San Antonio woman chronicles her escape from Ukraine

Ellissa Petrenko moved to Ukraine about a year ago

San Antonio woman chronicles her escape from Ukraine

SAN ANTONIO – In Ukraine, the bombings continue as families try to flee the Russian invasion, including one young couple who moved from San Antonio to Ukraine.

After marrying her husband, Andrii, Ellissa Petrenko moved to Ukraine about a year ago.

The Petrenkos now work as Christian missionaries and are expecting their first child. The native San Antonio woman is 38-weeks pregnant.

Ellissa has shared her life in Ukraine, including her attempt to flee the country, with her nearly 22,000 followers on Instagram.

On Thursday evening, Ellissa uploaded a series of videos totaling more than three minutes on the Instagram story. The video provided a chronicle of when she and her husband woke up to the bombs.

According to Ellissa, she received a call from friends offering the last seat in their vehicle to head to Poland for refuge. The couple decided it was best for Ellissa to leave their home near Kyiv while Andrii stayed behind for a few hours to help tend to his parents.

Ellissa’s family in San Antonio has also taken to social media to plead for prayers. Her mother, Heidi Baird, has also provided updates in a series of Instagram Reels to her 22,000 followers.

In her latest post, Baird begins by thanking those that have prayed for her family.

“We were able to hear from Ellissa last night,” Baird said. “That was such a blessing because we had not heard from her in a while. They are safe. They are in very western Ukraine right now.”

According to Ellissa’s latest Instagram story, her group could not make it into Poland. In another Reel posted on Baird’s Instagram, she explained it was due to the traffic.

“(Thursday) morning, Ellissa was able to leave with some friends and get all the way to the border of Ukraine and Poland, only to find out there was no way they can get across (because of) the miles and miles-long line of cars,” Baird said. “They’re hunkering down out west of Kyiv.”

According to Baird, Andrii is on the road to reunite with his wife. However, the journey will be long.

“Pray for his safety as he drives, and we have not been able to communicate with Ellissa for a while,” Baird said on Instagram. “So, would you please pray that we are able to contact her soon?”

Ukrainians are now faced with another tough decision as men ages 18 to 60 are banned from leaving the country and asked to join the army and fight the Russian military.

“They are not letting any men out of Ukraine,” Baird said. “Ellissa, who’s about to deliver -- they want to get her out of the country, (but) they don’t want to be separated. So, the biggest prayer is (that) Ellissa can get out of the country (but) Andrii cannot. So, pray for God’s hand and wisdom to know what to do.”

On Instagram, Baird wrote she hopes to be at her daughter’s side when she gives birth. The family is praying for Ellissa to find a safe hospital for the delivery of her child.

Now, thousands of friends, family, and strangers pray and donate funds for the young couple’s future.


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About the Author:

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.