Dear Fr. Paul and HROC, Happy Fortieth Year Anniversary!
My husband and I were members of the HROC for several years while I was working on my PhD. Two years after I got my degree we moved to Minnesota (in 2012). For us HROC was a solid foundation and a family for several years. We did not have family in the US (we came from Ukraine), but HROC became our family. There are a lot of stories I could tell, but I especially remember the following:
In 2009 our son Constantin was born, so a couple of months before, women of HROC organized a baby shower for me and supplied our family with all the necessary things for months and probably even years, from diapers, blankets and bottles to a bouncer, stroller, a car seat and everything else that a new mother would need. This was such a huge help for us. Our parents could not visit us at that time, I remember my mom was worried about us a lot, because she could not come help us at that time and we were expecting our first child. So when I told her about my baby shower she was so surprised (because there is no such tradition in our culture), relieved and grateful to our HROC community! Also, the big support for us was Fr Paul’s prayer, who spent several hours in the hospital waiting for the news and praying. This was such a happy time for us and HROC family made it very special, I am so grateful for everything, for love and support, for help, for delicious meals during the first several weeks after Constantin was born!
And another story that is still amazing to me happened when my dad unexpectedly passed away in Ukraine, I think I was in such a shock that I did not know what to do at that moment. Earlier, Igor and I decided to move into more specious apartment (since there were three of us now). Everything was scheduled in both apartment complexes; we signed a new lease and had to vacate our old apartment by a certain date. So when we received the sad news from Ukraine about my dad, we were in the middle of packing and moving. The decision had to be made very quickly whether we go to Ukraine for the funeral or stay and move to the new place, we tried to postpone the move, but the apartment manager had signed a contract for our old apartment with somebody else already, so we had to move. And again HROC family came to the rescue. Fr. Paul advised us to go to Ukraine and I am forever grateful for this, because I had a chance to say good-bye to my dad and see him for the very last time. So we travelled to Ukraine the next day and HROC family packed our things and moved us to a new place; our friends not only moved our furniture and boxes, they assembled everything and made the apartment like home, so when we came back we just had to unpack some boxes, even groceries were bought for us! This was amazing, we will never forget this, I am especially grateful to you all for your kindness, love and support, as well as unforgettable southern hospitality. Dear Fr. Paul, thank you so much for everything, you and Matushka Sissy were always there for us; even after we left Fr. Paul helped us find a new church in Minneapolis.
Since our move to Minnesota, our family has grown a little bit, our daughter Elizabeth was born in 2013. We learned many things from our people in HROC, we try to keep some of the “traditions”, like having dinner together after the house blessings, though I find that life is busier here and people are a little more disconnected. Igor and I were able to set up a small book store in our new church with Katherine’s help, who generously shared with us the information about orthodox publishers and suppliers., We still run the book store and our church members appreciate it very much.
I would like to thank all of you again and wish you a happy fortieth celebration and many-many years!
January 30, 2017