Thursday, March 18, 2010

An Immense Capacity to Endure

An Immense Capacity to Endure 3/18/10
Weather--Bright sun after 4 days of snow
Temp--+18F Wind--3-5 mph

We went to Snegiri (picture below) with the Trejos and the assistants this morning because we rarely get out there to church and we always take advantage of a ride anywhere. This branch is in a small village about 5 miles to the east of Novosibirsk proper but within the City jurisdiction.

The branch has 101 members on the roll, but with about thirty on any particular Sunday. The branch president has begun to get the vision of ministering to his congregation and was greeting people at the door today and organizing rescue visits to inactives during a 15 minute meeting after church. Our friend at right is a new convert in this branch and needs lots of support. Here she is with her youngest daughter and granddaughter.

While visiting with those we know in the branch, we talked to one of our friends whose wife is in the hospital suffering from undiagnosed pain that has accompanied paralysis of her upper body, including her hands and arms as well as a benign tumor on her spine. This is just the icing on the cake for this lady who is the mother of an autistic son and the wife of a man who lost his job a year ago and cannot work because the former employer will not return his "work card".

These folks have struggled with burdens that would bury most of us, but they still try to smile and make the best of it. The autistic son has made a lot of progress over these past 2 years because she has worked with him constantly, every day, using techniques she has learned herself from books (several of which we provided) and the internet because the medical community here does not recognize autism as a legitimate disease/syndrome needing treatment. She has treated this boy at home for the last 6+ years, as soon as she identified his behaviors, without support or even acceptance by medicals or community. They were even afraid to tell the members of the branch because he would be isolated and ostracized thinking that other children could be affected.

If I had this autistic child, wife with a spinal tumor, no prospect of being allowed to work for the foreseeable future, and now the wife is paralyzed with an unknown condition, I would not be able to get out of the bed in the morning, but this family is at church, he is teaching the priesthood lesson, and he is going with her to her medical tests, and he is sounding upbeat about the possible treatment of his wife's condition.
It is astounding, but it is typical of Siberians who see themselves as able to endure anything, after all, they live in one of the most inhospitable places of major population in the world and manage to make a life for themselves. Imagine that you live in a place where serious winter lasts 6-7 months of the year and winter temperatures fall to the high - 30's and stay there for 3-4 months at a time; where government, crime, pandemic corruption, and a thousand years of tyrannical history make daily life miserable; where everything in your life is controlled by someone or something else; where hope is a four-letter-word and initiative is crushed; where you live on so little that any minor setback is ruinous; where most young couples live with a parent or rent a bedroom in another family's apartment because they can't afford their own; can you imagine this?

These people have an iron will and an almost-unlimited capacity to endure and it is way beyond anything I understand. This is why I love the Russians and especially the Russians in the Church that I know. They are extraordinary people and they have my admiration, my love, and my respect for what they can endure. I am grateful to be part of the process to introduce them to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the hope that it can bring to them. God bless the missionaries in their effort to do so.

What a country


Shannon said...

Wow. That is incredible. I cannot imagine how hard life is. Through work, I see how hard it is for families here who have a LOT of support for their autistic (children) - but to have no support or government recognition - that is unimaginable. I did send the mother an email to see what would be useful for her, but I have not heard a response. I understand why now. I will put that family in my prayers - do they have internet access at home? Otherwise I will send some additional books your way for her.

Keep sharing the light and strengthening those iron wills.


Trisha said...

Faith is truly a blessing. It is also a blessing to see the smiles on those who have been blessed by the gospel even in hard times.