This story happened to my father, Eugene Ivanovich, in July 2014. My dad is 82. He grew up in a village and he is fond of nature and long walks in the woods. In spite of his age, he can easily find his way in the woods and he never got lost. Well, he would sometimes lose his way but then find it again and get back home. However, there was no other accident in his life like the one that happened to him on the eve of Holy Apostles Peter and Paul’s day. My father goes to church and takes communion but otherwise he isn’t very churchy. He is sometimes sceptical and even critical of the Orthodox Church – due to his lack of understanding, of course. That was what happened on the eve of July 12, when I suggested that he go to the holiday service. He just waved me off and added a couple of disrespectful words about St Peter and St Paul. I replied, “Dad, why are you saying that? It’s a sin!” but he didn’t listen to me.
So, he set out to gather berries in the forest on the eve of the holiday. It was near Asipovičy. The area is swampy but rich in berries. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find anything because he lost his way and spent a long time roaming the woods. When dad called me in the middle of the day and said that he couldn’t find the way out, I wasn’t nervous because it often happened that he couldn’t find the way but then he found it and it turned out to be very close to his destination. This time, everything was different. When he called me again late at night and said that he hadn’t found the way out of the forest yet, I was very anxious and called the rescue service. I stayed awake all night praying for the Lord to help my dad to find his way. Other sisters of our Convent and Father Andrew also prayed with me. The following morning, the rescuers found my father. He changed his mind radically. He said that it was the most holy Mother of God and the saints who rescued him.
“It was growing dark when I found a glade, which started from a ditch,” my dad told me later. “Soon, the glade was blocked by water and I realized that I couldn’t go any further. I turned aside and saw a white female silhouette and a brick-red boy’s silhouette at a distance. The more I chased them, the quicker they moved away. The female silhouette was several times taller than an average human while the boy’s silhouette was very short. I followed them because they were my only hope. However, they moved too fast and I saw that I couldn’t follow them, so I shouted, “Ma’am, please help me!” They stopped and I got closer to them. I recognized the Mother of God and Baby Jesus in the two silhouettes. Later, two huge male silhouettes, followed by another couple of male silhouettes, appeared. They were covered with reeds, I mean, I could only see them from the waist up. I couldn’t recognize the male silhouettes but I believe they were saints.”
My father isn’t a superstitious man so I don’t think it could have been a hallucination, much less a fantasy. He had never been scared in situations like this. I spent a sleepless night here in the Convent because I was anxiously praying for him. It was a chilly night and he wore light clothes. I was afraid he could catch a cold. Later, my dad told me that he had fallen into the swamp and his feet were wet. Nevertheless, he didn’t feel the cold even though it was raining that night. My dad is certain that it was the Mother of God and the saints who warmed him up and led him out of the forest. He added that when he saw those silhouettes in the woods, he asked them to forgive his words about St Peter and St Paul. He regretted having said those words on the eve of their holiday.
“I spent all night roaming the forest,” my father continues. “The road was near but I couldn’t find it. I followed the silhouettes and came straight to the rescuers who were looking for me.”
In the wake of this accident, my dad immediately went to church and ordered a thanksgiving moleben. He made a donation to our Convent, too. Most importantly, his worldview and his attitude towards the Church has changed drastically. I have never heard him say anything bad about the Church since that time, and I don’t think I’ll ever hear any criticism again. Thanks to the prayers of the sisters of our Convent, the Lord corrected him by revealing to him God’s power and mercy. By doing so, God has strengthened my father’s faith and set him free from doubts forever, I dare hope. My father does not only believe in God: he knows now that God really exists.