60 YEARS HAND IN HAND

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This amazing couple sweeps you off your feet in the first minute with their sincerity, spontaneity, and tenderness as they look at each other. They have lived together for 60 years, raised four beautiful children, and helped thousands of Russian-speaking refugees move to America.

We hope you will be inspired by Mikhail and Nadezhda’s story of love, loyalty, and devotion as they share how it is possible to live with one person your entire life with love and respect for each other!

Mikhail, Nadezhda, tell us when and under what circumstances you first met.

Mikhail: I first saw Nadya when I was 13 years old and she was only 8. She was my best friend’s sister. Several years later, I began to communicate with Nadezhda, and I realized that I was in love with her. As soon as she turned 18, I proposed to her.

Nadezhda, do you remember how this happened?

Nadezhda: Yes, of course. We spent a lot of time together with our mutual friends at the Sacramento River during the summers. There was a small platform on the river and one afternoon, Misha shyly called me up to him and proposed. I was in love with him, and without hesitation, I answered YES!

What helped both of you to carry this youthful, passionate love throughout your life? What is most important in a happy marriage?

Mikhail: The wisdom and patience of my dear wife are what helped both of us go through all of life’s difficult situations. My dear Nadya is an amazing woman. She always tries to understand me and helps reason through the most difficult decisions in life. Without her, I would not have been able to do half of what I have accomplished during my lifetime.

Nadezhda: It’s very easy to live with Misha. He not only listened to me, but he also heard me. He always paid attention to me, delighted me with gifts, and always spoke to me with respect. To live your whole life together, you need to be able to communicate with each other and understand what your partner wants. Without the ability to address issues, I think it is impossible to live a long and happy life.

One of the most significant events in your life is the formation of the “Word to Russia” Ministry. Could you tell me what made you, Mikhail, a respected and beloved teacher, leave teaching and start your missionary activity?

Mikhail: This crucial and decisive moment for me and my family occurred during a trip to the Soviet Union.

I flew to Moscow and decided to go for a jog early one morning. This memory is still vivid in my mind: stunningly beautiful architecture and nature. Even the air was adorned with some indescribable purity.

And suddenly, the bells started chiming, and this crystal ding-dong was the motive for the song “Moscow Nights”:

Not a rustle heard in the garden,

All is standing still till sunrise.

If only you knew how dear to me are

Moscow nights.

As I slowly sang the song to the dinging of the bells, I remembered two Russian sisters who taught me the words of this song while walking down the Sacramento River with Bryte Youth many years ago. Walking by the river, I thought: “These are my people” although I had never been to Russia before. I was born in China to parents who were lucky enough to flee communism. My thoughts were interrupted with tears, and I realized that the persecution of Christians was still real. It was not in vain that I was here to deliver Bibles and money for an underground printing press in the Soviet Union. I realized that I wanted to help my people and would do everything possible and impossible to save them.

Nadezhda, certainly, Mikhail’s decision would affect you and your children. Did you support your husband in his decision immediately and what was the most difficult thing for you?

Nadezhda: Of course, it was not easy, but I saw how sincerely my husband wanted to serve God and work for the good and salvation of his fellow countrymen.

I trusted the Lord and despite all the difficulties, I realized that I had to support Mikhail. The most difficult thing was solving everyday issues. Children, household, work – I was responsible for all of that. But I saw how Mikhail’s eyes would shine and the dedication he had for the “Word to Russia” Mission, so we went through all the difficulties together and helped each other.

Mikhail, have there been moments in your life when you doubted your decision?

All people have doubts. But I have never regretted the decision I made. Were there disappointments? Of course, there were. At the same time, the following life principle always helped me: If you did good, forget it! Don’t expect anything in return from that person. Not all people pay back their debts and not everyone remains grateful, so I have never done anything mercenarily. Everything I did was with all my heart, but what people did was beyond my power. And of course, the Lord has always supported me. In the most difficult times, He was always there.

Mikhail, at the beginning of your career, you devoted many years to teaching and raising children. How do you see the educational system now and what is its main difference from 50 years ago?

Mikhail: Oh, that’s a tough question that can’t be answered quickly. In fact, the subject is profound. You know, I still meet with my former students. They recognize me, and we have a very warm conversation and reflect on our school years. At that time, the role of a teacher was not limited to making students love and learn your subject. We talked a lot, even on spiritual topics. Children opened up in frank conversations which helped them grow not only in their studies but also helped them develop their moral and spiritual values.

Now, unfortunately, schools have changed, and the level of education is different as well. The strong link between teacher and students is often not there and neither is reverence, respect, and trust for one another.

Nadezhda, what principles of upbringing did you adhere to in raising successful and happy children?

Nadezhda: I think there is no universal advice, but it is especially important to study the Word of God with children and be hard on them but do it with immense love. Sometimes, permissiveness spoils a person much more than adequate discipline. It is incredibly important to love children, but even loving them, one must not forget that strictness in some situations will help to raise responsible, happy children who will respect themselves and other people.

Mikhail, Nadezhda, what obligatory family traditions do you have in your family that you adhere to from year to year?

Nadezhda: We definitely get together for all the major holidays such as Christmas, birthdays, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc. Of course, we cook lots of delicious food, sing songs altogether, give each other gifts, and thank the Lord for everything in our life!

What is love impossible without?

Mikhail: Without love and patience.

Nadezhda: Without love and belief in the presence of the Lord among us.

Living 60 years together in perfect harmony is truly an achievement, especially considering today’s realities. What helped you retain your love throughout your life?

Mikhail: I am grateful to God for the fact that 60 years ago he gave me such a gift at the river. Nadya is a unique person. I love her very much and I am happy that we have had a common heartbeat for so many years.

Nadezhda: I also thank the Lord for Mikhail. And I will add that we have always been able to talk. We never went to bed without speaking. We discussed all the difficult moments and knew how to hear each other. This is very important for a long and happy marriage.

Is there a book or a movie that you would recommend everyone to watch?

Nadezhda: The most important book for everyone is the Bible. It contains so much wisdom, love, and answers to even the most difficult questions. Regarding movies,  “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Gone with the Wind”, and “Doctor Zhivago” come to mind.

Mikhail: These films show the complexity and strength of the human character. After all, each of us has incredible potential, and the most important thing is to find the strength and courage to realize it.

What were your life mottos? Nadezhda, I want you to answer for Mikhail, and he will answer for you.

Nadezhda: Give everything you can and never expect recognition.

Mikhail: You can do a lot more if you don’t worry about who gets the praise and recognition for it.

Communicating with you, Mikhail and Nadezhda, one can really believe that there is such a strong and true love! And my last question to you both: When you appear before the Lord, what will you tell him?

Mikhail: I will sing the song “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord” with Him.

Nadezhda: And I will join in the song with my beloved husband.

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Olga Garicichina

Russian Time Magazine Assistant Editor Editor@RussianAmericanMedia.com

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