Friday, 23 January 2009

The Life Cycle

Our thoughts and prayers have been with my brother's family since hearing that their son, Ronald, passed away on Tuesday morning, January 20. He had struggled with pulmonary fibrosis since having double pneumonia in 1988 which left him with permanent lung damage. We will miss Ronald's warm welcome that we had come to appreciate on our visits to Utah, but we find comfort in knowing that Ronald is now continuing with his progress and receiving eternal blessings. When I see a field of pretty sunflowers, I will think of Ronald and how he and I shared a fondness for them. Ronald's funeral is Saturday, January 24, in St. George with burial in Logan on Monday, January 26.

Sam and I will be flying to Madrid tomorrow afternoon for our last visa renewal trip. We are pleased that the Shepards and Reeses are also going to Madrid on the same flight to renew their visas. It's a special blessing that we can attend the temple while we are in Madrid. From Madrid, we will go to Yerevan to train the Blotters, the humanitarian couple who arrived in Armenia January 16. We will return to Moscow on February 1.

We have been busy at the office this week wanting to have things caught up before we leave for a week; but we expect when we return from Armenia, there will be many new e-mails to process.

Today, we visited a children's hospital for orphans. Most are brought there as newborns and given medical help. Some were born to mothers who were addicted to drugs, some had problems due to being born prematurely, some were born with deformities such as Down syndrome or encephalitis. Once the children reach age four or when the necessary treatment is finished, most of these children are then placed in an orphanage. A few do go home to a family, and a few with only minor disabilities are lucky enough to be adopted. It really pulls on your heartstrings to see these tiny babies with such a bleak future even though the caregivers at the hospital are providing compassionate care and doing what they can for them. The director expressed a need for infusion machines that can be used orally to feed those babies that cannot feed themselves and also nebulizers. I did have a hard time holding back the tears on this visit.

How blessed we have been to have healthy babies and healthy grandchildren. Rochelle sent some darling pictures recently of our youngest grandchild (#29). Here is a sample:

Kate LaRee Ireland
born 21 August 2008

I want to give her a big hug!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Enjoying the Metro

Last year, we found there were fewer people riding the metro the first week in January, so it was a good time to take pictures of the various stations. This year, the Masons joined us on January 2 for another photo session on the metro. First, we took the blue line north clear to the end, and next we got on the brown line and stopped to take pictures at each of the stations on the south part of the circle.

Here is a sampling of what we enjoyed seeing in the metro stations that evening:

The Moscow Metro is the second most heavily used rapid-transit system. It was opened in 1935. Many of the stations have unique ornate designs.

This one and the next three are photos
of designs created with tiny mosaic pieces.

The Moscow Metro is an amazing system. There are 12 lines and 285 stations (route length is over 200 miles). There are over 9 million passengers using the metro on a normal week day.

This photo and the next one were taken at the
station called "Park Pobedi" when transliterated.

Many of the stations have statues or mosaics with a World War II theme, or "Great Patriotic War," as the Russians refer to that war. Here is an example of a mosaic in honor of the victory:

1945 - Celebrating the victory.

"Slavyanckee Bulvar"
(Narene & Sam)

This is a new metro that is not yet shown on the posted metro maps and is very clean and shiny. It is one of our favorites. It reminds me of a garden with the green trellises.

Clark & Renee Mason,
our metro traveling companions on this day.

Another view of the "Slavyanckee Bulvar" station.
(Narene, Renee & Clark - Sam took the picture)

There have been numerous times that we have had to stand on the metro since all the seats are taken; and many times during rush time the space appears to be filled to capacity, but when the doors open at the next stop, more people rush in. However, on the day after New Year's, we were amazed to find ourselves the only passengers when we got on this train. This was a first and only time this has happened for us.

This is one of the newer trains with padded seats.
Clark took advantage of having the whole car
to ourselves when we got on at
"Slavyanckee Bulvar" during what would
be rush hour on most days.

Even the platforms were almost empty at the
various stops along the route. The next
two photos were taken at this station.

Each graphic inset had a different scene
framed with attractive marble.

Trains run about every 90 seconds on most lines during peak hours. At other times during the day, they run every 2 to 3 1/2 minutes. Late at night, they run every 6 to 10 minutes.

Another mosaic - Mother and Child

Interesting lighting and hammer & cycle motif.

On January 16, we went with Anna, our interpreter, to see about doing a humanitarian project with an institution for deaf children. We met Anna at the "Slavyanckee Bulvar" stop, so we took another picture here with Anna.

