In an obscure corner of Russia’s Far East is a quiet harbor city known as Nakhodka. The area was first discovered in 1859 when a Russian ship seeking shelter in its bay during a storm. Upon finding the peaceful bay, the sailors named it Nakhodka, which means “lucky find.”
Five years ago, as a missionary for the Mormon Church, I lived in Nakhodka. Born in Anchorage, Alaska, I’ve always had an affinity for harbor towns and fishing cities. There’s just something about the smell of the sea and the sound of the waves which stirs my soul into deep contemplations. In the fall of 2005, I stood on a hill at the very edge of that “lucky” harbor and gazed out at its peaceful waters.
…but inside my heart was anything but peaceful…a storm was brewing and decisions needed to be made: Should I abandon ship to save my life, or do I stay with the crew? In this, I’ve often thought of Nakhodka whenever I’ve read The Alchemist: “When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”
Nakhodka marked the beginning of a very personal journey for me—a journey which really didn’t end until earlier this year.
Yet, in many positive ways that journey continues. Some day soon, I hope to stand on that same hill and gaze out at those tranquil waters with my heart which is now at peace. I once thought of Nakhodka with a bitter sweet regret, but I now look at it as one of my favorite cities. Another quote from The Alchemist which reminds me of Nakhodka is this: “Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure. You’ve got to find the treasure, so that everything you have learned along the way can make sense.” I’ve left a part of my heart in Nakhodka, because the city itself is a treasure.
So here are most of my own, personal pictures and video of Nakhodka from when I was there. This video was actually taken from the hill on which I stood, thinking about my mission and journey in life.
Perhaps these pictures and thoughts about Nakhodka will not mean as much to you as they do to me. But perhaps something about it will remind you of your own “Nakhodka” or inspire you to start out on your own journey. As I look back on my own journey, I’m just now realizing just how much Nakhodka deserves its title as a “lucky find.”
“Every search begins with beginners luck and ends with the victor’s being severely tested.” The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“The alchemists spent years in their laboratories, observing the fire that purified the metals. They spent so much time close to the fire that gradually they gave up the vanities of the world. They discovered that the purification of the metals had led to a purification of themselves.” The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho