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SO, YOU THINK ITS COLD?

By December 7, 2016 No Comments
Frost-encrusted house in the city centre.

Amos Chapple Photography

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. Siberia cold4

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?

Husky-eyed local girl returning home from university. While the majority of the city's population are indigenous Yakutian, many ethnic Russians and Ukrainians moved to Yakutsk in soviet times, lured by high wages for working in the harsh climate.

Amos Chapple Photography

Adverse Conditions

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.

Siberia cold3

The Bantseevs

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.

Yura’s Story

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.

siberia5

APPLICATION: Read more about the Bantseevs’ ministry in “From Siberia With Love” Please leave a comment below.


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Bob Jones

Author Bob Jones

Pastor at North Pointe Community Church for 27 years. Happily married to Jocelyn for 38 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vinnie; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three gorgeous daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love being a pastor and inspiring faith in Jesus through communicating, blogging, counseling and coaching. I enjoy running, reading, writing and ball hockey. Fan of the Esks and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

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