Minsk Essay 2018 by Alexander Boldewskul
Minsk Trip Thoughts
Almost all aspects of the trip where delightful and enjoyable. The monastery accepted us with great hospitality. Personally, I felt very welcomed by the nuns, novices, Belarusian youth and churchgoers. I have not been to Russia in a long time and this trip in a way gave me a chance to revisit it. Even though Belarus is considered a different country, many aspects of Russian culture was present, for example the Orthodox faith, mentality of the people, and overall atmosphere. It brought back good memories to see all of that.
The church services where beautiful and the choir at St. Elizabeth Monastery was as magnificent as I expected it to be. On the first day we attended vespers at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit and despite being “jet-lagged” I had a great experience taking part in a service in a country that is strongly related to Russia, where the roots ROCOR came from. It was an amazing spiritual experience.
The Church of all Saints was mesmerizing. Everything at that cathedral was very grand. Viewing the insides and out of the cathedral showed what it means when the government of a country is Orthodox and supports the church.
Another experience I won’t forget is the orphanage for mentally disabled children and the home for the elderly. The individuals that take part in the care by the St. Elizabeth Monastery are the same kind of people that I work with back in Boston. It reminded me of my summer job which gave me a lot of joy. The way they were treated at the homes is the exact way people like them are treated at my job; with care and respect. When our group was welcomed to see a concert performed by the children at the orphanage it almost brought tears to me eyes. Back at my job, we also host similar events for the individuals we care for. I will never forget that experience.
Overall, it was an amazing pilgrimage and everything went fantastic. We were well fed and greatly welcomed. It strengthened my sense of Russian Orthodox identity. There was nothing that I did not like, with the exception of the short stay and the jet-lag.