JOURNAL FOR USSR TRIP
FOR CAMPUS CRUSADE FOR CHRIST,ARROWHEAD PRODUCTIONS INTERNATIONAL
OCT/NOV, 1991, by DAN PHILGREEN, AGE: 34
10/25/91 FINNAIR FLIGHT 704, HELSINKI TO MOSCOW (SVO)
- 7 1/2 hr. flight NYC to Helsinki. Had about 5 hours in airport. Slept about an hour and a half on a bench. Some of the group took a bus into the city, but we didn't go because it cost about $20/person in all. We will have an afternoon and a morning there on the way back and we plan to see the city then.
Finland is very expensive. A postcard to Esther cost $1.25 US. Postage for it and another letter to USA was 1.60. Reindeer skin was about $80.00 US in airport shop - very pretty. Finland seems to be a boutique economy in the consumer domain at least. No mass market there, just not that many people. But nice, exclusive things. Lapland fur (reindeer) slippers were $80.00 US. Looked at some nice picture books on Finland. Prices were $50 - $80.00 US for books that would be 5.00 - 20.00 in US bookstores.
Pretty country though. Lots of beautiful pine forests and wilderness. People are very fitness and sports minded. Even more than US, I think. Exchange was about 4 Finnmarks to the dollar.
-I'm traveling with Dennis Morman and John Boberg of Arrowhead Productions International (Campus Crusade for Christ video department.) For first two weeks we are with a group of about 20 with Josh McDowell. Camera is Ikegami HL-53 chip camera with Sony Betacam SP deck. We have (70) 30-minute Sony oxide tapes. Also have as back-up a loaned Canon LX-100 Hi-8 camcorder and (9) 2-hr. Hi-8 tapes for it. I have personally a Camp Trails travel pack, knapsack for carry-on and a fanny pack for still camera. Video equipment is in 6 cases. Beta tape case with 70 1/2-hour tapes weighs 66 lbs. Total value of gear: about $50K.
- We're on the trip to shoot these stories: Josh's trip to add to footage from previous trips for a 1 hr. TV fund raising show, teacher's "convocation" (training to use Jesus Film and teach course in Christian ethics and morality in Soviet public schools), campus partnerships (US Crusade campuses with Soviet campuses), chair at the University of Leningrad business school, and a Soviet Navy colonel who accepted Christ as a result of Bill Bright's message on Soviet Natl. television last Easter in which he gave a clear gospel presentation and invitation to pray a prayer for personal salvation. This colonel, who also has a doctorate and is a lawyer, wants to get the Jesus Film shown to all the units of the Soviet military. He also wants to try to get the commissar system replaced by chaplains.
We're about to land in Moscow. Total clouds outside window of the DC-9.
10/25/91, 9:00 PM, AEROFLOT FLIGHT 1767, MOSCOW TO KIEV
-Just got aboard Aeroflot TY-154 6-2 trijet in Moscow bound for Kiev where we will be for 5 days till 10/30. Came into Moscow at airport up north side of city. There are 5 airports in Moscow. International and domestic flights generally use different airports. We are leaving from Vnukovo airport on south side. It's about a 45 minute - 1 hr. bus ride.
We ate dinner at the Ukraina restaurant. Appetizer of thin bread and sliced meat. Borscht (beet and cabbage soup) and rolls, small spiced steak and chunks of fried potatoes, ice cream for desert, mineral water, tea. Quite good. Much better than Romania.
- My first sight of Russia was out the window when we broke out of the overcast at about 2,000 feet. The first snow of the season has stuck thick to everything. All the trees looked like they had been flocked. Dreary sky, but the snow was pretty. Actually, the landscape looked a lot like the outskirts of a midwest US city in winter. Except there were no shopping malls! Driving down the road through Moscow kind of reminded me of south Lakeshore Drive in Chicago in winter. It was dark, cars drive on right side, and traffic moved along about like in the US, in Chicago actually. Lots of vehicles, but not too frenetic like in some places I've been.
- Getting on this plane was one of those magical sensory experiences that are the best part of foreign travel (apart from the personal relationships.) We boarded from the ramp, not via a jetway. Crisp air. Wet snow all over. Glaring lights. Lots of Aeroflot planes all over the place, and only Aeroflot. Rode to the plane crammed sardine style into a trailer-bus arrangement. Helped an older lady in our group up the stairs which had ice on every step. It's obvious there are no liability suits here! Stepped into the plane by ducking through the door. At a moment like that you really realize you are in a foreign country.
The plane is full of Russians, not a mix of nationalities like the Finnair flights. Old bus-like interior. Russian pop music playing, different smells. I'm sitting very low in my seat with a metal bar very solidly intersecting my tailbone. I remember this bar-in-the-butt feeling from the other times I've been on Tupolev trijets in China and Romania. This fold-down meal tray I'm writing on has a spatter paint job. Not sure if it's for effect or if the tray happened to be down when something nearby was sprayed at some point.
- It's 3:00 PM my body time, 9:00 PM here. In effect, I got a half hour sleep last night and 1 1/2 hrs. today. Fell asleep on bus to this airport for a bit. Lot's of tired looking people on this flight. We were supposed to leave a half hour ago, but there are still some empty seats and we just heard they're waiting for 10 more to come. But the inconveniences are part of the adventure. Even entertaining.
SAT., 10/26/91, KIEV, THE UKRAINE
- Basically had day off today. Whole day of seeing sights and shopping. Saw a church and many old buildings in old part of Kiev. This afternoon we saw St. Sophia's cathedral and the Friendship Arch (symbolizing friendship between Ukrainian and Russian peoples. It wouldn't be built today!) had excellent chicken kiev for dinner.
Excellent and a treat to eat it here. Snowed this morning. Quite cold, but not bitter. Bought a rabbit fur hat with Army officer's metal insignia for $10 US. Very warm. Stepped off the street into a little coffee shop - delightful little room with benches and a counter. Drank delicious hot, sweet, mud-strong coffee (w/the mud on the bottom) and ate rolls and dried apricots and raisons with whipped cream. Coffee was 40 kopeks - about 1.5 cents.
Bought two "Gorby dolls" on the street. Also some little things to give away. Bought a book on the St. Sophia cathedral for $3. Our guide here in Kiev is Olga. A little red-head, very knowledgeable of Ukrainian and Russian history and a lot of fun. Everyone seems to be enjoying her and she us. Tamara, our guide for the whole Josh portion of the trip, is older and nice, but not as effervescent and warm. May just take a bit more time to get to know her. She is a believer, I think.
Oh, got sidetracked: When I walked into the little coffee room with my just-purchased hat, I got some really strange looks. Not just the tourist looks you always get, but a momentary "pause," as in mild shock or at least surprise. I think it was the army officer's insignia on the hat that caused a momentary reaction until one second later they of course knew I was a tourist. Like if one of them stepped into an American restaurant with a policeman's hat on. We joked that they may have thought it absurd, like someone wearing a fireman's helmet into an eating place.
- Bypassed a choral concert tonight that the rest of the group went to in order to get some rest.
SUN., 10/27, KIEV, INTOURIST HOTEL
- Discovered yesterday that my pocket knife and flashlight in a belt pouch were stolen out of my pack. Could have happened anywhere. Maybe back in NYC. Had a small lock holding zippers closed and it was gone when pack came off plane here.
- Flight from Moscow was delayed 2 hours. Left at 11:00 PM instead of 9:00. About 10:30 thirty or so Russians got on board, then another 30 min. delay - no idea why.
- Today we got a late start and shot our first tape. Mostly buildings and people around the oldest monastery in the Ukraine. Went down in catacombs and inside museum (lots of church buildings are "museums.") bought more stuff today - Ukrainian box w/designs of metal strips - only made in remote part of the Ukraine, Ukrainian style carved wooden eagle, ring and earrings for Esther. Also bought 2 more fur hats for Dad and Esther. Bought from same guy I got Gorby dolls from. He showed up with his buddies at the St. Sophia cathedral where we shot a short on-camera with Josh. Don't know how they figured out we would be there, but they were there. Actually, I bought Esther's hat walking back to the bus at St. Sophia and bought Dad's outside the hotel just before going there.
- Shot people waiting in line for something on the main street at dusk.
- Noticed that they have taken down Lenin's statue in the square. Another square - "Oct. Revolution Square" was renamed "Independence Square" earlier this year.
- Jan Saulsberry, on Josh's staff, scared a bunch of pigeons to get them to fly up into my shot and was promptly pronounced the official "pigeon wrangler" for this shoot by me.
- John just told me tomorrow is his birthday. I'll have to get the group to sing or something. We've been having some interesting talks in our room - a great travelling companion. Only problem is we both want to read and write in our journals and postcards and we spend most of our spare time talking! Oh, well!
- One of my goals for this trip ( and an effort toward it being a promise I made) is to interest Josh in connecting with Eddie Wang and Samuel Fang of Mainland China Mission International to translate and distribute his books in China. At the airport in Moscow, I was listening in on a conversation and one of Josh's lieutenants, Duane Zook (no relation to Roy) told Josh he felt the next big push after the USSR would be China. Didn't feel comfortable about going right to Josh with it, and here was the way to him. Talked briefly to Duane today about it and will deliver the literature on mission and Eddie's testimony maybe tomorrow. Could be a great networking success story if it comes together. I hope and pray so.
- Had a bit of an audio problem shooting Josh the 1st time. Radio mic receiver battery contacts wouldn't stay connected, had a bad mic cable when we hard wired, and phantom power switch on camera was in wrong position due to an apparently (to me) backward labeled switch. Maybe a Satanic situation? I don't know. But I think I got it all worked out and I will be praying more for the equipment!
- Boiled chicken for lunch today. Stew w/prunes in it for supper. Unusual "cottage cheese pancake" for breakfast - baked in a pan like cornbread. Interesting, but not great. Lots of almost raw thinly sliced fish for appetizers.
- There are lots of beautiful buildings and cultural things in Kiev, but it seems anything of real value in this country, in terms of significant culture, was built before communism. All the new buildings are uninspired at best, plain ugly at worst. It is fascinating, though, to see and hear about this building and that place and the dates go back hundreds or even a thousand years! It's hard enough for me to keep track of only 200 years of American history! Kiev recently celebrated the 1,500th anniversary of the founding of the city!
- We really stick out here. Staying at the Intourist hotel, riding Intourist buses (very modern and comfortable by any standard) and carrying around the big video camera, not to mention everybody buying things left and right (me being probably the worst offender) which translate into a week or a month's average local wage at a pop. I knew that we appear very wealthy to these people and extravagant in our spending - funny because we all feel like bargain shoppers - but John senses a certain contempt from them. I'm afraid he may be right.
If we didn't stay in the finest hotel in town and eat the finest of the food and buy stuff, it might be different. It certainly would be a lot more difficult, though. And fewer (if any) would come. Most seem to consider this a real adventure and it is, though mostly because things are just very different and not from any real hardship. And these are actually quite adventurous people, for Americans!
- Forgot the nice padded strap for the camera. Adapted the shoulder strap from my pack using two split rings from key chains. Works great!
- No shower curtain. Shower handle is on a flexi-hose. Toilet is a little strange. Makes a lot of noise and great torrents of white water violently wash through it, but a piece of toilet paper will still be there when all is said and done. It seems the designer (of this one at least) didn't know about creating suction with the whirlpool effect.
- Bed covers are neat. The blanket is stuffed into kind of a cover made of the sheet. The top sheet is two layers sewn around the edges with a hole about 18" diameter in the center of the top layer. Blanket is sandwiched inside. Then a bedspread over top. I like it!
- TV in Kiev has 1-4 channels, apparently depending on time of day.
- The box I bought today (about 5" square) is same style as a larger jewelry box I almost bought for $18 from a guy who came to our hotel room door last night. But I decided (with John's moderating influence) that it was just too big and heavy to carry home since I wasn't dead sure Esther would like it. Since the little box is exactly the same style, I'll find out if I did the right thing or made a mistake.
