Friday, December 31, 2010


We brought in the New Year walking around downtown Kyiv with Elder and Sister Miner, Humanitarian couple from Bountiful that arrived about a month ago. We are standing in front of a Christmas tree at St. Sophia's calthedral, one of the historical monuments in Kyiv. We then took a stroll down Kreshatik, the main street in the heart of Kyiv. The lights were phenomenal. Thier Independence Square is like Times Square in New York, only larger. Following are a few photos from the evening.

There were bands playing, vendors selling all sorts of Chirstmas things (Christmas is not until 7 January so this seemed like the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. A light snow falling really shows up when using the flash on your camera.

One of the themes in walking in the underground shopping is the really neat clothes for children. I think we will be seeing more pink and purple from the looks of what is available in the stores.

The streets are full of New Years and Chirstmas lights. They were amazing, and the people really enjoy them. There were many St. Nicholas', Father Frost's, and mor and more Santa Clause's walking and entertaining the crowds. We tried to capture the magnitude of their celebration with a few photos. I believe New Year's celebration is their biggest holiday event of the year, and they really do it well.

We brought in the New Year 9 hours before most of the family. It was a cool, festive time in Kyiv. Lots of lights, people and fireworks. We spent the last couple of hours in 2010 with the Kamka's, the CES missionaries from Idaho Falls that live in our apartment building 4 floors above us. They have a better view looking toward the city and all the fireworks. There were more than 100 different fireworks displays. Seems as though every neighborhood set off fireworks that lasted until at least 2:30. The closest was just outside our window less than 100 yards away. It was fun and people were partying all night long. It is now 8:00 in the morning and things have quieted down.
Tom and Shauna

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Comes Twice a Year

Greetings all,
In Eastern Europe, the regular Christmas Holiday is 7 January based upon the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox religions. So we get to celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December as well as the 7th of January. But the 25th was pretty much a regular day in our life. We are starting to see lots of evergreens for sale as Christmas trees, and a lot of artificial ones as well. We have a 1 meter tall tree in our apartment all decorated. It will have to stay there until about the 10th of January. They also celebrate New Year's a little differently, since they have two calendars. The common one used is what we are used to, but the New Year's holiday goes until after the 10th of January. So we are looking forward to people on holiday for a couple of weeks. This is the card (in English) that we prepared for the Church to send out.

We attended a small Branch in Zhutomyr, which takes us about 3 hours to get to each way. First by metro to the Vaxhall, then Martruska for 2 hours to Zhutomyr, then a 2o minute walk to the house they use as the church. All the young kids belong to the Branch President. There are some young men and women, but attendance is kind of scarce. They held a Christmas program on the 25th and had 40 people attend. So there is potential for a larger attendance. The Branch President used to be a rock star, and his family is very talented.

We are keeping very busy with Public Affairs training. We leave early in the morning to go to the Crimea for a couple of days. We hope to take a few hours and go to the Black Sea, near Yalta. I have always wanted to go there, and this may be our only chance. We chose to fly instead of the 18 hour train ride. We will see how it goes. We previoulsy went to the Black Sea at Odessa, but it was so foggy that you could not see across the pier let alone into the sea.
The Kyiv temple has been very busy since it opened. They say it is too small for the number of patrons using it. That is a great problem to have. They are trying to organize a stake in Moscow, so if that happens then maybe they will announce another temple in Eastern Europe. From expereience we know that it will take awhile to build, however.
We wish all a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year!

Tom and Shauna

Friday, October 22, 2010

Travel Log to Kharkov

We had a Public Affairs Council meeting in Kharkov, Ukraine, which is a 5.5 hour train ride from Kyiv. We took the day train to see

the countryside, and spent the night in a nice hotel. We spent a little time in downtown Kharkov. It was quite impressive and a very beautiful fall day. Lots and lots of fountains with wedding couples everywhere. One fountain was a little different version of "The Kiss" that we had never seen before with two bronze statues stretching across the fountain.

Another eye catching display in a park was various churches encased in glass. Reminded usof the Temple crystals that have been a tremendous hit over here, at least of the Kyiv temple.

