Serving the Lord in Russia

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Nutcracker" in the Bolshoi Theatre

Seeing Peter Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" ballet, in December, in the world-famous Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow has been on my bucket list for a long time.  And that dream came to pass as Stephen and I had the opportunity to see the ballet this past weekend.  It was amazing! 

The Bolshoi Theatre has been closed for the past 6 years for renovation and just reopened on October 28, 2011 at the cost of 21 billion rubles ($680 million).  The renovation included restoring acoustics to the original quality (which had been lost during the Soviet Era), restoring the original Imperial decor of the Bolshoi, and repair of the foundation and brickwork.  Inside the theatre, the entire space was stripped from the bottom up; the 19th -century wooden fixtures, silver stage curtain, and French-made red velvet banquettes were removed for repair in specialist workshops.  Outside, on the top of the facade, the double-headed eagle of the original Russian coat of arms was installed in the place where the Soviet hammer and sickle had been mounted for decades.  Tickets were almost impossible to get but a dear member here was able to get two tickets for us to purchase.  The theatre is stunning!  It was more beautiful than I had imagined.  The following pictures don't do it justice but it will give you an idea of how beautiful it is.

The old Bolshoi Theatre in the early 19th-century.

The theatre was founded by Catherine the Great in 1776, and its current home was built in 1825 after fire gutted a previous site.  At that time, all Russian theatres were imperial property.  The Bolshoi Theatre's original name was the Imperial Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow.  Another fire in 1853 caused extensive damage and the theatre was reopened in 1856 after reconstruction.  During World War II the theatre was damaged by a bomb, but it was immediately repaired.  More damaging were the changes implemented by the Bolshoi's Soviet overlords, who also used the theatre to officially confirm the creation of the Soviet Union, host party congresses and announce important events like the death of Vladimir Lenin.  Like so many tsarist-era buildings, the Bolshoi was stripped of its gold in the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution.  The loss of sound-reflecting decoration harmed the theatre's acoustics, which were further degraded by a decision to fill the hollow underneath the orchestra with cement.

Bolshoi Theatre in 1883.

Bolshoi Theatre in 1932, during the Soviet times.

Bolshoi Theatre in December 2011.

Stephen in front of the theatre before the performance. 

Corinne in front of the theatre before the performance.

Performance in the Bolshoi Theatre (1856).

Newly renovated Bolshoi Theatre in October 2011.

The "Royal" box seats.

Can you find Stephen?

How grateful we are for the opportunity we had to enjoy this famous theatre, ballet company, and ballet.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Grateful Thanksgiving

What a wonderful Thanksgiving we enjoyed last week!  All our missionaries gathered in the apartment of the senior couple who is in their district.  We were able to purchase a turkey and a can of pumpkin for each senior couple who was hosting Thanksgiving dinner and everyone was delighted.  Whole turkeys are not comman here because Russian ovens are very small and you can't fit a large turkey in their oven.  But, I was able to find four-kilo turkeys (that's about nine pounds) and they worked great.  For our cans of pumpkin I had asked several women who were able to go to Salt Lake for General Conference to bring back a small can for us.  So, we enjoyed the traditional turkey and pumpkin pie for our dinners.   All our districts reported having a wonderful feast and time together.  We have been greatly blessed this year as missionaries in Moscow. 

We were blessed to have our Universityetski and Podolsk District missionaries and the senior couple missionaries from those two branches with us at the mission home for Thanksgiving.  Also, President and Sister Schwitzer (our Area President), and President and Sister Woolley (Moscow West Mission president and wife) were able to join us.  We had lots of food and fun.

Cute missionaires!  They made me laugh.  Before dinner they weighed themselves and wanted to see who could gain the most weight after dinner.  I think one of our elders gained 6 lbs.  Is that really possible?

Presidents Schwitzer and Sorenson carving the turkey.

Sisters Schwitzer and Palmer making the gravy and mashed potatoes.

About to enjoy the feast.

Elder Raymond and Sister Cook helping with clean-up.

Elders Wittemore, Campbell and Spoerri helping with clean-up.

Our happy Thanksgiving in Moscow!

