Treasures of Russia tour, second update

By Len Friesen, Tour Leader

Our last full day.  I’ve been reading a verse or four from the Bible for each of our days in Ukraine and Russia.  Each portion has been chosen to speak to that particular day, and I’ve been gratified to hear words of appreciation from those without a strong connection to the Bible, as well as to those who do have it.  I do think that it speaks to the core of what sets TourMagination apart from other tour companies

Today’s portion is from the Wedding at Cana in John 2, Christ’s first miracle.  Why? Because this miracle speaks deeply to the Russian Orthodox Church, and to the Ukrainian one for that matter.  It is so central that the great Russian writer Dostoevsky pivots his last and greatest novel, The Brothers Karamazov, on the Wedding at Cana.

And why is that?  Because it is a passage of great joy, of a superabundance that is beyond all deserving.  That’s how it feels for me on this day as we who are here bring to an end a tour that began more than 2 weeks ago in Kiev, and in the delightful company of those who were with us for the Ukrainian portion.

But today we are in the great city of Moscow, where we arrived yesterday afternoon after a fast train brought us here from St. Petersburg.   

Half of our group then settled in, though our hotel is central enough that even a brief walk takes into the laneways of Old Russia.  The rest of us? Well, we couldn’t resist.  We walked to the end of the laneway on which our (lovely) hotel sits, we turned left, and within 10 minutes we were at the walls of the Kremlin.  From there another 10 minutes or so took us to the edge of Moscow’s famous Red Square. 

This was the Square of Ivan the Terrible, of Lenin, and of Stalin, and even of Gorbachev.  It is now Putin’s Square, and everything that happened to Mennonites in the Soviet era originated in one way or another on this Square.   It was as if Molotschna and Chortitza were located just off of it, in view of its ancient cobblestones.

We walked across the Square, crossed the Moscow River, and gazed over this impressive city.  Most then settled in for the evening though a few of us wandered over to Moscow’s old pedestrian “Arbat” after supper.

Today is a lovely fall day in Moscow.  We’ll set out shortly on our tour for the morning, and organized free time in the afternoon.  But that’s for the blog to follow.

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