Sunday, 29 June 2008

Yugo Zapadnaya Branch

We miss the people in the Tver branch where we were first assigned and think about them often. They hold a special place in our hearts.

Tver Branch - Sergie & Svetlana's Marriage

However, we are enjoying being able to stay in Moscow and attend church in the Yugo Zapadnaya branch. Monday, June 23, we had an enjoyable branch Family Home Evening at the Curbishley's apartment. The Elders showed a video with Russian narration followed by an activity and refreshments.

Family Home Evening at the Curbishleys

We divided into two groups to play a game using Rook cards. Each player in turn added a card to the growing pile in the center. If the card played was the same color as the previous card, all hurried to touch a predetermined place on their face. If the two cards were red (красный), the forehead was to be touched. If the two cards were green (зеленый), the nose was touched. If the two cards were yellow (желтый), the ear was touched. Two blue cards (синий) meant that the neck was touched. The last person to touch the required place had to take the pile of cards, and the winner was the one getting rid of their cards first.

FHE Activity - Learning the rules of the game.

On June 29, President and Sister Collins visited our branch along with Elder Salinas (whom we grew to love when he served in Tver) and Elder Landquist (Assistants to the Mission President). Also visiting our branch were two members of the district presidency, three BYU students who are in Moscow for part of the summer on an internship program, and Elder & Sister Curbishley.
There have been two sets of Elders assigned to the branch - Elders Terrell and Aikens and Elders Mills and Harker; but with a new area opened up, they have added two more Elders - Elder Armstrong and Elder Hudson. The branch president is President Karneav.

Lidia, Natalia (Relief Society President), and a friend

Rachel, a BYU intern for the summer and a
returned missionary who had served in Russia in the
Rostov Mission

Rachel translated for me when I gave a talk at Sacrament meeting June 8 and also when I gave the Relief Society lesson June 15. I have been asked to give the lessons in Relief Society on the third Sunday of each month, and Sam gives the Priesthood lesson every other Sunday.

There are frequently different faces we see each Sunday. Some are investigators, some are visitors from the USA, some are members of other branches in Moscow, and some are regulars. We meet in the mission office building. It only takes us about an hour to get there, and it's only a ten-minute walk from the Sportevna metro stop. This is so much nicer than traveling by bus or train to Tver, which often took four to five hours from the time we left our apartment and usually involved an overnight stay on Saturday.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Red Square and the Kremlin

I have written about the trip to St. Petersburg while Jeff & Rochelle and Doug & Shannon were visiting us in Moscow, so now I’ll include photos from our visit to Red Square and the Kremlin. Red Square is a “must see” when visiting Moscow.

The Kremlin and Towers (photo taken March 2007)

The Kremlin has 19 towers in all (plus a 20th tower that is an outlying tower on the bridge). The wall running between them surrounds the Kremlin's buildings.

In the picture above, the Grand Kremlin Palace is visible behind the trees. The Grand Kremlin Palace was once the Moscow palace of the Tsars. The whole complex includes the Terem Palace, several churches, and reception halls. Now it is used for governmental meetings and ceremonies.

The Eternal Flame and close up of the Kremlin Wall

Spasskaya Tower and Kremlin Wall

The Spasskaya Tower of the Kremlin has several interesting details. Built in 1491 by an Italian architect, its gate serves as the Kremlin's "main entrance" from Red Square. The clock on the tower was installed in the middle of the 19th century. The star on top of the Spasskaya Tower is its newest addition, which was added by the Soviets during the 20th century.

Jeff & Rochelle with Spasskaya Tower behind.

Shannon & Doug - St. Basil's Cathedral

Visitors to Moscow enjoy seeing Red Square at night and having their picture taken with St. Basil’s Cathedral in the background. I never get tired of going there.

Jeff & Rochelle's turn for another “favorite photo op.”

