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