Russian Celebrations

A Couple Weeks in Review

Well, I think that this is the best we’ve done in a while as far as updating posts! We’re determined to get better at updating here with more of our ministry opportunities, but we appreciate your patience.

We were able to enjoy some special family time before heading off to Novgorod together.  We spent one day in Pushkin visiting Katherine the Great’s Palace, which at one point had been all but destroyed by the Nazis.

At Pushkin

The beginning of this month we had the chance to go to Novgorod in good weather. For pictures of our first trip there, read this post on Cristy’s blog. While the trip was sort of planned for us, as you might recall from the last post, we did start to look forward to it as the time drew nearer. Two young ladies from our church and our pastor joined us early on a Friday morning to take the bus to Novgorod, thankfully a much newer bus than one we had previously ridden. Isaiah had a great time playing with Oksana and Marta, who were sweet to let Thomas and me have a little respite in our tight quarters.

We were met at the bus station by a friend of Mikhail Mikhailovich Polubaryarenov’s, who is a pastor in Novgorod. The main point of our trip was to get to know this pastor and further develop relationships between our two churches. Our host Mikhail Gregorovich (I don’t remember his family name, unfortunately) and his family were wonderful to be around! Much to Isaiah’s delight, they have 2 little boys, 5 and 3, and a little girl, 5 months, and another little one on the way! The size of their family is a ministry and a testimony to other Russians!

We spent the day seeing some sites, which we had previously seen covered in snow and ice. The day was beautiful! If you would like to see pictures, again please visit Cristy’s blog, as putting pictures on WordPress has become a pain for some reason.

Unfortunately, Cristy started getting sick late in the afternoon on Friday, which meant she couldn’t attend the service that evening, and that we had to return early on Saturday. However, Thomas was able to go to the service on Friday, and felt very encouraged! He was able to tell about InterAct and the goals that we have for missions. One of those goals is to increase in Russians the desire to minister to people in other parts of Russia.

He was encouraged at this meeting to learn that this church has an active ministry to homeless people and people who are wanting to end their drug addictions. The pastor has started a program in which he helps people find a place to live and trains them to do a job. This is the first time that we have met someone involved in this work. We know that it takes place, but it is still rare in Russia.

We look forward to continued contact with this pastor, his family and his church.

The rest of the time until now has mainly been filled with sickness, I’m afraid. Thomas and Cristy have both had bad colds, though thankfully Isaiah has been spared! We’ve pressed on and continued with language lessons. Thankfully we improved sufficiently to celebrate День Победы or VE Day in the States. We really enjoyed this holiday last year, and we were not disappointed this year as we enjoyed a wonderful day together.

Victory Day

May 8 in America is the traditional day for celebrating the end of WWII.  However, at the time the war ended in 1945, it was already May 9 in Russia, so May 9 is Victory Day.  Russians love to celebrate holidays with gusto, and this time we were glad to celebrate with them.  Who wouldn’t want to celebrate the end of The Great War!

I’m very glad that we were able to enjoy this day.  Our friend Luda joined us for the whole day, which helped us to even better understand the importance of this national holiday.  Here are some of the pictures from our day to help you appreciate the celebration as well.

In the morning there was a parade to honor the current military.  It was really something with troops marching and then weapons being brought out.  A canon was fired before the parade started, and we could feel our insides shaking!  It was quite impressive.

Here people are standing on the outer corner of a building to view the parade.

The Crowd

But Isaiah had the best spot!

Isaiah had the best seat, though!

Here is the current Russian flag following a flag to honor Lenin.  Lenin is still very popular here!

Russian flag and flag with Lenin

These rocket launchers brought great cheers from the crowd.

Rocket Launchers!

This memorial honors the citizens and soldiers who endured, fought or died during the blockade by the Germans.  There was also a museum with a mosaic to honor the Russian people and artifacts from the time.

Memorial for the 900 day blockade by the Germans

This veteran was in The Great War from the first moment the last.

A veteran of the Great War

In the evening there was The March of the Veterans.  Soldiers who had fought in the war led the parade.  Behind them were citizens who had survived the war and sports veterans (not really sure what that meant, but that’s what they were called), and finally some representatives of the Communist Party, which was interesting.  While the veterans were marching the crowd was cheering quite fanatically, but when the Communist Party marched, they grew strangely quiet.  There were some veterans marching with the party, and the crowd made the clear distinction to cheer for the veterans, but not for the communists.

The man on the left was a foot soldier, and the man on the right was a paratrooper, according to their flags.

March of the Veterans

These were civilian survivors of the blockade.  Many of them were most likely rather young children during The Great War.

Survivors of the blockade

And here are the Communists.  We were rather baffled at the fact that they had a flag with Jesus on it, since usually Communists are atheists, but there it is nonetheless.  Here is when the crowd grew quiet, except to specifically cheer for veterans who were marching.

The Communist Party

Sadly, many of the older people still believe that Stalin was the reason for the eventual victory over the Germans.  This woman was carrying a picture of Stalin with the text, “I.V. Stalin, Creator of the Great Victory”.  In reality, Stalin was probably the reason that the blockade was able to last as long as it did as he did not prepare well at all to defend Leningrad.

Honoring Stalin

And of course, I had to add a cute picture of Little Man enjoying the day!

Isaiah enjoying the parade