SAN ANTONIO – Ellissa Petrenko, a San Antonio native, moved to Ukraine after marrying Andrii. Both worked as Christian missionaries near Kyiv for about a year.
Since the morning of the Russian invasion in Ukraine on Feb. 25, Ellissa’s Instagram account has fallen silent.
Shortly after waking up to bombings, the couple briefly separated as her husband tended to his parents and Ellissa traveled toward the border with Poland.
On a video posted on Feb. 28, Ellissa’s mother Heidi Baird updated the thousands of followers.
“We have been very vague with our information for security reasons, but I can tell you that they are safe,” Baird said. “They have made it to where they need to go.”
It was later disclosed by the family that the couple was in Budapest, Hungary, although Ukraine is still under martial law.
Ukrainian men ages 18 to 60 are not allowed to leave the country as it fights against the Russian invasion. It remains unclear under what circumstances Andrii was able to leave the country.
Baird later traveled from San Antonio to Budapest to reunite with her daughter and be present for the birth of her granddaughter.
On March 17, Baird update via an Instagram Reel.
“A quick update from Budapest, Hungary,” Baird said. “First off, everybody’s been asking, ‘Has Ellissa had her baby?’ She has not. So we are waiting patiently for this sweet little girl. She is past her due date by a few days.”
As of March 18, Ellissa has not yet given birth to her first-born.
“Just pray for Ellissa,” Baird said. “She’s obviously ready to birth, and so we just pray that all of that will go very well. She’s extremely comfortable with the hospital that she’ll be delivering (at), and she will have a midwife who will be in the room to help deliver.”
Baird said her son-in-law has helped other Ukranian refugees in Budapest.
“There have been hundreds of thousands of people who have crossed into Hungary. Many end up in Budapest, where we are,” Baird said. “Andrii has been an incredible big help to those refugees, because they don’t, a lot of them don’t speak English or Hungarian. So, he’s been such a comfort to them… to interpret for them and help them with the paperwork and help them get homes and food… God has him where he needs to be, and that’s been really incredible to watch.”
According to the family’s online fundraiser, the nearly $40,000 donated to the young couple has made it possible to cover lodging expenses as well as hospital bills for the delivery of their first-born.
The family continues to ask for prayers, especially for the baby as well as Andrii’s parents who have chosen to remain in Ukraine.
“They are safe at the moment,” Baird said. “They are on either side of the Capitol of Kiev. They are separated by the war. They cannot get together. They have had multiple opportunities to get out and come to the West. Andrii has been working on that for as long as this has been going on, but they refused (to leave). They want to stay where they are. They feel safe. And for the moment they are, but that can change any minute.”
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