Kiev, Ukraine

After the wedding, we went to the Sofiia Posen Hotel, near the Kiev Temple.  We were thinking it would be close enough to walk to the temple; but we also thought the main street over to the temple was a normal street.  It was a freeway and we did not know the back ways to the temple so the hotel hired a taxi to take us over there.

We went to the temple on Friday and Saturday mornings.  It was wonderful being back in the temple after a year long absence.  Because of the scheduling of the ordinances, we did not do any family names; but it was good anyway!  (I left all my family names with our children.)

Before our trip, I had contacted the YSA couple, the Ws, in Kiev for some hotel ideas, etc. and they were so wonderful.  They arranged a LDS taxi cab driver, Yuri – who spoke English – to pick us up from the airport – and he also took us around sightseeing after our mornings at the temple.  The Ws came with us Friday and Saturday.  Very fun and educational.  Felsted Elder is always interested in the cold-war era doings, and Yuri had definite opinions about these things, so they hit it off great!

Friday afternoon we went to The National Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War (of 1941-1945) museum, that was originally built by the Soviets, to honor the Ukraine togetherness the Soviet Union had with Ukraine in their fight against The Third Reicht!  (RIGHT!)  The poor Ukrainians thought the Nazis were liberators when they first came!  One terror after the other in some of these countries…

These "motherland" stautes seem to be everywhere in these former Soviet countries.

These “motherland” stautes seem to be everywhere in these former Soviet countries.

The men liked looking at all the war stuff and discussing war issues.  Inside the museum we learned of the terrible treatment of the Ukrainian people.  An estimated 10 million died during the starvation years or being sent off to concentration camps in Siberia.  The farmers refused to participate in communal farming, so Stalin ordered all their food stores (grains and food stuffs in barns, homes, etc.) taken away by the soldiers and the farmers and their families were eliminated in that manner.  It was called the Holodomor.

Western parts of the Ukraine also fought against this evil government for years before finally being overcome.  Communism is certainly part of Satan’s plan and these types of actions by governments demonstrate man’s inhumanity to his fellow man!  For more on this subject check out Global Museum on Communism.

Massive statutes or three dimensional bas relief artwork at The National Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War (of 1941-1945)

Massive statutes or three dimensional bas relief artwork at The National Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War (of 1941-1945)

The walkways to leave the museum were pretty impressive, though.

The walkways to leave the museum were pretty impressive, though.

Beautiful Church in the background...

Beautiful Church in the background…

After this visit to the museum, we went to tour the Kiev YSA center, actually more an Institute Center.  It was in an office building on the third floor.  They had a large kitchen, two very large classrooms, a library room, restrooms.  Very nice.  Since the building is not owned by the Church, different rules apply and they are allowed the use of their kitchen.  There were eight wards with many active YSA plus BYU-Idaho had a continual presence there as many of their students came to voluntarily teach English for a semester at a time and do internships in the community.  Each YSA has their own unique set of circumstances, we are finding!  The ward had the fifth floor in that building.

The Ws have been on a few other missions – CES directors in India, for instance.  Since he was a Seminary Teacher/Supervisor for the Church as a profession, teaching has been a way of life for them…  The headquarters over the Church in this part of the world is centered in Russia.  Ours is in Germany.

The next day, Yuri picked us up after our temple work.  The Ws had come to the temple that morning also.  They had a planned outing to an Indian restaurant with some YSA members.

The restaurant is on the upper left in this picture.

The restaurant is on the upper left in this picture.

Loved the door to the Indian restaurant.

Loved the door to the Indian restaurant.

Only one of the YSA showed up but we enjoyed eating some new-to-us authentic Indian cuisine in the Ukraine.  We got several dishes and shared them.

Note the furnishings..

Note the furnishings..

Afterwards, we enjoyed walking down one of the main streets in Kiev and looking at the architecture, wide streets and all that was going on during a Saturday afternoon.

Built as a showcase building during the Stalin years.

Built as a showcase building during the Stalin years.

Next door is a more modern building.

Next door is a more modern building.

The streets seem wider than Budapest.  There seems to be more variety in the styles and heights of the buildings than Budapest.  However, since we were only there a few days, that might be a faulty assumption!

Cute double decker Merry Go Round on this street.

Cute double decker Merry Go Round on this street.  Loved this!!!

Can you tell that Brother Welty is an extrovet?

Can you tell that Brother W is an extrovert?

