Sugar Land couple living in Ukraine, opens home to dozens of refugees fleeing Russian attacks
SUGAR LAND, Texas - A Houston area couple living in Ukraine has been housing dozens of refugees over the last several days, as the Russian invasion continues.
Mark and Rhonda Blessing have been living in Ukraine since 1993 but are originally from Sugar Land.
LATEST: Russian convoy nears Kyiv on day 6 of assault
In 1993, less than two years after Ukraine gained its independence from the Soviet Union, the Blessings moved there with their three young children for missionary work and ended up staying.
They built a 7200 square foot house in the early 2000s after starting a church called the Living Word.
RELATED: Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's powerful speech moves translator to tears
More than a dozen Ukrainian refugees are currently staying at their house, which is located seven miles outside the center of Lviv, where military and police are already staged at every corner.
"The first day they arrived, some of them were crying because when they left, they thought they'd be here maximum a day and head back home," Rhonda said. "The apartment building next to theirs in Kyiv was blown up. Theirs is a still-standing so they know they don't have a life back there."
"We're in Lviv, which is far west," she continued. "We are only about 25 to 30 miles from the Polish border, so there are a lot of refugees coming through."
As the Russian attacks inch closer west towards their village, Rhonda and Mark say they are prepared to take cover in their basement.
MORE: Houston police officer reflects on training he provided to troops in Ukraine
In the meantime, they're taking every necessary precaution to stay safe.
"A neighbor called and said the village wanted blacked out at night don't run any house lights or yard lights, " Mark said. "Make sure your windows are closed, curtains closed at night. We want the village black, as dark as possible."
"I think if this would have happened 20 years ago, they might not have fought like this," Rhonda said. "But now they have loved their freedom and being Ukraine."
CONTINUOUS COVERAGE ON RUSSIA-UKRAINE CONFLICT
For the last 27 years, the Blessings have called Ukraine their home, and their goal is to stay fighting for their freedom.
"It totally feels like the right thing for us to stay," Mark said. "We have a large house. It's a ministry house where we have had church conferences in the past. We can sleep almost 30 people come comfortably. And if necessary, with mattresses on the floor, we can take twice that. We'll find room."