Friday, May 22, 2009

Exiled to Siberia - Yevgenia Rybak


experience & photos on pgs 101, 104 & 105
of the 2008 Yearbook
"One Sunday through my window, I heard melodious singing. The singing was by Jehovah's Witnesses. Soon I was attending their meetings. I could not understand why Germans were persecuting other Germans for their faith. My Ukrainian friends with whom I had been taken to Germany began to hate me for associating with Germans. Once one of them yelled at me and then hit me across the face. My former girlfriends began to laugh.
After being freed in 1945, I returned to Ukraine. My grandfather said: "Your mama has lost her mind. She has thrown away her icons, and now she serves some other God." When we were left to ourselves, Mama took out a Bible and read from it that God hates idolatry. She then told me that she was attending meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses. I threw my arms around her neck and with tears in my eyes, quietly said, "Dear Mama, I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses too!" We both cried for joy. Mama was very zealous in the ministry. Since almost all the brothers were imprisoned in camps, she was appointed as the group servant. Her zeal infected me as well.
In 1950, I was arrested for religious activities, and the court sentenced me to ten years of camp imprisonment. Five of us sisters were taken to the town of Usol'ye-Sibirskoye, in Siberia. From April 1951, we worked in railroad construction. We carried heavy railroad ties on our shoulders, two of us to a tie. With our own hands, we also moved and laid 11-yard-long metal tracks that weighed 700 pounds each. We would get very tired. Once when we were going home exhausted from work, a train full of prisoners pulled up and stopped next to us. A man looking through the window asked, "Girls, are there any Jehovah's Witnesses among you?" Our fatigue vanished. "Here are 5 sisters!" we yelled. The prisoners were our dear brothers and sisters who had been exiled from Ukraine. While the train stood still, they excitedly told us what had happened and how they had been exiled. Then the children recited to us poems that the brothers themselves had written. Not even the soldiers disturbed us, and we were able to associate with and encourage one another.
From Usol'ye-Sibirskoye, we were transferred to a large camp near Angarsk. There were 22 sisters there. They had organized everything, including territories for preaching. This helped us to survive spiritually."