Belarus, 20 – 27 / 04/06
My flight to Belarus was very pleasant, beginning and ending in sunshine. Sergei quickly sorted my visa, and apart from a slight query regarding vat due on a present for a brother, we were quickly heading into the city. Once I had booked in at hotel Planeta, I had a quick walk into the city centre to top up on KFC. Next morning, Igor met me for breakfast, and we planned our itinerary. We left our luggage at Igor’s brothers house and set off for Shlov, to meet the Yakobavski family, arriving there at about 6.30 p.m. ‘Is that a Jewish name Yakob/Jacob ?’. We had a pleasant evening with the family, Mother Alla, son and daughter, Edward and Lila. We had our daily readings and discussion , which was relaxed and interesting. Next morning we walked into town and, in sunshine learned some of the local history. After lunch we played some games and card tricks, which added to the relaxed atmosphere of our visit. Afterwords I was apportioned the name Julik, which I later learned was the Russian for swindler. Later we had our breaking of bread meeting. Midway through my exhortation, Sis. Alla interrupted in a forceful monologue , which I later discovered was an enforcement of my exhortation to her children, on the failure of the clergy to bring the truth of God’s word to the people (based on Mal 2). We left for Shlove on the 9p.m. train.
I have struggled to find a balance, in deciding what help should be given to brothers and sisters in need. Here is a family which needs help at the moment, but wouldn’t dare ask. Sis. Alla is without work now, and it is obvious, that she is struggling to maintain what is, a very low level of existence. I think of Paul bringing support to the ecclesia in Jerusalem, and feel that we must give some help. I have discussed with Alla, some small aid from the Waterford Ecclesia. I hope this is not straying outside the guidelines of the work of visiting brothers. Here is a family, strong in the faith, for faith’s sake and not for the monetary gains that might come from association with brothers and sisters from the West.
Igor an I spent the night at Magilov train station, sharing a room which was of high quality and very well priced at 6 euro each.
We left our station room to catch a 7.30 train back to Minsk, which took about four hours. We were hoping to be just in time for a midday meeting at Oleg’s (Igor’s brother) house with his wife Olga. We reached the house on the dot of 12, but none of the visitors had arrived. Shortly after, four visitors were at the door, Alexander, Ivan, Danita and Marietta. We had some food and then commenced the readings for the day which continued for more than two hours. We then had B. of B. and some discussion. Later that evening Igor and I left to catch a midnight train, which made a dogs leg detour, North to Politz. We arrive at 9.30 A.M. and found a bus to take us another 45 min to Yukovich, where we were greeted warmly by Brother Vladamyr and Sis. Irena, at their house.
We had a good 24 hours with them. We did our daily readings, and were joined by their neighbour, called Ludmila. Later on Ludmila and her daughter listened in on the exhortation. We left next morning about 9.00, taking some small presents with us from Sis. Irena, and after a bus change at Politz, we arrived in Lepil at 1.45. We walked 5 K.M. to visit Ivan to find he was not at home. It was a shot in the dark as Ivan did not have a phone. So we returned by bus to Lepil and took a bus at 8.45 to Dokshitsa (excuse the name) to visit Marina. It was about 9.30 p.m. when we arrived, and Marina and her husband Valentin, made us very welcome. Marina learned the truth fom her son Valentin who lives in Poland, and we were told that her other son Uri is now also baptised, and living in Minsk. He possibly needs some follow up
We had a late breakfast, and Marina had the morning off from work to accommodate our meeting. Brother Leonid arrived, which meant we now had a car at our disposal. Marina’s husband Valentin, ( he is not a brother), arrived back from work, and joined us for our readings and B. of B. He seemed interested and asked some questions. We left at one, hoping to find Brother Vladymyr, and his mother Anna, who lived out in the sticks in a place called Terriesky, and it would have been impossible to to include in the visit without a car. Vlademyr told us that he would have liked to come to the meeting in Minsk, but he would have to walk about 6 K.M. through the forest to catch a bus. We had some readings, and short discussion, and then left to visit Bro. Gennady in Maladechno. We visited him at work, which made it difficult to have much conversation, but we learnedd that he had just returned that day from Gomel, which is close to Chernobyl, where he attended the funeral of his Grandfather. Gennady looked quite stressed, and he had lost quite a lot of weight, possibly partly due to his difficulties with the authorities. We then left for Minsk and arrived at Oleg’s house at 8 p.m. . We had something to eat and I arrived back at the hotel at 10 p.m., and Igor headed for a midnight train back to Moscow. Overall I was very happy with the response of those we visited. Most of them live very much in isolation, and with minimal comforts, but they are touched by the word of their maker and redeemer.
With love in the Lord
Some pictures made during our trip you can see here:
Visit to Belarus, 20-27 of April
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