Sunday, May 26, 2013

Christ the Savior Cathedral

Russian Easter fell on May 11th. We went to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on May 10th 2013.
 Eastern Orthodox Christianity has been called the soul of Russia. It has been written that "it is here in this church that you can best feel what Russia is and understand her place and purpose in the world. Even under Communist rule, church life never ceased to exist. All attempts to extinguish faith in Christ the Savior in the souls of the Russian people have always failed. The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour became the embodiment of the Russian national idea, the symbol of Russia.

To commemorate the victory over Napoleon, the cathedral became the spiritual center of Russia. this cathedral was intended to last for centuries, but the communists condemned it to destruction. It was destroyed because it was the symbol of Russia, embodying everything that the militant atheists hated.
The cathedral was blown up in December 1931.

It was rebuilt. It is a huge complex. The main upper church is dedicated to the Nativity of Christ, interior reproduced to that of the original church."

When we came into the cathedral, there was a pre-Easter program going on. As in all other Russian churches, there are no pews to sit on. everyone stands up. The service was very long, and of course, we couldn't understand. Our office elders, who were with us, couldn't understand either because the priests were speaking (Chanting really) in old Russian. There are candles everywhere and many nuns who go around and snuff them out periodically.

The paintings are from floor to ceiling.  There is a sadness to many of the paintings.  It is very ornate and beautiful but without substance is how my husband described it. There was obviously no expense spared inside or outside.

Many of the paintings depicted different stories from the New Testament. Your eyes are on over-load as you look around. There is a lot of symbolism in the artwork. I saw many people approach several of the pictures almost reverently and kiss the feet of the subject (some were men I didn't know). Others were kissing the feet of the dead Christ on the cross.

Our Russian brothers and sisters have been through a lot over the years. Communism certainly took its toll. Perhaps this church, brings them hope? They certainly appear to be looking for truth.
A chilly rainy day. Here with Elder Daniel Bradford
and Elder Bryant Law, our wonderful office elders.
/Dave and I with Elder Law
Patriarch's  Bridge leads up to the
beautiful cathedral

Memorial Museum of Astronauts

A couple of weeks ago Dave went with our office elders, Elder Bryant Law and Elder Daniel Bradford, to the Memorial Museum of Astronauts located in northeast Moscow. It is a very modern and large museum. The Russia space program and part of the US space program was included, to include Neil Armstrong. There were a lot of displays with space hardware and photographs. Dave compared it favorably to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Of course, the descriptions were in Russian, but they enjoyed looking around. There was a lot to see and they were in there for three hours.
Russia has several days a year where different museums are free and they hit the jackpot and got in free.
Dave really enjoyed pictures taken of the Hubble telescope which showed colors and formations seen in space, which he mentioned was just another testament of the reality of God.
The three of them went out to lunch afterwards and they really enjoyed themselves a lot. They had what you could say "an out of this world day!"
this huge and very tall sculpture was in the middle
of the museum on the roof. It is a rocketship with
the smoke trail. Very impressive.
Dave in front of the museum
beautiful tulips off to the side.


Our missionaries here have an activity that is referred to as slamming. There is a cookie here in  Russia called a kon-teek. It is kind of like an oreo cookie, two cookies with filling in the middle and there is a hole on one end. The missionaries dip the end of the cookie into warm chocolate milk and suck the filling out through the hole. The cookie collapses into a big cookie mess. (but fun). Just something silly. Our sister missionaries, Sister Snyder and Sister McDaniel, brought some kon-teeks so they could teach us how to slam. :0) a once-in a lifetime experience.
Sister Erin McDaniel and Sister Ashley Snyder
first you take a bit at the end of the cookie
opposite the end with the hole in it
                                         then you dip the cookie in warm milk and suck out
                                           the creamy filling. the cookie dissolves and
                                           makes a big cookie mess!

