Reveling in Russia and Zigzagging through Zurich

russia-03_3298060bOur family flew to Moscow, Russia recently in 2015. We journeyed there in order to meet our aunts, uncles, friends and family. For a month, we rode the subway, peered at old monuments, and celebrated the 70th anniversary of Victory Day, the day when the Allies won World War II. Our family’s visit to Russia will always be memorable. Continue reading

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All Things To All Men

pentecost_kirillo-belozerskSunday, May 31, 2015
Feast Day of Pentecost

It always happens to me as we near the end of our time in Russia. The battle fatigue sets in from being constantly surrounded by a culture not my own, hearing another tongue I can barely speak myself, and meeting people with whom I miss so many unspoken cultural cues and gestures. In its most extreme form, it is called culture shock, and even the most seasoned travelers are subject to it. The best remedy for it is a kind of cross-cultural humility that’s hard to come by for most Americans, and especially for this one.

Growing up in a small town in the midwest, I found excursions to the big city of Toledo to be enough of a thrill. When we wanted to visit a foreign country, we traveled several hours north and crossed the border into Canada (in those days, they did not even require a passport). With our country surrounded on two borders by oceans, it is easy for us to think of ourselves as the center of the world. The farthest most Americans I knew traveled was down to Florida for Disneyland. But there was one exception to this general rule, and that was those who had accepted the call to be missionaries and spread the Gospel throughout the world. Continue reading

Domestic Wilderness

Central Park, NYC

One of my favorite figures of the 19th century urban renewal and nature conservation is Frederick Law Olmsted. His head office Fairsted, located in Brookline, MA, is a lesser known National Historic Site, and he is most famous as the founder of American landscape architecture and the chief designer of New York City’s Central Park. Olmsted’s idea of a metropark was different from the highly cultivated gardens of Europe and Britain. He wanted his city parks to be easily accessible by all people from multiple points, but have the feeling like one has just stepped into a remote, but protected wilderness. Kolomenskoye is a city park in the southern part of Moscow that reminds me the most of Olmsted’s vision, for it is accessible but not overly cultivated, wild but well kept enough to let the little ones roam freely. Continue reading

A Town Full of Family/ Город Полной Семи

IMG_2590Surgut! Mama’s home town full of friends and cousins. Everywhere is close, even the airport! In a small town it is easy to find a store or church and there are many sites to see. Surprises like snow in May is quite normal and extreme weather all year round. Come see it for yourself, but bring warm clothes!

The Pleasure of Unexpected Company

IMG_3099May 9/22 Translation of the relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker from Myra to Bari, in 1087

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  Hebrews 13:2

A quiet day was planned at home with an equally quiet evening. I had spent most of the day watching the kids and recouping from an especially busy schedule visiting family and friends. The continuing overcast skies and subarctic temperatures made even playing on the local playground unattractive. My wife was just about to depart for an evening on the town with old school mates when the doorbell rang. Continue reading

Taking the Kids to Church

May 21, 2015

Feast of the Ascension
Repose of John Eliot,
Apostle to the Native People of Massachusetts

Surgut wakes up to remind us that we are only about 5 degrees south of the Arctic Circle. The warm weather anomaly ceased yesterday as temperatures dropped by over 20 degrees Fahrenheit and we dug out the few sweaters and jackets we brought to make the trek to church for the feast. Continue reading

What Libraries Mean to Me

library

Children’s Library in Moscow

Books! Books! Libraries are the place we get books. How could we live without libraries? A lot of information comes from books. When books started to appear someone thought “Where should we keep them?” Then people found the key: libraries! If you need to study a subject (for example), just ask a librarian she/he will help you find the right books. Whether at home or in Russia, we always find our local library.