We enjoyed the train ride, but it sure was hot on the way back. They do like it warm inside here, whether at work, on the train or at home. By the way, we had a great Public Affairs training meeting in Kharkov. It lasted about 4 hours and then we had lunch before heading back home. It was a very pleasant weekend.
Bye for now.
Tom & Shauna

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fun Experience in Khmelnitsy

It seems as if everyone wanted an interview at the Blind Humanitarian project in Khmelnitsy, Ukraine. Several reporters from Ukrainian TV and newspapers covered the event. There was one shot of our missionary badge that was shown on the TV news. Two weeks later one of the missionaries serving in Khmelnitsy came up to me in Kyiv during transfers with a big smile on his face. He said everyone in Khmelnitsy saw the news story, and what a wonderful organization the church was for sponsoring it. They recoginized the missionary badge, even the local barber, and compleimented them on the grat example of the Church. Their reception on the street and in homes was greatly improved as a result. We owe our thanks the humanitarian folks who put this together.
Now the Mission President has us going back and speaking in their Branch this Sunday.
T & S

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More of L\viv, Ukraine

L'viv of Ukraine will host some of the Euro2012 soccer games. We did not see the stadium, but the town will be ready. They are working feaverishly to make the road from Kyiv to L'viv drivable. Lots done, but lots more to do. It seemed to me that L'viv was way ahead of Kyiv in preparing for the games. They are totally renovating one stadium in Kyiv, and they will have to hurry to make it in time.

The second picture is of a typical street in L'viv that accommodates a trolly for public transportation. The streets are mainly cobblestone, so not the smoothest for driving or walking. It is a clean, quaint and pretty European city. It has several McDonalds, for what that is worth.

Outside L'viv about 70 km is this castle, which is undergoing restoration. Again, lots has been done, but lots to do. They are strapped for cash to take on all of these projects. The economy has not helped at all.

This also goes for our apartment complex. Barely more than a year old, they are starting to work on finishing the buildings. There is to be a parking garage beneath each apartment building, but the concrete driveway into the parking lot does not exist. Money drives the schedule.
Tom and Shauna

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

L'viv, a Taste of Western Europe in Ukraine

I felt sorry for this dairy cow. She needed to be milked a day or two ago. There were several cows that looked miserable, but they were driving them to, I assume, a milking barn. Just some of the neat cultural in Ukraine.
Ukraine and Poland are co-hosts of Euro2012. One of the cities to host these soccer matches is a City in Western Ukraine called L'viv. It has a very European flavor to it. Fortunately it was not destroyed during World War II, like most of the cities in Ukraine. First by the Nazis and then by the Russians as they drove out the Germans.

L'viv is about 400 miles west of Kyhiv. We went there in a car with a councilor in the Mission Presidency. It was fun to see all the country and listen to his many stories. We stopped at a couple of castles taht dated back to the 16th century. It was great. But next time we will most likely take the overnighte train since you can sleep while travelling for 1q hours.

There are two branches in L'viv, and they have a big beautiful LDS building to meet in. We spent a couple of nights in L'viv and took in some of the sights. We ate at a restaurant called the G9lden Boar. There used to be lots of wild pigs in ukraine. They had one stuffed hanging from the ceiling. It was huge, and looked like a big steer ready for slaughter. At any rate, it was a fun city to visit and we look forward to going back over the next few months.

We went into a couple of Catholic Churches of various backgrounds, which was ineresting. We saw more people in the churches on this Saturday morning than any other churches we have been to in all of Europe. Most of them were older women, but a few men and younger people.

The church has been invited to participate in a religious museum in L'viv. So we will most likely be involved in building a display to go into the museum. There seems to be more religious tolerance in Western Ukraine, so we look forward to help set that up.

It seemed good to spend a little time away from the hustle and bustle of Kyiv. We also enjoy getting out a seeing a little of the country. The soil is so rich and the crops are bountiful. It is fun to see the horses pulling wooden wagons, most single horse drawn but some teams. We see lots of dairy cows, but no beef. We have not even seen any pigs even thought that is a staple in Ukraine. We will keep our eyes out for them.
So long for now.
Tom and Shauna

Life 25 Years After People

A few senior missionary couples trvelled to Chernoble, a former city north of Kyiv about 80 miles. Chernoble is where the nuclear power plant blew up in 1986 and created a lot of rediation contamination throughout Eastern Europe. Belarus was the hardest hit and many peo died due to the readiation exposure. The prevailing winds were westerly after the explosion, and then northward. So even thought Kyiv is only 80 miles away, most of the effects left Kyiv untouched, except that the Dnipro reiver runs through Chrnoble and then down to Kyiv. Needless to say, people are still afraid to swim or eat any fish that come from the river. All missionaries are precluded from eating any local fish, and of course they do not go swimming. After 25 years, people are starting to go back to Chernoble. We took a tour that started out in Chrnoble, and then to the reactor site. There was a city of about 50,000. Over three days after the accident, they were all evacuated with the intent that they could go back within less than a week. Well, that week lasted until today.