His wife said that he has been dying to do this for a while.  So the YSA that came to lunch with us (former BYU-I student) helped him up!  This statue was a very popular item for picture taking – we had to wait a while to get this!

Part of the European Square.  It has had several names down through the years.

Part of the European Square, or Freedom Square. It has had several names down through the years.

Some important people in the foundation of the Ukraine (can't remember, though..)

Some important people in the foundation of the Ukraine (can’t remember exactly how, though..)

On Sunday we got a taxi over to the temple grounds and attended the Kiev International Branch.  This is composed of mostly missionaries – temple missionaries, the other senior missionaries, the Mission President and his family, and some BYU-I students.  It was Fast and Testimony Meeting day!  And I bore my testimony and told why we were in town. It is so wonderful to see how the Church all over the world is the same! The Mission President had a journal entry about meeting with Clinton and Tanya, which he showed me.  Two of his children are leaving for BYU this semester.  Also, one of the Assistants to the President (young missionaries) had been involved in teaching Tanya in Cherkassy before his calling to be an AP.

Kiev International Branch Relief Society members

Kiev International Branch Relief Society members

Group picture because some of the BYU-I students were leaving to go back to school.  The tall black girl had been here on a some kind of medical internship.  She wants to become a doctor.  Sister W is sitting on the far right.  Pretty great to have a ward building on the temple grounds!  There are two congregations that meet in this building.  After our meeting, one of the largest Ukrainian wards meet.

This was our dinner that evening…. supposed to be shish kabobs?  We love trying to figure out what to eat in foreign countries… ??

We shared - mine was supposed to be chicken and his beef...

We shared – mine was supposed to be chicken and his beef…

Monday was our departure day.  Yuri picked us up about 10 AM and we had some time for another quick tour before our fight out at 2:30 PM.  He took us to another part of Kiev to see some of the beautiful old Orthodox Churches.

Overlooking the Dniper River, which divides Kiev.

Overlooking the Dniper River, which divides Kiev.

The Dniper River divides Kiev into two parts, much like the Danube divides Budapest.  The small airport is on the side with the old downtown and many of the attractions.  This is the side we stayed on.  It is the left side of this picture.  Actually the right side is an island in the middle of the river and is like a reserve or protected area.

This picture of St Michael's as found on Wikipedia is much better than mine!

This picture of St Michael’s, as found on Wikipedia, is much better than mine!

Evidently, some of the Ukrainians have their own version of the Russian Orthodox Church, called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Kiev Patriarchate.  There is another branch called the Russian Patriarchate.  St Michael’s is of the Kiev branch and this church has been recently restored and was outstandingly beautiful.  We did not go inside, as I did not have any head covering and I did not want to be disrespectful of their traditions.

On St. Michael’s grounds there was a display of the genealogy of the founder of Christianity in the Ukraine, which I found interesting…  Love this graphic display of the family…  The founder is dead center of this display.

Love any genealogical information... doesn't matter whose..

Love any genealogical information… doesn’t matter whose..

In the square outside St. Michael’s was this display of “A Chornical of the Communist Inquisition” during the 1930s.  We copied this to read this as time permits.  We must never forget the terrible times of the past… You can read about them here.

We took pictures of the individual frames so we could read them later.

We took pictures of the individual frames so we could read them later.

Nearby was another church – St. Andrew’s, considered the mother church of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.  I took this picture from Wikipedia, also.

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

The architecture is similar yet different than what we see here in Budapest.

IMG_2438After our brief tour, we went to a local Pizza place that Yuri recommended.  We ordered pizza and I had a traditional salad that people used to prize during the Christmas season under the Soviet rule.  Canned vegetables were hard to get and were saved for this salad.  It was tasty – although very different from what we would consider a salad in America. But anything with mayonnaise is good to me!

Traditional Ukrainian salad from the Soviet era.

Traditional Ukrainian salad from the Soviet era.

The pizza was good, too!  But the most hysterical moment came when we ordered some juices to drink.  Yuri picked orange and we picked lemon!  We love the fresh lemonade here in Hungary!  However, this was 100% lemon JUICE!  WOW!  puckersville… then we asked for sugar, then water to add to it… we left before we got it right…  Think I already said that we love ordering food in foreign countries..

Notice the cyrillic writing but there was English, too.

Notice the Cyrillic writing but there was English, too.

