Posted February 03, 2016 in MH Krasnoyarsk, Russia:
Notes From Near and Far: MH Russia

by Aliz Trombitas.

Greetings from Siberia, where I was recently assigned. One of the first sentences I learned in Russian is one that means, "I am cold." Then in a few days I had to learn a new one because the first one wasn’t strong enough for the steady -25° C (-13° F) temperatures we were experiencing—in mid-October!

Four days a week, I am studying Russian at the university. Most of my classmates are Chinese or Mongolian, but I also have some from Spain and Barbados and somebody just arrived from Syria. I am really enjoying my classes and I have excellent teachers.

For now, while I am learning Russian, Catherine Lesage, my director and fellow staff worker, is doing most of the usual nitty-gritty work at the house and I help out as I can.

Almost every day, one or another of our friends is asking us to help out in one way or another—to drive him to a doctor, to have tea with her and listen, or to attend a birthday party or host one in our house.

With the help of one of our friends, and like most Russians, we made a supply of sauerkraut for the winter. We also celebrated with some local Sisters the feast of their founder, St. Charles Borromeo.

We now have a second apartment which we have made into a poustinia room and guest room. The poustinia is being used once or twice a week (sometimes just for a few hours). The guest room has been used as well on more than one occasion since I’ve been here, like when some Sisters from out of town stayed with us.

We recently had an opportunity for a hike to a mountain called Stolby near the city, and every once in a while we go out for a longer walk along the Yenisei River.

A few weeks ago a woman named Galina Maslenikova came from Moscow to give the second of a three-part conference to our parishioners (and others) about Natural Family Planning. She is a family therapist but for the past twenty-five years, she has been doing pro-life work.

The first conference was at the end of September. We can tell she was well received because a lot more people attended the second time. There were about thirty in all, mostly young women, but some young men came as well.

Galina stayed in our guest room and when not giving the conference, she was available to talk with these young women and couples one-on-one.

I found her an excellent speaker. She connected immediately with the audience, told them the history of contraception and abortion laws in Russia, and gave them some very practical information.

The openness of the group was palpable, and they asked lots of good questions. By the end of the weekend, though we were all tired, we were full of excitement and new life.

I find this conference the most exciting thing happening at our parish right now, and I hope and pray that we will see some effects of it.

Next weekend, Catherine and I will be attending a Marian Conference in Irkutsk, a conference which will be attended by people from all over Russia.

I am looking forward to meeting our bishop and the religious of the diocese and whoever else God wants us to connect with. I am also looking forward to the 18-hour train ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway and discovering the beauty of nature in Siberia.


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