Red Square – National History Museum

GUM Department Store outlined in lights.
We took this picture in February while watching the
Ice skaters on the rink set up during the winter months.

The GUM, Moscow's "State Department Store," takes up almost the entire eastern side of Red Square. It was built between 1890 and 1893 and is the largest store in Moscow. This three-story building features a glass roof, a central fountain inside, and the magical look at night when it’s outlined with white lights.

Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Red Square

Lenin’s Tomb
In February, we bought tickets and went inside.
Lenin is embalmed and lies beneath a glass enclosure.
Those in line file past the tomb without pausing
while guards stand watch.

Lenin's tomb (mausoleum) is next to the Kremlin wall on the east side of the Red Square. At one time, many Russians made the pilgrimage to Moscow and filed by the tomb, but today it is mostly tourists. No cameras are allowed inside, not even in a bag. Between Lenin's tomb and the Kremlin Wall are the graves of over 400 other famous Russian communists, including premiers Breshnev and Andropov, the cosmonaut Yury Gagarin, and the writers Maxim Gorky and John Reed. Stalin is also buried there, although he lay next to Lenin in the mausoleum from 1953 to 1961. Lenin’s Tomb is closed Monday and Friday and only open those days from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Inside the Kremlin

We bought tickets for a tour of the cathedrals inside the Kremlin, which is the name for a Russian citadel. Sam and I had visited Red Square quite a few times, but we had never gone inside the walls. The Kremlin in Moscow includes four palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers. The complex serves as the official residence of the President of Russia.

The Cathedral of the Annunciation - Kremlin

Originally the royal chapel of the Muscovite tsars, the Annunciation Cathedral's abbot was a personal confessor of the royal family until the early 20th century. Ivan the Terrible had to enter the church by the southeast porch entrance, built especially for him. This is because he was married three times too many (for a total of six wives) and was therefore, under the rules of the Orthodox Church, not allowed to enter the church through its main entrance. The icons of the second and third tiers were painted by some of Russia's greatest masters.

Cathedral of the Assumption (or Cathedral of the Dormition)

In 1547 the coronation of the first Russian Tsar, Ivan the Terrible, took place in the Cathedral of the Assumption; and from 1721, it was the scene of the coronation of the Russian emperors. The ritual installation of metropolitans and patriarchs of the Orthodox Church also took place in this cathedral, and their tombs are found here. After the transfer of the Bolshevik government to Moscow, services in the Kremlin cathedrals were prohibited. In 1990 the Assumption Cathedral was returned to the Church, although a museum still operates within it.

Cathedral of the Archangel

The Cathedral of the Archangel at the Kremlin is packed with the tombs of dead Russian princes. A special area is dedicated to Ivan the Terrible's son, also named Ivan. Ivan famously killed his son during an argument.

The interior of the Cathedral of the Archangel
is entirely covered with Iconostas.

Ivan the Great Bell Tower
Shannon & Doug, Jeff & Rochelle, and Narene

For 600 years, a bell tower has always stood at the site of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower. It was built to be the tallest building in Moscow; and until the 19th century, no buildings in Moscow were permitted to be taller than the Ivan the Great Bell Tower. It is 266 feet high. It was built for the Assumption, Archangel, and Annunciation cathedrals, which do not have their own belfries. It is said to mark Moscow's precise geographic center.

Terem Palace Churches and the Upper Savior's Cathedral

The Terem Palace Churches and the Upper Savior's Cathedral are now a part of the Russian President's residence. Previously, they were used by family members of the tsar - the tsarina (queen) and tsarevna (daughter of the tsar or princess). The cupolas of these churches stand out with their tightly-clustered golden domes and the colorful towers beneath the golden domes.

Shannon - Tsar Bell, Kremlin

When the Tsar Bell was cast in a pit, the metal of the bell was doused with water when workers extinguished a nearby fire. This caused the bell to crack, rendering it useless. It is on display just outside the Ivan the Great Bell Tower.

