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 19 - July 15

Sts. Peter and Paul Lutheran Church, Yekaterinburg

  • Yekaterinburg

I slept in a little.  The other guys are still asleep.  I instant-message a little with Grace and Leo for a short while (where it is still July 14, twelve hours behind me).  I take a shower - and it is a real treat!  It's a high-tech little booth with shower heads everywhere - and even a radio!  It's so high-tech, in fact, that I have to
ask Dan how to turn on the water.

We have a typical breakfast of bread, cheese, meat, and tea.  There is a nice, fresh baguette of French bread and only real butter - not a bit of margarine in sight!  Father Daniel and I chat about the happenings back home in the Missouri Synod.

Father Alexey gets up as well.

A pile-driver pounds out its rhythm outside.  The windows are open and the sounds of the city enter the flat.  Father Alexey is chatting with Father Sergey on the computer.  It's a nice day - very sunny.  There may be thunderstorms later in the day.  Father Sergey will be by to get us in an hour and a half.  I pass the time doing some reading.  I wonder if my vision is getting worse.  The 1.5 glasses are getting a bit blurry and I'm now taking out my 2.0 spectacles for a spin.  Maybe my eyes are just tired.

The latter leg of the trip is the most difficult.  I'm homesick.  But I'm also looking forward to meeting Father Vlad and the people of Holy Spirit - Chelyabinsk.

Dan, Alexey, and I went to lunch close by to the church at a delightfully cozy Asian place called Кафе Дадаж (Cafe Dadazh).  The meal was nice.  I had a chicken shish kabob - which was basically wings.  There was a very mild sauce that was tasty.  I also had French fries for the first time in Russia, a side of onions (very strong, I barely ate any).  I also had a coffee with sugar.

Not the Tim Quill table, but close by

We joked about how Tim Quill ate here a year ago - and we carried on about it.  We marveled that we were at the famous Tim Quill table.  The Rev. Dr. Tim Quill was the head of the Russian Project at Concordia Theological Seminary.  He is beloved of the Russian clergy - and held in equally high esteem by me.  I have pages of pithy quotes from Professor Quill, and count it a high honor to call myself his student to this day.

On the way out, I purchased a half-liter of Mountain Dew from the cooler for 50 rubles.  I explained to Alexey that it has the most caffeine of any major American soft drink (so I've been told anyway).  The clerk was chuckling at me, explaining that the only people who ever buy it are foreigners.  We all had a good laugh.

We take the short stroll back to the church flat and wait for Father Sergey.  Dan and I cannot resist playing around with the large pothole in the parking lot and taking pictures.

About 6:00 pm local time, we check into a local hotel.  I believe we will be staying two nights, as the church flat is spoken for by some other visitors.  They take our passports to register us.  The lady at the desk speaks decent English and has clearly been trained in customer service.

The Church on the Blood (All Saints), Yekaterinburg

Father Sergey drives us to the imposing Orthodox church erected on the site where the Romanovs were murdered.  It was only built a few years ago, and the gilded onion domes radiate in bright shining gold tones.  People are selling icons and religious books in small booths on the street.

We take some pictures.

A lady speaks to Father Alexey.  She has invited us to a concert set to begin in a few minutes in the adjoining building which is technically the patriarch's residence.

We put on those weird blue show-covers like they have at the airport.  We go up the majestic marble staircase.  A small crowd is gathered.  A woman is seated at a piano - which is reputed to be the same instrument played by the Romanovs when they were in exile.

There are several powerful poetry readings interspersed with intense piano flourishes.  Since Father Daniel and I don't understand the Russian readings, we slip out.  Father Sergey has gone off for about an hour, and Father Alexey has been quietly translating the poetry for us.  The lady who invited us directs us to another performance - this time a woman who plays traditional Russian folk instruments and sings.  She was simply amazing!  One of her instruments was similar to an auto-harp, though without the buttons.  Another was a kind of pipe that could sing like a bird.  I need to get the names of the instruments from Father Alexey.  The performance was mesmerizing.

We visit the display of the Romanov memorabilia - which includes a hand-written note from the eldest daughter to her father, the deposed Tsar, shortly before the family was murdered.

We also visit the inside of the church very briefly.

Alexey explains that during Soviet times, the fate of the Romanovs was not known.  Nothing of the pre-Bolshevik era was taught in school.  Russians began to  learn what happened to the Romanovs under the governorship of Boris Yeltsin (he was from Yekaterinburg).  As the word began to spread, Yeltsin had the house where the Romanovs were killed torn down.

Father Alexey explained about the many strange and inexplicable things that happened to the people who shot the Romanovs and tried to cover up their crime.  The plan to destroy the bones of the family failed.  They had been buried in a mine-shaft, and had recently been discovered.  DNA tests confirmed the identity.  The church was built, and the truth could no more be hidden.  Eventually, the truth wins out even when it seems that injustice will prevail forever.

Fathers Alexey and Sergey bring us back to the hotel, the Atlantic.  Dan and I walk to the mall hoping to get dinner.  It is close to 11:00 pm.  The mall is closed except for a billiard hall.  We walk and find an open beer garden.  No-one there speaks English.  We order three plates of shasklik - not knowing what kind it was.  Our waiter was patient and displayed a great sense of humor.

We also had a couple beers.  I also ordered a Pepsi Africana.  I had no idea what it was, and so I tried it.  It is a Pepsi with lemon and lime - very tasty!

We walk back to the hotel.  It's now midnight, and still twilight.  I IM (Instant Message) and Snapyap (video conference) with Grace and Leo.  Dan is watching movies on his computer.

Our hangout in Y-burg

Here is a link to all of my pictures of Day Nineteen.

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