Ministers' wives in Russia

Mrs. Kulakov and Mrs. Zhukaluk, wives of Annual Council delegates from the Soviet Union, talk with Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Lohne about their lives as ministers' wives in that country.

A conversation with ministers' wives in Russia.

Few have the opportunity to visit the Soviet Union. However, during the 1981 Annual Council the ministers' wives in attendance had the unique experience of meeting Anna Kulakov and Janette Zhukaluk, two Russian ladies who accompanied their delegate husbands to the Council. Listening to them explain their role as a minister's wife in their country was a fascinating experience. Being members of a movement tfuit proclaims the three angels' messages of Revelation 14, we are committed to the preaching of the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

I know that you will be intensely interested in what ministers' wives are doing in this important area of God's vineyard as told by these two ladies during an interview by Elinor Wilson and Agnes Lohne at the women's Annual Council meetings. —Marie Spangler.

Mrs. Wilson: Mrs. Kulakov, tell us a little bit about your early life and how and where you met your husband.

Mrs. Kulakov: It's not so easy for me to speak because for the first time I am in a such a great assembly of honored wives of ministers. I only thank God for this opportunity that He gave me. And I will try to say a few words about my life.

I was born in a Seventh-day Adventist family; my parents accepted Jesus Christ when they were young. This was a great privilege for me—to be born in a family of Seventh-day Adventists. From childhood I could get more and more knowledge of Jesus Christ and learn to live with Him. My parents were active lay members at that time, and our family participated in the work of witnessing. The people gathered usually every Sabbath in the place where my parents lived

In those days—Stalin's days—my future husband, a young man, was in prison. This was a time when many, many Seventh-day Adventists shared that experience. After spending five years in prison, he was banished to the area where I lived. It was wonderful the way providence brought it about that we met there. I was the only girl in the Seventh-day Adventist church in that area. I couldn't hope to meet a Seventh-day Adventist young man, but I decided to give my life into God's hands and to wait for His provision. Then it happened that my future husband was exiled to the place where my family lived. But before we met, I had a dream. In that dream I heard a name, and it was told me that my husband would be named Kulakov. When I heard there was a prisoner in the area with that name, I felt it was probably the man the Lord had prepared for me. So we met there, and I accepted his proposal, and we were married.

Mrs. Wilson: Tell us about your family—your children and grandchildren. Are they all Seventh-day Adventists?

Mrs. Kulakov: We have six children, three sons and three daughters. One son and two daughters are married. Four of our children are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Two are not yet old enough to be baptized.

The husband of our oldest daughter is a student in our theological seminary in Friedensau in East Germany. She is not able to be with him there, but she shares the work by staying at home and caring for their two children. At the same time she works as a secretary for her father and receives the visitors that we have in our home. When Elder Wilson and Elder Lohne with their wives were visiting us in Russia, my eldest daughter helped us as a secretary in the meetings we had with our brothers and sisters from the General Conference. Two months later she had a son, and because the husband is in Friedensau and the wife is with us, still they cannot decide what name to give him! It is a problem for us; we cannot come to an agreement.

Our second daughter married a young man, a Bible worker, who has been sent now to a new place in one of the cities in Russia where we have no Adventist believers. They have been sent there to begin a new work in that area. They also have a small baby. Our second son studied at Newbold College in England. Our third boy, Peter, graduated from secondary school this year. And our youngest daughter is 11 years old. She is a schoolgirl. That is our family.

Mrs. Lohne: Sister Zhukaluk, could you tell us a little bit about your family?

Mrs. Zhukaluk: First of all, I would also like to thank God for the privilege of coming to the United States to the Annual Council with my husband. Mrs. Kulakov and I have not been very well acquainted with each other before this trip because we live in different places. I'm Ukrainian, and she is a Russian Ukrainian.

I was also born in a Seventh-day Adventist family. My father was a church elder in one of the churches in the Ukraine. I grew up in a family of thirteen children, so I have eight brothers and four sisters! Some of them are participating in the church's activities. My father has died, but my mother is still alive and active in the church. My husband and I have been married for twenty-seven years. We have four daughters.

Our eldest daughter married a Seventh-day Adventist physician. She is a musician and plays for the church services on Sabbath. They have two children. Our second daughter is also married. Her husband is the choir director in one of our churches. And the third daughter is also married and has a small child. Her husband is a dentist who helps in church work. (In the October 15, 1981, Review you may see the picture of our grandchild who was dedicated by Elder Wilson during his visit to Russia.) Our fourth daughter is 14 years old. She is a schoolgirl.

Mrs. Lohne: You are from the Ukraine. When you and Mrs. Kulakov speak to each other, does she understand Ukrainian? Is it a different language from Russian, or do you have one common language? What about the languages spoken in Estonia and Latvia? Do you speak all these languages?

Mrs. Zhukaluk: The Ukrainian language and Russian are similar. So we can easily understand each other. The Russian language is the state language and is spoken in both republics. But Estonian and Latvian are different. We do not under stand these languages.

Mrs. Wilson: Mrs. Kulakov, we noticed when we were in Russia that people are very well dressed. Do the ladies make their own clothes? Is it expensive to buy clothes?

Mrs. Kulakov: The people in the U.S.S.R. are comparatively well dressed. They make themselves clothes, and they also buy ready-made clothes.

Mrs. Wilson: Mrs. Kulakov, do many women in the U.S.S.R. work outside the home?

Mrs. Kulakov: Several ladies in our church work outside the home for the state. But ministers' wives cannot go to work outside the home because they have so much to do in their homes. Usually our husbands have no special office. They receive people in their homes where they live, and we have to share this work with our husbands. We receive the people, feed them, and sometimes when our husbands are absent, we speak with the people who come, and try to help them. So we work with our husbands in this together.

Mrs. Lohne: Mrs. Zhukaluk, we have heard about big weddings and large meetings that are attended by as many as one thousand people. I understand that the minister's wife takes the responsibility of caring for the eating arrangements. How do you prepare food for so many people? Mrs. Zhukaluk: Some sisters are professionals in this, and they help us when we have such occasions. We make a plan— what we have to prepare and how much— and we speak with the parents of the young couple who is going to be married, and we tell them how much food they must buy in order to prepare such a feast. Then we share the responsibility among the members of our church, and it costs none of us even one sleepless night. But after the wedding ceremony we rest for a week!

We are the wives of ministers, and at the same time we are cooks and serve the table, because we accept the people into our homes. It is something like having a hotel in our private house, and we are the hostesses of these hotels.

Mrs. Wilson: Mrs. Kulakov, just one more question. We would like to know how you help your husband spread the gospel. In what way can you witness?

Mrs. Kulakov: I think that in this work we have much in common with you in America. We see our first duty to be training our children in the truth and in love to the Lord. And we are so glad that we know the Lord and that with His help and guidance we can train our children. He stands together with us in this duty as a mother. And because we have many visitors in our home, the whole family participates in the work of caring for their needs. Our children help us, and they learn to serve the people. They help us to prepare food; they learn hospitality; they learn to take responsibility and recognize the authority of their parents.

Also, we witness by our lives. Our family life is open to the neighbors surrounding us. In some cases they become interested, and quite often they ask us, "How can you train your children in such a way? We live close to you, but we have different children." This gives us a good opportunity to speak about the Source of inspiration and love. And we invite our neighbors to visit our church. We invite them into our house. We speak with them. We try to participate in their needs and in their experiences. We are led to help some souls in this way to come to the Lord.

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A conversation with ministers' wives in Russia.

August 1982

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