Eventually, Mrs. Rimas receives a letter. Everyone crowds inside her shack to read it. At the gathering, Lina sees Andrius and has a short but polite conversation with him for the first time in weeks. The letters are from Mirs. Rimas’ husband, meaning he is alive. He writes of a summer camp, and says it is beautiful, as described in Psalm 102. Unfortunately, the letter is in code, and when Jonas reads the passage from the Bible, it is about sadness, suffering, and starvation. Andrius quietly points out that he is at least alive.
The arrival of the first letter is moment of disappointment for the deportees. Most of them have family members in other camps run by the NKVD, and they all hope they are in far better conditions than they endure in Altai. However, the bleakness of the psalm shows that everywhere, people are starving and suffering. Even if they are alive now, there is no telling how long they will survive.