My newest treasure is a 17 lb. handcarved - handpainted wooden turkey.  The American Women's Organization in Moscow had their annual Arts and Craft Festival a couple of weeks ago and I was able to purchase "Tom" at one of the silent auctions they had.  He is stunning!  Keep in mind that 1) Russia doesn't celebate Thanksgiving, and 2) turkeys are not a common thing here.  A Russian artist made and donated this turkey for the event.  Proceeds from the silent auctions went to the Moscow Pediataric Cancer Hospital.  What a find! 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Celebrating Early

When our Bowen family was here with us last week we celebrated Emily's birthday and Halloween early.  Emily turned 12 years old the day they flew home and Russia does not have Halloween so we celebrated those two events on October 27th.  In Rosinka, the gated community where we live, they had a Halloween party and the children could go out "Trick or Treating" for an hour to those homes who had their front porch lights on.  The Bowen children brought their Halloween costumes with them and we took them to a few houses to "Trick or Treat."  We had a fun, fun evening with Emily's birthday and Halloween.

Emily and Lindsey.

Our beautiful Emily turns 12.

An early Halloween for the Bowen children in Moscow.

Even Hailey dressed up in her little pig costume for Halloween.

Hannah eating a few of her Halloween treats.

My birthday was a few days before the Bowens arrived and it was a wonderful day.  We had our whole mission gathered together for our Specialized Training and then we surprised them with flu shots before lunch.  They were all good sports about it.

October 2011 at our Russia Moscow Mission Specialized Training with all our young missionaries and most of our senior couples.

President Soresnon getting his flu shot.

Sister Sorenson getting her flu shot.  Take note of the nurse's protective clothing - hat, mask and gown....but not gloves!

We are now ready for the long winter in Moscow!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Our Family in Moscow

What a thrill it was to have our older daughter, Jeannette, and her husband, Jon, and their six children with us in Moscow for a week.  It was heavenly!  The Lord blessed us all with good health, safety and protection, good weather (it was cold, but no snow or rain), happy children, and great experiences.  How grateful we are for the sacrifice they made to come and see our Moscow Mission and the wonderful sights here in Moscow.  Here are just a few of the many highlights of their trip.

The Bowen family at the Mission Office to get their documents scanned just an hour after their arrival in Moscow.  They had two long flights:  Salt Lake City to New York (about a five-hour flight) and then from New York to Moscow (about a ten-hour flight).  They looked great after their 20-hour journey!

However, as the day wore on (there is a ten-hour time difference between Utah and Moscow) they began to feel the results of long travel.



Kate at dinner.

The day they arrived was Jack's 8th birthday.  We celebrated his birthday and their first night here with cheeseburgers, peanut butter cookies, and chocolate ice cream (Jack's choice.)

The next day was Jeannette's birthday so we went down to the Kremlin to see the Armory Museum and a few other sights.

The Trinity Tower.

Emily, Grandma, Lindsey, Jack, and Kate in Alexander's Gardens.

The Bowen family in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The State Historical Museum.

The children were excited when they saw this familiar sight.  We had lunch at McDonald's on Red Square.  How cool is that!

Jet lag hit Lindsey hard after she ate her lunch.

To celebrate Jeannette's birthday we had dinner at the Rosinka Family Restaruant in the gated community where we live.  We talked Jon into ordering a bowl of borscht and to our great surprise Jeannette, Emily, Lindsey, Jack, and Kate tried it as well.  It was especially a big hit with Lindsey, Jack and Kate.  Way to go!

Happy Birthday, Jeannette - Russian style!

One of the wonderful events that happened was Jack's baptism in Moscow.  He was so excited and it was an incredible experience.

The Bowen family.

October 22, 2011 Jack Michael Bowen is baptized by his dad in Moscow, Russia.

Jack with Grandma and Grandpa Sorenson and a few of our Russia Moscow missionaries that brought investigators to the baptism.

The Bowens, Grandma and Grandpa, and President Yakov Boiko, the first Stake President in Russia.

Jack with our mission driver, Alexander.  Alexander is wearing his Russian Air Force Service Metal.

Raisa, a dear Russian member/babushka, getting acquainted with Hailey.

One of Hailey's favorite activities with Grandpa.

Riding the Metro in Moscow (notice Emily asleep in the window reflection).

Kate, Jeannette, and Hannah on the Metro.

Jack, Lindsey, Emily, Kate, and Grandma on the Metro.

Lindsey helping in the kitchen at the mission home.

Lindsey at Victory Park.

Jon and Jeannette at Victory Park.

Lindsey, Jack, and Emily at Victory Park.  

We loved having our dear family with us in Moscow!!!