Thought you might enjoy seeing the buildings the church uses in the different locations so we will put those in for each location. The church leases some and owns some.
We went with our CES Director, President Markelov, last weekend to attend the opening socials for the Institutes at Samara, Izhevks and Kazan. We traveled almost 1300 miles in four days on non-freeway bumpy roads. They do what they can with their roads but there are thousands of miles of road and not much time to fix in the short time they don't have ice and snow.
Our first Institute Opening Social was Samara - this is their branch building (January 2015) It is tender to be with the young saints and to feel their enthusiasm for the gospel.
President Blinkov - Samara Mission Second Counselor, also works for the church in the mission office. His son just got back from a mission in Australia and will be going to BYU in the fall.
The roads may have been rough, but we stayed at some of the best hotels we have every stayed at. In Samara it was the Renaissance Hotel, the one the city calls the American hotel, and where those that come from church headquarters stay. It is a Marriott. This is the view from our motel room.
Breakfast is included - and all at a cost considerably less than in the US.
Each table had something - breads, fruits, eggs, juices - worth a trip over. Come see us.
We chose what we wanted in the omlet and the girl made it right there - you can see Zhenya (President Markelov) and Mike in the background.
Another Russian Orthodox temples of the Provoslavni Church, this one in Samara
From here we went on to Izhevks, an 8 hour trip. Beautiful scenery the entire trip. There are miles and miles and miles of corn, then sunflowers, then grass .. and no fences. We asked how people knew which was theirs if there were no fences, the answer, "They know!!"
We weren't sure if these were oil or gas - but a lot of them throughout one part of the drive.
There are little villages tucked everywhere
Mike asked Zhenya what kept the cities alive out in the middle of nowhere. He laughed and said, "Elder Waite, in Russia every city is in the middle of nowhere."
Mike got the geese and ducks in this picture
This is the Izhevks Branch building
The church leases some rooms in the bottom part of an apartment building. We had only one member show up here - but it was a very rainy day.
And another nice hotel and good breakfast in Izhevks. This is the city from our hotel window
Not sure of the name, but the Provoslavnii Temple in Izhevks from our hotel window too.
The interior of the hotel and we think this is another branch of the Marriott hotels
It was fun to see the different times - this was right over the check-in desk. When you check in you have to have your passport and the registration from the city you are living in and it isn't like it is OK to not have both if you want to have a room - quite a process.
And another great breakfast - but Mike hasn't complained since we got back here and to our much more simple breakfasts. They did serve "porridge" at two of the hotelss, which I tried, it is very good - I'm sure a lot different than the porridge the orphans in Oliver had to eat.
From here, on to Kazan. This is their branch building - it is two floors tucked kind of in the back corner of an apartment building and the church owns it. The church always fixes up the inside of the buildings whether owned or leased.
Kazan hotel - another Marriott and another good breakfast.
They also had fireworks because it was some kind of a special day at the Kazan Kremlin - so they let us go up on the roof and watch. No good still pictures of the fireworks - but some of the Kremlin. This from the roof.
this from our window - if you stood in the very corner of the room
.The next morning we walked through the Kremlin. .. "Built on an ancient site, the Kazan Kremlin dates from the Muslim period of the Golden Horde and the Kazan Khanate. It was conquered by Ivan the Terrible in 1552 and became the Christian See of the Volga Land. The only surviving Tatar fortress in Russia and an important place of pilgrimage, the Kazan Kremlin consists of an outstanding group of historic buildings dating from the 16th to 19th centuries, integrating remains of earlier structures of the 10th to 16th centuries."
This picture was in our hotel. It is an old picture, but you can see how big the fortress is.
And this is a modern skyline - you can see the lean in the tower better in this one.
- The most conspicuous landmark of the Kazan Kremlin is the leaning Söyembikä Tower, which probably goes back to the reign of Peter the Great.
Another recognizable architectural feature is the Spasskaya Tower, which anchors the southern end of the Kremlin and serves as the main entrance to the Kremlin.
