The Gneiting's Corner
Welcome to our little corner of the world!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Update on Sister Mindy (long post)

Well Mindy has been serving on her mission now for 7 months. She is doing great. She loves Russia and the people. She has been in Novosibirsk since she arrived in Russia 5 months ago. It is Russias 3rd largest city, after Moscow and St. Petersburg, and is the largest city of Siberia. This is where the Mission home is located. She loves this city and has enjoyed serving there.

Novosibirsk Skyline

Mindy with a couple other sister missionaries
(picture retreived from Bro and Sister Simmons blog - thanks!)
She was transferred this past week. She is now serving in Irkutsk. She had quite a journey getting there. Irkutsk is approximately about 1800 miles from Novosibirsk. She took a train to get there and traveled for 35 hours. She crossed two times zones. On the Russian map below (sorry its not bigger) Novosibirk is right in the middle of the map toward the southern border. Irkutsk is east of Novo (about an inch) next to a long sliver, crescent shaped lake (Lake Baikal - more pictures below). Considering that this is almost 2000 miles apart on this map it kind of gives you an idea of just how big Russia really is.

She is now the Senior Companion with another american sister that has been out about one month less than Mindy. Mindys other companions have all been Russian and they have been able to help her with the language and understanding the culture, etc. So now she is going to have to rely much much more on the Lord to help her with her understanding and speaking the language. She has great faith - I know she will do awesome!!

I have been studying about Irkutsk and its history and surrounding area and it is very interesting. I am learning alot about Russia. So I thought that I would give you a some interesting tidbits on this new area that she is serving in.

It is one of the largest cities in Siberia with a population of 593,604.

In the early 19th century, many Russian artists, officers and nobles were sent into exile to this part of Siberia for their part in the Decembrist revolt (Because this happened in December the rebels were called Decembrists) against Tsar Nicholas 1. (Hence the saying when someone does something wrong, "You are going to get sent to outer Siberia!")

Irkutsk became the major center of intellectual and social life for these exiles, and much of the citys cultural heritage comes from them. Many of their wooden houses, adorned with ornate, hand carved decorations ( see picture below), are still standing there today.

It has the nickname ~ The Paris of Siberia.

It is a very prosperous cultural and educational center for eastern Siberia with many museums and universities. The architectural design of many of the buildings and churches is very beautiful and ornate.

Kazansky Church in Irkutsk

Epiphany Minster (built in 1718-1746)

Irkutsk railway station on the Trans-Siberian Railway
(This is probably where Mindy arrived in this city)

A Decembrist house with distinctive hand-carved trim

Irkutsk sits near Lake Baikal. It is called "The Pearl of Siberia". It is the deepest lake in the world (about 2,442 ft) and it contains a total of about 20% of the worlds surface fresh water. It has a surface area of 12,248 square miles and is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, 2/3 of which can be found nowhere else in the world.

The lake is completely surrounded by mountains, contains 27 islands (the largest is 45 miles long and is the 4th largest lake-bound island in the world. The lake is fed by as many as 330 inflowing rivers.

Irkutsk is toward the bottom of the lake on the left side.
Sorry that this post is so long but I thought that you might be interested in seeing and hearing about the new area that Mindy is in. I hope that you enjoyed learning something new about a country that most of us know nothing about.