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A baptism in freezing conditions

David Cave outside Ivan's home 

David Cave outside Ivan's home

I embarked on my first visit to Belarus with some trepidation and intrigue. From what I’d read it was a somewhat inhospitable place, governed by a communist dictator, and renowned as one of the last bastions of Soviet ideals.

I was accompanying Mark Whittaker, a seasoned visitor to the country, and we were joined in Minsk by Victor Sluczewski, our interpreter and driver for the week. Viktor brought his tiny Russian Oka car, which the three of us just managed to fit in with our rucksacks, but it performed amazingly.

On Saturday we drove south to Baranovichi to meet Leonid, who took us to visit and break bread with Larisa, and then further south to Alexandr and Natasha, who live with their six sons in the town of Luninets.

The following day, we met with 13 brothers and sisters in a hired apartment back in Minsk, and shared bread and wine together. Study of aspects of the day’s reading from Acts provoked energetic discussion.

The remainder of the week was spent visiting brothers and sisters living in isolation around the north of the country, and the overriding theme of the week was one of amazing hospitality and resilience in the face of poverty and hardship. Over and over we were presented with meals and warm welcomes by those in isolation who appreciated the fellowship we were able to share.

The highlight of the week was the baptism of Vitaly, grandson of our sister Nina. It was a cold day and Vitaly was baptised in a freezing lake in the pouring rain.

I left Belarus feeling greatly blessed to have been able to spend time and share fellowship with my brothers and sisters.

David Cave
October 2009

Information about Belarus