Sunday, September 23, 2012

Renewed Appreciation for America

This afternoon after Church, KLynn and I invited three young African members to join us for dinner.  All three of them joined the Church here in Moscow, and they are very nice young men.  They all spoke at length about the extreme corruption that is endemic to their home governments, and how the leaders of their countries enrich themselves at the expense of the people.  Each of them spoke in the most glowing of terms about America, and in particular about America's respect for the rule of law.  They made the point that their countries are rich in natural resources, but the masses of people live in abject poverty because the government is so inefficient and corrupt.  They compared their countries with Germany and England, which are not nearly as rich in natural resources, but where the people enjoy much higher standards of living.  Listening to them gave me a renewed appreciation for our systems of law and education, which make possible the high standard of living we enjoy in America.  It also made KLynn and me take pause to think about what we may be able to do, in some small way, to help some of these struggling countries.  We have been richly blessed with opportunities for education and the financial security that comes with it.  At this stage of life it's high time to start thinking about ways to use my legal training and our other resources to give back.  The Church service we are doing in Eastern Europe is a good first step, and it continues to be very rewarding.  I'm not sure what will follow, but this has been a life-changing experience.  There is a lot more to life than trying to earn as much money as you can.

Earlier this week I went to Tallin, Estonia, for part of the Europe East Area Mission Presidents Seminar.  I participated on a panel with other members of the Area Executive Committee to field questions from the mission presidents.  I always enjoy the opportunity to go to these seminars and associate with the mission presidents.  They and their wives are truly exceptional people, and they give great service.  It's a rare opportunity to get to be a fly on the wall and listen to the instruction they receive from the Area Presidency and other general authorities.  They are asked to do a lot!

By the way, since my last posting, which was quite a while ago, I had a biking accident here in Moscow near our home that resulted in a severe concussion.  I spent a few weeks back in the U.S. recouperating, and I'm now mostly symptom free.  It's good to have a thick skull.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Anniversary / Birthday Trip to Czech Republic

This last week KLynn and I celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary and my (Bob's) 60th birthday.  We spent four days in Prague and Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, and it was wonderful.  I had heard so much about Prague I was afraid it had been built up too much in my mind.  It wasn't.  It really IS that pretty.  Cesky Krumlov is a preserved medieval city near the Austrian border.  It will spoil us for Disney World forever.  A few pictures follow:

 This is KLynn with St. Nicholas' Church and part of Old Town Prague in the background.

 This is on the way to Karlstein, about 25 miles outside of Prague.  It has a fairy-tale castle on the top of the hill to the left.

KLynn with Cesky Krumlov in the background.  It is amazingly well preserved.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and well deserving of the distinction.

We hired this vintage Skoda roadster and driver to give us a driving tour of Old Town for an hour.  It was a good way to see the city.

This is a shot looking across the Vistula River during our driving tour.

This picture captures the spirit of the trip.  We had a memorable time.  It's been a good 38 years.

This is a shot from the Charles Bridge.  Prague has lots of tourists in the summer, and with good reason.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Concert at the Palace

Today, Sunday, KLynn and I went to Izmailava Park, to the old Tsar's palace built in the 1600s I think, for a musical program by a baritone singer friend of ours, and a guitarist / accompanist.  The concert was very nice and the park grounds were beautiful.  It is a hidden gem.  Pictures follow.

This is a gateway to the palace grounds.  The concert was in one of the wings off to the right.

This is walking back from the palace toward an Orthodox Church.

This is the pathway through the palace grounds.  The onion domes in the background are the church.  It had rained earlier in the day and the path was a little wet.

This is KLynn standing outside the church.  (Headscarves for women are customary inside Orthodox churches.)

The old church in the foreground was built in the 1600s.  The newer one is in the background.

Wednesday evening we went to the Moscow Conservatory for a fabulous concert of Beethoven's 9th Symphony performed by the Moscow State Orchestra conducted by Pavel Kogan (formerly the principal guest conductor of the Utah Symphony).  We had dinner at a little sidewalk cafe before the concert, the concert hall was beautiful, the music was magnificent, and it was one of those near-perfect evenings.  Summers in Moscow help you forget about the winter.  There is much in Moscow that is beautiful.  I'll miss it when it is time to leave.  It is becoming home.

