Recently, I saw a post on the Reporter’s Facebook page asking,  “Does anybody know what’s up with the mosquitoes in south Monroe County around Bolingbroke? I’ve never seen it like it’s been in the past couple of weeks. They are giant in size and jet black.” This post reminded me of a mission trip to Siberia, and the bloodthirsty mosquitoes our mission team battled each day. More about the Siberian mosquitoes in a moment.

A few years ago, I went on a mission trip to Siberia. We flew into Moscow, laid over for two days to get adjusted to the new time zone, and then took a six hour flight to Siberia. Some people never answer the call to missions, because they are afraid God will call them to Africa. Well let me tell you, Siberia is not the lap of luxury either. I will never forget the experience. Our Siberian friends fed us basically the same thing everyday; tomatoes, cucumbers, bread and something I’ll call mystery meat.  I call it mystery meat, because I have no idea what was in it!  It was some kind of pressed meat that reminded me of souse meat.  My good friend Wanda Rockhold would have loved it. She and my husband are the only two people I know that eat souse meat.  My husband just reminded me that souse meat is also referred to as hog head cheese. Yuk!  Gag!  Disgusting!  Just my opinion folks. If you love souse meat, more power to ya!  

I’m not easily shocked, but my introduction to Siberian bathroom facilities was the first time I gasped and went into semi-shock.  We are used to our privacy here in the U.S.  Not so in Siberia! At least not where we held our meetings. If you needed to take a bathroom break, you discovered there were no private bathroom stalls. What you found was a large open room that had a long, narrow, open concrete drain that you had to straddle. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination, lest I gross you out. Moving along, let me tell you about the mosquitos. 

Siberian mosquitos belong in horror movies! We were terrorized by huge, black, menacing mosquitos, who were on their own mission trip to drain us of every red blood cell in our bodies!  We heard them before we saw them.  They sounded like B-52s rumbling in the distance. One afternoon we heard one of our fellow missionaries screaming. We turned to see him being air-lifted by a swarm of these bloodsuckers from hell.  We reached up and pulled him back down to safety. Am I stretching the truth a little? Yep. But it’s pretty close to the truth. 

Would I go back again? You bet!  The meals were meager and the facilities were not what we are accustomed to here in the U.S. But, I met some extraordinary people. I never heard one complaint among the Siberian Christians about their poverty or hardships. They wanted to learn all they could about Christianity from their American friends. Ironically, we learned more from them. Their Christlike example of love, joy, peace and faith was truly inspiring. Would I go back again?  In a heartbeat! Next time though, I’m carrying lots of mosquito repellent!

Carolyn Martel is the retired advertising manager of the Reporter. Email her at