Sunday, 26 April 2009

Our Final Days in Moscow - Saying Our Goodbyes

Saying goodbyes to people and places we have come to love is not easy. Knowing we would be leaving Russia on the 29th of April made every event shared with friends this month seem more significant and memorable.

April 4 - We went to Ismaly Park with the Masons and Reeses to get our last gifts and souvenirs.

The metro stop where we get off to go to Ismaly Park.
(Sam & Narene by the war memorial.)

I was pleased when my favorite vendor
at Ismaly Park
offered this special girl to me at her cost.

I always enjoyed seeing the new art work Natalia Nikitina (pictured above) had for sale. Her selection was the best quality, and she always remembered me from the first time when we bought our Grandfather Frost from her.

Sam modeling one of the racoon hats we
bought at Ismaly Park.

Here it is with the flaps down.
Many of the hats available were more fashionable,
but the racoon and wolf hats appeal to the young.

April 6 - A farewell get together was held at the Service Center for Valentina Demina, who was retiring from the Finance department and moving to Utah where her married daughter lives. We enjoyed our association with Valentina. She has become a dear friend, and we look forward to seeing her again in the U.S.

Valentina Demina and Narene

Part of the group at Valentina's farewell.
(Sofia's brother in white shirt & suspenders,
Dmitry - Finance department, Sofia - receptionist,
Ray Whitesides - Area Controller,
and Valentina in the back.)

April 13 - We had supper with the other senior couples at the Metro Market before going to see the entertainers from BYU-Idaho perform in a concert hall located near the tall T.V. tower by Exhibition Center.

Senior couples frequently met at Metro Market
for a meal before leaving on the metro from Sokal
for our current destination.
(Sam, David Nearon, Clark & Renee Mason,
Sharon & David Yorgesen, Darvel & Kathy Gregory,
and Linda Nearon (Narene took the picture).

This used to be KFC, but in April it changed to FFC.
We often ordered a twister here at the Metro Market.
The new sign advertises the Fresh Fried Chicken
with the words transliterated beneath
(using Russian letters but not the words translated).

For our last meal here, we ordered the
kartoshkas (baked potatoes) served with our
choice of toppings. I liked having one scoop of
cream cheese with dill and one of sour cream
with cheese. Sam tried different toppings.

On our way to see the BYU-Idaho musical show,
we changed from the metro and got on the monorail.
This is where we saw this colorful cathedral.

We enjoyed the performance of the
BYU-Idaho dancers.

The dancers had a lot of enthusiasm and were well received by the audience. It wasn't the professional talent of a Russian ballet, but they were impressive for college students. The theme of the show was a journey through life. I think the younger ones in the audience related better to the teen years segment when the music got quite loud. One segment, on the other hand, was void of any music. They had several costume changes to go with the type of music they were dancing. The narration was in Russian, but the vocals were in English except for a special duet at the end. After the show, the performers mingled with the audience and were personable and friendly.

We walked by the T.V. tower on
our way to the concert hall.
We can see this tower from our
apartment window. It is the
tallest free standing tower in the world.

The Exhibition Center is in this area. I took
this photo from the platform of the monorail.

This is the first time we had ridden the monorail.

April 14 - This was our "farewell" Family Home Evening with the Moscow senior missionary couples. It was held at the Rees's. We had a delicious potluck dinner, and the seniors signed a card for us that Linda Nearon had made with photos of memorable things we have done as senior missionaries in Moscow. Each one took a turn sharing a thought special to them from an April General Conference talk, and Sam and I were also asked to share something about our missionary service and our testimonies.

FHE at the Rees's apartment.
(Andria Cranney, Kathy Gregory, Renee Mason,
Sandy Rasmussen, Narene, Sharon Yorgesen,
Nancy Hall, Linda Nearon, and Linda Rees.)

We appreciated having President & Sister Cranney
come to the FHE (Charles & Andria Cranney).
When the missions in Moscow were changed
and we were assigned to the Moscow Mission,
President Cranney became our mission president.

