SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It might be hard to associate names or faces with the war in Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s invasion. But connection to family is universal.
Viktor and Tetyana Tsymbalist are from Ukraine but fled in April because of the war. They came to the United States via humanitarian parole, which can happen when time is scarce. They were at First Presbyterian Church in central Sioux Falls on Tuesday along with six other people newly from Ukraine. The eight received help with immigration paperwork.
“They will then be able to find a job, make some income, get an apartment and live a life of just grace and comfort and just become part of this community for as long as they wish to be here,” First Presbyterian Church pastor Pat Hammond said.
First Presbyterian Church put the event together. Members of the church volunteered to help complete the paperwork.
“I think a lot of people just wish they could do something for the people of Ukraine, and so this is something that I’m able to help with,” volunteer Bobbi Lower said.
Four interpreters were on hand as well, including Julia Strizheus, a U.S. citizen who now lives in Sioux Falls but was born in Ukraine. Viktor Tsymbalist is her uncle. He and his wife Tetyana received help on Tuesday with documentation. Strizheus translates their thoughts from Russian to English for KELOLAND News.
“Here, thanks to God, there is peace, there is no bombs over your head,” Viktor said in Russian. “We sleep in peace, we have food to eat.”
“We are still getting used to living here, but it is peaceful,” Tetyana said in Russian.
The couple has two children and two grandchildren still in Ukraine. They haven’t met one of their grandchildren: little one-and-a-half-month-old Ivan.
“It’ll be a very happy day when I will be able to hold him, I will get on my knees and I will thank God,” Viktor said in Russian. “It’s my grandchild, I really want to see him and hold him. Thank you God for everything. I believe that I will see him one day, and I will be able to hold him.”