- Guess I'll have to buy another box in Moscow or Leningrad (er, St. Petersburg) if I want one from every country. Each day here I'm picking up more of the Ukrainian distinctives. Traditional design in arts and crafts are where it is most noticeable to me.
- We're watching TV and there is a documentary of a wedding on. It looks like a really good home video, but here and there we see clues like a sound fade or transition that indicate this is a professional show. It's all hand held. Natural sound only. All the preparation and after the wedding. Lot's of familiar wedding traditions - common European roots. This show is a neat slice of local color.
- I have noticed several very beautiful women around here and later realized they were prostitutes. It is heart-sickening to realize that their most beautiful women are prostitutes. John tells me he heard about a survey among young Soviet girls and something like 75% of them listed prostitute as their first choice of career. I suppose because of the money and lifestyle of hanging around with wealthy foreigners at the finest places. This striking woman caught my eye last night getting out of a car. Then I saw the "pimp" make the sale and introduction to the "john." What had been a pleasant moment, appreciating a passing lovely creature, suddenly changed to a sad, sickening experience. What a sense of waste. As Proverbs says: like a gold ring in a pig's snout.
- Ballet is on TV now. Got to get some sleep.
10/30/91, WED., KIEV AIRPORT, 7:30 AM
- Wow! What a trip! Alexander is a fellow we met when he came to our room to try to sell us lacquer boxes. Dennis had met him in the elevator and sent him to our room. We had a good talk that night. Night before last we went to his room and talked to he and his friend Alex for hours. Got to share Christ with them and got them some Russian 4 Spiritual Laws booklets. They wanted to read more and then talk to us again. Alex had to leave the hotel, but Alexander came to our room and talked while we packed our gear.
John went through the 4 Spiritual Laws and at one point we had Alex on the phone to help with an unclear concept in English. Anyway, at the end it seemed Alexander would not receive Christ right then, though he was very interested. Then I asked him if he would like to pray that prayer in the booklet right now and he said he did. He wondered if it was okay to pray in Russian. He read the prayer with great gravity of conviction. He later said that while he prayed that prayer, he could feel something happen inside him that he could not describe.
I prayed for him and John did before he left, and when John finished, Alexander (Sasha for short) dove right into a prayer in Russian. He then told us in English basically what he had prayed. He caught on to some key concepts instantly. He realized that we were now all brothers in Christ. It was clear to me that the Holy Spirit was opening his understanding.
He wanted some extra 4-Laws to share with his parents and his sister. He gave us his address. Maybe he will come visit in the States.
On previous trips to Romania and the Philippines, I saw people come to Christ right in front of my camera, but I never had the opportunity to lead anyone to Christ myself. I know that in God's accounting I had some part in the harvest, but it felt kind of like being in an orchard with fruit coming off the trees all around me and never getting the chance to reach up and pick an apple myself because my hands were always busy with the camera. I'm so thankful to have had the privilege of first-hand experience!
Alexander has an 8 yr. old son, same age as Nathan. He speaks 8 languages including English, Arabic, French, Italian, some Spanish, Russian, and Ukrainian. French is his primary translation language. This is how he primarily makes his living.
- Left my hat and Mexican pull-over on the bus last night. Got our guide to call and got it back this AM. Driver was very happy to get a tip. I'm glad as I've grown kind of attached to this hat.
- Back at the monastery we were climbing a rise along the street. Jan thought Martha was right behind her but I was. She said, "would you like to hold my hand?" Then turned and saw me there instead of Martha. I said, "well, it might be nice, but the pictures could be incriminating with my wife!" She was all embarrassed and "do you want to hold my hand?" has been a big joke of the trip.
- Just had to fight off a wave of nausea that came out of the blue. Hope this next flight won't make me airsick. (it didn't)
- Saw some lovely women in Kiev that were moms and university students. They are not all prostitutes. That made me feel much better.
- The phone system in the hotel was an experience in itself. You don't dial the room number. You have to look at this grid on a folder with room numbers down the side and floors across the top. Then you follow down to the crosspoint in the grid and read the number to dial on the phone. When you dial, it might ring, and then it might not. If it's busy, you don't find out for 5-10 seconds. When someone calls, you first hear a noise similar to FAX tones.
- We learned a lot about the lacquer boxes from Alexander and Alex. They told us about how to spot fakes. It's mostly a matter of experience with the real thing - just like detecting counterfeit money. The boxes they had were really exquisite little pieces of art. I would love to have one, but they are too much for me. They sell them for $40-150.00 US. They make about 20% over what they pay in the villages. A catalogue they have from the US shows the same boxes for $150-400.00. They say that exclusive retail stores charge even more. They are quite popular with collectors. The scenes usually depict fairy tales or folk tales. Some religious images. The painters in the villages used to paint icons. After the communists came to power, however, the demand for icons dried up. The names of some of the villages are "Reclama," and "Fedoskino." Also one something like "Poleck." There are five or so villages that make the finest boxes.
10/30/91, WED., MOSCOW, OCTOBER SKY (OCTOBERSKAYA) HOTEL
- We are staying at the hotel which is the guest hotel of the Central Communist Party. It is very nice. We have a sort of mini-sweet. Food is outstanding. Had stroganoff tonight. Walked around the Kremlin. Wouldn't let us take the Betacam. Made some stills. Saw inside a couple of cathedrals. Stood in the room where the czars were crowned and in another where most are buried. So much history! Saw limos driving in.
Tonight we went to the Moscow Circus. This was the "new Circus" as opposed to the "old-new" (renovated) one. What an amazing show! Unfortunately they wouldn't allow in either of our video cameras. The show was magical! Another one of those unforgettable experiences. Some of the acts were just stunning. Especially the aerial artists. I have never seen trapeze work that even came close to this before. The floor changed from padded to what looked like rubber for the horses, to ice for a big series of skating acts. The ice moved in and out from the side. The ring could be lowered way down onto a lower level.
The aerial artists used no nets (except for the trapeze.) Instead they wore a safety cable hooked to a belt that was part of the costume. There were two acrobatic clowns that performed during the changes in set-ups between acts. They had some really clever gags.
Some of the time when they were out I would watch the people watching the show. Families. Kids. Moms. The sights, the smells, the people, the music. It was intoxicating. I was warmed deep inside. Once again I was moved with a love for a people. I don't think I will ever forget it. I hope not.
There are many problems here. Natasha, our new guide in Moscow, told us about a lot from the viewpoint of a Muscovite. Quite different (not opposite) what I heard in Kiev. The problems are extremely complex and there seems to be no solution. An impossible situation.
Natasha is 37. She has a husband and a 3 yr. old daughter. She makes about 5-600 roubles a month. (about $19.00. This is very good for here, I found out later.) They live in a tiny 2 room apartment with her mother and another family member. They are on a 10 - 11 year waiting list for their own apartment. Housing here in Moscow is really a mess.
Natasha seems to me to be a profoundly sad person. She hides it - is quite pleasant. But she says this country is too tired for more revolution. I really feel for her. Life for her and her family is hard. And she is one of the lucky ones with a plumb job.
- Bought a whole bag of pins (Lenin, Kremlin, Aeroflot, etc.) from a kid outside the circus. Bought all he had, 187 of them, for 200 roubles ($6.00). I intend to give them away. I'll have something for everyone! (Later saw them for about 1 cent each and for as much as 3 for $1)
- This is the end of our first week. We have only had one day that was at all hard, and it wasn't bad, just long. We've had lots of time to see sights and shop. There is a street just a couple blocks away called "Arbot" or something like that. There are all kinds of vendors selling all kinds of things there. Incredible!
- Each country seems to have it's own peculiar smells. for some reason, this is a big part of the experience for me. Perhaps it is because the only way to sense it is to actually be in a place. Russia has very distinctive smells. Most are not bad or particularly good. But they are tantalizingly different.
- I didn't think I would like Moscow. I am surprised to find that, so far, I am quite taken by it. I feel a sort of sweet sorrow. I can't describe it very well, but it is similar to what I have felt in other countries before. I'm sure some of it has to do with my deep down emotional state being separated from my family, but having a great time at the same time.
- The hotel the groups stayed at on all the previous trips, including all the ones Ron went on, was the Cosmos. It is much further away and I was told today that it was noisy and the dining room usually smelled awful. We are in luxury here. Decorating looks a little ancient, but it's nice.
It's obvious the party took care of it's own. Of course, equality was only an idea in a book in this system, much as it is in our system.
We share so much in common with these people in terms of the basic human condition and what is really important. Family, food, a place to live, etc. Watching the folks in the crowd at the circus, I just can't imagine in my wildest dreams dropping an atomic bomb on them. I still believe in deterrence, but I would never, ever use it. Not against this place. As in most places with lousy governments, the people themselves are wonderful. The culture is rich and the history ancient.
- John McEnroe is on the TV playing tennis. He was throwing one of his fits a while back. I wonder if he knows how he makes America look in a place like this? The campus directors that are along in our group have been getting a bit rowdy. They really have good hearts and I like them, but they have embarrassed me by the way they have acted in front of Natasha, our guide. I can see in her eyes what she thinks of these Americans. I talked to her a bit about it. Now when the guys get rowdy, I smile at her and she smiles a knowing smile back. The saying about our campus guys is, "you can dress 'em up, but..."
As I remember, I have run into Americans on every foreign trip I have made, and I seem to never escape being made to feel ashamed about the behavior of my countrymen abroad. I'm sure I have been guilty too, but Americans, in my experience, seem to be horribly insensitive (as a rule) to other people's culture. Just oblivious. Maybe it's because our country is so young; young and brash and on top of the world. Or because our money goes so far.
- Band at the Moscow Circus was excellent. Reminded me of the NBC Orchestra on the Johnny Carson show.
- Shot outside St. Basil's cathedral. Also inside nearby "Gooms."(Gum) It's kind of like a mall. It's quite pretty in there, though old. Big arched skylights. Nice light in the day - like a big softbox. Got 2 sets of Aeroflot collector pins, 20 in a set plus a large logo/name pin for 9 roubles ea. That's about 28 cents a set. I'm thinking about buying about $10 worth and trying to sell them at airshows or something for $5 a piece. Could be a fun little "speculation" as they call it here.
- Went to "APGAT" (Arbot) street again tonight. Last night I saw a carved wooden statue of a hawk with wings spread. I fell in love with it. The guy wanted 1,000 roubles (about $30). I really liked it, but decided to wait. Today I decided that if it was there and I liked it in the light that I would buy it. Well, it was dark by the time I got there, but it was there. I asked how much in dollars and he said $25. I offered him $20 and he took it. (Folded the bill small and palmed it to him as the police here were nabbing guys for taking dollars.)
Back in the hotel everyone loved it. It's a beautiful piece. When I saw it I said to one of the guys with me "that's gorgeous, but you have to be a Josh McDowell or a Bill Bright to get something like that home." (The wings are about 18" tip to tip and it sits about 18" tall.) But it turns out the wings are dowelled on and they pull right off. The whole thing fits inside one of our small back packs. The hawk has a rodent in it's right talon and has his head turned to the side and down toward it with mouth open. Our guide Tamara said she thinks it is carved from birch wood. It is torched along the feathers to make dark lines so it has markings of a red-tail.
I am a little worried it might even be considered a work of art, which would make it difficult or impossible to get out of the country. I hope not. It is just a bit of a funny feeling to be getting so much joy out of a thing. Awfully materialistic. I hope I'm not guilty of idolatry. Every time I look at this thing it gives me a little thrill. It's such a good representation of the animal I love to watch in the wild. I've wanted and looked at statues of various raptors for about 10 years and have never found one that was quite right, with a few exceptions that I could not afford.
I've never owned a thing of beauty that made me feel like this bird does. Things that make me feel this way are always inaccessible; things of beauty only admired for a short time or from afar. Now I can see how people can become so involved in collecting art if it makes them feel this way.