Anna and Sister Ireland at the
"Slavyanckee Bulvar" station.

Here we are with a view of the oncoming train.

When we first arrived in Moscow, we had difficulty understanding the names of the stations when they announced the next stop. Now this is not usually a problem, especially on lines where we have traveled before. When a man's voice announces the station, that indicates clockwise travel on the circle line or travel toward the center of Moscow on the radial lines. A woman's voice announcing indicates the reverse direction. Each line has a name, a number, and a color; and the metro map is displayed in each car. Where we work and live is on the Sokol line, which is #2, and is on the green line. Nearly every where we go, we either walk or ride the metro.

A 60-ride metro pass was 580 rubles (about $20 depending on the exchange rate) until after the first of the year. It is now 865 rubles.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Moscow Tour after Dark

One of the former employees at the Service Center, Kosta, offered to take the Masons and us on a tour at night to see the city lights of Moscow. On January 14, he picked us up at 8:00 p.m. at the Mason's apartment, where we had been invited by Renee for supper before our tour began.

Costa, Renee, Narene, Clark (Sam took the picture).

The "White House" of Russia that housed the
Russian Parliament until 1993 and now
houses the Russian cabinet.

In 1991, Gorbachev was President of the Soviet Union and also General Secretary of the Communist Party. Yeltsin was president of Russia at the time and was in the Russian White House during the coup in August 1991 when the hard-line Communists tried to overthrow Gorbachev. To protect their Parliament and Yeltsin, 50,000 people surrounded the White House.

Lighted bridge over the Moscow River.

The White House seen beyond the bridge.

The illuminated tower of the Kievsky Railway Station
with the Moscow River in the foreground.

Novodevichy Convent

Soccer stadium across the
Moscow River from Sparrow Hill.

Ski jump at Sparrow Hill

Moscow University seen from Sparrow Hill
(one of the Seven Sisters buildings)

Gagarin Monument

Yuri Gagarin, Russian Cosmonaut,
the first human to orbit the earth (1961).

One of several casinos along this street.

Triumphal Arch on Poklonnaya Gora

Close-up of the Triumphal Arch near Victory Park

New Business District

New Business District
still under construction

Statue of the "Founding Father of Moscow"

Moscow Lubyanka or KGB

Not lighted, but interesting architecture
in the old part of Moscow.

A church in "Old Moscow"

A Provoslavian Church in "Old Moscow"
(Russian Orthodox)

Our favorite view at night is the
Triumph Palace
seen from our 16th floor apartment window.

The Triumph Palace is a 57-story apartment building, which is sometimes referred to as the 8th Tower because of its similar appearance to the Seven Sisters skyscrapers built by Stalin in the 1950's. This building has 1,000 luxury apartments. When it was finished in 2003, it was the tallest building in Europe (866 ft.).

Monday, 12 January 2009

Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

The senior missionaries' excursion on Saturday, January 10, was to see the Turner Exhibition at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.

Visiting the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts
Chris, Narene, Clark, Renee, and Linda Nearon;
also with us but not in the photo:
Greg, Sam, David Yorgesen,
Steve & Linda Rees

They prohibited taking pictures of the Turner paintings, but my favorite was a Venice scene. William Turner lived 1775-1851 and is considered perhaps the most famous English Romantic landscape artist as well as England's most famous marine artist according to a source I read online. He studied the science of light and color and is known as the "painter of light."

After looking at the Turner paintings on the second floor, we visited the other rooms of the museum, which we enjoyed even more. There is a large collection of tinted plaster casts of famous sculptures that is impressive.

One of several rooms full of plaster cast sculptures.

At the left is the replica of
Michelangelo's "David."

Plaster Cast of Michelangelo's "Moses."

Plaster Cast of Michelangelo's "Pieta."

Maybe St. George Slaying the Dragon

Another room full of plaster cast art.

The first section we toured had works of art of ancient Egypt and artifacts. We could not take photos of the artifacts, but we could in the other rooms.

Look at the size of that vase.

Narene in the Egyptian room.

One of the walls in the Egyptian room.

I don't recall the artist's name,
but this painting was particularly colorful and
the flowers are gorgeous.

Rembrandt's portrait of his brother
was one of our favorites.

Christ the Redeemer Cathedral
Photo taken as we walked back to the metro.

Peter the Great statue to the left in the distance,
and Christ the Redeemer Cathedral on the right.

"Sleeping Beauties" riding home on the metro.
It had been a long day!