Doug - Tsar Cannon, Kremlin

The Tsar Cannon, built at the end of the 16th century, is really just for decoration to impress. The contemporary cannon balls are actually too big to fit into the gun of the cannon. The last couple of decades have seen several photos of American and Russian presidents shaking hands in front of the Tsar Cannon.

Government Buildings – Senate (left)

The Senate Building (at the left in the photo above) used to house the government during the last century, but it is now the Russian President's residence. The interior has been updated accordingly, but the exterior still retains its original facade.

Kremlin – Arsenal

The Arsenal at the Kremlin is designed as a storehouse for weapons of all types. Visitors are not allowed inside, but over 750 cannons line the walkway around the building. Today, the arsenal building is primarily used as the command center for the Kremlin guards.

Flowers and trees inside the Kremlin

Sunday, 22 June 2008

St. Petersburg - Peterhof Fountains and Canal Boat Tour

Although the weather was cool, sometimes raining, and even some wet snow at times, we really enjoyed our visit to
St. Petersburg. In the previous posting, I included photos we took while seeing the Hermitage. Later that day, we took a boat tour on the canal to see other parts of the city. That evening, we went to the Russian Folk Music Show. On the second day, we went with our guide, Max, to Peterhof. We were so glad the fountains had been turned on a few days before.

Peterhof is a huge estate built by Peter the Great and intended to rival the famous gardens of Versailles. The original palace was built in 1714-25 and remodeled in 1745-55 by the architect of the Winter Palace (Hermitage) in St. Petersburg. It is on the shore of the Gulf of Finland (part of the Baltic Sea). In addition to the palace, there are fountains, statues, and pavilions within the park. We didn’t go inside the palace, but we enjoyed the gardens and fountains.

Neptune Fountain

The Upper Garden, located between the St. Petersburg highway
and the Grand Palace, is a typical French-style formal garden
with five fountains including the one shown here
depicting Neptune, the God of the Sea.

The estate's Lower Park lies between the Grand Palace and the seashore and boasts the world's largest system of fountains. The park's unique fountain system was designed in the 18th century and doesn't require the use of any pumps to operate the fountains. There are three major cascades and over 120 fountains in the park. The most impressive is the Grand Cascade, located directly below the Grand Palace and featuring a golden statue of Samson grasping the jaws of the lion.

The Grand Cascade with the statue of Samson and the lion.

Rochelle & Jeff, Narene & Sam, Doug & Shannon
with the Grand Cascade and the Palace in the background.

Adam Fountain

Eve Fountain

Grand Cascade Canal leading to the Sea

Looking for shells on the shore of the Baltic Sea
(Doug, Jeff, Shannon pictured)

Monplaisir Palace

The park features numerous pavilions and small palaces, but Monplaisir is Peter the Great's favorite. Built between 1714 and 1725, Montplaisir sits right on the sea shore and provided the perfect vantage point for Peter to spend hours watching the ships sail by.

A last look at the Grand Cascade before leaving Peterhof.
(Our guide, Max at the left; Narene, Doug & Shannon pictured.)

Sam & Narene - In the Upper Garden of Peterhof.

Russian Orthodox Church at Peterhof.

The previous day, after our tour of the Hermitage, we took a boat tour on the canal and got a different view of St. Petersburg.

The photo above and the next two pictures were taken
on our boat tour on a canal in St. Petersburg.

Boat Tour

Boat Tour

Russian Folk Music Show

Cathedral of the Resurrection, also known as
“Our Savior-on-the-Spilt-Blood”

One of the metro stations in St. Petersburg.