- Two additional things I like about the bird. The carving style is the northern Russian style and the way the head is turned just makes it look very Russian. Also it is made of birch. We have been drinking "birch tree juice" quite a bit, especially for breakfast. I was told that for about one week every spring, the sap runs in the birch trees. During that week, cans collect sap from V-grooves in the side of the trees. The sap is boiled to pasteurize it and bottled. It is a naturally sweet, light juice and I like it especially in the morning. Quite a few of the folks don't like it, though. (in our group)
- Shot book distribution on the street and in the subway. (Haven't seen the part with the chandeliers yet.) Got George Sanctuary handing out "More Than a Carpenter" (Russian version) in front of the Central Lenin Library, the largest library in the Soviet Union. Quite poignant, I thought. We needed more faces of folks handing out literature. Our two guides were helping and I got that. Tamara said she has done it 4 or 5 times with other Christian groups. Natasha handed them out and told people it was about Jesus Christ. She is not a believer, I am sure. What a sight. Then I gave the camera to Dennis on one sidewalk and grabbed a pile of books and handed them out myself saying "Pedorik" ("it's a gift," or "it's free") Most people going by wanted one, but no real mob scene.
- The Supreme Soviet and the Russian parliament are both in session now. That's why the limos in the Kremlin. Tomorrow the government-controlled prices in the state stores will be de-regulated and become "free market." This no doubt means prices will go up. There could be some excitement around here. Boris Yeltsin seems to be loosing support. On TV in the proceedings, some of the legislators are putting their little Russian flags down at the podium and leaving them, symbolizing that they aren't supporting him any more. Yeltsin has bet the farm on a free market. The patient is dying. This is the only treatment that can save it. It just appears very unsure whether or not the patient can survive the operation.
- Natasha and Josh got into quite a talk on the bus after Josh asked her why people were putting the flags down in the Parliament. (I recorded most of this on the cassette.) Natasha explained about it and then Josh told us all about the basic problem being the belief that it is wrong to sell something for more than you pay for it and thus there is no incentive for distribution. It is a hard value to change. As Natasha said, "they know this is the best thing, but deep in their hearts they still believe it is wrong."
- Arbot street is about 2 blocks away from this hotel. Vendors are outside along the street which has foot traffic only. Most are at little tables. Some are in little kiosks or booths and a few just use the window stills of the buildings. The strange thing is that it is very cold and snow is falling lightly and these guys are sitting or standing still outside manning their tables. Had a fellow try to convince me plastic chess pieces were made of amber. I could easily see the mold seam marks - crazy! Almost bought it though. Got him to $15 and the box/board had beautiful wood inlay pattern with lacquer. I'm going to wait till St. Petersburg for a chess set, though. There just hasn't been one here that reached out and grabbed me. (except one the guy wanted $120.00 for)
- Went into an antique shop. Lots of interesting old things, but you have to get special permission to take any of this out of the country and a sign warned of this. (found out later that you can get a special certificate to show customs by taking a piece to be inspected at an office of antiquities, or something like that.)
- Walked around in a government store. Beautiful loaves of bread were 40 kopeks, equivalent of less than 2 cents. Would have gotten some, but we're eating so well I wasn't at all hungry. Dennis bought a fold out space ship cardboard toy for his son for 2 roubles, 4 kopeks or so, about 7 cents.
We watched behind a busy counter where two girls sold paper sacks of spaghetti noodles out of boxes about the size of a box of apples. The boxes were crushed and broken open. Noodles and trash all over the floor. Really unorganized and messy. And lots of people waiting in line. One shouting match even broke out between a man and a woman. The distribution system was horrible! No motivation for it. This store was fairly large, maybe the size of a large American restaurant. There were plenty of people, but not much to buy. Sure took folks a long time to buy it, though.
- St. Basil's cathedral in Red Square has a number of very small chapels inside connected by staircases. It was built in honor of victory over invading Tartar Mongols. Domes used to have tile, but it all fell off. Now they are painted and repainted periodically.
- Only one full day left here. Seems like we just got here. What a beautiful, sad place. Kind of like Natasha.
- There are two things I really like here. Car headlights have a setting where they dim to just a glow. This makes them quite visible to other cars, but there is no glare. It is an excellent system where there is plenty of ambient light to see to drive, such as within a city. The elevator is instant service. The door closes immediately when you push the button. The button stays in when you push and pops out when you reach that floor. After using it, I realized how much impatience I feel at home during the few seconds between the button pushing and the door closing.
- Toilet paper in Kiev was like the Romanian stuff, only without the ripples. Kind of like unbleached newsprint in rolls. The stuff here is little squares that feel just like glassine photo negative sleeves - almost waxy.
- I'm finally starting to be able to remember a few Russian phrases: Dobre utra (good morning), Dos vodonia (good bye), Privyet (Hi!), Nyet (no), Spaceeba (thank you), Da (yes). A Russian friend of Chuck's taught me a new one in the lobby tonight: Cockautoobedula (how are you doing?) Then there is the ever popular "How much in dollars?" (understood by all.)
- Russian people are descended from Slavs, Turks, and (news to me) Scandinavians. That's why all the raw fish, I guess. (Being half Swede, maybe that's why I feel the kinship with these folks.)
- Red Square came to be known that not because of the red colored Kremlin wall, but because it was the most beautiful square in the city. There is a song about the "red" girl, the beautiful girl, and that's why the most beautiful square is called "red."
- "Bolshoi" means best or biggest. ("Spaceeba bolshoi" is "thank you very much")
- "Kremlin" means stronghold. Walled central part of many old cities is called the kremlin.
- River through the city is Muscva, from which "Moscow," which means "bridge."
- Today is Nathan's birthday. Eight years old. I can't believe it! He is growing up so fast. I sure do miss him.
- Ice cream at Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors on Arbot St. 2 scoops in a cup: 24 roubles, one scoop in a cone: 12 roubles. Total: about $1.00. Was with the campus guys. They behaved! There was a "militiaman" (policeman) in the store watching them, though.
- Circus is $13 US for Americans. We got a deal - $5 ea. Scalpers outside get a lot more than $13 from foreigners. Soviets pay 1 to 3 roubles, depending on the seat.
- Paid $1 for pack of a dozen or so postcards on the street in Kiev. Paid 2 roubles, 57 kopeks ea. for 4 packs in this hotel. That's about 7 cents a pack or 1/2 cent each.
11/2/91, 1:38 AM
- Finally in bed. Gear, clothes, and souvenirs packed. Have to get up in four hours to catch flight to Leningrad (St. Petersburg.) We asked Natasha if the people here are calling it Leningrad or St. Petersburg. She said they call it Petrograd. (This was the name between WWI and 1924 when Lenin died. De-Germanized.)
- Didn't get my supply of Aeroflot pins. Time was too short and the line was too long.
- Bought 6 Moscow pins and 2 Aeroflot pen holders with 3 pens included. 30 kopeks ea. for the pins and 5 roubles, 47 kopeks per pen set. It's not much of a pen set, but then, it's not much of an airline!
- Natasha heard the gospel tonight as she heard Josh speak at Moscow state university. She really listened and Martha talked with her afterward, but I'm afraid she's a hard case. She left us tonight and I gave her $5 to get something for her little girl. My heart goes out to her. Facing a very uncertain future. She needs Jesus. I just pray that she figures that out.
- Moscow state university main building is enormous. 30,000 students live in it. Very imposing up close.
11/2/91, 9:00 AM, SHEREMETYEVO-2 AIRPORT
- Got great footage of Josh and others handing out books at "Gooms" mall on Red Square. Beautiful interior. Great angles. Shot at First Baptist of Moscow. In Rev. Bishov's office. Shot him and Josh in front of Soviet Union map doing an ask. Last night shot in theater of Moscow state university. Beautiful old style theater with a wrap-around balcony.
11/2/91, 9:30 AM, AEROFLOT FLIGHT 2435Y, MOSCOW TO LENINGRAD
- Got some clandestine Hi-8 in the airport and getting on the plane. Another Tupolev 154. They don't like pictures.
- John's line for this trip: "Spaceebas all around!"
- John had a great idea: brought labels off his mailing list for instant address on postcards.
- Missed a chance at buying Esther a bottle of Russian cologne for under a dollar. When I thought of it, the gift counter was closed and we were leaving the city. They only had one kind for men and one for women. Maybe in St. Petersburg.
11/2, LENINGRAD AIRPORT
- As our Tupolev braked to a stop I looked out my window to see SAM 26000, the former Airforce One 707 aircraft sitting on the ramp. This is the airplane that LBJ was sworn in on in Dallas. I heard our secretary of agricultural is here.
- Got some good footage on Hi-8 of an Ilyushin IL-76 transport.
- May have mentioned this earlier: We are traveling with Fay Logan. He is the pastor who led Josh McDowell to Christ. How incredible it must be for him to see the worldwide ramifications of that event.
SUNDAY, 11/3/91, PRIBALTIYSKAYA HOTEL, LENINGRAD (ST. PETERSBURG/PETROGRAD)
- This hotel is big - about 2400 rooms. Built in late 70's for 1980 Olympics which Carter boycotted. This is very modern. Nicest shower so far! Elevator is big American style with our familiar "punch and wait" system.
- It was sunny and clear when we got here. They say there are only about 30 such days a year here. By the time we ate (big mistake) and got the group going it was starting to get dark. Today it is rainy again.
- Right now I am sitting in the back of a service of a new evangelical church meeting in a theater. Music was wonderful - they sang some familiar praise songs in Russian - quite moving to me. I wanted to join in loudly in English, but wanted to collect the audio with the Betacam. Couldn't help myself though, so I got behind the camera out of the pickup pattern of the mic and sang along softly on one song.
Steve (not his real name) (CCC staff) has been here about a year. He says he understands 30-40% of the sermon and the preacher is speaking on Mary's response to the annunciation and on our response to the Holy Spirit when the future is so uncertain. Just met Steve this AM. Super nice guy. I hope to get to know him well. Been on Crusade staff 7 years. Reminds me of Michael J. Fox in looks.
- Went to an outdoor market late yesterday afternoon. Bought some
inexpensive wooden boxes, one hand painted (but not even trying to be a lacquer box knock-off.) Got a chess set for Nathan for $7. Another fur hat. Saw a gorgeous one of arctic fox. Guy wanted $30. Too much for me (though unbelievably low by US standards.) Was tempted, but doubted US customs would let it in. I think that arctic fox is considered endangered.
Bought a Moscow watch for $8. Got swindled out of $15 by the "watch-in-a-box" trick. Guy had a gold colored "PILJOT" chronograph just like one I was tempted by for $35 in Kiev. I didn't really think I should buy it, but offered the guy $10. We settled on $15, but I had to go into my fanny pack to get more money. The watch was in a box with no band and the guy would put the top on the box constantly. Well, of course, when I was looking at my money he switched boxes on me.
I was feeling sorry for Chuck as he later was telling me about getting taken and then I thought, "wait a minute!" My box contained an ancient broken watch. It would set, at least, so I set it for the time that the incident took place -about 4:00 PM - right at dusk. After dark, these guys got very aggressive. To the point I really got uncomfortable about it and wanted to leave.
The "watch-in-a-box" trick is well developed. They melt the corners of the plastic box to make it difficult to get open. Also, some of their buddies stand around to be in the way or cause confusion if you detect the hoax. Somebody told me they will utter "KGB!" to throw people off. In any case, the seller is long gone before you realize you've been taken. So I paid $15 for a good story.
Chuck and Fay got hit as well. Fay knew about the trick and thought he outfoxed them, but they still got him. His box had coins in it - kopeks. The people who had been here before knew all about this. Don't know why in the world they didn't warn us. Just didn't think about it, I guess. Heard that Josh got taken once and went back to prove he could outwit them and they took him again! He did say at breakfast that he has been able to win twice and get some of the nicer watches for $5. If you ever buy a watch in Russia, make sure it is in your pocket and not in a box before you pay!
- Last night some of us put on our best clothes and went to the ballet. It was a modern ballet version of "Mackbeth." Cost $7. It was worth it just to see the theater. It was like the one in "Amadeus" - had 5 balconies that went all the way around. Three of us got relegated somehow to the back of the peanut gallery on the 4th level, but we moved during intermission to the box seats right up in front on the third balcony with the rest of our group - there were some extra seats there.
