Archive for March, 2011

To Russia With Love?

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

We have a few more touristy things to do, but tomorrow we pack up and head to the airport here to head to Manchester, England via Dusseldorf, Germany.

What I enjoyed was the art, the history, the snow, the overnight train, the friends, the metro stations, and the cleanliness.

What I  won’t miss is is being cold, the incomprehensible language with 33 letters in their alphabet, the smokey public areas, the food, traffic with no pedestrian rights, the pushing, the lack of smiles, the omnipresent police/military.

So here we go…on to the next chapter!

The State Hermitage Museum

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Wow, talk about an amazing experience at the Hermitage here in St.Petersburg.  We spent most of the day on three floors of the palace of Peter the Great viewing famous art.

We were nose to nose with Rembrandts, da Vinci’s, Michelangelo, Rubens, Picasso, Matisse etc. We even managed to lose Donna, so talk about exciting!!

Four In A Shoebox

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

The Kallas’ and Morales’ ventured north by overnight train to St. Petersburg — a 400 miles, 8  hour excursion on a train with sleeping cars. You’re  placed 4 to a berth (so we were glad to be with folk we knew) and the minimal bathroom was at the end of the coach. I would generously estimate the space as 5′ x 7′ and you folded the 4 beds down from the wall. We hysterically undressed in the dark on our bunks as we chugged along,with our 5 suitcases tucked under our lower beds and also on the floor. Steve got a lower bunk for his mid-night runs to the bathroom!

Herding Cats

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Lots of tearful goodbyes as the Student Venture Russia Project came to a close. Now we are showing our group of 37 around the attractions of Moscow.  We are each leaders of 5 kids in a travel team, and at every conjure,metro change, bus stop, food court adventure we must stop and make sure we are all accounted for.

Many distractions to wander off and see closer, and everyone is bundled up so you blend in with everyone else who is bundled up and wandering Moscow streets. “Where’s Lindsey, or Kyle?” “Anyone seen Blake?”

Camp Games

Monday, March 28th, 2011

We had a Ropes course, Square Dancing, Swing Dance Lessons, Back to the Future costume contest and Rock Concert and lots of “ice breaker” games that started each session.

These are a couple…wrap your team’s head with strapping tape inside out and see how much “stuff” they could collect, and “pass the marshmallow” using a toothpick and leave your toothpick in the mallow. ( and try not to poke your eye out!)

Camp Food

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Well, I can’t say I wasn’t warned!   Breakfast is gruel,tea, and bread…sometimes hard-boiled eggs with slices of cheese ( best meal of the day).  Lunch is the biggest meal of the day  and is always soup, a mystery meat, rice,bread, and a cabbage slaw.  Dinner is the leftover meat cut up and added to the leftover rice, and bread…and tea. No one is loosing weight because we have brought cookies and candy to share with our classes .

BUT!  If you leave any leftovers  (meat in particular) it is scooped up from your plate and put back into use by the kitchen staff. uggggg.  This is the best picture of any of our meals. I wanted to spare you from the lesser examples.

In One Ear

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

And then there are the teens (of both nationalities) who are here for goofing off and not participating!  A few of the adult teachers are ready to throw a few kids out the windows and into the snow…to wake them up maybe? These folk are missing such a tremendous  opportunity; connecting with one another, and having a faith-growing experience that could change a life.

But I am one of the lucky ones whose class of Russian students and American helpers are SUPER! They are becoming fast-friends even tho’ the age range is 12-16. They teach each other games and songs in their languages, share photos, exchange e-mail addresses and hang out in the purist expression of friendship. We have had square dance lessons, swing dance lessons, a ropes  course, and of course spontaneous snowball fights.  One half day to go and we say good bye, but I am sure there will be connections for some time to come.

Leap Of Faith

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Today in our class of Russian teens, we shared our personal testimony.  Talk about putting it all out there.  Our topic was “Character” and what that meant in today’s world. Reputation: an intangible that you can never get back if you give it away for worldly gratification.  Honesty, integrity, values,morals. Lastly, that which makes it all possible = Faith.

With heart pounding, I gave my 3 minute personal story, and my American teen helpers gave theirs (I was so proud of them).  Half the class was in tears and we ended with lots of hugs.  I don’t know if we got through, but seeds were planted.

I am sorry that there arent photos yet, internet weakness, and late nights here!

Heavy Metal

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Not the music genre, but what we would die from if we drank the water here. Bottle after huge bottle of purified water are lugged into camp and into most homes.   Industry in Russia trumps people, so don’t drink the water!!!

English Camp

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Let’s see, how do I describe this experience???

We have 37 teens and adults from the U.S. who have raised support$ to travel all the way to the outskirts of Moscow and rendezvous with 100 Russian teens (teachers and some parents too) who have given up their Spring break and paid a lot of money for this mutual experience.  The Americans have a curriculum  at advanced and Basic levels  of English that we are teaching the Russians.  Their desire is to better their English: the key to success in life.(?)

Our theme is “Preparing for the Future” and ultimately as we get to know them and talk about choices, and challenges,we ultimately share our Christian faith with them.  We are making friends, and trying to be supportive and loving.

Our facility is a pretty nice dorm-like compound, with auditorium, cafeteria, meeting rooms and sleeping quarters. We are warm and cozy inside, but enjoying the snow and it’s challenges!