Sunday, August 10, 2014

What an Awesome Ending to A Beautiful Place

This will probably be our last post from St. Petersburg before we embark on our new journey to Kaliningrad, Russia. We have been working hard to train the new office couple and get ready for this next transfer of missionaries. 

We have 10 new missionaries and two senior couples coming into the mission and ten missionaries and one senior couple leaving. We have been focused on getting new apartments, processing paperwork and getting ready financially for this transition.  

We were also blessed to attend a baptism on Saturday of a beautiful lady in one of our wards.  It has been harder to find people to teach over the summer, as everyone is in the summer vacation mode :-).  This is not the baptism on the right. HaHa, just old time dresses.

We continue to enjoy putting in 14-hour days with the office in the morning and teaching at night. We have also tried to get a couple of last minute sightseeing trips in before we leave.  There was a Harley Davidson Convention in St. Petersburg. I saw this MTC booth and had to stop by for some training. :-)

As you will see from the pictures, these last two weeks were an amazing historical journey from the Kremlin in Novgorod, Russia to the Cathedral in Pskov and finishing up with a midnight boat ride along the Neva River to see all the nighttime bridge openings.  

There are so many pictures for this blog, I hope we can fit them all in for you to enjoy. I will also provide some links to the various areas in case you want to learn more or share with your kids.

One of the difficult parts of our assignments in the mission is to ensure we keep the apartments in good shape and find new apartments when needed. This can be difficult in Russia, because many of the owners have restrictions on their renters or don't want to rent to our church.  

We usually have to look at many different apartments and negotiate our contract before we find an apartment.  Where we have two senior couples coming in August and one in September, we needed to ensure we could find adequate housing. Kathy and I left on a 4-hour train ride on August 1st and traveled to Novgorod.

Novgorod is the oldest city in Russia and the Kremlin (fort) in that area dated back over 1000 years. It was amazing to walk around the city and see the historical sites. We met up with the senior couple in that area and took a boat ride along the Kremlin to see all the churches along the river. Here is a link to the kremlin 

As you can see from the pictures the scenery was amazing. We saw the Kremlin and church within the Kremlin along with 8 other church and historical buildings along the river. There were old stone foundations for bridges and courtyards that dated back hundreds of years.  

That evening the senior couple invited some of the ward members and missionaries over to learn about Mormon pioneers and to build handcarts with cookies. As you can see from the picture, Kathy and I had a lot of fun building ours. 

The next morning we went back to the Kremlin for a picnic with the ward members. It sits right along the river, so we were able to play games and get our feet wet when playing with some of the children.  

Next to the picnic area there was an old village, similar to the Kizhi island pictures we posted about 2 months ago. We walked up to that area and toured all the old wooden buildings.

It is an amazing area with much history and culture. The homes were a place to work and to live.  As we walked through the buildings you could see what an industrious people they were. The architecture is amazing and absolutely beautiful. Here is a link if you want to read more. 

The next morning we went to church in Novgorod. The missionaries, branch members and senior couple do an awesome job and the spirit was very strong. It was Fast Sunday so we went without food, and had a testimony meeting at church. The spirit was very strong in the branch. Fasting is a wonderful time in our church. We fast for 24 hours and give the money we would have spent on meals to the church to help the people in need.  After church we said goodbye to our friends and then caught a 4-hour bus ride to Pskov. 

Wow, what an adventure taking a bus ride on the back roads of Russia. Many times we were going 5 mph because the roads were full of potholes and very bumpy.  We stopped to give a bathroom break and they almost left Kathy. 

They tell you 5 minutes and they mean 5 minutes. Kathy just got back and the bus took off without one of the ladies on the bus. She ran along side banging on the side of the bus and he wasn't going to stop. Finally he stopped and she got on and we were all relieved. 

When we arrived in Pskov, we went and saw two different apartments in the area. They were ok, but just didn't feel right. That night we got back to our hotel around 10:30 p.m. 

The next morning was Monday and we got an early start by walking along the river. It was an amazing city with beauty everywhere. As you can see from the pictures, our hotel was very close to the Kremlin, so the river path went along the outer wall. 

The two pictures I posted last week on facebook showed the calm river and reflection of the buildings. It was surreal!!  We saw 800 year old walls, beautiful churches, amazing bridges, ducks, trees and nobody else on the trail.  We walked for over an hour and decided we better get back and ready for the day.

The picture to the right is an image from inside one of the churches. We looked at several other apartments and finally found a great apartment. After we signed on the apartment we took the missionaries out for dinner to celebrate one of their birthdays. It was a wonderful evening. After dinner we walked along the park and spoke with several people. We had to do apartment inspections on the other apartments, so we went back with the missionaries and completed that task.

We got back to the hotel around 10:30 and then woke up at 3:40 am the next morning to catch a 5 am train back to St. Petersburg. It was a 5-1/2 hour train ride, but we were able to get a sleeper car. Luckily we were the only two in the 4-person car, so we slept for a couple more hours and then just sat and talked as we rode along the countryside. We reflected on all of you and how wonderful our life has been. It has never been easy or without challenge, but the Lord has provided for our family.

We have been blessed with good jobs, good friends, wonderful children and all of you!!  The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth today. The message we carry to the wonderful people of Russia is true. God lives and loves us. He restored his gospel on the earth today so we can have a path back to live with him again. The Book of Mormon is a second testament of Christ and goes hand in hand with the Bible. The work of salvation will help each of our lives. We love missionary work in Russia and encourage each of you to do the same back home. If you aren't a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I encourage you to read the Book of Mormon and ask God if it is true. I know he will confirm to you the truth of our work on earth and you will want to talk to the missionaries in your area.  We love each of you regardless of your beliefs and we know we are all brothers and sisters of our heavenly father. Isn't that awesome to know that we are all family!!!  Thanks for listening and know that we love each of you and keep you in our prayers. Love Bob and Kathy Carter. 

This next section is a series of pictures we took on our midnight boat ride along the river. People line the streets at 1:00 in the morning to watch the bridges rise and they even did some fireworks. 

It was a spectacular way to end our time in St. Petersburg and we wanted to share these images with you. We hope you enjoy!!

1 comment:

  1. It's great to read all about Kaliningrad! This is wonderful:)