Russia Moscow Mission


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Description

Snapshot of Russia – Russian is the official language of Russia, though several other languages are given co-official status in certain regions, the most-spoken being Tatar and Ukrainian. The largest church in Russia is the Russian Orthodox Church, which claims about 40% of the population. Another 40% does not practice religion. Several other religions are also present, with certain southern regions having majority populations of Muslims or Buddhists. Russia has a rich and diverse history in areas such as architecture, literature and philosophy, science, and music and dance, especially ballet. Modern Russian rock and pop are also popular. Ice hockey, basketball, and soccer are all popular sports in Russia. Another popular activity is washing in banya steam bath houses. Some elements of folk culture remain, such as matryoshka dolls and other art forms. Russian cuisine is varied across the country, but several different types of bread are common. Soups (both hot and cold) are also popular parts of Russian meals, such as shchi, a cabbage and beef soup. Several meat dishes are also popular, such as shashlik (a marinated kebab) and pelmeni (dumplings filled with minced meat).

The Church

After calling Orson Hyde and George J. Adams to be the first missionaries in Russia in 1843, Joseph Smith stated that with Russia are “attached some of the most important things concerning the advancement and building up of the kingdom of God in the last days.” Though dedicated for missionary work by Elder Francis M. Lyman in 1903, the Church was not recognized in Russia until May 1998, with the first missionaries being sent in 1990. The story of the Church coming into Russia is a powerful one, as explained athttp://www.deseretnews.com/article/705381094/Mormons-in-Russia—-a-history-since-the-1800s.html?pg=all.

Moscow was the first mission in Russia to have a stake, organized in 2011 (see http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700141765/First-LDS-stake-in-Russia-organized.html?pg=all and http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705374680/Former-missionaries-rejoice-in-first-Russian-LDS-stake.html?pg=all), with only one other stake now in St. Petersburg. In 2010, the Kiev, Ukraine temple was dedicated and Moscow members were included in its temple district, making temple work much easier for members not able to travel to the Frankfurt, Germany or Helsinki, Finland temple. Many Moscow members take a short flight to attend the temple as often as they can and stay for a full week to perform temple work.

There are many strong members of the Church in Moscow, and the Church is trying to help get their stories out so that Russians can learn about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, like at http://russianmormons.blogspot.com/http://sethadamsmith.com/2012/09/16/vladimir-russian-mormon/, and http://ldsmag.com/article/1/11437.

Stakes: One

Branches: Three
Wards: Six

Food

Russian food is simple but unique, probably because its foundations come from peasants of the rural population in Russia’s harsh climate. Think potatoes, beets, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, dill, mushrooms, berries, fish, and lots of meat, because all are easily produced and stored in the country’s harsh conditions. Soups are a Russian staple (they help keep you warm in the winter!) and are centered on seasonal or storable produce, fish, and meats. Russia is famous for its beet soup, or borscht. They also frequently eat okroshka, a cold soup with a kvass or kefir base, and schi, a cabbage soup. Most missionaries joke about eating salo—salted, solidified pork fat—and kholodets—gelatin made from meat fat. Russians also drink hot tea with every meal and often throughout the day (herbal tea for missionaries and members!) during hot summers and cold winters alike.

Traditional Russian beet soup - Borscht

Traditional Russian beet soup – Borscht

Transportation

Moscow has one of the largest public transportation systems in the world. Originally built as a bomb shelter, the Moscow metro system is intricately webbed throughout the entire city and contains beautiful mosaics and decor underground, making it the pride of Moscow. Missionaries and members alike usually take the metro everywhere, paying additional money to hop on a marshrutka (minivan taxi) to be taken to a particular street. To travel farther distances, many take the train. Most Russians drive cars, too, but missionaries have no need for cars in the city once they learn the public transportation system.

Russians negotiating prices for a ride on a local marshtrutka. Members and missionary both use marshtrutkas to travel the city.

Russians negotiating prices for a ride on a local marshtrutka. Members and missionary both use marshtrutkas to travel the city.

Safety

Because residents of Russia are commonly questioned by police about their citizenship, missionaries are occasionally questioned by the police about their preaching license and passports. All missionaries carry their passport and money in a moneybag underneath their clothes, with a copy of their passport in their backpack to show officials. This usually prevents any problems.

Because drinking is a common way of celebrating in Russia, holidays can become unsafe. Most missionaries are required to stay in a member’s home or with the mission on holidays to stay off the streets.

Customs

Most of the customs for holidays come from the Russian Orthodox Church. Street sellers all sell pussy willows for Palm Sunday to represent the palm leaves laid before Christ entering Jerusalem; they sell tulips for Women’s Day so that every woman receives a flower, and Easter brings the selling of a traditional dry raisin cakes.

Russians are superstitious, and it’s always fun to learn them from the Russians themselves. No shaking hands through a doorway, no sitting at the corner of a table, and dropping any utensils on the ground suggests that either a bad man, a good man, or a woman will soon be knocking on your door.

