Facebook Twitter

Missionaries pitch in during 300th anniversary

Missionaries volunteer at historic Russian museum

SHARE Missionaries pitch in during 300th anniversary

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — To help mark the 300th anniversary of the beautiful and historic city of St. Petersburg, missionaries from the Russia St. Petersburg Mission are volunteering hundreds of hours of service to assist patrons during their tours of the internationally renowned Hermitage Museum.

Founded by Tsar Peter the Great, St. Petersburg has a rich and colorful history. Located on the Baltic Sea, it is considered by many to be the most beautiful of Russian cities. In celebration of its founding, activities have been planned throughout the year.

More than 60 missionaries will have volunteered between April and the end of June. With many visitors coming from around the world to participate in the museum's culture and beauty, missionaries with their bilingual abilities have helped showcase its artifacts.

For weeks prior to the event, missionaries used their preparation days to study about the museum and learn of its many art treasures. Two nights a week they assisted other museum guides to learn English to help in their presentations.

Many elders assisted the museum with physical arrangements by moving furniture and art works and setting up displays. One Saturday morning, missionaries joined with members to prepare the nearby Summer Garden of Peter the Great for the celebration.

"During this process, the administrators and staff of the Hermitage have become our good friends," said Elder Yury Kozhokin from Veronezh, Russia.

"We could not succeed without their help," said Hermitage Museum Director Mikhail Piotrovski, who praised the missionaries for their reliability, cheerfulness, language ability and willingness to participate.

During this time, missionaries did not proselytize or wear missionary name tags. Still, "many visitors recognized them as missionaries anyway," said President John P. Kennedy of the St. Petersburg mission.

"Others asked why Americans and Canadians were in St. Petersburg helping at the Russian Hermitage Museum," said Sister Jill G. Kennedy. "This, of course, gave them an appropriate opportunity to identify themselves."

"What an amazing opportunity for us to learn about the culture and history of the people we teach," said Elder Nicholas Howland from Murray, Utah, a zone leader who was instrumental in organizing the service.

"We feel a part of Russian history just being here at this special time," said Sister Kimberlee Winterton from Georgetown, Texas.

The Hermitage is considered the third largest museum in the world after the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London. It was originally constructed as the winter palace of the Russian tsars. The state rooms and the outstanding collection of European masterpieces have been open to the public since the Russian Revolution of 1917.