N0 one was allowed to return to get any of thier belongings once the magnitude of the accident was understood. So this city remains a ghost town. We drove through the city and took a fer pictures of what nature has done to a city in which man left 25 years ago. There was vegitation growing up everywhere, and animals have come back to run freely and without any interferrence. They built an amusement park that was scheduled to open three days after the accident occurred. Lots of fun palythings that never were used.

This photo shows the group as we were leaving Chrnoble. The world got together to fund a big tomb for the demolished nuclear plant. There were 4 in operation, and two more under construction. All work ceased but they never shut down the last reactor until the year 2000. Most thought that working in the other plants was not too hazzardous, so they continued to produce electricitiy. They are in a three year project to encapsulate the troubled site. With all the nations and organizations involved in deciding what to do, it has taken many years to finally put a plan together. And the plan is to just encapsulate the trouble spot until someone can find a better solution. Quite an interesting mess. The reactor was a Soviet design, built in Ukraine, and operatied by a team from several former Soviet countries. I asked if Belarus was cooperating with them since the reactor is less than 5 miles from thier border and they took most of the damage from the accident. The response was that there was no cooperation nor dialogue with Belarus. Too bad.

An interesgting experience to see the effects of nuclear radiation. But many lessons were learned so that it will hopefully not ever happen again. There are no more reactors of this type in operation. The have all been closed down.

Tom and Shauna

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Trains The Ultimate Experience

THis is a photo of the temple approaching dusk. Compliments of Hanno.

Our most recent adventure to Chernivsti via train (this was the 4th time on such a trip). We did the standard McDonalds treat just outside the train station before boarding the 15 hour overnight train from Kyiv to Chernivsti. This time we shared a 4 bed compartment with two elderly gentlemen who spoke a lot less English than we spoke Russian. The normal routine is visit for awhile, get a cup of tea or coffee to go with your evening snack (nice dinner in many cases), make up your bunk beds with the sheets, pillow and blanket they provide, then figure out a way to let everyone make their beds and get ready for bed without stepping on each other. Going to sleep with the lights on or off is indifferent to most. Just make the most of it and enjoy the night’s sleep with the rickety rackety of the train meandering down the track. It is not the smoothest train track, but it kind of rocks you to sleep. Actually, the ride reminded me of driving down the Bone road to Idaho Falls from Grays Lake.

About an hour after the train left, Shauna went into the restroom at the end of the sleeper car to freshen up a bit. That is where she spent the next hour because she broke the door handle and lock. After 9 train workers with crowbars, hammers, chisels, screw drivers, and yelling, they managed to twist the door enough to unlock it. I think they bent the train frame to finally open it up. It was amusing listening to them yelling instructions to Shauna, and she quietly did what she thought they wanted her to do from inside. Finally she just stood back and let them hammer away until they bent the metal door and got her out. I hope they think it was a malfunctioning door, otherwise we will need to pay for all the repairs.. We think the train purser is on our side because it seemed like she was apologizing to us and offered us free tea and coffee. From now on I have to accompany Shauna whenever she goes to the toilet to guard the door because she will NOT lock the door again when she gets inside! She always struggled with the compartment doors and usually needed help to open them. So this really did not surprise me that much.
I will try to capture some of the experience on camera. But it can never do the actual ride justice.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chernivtsi, Ukraine

We visited the Chernivtsi Branch for the Mission the middle of September. It takes a 15 hour train ride to get there, plus another hour to get to the train station. Due to ticket availability, we left Saturday late afternoon, arrived on Sunday morning. We then spent Sunday night at a hotel and then back on the train the next night. So it is an ordeal to do this a couple times each month. But it is a great experience to visit the branch there. Several speak English and we help teach classes.
The picture on the left is just before having lunch a "Helen's". A great place for lunch. It kind of reminded us of the Pubs in London for a great lunch.