We had this cherry dessert – like cherry filling in a pancake.  Probably prefer an American cherry pie!  But it is always fun to try new things…

After lunch, Yuri dropped us off at the airport and we boarded our WIZZ airlines for Budapest.  When the stewardesses started speaking Hungarian and we recognized some of the words, we knew we were on our way home!  Cyrillic was completely unintelligible to us!

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The Wedding Day

In my last posting I neglected to say how we loved Clinton’s bride-to-be, Tanya, the moment that we met her.  Her Spirit just shined and we felt we just instantly bonded.  Her mother and her brother were equally charming.  They are a choice family reserved for these last days!

The limousine Clinton reserved for us all arrived at the apartment at 9:30 AM.  Tanya, her mother, Lena, her brother, Valentine, his girlfriend, Ira, and the photographer were already in the limo.

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The darling couple!

Off to the local government building for the required civil wedding!

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Valentine and Ira

Tanya's mother.

Lena and us.

We met up with Tanya’s close friends, her Branch President and his wife, her grandmother and her mother’s friends.  There were last minute details, like the boutonnière for Clinton.

The woman to the left is Tanya's best friend.

The woman to the left is Tanya’s best friend, Oksana.

Once we got to the government office, we waited for a little while for the officials to make sure everything was in order.

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Before the Civil Wedding Ceremony

Tanya and Clinton designed the wedding dress.  They wanted something simple yet some- what traditional.  In my humble opinion, it is a classic and very beautiful!!  Tanya hired a seamstress to make the dress.

Once the ceremony started, we were actually a part of it all so I did not get any pictures of that.  But … Tanya sent some over that her friends took.

As part of the wedding ritual, they had to step on a special wedding cloth… which Valentine and Oksana laid down before them.  Other parts of the ceremony included each was given a candle to light and then they used those candles to light a “family candle” together representing beginning their new family, tying their wrists together in this cloth and the traditional dance together.

Clinton Tanya Wedding 6After the ceremony, there was the signing of the wedding documents…

Note the pretty robe the official is wearing.

Note the pretty robe the official is wearing.

The ceremony lasted about one-half hour.  I just love this picture that one of Tanya’s friends took as they came out of the building!

Clinton Tanya Wedding 19Over to the nicer government building for pictures.  It was not available for the Aug 1 date that they chose to get married.

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It appears that the Ukrainians use colors to beautify their buildings like the Hungarians!

I liked a couple of buildings that were across the street from this building.  I was interested to see how Ukrainian architecture compared to Hungarian.

Used for Children's Theater Arts

Used for Children’s Theater Arts – how about that color?

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I like the style of this little place of business.

Here are two of Tanya’s favorite people – the Branch President and his wife, Victor & Sveta.  Sveta went to the temple Friday, July 26, 2013 with Tanya and Lena, when they went to receive their endowments, a necessary step before the sealing ordinance.  I believe Tanya and Lena had been to the temple to do baptisms for their dead ancestors before this date (1 Corinthians 15:29).  The limo made back and forth trips from the yellow building to the restaurant to get everyone there..

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I am assuming the blouse is traditional Ukrainian embroidery …

Look at this darling loaf of bread!  The mother of the groom (me) had to present this bread to the married couple – with some sage words of advice and/or encouragement.  The bread was presented on a fancy traditional table-runner-sized cloth.  (I was pretty weepy during this.)  Then the bride’s mother had some salt and she said something about that (in was in this foreign language and no one translated it for us…).  Then Tanya and Clinton took a bite of the bread.  The theory is whoever took the largest bite would be the domineering person in the family (I think both were trying to take as small a piece as possible!).  Then they had to take another piece of the bread and dip it into the salt and feed it to each other.  (I think that represented the first trial in their marriage…)

It smelled so good, too!

It smelled so good, too!

Then we sat at our places in the restaurant and look at the beautiful food:  salads, cheeses, fruit, rolls – all the healthy kinds of foods that Tanya and Clinton love.  Notice the decorated goblets that were used to swallow some water after the “bread and salt ceremonies.”  One of Tanya’s friends made them.

IMG_2209Oksana made up some of Tanya and Clinton’s most favorite pictures in their travels all over the world and hung them up as a decoration in the restaurant.

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The picture above Clinton’s arm is one of their most favorite – in front of a LDS temple in Peru.

Don’t you love this colorful cake?  It tasted good, too!  Rolled frosting is big in this part of the world, I am thinking, after seeing one in the Hungarian wedding, too.

IMG_2217Tanya and Clinton worked together to take the small cake off the top.  I told them of the American tradition of saving a piece of the wedding cake for a year in the freezer and eating it on the one year anniversary date.  They did not think that would work!  For a year??