The three of us fell asleep during the first act, but the closer seats made all the difference in the world. The last two acts were much more enjoyable. It was culturally interesting. The love scene involved some pretty creative intertwining contortions. Let's just say I'm glad we've gotten my little Stacey started in gymnastics instead of ballet. Did see a darling moment though. During intermission a girl about 10 years old was pretending to dance ballet in the walkway behind the balcony. I pretended not to notice so she wouldn't be embarrassed.
- Service this morning had communion at the end. I parked the camera and joined in. Real bread. Real wine. Common cup. I was really moved thinking about Jesus dying for Russians. Specifically for Alexander and Tamara who have received His gift, and for Natasha who has not.
- Saw St. Isaac's Cathedral today. Unbelievable place. Took 40 years to build. Just huge. 300 feet from the floor to the top of the dome. Holds 14,000 people (standing up - no seats in Russian Orthodox.) And built on marshy ground in this miserable, wet weather and bitter winters. More facts are on the cassette tape to be transcribed. Bought a little booklet from a fellow for 40 roubles with lots of pictures. Text is all Russian, though.
- Saw men working on construction at night several places in Moscow. Seems they get paid more at night - double I believe - and in winter. So, crews prefer to work at night to get more money and little is done in summer - big construction push is in winter! No wonder their economy is in ruins!
- Put camera away after shooting some literature distribution and handed out some myself. 240 copies (1 pack) of "The Case for the Empty Tomb" in 20 minutes. All together we passed out 17 packs of 240 = 4030 pieces in about 1 hr., 45 min. (8 of us)
I noticed that there was a rhythm to it based on the "standing in line" mentality." (that's what I call it) If people here see a line, they get in it and then find out later what they're waiting for. When you first start passing them out, people are a bit slow to take them. As soon as they see others taking them, they'll take one easily and if you get two or three waiting for one, then you soon have a frenzy going. Then you run out and have to go reload and you have to start over again. I learned quickly that you want to load up with as many as you can hold to keep the momentum going. Working in twos helps because one can pass out while the other reloads.
I stood there saying "Padorik", (it's a gift.) Quite poignant a thing to say when giving away books about Jesus. I noticed smiles when I'd let an English word slip out, so I just started speaking to people in English, "here you go!, This is for you!, You'd like one, wouldn't you? And for you! This is good reading! One for your friend! And for you lovely ladies! And you, sir!" I'd throw in a "Padorik" fairly often too. English seemed to draw quite a bit of interest.
- There was a line nearby of people waiting for something sold in little cups. I went down the line giving everyone a copy to read while they waited.
- When we went back to drop off the camera, the bus driver was handing out books!
- The other day I got a shot of a woman walking with purpose down the sidewalk. George Sanctuary handed her a copy of "More Than a Carpenter." She took two or three more steps, then stopped cold with snow coming down and read for a minute or two right there on the sidewalk before moving on. Very often we see people start to read the books immediately upon receiving them.
- On the bus this AM going to church we heard the Beatles on the radio singing "Back in the USSR." What a hoot!
- There was a girl on TV the other night singing a song with a phrase that sounded like "Nip it in the bud!" John and I thought that was a good idea to keep in mind and we've been singing it ever since. Asked Tamara if there was a Russian phrase that sounded like that and after thinking she said "oh, Nicky dicky bye." (or something like that) That means, "don't get upset." We're still singing "nip it in the bud!"
MONDAY, 11/4, ST. PETERSBURG STATE UNIVERSITY
- Josh is in the next room speaking on relationships (AKA: Sex) (This was a first in the Soviet Union) We got a few shots at the start but we're basically waiting till it's over to get a shot of Josh talking to our translator we hired today and her husband. Sveta is a school teacher by training. She is a friend of Kirsten Foot who is an American girl who was CCC staff and is now running a small business called "Hosts of St. Petersburg" - helping make arrangements for visitors. (a project of New Mission Systems, with whom she is supported staff.)
Sveta is very sweet and lovely. Her husband is a doctor. Has been practicing 3 years. Does 30 house calls a day and is responsible for hundreds of patients in some kind of a clinic. Obviously works very long days. They live in a 3-room apartment with 2 other families. Their one room is 13 square meters. Unbelievable! She told us (on camera) that they were very thankful for the medicine, food, and books that Josh brought to Leningrad last August. She said it helped them start a ministry as her husband is able to provide medicine at no cost and to leave books in the homes he visits. We're going to meet afterward.
- Shot John and Kathy Burke, campus director for the Polytech school. Shot their "Stint" team. Stint is made up of university students and recent graduates who spend a year on a campus in a foreign country. What a great group! Every one is sharp. Dynamic people, and great looking to boot. Got the group meeting and outside a class building. Getting on metro train, walking on campus. Also, got great shots of John, Kathy, and Sveta at home in the Burke's flat in various situations. It was great stuff.
- Heard about another "watch-in-a-box" trick. They hold the box on top of a glove. Under the glove is an identical box. When you are distracted, they turn the glove over.
After the meeting, Josh had to leave quickly and Sveta and Gene (Jen-ya) were way in the far corner so we didn't get our shot. We went over to the flat of Kirsten, Jill (Dave Zoellar's friend), and Annette (here under auspices of University Presbyterian Church of Seattle). Shot Andrian there telling about how he came to Christ and how he led his mother to Christ with the help of "More Than a Carpenter." The flat is delightful. They made us tea and gave us gingerbread that Kirsten made. The kitchen is the coziest place with a country feel - all kinds of stuff all over the place and on the walls. Looked great. We're going to try to go back over there another night. It's a great hangout.
WED., 11/6/91, ST. PETERSBURG
- Back at the "Pribalt." On the shore of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. Unfortunately, the hotel is designed so only 25% or so of the rooms have a sea view. We have a glorious 13th floor panorama of the parking lot.
- Last two days have been fantastic! Haven't worked so hard and had so much fun in a long time. This has to be my greatest trip so far! I have made such wonderful friends here. Yesterday we shot Josh in a busy bookstore. He did personal endorsements for the three of us video guys. (after we shot his "ask") He did a funny spoof for John asking folks to reduce their support to him. Quite a crackup. Then we shot more literature distribution on the street out front.
Afternoon was taken up mostly with planning. We found out the colonel was leaving yesterday and almost gave up hope of getting him. But we prayed and things came together beautifully. We shot the big meeting at Polytech that Josh bailed out of because of a throat problem. John Burke filled in and did a great job. (I think it may have been a blessing in disguise for him as he appeared to gain a lot of credibility with the crowd.) He and Kathy are just super sharp. I really like them a lot. Just wish I had more time to spend with them.
- After Polytech we hurried to Steve and his wife's flat and shot Tamara in their kitchen telling about her reaction to Josh's sex talk from the perspective of a Russian mother. She did a great job and the setting looked great. By the way, it did just take a little time to warm to Tamara. By the last few days with Josh's group she was like everybody's mom. And, boy, could she get things done. And such a trooper. She thought she would have the afternoon and evening off when Josh canceled, but we worked her past midnight.
After shooting her in the kitchen, we went to the Moscow train station and met Colonel Miranov, the People's Deputy for St. Petersburg and interviewed him. It was one of those Indiana Jones scenes again walking through the huge, dimly lit, smokey terminal. We kept loosing each other in the sea of bodies. It was almost mysterious how a person could almost instantly disappear from our view in that place. At the far end we went through a door and down a small corridor (a visual trap for common eyes) and around a corner into another world.
We shot the colonel in a lovely meeting room with a fireplace, beautiful mirror and tall vases, nice chairs, etc. Certainly fit the man's office. The rooms are a kind of VIP lounge and meeting place for "delegations." (We were prepared to shoot the gentleman on a train platform with a battery light.) After that, Tamara translated everything he said back at our hotel room. I was so tired I kept falling asleep, but we got it done. She was wonderful. We came to love her like a mom.
We used one of the buses that evening since it was paid for till 11:00 PM. Turns out it had several thousand copies of books in the luggage bays, though everyone thought it was empty. We had books to pass out at the meeting and then Dennis (sick with a cold), John, Jenny, and Annette "Netters" Neelley unloaded all the books into Jenny's flat while I shot Tamara.
- Today was just as great! We prayed before it all and along the way and it just went great. Sveta lined up things for us on the phone this morning and it all came together. First we got the Polytech stint team in their language class at Tim and Beth Mixon's flat. Interviewed all of them except Rick and Debrah who had to leave right away.
Then we got Professor Zuhkov. The room was a meeting room for professors full of neat looking chairs. Sasha (our driver - the husband of Sveta's best friend) told me it used to be the communist party meeting room and he was grilled there once years ago when he was trying to join the party in order to get to progress in something or other he was doing. Found out that Sasha spent last year in Colorado.
- After the professor we picked up Jenia at the clinic and got him in two flats making house calls on two old ladies. So I saw first hand the incredibly small space that many people live in here - sharing a tiny apartment among three families. After that we were going to shoot Jenia and Sveta at their one room place, but they had a flood this morning when a pipe broke. They had keys to a friend's larger flat - an old woman who is a patient of Jenia's who is in the hospital with heart disease. They lived with her for a year.
Anyway, we shot Jenia and Sveta in the kitchen and it looked great. The kitchens here are tiny but cozy. The fellowship is close and warm. Sveta said people spend most of their time in the kitchen. I told her it was the same all around the world. She was quite surprised to hear that.
- Sveta and Jenia are such a sweet couple. Jenia is very quiet, but a man of conviction and dedication. Sveta seemed very proud of him and pleased at how he took care of the old ladies. John and I have really enjoyed Sveta. She is a lot of fun. So is Sasha. (short for Alexander) We all teased and laughed all day long. I so want Esther to meet Sveta. I think the two of them would have a ball together. Esther would just love her to death. I told them I wanted them to come see us in the States. I have to send an official invitation from home. I hope it will work out. It would be so much fun to show them some of the USA and give them a fun time.
- Sasha and I talked some about economics and our two peoples and common roots. He was struck by the same thing on his trip to the US that I have been struck by here: that our people are so very much alike. Economically we are very different and that effects lifestyles, but basically we are very similar peoples.
If not for our camera and equipment (and maybe some of our clothing), we could pass for Russians without much problem. I look around on the street for people who could possibly be Americans. There are always many who could walk down any street in America and no one would ever dream they were Russian. In fact, clothing is about the only thing that gives them away.
-After shooting Jenia and Sveta, she found food in the fridge and whipped up quite a spread for us all. She made a kind of omelette and we had canned pickled carrots, cabbage, buckwheat, bread and cheese, and sausage. All followed by "chi" (tea) fixed Russian style: tea steeped very strong and poured in cup, then hot water is added to the cup to dilute it to drinking strength.
It was a delightful, magical time. The kind of experience no travel company can offer and money can't buy. In a warm, cozy, tiny storybook kitchen, eating strange but tasty food, talking and laughing with our Russian brothers and sister in Christ, enjoying our new friendship, basking in the glow of hot tea and fellowship and feeling waves of mutual love wash over us.
Like my evening with Silviu in Timisoara, I doubt that I will forget this evening as long as I live. God is so great. He gives back pressed down and flowing over as He promises. His gifts are so precious. If hurting, rebellious souls could only glimpse the rewards of yielding to the Holy Spirit in one's life. It's so joyful and fun it probably ought to be illegal! My only regret is that Esther is not here to share this with me. I hope this journal provides a taste of what I am feeling and that someday I can bring her here.
It sounds a bit crazy to want to vacation in the "evil empire," but if I could spend time anywhere, I think I'd like to come back here most of all. There is so much to see and these people are so easy to love.
- This was the "day of the dog," or "dog city" as John called it. I don't think I saw a dog this whole trip until today we probably saw 20. Saw a collie in a field first thing. Then a doberman. A puppy ran in front of our car. Sasha tried to stop, but apparently ran over the dog's foot. He yelped pitifully (the dog), but there wasn't anything to do and it wasn't Sasha's fault. The owner said he would look after the dog.