Chernivtsi is over 1400 years old (historical founding was in 602). Its archetecture was not destroyed in WWII, so it is a fun place to visit. They love flowers, and the wreathes at the Shevchenko monument are beautiful. We wish we could take them back to the States, especially for Memorial Day. You can get flowers nearly everywhere as they sell them in street stands, along the roads, etc. They are so colorful and many varieties that we had not seen before. Ukraine is truely a gardener's delight.

We spent some time at the University. It is beautiful and fully functional. They still have hard wooden benshes for the students, but that doesn't matter as this has a reputation for teaching and learning excellence.
It is not a huge university, but is prominent in the city and is a favorite place for weddings. On Sunday we counted 22 limosines parked waiting for the bride and groom to come out of the University grounds. The weddings are very beautiful as well, with lots of people pampering the bride. Their dress is very formal and quite expensive, we are sure.

The last two photos were taken at Independence Square in Kyiv. This is where the Ukraine Orange Revolution got started in which they turned their attention west to Europe. The last election brought an end to the Orange revolution as the new government is making friends with Russia again. Personally, they need to keep a tie with Russia for economic and political purposes, but look to the west for models of democracy and ecomonic growth. Russina depends on Ukraine for food and manufacturing, and Ukraine depends on Russia for energy and some raw materials.

The last photo is along side Independence Square looking at more beautiful floweres. The clock is never the right time, but the flowers make it worthwhile.
Enough for now. Best wishes to all.
Tom and Shauna

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mail Day in Kyiv

We received two different types of mail today that gave us good news. Jan sent us Jordan's baptism announcement as a reminded that she was baptized on the 14th of August. Great job everyone in Airzona.
Then in tmail today we received a nice picture of Hannah telling us hello in Russian. "Hello to Grandma and Grandpa" for you non-Russian speakers. It was fun. Also, Britt and James sent us a care package that included two great big bags of marshmellows (wow, but they will not last very long). We will enjoy them. That is one thing that I have not found here at all. They also sent us a desparately needed batter and charger for our camera. After turning Kyiv upside down for a battery charger, we cam up empty every time. They do not seel chargeres separately from the camera, and we were not too keen on buying another camera.
At any rate, the postal service came through very well. It was one week from the time they sent it until it arrived. Much better than we were told. So thanks very much.
We gave a lecture at the Kyiv Mohyla Acadamy (National University) this evening on the LDS Church including the temple. It was well received with lots of interest. We were asked if we were the same as Monks when we described our Word of Wisdom and missionary service. We had a good time.
Well, Mom and I just expereienced our 43rd anniversary. Only 7 more till the Golden one comes upon us. We are doing well still recovering from the exhaustion of the temple dedication. Still more to do than we seem to have time for.
Bye for now.
Dad and Mom

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

CES Anniversary

Well, it was our anniversary today. We spent the day working and were supposed to host the CES class in the evening for awhile. It turns out the teacher never showed up and so we taught the class. We had a good time, and I think they all enjoyed it as well. You can make do by adlibbing, but it only works for one time. We are supposed to help out once a week until the new CES couple arrive, which may be several months away. We will see.

These are two students from our USU 18th Ward that came over to the Temple Open House. They both served missions in Ukraine. Chris Hupp and Rachel Russak.

A picture of us before sealing up the cornerstone at the Kyiv Temple. Lots of memories and fortunate to be part of history. Not sure we will make much of a difference, but we hope to.
Dad and Mom

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Early Fall Day

We are one of ant-like creatures that live in this ant-hill apartment complex on the Left Bank in Kyiv, Ukraine. Below are some photos of the area as we got our hike in for today. A military museum with lots of tanks and a few airplanes.

The prominant statue commemorating the sacrifices for the Homeland (large statue of a lady signifying the Motherland).
Here is a photo outside our apartment building. The flowere have done remarkable well this year.

It is the 4th of September, and the day is really beautiful here in Kyiv, Ukraine. Yesterday's showers cleared out the air and the sky is dark blue with a few puffy clouds. A great day for taking photos.
Tom and Shauan

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Life After Dedication

Well, we got to sleep in until 0800 this morning. What a difference since the dedication. We still have lots of follow up work to do, plus two more senior missionary couples just left to go home. That leaves us with some CES and Humanitarian duties until new couples show up later this fall or winter.