Friday evening we attended a choir concert at St. Andrew's Anglican Church performed by an expat women's performing group.  They weren't professional, but it was fun.  The president of the International Women's Club this year (wife of the Polish Ambassador) sang in the choir and invited us.  She and KLynn are becoming good friends, and I'm glad we went.  Saturday evening we had my office staff, their families, and some of the missionaries for dinner at the Pokrofsky Hilly Bowery - about twenty people.  So it's been a busy week-end. Life is good.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Saturday in May

Yesterday, Saturday, was one of our better Saturdays here, probably because we were involved in giving service.  Yesterday morning we went to the Moscow Anglican Church about a ten minute walk from the Kremlin and helped to weed their garden in preparation for next week's service celebrating the jubilee of Queen Elizabeth's reign.  The lovely old building was built in the late 1800s and looks like it's straight out of Devonshire.  It was seized by the Communists for many years and returned to the Church in the 1990s.  There has been an English church on the site since the 1500s, dating back to an agreement between Elizabeth I and Ivan the Terrible.  An earlier building was burned by Napoleon.   (He didn't much care for the British.)  The pastor - an exceptionally nice man - told me that during the Communist revolution the Red Guards had a machine gun emplacement at the top of the Church tower, and the parsonage still shows bullet marks from the White Guards.

Yesterday afternoon we met one of my home teaching families at Red Square and took their four young children for a few hours while the parents had some time alone together.  It was a win-win experience.

Late spring and summer in Moscow are as delightful as the winter is dreary.  We are enjoying the long sunny days and green trees in the parks.  KLynn is getting into the throws of her new assignment as General Officer of the International Women's Club, and she is still on the board of the American Women's Organization for the next few months.  My work continues to be interesting and challenging.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

One More Cultural Video

At the risk of over doing it, I've added one more link to a folk dance video.  No one should feel any sense of obligation to watch this, but part of the purpose of this blog is to create a history of this time of our lives.  With that thought in mind I've added one more video link from the Moiseev dance concert I attended a few months ago during one of KLynn's trips to the U.S.  I'm not sure in what concert hall the video was filmed, but the "Summer Dance" was the opening number at the concert I attended.  I think it is one of the signature pieces of the Moiseev Company.  When I saw them perform this number it gave me a new love for the Russian people and their heritage.  When I watch this in future years I'll miss Moscow and think back fondly on our time here.  Enjoy.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Friday Night Folk Dance Concert

Last night KLynn and I attended a dance concert at Tchaikovsky Hall by the Ukrainian Academic Dance Ensemble.  Rather than try to describe it I'll try to add a link to a You Tube film of the "Hopak," their grand finale.  The film is good, but doesn't do them justice.  Sometimes I really love living in Moscow.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

More Spring Pictures

I uploaded a bunch of pictures from my camera this morning, so here are some samples:

These first pictures are from the Kremlin/Red Square area a few days before the May 9 Victory Day celebration.  The above picture was taken on Red Square at the opposite end from St. Basil's Cathedral.

This is just outside Red Square.  The equestrian statue is Marshall Zhukov, the commander of the Soviet Army in WWII.  His horse is stepping on a Nazi Eagle.  I'm told that after the war his popularity was so high that Stalin demoted him to a factory superintendent or something like that to get him out of the spotlight.

This is the "Eternal Flame" and tomb of the unknown soldier, just outside the Kremlin walls.

The day these pictures were taken we were hosting Gordon Madsen (on the left), who was visiting from Salt Lake.  We went to a restaurant called "Rasputin" located in an old monastery near the Kremlin.  KLynn and I had eaten there once before, on Christmas Eve our first year here.  The young couple in the picture are my assistant, Denis, and his then fiance, now wife, Elena.

This picture was taken at a park KLynn and I visited a few weeks ago.  The sign, in Cyrillic, is pronounced "Hot Dogi."  Guess what they sell there?

The sign above this stand is pronounced "Grill."  Reading signs in Cyrillic often is pretty easy, but my speaking vocabulary is still embarrassingly limited.

Denis and Elena were married last Friday in Moscow.  That night they came to our home for a visit and pictures.  KLynn and I were honored.

KLynn posed Elena for this, and I thought it turned out well.  They didn't have the money to hire a photographer.  Denis is almost like family.  Elena doesn't speak English, but she is very nice.  Denis is going to law school at night, and Elena works in a bank

KLynn and I were hardly dressed for wedding pictures, but here we are.