Sunday, 21 September 2008

Visiting the Palace of the Romanov Boyars

For a Saturday activity on September 21, a group of senior missionaries visited the Palace of the Romanov Boyars. It was built in the 16th century and was the home of the Romanovs before they became Russia's ruling family and moved to the Kremlin. It has been a museum since the 19th century when it was restored. We had been wanting to visit this museum, but during the winter they were doing more restorations and it was closed .

David Yorgesen, Narene, Sharon Yorgesen,
Chris & Greg Shepard,

Renee Mason, and Linda Nearon

We bought our tickets in this building.

At first, the lady wouldn't sell us tickets and pointed for us to read the sign by the front door that said it was not open yet. However, Greg saw people inside and went to the front entrance of the palace and was able to use enough Russian to communicate with the guide and get permission to buy our tickets without waiting to come inside for a tour.

Entrance to the Palace of the Romanov Boyars

The term "palace" suggests images of grandeur and spaciousness. The term "residence" seems more appropriate, as the rooms were small and not majestic. However, for its era it was probably considered more palatial.

The trunk had old books, and there were
genealogical records in the alcove.

The Hostess Room

The house was segregated, and the females were in one part of the house and the males in another part. This was the hostess room where the males ate.

The Elder Boys Room

At the age of 5 or 6 the boys left the female section of the house and went to the male side to begin their education. This is the room where the boys studied.

The handicrafts room

The girls stayed with the mother in the female part of the house until they were married at an early age - 12 to 15. In the handicrafts room the main activity was carding and spinning wool, weaving it into cloth, and making elegant patterns often with gold threads added for beauty.

Nobility had their own cathedrals.
Near the
Palace of the Romanov Museum
were several cathedrals.

Another cathedral in the area.
I don't know which one
was the
Romanov family cathedral.

Priest and men talking in front of one of the cathedrals.

Is this a priest? Usually they are in black.

The first part of the house we visited was the cellar where they kept their treasures in trunks and chests. Also in the cellar were farm tools and guns and military things. There had been a fire during the early 1800's, but the cellar was part of the original building as it was built of bricks and rock, while the rest of the house was built of wood. The narrative card stated that the house was probably the oldest building in Moscow, and the cellar had survived the fire.

The walls were very thick. We would have had to duck our heads to go through some of the doorways. The guide told us this kept the rooms warmer by not having such a large doorway. The stairs were very steep and narrow with no handrails. Rooms where they slept were not part of the tour. It was interesting to see how the nobility lived in that era.

The first British Embassy in Moscow.

As we left the Palace of the Romanov Boyars, we passed this building. The sign in the yard near the building said it was the site of the first British Embassy in Moscow, but we don't know if this is the original building or if this is the site where it was.

Since the Romanov Museum is near the Kremlin, we walked through Red Square on our way to eat lunch. (We missed the chocolate cafe, so settled for pizza.)

We have taken pictures each time we visit Red Square, but I will add a couple from this visit.

St. Basils' in Red Square

Another view of St. Basil's

The voice of the priest and the music background
drew our
attention to the small church
just before you

go through the arch into Red Square.

A family posed for a photo with a Stalin look-a-like.

Entrance to the GUM department store on Red Square.

A monument near Kitai Gorod metro station.
We walked through a nice park
on our way to the Romanov Palace.

Narene & Sam
The windmill was in front of a restaurant.
We didn't eat there, but it seemed a
good place for a photo.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Looking Back

We arrived in Moscow 17 November 2007, and I didn't start this blog until the 14th of April 2008. It is hard to believe that we have been here ten months. The time has gone fast. As I look back through photos taken during the fall and winter, I think about all we have experienced and the good friendships we have made. Naturally, I'm not anxious to walk on the icy paths again, but that's a reality we soon will have.

We appreciate how supportive our family are, and we do miss them. We have been blessed, though, to have had the opportunity to share Moscow with some of our family who have come for visits (Jeff & Rochelle and Doug & Shannon in May and Curtis & Marla and Todd & Beth in July, and Ryan & Tani are coming September 23 for a week.) Our family gave us a nice farewell before we left for the MTC in Provo where we received instructions for eleven days before leaving for Russia.

Our farewell party - Narene & Sam with the cake.

Mission President Cannon & his wife
to set us apart before leaving for our mission.
Tauna made the "Serve with Honor"plaque on the mantle.

We were met at the airport by Mike & Maradel Brown when we arrived in Moscow. After taking us to our apartment and delivering our luggage (two suitcases and a carry-on is what we each had brought), the Browns took us to see Red Square. It was snowing lightly that evening and an impressive sight. I remember thinking how incredible it was to actually be standing in Red Square in the center of Moscow. I still love to go to Red Square and especially like seeing it after dark, and Christmas time with the lights and decorations is the best time of all.

Mike & Maradel Brown -
the first friends we met in Russia

Except for seeing babies in buggies and toddlers in strollers for an outing in the park, we didn't see many children during the cold weather months. I think that may help explain why it brought tears to my eyes when we attended a Primary Christmas program last December after being in Russia only one month. It made me think about my grandchildren, and I did have a rare homesick moment.

Primary Christmas program
Children & Grandfather Frost

One of the special memories of that first month is going with the other senior missionary couples on a service project to a home for the elderly with dementia. We sang Christmas carols and delivered little gifts of grooming products and candy. We even attempted to sing one carol in Russian, and we learned how to wish the ladies "Happy New Year" in Russian.