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They did the traditional feeding each other a piece of the cake – but I did not get a picture of that.

We were running a bit late as we left the restaurant.  We still had a 3 hour trip up to the Kiev Temple.  But then when they were looking for the wedding certificate, they realized that the lady who married them, took it from Tanya, when they were posing for pictures.  So back to the government building.  They were closed for LUNCH!  After some banging on windows and doors, they finally opened up the door and retrieved the certificate.  Clinton and Tanya were unfazed by the whole thing…. very cute reaction!  They both just knew that their wedding day would be perfect – no matter what!

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There was some serious napping going on during the ride up to the Temple.

No posting of Elder Felsted sleeping – not as cute as that picture!!  Their photographer really loves his job.  We stopped at picturesque places along the way and he posed them in the middle of a huge sunflower field, down by a stream, in a field of large round hay bales…

While others were napping, Valentine and I had some interesting discussions about the Church, about his schooling and he was wonderful to translate some conversations between us two mothers…  His English was very good, as is Tanya’s.

Luckily the Temple allowed Clinton and Tanya to change their sealing time of 5 to 7 PM.  We got there at 6:15 PM and the photographer took a few more pictures in front of the temple  before the sealing ceremony.

One cute picture after the other!

One cute picture after the other!

Once inside the temple, Valentine and Ira and the photographer sat in the waiting room.  Only LDS members in good standing are allowed inside the temple. Also, picture taking is not allowed inside the temple – in order to maintain the quiet spiritual reverence that is present there.  (This temple does not have a visitor’s center and it has started to rain very slightly at 6:30.)  Did I mention that the weather was gorgeous the whole time we were in the Ukraine??  Budapest was having unbearable heat (90s) when we left!

The temple workers are so wonderful – no matter which temple you attend.  It was the same here in Kiev.  Everyone is so loving and kind and they attended to Tanya and Clinton and her mother and us.  The “sealer” is a man who has a personal calling from our Prophet to be in that position.  He was an American, and on a temple mission to work in the Kiev Temple.  He took the time to review the covenants that Tanya and her mother had taken the previous Friday and compared them to steps in a ladder on their path to return to Our Father In Heaven.  There was a native Ukrainian woman temple worker who translated his words into Russian.  We believe that the sealing ordinance is at the top of the ladder on this pathway to return to God.

Then the sealer had Tanya and Clinton kneel across the altar from each other, holding hands, and he read the ordinance in Russian and repeated it in English, as they agreed to this New and Everlasting Covenant, sealing them together for Time and All Eternity.  It was a very touching moment and the Spirit was testifying that this was truly a marriage made in heaven.  We knew that Tanya and Clinton felt really married in God’s eyes through this sealing ordinance.

Afterwards, the sealer showed them two mirrors which are across from each other in the sealing rooms.  As they gazed at their images which seemed to go forever in one direction, the sealer told them to imagine that you are looking at all your ancestors – it goes back to Adam.  Then looking in the next mirror, you see the same images, but now imagine you are looking at your posterity, which can go on forever.  Pretty sobering thoughts – which are really not part of the ceremony but a reminder to take care of our ancestors (why we do temple work for them) as well as our posterity.

A Temple worker took this picture afterwards.

A Temple worker took this picture afterwards.

After the sealing, we (including the limo driver and the photographer) had very nice dinner at the hotel where Tanya and Clinton were staying.  Then the limo driver, the photographer, Lena, Valentine and his friend, left for a long ride home to Cherkassy,  We got a taxi to a hotel back near the Temple.

Clinton waited for many years to find Tanya.  Tanya told me that she knew when she first met Clinton that he was the one – so she waited a while, too!  They found a nice apartment and are living in Cherkassy at the moment.  Clinton can manage most of his business dealings from there.  Eventually, I imagine they might visit America – Tanya has not been able to get a visa into the USA so far; maybe as a spouse, she can.  Perhaps they have a mission to accomplish in the Ukraine – at least that is what Mom and Dad Felsted think!

We also believe that this is just another blessing because of our service to God – first as temple workers and now on our mission.  We are truly BLESSED!

“The temple is concerned with things of immortality. It is a bridge between this life and the next. All of the ordinances that take place in the house of the Lord are expressions of our belief in the immortality of the human soul.”

—Gordon B. Hinckley

Cherkassy, Ukraine

The next few posts will have nothing to do with our mission in Budapest… but everything to do with our family!

