By Allan Handysides, MD, MB, ChB, Retired Director of the Department of Health Ministries, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Drs. Handysides and Landless recently completed a visit to several areas in Russia. Considerable anxiety was expressed over a propensity toward extreme positions being both proposed to and, in some cases, being accepted by members. Because of the history of dissension in the Church in Russia, concern was expressed that issues that cause divisiveness should be strenuously avoided. A positive, balanced approach was encouraged and warmly welcomed.
Several initiatives are underway. One has been the opening of a rehabilitation center. The current site is primitive, but opportunity for purchase of land exists, and an estimated $50,000 US is required to set up a new facility on about three acres of land.
Another project is a camp, recently purchased and projected as a Youth Camp and a Health Camp. Our visit to this site was across a snow-covered dirt road and our four-wheel drive vehicle, a 40-year-old ex-Army truck, became stuck. Nevertheless, with typical Russian determination, the winch that was attached to the front of the vehicle was able to haul us out of the drift.
The lone caretaker at the camp lives in a tiny cabin and in minus 27 degrees Celsius weather, she cares for the well-being of the camp. Our journey to St. Petersburg was by a super-modern train; the journey took some four hours.
At St. Petersburg, we met with health leaders. So slippery were the sidewalks, one of us fell on his derrière. But, even while not speaking the language, we were able to come close to the children, such as young Daniel, pictured with Nadia, Allan, and Peter. The return journey involved a sleeper carriage, where Nadia told us our cheerfulness would be misinterpreted by the other occupants as most likely owing to our having drunk wine.
What a joy it is to be able to be cheerful and happy without the need for intoxicants such as wine!