There’s cold and then there’s Siberian cold.
I wrote this post when it was -33C with the windchill in Edmonton, Alberta. Thinking about Siberia didn’t help me feel warmer but it did keep my mind off how cold it was outside.
Its So Cold That…
Located in the heart of Siberia, the village of Oymyakon in Russia is widely considered to be the coldest inhabited place on Earth. A temperature of −90 °F (−67.7 °C) was recorded there back in 1933 — the lowest recorded temperature for any permanently inhabited spot in the world.
The temperature is so cold that crops won’t grow so people are relegated to consuming a carnivorous diet – reindeer meat, raw flesh shaved from frozen fish, and ice cubes of horse blood with macaroni – just a few of the local delicacies.
The must keep their cars running 24/7 and warm the ground with a bonfire for several days before burying their dead. (I officiated at graveside service this week with a windchill making it feel like a balmy -31C but no bonfires.)
Most families use an outhouse because even indoor plumbing freezes.
Coldest City In The World
New Zealand-based photographer Amos Chapple paid a visit to the 500-person village and captured a series of beautiful photographs showing what life is like inside this extreme village.
Traveling to Oymyakon usually involves a two-day drive from Yakutsk, a capital city of 300,000 people that has average winter temperatures of −30 °F (−34 °C), making it the coldest major city in the world.
Are you feeling warmer yet?
Chapple says that one of the main challenges of shooting this project — aside from enduring the fierce coldness — was operating his camera. Things were so cold that his lens’ focus and zoom rings would sometimes get frozen in place.
He took one glove off for a few minutes to gain some dexterity in shooting. His thumb froze and for the next two weeks the skin peeled like some kind of terrible sunburn.
My interest in Siberia stems primarily from new friends who live there – Ilya and Janet Bantseev.
They say the winters are “bearable.” Maybe that’s because they’re not in Siberia for a holiday. They’ve lived there for over twenty years working with addicts.
They know that coldness of the heart is worse than any outdoor chill. However, they’ve seen people experiencing the most dire conditions changed because of Teen Challenge ministry and the love of Jesus.
At the age of 10, Yura started smoking marijuana which very soon led to harder drugs. His life started spiraling downward as he began using heroin, and various synthetic drugs until the age of twenty nine when he went into Teen Challenge program.
Jesus miraculously set him free from his addictions, and he’s been off drugs for two years, the longest period ever! In October 2016, he and his wife dedicated their third child to God.
The love of God can warm up the most hopeless of hearts.
APPLICATION: Read more about the Bantseevs’ ministry in “From Siberia With Love” Please leave a comment below.
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