At the old lady's building, a big black mutt came out of a first floor apartment and barked and walked all around and through us, but was fairly friendly. He was really big. Then, of all things, getting on the elevator of our fancy hotel, a French couple had with them the biggest German shepherd I have ever seen. He barked at us too. He was a bit skittish, but was a beautiful animal, nice markings and massive size. I'd love to have a dog like him someday.
- If things had been different between our two countries and our peoples mixed through travel and military service, etc., I believe we would have a tremendous amount of Russian wives brought home by American guys and vice versa. Perhaps it will happen in the future. We sure have seen a lot of really attractive women here. I think John is sorely tempted to bring one home with him. He would probably propose to Sveta if she wasn't already married!
THURS., 11/7/91, ST. PETERSBURG
- Met up with John and Kathy Burke downtown. Almost missed them because a taxi apparently cheated them and took them to the wrong station. We shot them with a canal and buildings in the background. It was really cold. They looked like PM Magazine or something in front of that camera. They are such a great looking couple. I'm sure people were trying to figure out which movie stars they were. Super sharp. I hope we can stay in touch and be friends for a long, long time. Esther would love these two.
After that, we walked to the square to get the military parade, but there wasn't one. Some Russian aerobatic planes flew over. (Also an AN-2, more on this aircraft later) On one pass they threw out leaflets celebrating St. Petersburg name change. I left the camera and grabbed one, but missed the best maneuver of the planes when they did a bomb-burst. Got quite a few military men walking and standing around. At one point, several hundred protestors who wanted to keep the name "Leningrad" and the red hammer and sickle flag marched straight at my camera. Thought we might get knocked over, but just kept shooting. They parted and went around me. Quite an interesting shot. With the right connections we might have been able to sell it to a news organization.
- Then we went back to the hotel and got lunch for us all. We were supposed to leave for Vyborg (Vee - Berg) by 1:30 and be there by 4:00, but we didn't leave till 3:45. Got there at about 6:30. Had a great time there. Interviewed Andrei and shot 8 or 9 of the 25 members of the English class he taught a couple years ago, all of whom he led to Christ. What a sharp Christian guy.
The situation looked pretty minimal, but we got some great stuff. Shot Andrei's mom and dad. Also got the group singing. Took a few group stills of all of us. What a blessed time. About 5 hours of driving for a visit of about 2 hours, but well worth it.
Sasha scrounged some gas from a bus driver at a gas station. The station itself was open all night, but they had no gas to sell. There were some state vehicles around and I think the bus was one of them. The drivers will sometimes sell a few gallons of the state's gas to put a few roubles in their own pockets.
The road is 150 miles or so of basically just woods. Nothing out there at all. Vyborg is about 60 km or so from the Finland border. We were pretty cramped in Sasha's Lada. Talked to Sveta about half way home. Heard all about her testimony and the Finnish women who helped bring her into a personal relationship with Christ. Also talked about our families a lot. She and Esther have some similar situations in family background. We all joked and laughed quite a bit and had an all around great time.
We've all fallen in love with Sveta. She started out as our translator and now she's like a sister. What a sweetheart. She seems to be enjoying us just as much. The second half of the trip home we sang all kinds of hymns, praise songs, and other Christian music plus some traditional American songs.
- Came up with a good line this afternoon. We're always teasing by mimicking the sidewalk hucksters who walk up to you everywhere and say, "want to buy military watch?" I told Sasha and Sveta that we thought for the first week that that was how you said "hello" in Russian!
SAT., 11/9/91, LAST NIGHT IN ST. PETERSBURG
- Yesterday was my 11th anniversary. Tried in vain to get a call through at a staff members apartment. If I could have done it, I could have talked for half an hour for roubles a minute, ie: just a few dollars. Tonight I decided to get a $40 for 4 minutes card to operate on of the hotel's direct-line phones. I was all psyched up. Finally got through on about the 3rd try. And I got the answering machine. Boy, is the wind ever out of my sails. Major bummer, dude! Fortunately the line went dead after about 10 seconds (Esther never even got a message), so I have a case for complaining and getting a new card. Will try again tomorrow.
- Yesterday Sveta got us to this non-descript area where the military cadets train. She found out from her father (an army colonel), that they all march to breakfast there at 8:30. We were there. They marched. It was a great video opportunity. I'll bet nobody has ever gotten that shot before. Sveta comes through again!
Then went back to the hotel and we all ate breakfast. Sveta said amid the plenty of the hotel buffet, "here you have to eat like a camel." We all went up to our room for a while to make phone calls and wait for the time to go to Kirsten's place to shoot the St. Petersburg State U. stint team and get interviews. Everybody crashed for a while. I got up and started transcribing Sveta and Jenia's statements to fax to Josh per his request. Finally got it faxed this evening. $23 for one page.
Anyway, then we shot a seemingly interminable amount of interviews at Kirsten's place. Also shot a fun scene in the kitchen of their group all tasting a strange fruit and trying to figure out what it was. May be able to structure the story around that scene.
Steve and his wife, the campus directors, did a good job. Steve's wife was a radio and television journalism major and was great on camera. We talked about the possibility of using them as a pilot project for putting a Hi-8 camera in the field and having them shoot stories to send back. We'll see. I hope something like that works out. I'm surrounded by skeptics.
After the shooting, Annette "Netters" Neelley made us a meal of scrambled eggs and rice with goodies in it. Sure is fun to eat and drink tea in the cozy kitchen of a Russian flat.
- After we dumped equipment at the hotel, John and I went over to John and Kathy Burke's for about an hour and a half. We had planned to be there about 6:00, but didn't get there till almost 10:00. Had a great time. Found out they know Steve and Kim Camp. John used to date Kim once upon a time. Small world. We brought their laundry back to the hotel and got it done. A big sack cost 83 roubles, about $1.75 or so. (John had been told by Josh's people that they could use him any way they wanted. They joked that they'd like Josh to do their laundry! When they picked up the clothes, they joked that because we were there with Josh, he was responsible for getting their laundry done after all!)
- Today was basically a fun day. Sasha got us a VW van and we went to Pushkin, about an hour's drive, to see the summer palace of Catherine the 1st. Sasha and Marsha came as well as Sveta and Jenia. The palace is well known and flashy to the western eye. It was designed by a French architect and has lots of gold gilding. It's just huge. Sveta said she liked walking in the parks in the area, but didn't really like the palaces. Said she just didn't see how anyone could have ever lived that way. I just can't imagine what must go through the mind of a person who lives in a tiny room in a flat shared by two other families when he or she walks through the home of a czar where the size, magnificence, and opulence are stunning by any standard of comparison.
Should have videotaped at the first palace, but it was raining when we got out of the van so I left the camera behind as Leo, our guide, said he liked the second palace better. Big mistake. Could have gotten great stuff at the first place. Took the camera along on the tour of Paul's palace in nearby Pavlovsk. Paid the fee to shoot inside and got next to nothing. Did get some shots of Jenia and Sveta together which I can use for a little project John and I have in mind. We have the makings of a promo for the dream Jenia has for starting a Christian medical center. Could be very interesting.
- Briefly went through the "Siege Memorial Museum" back in Leningrad. Tragic to hear what the people of this city went through at the hand of the Nazis during World War II. The Nazis also made a mess of the palaces during this time and plundered what they could. Used sculptures dating from the first century for target practice. What barbarians they were. It's amazing that the palaces have been restored so completely and accurately after such devastation. Leo had never been in the Siege museum before, but knew all about it. Most of his family is buried in a mass grave - starved to death during the siege, or killed by the constant bombardment.
- I bought some chocolate covered cookies and some chocolate mints to pass around the group today. Sveta absolutely loves chocolate. Her eyes lit up like flashbulbs when she saw me pull out my stash on the trip home. Fun to see.
- Sveta gave me a "wedding present" for my anniversary. It's a little ceramic urn for keeping tea. She gave John a scarf for his mom and a St. Petersburg quill for Dennis. I'm so glad to have made friends with Sveta, but it will hurt so to say "good bye." "Dos Vadonya" - such sweet sorrow.
- Kirsten told me about Antoine de Saint-Exupery's "The Little Prince" in the context of dealing with Russian friends and creating big hopes in them about visiting America, etc. I hope I haven't done or said anything that will cause my new friends harm in the long run. I don't think I have, but the introduction of the possibility is disconcerting. I have followed what I believe has been God's prompting in my heart, so I have to leave the outcome in His hands. He alone can meet their need and He may or may not allow me to be a part of the process. But I hope and pray that He does.
11/10/91 ON A BUS AT LENINGRAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
- Just met up with Jesus Film Project group. On our way to Novgorod. Just said goodbye to Sveta. She was pretty misty eyed and said she'd miss us. We'll miss her too.
11/10 NOVGOROD, "NO NAME HOTEL" (Former communist party hotel - they don't want to call it that any more, so it is known as "No Name")
- Bus ride was several hours. Much longer than I had expected. Bus was an older one. Smelled of fuel oil like a ship and the rear-end whined loudly whenever it was under torque from the engine. Not nearly as nice as the Yugoslavian Intourist buses we've had up to this point.
This hotel is quite small. It was empty for a week or so before this group got here and the hot water tap ran rust brown as the heater had been shut off. I'm down at the end of the building again, so probably will have to let the water run for 10-15 minutes to get hot.
Music and ballet variety stage show is on TV. Quite nice. We all have our own rooms here. I have the equipment in mine as I traded rooms with a guy to get on the first floor.
There is a woman here with her husband who was on the Romania trip I was on with Josh. She was with her daughter that time. I thought she looked familiar, but I didn't have a chance to get to know folks in the group very well on that trip. She remembered me though. Probably because of the hook of the video camera to jar the memory.
- Had a fun send-off this morning. Kirsten, Jill, and Netters came by. Kirsten brought the bill for Sveta and the drivers and cars. John and Kathy came by to get their laundry we had done in the hotel for them.
Everybody gave us mail to post in the states. Funny; we're trying hard to get things mailed here before we leave so our friends and family will get something from the USSR. Takes up to a couple of months, though. Different agendas.
Dennis and I had planned to go to the outdoor market to get some last-minute gifts and things others requested we bring back to the office. We ran out of time and bagged the idea. I wanted to go to the dollar store across the street, the "Beriozka," to get a pair of gloves for Sveta. She had been borrowing mine most of the time as she had none. I did find some, but before I went into the store I was accosted by guys on the street out front selling stuff. I bought everything I had intended to get at the market except for a lacquer box. And they we're dealing. (3) 5-piece matryoshka dolls for $10. A Gorby doll and a sailor hat for $10. Replaced the fur hat I had given to Sveta (she didn't have a hat either). There were great deals on watches too. I decided I wasn't going to get into watches, but I couldn't resist a railroad pocket-watch and fob. Couldn't get the guy to go below $10, but he gave me 2 for $15. Both seem to keep time well against the digital watch I have been wearing.
- A comedian's punchline on TV was "peristroika!" and got a big laugh.
- After Sveta gave us all gifts last night, I wanted to leave her with something and give something to Jenia as well. Went through my stuff looking for what I might leave behind that they would appreciate. Thought about my sunglasses, but the sun shines so seldom here that when it does, nobody would want to wear glasses. Figured my Totes umbrella would be a lot more useful. Especially since Jenia makes about 30 house calls a day and it rains a lot. He didn't have an umbrella. She'll give it to him for his birthday which is this month. It was a spring loaded, self opening one. When I showed her how it worked she said, "It's a magic thing!" Also left a sweater, pair of socks, flashlight, batteries, gum, nail file, and tweezers. Also my little solar calculator.
She seemed hesitant about Kirsten's plan to have her take over the business when Kirsten leaves. I encouraged her to do it and use the calculator to keep track of all the money she was going to make. We also gave her $30 extra as a bonus. She was pretty overwhelmed by these simple gifts. The gloves and the calculator seemed to be the biggest hits.
- We took some photos of all of us out by the Baltic in front (back) of the hotel. Had a chance to tell Sveta clearly exactly what I would try to do on behalf of the medical center project and what I could not do on my own. Wanted to make sure they wouldn't be counting on something I wouldn't be able to deliver. I'm confident she understood. Sure would be exciting, though, if God would choose to use me as a communications channel to help their vision become reality.
