February has dawned and so begins another beautiful month. January was more difficult than I thought it would be, due to the lack of sun, lack of our Beloved Fr. Michael Shields, and the doldrums that come with cabin fever. But we have been given hope that ‘Spring’ will soon be here.
As we get pummeled with snow, living in Siberia has become more of what we had imagined it would be.
Despite the snowy terrain and jaw-dropping temperatures, Russians have some of the the warmest hearts I have ever encountered, even in such tough living conditions and various trials of life.
I once read that if you befriend a Russian they will do anything for you, I can confidently say that this is true from all the countless times our friends here have offered their help to us.
Life here has been different than back home in America. It has been slower-paced, simpler and has drawn us to reflect more deeply about life.
One thing I have noticed is that back home people have this idea that they can control nature. Whereas people here just survive knowing that nature is stronger than them. I have seen one too many elderly person fall on the icy sidewalks, only to pop-up quickly and continue on their way. I have seen many stray dogs shiver, whimper, and fight over scraps of food. I have encountered brokenness here, in the infrastructure, in families, in individuals, and in myself. Despite all this, there is still joy, generosity, and love in their hearts.
No amount of snow, sludge or ice will stop them. As we walk down the slushy streets past several cars lodged in the snow, people are pressing on, getting out and helping each other escape from the depths of the snowy river like roads.
The ‘Russian Soul’ is complex and beautiful. Recently, my teacher said in class “The Russian language is like the Russian Soul. A mystery.” Those words penetrated my heart and have stuck with me ever since that class. It has given me a new perspective into the world around me.
Each day I look around to the curious faces around me; the babushkas making their way around the city with their parcels and packages, the neighbors who greet you by asking you questions as they smoke a cigarette out of their second story window, the teachers who spend countless hours trying to help you understand the new words buzzing around you, the kids who come to you every Saturday for a safe place to learn and grow, the friends who show up to everything you invite them to, and always want to help in any way that they can.
They all make life here so beautiful. Time after time, when I ask people what their favorite thing is about Magadan, they often respond, “the people.” I couldn't agree more. Even when my heart yearns for home, when I am feeling sun-deprived and questioning why I moved to the top of the globe; I am reminded by just a single look out the window or a single interaction with someone. I am reminded that I am here for these people, to learn from them, to serve them, to love them, to suffer with them, and to rejoice with them.
I am reminded of the wonders of humanity, and the many gifts given to us in this life; and these thoughts are enough to bring a smile back to my face and joy to my heart.
After much prayer and consideration, MJ and I have felt called to return to Magadan to continue serving for one more year. Please consider becoming a part of our mission by helping us return to Magadan next year! We need to raise $3,000 total in order to return, and continue serving.
You can donate by simply going to our donate page. Thank you again for following our life here in Magadan, and making this journey a small part of your life.