[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Volhynian Adbventure Tours, June 24-July 7, 2002

Don Miller dnmiller at whiz.to
Thu Nov 15 13:03:32 PST 2001

My friend, Victor Gess, is exactly correct in word and spirit.  These are
"two different groups with very strong ties to our Motherland, each offering
their various long term experiences."

My experiences goes back to the "Wandering Volhynian" Conference in
Vancouver in the early 1990's.  At the Conference I heard a report of
someone who had taken a tour to the Volga.  I was deeply touched and stirred
to return to my homeland.  I had been there in 1980 and had always wanted to
return.  I thought it would be wonderful to pioneer such a tour, not just
for myself, but for others as well.  To get the ball rolling I went to
George Maser and said, "Hey, George, why don't we sponsor a tour to
Volhynia?"  At the time it seemed rather formitable, as we did not know of
anyone one else who had lead such a tour to the area.  There were many
things to consider.  But as we began to explore the options, our fear was
dissapiated and in 1993, we led the first such tour to the area with 26
participants, including Howard Krushel.  It was so successful that the
following year George and I lead a second tour, this time with 21 members.

After that, my heart turned to humanitarian/mission interests in the very
villages of my forefathers, near Zhitomir.  We have since established eight
Good Samaritan Centers there, each with a full-time paid director.  Our
mission is "to help the helpless, especially widows and orphans and to train
and empower the people to help themselves."  We have had  remarkable
success.  Each year we send teams of doctors and dentists and other support
people.  We have also established two First Aid Clincis and periodically
send containers of food, clothing and medicine.  During my many visits to
Ukraine, now 11, I have worked extensively in the Archives and developed a
personal relationship with the director of the State Archives in Zhitomir.
This past September our organization was able to purchase a new computer for
the Archives to augment and upgrade their limited and dated equipment.  In
my many visits to the Archives over the years, I often thought of that first
contact we made with the Archives in 1993 and the discovery of the "1915
Deportation List of Germans," which has since been made available to the

But the most notable event that led to my return to Volhynia as tour leader
was the publication in 2000 of my book entitled, ""In the Midst of Wolves (A
History of German Baptists in Volhynia, Russia)."  After the book was
published a number of people began to encourage me to again lead a tour to
Volhynia.  I resisted the idea because I did not want it to take from my
humanitarian work, but I eventually saw a way to combine the two, and last
September led our tour of ten to the area, which turned out to be remarkably
successful.  I will continue to lead one such similar tour each year as long
as there is an interest.

I wish the other tour group and their leaders, with George and Howard, well.
As I see it, there is a place for both in that each has a little different
emphasis, focus and philosophy.  We keep our group small, no more than 12,
for maximum benifit and exposure.  We also customize and personalize our
tours.  And because are not in the business of making a big profit, we are
able to keep the cost down, which is especially good news for Canadians.  In
addition, if people want to make a stop over in Poland, we can arrange that.
In short, over the years, we have established many contacts and
relationships which allows us to give a top quality tour, free of the usual
hassels.  I would encourage anyone interested in going to Volhynia, to
carefully check out both tours and simply choose the one that best meets
their needs.  Personally, I would like to see both groups succeed. To find
out more about our tour, go to our web page is http://inthemidstofwolves.com
and click on "Tours." You can also call me  at 503 647-5858 or write me at
12814 NW Bishop Road, Hillsboro, OR 97124 for a list of our last tour

Don Miller
Tour Leader

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