Peace to you, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
May we share with you the small travel-report we received from father Vitali Gavrilov of the parish of Transfiguration in Tuim.
Many of our parishioners live quite far from us. Well, what is “far”? Here in Siberia, everything is “far.” Or… maybe not far. Just a few hundred miles — and we are already there.
So last week I needed to visit a lady who is our parishioner; her name is Maria, she lives in the village of Sukhovo. It is about 750 kilometers (465 miles) away from Tuim. This is my responsibility! So in the early early morning we got into a car and drove off. The roads in our Siberia are ambiguous. Sometimes you have to drive for a very long time.
But be that as it may, we arrived in the evening. Before that, sister Maria, finding no place for herself, left the house many times and gazed steadily at the road, waiting for us at the gate. The meeting was with tears and joy.
And then the amazing began. After all, we were traveling with the goal of visiting our parishioner, to give her Holy Communion and to instruct in the faith, supporting and comforting her. But there are eight people came to her house. These were the neighbors who were also waiting for us. Using this wonderful opportunity, I talked with them for two hours, told them about the Church and her sacraments, about our Lord Who gave His Church authority to baptize new people and to forgive sins. Then I explained why now I can’t give Holy Communion to everyone. But I can teach them, and then, after baptism (or confirmation, if someone was already baptized), I can give them Holy Communion. All people listened attentively, asking questions, and these were really good questions.
Do you know what happiness is for a priest when people listen to him?
Well, after this long conversation, I served the Mass, with music (my wife Anna brought a small battery-powered synthesizer).
And in the morning, before we were about to leave, one woman brought us a basket of domestic eggs and asked me to come to their house and to bless her family. I went to visit this family immediately. I talked with people, encouraged them and said the blessing.
The owner of this house is 88 years old; she is very kind and wise. She asked me to give her confirmation as soon as possible, she said that she understands how important the Eucharist is, and that she believes that it is the true Body and true Blood of Jesus Christ. I promised her and others that I would soon come to Sukhovo again and begin to instruct them, and then later I would conduct a rite of confirmation to all diligent students.
There are some very old people in the village who are already preparing to leave this world, and I will do everything I can so that they will be saved.
And then we were still talk for a long time. Because of that, we were not able to leave in the morning, but left only in the evening, before which we ate delicious properly made donuts. 🙂
Before we left, the villagers again said that they are waiting for us. Now I worry more, and I pray for those who want to be in the Church, but live so far from us. I ask all of you to pray for these people, and I also ask the Bishop to let me visit regularly not only Angarsk and Buryatia, but also the village of Sukhovo.
Please pray for the Lutheran mission in Siberia and for safe travels of the priests.
“Faith and hope”
Please see attached photos.