During the brutal 1941 winter that hindered Nazi Germany’s invasion of Moscow, my grandmother — who lived in the Soviet Union — converted to the Christian faith. Seeing as indoor baptisms weren’t common in those days, she was baptized outside in some icy body of water. Whenever she told that story, she would say that the water felt nice and warm.
Around the same time period, my then atheistic grandfather was driving a supply truck across the frozen Lake Ladoga — sneaking goods into the besieged city of Leningrad. Exhausted and sleep deprived, he dozed off behind the wheel. Moments later, someone hit him on the shoulder and he opened his eyes to see the truck in front of him driving off into an ice hole. He managed to quickly steer away just in time to escape sharing the fate of the driver before him.
The fascinating part of that story is that he was the only one inside the truck.
After the war, my grandfather went on to adopt my mother and raised her in Kyiv — the city where she would later meet my father.
Sometime after my parents got married, my father was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer. He attended an illegal church gathering in the woods — away from the sight of the Soviet authorities — received prayer, went back to the doctor for another test and no trace of cancer was found.