Saturday, May 2, 2009





a fashion of our own:



Rostov city theme: "Slight Change of Plan"

The City and the Cossak Village

Fireside, City Market, Boat Ride


Please note -- not all of the numbers were bright enough for my camera to get clear pictures. So, these are pictures of the numbers that had bright lighting.

Part 1 - Opener to Hoe Down
Part 2 - Childhood to Footloose Part 3 - Mexican to Sadness Part 4 - Swing to Bollywood Part 5 - Building to Ballet Part 6 - Tap to Closer

Part 6 - Post Show


Our last overnight train ride took us to Volgograd, arriving Wed. morning, April 22. Our guide, Katherine, aka the Russian Julia Child, met us at the train station and took us to McDonalds for breakfast. There was rejoicing all around. After settling into our hotel, the "Youzhnaya" (which the Sr. missionaries told us was the nicest in town) we set out to tour the city. We learned all about the seige of Stalingrad during the war, and the valiant effort that stopped the German (the facists) from reaching the Volga River.

We visited the amazing statue Mother Russia, which is larger than the Statue of Liberty. We were able to see the changing of the guard at the eternal flame in the memorial hall to honor the fallen soldiers.

That evening we had a fireside with the local branch. It was really nice to be able to meet with the members and share in their spirit.

On Thursday, we toured the panorama museum of the seige of Stalingrad. Most of the city had to be rebuild following the war as it was nearly totally destroyed. They have rebuilt the buildings in the same style of architecture that was there before the war so that it still has the historic feel. We also toured a small village outside of town which was settled by German immigrants.

The concert that night was again very warmly received, and it was fun to have the members there who had been at the fireside.

After the Show


Everyone survived the long long long train ride. Most of us felt like we were still on the train - having "swaying" moments for a couples of days. We checked into the "Mechta" hotel for breakfast and for some much needed down time.

In the afternoon we went to the most wonderful of all the venues -- the Opera House! The best news was that they had laid a marley floor, there was a spacious backstage area, and there was water and refreshments waiting for us! It was such a beautiful building, we spent the first half hour just taking pictures. The only downside was the bathrooms -- using squatty potties in not something anybody wants to do again!

This show was special for Joseph because he had served in this area. Several members came to see him, and it was such a special reunion after the show!

Friday, May 1, 2009


On Friday, April 17, we flew from St. Petersburg to Moscow, and then flew straight east to Kazan. Here is where east meets west, and where Muslim and Christian live peacefully together. Kazan is a university town, with 17 institutions of higher learning. We stayed at the "Grand Kazan Hotel", which had only been open a few months and was the tallest building in the downtown. It was very upscale, but alas, still no internet access.

The leaders attended a press conference while the rest went to lunch. Apparently, having water with a meal is not too common here. They did not have enough water glasses for everyone, so they asked us to share a glass between two people. It's all good...

The concert was in the "Pyramid" a very beautiful venue. Unfortunately during Footloose, Brandon rolled his ankle on his flip. He had quite an experience with paramedics, doctors, and two Russian hospitals. Gratefully it was just a bad sprain and not broken. The only upside of this was having Bro. Larsen dance Brandon's spot in Hungarian.

On Saturday we toured and performed at the disabled children's school, which was the benefactor of the performance. It was a very rich and moving experience. The children were precious and well taken care of. They throughly enjoyed our mini-show, and then they performed for us. This was one of the most memorable experiences of the tour.

We then went to the Kazan Kremlin, which is an ancient fortress. It houses both a beautiful Mosque and an Orthodox Cathedral. We went through a museum of the Tatar History which was interesting even without being able to read any of the signs or label.

Then on to one of the biggest challenges that we faced -- staying awake during the "Round Table" discussion with students from a university. The first 30 minutes was all lecture and promotion about some pet projects. It takes twice as long when everything has to be said first in Russian and then in English... Even though a few eyes closed briefly and some heads nodded, and least no one snored out loud! It did get more interesting when they began to ask specific questions about the dancers and the show. It was nearly unbelievable to them that none of the dancers are "professionals" and that some of them have only been dancing for a few years.

The evening's entertainment for the dancers was an ice show, and the entertainment for the Felts and Fishers was washing the leo's and undershirts in the bathtub. This was cheaper than the $1500 laundry charge to have it done professionally!

On Sunday morning, we had a testimony meeting at the hotel. The church is not officially recognized in Kazan. After that we packed up and prepared for the marathon train ride - 16 hours - to Saratov!


We arrived early in the morning on Wed, April 13 to St. Petersburg, the city of the czars. We checked in and had breakfast at our hotel, the "Azimut". It was an old historic feeling hotel, with wide granite staircases carpeted down the centers and a very narrow elevator. It was right across from the train station in the middle of the downtown. But, what's a girl to do with no hair dryer or internet???

We had a bus tour of the city led by our guide Natalia and gained a great appreciation for the history of this beautiful city, which was under siege for 900 days during WWII. We then toured the Hermitage, former residence of Catherine the Great and family. It is one of the world's most outstanding art museums. We were in awe of the architecture, the workmanship, the opulence, and the grandeur. We saw many of the world's art treasures including two originals by da Vinci. We spent some time in the French impressionist gallery, and walked through room after room trying to realize that we were really seeing Monets, Rembrants, Gaugins, Matisse and Rubens.

Our concert was sponsored by the City, and free admission was offered to several schools for children who have lost their parents in military action. It was packed! Most of the children, aged about 10-18, were in military type uniforms. We were told that this was the first "artistic" performance that many of them had ever attended.

The U.S. Consul attended as well as other city Dignitaries. They introduced the show, and then held a small reception following the show. They were over the top in their praise of the show. The leaders presented gift to the consul, including the squishy potato. She looked at it and said "Buy Idaho -- what clever marketing!" Oh Well...

After the show:

On Thursday, we went to Catherine's Summer Palace, just outside of town. This was another experience in being awestruck. There is no way to describe the elaborate decor, the paintings on the ceilings, the amber room, and the Golden Hallway. We we sickened to learn that most of the palace had been destroyed during the war when it was occupied by the German army. There has been a tremendous effort in restoring everything to its original glory.

The venue this night had all the ambiance of a strip club - including dancing waters, wave lights, and a two-tier stage. Bro. Larsen spent considerable time in re-blocking the numbers in a 2-level approach. The audience was quite small, but the show went well. The mission president (native Russian) came and brought his young family. They loved loved loved it!