One couple’s escape from Ukraine


A couple weeks ago in this column I mentioned that Igor Kholobayev, husband of my niece, Marilyn, was hoping to get his parents out of Kyiv, Ukraine (Marilyn is the daughter of my brother, Brent, and his wife, Susan).

At that point his parents were reluctant to leave, which is understandable because travel had already become so dangerous in that war-torn country.

Then, last week, Igor and Marilyn left their home in Cary and flew to Krakow, Poland, hoping to convince his parents to meet them there.

They agreed, and with the clothes on their backs and a few items for the journey, Yuri, 83, and Kateryna, 77, left their home and boarded a bus, unsure if they’d ever return.

A ministry working on the border had made the arrangements.

Here’s what Marilyn texted when I asked how long her in-laws traveled to reach the border:

“I think the first day they rode from morning until dark. They were taken to a church where they spent the night and were given soup. So they slept in a warm place.

“Then the next morning they were taken to the border.”

Igor and Marilyn traveled four hours from Krakow to the border where the family was reunited. Marilyn called it a miracle.

Everyone in our family is so grateful to those who prayed over this situation. And we are thankful that God protected Yuri and Kateryna through all of this. But there are still so many who need help.

In fact, Igor and Marilyn may stay in Poland for a few weeks to help the ministry that saved his parents. (His parents would come to North Carolina and stay with Igor’s brother, who lives in Wake Forest.)

Here’s what Marilyn wrote earlier: “Igor has been working on reaching out to the neighbors of his parents to see if they need the same kind of help we have been desperately searching for (evacuation from Kyiv).

“Their apartment building is full of people who are older and can’t leave, and if the Russian troops circle around the city, then the food and water and medicine and power may get cut off. We want to be able to get the message out so that they can also have the option to leave.”

It’s hard to imagine what it must be like to leave one’s home, to leave friends and neighbors, never to see them again. To leave with nothing and face such uncertainty.

Of course, Yuri and Kateryna hope to return someday. But with a madman in the Kremlin, that hope may not be warranted.

We like to think we’ll never face such a situation in America. And maybe we won’t. But it would be unwise to take our peace and freedom for granted. As Coretta Scott King said, “Freedom is never really won; you earn it and win it in every generation.”

• • •

Last Saturday night, Regina and I had the pleasure of attending a concert by the Lee County Community Orchestra in Sanford.

The music was fantastic, but I’ll concede the main draw for us was the chance to visit my Carolina roommate, Ken Hoyle, a violinist in the orchestra, and his wife, Sandra.

I mention the concert because the orchestra made a last-minute change to the program, adding Ukraine’s national anthem.

From its lyrics, one line in particular speaks to the nation’s resolve to be free, a resolve the world has witnessed during the last few weeks: “We’ll lay down our souls and bodies to attain our freedom. …”

Let’s hope we, if ever so tested, would have a similar resolve.

Contact Bart Adams at


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