We have been gone most of the week to a couples conference in Samara, so we are trying to catch up. This will be fast, the conference was good, but this will have more of the side trips. Also, before we left, we added another internet pre-colored nativity on the window going out to the glassed in porch. We like it - like the happy faces. One of the investigators was here and remarked on the sheep in it - apparently in Japan it is the year of the sheep. We had noticed in the stores that there were a lot of different kinds of sheep - not the live kind - being sold.
We had our first train ride coming back from the conference in Samara . a 10 hour ride to Saratov. They send the Senior Couples first class so the compartments (coupes) are similar to those you see in the old black and white movie train scenes, but instead of an upper bed, the bench on each side is made into a bed and then covered with a blanket so you have a place to sit until you want to lie down. Our conductor was extra attentive to us and we had a nice trip. They do not encourage tipping in Russia which is nice and if you try it is most often refused. We would have tipped her, but someone else had taken her place when we got off.
Another Volga River picture - this taken in Samara - you can see where the ice is. There are places people are already walking on it. On a morning walk with one of the other Elders, Mike was able to see one of the fan boats ferry people across the river - very lightly on top of the ice. It was too dark to get a good picture.
Back now to Samara. Below is one of their Art museums - a lot of beautiful paintings and other things from clear back to the fifteenth century. Some wooden pictures back to the thirteenth century. The building is one of the original ones in Samara. One of the recent converts there in Samara met us at the museum. He has enough knowledge of English that he could explain a little as we went through and translate any signs under the pictures we wanted him to. As I mentioned before, they take very good care of their museums. The rooms moved from the oldest up to some of the more modern. The paintings went from very large to a small one probably a little smaller than a regular piece of typing paper .. no matter the size, the detail is amazing.
Below is the Philharmonic where we were able to see an exceptional Russian pianist. At one time, he was playing two melodies, one with each hand and each in a different time. Pretty amazing. Again a very old building, but extremely ornate inside. Lots of chandeliers - and lots of steps going up and down. You are required to check your coats - everyone does - but they do not charge for it.
. In the picture above, Chris Rowley's mother is at the left and Mike is at the right. They are serving in Samara, are a lot of fun to be around and she makes great candy. love you all