Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kiev Temple

And now, to the point of our arduous journey to Kiev: the dedication of the newest temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The night before was a pre-temple-dedication cultural extravaganza, held at the largest concert hall in Kiev. There were dances and dramatizations from Ukraine, Russia, Armenia, and Khazakstan. President Monson was extremely relaxed and casual. As he entered, he greeted the piano player, and then sat down and played a little Chinese chopsticks. And after his short talk, he actually gave noogies to his interpreter.

The Ukrainian choir director, on the other hand, conducted furiously, passionately. It made me smile. There was a dramatization of the history of Kiev, including the baptism of Rus by Prince Vladimir, who, according to legend, investigated a series of religions before choosing Christianity for his people.

Russia’s section of the program was unabashedly passionate and over the top. The section presented by Ukraine had a distinctly Westernish, Mormonish feel to it, but when the Russians came out with their dramatic poses and a passionate love song to God, it was something completely different. And it really made me smile. In Russia, bigger is better, deeper is better, more passionate is better! It’s a little too much for us cool Westerners, but that’s kind of what I love about it. It’s 100% from the heart.

Yulia looked around at the hundreds of people in the audience, leaned over and commented that it was really warm in the room. Yeah, I said, it is kind of stuffy in here, but she said, no, I meant the feeling. It’s like family. And it really was.

After the actual dedication the next day, I started chatting with a woman who I thought was one of the American senior missionaries I knew from Moscow -- shoulder-length hair, lots of makeup, big eyes. It was only when she asked to interview us that I realized it was Carol Mikita of KSL in Utah. I knew she looked familiar!

So she talked to Julia, Alla and me about our trip to Kiev, and we might be on the worldwide newscast between conference sessions! Here's what I told her (more or less):

“I wasn’t sure whether I was going to come to the temple dedication. I spent the summer in Moscow and then traveled to my mission to visit people, and they said, we’ve chartered a bus to go to the temple dedication and there are extra seats -- come with us! And so I did. It’s so great to be here with them. I was on my mission twelve years ago when this temple was announced. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s so great to be able to share it with people who have waited so long and who it means so much for.”

(These three families from Rostov got sealed in the temple the day after it was dedicated -- and I got to see it. Neat.)

1 comment:

Lindsey said...

Love it! What a fabulous experience; well, they have all been fabulous but this one would be just incredible to me! What a beautiful temple!!! So glad you are posting things so we can live through you!!!!