Senior missionary couples serving in Moscow -
(front row: Al Price, Darvel Gregory,
Greg & Chris Shepard;

back row: Kathy Gregory, Sam & Narene,

Mike & Maradel Brown,
Sharon & David Yorgesen,
and Barbara Price)

It says "Happy New Year" in Russian.

The senior couples serving in Moscow work in offices Monday through Friday, and on Saturday (our P-day or "preparation day"), the group often meet to spend time seeing the sights and experiencing the culture of Moscow.

Chris & Greg Shepard, Sam & Narene,
Barbara & Al Price, and Mike & Maradel Brown

with St. Basil's in the background.

The ballroom in Catherine the Great's Palace

Moscow viewed from Sparrow Hill.
This was an extremely cold day.

Nikita Khrushchev's grave in Novodevichy Cemetery.

We saw the ballet, "Cinderella."
Mike & Maradel Brown,

Nactya (our interpreter at the Service Center),

and Narene & Sam

We also went to another ballet, "Don Quixote" and to the circus with the Browns. We almost missed the circus, though, because the guys using their best Russian thought they had bought tickets for the 18th of the month. We had just gotten home from the office when Sam took the tickets out of his pocket and realized they were for that very evening - 18:00 o'clock - in one hour. We made it just minutes before the performance began. Of course, we went by metro and walking. That is how we travel nearly every place we go.

One of the metro stations.
Each is distinctive in
style and decoration.

In December we were assisgned to the small branch in Tver. It usually took about 4 to 5 hours by electric train or bus to get there, so we went Satuday afternoon and returned to Moscow early evening on Sunday. We loved the members of the branch, but it was nice when we were assigned in April to a branch in Moscow where we could walk and take the metro and get there in an hour.

Some of the members of the Tver Branch -
(back row: Irina, Diyana, Julia, Sergie, Svetlana;

front row: Valentina, Olga's mother, Narene,

Galina, visitor and employee at the Service Center,

Natasha, and Sam)

Ice Fishing - viewed from the bus on the way to Tver.

Farewell FHE at the Prices for the Browns
completed their mission February 14.
(Sam, Joe & Nancy Abram in the foreground)

We spent the first three months of our mission focused on doing humanitarian projects in and around Moscow. When the Browns completed their mission, we began full time assuming the duties of Area Welfare Specialists. We put in long hours at the office during February, March, and April and had not as much time for doing projects as we would have liked. In April, we met the humanitarian missionaries in Eastern Europe at the area conference in Sofia, Bulgaria. We enjoy our work, the people we work with, and the experiences we are having. We feel very blessed to be serving in Russia.

The Masons arrived in February
to join
our senior missionary group - Clark & Renee,
Greg Shepard (Chris took the picture),

Al & Barbara Price, Sam & Narene,

Craig & Lorna McCune

We went to Tallinn, Estonia to renew our visa Feb. 14.

Anna & Daniel and baby came to supper
at our apartment.
We met Daniel in Tver
where he had served as a missionary;

they now live in St. Petersburg.

One of the fond memories of Moscow
will be the
children bundled up in their snowsuits
with their little arms straight out.

Barbara & Al Price
We were sad to have the Prices leave in March
to return to Utah for Al to receive the
medical help he needed. He had a long struggle,
but his will and the prayers of loved ones
have brought about a miracle.
We miss them both here in Moscow.

Narene, Lorna, Chris, and Beryl Curbishley
shopping on Arbat Street.
It was my birthday and
Women's Day in Moscow (March 10).

Renee, Narene, & Chris with our new hats.

I bought my hat on Arbot Street
and also
this painting, which I hid
and gave to Sam for our anniversary.

In April, we went to a concert
at the International House of Music.

It was interesting visiting the Metro Museum.

Moscow's metro is a great system,
but you feel lucky to get a seat

and had better be quick getting on and off
before the doors shut.

Park of the Fallen Statues -
These are statues that
were no longer
in the same esteem after the fall of the USSR.

Elder & Sister Ireland with President Akseonov in the Tver Branch

Our farewell treat to the Elders
on our last Saturday in Tver.

They serve the best belenis here.

Cannon, Michaelis, Geels, and Gillis)

No sadness about leaving
our weekend apartment in Tver.

Attending an excellent concert
sponsored by the Church.

Soloists were from several countries. 23 May 2008
(back row: Sam, Greg, Clark, George, and David;
front row: Narene, Renee, Elena (who had a big part in
organizing the concert), Beryl, and Sharon.)

A dinner together before attending a concert.
The photo was taken 21 May 2008
just before Joe & Nancy Abrams finished their mission.
(left, clockwise: Craig McCune (Lorna wasn't there),
Nancy Abram (Joe was doing an audit),
friends of Jonathan Snow,

Whitney Snow (Jonathan took the picture),
Renee & Clark Mason,
Sam & Narene,
Chris & Greg Shepard, George & Beryl Curbishley,

Sharon & David Yorgesen

I have enjoyed looking back and thinking about the things we have experienced these last ten months, the friendships made, and the blessings that have been ours. We are grateful for our testimonies and the opportunity to serve the Lord and the people in this part of the world. We are impressed with the faithfulness of the members, with their knowledge of doctrine, and with their ability to participate comfortably in giving talks and teaching lessons. We see members use their money and vacation time to travel to Finland to go to the temple, as this is very important to them. We admire and love the Russian people and appreciate how kind they have been to us.

Finally, a memorable event to record is the Sacred Assembly we participated in via the computer video when President Monson was sustained as our prophet in April General Conference. I cherish this memory and am grateful for the technology that made it possible.