We were formerly in the Moscow West Mission, and President Collins was our mission president for most of our mission (Philip & Trisha Collins). Since most of the other senior couples were in the Moscow Mission, we had been invited to their mission's special activities and knew and enjoyed the Cranneys and the Collins. We were better acquainted with more of the young missionaries in the Moscow West Mission, however, since we were there much longer.

Elder & Sister Rees (Linda & Steve)
They hosted our FHE this particular evening.
Steve is the Area doctor, and Linda works in the
Meridian building having
related to recording patriarchal blessings.

Elder & Sister Mason (Clark & Renee)
They are the other senior missionary couple
who work in the Service Center with us. Clark is
the Area Auditor, and Renne has the assignment
to help with branch and family histories.

Elder & Sister Gregory (Darvel & Kathy)
Upon our departure, they are the couple
having served in Moscow longer than any of the
remaining couples. They will be going home in June.
The Gregorys live in an apartment building near ours,
but their schedule kept them from being with
our senior couple group most FHEs. As the CES couple,
they are free in the daytime when the rest of us
are busy; and their evenings are scheduled.

Elder & Sister Yorgesen (David & Sharon)
They are the office couple for the mission
president in the Moscow Mission. They also
will be completing their mission in June.

Elder & Sister Nearon (Linda & David)
They are volunteers working in the legal department
in the Meridian building. Their apartment is next
door to the Halls, which was formerly the Shepard's
apartment. We all miss Greg & Chris Shepard
whose farewell FHE was a month before ours.

Elder & Sister Rasmussen (Dennis & Sandy)
They are the office couple for the Mowcow West
Mission. Currently, they are the only senior couple
in that mission living in Moscow except for the
mission president and his wife.
The other senior couples are in the Moscow Mission.

Elder & Sister Hall (Hyrum & Nancy)
At the time of our farewell FHE activity, they
were the newest senior missionary couple in Moscow.
However, that distinction would soon be taken over
by the Holmes and then the Burtons.
The Halls followed the Shepards as executive
secretary to the Area Presidency, and they also
moved into the apartment vacated by the Shepards.

It was hard saying goodbye to these special friends we have made in Moscow, just as it was difficult saying goodbye to those who completed their missions before us. Each has a special place in our hearts, and we hope we can keep in touch and meet again.

We shared one last activity with this senior group on April 17 when we went to the circus together. The Russian circus has a history and tradition that ranks right up there with the ballet. A year ago, we had been to both the traditional circus and what is referred to as the new circus; and this year we saw the new circus twice, once with Scott & Kristine and again with Nactya and Anna. We enjoyed both circuses. The new circus has more flair with lighting and costumes reminding one of a Las Vegas show, but both have talent and are professionally produced. It's hard to say which we preferred. With the senior couples we went to the traditional circus, and all were favorably impressed with the atmosphere and the performances.

Another photo op in the metro on the way
to the circus.

It's difficult to see in the photo, but one fellow has
been flung high in the air and is about to land
in the chair held high by a guy on stilts standing on
a narrow piece being balanced by two other guys.

It was amazing she could go extremely high and land
gracefully on the narrow surface. We had
seen a similar act at the new circus.

This girl could juggle all sorts of shapes and sizes
using both feet and hands, and she kept numerous
hoops going on legs and arms at the same time.

Of course, there were animals at the circus.
During the intermission, people could pay to have
their picture taken with different animals,
even a leopard.

The performers were given appreciative applause
at the end of the show. They represented
various countries and some wore ethnic costumes.

I recommend going to the Russian circus if you get an opportunity. You will enjoy it.

Saying goodbye to Sofia, the receptionist and
friend at the Service Center. She was
going on vacation to Spain to visit her parents.

We knew the final two weeks of our mission would be extremely busy. Following the Area Humanitarian Conference in Armenia, there would be only three days to attend our branch one last time, finalize things at the office, finish packing, leave our apartment ready for the Burtons to move in, and say final goodbyes. These two weeks, including our time in Armenia, will be on the next blog.

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