Latter-day Saint flees Ukraine shares harrowing story of being separated from husband
Read the First Presidency statement on the armed conflict here. “Dima, are you sleeping? The war has started. We are being bombed.”
These were the words that rang through the phone and into the ears of Dimasik (Dima) Reshetchenko at 6 a.m. on Thursday, February 24. The caller was Dima’s mother, Tamara, warning of the chaos that had just been unleashed on their city of Kyiv, Ukraine.
Dima and his wife of two years, Nina Scurtu, leapt from their bed, grabbed their 72-hour kit, and readied to leave their apartment in the city.
The couple are both Latter-day Saint converts and returned missionaries. Nina, 26, is from Chișinău, Moldova, and served a full-time mission in Seoul, Korea. Her husband, Dima, 30, is a Ukraine native who served in the Ukraine Dnepropetrovsk Mission. The two were sealed in the Kyiv Ukraine Temple in 2020.
Having gathered a few scant necessities, the couple headed out, thinking they could hide in a nearby metro station if it came to that, Nina shared on Facebook. Ultimately, they decided, they would attempt to make it to Nina’s parents’ home in the neighboring country of Moldova.
The couple soon met up with Dima’s mother, and they all headed underground into the metro station.
“I started looking for tickets to Moldova immediately. None were found,” Nina writes. “I thought to leave through Odessa, but apparently it was also under attack. Thought to leave through the north-western part of Ukraine—same thing. In the end, [I] found bus tickets for midnight from Kyiv to Moldova.”
Nina, Dima, and Tamara spent six hours hiding in the subway station, biding their time until the bus departed for Moldova.
Then, as the trio later made their way from the metro to the bus station in the dark, they were shocked by what they saw. “There were a bunch of tanks and military cars with soldiers going both ways, in and out of Kyiv, to our defense,” Nina tells LDS Living.
They finally arrived at their bus, only to be greeted by devastating news: “The President of Ukraine signed a decree that doesn’t allow men … between 18 and 60 to leave the country. So, Dima stayed in Kyiv,” Nina writes.
Forced to leave Dima behind, Nina and her mother-in-law boarded the bus and traveled to the Moldova border, only to be stopped there for nine hours.
In the meantime, Dima sheltered in Kyiv. “Two hours after our bus left Kyiv, the city was bombed,” Nina tells LDS Living. “My husband, with some of his friends, spent the night in the subway station.”
Fortunately Dima was able to leave Kyiv the next day and is currently safe outside the city, sheltering with friends and his pet cat. “Just a few hours after he left Kyiv, severe attacks started from all sides,” says Nina. The couple has no way of knowing when they might be reunited.
Also the next day, Nina and Tamara were able to cross into Moldova. She now worries about the safety of her loved ones, including Dima’s brother who was recruited into the army in Donetsk, a territory led by pro-Russian separatists. “[We haven’t] heard from him for almost a week now,” Nina says.
She continues: “We have many friends that are still hiding in their homes or subway stations in Ukraine. One friend’s family is stuck in [Chernihiv], with bombing and gunfights, and they can’t get out.”
Above all, Nina’s thoughts are with Dima. “I hope to see my husband again,” she says. “Kyiv is under attack, and they can’t go anywhere. This is heartbreaking. … My mother-in-law wants to see her son, and I want to see my husband.”
“[Nina] and other members of the Church in Moldova are just choice people,” says David Caron of Springville, Utah, who got to know Nina while serving with his wife, Sandi, in the Ukraine Kyiv/Moldova mission. “Our hearts ache for the people of the region. Whether you are Russian or Ukrainian or American it doesn’t matter. Our hope and prayer is for a return to peace and freedom for all people involved.”
Through her experiences, Nina says she is holding on to her faith. “We don’t know what will happen to Ukraine, and even Moldova is threatened, so, all we can do is pray that God will protect us,” she writes.
“I’ve been blessed to know so many people worldwide—in Europe, Asia, America, and even Africa—that pray and fast for us,” Nina tells LDS Living. “It gives me hope that God will protect my family.”