- Ovation guitars are big here with professional performers. Have seen two on this show that's still on.
- This is my most comprehensive journal so far. I'm feeling that I've captured most of my major thoughts and emotions. There are certain things I have been feeling, though, that I just can't write about. The words just won't come. It has to do mostly with this mysterious love for people groups that seems to come over me every time I make an international trip. And with certain individuals that cross my path and tie cords around my heart. Heaven will be so wonderful. I long for the perfect fellowship we will share with plenty of time, no limits, no good-byes. For now it just hurts. But it's a wonderful, good kind of hurt.
- This trip has been like many rolled into one. 3 different cities with Josh, then running around on our own, chasing down the Leningrad stories - a packed 5 days, and now the teacher convocation and a whole new group.
- Never got to make my $40 phone call. Couldn't find the card this morning. Tore into everything looking for it. Turns out it was in my T-shirt pocket. Found it this evening in Novgorod. Bummer. $40 for 10 second talk to the answering machine.
- Now Metallica is on the TV. Some wasted looking Russian guys introduced them and showed "Metallica" magazine. The USA sure does export a lot of trash.
11/12/91 NOVGOROD, REPUBLIC OF RUSSIA
- Shot orientation session today for teacher's convocation staff in a room with big wood inlaid wall dominated by Lenin's head.
- Wrote 21 more postcards tonight. Puts my total to about 50.
- Met a new guy, another translator. Serge (Sergei). He was in Afghanistan two years ago for 6 months. Said that war was this country's Viet Nam. Soldiers didn't want to fight. It was a dirty war. He said he was a "tank gun" instructor and he was friends with American instructors for the other side. Said they would drink with each other by day and shoot at each other at night. Said the worst thing was when they were ordered to kill women and children. He was ordered to attack and wipe out a village once. A few pushes of buttons and it was gone. Said he felt terrible about it.
- Had interesting time tonight with the Novgorod Russian-American Friendship Society. Talked to Alex and his girlfriend - another Sveta. Got to give them each an English copy of Josh's "More Than a Carpenter" and quickly went through a Russian 4-Laws. They were very open and I'm sure they will read the books. They said they would come back to hear the talks from the Family Ministry guys and to see the Jesus Film. Alex gave me a small metal-bound set of pictures of churches and monuments of this area. Even has English text.
- Most amazing thing of today happened while out shooting scenics around the city. We passed an airport with a whole bunch of big cabin biplanes parked about and several flying. Went back after shooting yet another cathedral (albeit an interesting shot.) Serge told me they gave excursion rides. Well, the girl at the desk said they didn't do that anymore as all the planes were being sold to private parties.
We went out and talked to some pilots and they got the head guy. I just wanted to see the airplanes up close. The head pilot said that would be fine and said I could fly too if I wanted to! We showed each other our respective pilot certificates. They asked if I wanted to fly the airplane by myself or with one of their guys! Of course I said I wanted one of their guys along.
These are Polish designed (?), Russian built, 12-passenger single engine cabin biplanes. Biggest aircraft I will have had my hands on. Can't wait! Unbelievable! Going to cost 250 roubles (about 5$) for 3 of us to go for an hour ride. It's set up for tomorrow afternoon. Sure hope the weather is okay! My pilot friends at home aren't going to believe this!
Had a great time talking to the pilots through Serge's interpreting. Lots of smiles and laughs. This is a special division of Aeroflot (they wear the uniforms) that does agricultural flying and air-ambulance work. Several of the planes have flown over the hotel tonight. They are like flying dinosaurs. I got some footage of one of these flying over the celebration in Leningrad the other day pulling a banner.
- Ate lunch in a little room of a fabulous little restaurant in the wall of the "Kremlin" here. Ate with Dennis and our local heads of the travel company - Victor and Helena. (11/25 - Actually, Victor was like the permanent host of the convention hall where the convocation was being held. Helena was some kind of official from the ministry of education of the Republic of Russia who was the mover and shaker for getting all of this teacher training business off the ground in the first place.)
They speak almost no English. Fascinating conversation anyway, though. Had a great time. Good food too. I was starved.
TUES., 11/12/91, NOVGOROD
- What an incredible day! Shot greetings and registration of teachers as well as small groups training. Left the hall twice today. Once to shoot in a school. Great stuff. Students were in uniforms - girls with lace collars and big white bows in their hair, boys with blue jackets with shoulder patches. So well behaved. Happy looking, disciplined kids. 6 & 7 years old. Seemed to love their teacher and she them. A woman interviewed Dennis and I about it with a cassette recorder and microphone for the local radio station. Wonderful to see the students. It was the 13th Elementary School of Novgorod. About 1,200 students. Strange smells in there. Seems all elementary schools have peculiar odors.
- Biggest news of the day was a dream come true! I got to fly the biplane! Didn't think it would happen as it snowed all morning. Ceiling was about 1,000 ft., but visibility was probably 10 miles. John, Dennis, Alexi (a translator) and the bus driver (!) climbed into the cabin. I climbed into the right seat of the raised cockpit.
We had had to go through a metal detector, which they turned on after we walked through, and then were driven out to the plane in one of their trailer-buses. Took some photos of the plane before getting in. (This after the pilots looked both ways up and down the flight line, apparently looking for KGB types, and then nodded an OK.)
Vladimir E. Bobrovsky, Chief of air squadron, Novgorod Aviation Unit, cranked up the 1,000 horsepower radial engine of our Antanov AN-2 cabin biplane. He let the 1,000 h.p. engine warm up for 5 minutes or so and then signaled the ground crew. We lurched forward and Vladimir wrestled the beast into a turn with the massive pedal bar and the hissing, wheezing air brakes. Taxi sounds were very unusual with the rumble of the engine, hissing brakes, and all kinds of stuff rattling in the panel. (At one point Gene (Jenia), the co-pilot, reached past me and shoved on part of the instrument panel to reduce the rattling. The way he did it made it appear that it was like a standard procedure item on the checklist.)
We set up for the take-off with Gene performing his throttle monitoring duties while standing in the cabin aisle and leaning through the oval cockpit doorway. I was in his right seat. In a very short distance, the huge plane had it's tail up and we levitated into the air. Vlad kept the nose down for several hundred feet of runway and then zoomed up. Did that every time. Don't know if that's standard procedure or if he just likes it. Climbed up just below the ceiling. He trimmed the aircraft and gave me the controls. What a thrill to fly such a unique airplane - and in Russian airspace!
The Antanov is a big, lumbering beast. Everything happens in slow-motion, especially aileron response. Cockpit is really a fun layout. Yokes floor mounted. Windshield is really wrap-around with a return back into the fuselage at the bottom. (It did have some funny curtains in the top windows to reduce the sun.) Always wanted to fly in a cockpit like that. Kind of a DC-3 feel, but roomier and better viability.
Flew up the river, dipping down now and then to stay out of the soup above. Circled around the "Kremlin" (walled, ancient stronghold in center of city). Also around the monastery and it's 3 cathedrals. I exhibited great enthusiasm throughout this process. Lots of smiles and thumbs up to Vlad in the left seat. Took some pictures in the cockpit and from it with my 24mm lens. Gene was smiling and enjoying my enthusiasm from the start. We had had more time together yesterday when we looked at each others licenses, etc. Vladimir was more stoic at first, but by the end of the flight was smiling and enjoying watching my glee as well. The guys in back took pictures out the windows as Gene pointed things out. I S-turned up the river and climbed and descended a bit. We flew out to some villages along a big lake.
The airplane flies like nothing I've flown before. It's also much bigger than anything else I've controlled. It's easy to fly, though there are gobs of switches and levers - systems look a bit complex, but normal for such an old design. The size makes it very stable. It's just a big, friendly, old beast. Not at all intimidating.
Vlad took the controls over the lake and dove down to maybe 20 feet over the water at full throttle, then zoomed up near shore. He did some steep turns near another cathedral and village. I had Alexi come up and ask Vlad if we could make more than one landing. Soon I realized we were making an approach to what looked like a small strip of muddy road. I took a picture out the front window of the strip coming up, then stowed the camera inside my jacket and followed through on the controls. Approach felt a lot like a giant J-3 Cub, except that it seemed we were flaring awfully high. Then I was a bit surprised when the wheels touched. I forgot how high up you sit on top of the huge landing gear. The plane rolled to a stop in what seemed like no space at all. Some dirty, wet workers in an old truck looked over at us with puzzled expressions. We wrestled the plane around and rumbled and wheezed back to the end of the runway and took off again. I expressed great pleasure with the maneuvers and gave a thumbs up sign to Vlad. I followed through the takeoff and had the airplane soon after we were airborne again.
Vlad set up the gyro-compass on my side and tapped it twice, indicating I was to fly the heading. It didn't seem to be doing anything until I realized there was an airplane in the middle of it that moved around the compass rose. Quite a different instrument than I am used to, but once I figured out how it worked I could fly it easily.
Made another circle of Novgorod and the Kremlin and then I started searching for the airport. Had a hard time finding it, but suddenly it was right out in front of us. Vlad indicated with his look that I was invited to fly the approach. I did so with no trouble, but had a good bit of help during the flare and touchdown. We made a full stop, then went back and did another take-off. I had the airplane completely in the pattern and on the approach and had just a little help right at the end. I think maybe two or three more goes and Vlad could have let me have it all the way.
Hardest thing about this airplane is not the flying but learning all those switches. Back on the ramp after the prop wound down the pilots laughed when I said "classna!" - slang for "the greatest!" More pictures with both the guys and the airplane. Got answers to questions about the plane and the pilots, then walked back to the pilot's building.
I told them I regretted not bringing my logbook. They took me into their office and gave me a beginning pilot's logbook and a chief pilot's logbook! Then Vladimir logged the flight in the red chief pilot's log. What a kick! We also arranged for them to fly us back to Leningrad Thursday morning if the weather is okay. So I may get to log another hour! (To my great disappointment, this didn't work out.)
For one picture I stood between the men with my arms around their shoulders. I said, "my friends!" and they were all smiles. This trip has gotten more and more amazing! But I think today had to have been the pinnacle. Wow!
- Had another notable experience tonight in a cafe associated with the Kremlin wall restaurant. But it's quarter past 2:00 AM and I have to get some sleep. Suffice to say I came home smelling of Vodka and cigarettes with a Russian girl hanging onto my arm. Will explain later! (Things are not always as they seem!)
- (11/26) Realized in typing this that I left out a couple of major things. The teacher convocation was a truly amazing thing. It didn't seem all that unusual to be covering what was basically a conference, not especially visually stimulating, but when I stopped to think about where we were and who these people were, learning how to teach Christianity in hundreds of public schools in the "evil empire," it was rather stunning. I was walking through an empty auditorium with one of the American trainers going from one part of the building to another. I looked over and said, "can you believe this is happening?" We both just shook our heads in wonder.
- Another item needs to be in here. Before the Jesus film was shown on I believe it was the second morning, they let me make and announcement from the podium. Before I talked, Elaine from Washington DC explained that we were making the video so that the people in the States who had provided the resources for the curriculum and the convocation could see what was going on. I explained that we were taking some reaction shots with lights on the crowd before the film started because we didn't want to disturb their viewing of the film while it was actually being shown. I also told them that we would have the camera set up in the lobby afterward and that we would like to get their comments about the film. Folks lined up to talk to us when the film finished. We got some excellent statements including a couple of people who said they had received Christ into their lives. It was exciting to see the effect of the Jesus film in an environment like that.
11/14/91, FINNAIR FLIGHT 713, LENINGRAD TO HELSINKI
- Mailed about 30 more postcards today. Total was 70 according to my record.
- Didn't get to charter the AN-2 to Leningrad after all. They couldn't get permission to land at either airport there. Weather was terrible anyway. Foggy and drizzle. So, left the New Testaments, copies of "More Than a Carpenter" and Jesus Film booklets to be delivered via Natasha and Serge. Wrote a little letter to Vladamir thanking him for the flying. Told him that if he ever makes a visit to the States, we'd find him an American airplane to fly.