Most of the customs for holidays come from the Russian Orthodox Church. Street sellers all sell pussy willows for Palm Sunday to represent the palm leaves laid before Christ entering Jerusalem; they sell tulips for Women’s Day so that every woman receives a flower, and Easter brings the selling of a traditional dry raisin cakes.

Local Lingo

Missionaries are discouraged from using too much slang, always encouraged to speak formal form of Russian unless speaking to those your age or younger. A few common, harmless words used by all Russians and missionaries include:

blin: literal translation means pancake, but it is also a mild equivalent to saying “darn.”

vobshye: literal translation means “in general” or “generally,” but is used all the time to express exasperation, to intensify a compliment, or a million other uses.

ZDORova: great, awesome

zdarOVa: health; informally “what’s up.”

Essential Equipment

Moneybag to wear under clothes and thermals.

Additional Info

How to ship to Moscow:

Many worry about packing all their heavy winter coats and boots to Russia. Most missionaries find that it is easiest to wait until arriving in their mission to buy their winter attire, mainly because the fur-lined boots, long winter coats, and woolen stockings can so easily be found in Russia. Most of their products are more equipped for Russian winters than are many American products, anyway.

Flag of Russia Moscow Mission

Profile

Russian Federation
President Garry E. Borders

Muravskaya St
1 D, Floor 3
Moscow
Moscow 125310
Russia

Russian
12 million
Russian Orthodox 15-20%, Muslim 10-15%, other Christian 2%
Summer: highs of 86 F; Winter: lows of 14 F

http://mission.net/russia/moscow/

Experiences

Straight from the Russia Moscow Mission:

*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Accent, Liquid Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Chocolate Chips, Double action Baking Powder, heads for electric toothbrush”

“Most missionaries end up missing rootbeer, peanut butter, and Oreos the most.”

“Many items. Toilet paper was even in short supply. It just depended on what was on the shelf. There was no peanut butter, my mother sent it to me via mail.”

*What did you eat the most of?
“Fresh fruit and vegetables (cabbage) and mush”

“soup, kasha (cooked cereal), chicken, cabbage,”

“Potatoes, rice, hot dogs / sausage, soup, bread, pelmeni (filled pasta shells)”

Potatoes, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, pelmeni (meat dumplings), and soup.”

*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“caviar and other raw fish”

“raw fish, caviar”

“xolodetz (meat gelatin), sala (pig fat)”

“Holodyets (meat jello)”

*What was most surprising about the culture?
“Crowded apartments, people walking everywhere”

“The number of menial laborers there are, how resourceful they are, and what people get (or don’t) get paid. Also–how safe we felt among the people, even walking alone late at night.”

“It was about what I expected but was still a shock to the system. It was a totally different country with different traditions etc. It just takes time to get accustomed to everything.”
-Brandon

“Many Russians simply don’t talk to strangers. Perhaps because of their Communist roots, a lot of Russians are very private people. Contacting on the street is more difficult because of this, and it pushes missionaries to be more creative to think of ways to talk to people. That’s why the Moscow mission became known for starting chalk drawing (see http://youtu.be/TJXsq_X6vJk) and other techniques to get Russians to talk to them. Once they become familiar with you and you develop a relationship, they are the warmest, kindest, most loving people.”

*What advice would you give to someone going to the Russia Moscow Mission?
“Come prepared to do lots of walking”

“Be sure your shoes are comfortable.”

“Go for the right reasons. It isn’t a vacation so expect to work and be bold. You will be blessed as will the people you serve.”
-Brandon

“Never, ever, EVER think that Moscow is a non-baptizing mission or a “hard” mission. Missionaries who believed that there were Russians ready and waiting for the Gospel were missionaries who baptized often. The Moscow Mission calls it the “Moscow Miracle.” With the mindset that the Lord has prepared many to hear the Gospel and that obedience is the key, you will be a successful missionary (see page 10 of Preach My Gospel for the definition of a successful missionary). “

*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“REAL information about clothes to bring. The list sent by the mission/Church was not representative of what WE needed for our rather unique calling. Put us in touch better with others in our situation.”
-Jim

“How much cooking I’d be doing. And how available most things are.”
-Marilyn

“I wish I had more knowledge of the scriptures.”
-Brandon

“Longer coats and thermal garments really do make a difference in the cold. And Moscow gets humid and hot in the summers, so pack cool clothing, too!”

*Other comments?
“It has been a marvelous experience. We encourage all physically able couples to apply for missions. Don’t be afraid if the location sounds frightening. Most of the people you meet or see will treat you very well and help you.”
-Jim

“A call to Russia is a tremendous honor. Be prepared to have a massive dose of appreciation for these wonderful people, what they have endured, survived, and accomplished. Language is frustrating because you can’t freely communicate your love to them and if you are a busibody, it’s extra frustrating. But you can get along just fine by pointing and miming and lots of younger people speak some English. I-pads are really helpful. Get a translation app, a GPS app, and load the Church library on it.”
-Marilyn

“It will be some of the best days of your life and some of the hardest. You won’t understand what a mission is all about until you have served your own mission. You will not regret going if you are worthy and prepared.”
-Brandon

**Did you serve in the Russia Moscow Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at editor@missionhome.com**