A bank in Cherkassy

A bank in Cherkassy

Our son, Clinton, told us a few months ago that he and Tanya were getting married – maybe in May 2013.  We knew this was a possibility, since he and Tanya have been traveling companions since August 2011.  Clinton loves to travel.  Of course, when he met her, he told her upfront that he was LDS.  She had some experiences with the “Mormon Missionaries” before she met him but was a bit more interested after she met Clinton.  She and her mother joined the Church in April 2012.

Russian Orthodox Church. Notice Motherland Statue in far right distance.

Russian Orthodox Church. Notice Motherland Statue in far right distance.

The date was settled:  August 1, 2013.  We got permission to leave our mission area from our Mission President and once we had a final date, we got permission from the Area Presidency – in 20 minutes!  We are allowed to leave our mission area for a “life-changing event” and having our 41 year old never married son get married was certainly a life changing event!

The Motherland Statue overlooks a beautiful park on the bank of the Dniper River.  There used to be a castle or fortress where the statue is now.

The Motherland Statue overlooks a beautiful park on the bank of the Dniper River. There used to be a castle or fortress where the statue is now.

Elder Felsted and I flew into the Zhulyany Kiev Airport on Monday, July 29, 2013.  Tanya had arranged a taxi to pick up Clinton at the Boryspil International Airport when he arrived Tuesday, July 30th.  We met up with Clinton there and drove down to Cherkassy – 180 km or a 3 hour drive.  That gave us some time with Clinton to see what has been going on with his businesses, farm, travels, etc.

At the apartment

At the apartment

Tanya met us at an apartment where Clinton stays when he is in Cherkassy.  There was room for us to stay there, too!  We went out to lunch at a little mall across from darling blue bank in the first picture.  Yummy!  Then Tanya went off to do some last minute things – including a wedding dress fitting.  Clinton took us for a little walk around the town and later we went to Tanya’s apartment for a dinner that she and her mother made for us.  Authentic Ukrainian food!  Some yummy potato dish that Clinton loves, chicken, salad and sauces.

The next day, we and Tanya and Clinton walked to her dress lady for a final fitting and we waited out in a park strip that is in the center of the street for that.  Then we walked a short distance to an authentic Russian restaurant for lunch.

Next door to the Russian restaurant.  We ate under the awnings on the left.

Loved this building next door to the Russian restaurant. We ate under the awnings – on the left.

We had very lovely salads for lunch.  The waitress let me take her picture…

Loved her outfit and the skirt had the same trim.

Loved her outfit and the skirt had the same trim.

Afterwards, Tanya had more things to do so Clinton showed us some other sights.  This beautiful Russian Orthodox Church was closed but we walked around the outside grounds.  It has some beautiful mosaics.

IMG_2143This next night, Tanya’s mother, Lena, fed us AGAIN!  This is after she worked hard all day!  Another very nice Ukrainian meal of borscht, fish, salad…

The traditional picture when someone comes to visit!

The traditional picture when someone comes to visit!

We did not stay too late!  Big events were happening the NEXT DAY…

Timi Graduated!

“In the Church, obtaining an education and getting knowledge are a religious responsibility. We educate our minds so that one day we can render service of worth to somebody else.”

—Russell M. Nelson, “Focus on Values

That quote was in my Daily Message today and I thought it was appropriate since I wanted to do a posting on Timi graduating from a local university.  She has been steadily plugging along, taking course work for a few years.  She seems to be quite gifted in languages.  To get her degree in English, not only did she have to take English exams, but also another language.  She did German – passing both written, grammar and speaking tests.  (She also speaks Romanian and I believe French.)

IMG_2024We felt it was an honor to be invited to her graduation.  Graduation is a big deal!  We and the Wiggins, the Humanitarian couple, were invited.  Not only do we employ Timi to teach us Hungarian and so some translation for us; but the Wiggins use her talents a lot as they try to find service projects and need help negotiating for those projects.  Timi also invited Sister Smith, however, she had business to take care of…

IMG_2025Her friend, Gabor, and Adri also attended.  Of course, her brother, Norbi was there!

IMG_2032Timi’s family:  Uncle with son, Grandmother, Norbi, neice, Timi, Mother, Grandfather, Aunt with daughter.  Proud family – and rightly so!  Norbi, Timi and her mother are the only members of the Church in her family.

GOOD JOB, Timi!  Gratulálok!