Tzaritizina Park

We went, along with two other senior couples, to Tzaritzina Park. The grounds were lush and green and very beautiful and well kept. There were only a few tulips left. The grounds keepers were in the process of removing the tulips and replacing them with other beautiful flowers. We went inside Catherine the Great's palace. It was a bit disappointing. We expected to see more of what it looked like in her day. The palace was built as a summer home for her according to her specifications. However, she did not like it and refused to live there. (Not that that was a problem) She had several large homes from St. Petersburg to Moscow. She was born in May 1729 in Prussia (now Poland) and died in 1796.  I encourage you to check her out on Google and learn about this interesting woman. "She was the most powerful woman in the world, dragging Russia out of medieval stupor into the modern world."
The original palace sat empty for years and was destroyed. It was reconstructed recently. There are beautiful paintings that are light and show what life was like in the 1700's in Russia and some were painted in the 1960's or 1970's. There are a few pieces of old furniture. We also saw old foundations and there was a room of artifacts of things found when the first palace was destroyed.
                                          A beautiful painting of Catherine the Great in the palace
A sculpture of Catherine the Great
Catherine the Great's palace
The palace was huge, but most of it was off limits
to the public. this was the most beautiful room we saw.
These giraffes were next to a little outside café. Not
quite sure where giraffes fit in, but it makes for a cute picture
of Elder Ken Pierson, Elder David Sutton, and Elder Ken Storm
a pretty island
beautiful water fountains. At dusk they
light up in a myriad of colors.
Here are the girls on the giraffes.
Sister Carolyn Pierson, Sister Sheryl Storm, Sister Barbara Sutton
Here we are in front of the water fountains.

just funny

It is true that people are the same the world over. A couple of days ago as Dave and I were going down the escalator at the metro station to catch the train to Tzaritzina, a man was ahead of us. He appeared in a hurry. At the bottom of each escalator at each metro there is a little cubicle, similar to the toll booths in the States In the cubicle is a person sits keeping an eye on the people on the escalator with the help of cameras. The woman (who must have been bored out of her mind - I mean, really, can you imagine anything too much more boring?) was sound asleep her head down in her lap. The man tapped loudly on her window as he zipped by to catch the train. Her head came groggily up and she didn't look any too happy. He turned around with a big grin on his face to see if he had succeeded in getting her up. It made me laugh.  It was just funny.


One of the responsibilities I have is to supply de-worming pills for missionaries returning back home. This is no easy feat. Most often they are very difficult to get in the quantity I need, if at all. Last Saturday I walked into Mitino to get the pills from the one apteka (pharmacy) that I had had success in. It had been turned into a productee. Oh oh. I walked back and went into the apteka that is almost right across the street from our apartment. I had never had luck in there before, but I was desperate. WOW. They had the pills. I was SO excited. I got the two available. (better than nothing). I went back a couple of days ago and the girl behind the counter recognizes me by now. She gives me a knowing smile and brings out 12 boxes! I was in heaven. I bought ten of them. I'm sure she wonders what I do with all these de-worming pills Another good thing is that the cost per box is about $.75 or 19 rubles. I will go back next week. If I'm lucky she will anticipate my visit and just start having lots on hand for me (so I can stock up). I hit the jackpot!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Russian Easter

Russian Easter was celebrated on 5 May. It was a lovely day. A young woman whom we see at the bus stop every Sunday and always smiles at us, approached and spoke, handing me a handmade Easter egg. Then a hug, which is almost unheard of in Russia. These wonderful people are generally so reserved. That was so nice. At Church different members shared their love of the Savior and gratitude for his resurrection. They say Christ is risen! to everyone they meet. (in Russian of course). There was a sweet spirit there and we appreciated Elder Marx, our young missionary who was able to translate for us.

Two of my little buddies came up to me. Nikita, the same age as our grandson Kevin, came up and gave me a hug out of the blue and little 5 year old Slava, came rushing up, Baboula! Baboula! and had lots of ugs for me as well. One sweet sister came up and placed a little crocheted Easter egg in my hand and anothe rcame up and said in English, "Merry Easter." My heart was touched by these little acts of kindness.

We have noticed that even with the language barrier, we are part of this ward. We feel at home there. I notice when families or members are missing. Bishop Mocholov is OUR bishop. Zelonograd is OUR ward. We love the poeple and even though it is frustrating at times not to be able to understand most of what is said, we feel love and acceptance and joy to be in their mids

Victory Day

It's hard to believe that this will be our second Victory Day here in Russia on May 9th. Victory Day is one of the greatest celebrations in Russia, if not the greatest and most revered. The Russians are a very patriotic people. Victory Day commemorates the "Great Patriotic War," the great World War I . This great country of Russia lost 27 million people in this devestating war. The Russians honor the veterans of the war. In Church Sunday, the babushkas who were alive during World War l received lovly flowers. The fireworks have already started and we anticipate a couple of nights of fireworks. The missionaries have been asked to stay away from Red Square and not to wear their missionary name tags.