I was able to go to St. Petersburg for three days, and visit a part of my brother Joe’s mission. Not having him with me was sad, but being where he’d served and loved the Russians for two
years was priceless. Scott, Merilee (Scott’s mom who came to visit his mission and travel with us for the last 10 days of our trip :), and myself were able to visit the Hermitage, the Cathedral of Spilled Blood, Peterhof, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, as well as many other sites. We even attended a night of folk singing and dancing called, “Feel yourself Russian.” So amazing and beautiful! St. Petersburg is such a lovely city – Merilee and I were impressed with the cleanliness and the beautiful architecture. Peter the Great built this beauty with the hope of making it look much more like the cities of Europe because he didn’t like the older and less refined look of Moscow. And, there is a definite difference. Personally, I still also love the more communist and possibly rougher look and feel to Moscow.
While in St. Petersburg, Lena (Joe and Rachel’s friend) did a lot of the sight seeing and
research with us. She’s absolutely pure gold! Lena had me at her place, about an hour from St. Petes by metro and mashrutka. She was soooo kind and nice, and she even helped me on our project, going on all the metro lines, counting beer advertisements and alcohol
brands, as well as counting advertisements and alcohol and cigarette sales on the streets. Meeting Lena, was very special for me because of her connection to Joe and Rach. She introduced me to others that knew Joe as he served his mission in St. Petersburg which was a blessing for me. But, getting to know and becoming friends with Lena was even more zdorava (wonderful)! I was so impressed with her great dedication and pure goodness. Many of the Russians who share the same faith with me have also been such good examples of this to me and it has touched me
deeply to witness their faith in action.