The Homefront: Employ some insanity-level faith to help Ukraine
Dr. Gordon Duval, with his wife, Leona, by his side, stood and shared the details of his journey to Ukraine less than a month ago. Those of us gathered at a fundraising dinner to benefit Ukraine laid down our forks and listened, captivated not only by the faith-filled tale itself, but also by the series of people who stepped forward — again and again — to make the miracle unfold.
Duval, a pediatrician at Mountain West Medical Center in Tooele, couldn’t turn away from the news of families fleeing from Ukraine — especially the children. “It was horrific,” said Duval, who trained to be a doctor because of his drive to help people in need. After several sleepless nights, he told Leona he needed to go to Ukraine. She replied she’d been thinking the same thing. She’d stay behind with their five young children and hold down the fort.
Duval started looking for an organization to work with, and told friends what he was doing. Their response was always: How can I help? What do you need? His response was always: Do you have any medical supplies I can take with me? He hoped for boxes of bandages, maybe some gauze.
The response exceeded his expectation. Significantly. Church friends brought supplies. His workplace came onboard big time with loads of supplies. His former workplace, another hospital, added to the growing pile. So did an EMT friend. And family and others. When money donations poured in, Duval asked his local pharmacist if he could buy antibiotics and other supplies. Yes, he could, was the reply, along with contributions from the pharmacy’s employees, a discount on the purchases and help getting clearance to fly medicine internationally.
Then came the faith moment. Three days before departure, Duval discovered his passport had expired. He was using his kids’ spring break vacation time to go. Usually on call at the hospital, it was his only small window of time. Duval bought his airline ticket anyway — and prayed for help. Leona called around until a state representative’s office stepped in and got Duval a passport interview in Arizona the next day. Duval flew there, got his passport renewed, then flew back home to pack.
Packing required some help because by then, the supplies filled a room. When everything was finally packed into donated suitcases, Duval stared at the 22 suitcases and wondered how…? Leona called Delta Airlines which said come and we’ll figure it out. And they did, not only allowing all 22 suitcases onboard but also waiving the fees.
When he touched down in Warsaw, Poland, Duval stood by the baggage carousel with his 22 suitcases wondering how he’d get them to the curb. His ears picked up spoken English; he found a group of American and Canadian volunteer soldiers on their way to fight in Ukraine. They willingly helped him to the curb where a driver waited for him. Clearance to get into Ukraine was attained by friends in the Waterfall Humanitarian Foundation — which, ironically, his father helped found years before.
Duval doctored a few patients, but the medical supplies he brought took precedence as he carefully distributed them among the places where they would do the most good. Grateful, desperate doctors and administrators nearly wept. “Yet if you were to times what I took by a hundred, it wouldn’t be enough to meet the needs there,” Duval said, adding, “I can’t describe what the Ukrainian people are going through, both with the war and the needs that can’t be met.”
Many of us wonder what we can do. “I think what impressed my wife and I the most was how much people wanted to help but didn’t know how,” Duval said. Actually, he didn’t either. But he stepped into the dark, started the process and the miracles began. He explained, “We have a new phrase: ‘insanity-level faith.’ It’s the belief that if you’re doing what God wants you to do, he will open doors that no reasonable logical person would ever believe possible.”
So if you’re one of those people wondering what to do, start something. Employ some insanity-level faith. Pray. And expect miracles. Ukraine needs our miracles now.
D. Louise Brown lives in Layton. She writes a biweekly column for the Standard-Examiner.