By Melody Kube, AuSIL Publicist
Sometimes I try to tell people what life is like in Siberia. I tell them about the indigenous people and how important the reindeer are to their way of life. I tell them about how in summer it’s light outside almost around the clock and how in winter kids walk to school before the sun comes up and it’s down again before they head home. But here in Darwin, I might as well be telling people about how I used to live on the moon. My Indigenous Australian friends who have lived their whole lives in the tropics or the desert find it hard to imagine the crunch of fresh snow underfoot or the idea of scraping ice off the car windscreen in the morning.
I grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada: a place where all four seasons get equal coverage. Provided you define them as we did, if there’s no snow on the ground, it’s not winter. Even so, the word ‘Siberia’ held all the connotations for me that it probably does for you: a frozen wasteland, barely habitable. It’s not true. Siberia is more like those beautiful images you picture from an Alaskan cruise.
I met my husband in Siberia while we were both there with different mission agencies (Paul is from Melbourne). After we married, we went back again. We spent 12 years in total as cross-cultural mission workers in Siberia, living in three different cities and travelling across most of it on many different journeys. Part way through, we did linguistics training at SIL Australia in Kangaroo Ground and were able to put those skills into action, helping to support minority indigenous languages and contribute to oral Bible translation projects.
Coming back to Australia in 2017 was a hard decision and we floundered for a while, not knowing what would come next or how God would weave it together for our good and for his glory. Eventually, we accepted another call to the north, but this time on a continent where north means heat, not cold.
Adjusting to the heat and humidity continues to be difficult for me; some days I really struggle. Yet, I’m actually surprised by the similarities I find as much as the differences. Sometimes the work is similar, too: minority languages, remote locations, nomadism, spiritual perspectives. I believe God taught me things in Siberia that are relevant here. I also know that I am learning things now that would apply in Siberia if or when God leads us back there.
The Northern Territory is an extraordinary place. When I share stories or photos of our life here with my friends back in Siberia, they are equally amazed at how exotic and different it is from their own experiences.
I don’t know what God still has planned for my life. I hope there are more weird and wonderful locations he might have us live in and I know those will each have new things to learn and adjust to. Yet, I know God is faithful and as far as the weather is concerned—I think I’ve got it covered.