- Made the trip back to Leningrad in a Russian van. About like a Toyota Hi-Ace. I wrote a few last postcards, then took two Dramamine and slept the whole 3-hour trip. By the way, never chew one of those things! The bitterness stayed in my mouth for a long time and made it go numb as well. Also, never take one on an empty stomach! Feels like it's burning a hole!
- Took a long time to hassle through the airport. Couldn't get out of $245.00 US in excess baggage. Kirsten Foot showed up with a pile of mail from the stint team. Tried to get more shopping in before getting into the check-in process.
Our liaison, Galina, whom we met at the airport, said we didn't have time to get to the open air market and back. I think we could have, but they don't seem to know the meaning of "hustle." She kept telling us all the reasons we couldn't do things. (Just the opposite of Tamara's usual "why not?!") Every time I offered a solution she would find another problem.
Finally checked with the Finnair agent and we had 90 min. available. She said, "you only have one hour." I said, "no, one and a half hours." She said, "that's the same." (!!!) This is the kind of thing I expected on this whole trip. So glad we only really experienced it during our last few hours. We finally got her to take us to a hotel with shops, but it was an Intourist and prices were high. I bought a few hammer and cycle Soviet crest patches and some small painted rings to get rid of my roubles.
- Finally climbed the steps in the rain and stepped into the Finnair MD-83 DC-9. It was like stepping back into civilization.
- (11/25) Total Betacam tape shot: 25 hours
Total Hi-8: 2 hours plus about 4 hours shot by Sean Mackey of speakers at the convocation
I shot (2) 36-exposure and (3) 24-exposure rolls of Ektar 125 negative in my Nikkormat FTn with 105mm and 24mm lenses.
11/14/91, HOTEL INTERCONTINENTAL, HELSINKI, FINLAND
- Found out at dinner that Galina is a scientist and teacher, a friend of Helena (who is with the ministry of education in Russia and a prime mover behind the convocations.) She's not a travel person. That explains why she had a hard time helping us. Wish I had known that at the time. Shows me once again how careful I need to be about my attitude when I'm tired - and today I have been exhausted. Interesting how your body reacts when your brain knows it's going home. Until yesterday I had lots of energy.
- Well, about the other night. We all had to leave the Intourist hotel restaurant with the group, but we weren't shooting the evening session. We went to the cafe in the Kremlin wall (Novgorod)(Rode the public bus, more on this later) and ate "maroshna" (ice cream) and coffee with Svetlana, Alla (two of the interpreters for the teacher convocation), and 3 guys who were friends of theirs.
One of the guys, Vladia, was celebrating his 21st birthday and had a huge spread on the table. He poured us drinks from a pitcher. Looked like the fruit juice we'd been drinking. I think it was, but it was spiked with a healthy chug of vodka. Took a sip and it tasted like Nyquil would if it came in fruit flavor. Ended up knocking the traditionally painted cup over and spilled on the floor and table cloth. Some went on my jeans and I thought, "Oh great, hope nobody is in the lobby when we get back!" A couple people smoked at the table and we wreaked of very strong smoke.
It wasn't the most comfortable situation around that table, but the cross-cultural experience was interesting if not delightful. The guys wanted to toast, and I agreed but said I'd drink coffee. Told them it was an American custom. They didn't buy that and thought we were pretty strange, but accepted it in the end.
Had quite a discussion about God and heaven. Didn't seem to get too far, but at least they knew there were a couple of guys who wanted to talk about God more than anything else and we were just regular people, not mysterious priests.
Walking back to the hotel, Svetlana grabbed John's arm and mine. It didn't bother me. We'd been talking about my family and her fiance in England and the complexity of cross-cultural relationships so I knew she had no undesirable intentions. But I thought, "boy, this could look pretty bad!"
At the hotel we gave Vladia and Andrew copies of "More Than a Carpenter." I wrote some messages in the books. Gave Andrew a Bible I wrote in. Forgot to mention that at the table Andrew got mad at the others. Thought they shouldn't be discussing God in the environment of smoking and drinking. I think he was feeling a bit guilty, being a devout Orthodox. The other guys were atheists.
Svetlana was amazingly well traveled for a Soviet and quite sophisticated, on the outside anyway. She was the spokeswoman for the Russian-American Friendship Society. She claimed to be a Christian (Orthodox), but obviously wasn't saved and stood in rejection of our concept of personal faith. She did seem softened, though, after seeing the Jesus film. Later she said it was the thing that most impressed her about the conference.
11/15/91, FINNAIR FLIGHT 101, HELSINKI TO NEW YORK, KENNEDY
- Chasing the sun across the North Atlantic at 31,000 ft. Took off into soup so thick that at 100 ft. off the runway I could see only halfway down the wing of this DC-10. Have seen almost no ocean below, just clouds. There was just enough of a break over Norway to see totally snow-covered mountains and fjords along the coast. They are going to show "City Slickers" in a little while. Showed a cleaned-up version of "Dying Young" on the way over. Esther would like it, I think. It was a girl movie pretty much. The whole story was a relationship.
- Intercontinental hotel was very nice. Also the most expensive I've ever stayed in at $250.00 for a double room. Bathroom had big mirrors with a 1 foot wide strip in the corner at 45 degrees. Really nice effect. If I ever build a house, I'd like to do that in the bathroom.
John and I did another episode on the Hi-8 camera of our spoof, "Toilets of the World." Unfortunately, we missed out on an excellent opportunity with the urinals in the Helsinki airport - very unique!
Had fillet of reindeer for dinner last night. Cheesecake with raspberry sauce and cappucino for desert - yum! Cost about $100 for the three of us, though.
Took a bus tour of the city in the rain this morning. Cost about $20 ea. Breakfast at the very old Kappella cafe near the harbor. Actually, we bought sandwiches, apple pie, and orange juice, spending probably $30 and walked out with it. I'm sure we are looked on as nuts by Europeans who enjoy leisurely dining, especially since this particular cafe is quite a landmark, I later found out. And we rush in and out like it was McDonalds. Oh well, I'm sure they are used to our strange behavior after the Olympics and all.
- Finnmark is taking a dive. Probably by this afternoon it will be devalued 15-20% Unfortunately we had to change for what we needed at the old rate of 3.7 Finnmarks to the dollar.
Tried to call home on the card I bought in Leningrad and with my Visa card. Neither worked. Then I figured out I could call the US using Finnmark coins. Called Deb (my sister) to see if they might be able to see me in New York. Found out I became an uncle again two weeks ago to Cameron Carl Boone, if I got the name right.
After waking Deb up, I got some more coins at the bank and woke up Esther. (forgot they changed to daylight savings time while I was gone and it was 7 hours earlier instead of 6) Sounds like all is well at home. Praise the Lord for that.
- Here is some info. I collected on the Russian biplane I flew:
TYPE: Antanov AH-2 ("H" is an "N" sound in Russian)
REGISTRATION NO.: CCCP 02523
BY: Construction Bureau of Antanov, Kiev, The Ukraine
(They have been building this Polish design since 1948 or 1949)
SPEEDS IN KILOMETERS PER HOUR:
Stall: 90 (Obviously this can't be correct. Something
was lost going or coming in the translation.)
CYLINDERS: 9, single row radial
Vladimir, the chief pilot in the left seat, has 12,000 hours logged in 20 years of flying. Gene has 9,000 hours in 16 years.
- "Yah Behru" means "I'll take it"
- Now I have set foot in 18 countries. Actually, if you count Aruba and the Ukraine whhich have declared independence, the total would be 20. In order the 18 are:
U.SA, Canada, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Netherlands Antilles, Korea, The Philippines, Japan, Germany, Austria, Romania, Hungary, Finland, USSR.
- A poor Finnish mom is suffering a severe bout with the "terrible twos" two rows up. Her daughter has been ballistic for about 5 minutes. Thankfully, she seems to be running out of steam.
- Some thoughts on this trip:
- I have now been in four communist, or previously communist countries. If anyone has any doubt, I'm here to tell you the system doesn't work! What a royal mess.
- You cannot ask one Soviet about his country and get an accurate picture any more than you can ask one American his opinion and perspective and get an accurate picture of the USA. In fact, the divergence in perspective among Soviets is much greater than it would be among Americans.
- Family life suffers terribly in Russia. The hours and hours of waiting in the "que" have to come from someplace. They are the hours we spend with our wives and kids in America.
- I saw bread two weeks ago in a state store in Moscow for 40 kopeks a loaf. I believe I noted it earlier in this journal. Night before last I saw the same style loaves on TV with a price tag of 3 roubles, 60 kopeks. Over seven times more.
- Americans have a propensity to tell everybody "you must come visit the US!" It is natural for us and we feel hospitable doing it, but it can be hurtful, we found out. First, it is the ultimate dream of many of these folks to go to the States. Throwing out half-hearted invitations can create false hope and plays with some strong emotions. Of course, most of these people will never set foot on our soil. Second, we love our country, and rightfully so, but when we glorify it too much, we communicate the false impression that it is a perfect, magic place where all is well, we're all rich, and there are no problems. ("There are no cats in America!") It's really not fair.
- For future reference:
Duty free exemption coming through US customs is $400 per person for items you are carrying. For non-residents, it is $100. After that, the duty is a flat 10% for everyone.
- Clipped an article out of USA TODAY 11/14/91. Headline: "IN MOSCOW, PANIC BUYING AND NON-STOP BAKING." Says food prices in privately owned stores rose 1,000% in the past 3 weeks. Some are fearing civil war soon.
- We're over Iceland now, 2 hrs., 53 min. into the flight. Seems well named to me. Nothing but mountains, ice floes, and lots of snow everywhere. Flew over Sweden earlier, but never saw it due to the clouds.
- The Finnair stewardesses wear black leather gloves. There's something classy about that. They do take them off in the middle of these long legs. Flight time on this trip is supposed to be 8:40.
- May have mentioned this earlier: For many goods and services in the USSR, there is a dual pricing structure. One price for Soviets and another for foreigners. Average salary is hard to pin down. Seems to be from 400 to 1,000 roubles per month. Heard 600/mo. mentioned a few times. Serge, now a student, receives a stipend from the state of 80 roubles/mo. "Just enough for bread," he said.
I must comment once again on the incredible experience of being in a place where the monthly wage is less than I made in one half hour of freelance work at home. Very hard to convince a Russian that in the States we are not rich.
- Now we're over Greenland. Some big glaciers are below. If you like snow and solitude, this is the place.
- Finnish and Swedish are "as different as two languages can be." Estonian, on the other hand, is very similar to Finnish. Estonia is only 80 kilometers across the Gulf of Finland (to the south) from Helsinki. Helsinki was established (or actually re-established) near the water to compete with Riga to the south in Estonia. During WWII, Helsinki was bombed extensively. Nearly 600 buildings were destroyed.
- Swedish and English are compulsory in Finnish schools.
- In 1710, from August to December, 2/3 of the population of Helsinki died of plague. Only 600 survived.
- Helsinki has been used as a film location for many films set in Leningrad and Moscow. A large district where most of the government buildings are is in the style of Leningrad architecture.
- The Silja Serenade is a big ferry ship that plies between Helsinki and Stockholm. Read an article about it. It has a big atrium/mall in the middle. 80% of the staterooms have portholes either to the sea or to the "promenade." Looks like it would be a really fun ride.
There are several big ships that sail from Helsinki that you can drive your car right onto. Including some Soviet vessels. Boy, I sure would like to take Esther on a cruise for roubles! Would have to learn a lot more Russian to pull it off, though.
- On the public bus in Novgorod, it was supposed to cost 15 kopeks (3/10 cent). The driver is supposed to collect the fare if you don't have a monthly pass (as most seem to). Bus was crammed full and stops so short, it was impossible to pay! Oh well, the fine if you get caught without a ticket is only 10 roubles (20 cents) and they never seem to check.
