The Echo of War

This is from EnglishRussia, a great website. I am touched by these pictures, which are a mixing of historic and contemporary photos. A companion post is here.

Vienna. 1945/2010. Soviet soldiers at the Imperial Palace Hofburg:

Moscow is getting ready for defense. 1941/2009. Gorky and Tverskaya Streets:

Berlin 1945/2010. A disabled tank “Tiger” in Tiergarten park:

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A Snapshot from Russia

This is a classic picture. Olga and I had to go to a government office (yellow building). Several people were in line for the same office (the ‘line’ is pictured above). You might not know it, but the office was open at the time I took the picture.

We arrived an hour before the office opened. There is no waiting room, the officers don’t take people in the order they arrive, it’s not possible to take a number and know if you’ll be able to meet with the officers. So, we arrive early to be put on the ‘list’, a piece of paper held by one of the people waiting. Quite a few people arrived before us.

Russian government offices often are only open a few hours a week for people in any particular situation (people with our questions could only go there at specified times), and they are often understaffed. So, we waited in the rain for a few hours and never got into the building. Half a day spent waiting for nothing. . . .

Photographer to the Tsar

It’s hard to believe these pictures are from 100 years ago —

“The photographs of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) offer a vivid portrait of a lost world–the Russian Empire on the eve of World War I and the coming revolution. His subjects ranged from the medieval churches and monasteries of old Russia, to the railroads and factories of an emerging industrial power, to the daily life and work of Russia’s diverse population.

In the early 1900s Prokudin-Gorskii formulated an ambitious plan for a photographic survey of the Russian Empire that won the support of Tsar Nicholas II. Between 1909-1912, and again in 1915, he completed surveys of eleven regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation.”

We start with a self-portrait:

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Burton Holmes in Russia

Over 100 years ago,  Burton Holmes (1870-1958) traveled to Russia.  Holmes was an American traveler, photographer and filmmaker, who coined the term “travelogue”.  Travel stories, slide shows and motion pictures were all in existence before Holmes began making his travel films, but he was the first person to put these elements together into documentary travel lectures.

Here are some of the photographs from his book detailing his visit to Tsarist Russia in 1901.

A Postcard from Finland — Peace and Quiet

We’re in Finland for a few days staying at the little cabin, named Koppero, that we’ve mentioned before. 

Because of visa restrictions I must be out of Russia fairly often; it’s just a 5 hour drive here so it’s easy to come over and spend a few days. And it’s nice to have an internet connection so we can continue to work.

Koppero is located on a beautiful lake that often has very dramatic sunsets. We love the place and have been helping fix it up over the years. On this trip we’re cleaning, mowing grass, building bookshelves, and relaxing in the hammock.

We return to Russia on Tuesday, and life gets busy in July:

— Olga helps two teams from Texas as they minister in youth camps
— We host a children’s camp at Elama, the Christian camp in Russia
— I go to Montenegro with a team from Athens, Georgia to run a camp in the mountains

There’s also good news from Stoneworks. We’re adding long-term missionaries to our ‘family’; I’ll report more on that later. The work in Belarus continues to grow, even in difficult circumstances.

We are currently building support for a Family Home we’ll open in Minsk this fall (if all goes as hoped). This will be a residential program helping graduate orphans grow as Christians and learn life skills. Please contact me if you’re interested in knowing more about that project.

This scripture is meaningful to us this morning, Psalm 139:1-5 — O lord you have searched me and you know me; you know when I sit and when I arise. You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in, behind and before. You have laid your hand upon me.

A Postcard from Montenegro

We’re back in Russia after a great drive from Montenegro through Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Belarus. Along the way we visited new friends and old in Budapest and Minsk.

We want to share this amazing picture of the team in Montenegro. This was taken on a mountain overlooking the Bay of Kotor, thousands of feet below.

Here in Russia, we’re preparing for the next phase of the summer. We’ll welcome several teams to minister in summer camps and orphanages. The work at Elama continues, and we’ll host several Christian camps there over the next few months.

I (Mike) will be back in Montenegro with another mission team in mid-July. And, our connections with Estonia and Finland continue to grow.

We are very thankful to the Lord for giving us the grace and ability to be involved in so many fruitful projects. He gets all the credit for any good thing we may be involved in; Jesus said that apart from Him we can do nothing.

We hope and pray that we’ll continue to live in Him, being rooted in Him and built up in the faith.

Family History

Recently one of Olga’s distant cousins discovered an old photo of her ancestors.

Here is the photograph taken at the Silver Wedding of Nestor Grootten and Olga von Klemm. The celebration took place in 1899 in Riga, where Nestor worked at the time.

We are working on identifying everyone in the photograph.  Maximillian, Orest’s father is the boy standing on the extreme right, with a smudge over his face.

Orest’s father – Maximillian Grootten had thirteen siblings (four of them died in infancy according the best information I have which needs to be double checked).  The youngest sister of Maximillian, i.e. one of Orest’s aunts was called Adelaide (“Adia”).  She was married (since 1912) to a well known expert on hydrobiology Professor Dimitry Beling who headed a research institution in Kiev.  Germans made him to continue in this position after they occupied Kiev during WW2.  When the Soviet troops were close to liberating Kiev, Germans evacuated Beling to Germany.  After the war he and Adia worked at the Goettingen University and lived in West Germany. Their daughter Helena Beling remained in Leningrad amd married Vadim Regel of famous St. Petersburg German family. They had two children – a son and a daughter. In 1960 Adia started to commute between Goettingen and Leningrad often staying with her grandchildren . Although a West German citizen – she died in Leningrad in 1989.

Her ashes were buried in Goettingen.  A large part of Adia’s archive is preserved by the Regel family now in St. Petersburg.