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Grand Rapids Ukrainian community prays for loved ones in their home country

"You have to protect. No matter what," says Soltinska. "Even if you don't like killing, if you have to, you don't have choice."

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — On Thursday night at St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church, a small but strong congregation gathered to send love and prayers back to their home country.

"We never ever were thinking he would bomb all of Ukraine in one time," says Oleksandra Soltinska, a Ukrainian native who lives in Grand Rapids.

Soltinska has been in shock since she got the news of the Russian invasion.

"It's like all day in my mind, I couldn't even concentrate or do anything," she explains. "I was really worried."

She has family that still lives in Ukraine and takes some comfort being able to stay in contact with them even from across the world.

"Our heart will be always in Ukraine," says Soltinska. "Because we were born there, no matter where we live we are 100% with Ukraine."

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Thursday night, she came to her church, joining others in prayer for loved ones back home. Her biggest plea, aid from other countries.

"All Ukraine people in the whole world asking please help," says Soltinska.

She is glad to see Ukraine in U.S. news and hopes the country acts swiftly.

"Because Russia does everything fast," she says. "Before they think and talk, Russia does next steps and they go forward."

Saying help is owed.

"In 1994, when Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons, they promised they would protect us," says Soltinska.

But regardless of any help that comes, she knows the people of her country won't give up.

"You have to protect. No matter what," says Soltinska. "Even if you don't like killing, if you have to, you don't have choice."

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