Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Russia Trip Review

 
On our way to Riga to catch the overnight train we stopped at hill of crosses in Lithuania. Before we arrived we were told the Soviets tried to destroy hill of crosses a few times, but Lithuanians kept replacing the crosses overnight. It became a sign of love for the country of Lithuania and for the people fighting for the freedom of Lithuania. When we arrived to hill of crosses the amount of crosses truly astounded me, however once we climbed to the top, where it looked as though the hill stopped, the crosses just kept on going. There had to be thousands upon thousands of crosses. I couldn't help but think of the amazing hope the people of Lithuania held and the amazing hope there is in Jesus. I was overcome by a sense of peace and perseverance. Wandering through the thousands of crosses I felt the presence of God in the midst, as if He was walking right next to me.

The journey to Russia all started when we got on an overnight train from Riga, Latvia to Moscow. The train was not what I was expecting at all, but as they served us tea and we all sat around and talked I couldn't help but feel it was an amazing start to the trip. After we got off the train we jumped on the metro and went to put our bags at our hostel. Getting on the metro I was intimidated by the hustle and bustle of the city, but soon I would be comfortable in these metros going from place to place in the city. The first place we visited after putting our bags at the hostel was red square. Upon entering red square I had no thoughts, no words. It was as if time was suspended for a moment. The beauty before me was nothing like I had ever seen before. The vibrant colors of St Basil's church, the architecture of the Kremlin, I did not know what to think. My mind was blown and we hadn't even been in Moscow for 24 hours. On that same day we had a walking tour of the Kremlin. My favorite part was the cathedral square. Upon entering this square there were beautiful churches on all sides of us. My eyes didn't know where to look, it was all so beautiful. This same night we attended a circus performance in Moscow. This was truly amazing! I had not recalled the last time I attended a circus, if ever. The talent of the people at the circus was astonishing, there were even times when I had to close my eyes in fear for these people.

The following day we went back to St. Basil's Cathedral and we attended a service at Christ the Savior Church.  The service was different from any other church service I was used to. When observing the worshipers attending the service I couldn't help but learn from them. They stood through the entire service never losing focus of the altar. They were in such a prayerful state, nothing could distract them, not even a herd of Americans standing in on their service. That evening we returned to red square, and even though we were all overcome with exhaustion we hesitantly went to red square, and I'm happy we did. This may have been my highlight of the Moscow trip. The beauty of the red square was now amplified with all the lights and the dark clouds hanging in the sky.

The following day we went on our excursion to St. Petersburg. The following morning we went on a long walking tour of the city. Our tour guide was amazing, showing us all the ins and outs of the city that he loves. That evening we attended a show called Feel Yourself Russian where we were able to absorb more of Russia's rich history through dancing, song, food, and drink. This evening was one I will never forget. You could feel the passion and love these performers had for their country.

The following day I went to Yusupov Palace. Upon entering the palace I felt right at home. :)
 
The large chandeliers and beauty struck me with awe. We then arrived to the Hermitage museum, the largest art museum in the world. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I was able to see art by Van Gogh, Monet, Matisse, Davinci, Michelangelo, and my personal favorite Rembrandt. This was a dream come true. Walking through the Hermitage I was struck by gratefulness that I would even get this opportunity to stand before such works of beauty and such history. I got to observe works of art that some only dream about.

The next day I got the privilege of going to Dostoyevsky's apartment. Dostoyevsky is the author of Crime and Punishment and is a honored author of Russia. I was able to walk around his home and see where his work was done, where he spent his free time, and I even saw some of his transcripts. It always blows me away to be in the presence of such great work. We also attended the Nutcracker ballet that night. This was a ballet like none other. Not was the ballet one of perfection, but the theater itself was a work of art. The atmosphere that surrounded us was enough to make us feel royal.

Of course these are only a few of the highlights from my trip, and my words do not even do them justice. I count my blessings everyday that I'm lucky enough to have an opportunity like this to experience the world and the history of the world rather than a textbook. My knowledge and outlook on the world continues to grow everyday here, and for that I am forever grateful. I'm getting an education unlike any other.
 
 Catherine Taylor from Cornerstone
 
 
 
 

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