“Here comes the Sun, Here comes the sun, it feels like years since its been here” This song has never rung truer. The first day of Spring was ushered in with warm Magadan weather, clear blue skies, and brilliant beams of sunshine. ”Spring” has allowed a revival of our spirits.
Ministry has continued as usual. One of our local young artists, Sofiya, came to art club and helped paint part of a set for our Lenten play.
On Saturday, Kids Club has continued, and it has been incredible working with the kids. One of the exercises we did with the older kids recently, was describing the painting by Ivan Kramskoy “Christ in the Wilderness.” We had them describe it in English as much as they could, and we were amazed by all the things they said about this piece.
On Saturday nights we have held a variety of events. One weekend, we watched the Pursuit of Happiness and discussed it afterwards. One of our friends, Alexander, commented afterwards, “I've never seen this movie before. Thank you so much for your choice. It taught me that bad things happen to all of us and whatever happens we must never give up.”
On Sunday's, after mass the whole parish partakes in the Stations of the Cross. The past couple of weeks MJ and I have been asked to read the prayer for some of the stations. It has been such an honor to be a part of this community prayer and Lenten reflections.
Despite the fact that it is ‘Spring’, both bays are frozen, and on the National holiday of Women’s day; Katya and I spend the day walking down to the bay and then crossing the bay and observing all the families and friends ice fishing together.
Our classes have been very interesting, and in our Art History and Film history classes we have been learning a lot about Russian art and cinema. This has allowed MJ and I to have a deeper understanding of Russian culture and the Russian soul.
Last Saturday, we had to cancel our events due to extreme wind and snow, much to all of our friend’s dismays. Everyone tried to persuade us to have the event despite the crazy weather. It was so heart-warming knowing that despite the rampant weather they wanted to get to get together.
One day, last week while I was on the bus on my way to school, an elderly woman began talking to me. She was talking about retirees, the revolution and other assorted topics to which I am uncertain. She began to ask me questions, and when I answered very briefly she asked if I was from Uzbekistan. I responded no, that I was American. She was delighted and told me of her brother who had moved to American and asked me about New York. She also asked me why I was in Magadan. I told her I was studying Russian and helping out at the Catholic Church. She began to tell me about a woman she met from the Catholic Church who helped her once. As she began to describe the woman, I realized she was talking about Sveta! It was so neat seeing just another witness of how impactful the Church is here in Magadan.
Father Roman from Poland left last Wednesday, and he has been replaced by the wonderful Father Yoseph from Slovakia. Within a few short days he began developing relationships with the people of the parish.
Yesterday at kids club we taught the older kids about Saint Patrick, and the younger kids about generosity and almsgiving and the story of Elijah and the Poor widow. It is beautiful to see how receptive and excited they are about the weekly sessions.
Later that night we had another cooking competition to our friends request. We all met up together at the grocery store to buy supplies to make good, ol’ Russian pelmeni. Half of the group had never made pelmeni before and half of the group had. The atmosphere was very familial as we made pelmeni together and ate together.
Some of our friends asked about the new priest, Father Yoseph, and then went to go meet him and invite him to our event. Each passing Saturday night event has proved to us that the Church is our friends new home. They feel very comfortable here, they have established close relationships, and they have even started to reach out to the other members of the church.
It is such a blessing to see that they are open to helping the church through cleaning, donating clothes, offering the food we cooked to the church, and by helping make items to sell at the market to raise money for the poor.
On Sunday, March 18th, MJ and I had the opportunity to experience a Russian Election as we accompanied Katya to the polls! There were lots of events happening around the city, even including games and competitions for kids.
March so far has been a blessed month, that has gone by faster than we could have ever imagined. We cannot wait to see what is in store for the rest of the month as we draw closer to the end of the month, as well as the the end of Lent!