Peace to you, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Summer is a great time to travel around Siberia, and we hope that many of you will find time and dare to visit Siberia. In the beginning of July, we had excellent theological seminars for the lay people, and we gladly welcomed our guests: Rev. Daniel Johnson, Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill and Rev. Jeremy Mills. They traveled from Novosibirsk to Tuim and to Novokuznetsk.
And soon after the seminars in Tuim had ended, the local pastor Vitali Gavrilov set out on another journey. We would like to bring to your attention his short report.
Our two-week journey ended happily! Over these days, I and my family (five people in total) drove a distance of 4000 miles by car. We managed to visit our brothers and sisters in different locations, with the final destination in Buryatia.
The first point of our journey was Sukhovo, a village in the midst of the taiga; the nearest town (Kansk) is about 100 miles away. The distance from our Tuim is about 600 miles. Sometimes there is a road, sometimes – not really.
Civilization, of course, has reached there; I mean a cellular coverage, which, however, works there with interruptions. In this village our parishioner Maria Innokentevna lives, she is 69 years old. She is very afflicted that she can not go to church. And I always really dream to visit her, although, of course, it is far and quite expensive. The distances in Siberia are huge, and roads, let’s say, are not very good.
When we arrived to Maria’s village, it was already late evening. When she saw us, she ran to meet us so quickly that I thought that I could hardly catch up with her. I wish everyone to run so fast at 69 years!
We were all very happy to meet! There I served two services. First, because Maria did not take Holy communion for a long time, I talked to her, and I heard her private confession. And then I conducted the “common confession of sins” for all of us. And afterwards, the Divine service with the anointing and the Eucharist.
And then there were excellent donuts, delicious food and lots of conversations.
Maria is a brave woman! She is strong in the faith and in trust in God and His Christ.
The next day we went to Angarsk. We drove all day, and arrived late at night. We stopped in our church. How good is to be in the church! I want to pray like Saint Peter prayed: “Lord, it is good for us to be here” [Matthew 17: 4].
And the psalmist said correctly [Ps 27: 4], One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life.
In the church we slept very well and decided next day to go to see the lake of Baikal [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Baikal]. I really wanted to bring my children there. But sadly it was not happen: there was a very large and chaotic traffic on the road near Irkutsk, and in the stream of cars I accidentally crashed into a Toyota which was standing in the middle of road, and damaged my car also. And so I was forced to go to repair it. And then we returned to the church in Angarsk.
The next day, we cleaned up and prepared everything, and then I served the liturgy for our parishioners and talked with them.
And the next day we moved further towards Buryatia. Having traveled around the lake of Baikal, we went finally to the road to Buryatia and Mongolia.
We drove a very long time with sleeping a night on the road. The road was difficult, and we were all very tired. But in Buryatia our brothers and sisters met us with a great joy. We had rest and then I served the Divine service. Our Buryatian parishioners always dream about the liturgy, I want all Christians so to dream about the Eucharist!
My wife and children have made new friends, we are all very glad that we have served our brothers and sisters! It was a great travel!
Thank you everyone for prayers for us!
Please pray for the safe travels of the Lutheran clergymen in Siberia!
“Faith and hope”
Please see attached photos.