The priest raised his stole and asked “Speak English?”

Was the feast of St. Nicholas, at the temple there was a Christmas tree, and around it went… kids in shorts. On the long-awaited confession while living in Thailand, says Irina Ford.

Personal archive of Irina Ford/

  • I helped Nicholas the Wonderworker (the Stories of readers, what helps Nicholas)
  • About confession and sterility
  • Nicholas, save!
  • Lenten letter No. 7. Horror confessions
  • In Bari, the relics of St. Nicholas (photos)

Kids get sick, and I realized – it is necessary to confession

And then I realized that I have to go to confession.

I realized in an instant. It dawned on.

And immediately everything began to emerge in the pattern: I have not been to confession. I do not remember when was. And children are not to receive communion for six weeks. And…

…On the map the Church of St. Nicholas was located very near our house. Well, as “from home”… Our home is now a Guesthouse in old Bangkok, on the banks of the Chao Phraya. From the river smelled of the swamp, drain the water, some past life on the other side the sky was pierced by skyscrapers, along our shore directly from the water grew old wooden houses: the first floor of these houses were rented, and in the second lived the owners.

Smelled so-so, honestly, if you wander into the wrong place. And if successful – it smelled beautiful life, radiant steamers-restaurants and expensive a’ll on the beach.

We were the only ones on the entire guest room with shower and toilet, separate standing house. Guestbook wintering lived in Bangkok young people (many Russians) and the European tourists travelling around Southeast Asia: French, Spanish, English, Finnish.

Personal archive of Ira Ford/

The kids and I woke up in the morning, looked out the window and every morning they had discovered in the courtyard of the guest a new image: the table in the courtyard have Breakfast. And the new kids were on the swings and hammock. And someone has eaten a mango, but someone dripped on the oilcloth tablecloth watermelon.

And Yasya – she was five – was in a hurry to get acquainted with new children until they left. And to find a common language. And paint coloring. Eighteen months old, and gosh he pulled his hand up to mango and banana were rejected.

And then the kids got sick. Somehow, both at once, hard. Gosh scratched finger, and the finger became inflamed. While I was thinking what to do with finger both children have stomatitis, fever and weakness. I called the insurance in Russia, I dictated the address of a clinic nearby where you can take children. Price said. Said, “will Pay cash when I get back to Russia, we will cover the cost”.

I called the homeopath and she dictated what homeopathy drink to children and how to cure finger for a day. And I decided not to go to the clinic. Sat in the room, cradled gosh, hugged Yasyu, I realized that it is necessary for confession. Found on the map the Church of St. Nicholas, has written down the address on the website “Orthodoxy in Thailand” found the schedule of services.

Around the tree there were children in shorts

In the courtyard of the temple there was a tree – closer Nikola Winter. Around the Christmas tree children attended in shorts, t-shirts and crocs. The evening service was postponed – waiting for the Archimandrite, father Oleg, from Pattaya. Father Oleg had not himself carried an icon of Saint Panteleimon with relics, the icon was transferred to Thailand from Tomsk temple.

Parishioners impatiently stood in the Church yard, Bangkok stood in traffic jams. And it is unclear when to begin evening service. From time to time, the yard came out singing and announced that father Oleg called and promised to drive in half an hour, no more. And in half an hour singing came again, and said, “Here now, will wait more”.

Archimandrite Oleg (Cherepanin), rector of St. Nicholas Cathedral in the city of Bangkok, with parishioners /

And when the Archimandrite arrived and got out of the car with the icon and the priest-Thai, all the waiting was forgotten. It was replaced by excitement and happiness – in turn venerated the icon of Panteleimon (“father Panteleimon, heal my children!”), the Archimandrite was a thanksgiving service, singing read the akathist to St. Nicholas, and then it took probably two hours and beginning to get dark – father Oleg said, “Brothers and sisters, are waiting for you tomorrow morning, will be confession, then Communion, and then we’ll have tea, feel free to stay after the service, communicate”.

And we with children, catching a taxi, went home. The tube has resolved. No traffic to our guest to fifteen minutes. Past the Royal Palace and the zoo.

Near the Palace stood a guard, and Yasha from the window of a taxi, waved to the guards hand. In the twilight it was not to discern the shape of the Russian Imperial army. What I saw Thai guards in the photo, is comforted a little. Like a living confirmation of the story about the Thai king Chulalongkorn was friends with Nicholas II during his visit to Petersburg I saw the parade of one of the guards regiments. After which inspired so that on arriving home told you to sew a similar form to his guards. Since then, they say, nothing has changed. Maybe tomorrow will be lucky to see the guards in the light of day?

Ghosh demanded a banana and another banana, just mango in a taxi is impossible. The taxi driver, standing at the traffic light, turned back and tried to take a picture of my white children. Children, though subdued after the temple, but did not give the driver any chance for your decent photo. And dark already.