The Transfiguration tower
The Governor's House (1843-53), designed by Konstantin Thon, now the Palace of the President of Tartarstan. The Palace is believed to be located on the site of former Khan's palace.
Tombs of Khans of the Khanate of Kazan
Musa Dzhalil, Tatar poet martyr bound in chains: "Naked to the waist, the figure of the poet is shown tearing apart the barbed wire which fetters him. This gesture is frozen in time for eternity and demonstrates the poet’s resolution and steel will. It takes the visitors to the Plötzensee prison in Berlin, where the Tatar poet was executed on the 25th August, 1944.
While a captive in Germany, Dzhalil carried out anti-fascist propaganda under the guise of cultural and educational work. His will was unbroken even by the threat of imminent death. After his underground organisation was discovered, Dzhalil continued his struggle, as any poet would, in poetry. “My death will resound as a song of battle”, this is a line from the celebrated Moabit Notebooks written by Dzhalil while in captivity.
The oldest building in the Kremlin is the Annunciation Cathedral (1554-62), the only 16th-century Russian church to have six piers and five apses. Like many old buildings of Kazan, it is constructed of local pale sandstone rather than of brick. Just for fun and because we didn't know, we're including an explanation and hope you understand that better than we did. An apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome, also known as an Exedra. A pier is an upright support for a structure or superstructure such as an arch or bridge. Sections of structural walls between openings (bays) can function as piers.
Notice the sun, moon and stars on the gate.
Walking up to the Kremlin
Can't figure out how we got this one -- Mike is just a talented camera man
This arbor leads into a garden ..
to a statue of two priests.
The walls are at least 20 feet thick - this little cove is just part way through
You can see the original gates and doors - not sure how old the wood at the top. We were there too early to go on the walkway that goes around the Kremlin.
The rock walls at the top give protection to those defending the city. The door on the right is supposed to be original.
More of the areas for those fighting, some were covered, below, above was not.
On the way home. Zhenya saw this cafe sign, we hadn't eaten since breakfast and all of us were hungry .. "Let's try it." he said and we agreed. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. (The round circle with the line is an F so is easy to sound out.)
Couple of dogs just chillin'
Off to the right as we came in was this roof over a picnic table, probably for eating outside when the weather is good. They were building some large brick building behind it. You can barely see the start of the brick wall through the trees
The full building - apparently there are rooms to rent also. We did like eating there but are glad we stayed at the hotels in the city. It also had a good bathroom which we are always grateful for no matter what country we are in.
We went inside the door with the sign over it on the left to order our food,
and then the lady took us to our very own private space. (above - Mike is standing in front of the door.) Below is the room, nothing fancy, but it was very clean and the food very good. If we ask what it is, Zhenya just says - I don't ask, I just eat it. They had a cheese bread that was yum.
The dogs kept wandering closer and by the time we were finishing, they were inside.
and we fed them what we had left. When we were telling the story back in Saratov, someone enjoyed pointing out that they might have been eating their sister.
This is one of the places we wish we could bring you all to. You would enjoy it. We would have to say that as nice as the hotel breakfasts were, this memory is one of our best.
Amazing trip but good to be back in Saratov. President Markelov is a strong leader, loving and kind and very interested in each of the youth and the teachers. He is fun for the youth and the adults to be around and is a strong and straight in his teaching. He is one of those people who gives his full attention to the person he is talking to. And he took good care of us on this trip - as usual.
The Institute opening socials with these young people and their teachers and branch leaders are enjoyable and tender. We are moving into the new Seminary & Institute year with new programs geared to strengthen those that put in the effort and time. Like everywhere else, some are excited and some grumble - but they do come and that is what is important. They are like the youth everywhere and although we don't understand what they are saying, we can feel what they are feeling. The church, the gospel, changes their lives and so the lives of others they come in contact with, certainly they have touched ours. We are reminded of Alma 31:5 - And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them
We're so very grateful that we are able to serve here, even if means being away from home when exciting things happen.
As a strange close to this Blog and only because it was brought to our attention by someone here -- check out the last second of the BYU-Nebraska game.