How did our family of ten make the decision to move to Rostov, Russia? As with most decisions, there were a lot of prayers, asking for advice, a lot more prayers, and waiting for God to open or close doors. The following are some of reasons we started exploring a move to Russia.
The “road” actually started when we became Orthodox. We lived in a small town, and attended an Orthodox Mission Station. The congregation was made up mostly of our family, and a few other families. Our children made up the majority of children in the congregation. As parents of eight, one of our main concerns is to find good Orthodox future spouses for them. The nearest Orthodox churches were at least an hour away. Meanwhile, there are more Orthodox churches and Orthodox people in Russia, than just about anywhere.
My husband, Fr. Joseph, has been drawn toward Russia for a long time. He struck up a friendship with a couple from California who had lived in the United States for a number of years, and who had moved to St. Petersburg, Russia. The wife was a Russian citizen and American citizen, and the husband was an American citizen. As time went by, my husband asked lots of questions about life in Russia, possible employment, learning the language, moving experiences, etc. Eventually, he decided to take a trip to Russia to see it for himself. His pictures, videos, and experiences intrigued us all.
The downward spiral of the American government and culture played a huge role in our eventual decision to actually move. When the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, we knew it was time to speed up the timetable. We figured it would just be a matter of time before the government would be cracking down on homeschooling and forcing our children to be indoctrinated with immoral teachings. While America is going downward morally and spiritually, Russia has consistently been going upward. Russia has been making progress in a number of areas: cracking down on the gay agenda, limiting abortions, building and restoring thousands of churches, rewarding families who have several children, outlawing GMO products, and encouraging local sustainable agriculture in order to feed their own people in a healthy way. These are just some of the positive things that caught our attention.
After my husband’s first visit, we all began studying the Russian language. We added it to our homeschooling curriculum. My husband began making contacts with people in Russia, and very quickly became acquainted with several people in positions to help us. About this time I became pregnant with our eighth child. Once he was born, the children and I applied for our passports. It took about six weeks to get them back. In the mean time we continued studying the language, and my husband kept meeting more people who could help us with the transition. We put our house on the market, and began purging away our many belongings. Because he is a priest, my husband had to get our bishop’s permission to go to Russia. He also had to get permission from a bishop in Russia. All of this took time, and for a while it seemed like it wasn’t ever going to happen.
Then suddenly doors started opening, and we applied for our VISAs. Originally, we thought we would move to Moscow and live in an apartment while we immersed ourselves in the language. Then, eventually, we hoped to move away from Moscow and purchase some affordable land, so that we could live in the country and have a small family farm.
However, before we ever got to Moscow, a new door opened in Rostov, a wonderful town in the famous Golden Ring of Russia. And though we just found out about Rostov recently, it turns out this particular door started opening a quarter century ago, long before we had even converted to Orthodoxy.
25 years ago, Father Boris was a gifted priest and spiritual father in Rostov, Russia. He was greatly beloved by his spiritual children. He would give them spiritual advice and direction. Sometimes he would also provide revelations from the Lord, regarding future events.
To one particular man named Roman, Fr. Boris gave him three bits of information. He said that Roman would become a priest. (He did.) He said that Fr. Roman would have exactly eight children. (He and his wife did.) And he said that the day would come, when Fr. Roman would lead a movement, restoring Orthodox farming communities to the area around Rostov, just as they had formerly existed for hundreds of years. Interestingly, Fr. Boris said that the communities would not mostly be made up of native Russians. Rather, he said that people would come from all over the world to participate in this renewal of Christian community.
Fr. Roman, along with his wife and eight children, invited us to work alongside them to help build the first community. We were very happy to accept the invitation, and we look forward to purchasing land in this area. With the help of other friends who move to this area, we hope to form a warm and inviting Orthodox farming community, with an Orthodox church at its center. Since the community will have many English speakers, it will be an inviting place for people who have not yet become fluent in Russian. Our goal is for other Orthodox families who are wanting to leave America to have a place to come to where they will feel comfortable while learning the Russian language and culture.
So on January 1st, we flew away from America, and on January 2nd, we arrived in Rostov, Russia. This is our story. You are always welcome to visit us, and to join the adventure. Maybe you’ll decide to stay!