FRANKLINVILLE — When bombs began landing too close for comfort, Slav and Olga Bodrov gathered their seven children and their important documents, packed three bags and left Kiev, Ukraine.
They not only left their home but also a successful bakery, where Bodrov baked bread in a wood-fired oven and prepared pies, sausages and more. A mini-zoo added interest to their business.
The Bodrovs left their home on Feb. 24, 2022, probably seeing it for the last time.
Now living at Bear Creek, Bodrov and his oldest daughter, Karolina, since July have been running a food trailer in front of JT Metal, 4656 US 64, Franklinville. They specialize in donuts, coffee and ice cream.
Getting to where they are was anything but easy. Leaving Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, they arrived at a Mennonite mission in another city, staying for three days. Then they went to Romania, which shares a border with Ukraine.
During their two months in Romania, Bodrov said they were planning to move to Ireland, where the embassy had authorized places for Ukrainian refugees. But soon they had second thoughts.
“We felt Ireland was not our way,” Bodrov said. “I prayed to God and to Jesus for knowing where God wants to see us.”
Then a friend in America, Josh Aker, called to say he would pay for their tickets to the airport in Charlotte. “I had no money to travel with a wife and seven children,” Bodrov said. In addition, Olga was pregnant with their eighth child.
Hearing Aker’s offer, Bodrov said, “was a big shock. That’s a lot of money for the whole family.”
Coming to a strange new country, he said, “was like someone putting you in a forest with no equipment” and not knowing how to get around. “My family looked at me for answers.”
Upon arriving in Charlotte, their Mennonite brethren brought them to Randolph County, finally settling in Bear Creek in Chatham County. Their eighth child, a girl, was born Feb. 3 of this year.
Bodrov found that living in America is “too expensive” compared to Ukraine. He needed to find a way to take care of his family, and in a hurry.
He said, “A friend took me on a tour of Amish and Mennonite businesses. It opened my eyes of understanding. One had a donut trailer and we made the decision to move this way.”
That made sense with his experience in baking.
“A friend in the church helped us with the project and we prepared for eight months, getting the trailer and equipment,” he said.
Another church member owns JT Metal and provided the space next to the highway to set up the trailer.
“The first month was very bad,” Bodrov said, “but it’s getting better.”
As for the future, Bodrov said it’s hard to know as yet. “I don’t know what will be tomorrow. Life changed too quickly for us.
“Life in Ukraine, we had plans for 10 years. Then everything changed. Large families need business. That’s typical of Mennonites.”
Asked if he would consider going back to Ukraine at some point, Bodrov said, “Before the war, there was no thought about America. We had the business, we had everything.
“Now that we’re here, we’re like Americans,” he said. “People helped us, people we don’t know. America has been very kind to us. We love this country. We’ve found our second home.”
Bodrov said his mother and sister remain in Kiev. He’s asked his mother to come join them but she just says she’ll think about it.
That despite “the Russians send(ing) missiles everywhere. Ukraine is not too big. I read the news sometimes and it makes me very sad.”