The building you see in the far left is the one we live in. We are on the 13th floor. There are three small elevators, and so far we have been lucky that the power has not been out when we needed to go to our apartment. The apartment complex is interesting. Only about 1/3 of the apartments are ready to live in. They continue to do some work as a very slow pace. Also, there is supposed to be parking under each apartment building, but there is no access to get there, and I think they still need to finish it before it can be used. So eveyone that has a car drives and parks on the sidewalks.
For all you interested folks, to get to our apartment you surface from the Ocokorky Metro and wals about 400 yards to the southwest and there is our apartment, overlooking the river and in the distance is part of Kyiv. The pins mark the starting and ending points.
The last photo is of all the missionaries (young and old) on the stage at the Cultural Celebration the evening of the 28th. We are in the picture, if you study it long enough you might be able to pick us out. This photo was taken by Deseret News photographer. Hint: the sisteres are not dressed in dark suits. And the senior couples stand by each other.
Kyiv has a lot of history and we look forward to learning a little about it.
We will add more as we now have a little more time to do such things.
What is your excuse for not updating your blogs?

Dad and Mom

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kyiv Temple Dedicated Today

Sunday, the 29th of August the Kyiv Temple was dedicated. We attended the first session along with the Cornerstone Ceremony. We also attended the third session in the Temple. A couple of photos taken during the day.President Monson arrives at the temple site. He and President Uchtdorf and Elder Nelson were present at the Cultural Celebration the previous evening. It was quite a spectacular event. Nine different countries participated with all their colorful folk costumes, dances and songs. Lots of fun and lots of enegy.
While there we had a mini 18th Ward reunion from Utah State. It was great to see people we knew, and now have many more great friends.
My hero is Hanno Luschine, the temple architect and builder here in Kyiv. He is from Austria and was baptised by a good friend that retired in Cache Valley. He had his hands full to build such a beautifu building, and it will be a real monument for the future of Kyiv.
Mom and Dad

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Open House Memories

Some scenes from the Temple Open House.

The first picture is in the reception area with Temple President Galbraith and his wife. After the tour, the groups would assemble in the Cultural Hall and discuss whatever. There were Sister Missionaries that would mingle amoung them, answer questions and provide material on the temple or the Church. They were discouraged from distributin the Book of Mormon, but people were asked to fill out COmment Cards and request a return vist from the missionaries who would provide the BofM.

One of the news media covering the Open House is Carole Makita of KSL-5. We enjoyed talking with her and spending some time with her and her crew. They will be here for the dedication. She will do a story about a family in Utah and their daughter is serving a mission here in Kyiv. It was fun to introduce her to the missionary as we know her quite well.

One of the nicest surprises was that Dmitry and Olga Chvanov from Moscow came to Kyiv and spent several days. I worked with him on the RAMOS program for years and have spent quite a bit to time with he and his family. In addition to working with Dmitry, he served as our tour guide in Moscow and St. Petersburg when we all made that trip. We were able to take them on a tour of the temple. Although he had been to Temple Square in Salt Lake City, he had never been inside an LDS temple. The Russian Orthodox church has temples, but that is just another neam for a catherdral or church. We had a great time visiting with them. Unfortunately we could not spend more time with them, but they really enjoyed thier visit as they had not been to Kyiv before. They told us of all the good places to visit when we have some time. He is a great tour guide. I might have to bring them down again to guide us around.

Dmitry is the one who we took to Grays Lake and had him ride horses with Dad, me and Jeromy. We also went on the 4-wheelers up WIllow Creek, around Caribou and down Eagle Creek. It was one of the most beautiful fall days I had ever seen in Grays Lake. He really enjoyed it. Most of all, they were very surprised at what they saw in the temple. We talked quite a bit about the Church. One of the perceptions he had was that we had an agressive recruiting campaign in the missionaries. I agreed, but said the intent is help better the lives of people, and be a positive influence in each of the contries that have Church members. He understood that from his dealings with SDL over the years. All the Russians we worked with have the most respect for us, and know what we stand for. When he realized that we were not interested in building an empire, but wanted to make life better for individuals and the countries themselves, he was very impressed. He also was that there were no icons in the Temple, and the simplicity, beauty and feeling were unmatched in anything he had experienced. He is a good friend and we will continue to keep in touch.

We were able to take a few photographs during the Open House. It is a beautiful building and really stands out along the Ring Road around Kyiv.

More to come as time permits.
Mom and Dad