Gest has lived its usual life. On the table was plates and smoldering mosquito coils. Next to the spirals there was beer, fruits, laptops. There was a dispute in several languages. All as always. As all week. How I like it.

Not pausing in the courtyard, we went with the children to our room. Washed sticky heat under a shower, went to bed.

The kids fell asleep and I turned on the laptop. Read the service for Holy Communion. And immediately fell asleep herself.

The priest raised his stole and asked “Speak English?”

I woke up about five minutes before the alarm. Woke the kids up. Dressed. Threw the response in the sling. Took Yasyu hand. From the alley where our guest, we got about five minutes to the main street. Crossed the road, caught a taxi, arrived at the temple.

The entrance to St. Nicholas Church in Bangkok

The confession took two priests – Thai, father of danaus yesterday at the service, he read the gospel in Russian – for Russian, and then in Thai for Thais, and another priest, whom father Oleg said yesterday: “We will help dad…” do Not remember the name of this priest, or rather, not hear.

I put a response on the floor, in a corner of the temple. Asked Yasyu to play with him quietly. Approached the priest. He nodded to me kindly, reserved. Gesture on the icon of the Savior. I realized: “Preach not to me but to Him.”

It took about five days since, as I understand it, I need to go to confession. And here I am. I slumber. I haven’t said anything, and tears flowed down her cheeks.

And behind was crawling with children, you could hear Yasya something quietly explains Ghosh. And it was clear that they are all good.

The priest nodded – say, “spit it out”. And I began to speak. I didn’t have a piece of paper, I could remember everything without notes, I wanted to say. More precisely, I don’t really want to do this. But it was necessary. Inside was the feeling that I confess, and all of these children’s adversities left behind.

Don’t be children and our common tests, I would never think that here, on the other side of the Earth, in the 15-million Bangkok very close to our guest is an Orthodox Church. Where the Liturgy from Tuesday to Sunday. And where are baked the communion bread. And where the walls are looking at you native faces.

I told him everything and stopped. It seemed that the temple was silence. Although, of course, silence was not. The silence was inside me.

Personal archive of Ira Ford/

A temple, the temple lived their lives. To the left of me was a line for confession with father leased. Daniel that is. Stood in line some Thais.

I remembered what father had told Oleg about how father Daniel explained why he converted to Orthodoxy: “In the Catholic Church sing, Protestants, dance, and pray only in Orthodox”.

It’s amazing to see Thais in the Orthodox Church. Surprising to hear in Thailand. And at the same time somehow… somehow usually. You never thought that it happens, but looked around, I saw – and happily agreed.

The priest looked at me expectantly. And burned me: not all said. There was another sin. Left it “for later”. Can’t you tell? Did not want to talk. It was a shame. But I remembered how the priest before confession showed on the icon of the Savior. And I remembered how badly I wanted to go to confession. And three days later the kids and I leave from Bangkok on the sea, and there will not be temples. These thoughts flashed by lightning, and, heavily blushing, I said that sin. It seems that the priest did not even notice my agony.

He covered me with the stole, and… I could not believe my ears. He read the prayer in English. Picked up the stole, said, “Speak English?” I nodded. Nodded, but uncertainly. I, of course, speak English. But so the priest counseled me after confession in English, this has not happened yet.

Father called a high hand Russian girl, Lena. Lena met the other night, while waiting for father Oleg: Lena said that parents divorced in her early childhood, the father she barely knew, and when she was 18, my mom died. And so, after graduating from College, she went to Bangkok. Teaches children English. And does not know how to live – and the roots do not pull back, and here the roots are not allowed. Lena came up to us and professionally as simultaneous interpreters, translated for me, said the priest. But I would and she knew it.

From the wall and looked at us Saint Nicholas

And then, after the Liturgy, we were in the house at the Church. Drank tea. Eat papaya, tangerines, and yellow watermelon. And some dried fruit – was a Christmas post. Danaus, the father was holding his two year-old daughter Masha.

Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Bangkok (19.12.2015) /

The priest who confessed me, told me that he was in Bangkok for work, and he is from New Zealand. And it used to be, long ago, before becoming an Orthodox priest, he was a Protestant. And the laity Thais smiled and said in response that all its way. And that they also had to find God. And were Buddhists. As the father of danaus.

From the wall and looked at us Saint Nicholas, patron Saint of travelling and travellers. The patron Saint of all of us, who at this day so far from home and still at home.

And suddenly it dawned on me – and today Nicola Winter!

And there, on the other side of the Earth, celebrates the name day of our father Nicholas. And he is praying for us so fervently that the day of his birthday we ended up here. In the Church of St. Nicholas. If under the wing of a guardian angel. In the city, whose name translates as “City of angels, the great city, the city – eternal treasure.”

And a pattern has developed. And sadness receded.


I have been to confession.

To confession – and staying later. To open widely eyes and breathe in everything around. To wonder, to believe, to remember – and then to tell.

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