Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Yearbook Experience - Nikolai Kalibaba

(Time Zone map on pg 218 of the 2008 Yearbook)

Russia is the world's largest country, and Siberia is a huge region, larger than Canada, which is the world's second largest country. Russia spans 4,800 miles from east to west and 1,850 miles from north to south with a total area of 6,592,800 square miles. Encompassing a staggering 11 time zones, Russia wraps herself almost halfway around the Northern Hemisphere. Within Russia are the highest mountain and the longest river in Europe and the world's deepest lake.

(experience of Nikolai Kalibaba, pgs 108 & 109 of the 2008 Yearbook)

It seemed to us that every Witness in the Soviet Union was being tracked. Life was not easy, but Jehovah gave us wisdom. In April 1959, I was arrested for religious activities. Not wanting to give any of the brothers away, I decided to deny everything. The investigator pointed to pictures of brothers and asked me to name them. I said that I could identify no one. Then he showed me a picture of my fleshly brother and asked, "Is this your brother?" I answered: "I don't know whether it is him or not. I can't say." After that, the investigator showed me a picture of myself and asked, "Is this you?" I said, "This person looks like me, but whether it is me or not, I can't say." I was locked in a cell for over two months. Every morning, I got up and thanked Jehovah for his loving-kindness. Then I recalled a scripture from the Bible, after which I discussed the scripture with myself. Then I sang a Kingdom song but silently, since singing in the cell was forbidden. After this, I went over a Bible topic. The camp I was sent to already held many Witnesses. The conditions of imprisonment were very harsh, and we were not permitted to talk. Very often the brothers, were sent to the isolation ward or, as they called it, the fifth corner. I was sent to the fifth corner several times. There, prisoners were given only seven ounces of bread a day. I slept on a wooden plank that was covered with a thick layer of iron. The window had broken panes, and there were many mosquitoes. My boots were my pillow.

Generally, each brother worked out his own hiding place for literature. I decided to hide literature in the broom I used to sweep the floor. During searches, the foreman did not even think to look inside the broom, although he carefully checked every little thing. We also hid literature in the walls. I learned to trust Jehovah's organization. Jehovah sees and knows everything and helps each of his faithful servants. Jehovah always helped me. Even before the exile of my family in 1949, my father said that Jehovah could arrange matters so that people in far-off Siberia would hear the truth. We thought, 'How could that be?' As it turned out, the authorities themselves enabled thousands of sincere people in Siberia to come to know the truth. When the country was swept by change, the brothers eagerly embraced the opportunity to travel to Poland for the international convention in 1989. Those were unforgettable days. After the final prayer, we continued to stand, and we applauded for a long time. What feelings we experienced! For many years I had become used to various hardships and problems, but we seldom had tears in our eyes. When we parted from our dear brothers in Poland, the tears flowed freely, and no one could-or even wanted to-stop them.