2 weeks ago, after the church service, I got a call from a dear friend and brother, Simon Asachov, saying I should check my Facebook inbox.
I was excited and went ahead to check my inbox. What I saw surprised me. Simon was to go serve in the Russian Army.
I was taken aback. I have just one year to spend in Russia and he will be away, far away, from me? I will not be able to call his phone nor hang out with him in the Banya, nor will I be able to have some fellowship with him? Who will I call ‘krasavchik’?
Having lived in Russia for about 6 years, it is common knowledge that the graduates will have to serve their countries for 1 year. This is usually compulsory for all males. Lucky females!
Within this one year, you could be posted anywhere as you do not have a choice as to where you will want to serve. It could be a war torn area – thank God Russia isn’t actively involved in any war – else I would have been sore afraid that he could get conscripted into some battalion.
Another worry is that the Army isn’t, as they say, very comfortable. This has motivated a lot of Russian youths to purchase what is known as ‘belii bilet’ translated, ‘white ticket’ – a document which exempts the holder from serving in the Russian Army. People pay from $5,000 to $8,000 to get the said document. When I asked why we didn’t raise the money so we can have him over for the year, he said we wouldn’t give or take bribes, would we? That sealed the question.
There are, however, very many advantages like learning to be disciplined, focused, confident, and of course defending one’s country.
As part of activities to mark his send forth to the Army, we held a service dedicated to him where we looked at the similarities between the Army and Christianity. We were reminded that we are soldiers of Christ (2 Tim 2:3) and hence must shun civilian affairs.
After the service, we headed to his house where we were treated to a sumptuous three course meal of jollof rice (plof), some very fresh salad and some freshly baked and decorated cakes.
Afterwards, the banya was already waiting for the men of the house. Banya is a hot room where people go to relax in temperatures above 80 degrees Celsius. We didn’t waste much time adapting to the heat and I was flogged with the leafy broom which relieved my body of all the accumulated stress in my system.
It was a fine weekend with Simon, who Wednesday, 27th June, 2012 defended his diploma.
As you are reading this, he must have resumed camp from whence he will be posted to his location of service.
I wish him all the very best and I will pray for him daily, being rest assured that he will serve Russia well and come out even fresher.