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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.
The church in Rostov-on-Don is relatively small. Not many members live in this area, so expect to do a lot of tracting. The mission boundaries are smaller compared to other missions, comprising of approximately 40 missionaries.
The first stake was created in Moscow in the summer of 2011. The missionaries look to baptize men so there is more priesthood in the area. Missionaries often serve as 1st or 2nd counselor in the branch bishopric.
Missionaries mostly cook their own food, eating at a member’s house at least once every two weeks. Russian cuisine varies 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).
Russian food consists of a lot of bread, salads, chicken, tomatoes and cucumbers. A well known Russian food is Borsche, a beet soup served either hot or cold. Russians drink a lot of tea, and often offer it to missionaries.
Missionaries travel on foot or, for long distances, by bus.
Missionaries stay extremely safe in this area.
Russians are extremely superstitious, and go to great lengths to avoid bad luck. They only say goodbye to each other once. Also, it is bad luck to shake hands across the door.
Russians celebrate a lot of holidays. Russians joke there are only two holidays—New Year’s Day, and every other day. Their biggest holiday is New Year’s, and the second is their Independance Day. Weddings are huge celebration, mostly during the summertime. People will save money for three years to spend it on their dream wedding.
“Menya zovut…” My name is…
“Spokoynoy Nochi.” Goodnight.
Most missionaries arrive with a backpack; however, all missionaries end up buying a satchel bag when they get to Russia.
Missionaries almost always wear beanies and Russian fur hats when the weather becomes cold. Most missionaries purchase these items in Russia.
Buy a pair of quality shoes before you enter the country, because you will be walking a lot. Russian shoes are not as good quality as those found in America. Other clothing can be purchased in Russia, as needed.
Study the language hard before you arrive. You will have to work really hard in this mission. Most people are atheist at heart, even though they claim they are religious.
per. Semashko, 117B
Mission Alumni Site
What items were hard to get or not available?
“We could get almost everything we needed. The only things we wrote home for was American food, like lettuce, peanut butter, and ketchup.” –Mark
What did you eat the most of?
“I ate mostly bread and buckwheat. We ate borsche sometimes, but it was lucky.” –Chase
What is the craziest thing you ate?
“The craziest thing I ate was just overdue milk.” –Chase
What was most surprising about the culture?
“I was surprised that women and men are treated the same. If you open a door for a woman, you will probably get a funny look.”–Chase
What advice would you give to someone going to this Mission?
“Just be patient with the people, language, and culture.”–Chase
What do you wish you had known before you served?
“I wish I took a culture history class of Russia. I would’ve understood why Russians act the way they do.”–Chase
**Did you serve in the Russia Rostov-na-Donu Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org**