Sharin' my Rubles

This short intervention is dedicated to my families, both eternal and Russian. I love my mom (most of you know her as just mom)! She makes a lot of things possible in my life and has done so far the last ten years. As far as I am concerned there is no satisfying way of describing someone or something except through personal experience. I will let you know, however, that mom copes a magnificent amount of love and care. Take an epic journey through Sankt Petersburg with mom, Ashley and Me.

 Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas

One of my beautiful sisters, Ashley.

The Anichkov Bridge is the first and most famous bridge across the Fontanka River in St. Petersburg. The horse sculptures welcome travelers on each end of the bridge.

Church of the Savior on Blood.

The church is dedicated to Tsar Alexander II and is built on the very spot where he was assassinated.

The inside of the church is adorned with mosaics from floor to ceiling. Yep, it is all made of those small, colorful, tile-like pieces of rock that are about half an inch square.

The gates that mom loves, and who wouldn't, right?

Looking good even in the rain! 

One of my first attempts at taking a picture of mom, in particular her face. Galina, on the left, is one of mom's dearest friends and happens to be one of the most Russian women under the yellow sun. 

The Stock Exchange and the Rostral Columns.

The famous Imperial Hermitage Museum. One of them quaint palaces of the Russian royalty.

St. Isaac's Cathedral.

On the colonnade on top of the cathedral.

Trinity Cathedral.

Each country has their own, but it is fun trying to figure out what the Russians want you to do, or not to do in this case.

This is where the real and un-Disney-like story of Anastasia begins... The Alexander Palace was the Romanovs' summer retreat. A beautiful and sad place (a lot of the Motherland is like that).

The nearby Catherine Palace. She liked her bling. What you see here is just a speck of the whole grand palace.

Then we arrived in Finland!

The sky seems to get bluer, the trees greener, and the people...

...well, you can't have everything.
No, Finns are great and a lot more homely than that.

The Turku Cathedral.

Mom is looking very happy. Smile if you like it, too.

The Finns enjoy this during their whopping 100 days of vacation per year. I would.

Myƶhempien Aikojen Pyhien Jeesuksen Kristuksen Kirkko.
This is the new and first stake center in Finland. It was completed shortly after I finished my service as a missionary.

This has to be one of the greatest couple on planet earth, Mimmu and James Sloan. She is Finnish and he is American, and they sing in the Russian choir, but I am just scratching the surface. Like I said, you have to meet them.

The Finnish Temple in Espoo.

Another impressive holy place in Helsinki. Simply called the Church in the Rock. They interior is carved out of a large rock.

Umm, the more you look at them the more you want to swing. It was a 'no touchy' exhibit probably.

Another try, but mom won't look.
On one of our last nights in Finland we went to see Placido Domingo, and it ended up being the most enjoyable opera I have been to date.

Don't rest your face on the program if you don't want a moustache.

Regardless about how you may end up feeling about Russia and Finland, don't mix the two up. As unique and separate these two countries may be, your own experience will tweak the opinion you have found throughout this post. The places we visited could not be more different, and yet we love each with more enthusiasm than we tend to show. Love your life, your people, and your places.


The Daily Jerusalem

Not that nothing extraordinary happens every blessed day here in the Holy Land! Quite to the contrary. It is just sad that sometimes we tend to get used to the surroundings and forget how blessed we are to be in the moment. Thanks to memories and some digital tricks we can now review each day, week and month and be pleasantly reminded of all good that happens around us. These are some things for which I am extremely grateful.

President Ohman's last day in Jerusalem. We lucked out and had a private concert in the bell tower of the YMCA.

Dome of the Rock.

Visiting Russian churches. I had to speak a lot of good, clean Russian that day.

Hezekiah's Tunnel. Grateful for Hannah and her camera.

Now here I am not the only one grateful for Kyle and his golden locks. 

Waiting for the Bus...sort of

Grateful for service. Not sure though why they asked for the talented kids to go paint. All the good parts were already painted.

Painting in chords - Aimee, Megan, and I - grateful.

Field trip to the Biblical Gardens at Neot Kedumim.

Herding sheep and goats. Gotta catch them all!

Alpha and Omega is actually hidden somewhere in the mosaic.

Yes, this family of Ludlows does look something we could all be grateful for.

Grateful for sharin'. My germs!

Dudes, grateful for the man inside.

Grateful for camp food. Anything and everything tastes fantastic! Letty found something nummy to fill her tummy.

Finally started the sketch book. So grateful for talents that are still hanging in there.


Even gotta love brake-ups. Joe needs much fore he gives much.

Grateful for Megan's matching hair and belt. Life couldn't really get any better for the redhead!

Grateful for sharin' the culture with some traditional Torah reading.

In the end, it is all about Waiting for the Bus. Seeing that moments are called moments because most of them last just a fringe of a second. Savor the life you are living! There is dedication involved in keeping a stoic attitude about mundane days. Once you have leapt over the high wall though there is some real deposits of joy to be had - even when you are feeling blue, eh?!