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.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vicory Day May 9, 2012 (Russia though the back door)

Today Russia celebrates Victory Day, the day the Germans surrendered ending World War II in Europe.  It is one of the biggest holidays of the year.  Unlike many holidays in the U.S., the purpose behind this holiday is not lost on the Russians.  There was a big military parade downtown, but  KLynn and I drove to a park quite a ways from downtown, near my office, and were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in the middle of a local celebration.  It was far away from the pageantry of Red Square and was a genuine and heartfelt celebratory event.  We felt that we were blessed to get a peek into the soul of the Russian people.  I'm growing to love and appreciate them more the longer I'm here.  A few pictures follow:

These two woman were some of the WORST singers I have ever heard, but their enthusiasm made up for what they lacked in talent.  They sang period songs that were popular during the war.  This was a little "side stage" and very few people heard them.  It rained quite heavily earlier in the day, which I'm sure kept a lot of the expected crowd away.

This group sang Cossack folk songs.  They weren't professional quality by any means, but it was the real thing and KLynn and I enjoyed them immensely.  A couple of them spoke some English and we were able to visit with them. I felt they gave us a slice of real Russian culture.  I appreciate how they are preserving their heritage.

The Cossack folk group consented to a picture with KLynn.  I gave them my business card and they promised to send me their web site.

This booth paid tribute to a military unit. It was quite touching.

I particularly appreciated the old photographs of soldiers.

The helmet shows bullet holes, into which someone placed flowers.  Virtually every Russian family lost multiple loved ones during the war. 

These little boys played the balalaika.  They were way cute.  A lot of the children wore the old military style caps that were sold for the event.  We bought some for our grandchildren of course.

The veterans are specially honored on Victory Day.  This old gentleman was wearing his ribbons and carrying flowers that people gave him.  I wonder how many of our Viet Nam veterans ever feel appreciated like this.

The girls wore the military style hats and the ribbons signifying Victory Day.,

This little boy took himself very seriously.
 This is the main stage that was set up for the day.  Here a group of young men were enacting scenes from the war period.
 This is the audience in front of the main stage.  The front was reserved for veterans and their widows, all of whom had flowers.  Some wore their husbands' medals.

This is a group of folk dancers on the main stage.  The sign on the back of the stage says Victory!  KLynn and I are so glad we happened on this celebration.  We won't miss it next year.  If anyone plans to visit us in Moscow, May 9 is a good time to come.

Changing the subject, a few weeks ago KLynn and I attended a "town meeting" hosted by U.S. Ambassador McFaul at Spasso House, his official residence.  It was an interesting event.  As you can see, a lot of people were there and we were well fed.

This is a view of the chandelier in the reception room at Spasso House.

This is Ambassador McFaul speaking to the group.  He is a very gifted speaker.