Friday, April 24, 2009

A little about the history of Vladivostok...







To many world-wide travelers seeking adventure, the Russian Far East is a very desirable place to visit, and of course if you are going to visit this region, you do not want to miss seeing the famous sea port, Vladivostok.







Vladivostok, meaning the “Lord of the East” in Russian, is located less than 75 miles east of the Chinese border, approximately 100 miles north of Korea and just across the Sea of Japan from the main Japanese island of Honshu but a very distant 6,200 miles east of Moscow.

Interestingly, this beautiful sea port city was so far from the center of communist rule, when Russia was better known as the Soviet Union, that it was not until 1954 that a leader of the USSR visited this city. I am talking about Nikita Khrushchev, a man who became famous, worldwide, for his eccentric statements and actions. He was the first one to call Vladivostok the “Russian San-Francisco” which in many ways is a fairly accurate comparison.

Like San Francisco, the city of Vladivostok is located on a hilly region surrounded by a bay, in this case the Gold Horn Bay. Visitors who arrive to this city enjoy the spectacular view, which is surprisingly similar to San Francisco.

Vladivostok is also the home port of the Russian Navy’s pacific fleet, and there are hundreds of military ships and submarines located in the Gold Horn Bay. As a result of this, the city of Vladivostok was a closed region for more than 70 years. Vladivostok was city for a military installation, and even Russian citizens wanting to visit relatives, were forbidden to travel to this city without special permits and passes. It was not until the year of 1992 that Vladivostok was officially opened for foreign visitors as well as the rest of the Russian population.

Vladivostok attracts many tourists’ attention not only because of its’ beautiful location, but also for its’ very rich history.There are quite a few historical buildings and monuments still standing that hold the memories of many events from the 1860, when this city was founded, to present day. These historical buildings remember the times when Vladivostok was given a free trade status with the purpose of encouraging foreign trade in 1878. More than 40% of the 4000 residents of the time were foreign nationals which allowed the city to have diversity from the various cultures that traded and resided within the city’s boundaries.

From 1917 to 1922 Vladivostok became a cultural bastion. During the ensuing years, beginning in 1917, Vladivostok became a haven for many Russians trying to escape from the clutches of the new Soviet regime, settling in the port city while retreating to the east together with the White Army. Among them were many Russians, the creative intelligentsia from Moscow and St Petersburg. They established conservatories, theaters, symphony orchestras and art centers in Vladivostok before escaping to countries such as Australia, China, the USA, and other lands after the Bolsheviks, in 1922, achieved victory in the Far East.

This city can still remember the 1930s when the Stalinist repressions began and the transit camps were constructed housing political prisoners from the Western regions of Russia to Kolyma, and to the new camp in Vladivostok.This city remembers when it was Russia’s biggest military port during the cold war and the beginning of “Perestroika.”

Now, Vladivostok is filled with businesses from all over the world coming to take advantage of the city's position as the gate to modern Russia, Japan, China and Korea.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Box of Adoption Papers....and Russian Visas

Good morning! I've had a great week this week...as both my boys have been off school! We're going to spend this afternoon at the pool with some of Trennon's classmates...it should be fun! I've really enjoyed this week with the boys. We went for lunch with Dada, bowling, lots of sleeping in (bonus for Mama!) and riding in the cul-de-sac on Ryden's new bike....and on and on.

There's nothing much new on the adoption front. I was bored last night so I thought I would take a picture of all our adoption paper work so far. Well, that's just the stuff that we have kept. It's unbelieveable the amount of stuff we've filed. It started off accumalating on a pile...and then Terence got this nice box to store everything in. :-)

I heard recently that the time it takes to get a Russian Visa has been reduced. It used to take something like 3 full weeks...which is ridiculous! I guess a normal visa is now 5 days...and if you don't mind paying extra...it could be done in 1 day! This could potentially take almost a month off the adoption process! What great news! (ok, so maybe I did have some good adoption news today) As much as I like the idea of going to Russia 2 weeks after we get our referral...I can just think of how crazy busy it's going to be to get ready in only 2 weeks or less! My mom has got to get her stuff together and come take care of the boys, I've got to make sure I have food in the house for them, notes written for mom, plus I have to pack, pack and pack some more. All at the same time that I'm completely freaking out that we're going to see and hold our daughter!!!!! Ya, that's going to be a gong show! But, I'm not complaining!!!! Hey, the sooner I can hold that sweet like girl of mine the better! Oh, I'm getting so excited for that day. We've had some friends lately that have gotten their referrals. To see how happy they are....literally bouncing off their chairs....it's where I want to be right now. But, I know God is taking care of our daughter and preparing her for our arrival into her life. The boys seem to talk a lot more about her lately. The other morning we were talking about her while we were making breakfast. They said, can we set a place for her at breakfast as if she were here? I said, of course! So, we set her a place...it was so cute! I couldn't imagine life without our boys. They have made this adoption process so amazing. Just having them to talk to about it is just incredible. They are so patient and don't get frustrated by the length it's taking....I learn so much from them.

Well, approx. a month has gone by since our documents have been registered....I wonder how many more will have to go by before we meet our little girl.....???

Love,
Carala

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Gone to her Heavenly Home


All we wanted...was for Grandma to be happy. Well, last night my Grandma went to be with her husband and Heavenly Father. For those that knew Grandma...they would say she was a cheerful soul. She had the best smile (all teeth!) and loved to sing hymn's while busy in her kitchen. I have a lot of great memories of my Grandma. She was a great talker...I know where I get it from! When I was young I used to spend Friday nights sleeping over at my grandparents house so my brother and I could watch cartoons in the morning. We didn't grow up with a TV so this was special for us. And, Grandma would make us porridge and toast(with homemade jam!) in the morning...and of course we'd smell fresh bread or buns baking in the oven. I still even use the same hand lotion my grandma uses...Jergens! Ever since I moved away from home...I've only bought Jergens...the almond cherry scent(for those that use it!) cause that's what my grandma used. :-) I sure am going to miss her. She was an incredible women of God. Her faith was so very strong and her love for Christ shon so brightly. The hope that we have in Christ is what keeps me going. I know, one day we will see her again. But, for now...we celebrate my Grandma's life...cause it was wonderful! And, to know she is dancing with Grandpa right now makes me all the happier! It's been 14 years since Grandpa's been gone. And the 10 years prior to his death he spend in a wheel chair because of a serious car accident they were both in. Grandpa saved Grandma's life during that accident...but that landed him in a wheel chair, paralyzed from the chest down. He was one funny, but incredible man. Now, they are both dancing together....and that is just the sweetest music to my ears!


So, we may shed tears...but mostly for joy that she has gone home to her Heavenly Father. Thank you all for your suppport, love, and prayers. It means a lot to us and our family.


Love,
Carala