- Two more hours to New York. John had me listen to a song on the in-flight music system that he thought would make a good bed for a video on Russia. It was "Wind of Change" by the Scorpions. Hadn't heard it before. Talked about the uncertain future for the youth of the eastern block. Just like the Philippines and Romania, it hit me again out of the blue. I'm sure my tired and emotional state after such trips has a lot to do with it, but that agonizing dagger in the heart - weeping for a people. Unfortunately, I wasn't alone in a hotel room this time, so I just fought it back. Wouldn't do to be balling like the baby 2 rows up. Fortunately the stewardess brought the hot towels around right after, so I could wipe my face.
Maybe I shared a little of the feeling Jesus had weeping for Jerusalem. I don't know, but when this happens, it changes something in you. Powerful medicine. I hope the dose will stick with me and spur me to do what I can. "The world is closing in. Did you ever think that we could be so close, like brothers? ... Take me to the magic of the moment on a glory night, where the children of tomorrow share their dreams with you and me."
I look out on the silver wings riding the wind, taking me home to warmth, joy, and plenty. And down on the winter blowing toward my new friends in Russia, and I pray they will have enough to eat. "Listening to the wind of change."
TRANSCRIPT OF NOTES MADE ON CASSETTE RECORDER ON USSR TRIP, OCT/NOV, 1991,
by DAN PHILGREEN
- Moscow state university dates from 1755, has 30,000 students. It is very large. There is another university called Friendship university. This one is primarily for Asian and Latin American students.
- Moscow is the largest city in population and in territory. It is surrounded by five airports. 2 are international and 3 are for domestic flights. Population is 9 million.
- Vlukava Airport terminal is where we went to take off from Moscow to Kiev. It is primarily a domestic airport, but there is one international terminal. It is used for official flights. It is where president Bush landed when he came to Moscow.
- Late last night I went into the bathroom and flipped the light on. It flashed in my face and all the lights quit working in our room. That was interesting. The maid this morning figured that out and I think we're going to probably have lights in the room when we get back. At least somebody knows about it.
- I didn't write in the journal about the Kiev airport. The terminal is very similar to the terminal in Bucharest in feel and in the way it looks in the front. It reminded me again of a Greyhound bus station in the middle of the night. A dirty, dingy bus station.
- By John's count this is day 3 in the country, which is Monday the 28th of Oct. We are now driving on the bus through Kiev, the downtown area. We are going to take pictures at a printing place they told me and then we are going to a university campus.
This morning at breakfast Fay Logan, an older gentleman from Michigan who was with us, told us about the church service he went to last night about a 45 minute drive outside the city. The bus could only get to 2 or 3 blocks away and they had to walk through mud the rest of the way. In this church service there were about 75 people having a thanksgiving and praise service. Fay said it was the most moving church service he had been in on his several trips to the Soviet Union because the people were so poor and yet they were praising God and thanking Him so earnestly for His blessings. He said he had a real heart rending experience because he wanted to give the pastor his overcoat and he had women telling him they had no shoes or coats for their children and it's getting into winter time and could he help them? He felt at a loss because he needed his coat and we're going to be here 3 more weeks and as I said he's an older gentleman and he knew he would be very sick if he gave up his coat. He offered to send it to him when he got back, but the Canadian man who had taken him to the church said that really wouldn't do any good because it would take 4 months or so for a package to get to him from the States.
- John let me read his first few pages of the journal he is keeping. I'm hoping to get a copy of it to keep with my journal to have his perspective on the trip too when this is all over.
- It doesn't interest me very much, but the world series is going on while we are here. All the Americans we run into keep asking us and our group asks them if they heard about the scores. John grew up in Minnesota and the Twins are in the series. He is interested in how they are doing, but at the same time is bothered by the fact that he is so concerned about it.
- Well, our tour bus just drove on the sidewalk of the building. Oh, I guess we're parking here. This is the print shop.
- "Pajoasta" means please, "is vinite" means excuse me and can be used some other ways. "Pajoasta" can be an invitation also, as in please be seated or whatever.
- Yesterday while John and I were shooting at the square in front of St. Sophia's, one of our guides brought us some rolls stuffed with a meat. They were hot and delicious, but I can't remember what they were called.
- Today is Tuesday, Oct. 29. Going back this morning to St. Andrews Cathedral and an interesting historical street where we went the first day and went shopping. The first day we didn't have the camera with us. Today we are going with the Betacam. Some of the group are going shopping, but we kind of did the shopping thing earlier. We might go back to that little coffee shop that is about half way down the curving street. I don't think I put it in the journal, but the first day I got behind the group. I thought they went into St. Andrews church and I went inside to find them. There was a little old lady at the door and she made some noise and I went on in. She ended up yelling at me and kicking me out.
- Some of the village names that make lacquer boxes are: "Reclama," "Fedoskano," and "Poleck."
- Moscow was founded in 1147, or at least that is the official date which was on a letter, the oldest known document to mention Moscow. The name comes from the Muscva river. The ethnic Russians come from Scandinavian, Slavic, and Turkish origin. Muscva is of Scandinavian origin. It means "big river." (I heard elsewhere that it means "bridge.")
- The Kremlin buildings went up in the 15th century. St. Petersburg was founded up in the beginning of the 18th century.
- The Russia hotel is the largest in Moscow. It holds 6,000 people
at a time.
- Red square doesn't mean a color. It means beautiful. There is a phrase that says the "red girl," which means the beautiful girl.
- It's 1,400 kilometers from Moscow to Kiev. Over 9 million people live in Moscow. 5 million in St. Petersburg. It is the second largest city in the Soviet Union. Moscow to St. Petersburg is exactly 600 kilometers (360 miles). It's further from Moscow to the eastern part of the Soviet Union than it is from Moscow to New York. There are 11 time zones in the USSR. There is a circle, a ring of cities 109 kilometers long, including Moscow. They are all 60 kilometers apart. The diameter is 35 kilometers. These were laid out during the time of the czars and the distance was determined by the optimum single day's ride on a horse.
- The Muscva River is one of the longest in Russia, but not the largest one. The largest one is the Volga. It is bigger than the Mississippi. (Baby crying sounds at this point from the Mississippi guys in the back of the bus. Tamara replys, "It's not my fault.")
- Moscow is built on confluence of several rivers. It's called the city of five seas because you can get to five seas by river from Moscow. In fact the word Moscow comes from an original word meaning bridge.
- Got Hi-8 footage of an Ilyushin IL-76 transport. IL-86 looks kind of like an Airbus, but has four wing-mounted engines.
- 2,000 towns and cities in the Soviet Union were destroyed in WWII. During the war, there were 25 million civilian casualties, 55 million Soviet casualties including the military.
- Leningrad is 288 years old. For 200 years it was the capital of Russia. Basil island is the largest island in the city. That's where the Pribaltiskaya hotel is. Not St. Basil's, but Basil island. He was a colonel under Peter the Great.
There is a church here that was turned into a skating rink. There were 287 churches before 1917. Some of them were blown up after the revolution. Others were turned into warehouses, factories instead of churches. 6 years ago there were only 26 functioning churches in this city.
- Four years ago, Gorbachev had a meeting with the Patriarch of Russia. The meeting scheduled for 45 minutes went on for 8 hours without any breaks. After that nearly 1500 new churches were opened in the country.
(Words of our guide, Leo:)
- The bronze horseman, Peter the Great, founder of St. Petersburg. The statue symbolizes that he gave access to the northern seas, to the Baltic. Peter the great's horse trampled the snake which symbolized that Peter the Great had overcome certain difficulties. I told you that Peter's horse symbolizes Russia, which he is restraining with his left hand and he is crowned with a laurel wreath which is the symbol of glory. On your left you can see one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. This is the St. Isaac's cathedral. Those who visited this cathedral know that the interiors are striking and they are beautiful. It is very, very beautiful and if you have a chance, visit this cathedral.
- The Historia hotel next to on the same square of St. Isaac's cathedral was where Hitler planned to have his gala celebration of victory over the Soviet Union. He went as far as issuing invitations, but obviously never made it to the party.
- St.Isaac's that exists is the fourth cathedral of the same name in that place. St. Isaac's was 40 years in the making. The architect of this was not a professional one. He was a very talented, but inexperienced architect and made very many mistakes. Five years after they have started this cathedral, it started sinking, so they had to demolish everything they had built and strengthen the foundation, you know. They strengthened it for nearly 4 years and all in all it took them 40 years to build the cathedral and the expenditures of building this cathedral were ten times the expenditures of building the Winter Palace (Hermitage), the former residence of the Russian czar you can see now on your left hand side. And this is the beginning of the Nevsky Prospect, one of the streets which radiates from the building of the Admiralty. This city was built according to a preconceived plan and several streets radiate from the building of the Admiralty and at the end of each of these streets you can see the building of the Admiralty with the golden spire.
- Former Lutheran cathedral is a swimming pool now.
- Very beautiful cathedral (Kazansky Cathedral) which was built in 1811 by the famous Russian architect, Veranahin (sp?) and it's not an active church anymore. It's a museum and it's a very strange museum because this is the museum of the history of religion and atheism, quite a mixture. On the left hand side you can see another beautiful cathedral at the end of this canal and this is the temple of the spilled blood. This cathedral was built right on the place where they assassinated Alexander the 2nd, one of the Russian czars. That's why it is called the Temple of the Spilled Blood. The cathedral you can see on your left hand side is the St. Catherine's cathedral. It is a catholic cathedral and it's on the restoration now, but sometimes they considered making a concert hall out of this cathedral because they have a very good organ there. But, I think they will repair it and give it back to the church, which will be a very good thing to do.
- It takes 2 years to get a TV set, for refrigerators it takes 3 years in St. Petersburg now, and if you want to buy a car it may take 6 years or 7, that depends on the city you live in. And if you have lots of money, well you can buy a car tomorrow if you have some 200,000 rubles. That's easy, or if you have hard currency. (How much will the car cost if you wait?) I you wait 6 or 7 years, it depends upon the make of the car. If it is a Volga, you pay from 25,000 rubles for a new Volga. Inasubarunis (sp?), it's a very simple car for some old people, it's from 6 to 10,000 rubles. Then at the auction they are 10 or 20 times higher.
- So these things we can buy waiting in these invisible ques are not foodstuffs. As for food, in very many cities in this country we have ration cards and if you have this ration card you can buy one kilogram of sausage per person per month, half a kilo of butter per person per month, 10 eggs per person per month, things like that, you know? And even if you have this ration card that doesn't necessarily mean that you are able to buy these things. For example, if you want to buy meat, first of all you have to find a que. You find the que, you just join the line and then you ask what they sell there because if you start asking some people will be joining the que and then you will be behind them, so you first join the que, the line, and then you ask. And if it is the que where they sell peas, you go away and then try to find the que where they sell meat. You find your que, then you join this line and then you stand in this line for some 2, 3, or 4 hours in a row.
- Five years ago, just to take my wife to the cinema, I have to have a ruble with me because tickets cost 25 kopeks, you can buy an ice cream for some 20 kopeks, a glass of juice for 10 kopeks, and that made a ruble, you know. Now I have to have not less than 10 rubles because, oh we have those commercial shows and the tickets there cost from 5 to 6 rubles.
(end of Leo's words)
- 1000% inflation in four years as far as things for sale in rubles.
- 30,000 Russian serfs died in the construction of St. Isaac's over 40 years time. They worked 18 hours a day. It's the 4th largest cupola cathedral in the world. London, Rome, and Florence have the bigger ones. 14,000 would stand in services when they were held in here and the acoustics are so good with no PA you can hear every word. The gilded domes are gold metal. They would work the bronze sheet into shape. Then the sheets were dipped into mercury metal with gold in it. The mercury would be boiled off and a thin layer of gold would coat the bronze. It is said that the gilding should last another 100 years. It has never been regilded. All of the workers that worked on the gilding died of mercury poisoning. They were replaced on a regular basis as they continually died off.
- Went by the building that was the home of count Stroganoff whose chef invented the dish we enjoy so much.
- This country has oodles and oodles of beautiful women. Unbelievable. Never seen anything like it.
- A good newspaper to keep up on