t find, Lenexa Baptist bought.
“We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ,” Gluhovsky said. “So, it is extremely rewarding.”
Misha and Yuliia Lystukha are celebrating their first Thanksgiving and first holiday season with little Illena.
She was born here in Americal in August.
They hope to go back home to their homeland but said – at this point – it’s too dangerous.
“One of their friends just stepped on a mine while attempted to get water,” Gluhovsky said.
They’re staying positive, but the family’s current paperwork only allows them to stay through March into April.
“There’s no stable water, there’s no stable electricity, there’s disruptions to water supplies, utilities,” Yuliia said. “My friend was telling me how tremendously difficult it was to raise children.
and I was just thinking how grateful I was.”
Gluhovsky is a former refugee and has lived in the US for more than 30 years. He’s grateful for this full circle moment.
“This Thanksgiving, we thank God for his blessings and thank America for its warm welcome.
The family said they’re eager to work, but still needs work authorization. They filed paperwork with the Dept. of Homeland Security in May, but have not heard back.
Gluhovsky said they have a meeting with U.S. Sen. Roger Marshal, R-Kan., next week.
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