About This Blog

This is my travel journal chronicling my 2011 tour of Siberia, visiting with our Russian Lutheran brethren in the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church. Hopefully and God willing, there will be future adventures for me there.

The title is based on a remarkable book (that I actually read after returning home from Russia) called Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier. I found much of his writings to mirror my experiences as an American in Siberia - though Mr. Frazier has made many more trips and experienced many more things than I did - not to mention that he is a better writer. At least for now. Practice makes perfect! Frazier's book (here is a review) is also an interesting look at Russian history and gives an overview of the past writings of American travelers to Siberia. I'm humbled to be yet one more.

I hope that readers of TILS vicariously travel with me and enjoy what I have posted. I hope that it provides a small window into the life and work of the pastors and laity of Siberian Lutheranism (and their extraordinary history) and Russian culture in general.

It is also my hope that readers will: 1) Pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in Russia, 2) Support the outstanding missionary work of the Siberian Lutheran Mission Society, and consider sponsoring a Siberian congregation, 3) Consider visiting Russia for themselves, 4) Support the work of the faithful LCMS pastor Rev. Prof. Alan Ludwig, who has taught at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Novosibirsk for many years and has much of interest to say from his perspective, and 5) Read Ian Frazier's wonderful book
Travels in Siberia (which by the way is available on Nook and Kindle for $9.99)!

Of course, a disclaimer is in order: Ian Frazier has never endorsed this blog, nor have I ever met him or communicated with him. I thoroughly enjoyed his book, however, and am playing with his title for the title of my blog. However, Mr. Frazier, if you're out there - I would love to hear from you some time! I grew up in Cuyahoga Falls - and for some reason, Siberia seems to attract people born in Ohio who feel compelled to write about it. I really did enjoy your book, and I hope you are pleased by my reference to it.

One other disclaimer: other than being a supporter of the Siberian Lutheran Mission Society, I'm not affiliated with SLMS. The material on this blog is mine, and I take sole responsibility for it.

Note: Since I arranged this blog chronologically - which is backward from the way blogs usually work - the buttons at the end that say "Newer Post" and "Older Post" are reversed - just as the "hot" and "cold" water taps are often reversed from the way we're used to them in the states. In other words, if you want to read the next day's installment, click "Older Post" instead of "Newer Post." Just consider this another delightful quirkiness of an American writing about Siberia.

Большое спасибо! Thank you very much!

2011 Journal - Day 12 - July 8

Fathers Pavel and Daniel

  • Novosibirsk

We got up early, and Father Pavel (Khramov) walks with us to the train station.  We will be using different forms of public transportation today and seeing some different sights (as well as familiar ones) in Novosibirsk.  We ride the local train downtown.  We briefly tour the Novosibirsk train station.  There is a humorous plaque on the wall that
isn't really meant to be funny.  In an effort to find some connection to Lenin, the train station boasts that it has a desk that Lenin once sat at, and this fact is proclaimed on a bronze plaque.

We visit the Orthodox cathedral of Novosibirsk where services are going on.  We also visit the Roman Catholic cathedral. It is much smaller and simpler.  It is also modernist in design.  There are actually more Lutherans than Roman Catholics in Russia.

We walk to Lenin Square, and again drop by St. Nicholas Chapel, the geographical center of Imperial Russia.  This time, however, there is a service going on.  The space is tiny, and crowded with old ladies with heads covered with scarves bowing and crossing themselves.  To someone used to western-style worship, it appears chaotic.  There is a single priest, magnificently vested, and his assistant conducting the service.  Both are bearded and wear pony tails.  Not more than ten feet away, an elderly woman does a bustling icon business at the counter.

There are a few young women there as well, whose attire is similar to young Muslim women back home in the fact that they modestly cover their heads with a scarf, and yet wear skin-tight jeans and high heels.

We cut through the subway tunnel to cross the street.  It seems that there are always crowds of people hustling and bustling in the underground.  I snap a picture of a shoe shop for Miss Grace.  It's a long way to travel, but it's not easy for her to find nice shoes back home.  I'm able to exchange currency using a very slick modern machine located in a bank.

On the Metro

We take the subway across town.  We visit an upscale souvenir shop, as well as a bookstore that caters to English speakers.  I buy a Russian-English pocket dictionary.

Father Pavel brings us to a local Fork and Spoon (столовая вилка-ложка), a nicer one than the one we ate at earlier in Novokuznetsk.  I have an okroshka (окрошка) - the cold summer soup with sausage pieces, cucumbers, and tomatoes with herbs - such as rosemary.  I also have a piece of pork with "hot sauce" - which was not hot at all.  Tasty though!  Also, potatoes, orange juice, and a chicken blini.  Foodies, please feel free to click here.

There is a coffee bar!


I order lattes and cappuccinos for us.  The prices are good, and the barista knows what she is doing.  On the way out, I buy a Pepsi, which is unusually served soda-fountain style, self-serve in a disposable cup with lid and straw.  As is typical, there is no ice.  Russians don't typically take ice in their drinks (I will have to ask the bishop how this can be synthesized with his statement, "We are Siberians. We like ice."), and so I never saw an ice dispenser or ice machine.

It is a nice day, and we visit the little city park area by the fountain where there are a couple wedding parties and people who seem to be on vacation.  Friday is a big wedding day in Russia - which goes back to Soviet times.  It seems that the Russian Orthodox Church had forbidden Friday weddings, as Friday is a fast day.  The Communists wanted to oppose the Church and her traditions, and so pushed Friday as the "traditional" post-Christian wedding day.  Even now, 20 years after the fall of Communism, it is still a "tradition."

Lecturing in Novosibirsk as Father Alexey translates

We head back, hang out with the bishop, and get ready for our seminars.  Father Daniel is the first speaker, and lectures from 5:00 - 6:00 pm on Psalm 23 (22 per the Septuagint).  Father Alexey translates.  I speak from 6:00 - 7:00 pm, again on the Augsburg Confession, with Alexey translating.  At 7:00 pm, we break for worship - a combined Vespers and Mass.  The audience is diverse and serious.  They are interested in theology and eager to hear.

The service is beautiful but simple.  Father Alexey is the celebrant and Father Pavel is the preacher.  I follow the service as best I can.  The closing hymn is Luther's Keep Us Steadfast.  They use incense, but there is no chasuble, as this is a combined prayer and Eucharistic service.

Afterward, I meet Father Alexey's wife Elena.  She is very kind and speaks impeccable English.  She invites Dan and me to join their family for dinner before we head to Yekaterinburg on Wednesday.

Shortly thereafter, we meet again with the bishop for a late dinner.  We went to one coffee shop, but chose not to eat there.  We settled on East-West, a trendy but inexpensive restaurant that focuses on Russian diversity.  It is located on the second floor of the shopping center - just above the grocery store.  I enjoy a plate of plav.  The food and conversation are also outstanding here!

Here is a link to all of my pictures of Days Twelve and Thirteen.

The East-West Restaurant

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