Belarus Trip Reflection, Olga Semyanko, Connecticut

From visiting many exquisite churches and monasteries to driving through the countryside our trip to Belarus was an experience I will never forget.  .  Meeting the youth from Belarus was a great way to get to know more about the country.  Being taught what the norms are in Belarus and seeing how different it is to the United States.  Also being able to connect with the youth by singing Russian folk songs all together was very heartwarming.

My favorite church we visited was the All Saints Church located in Minsk.  Not only was it the most impressive as it seemed to take my breath away as soon as I stepped inside.  Every space of the church was covered in miraculous icons, paintings, mosaics, or colorful stones.  My own saint, Saint Olga of Kiev icon was among the many saints as well as my favorite Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco.

Polotsk was my favorite town we visited in Belarus.  The friendly small city environment as well as the beautiful Saint Euphrosyne Monastery were amazing memories.  Seeing Saint Euphrosyne relics as well as the chains she secretly wore under her garments were very inspirational.

We got to visit two orphanages throughout our trip.  As it might have been hard to see some of the children’s conditions it was relieving to know that they are being taken care of by such kind and gentle people.  We got to spend some time playing with the children in their brand new petting zoo, which was raised from last years “school piggy bank” donations.  Being able to see and pet the different kinds of animals brought a huge smile to each of children living at the orphanage..

I got to travel with some people that I had already knew  before the trip as well  getting to meet new people. Sharing new experiences with new and old friends in a foreign country was a special event for me. This trip has made me appreciate everything that I have and thankful to my family for preserving my Russian culture and our religion.  It has motivated me to be able to pass this down to my future children and hopefully that line will never end.  I hope that trips like this will continue in order to help others and create connections with other Orthodox youth.

Author:
Olga Semyanko