In this episode of life in Magadan, I cannot even begin to express the joy that has taken over. Here are some snapshots from the past few weeks:
MJ commented that it was warm outside (the temperature was -12, folks). We got 5s on our Grammar Exams, which is the American Equivalent of an A, finishing our first semester of Russian, woo-woo!
Later, we went on adventure with Father to ‘rescue Jesus’ (retrieve the blessed sacrament) from his dacha*; he gave me a stick to fend off any stray dogs. I initially thought he was joking, but soon realized he was being serious. We walked around in -35 degree weather. I baked over 170 Christmas cookies for our neighbors and friends. We have also successfully cooked chicken and rice in over 50 different ways (Stay tuned: we'll be publishing a cookbook in 2019 full of at least 1,000 recipes involving Chicken and rice)
The day before Christmas Eve we had a Christmas Party with our friends and tried to play White Elephant/ Yankee Swap, but they were all too nice and refused to steal anyone else's gift. The kids put on a Christmas play, and over 100 kids from the city came to watch. We had the quietest, chillest Christmas Day; it involved one roommate going to school, watching elf, lounging around the apartment, giving cookies to our neighbors, attending Mass and going out for Japanese food for dinner with Father, MJ, Katya, and Sveta.
Best Christmas Gift? Having three friends who are not Catholic come to Christmas mass and participate with you.
We got to ring in the New Years’ like no other year. We spent the night at the Sisters’ apartment. We had time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, watched the fireworks light up the city for over an hour from their balcony, and prayed a Divine Mercy Chaplet for the New Year. After everyone went to bed at 1:30am, I met up with some friends and walked all around the city until 3am, serenaded by fireworks and the sounds of a New Year. We finished the walk by drinking tea at a friend’s apartment. Eventually I was handed a traditional Russian dish that was essentially meat jello ( I don’t know the real name, but this title says all you need to know).
The second day of the year we went on an adventure with the Sisters, Sveta, and Kristina to the bay, to go sledding and eat ice cream in -27 weather like true ‘Magadanskis’.
(Pictured below MJ enjoying a frosty treat in even frostier weather, is a great photo of Sister Sabina sledding).
We just finished 3 days of Kids Vacation Bible School, which was an incredible experience with equally incredible kids who made the church their home, and who were filled with an authentic joy and energy that was SO contagious. The Vacation Bible School ran for three days, from the Fourth until the Sixth. It was a lot of fun, and the kids had the opportunity to sing songs with Nadia, Catechesis classes with Sveta, English with MJ, and games and crafts with me. It was all organized by Katya. The kids were all very cooperative, and partook in all the games, songs, and classes. One of our new visitors, Roma, a young boy of 8, commented how much he loved being at the church and how it felt just like home. A puppet show about the birth of Christ was put on for the kids at the end of the Fifth and Sixth, which they enjoyed very much as they sat before the set drinking homemade hot chocolate that I made for them. Each day was closed in a Divine Mercy Chaplet before the image of Divine Mercy.
*Dacha- a simple Russian cottage that is typically used in the summer by families, but Father’s is used as a place of prayer for Poustinia (a time of prayer away from any distractions).