The express train back to Moscow was a comfortable way to travel, and we were in our apartment by 10:00 Thursday evening after our five-hour train ride.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Scenes from St. Petersburg

Jeff & Rochelle and Doug & Shannon thought it would be nice to include a two-day visit to St. Petersburg while they were visiting us in Moscow.
Vlad, the Area Humanitarian Manager, kindly suggested this would be a good time for Sam and me to visit the humanitarian couple in St. Petersburg, the Eastleys, who are working to complete their projects before their mission ends in August. Vlad also knew we would like to see President and Sister Sandberg in St. Petersburg before they return home the first of July. David Sandberg’s father, Ivar, was a good friend of my parents when they lived at Cheyenne Agency. Ivar’s story is one I have enjoyed hearing through the years, and I am pleased that President Sandberg gave me a copy of his father’s conversion story. He and my parents had an important role in the early history of the LDS Church in South Dakota.

Church of the Resurrection – commonly known as
“Our Savior-on-the-Spilt-Blood”
Sam, Jeff, Rochelle, Shannon, Doug, and Narene

We took the overnight train on May 13 leaving Moscow about 9:30 in the evening and arriving in St. Petersburg at 6:10 the next morning. This was an adventure, as we went 3rd class with four people to an open compartment with no door and a small table between two bunk beds. Jeff and Doug took the upper bunks, and Rochelle and Shannon were in the lower bunks in their compartment. Sam and I shared with a Russian couple who had the upper bunk beds. I think I got along the best in our group. Sam had people walking past in the narrow aisle during the night that would bump his feet at the end of his bunk. The others found it difficult to sleep with people going by to the “toilet” room and other distractions. On our return trip, we took the express train which was more expensive, but more comfortable and only took five hours. We left St. Petersburg about 4:00 in the afternoon and got back to Moscow about 9:00 that evening.

Train to St. Petersburg
Sam, Doug, and Narene (others not pictured)

We were invited for early morning breakfast at the Eastleys, the humanitarian couple serving in St. Petersburg. She had real milk in a bottle and not the kind we get in Moscow from the shelf in a carton. Her home-made pumpkin syrup seasoned with cinnamon was very good on the French toast.

“Our Savior-on-the-Spilt-Blood” Church
Elder & Sister Eastley

In our branch at Tver we had met Daniel, a returned missionary who is married and lives in St. Petersburg. He told us he arranges tours in St. Petersburg; and he arranged for Max, another Russian returned missionary, to be our guide for the two days we were in St. Petersburg. It was nice having someone be our guide who speaks Russian and knew how to get to places we wanted to see.

Our visit to the Mission Home in St. Petersburg
Sam, Narene, Sister & President Sandberg

We spent about four hours in the Hermitage. We could have spent a week and not seen it all. The rooms are elegant and enormous; and the paintings, sculptures, and museum artifacts are a must see for one visiting St. Petersburg.

The Hermitage,
the former Winter Palace of Catherine the Great
Narene, Sam, Jeff, Rochelle, Shannon, and Doug

The Hermitage (photos below)

St. George Hall - Our guide, Max, at the left.

St. George Room – Throne

Narene looking at the chandeliers.

The Knights’ Hall

Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Little Madonna”

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Madonna with a Flower” door

Michelangelo’s “The Crouching Boy”

The Large Italian Skylight Room
Mazzuola’s “Adonis” - Sculpture (1715)

The Peacock Clock

Raphael’s “The Holy Family”

Raphael’s “The Conestabile Madonna”
(The reflection of our guide, Max, at the left.)

Raphael’s Loggia
Max, Narene, and Rochelle

Leonardo da Vinci Room

Portrait of Peter the Great and a decorative table

Rochelle, Jeff, Doug, and Shannon looking at exhibits.

Ancient Egyptian Writing

Stairs (but not the Grand Staircase)

The General Staff building is across from the Hermitage.
(next 2 photos)

The “General Staff” Building
Walking in the rain
Jeff, Rochelle, Narene, Max, Shannon, and Doug

Arch of the General Staff building

In the next posting, I will continue with our trip to St. Petersburg with photos of our boat trip on the canal in St. Petersburg and our visit to the famous Peterhof.