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