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Friday, June 17, 2011

Two of Our Editors

Seth Adam Smith (see http://sethadamsmith.blogspot.com/) and Taylor Knuth have volunteered to help us with the Russian Mormons project. Both served missions in Russia. Here's a little iPhone video of them. After they have a rough edit, Jed Wells, our director, will meet with them to talk about the edit and about his vision for the b-roll.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Vasya Once Again

While we are waiting for the editing of the videos, I thought I'd post a little unedited iPhone video of another shoot we did. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


As I have contemplated what has occurred here in Moscow over the last fourteen days it has been quite the task to take it all in. We came here with a simple purpose: to create a meaningful project that helped share the voice of latter-day Saints (Mormons) in Russia, to work closely in a mentored environment where BYU students could learn from local Russians, alumni, and each other, and to bring out the best in one another. Along the way we had some bumps and bruises, some lost gear, jet lag, scheduling conflicts, missed shuttles. But it all worked out. There was something definitely in the air about what we were doing. Something that led us, helped us, opened a door here, softened the heart of a bike track manager there. We felt it. We knew what we were doing was more than just making a couple videos and seeing Russia. Now as we leave I feel like I have gained a new perspective. I've come to appreciate the men and woman--the people in eastern Europe. Their spirit and strength have rubbed off on me and I will never be the same. During the last days of our trip we made a visit over to Victory Park, a memorial to the men, women, and children that died in WWII. It's a monument to the strength and resilience of the people of Russia and eastern Europe. It was a sobering experience. Now as we leave I can't help but think about that shared strength and resilience held by the members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Russia. That same strength will help build the kingdom. A familiar song comes to mind that speaks of Mormon pioneers in America. Come come ye saints, nor toil nor labor fear. But with joy wend your way. Though hard to you this journey may appear, grace shall be as your day... I know that with the first stake being organized in Moscow, the gospel is still only in its infancy--the beginnings. But boy does it have a bright future. The work is hard, but Russia has great men and women of faith to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with their countrymen and the world and its people like we met with, and served with that will make the difference. Ordinary men and women with extraordinary faith will be a shining example to all around them, for a city set on hill cannot be hid. I hope everyone knows how sincerely we appreciate all the service rendered on our behalf and for the faith and prayers that aided us in our journey. We look forward to sharing the finished product with you. Remember this is only the beginning. We've started a rough stone rolling that can only get better. Many thanks once again and until next time, das vidanya!


Monday, May 23, 2011

Strength. More than Athleticism

When Evgeniya Maksimova was a little girl she remembers a man coming to her school one day who said that he was looking for students to train to become cyclists. At the time she was full of energy but not quite sure if she wanted to ride bikes. After seeing her ride a bike, the coach asked if he could speak to her parents. The coach told her parents, "I can make her a champion." Three russian championships later Evgeniya has realized that statement many times. Having retired now from cycling to focus on a university education, Evgeniya is still meeting life with the attitude and faith of a champion. She believes that even though sometimes we are afraid of the challenges that lye before us, God will calm the storm inside of us and help us to succeed. He did for her. Despite all the challenges Evgeniya has faced in her life, God has helped her remain true to her faith, her positive work ethic and attitude, and helped her remain a bubbly happy girl at the same time. According to Evgeniya faith and hard work bring forward great fruits.






Sunday, May 22, 2011

A note from the director


I was home from China five full days when I was packing again in the basement office of our home in Provo. My son was in and out a few times, disrupting my piles of folded clothes and wandering away with important things like lenses. Somehow he didn't put it together that I was leaving. Again. Later on, with bags at the door, I told him he was the man of the house and I needed him to...

"Are you going on a trip?"
"Yeah, Buddy. I'm going to Russia."
"I'm going to work there."
"Is Russia far away?"
"Yeah, Pal. It's on the other side of the world."


"Why do you go away all the time?"

It'll be some time before my son understands why I came all this way to meet these people, to observe them, to come to love them and endeavor to tell their stories out of that love. As of yet, I haven't been very successful in explaining it to anyone.

This project comes at a difficult time for me professionally. I've got a handful of clients who aren't sure why they haven't seen their proofs yet, why I'm not done designing their posters, and some clients, I'm sure, who have moved on to other, more fruitful pastures. But I've stopped worrying about the digression of my career while I'm here. I'm not so concerned, anymore, how these pieces will pad my portfolio or who will notice my name attached to an exotic location shoot.

I am, however, determined to give these Russian people the very best of myself and my work because I know of the good this could do for these saints, and that makes the work not only easy, but truly enjoyable. These are fine, strong, beautiful people and very deserving of the world's attention. An interpreter on the project, Olga Davydova, likes to tease me that everyone we meet is my new hero. And it's true--I have a new hero every day. I can't get enough of them.

I spent some time in the weeks preceding this trip worrying about how it was all going to get done. I should say, I wasted some time. It occurred to me one night, in the sweaty fervor of a particularly needy prayer, that I should stop asking for help. If I claim to have so much faith, why not declare my confidence that the Lord will help, and stop badgering Him about it. From that night to this, I haven't asked again. And the peace that has come through those prayers has been some of the sweetest I have known. I've felt more than once like Peter stepping out of the boat onto the water, and the only way to stay on the surface is to keep declaring my confidence.

We owe much of this project to Charles Cranney's confidence in me. He is unfailingly supportive and it is a pleasure to see him return to his mission and be among his people. We are operating at all because of the (continuing) efforts of Elder Chad and Sister Bethany Packard. If the saints in Moscow don't know it already, they have a gold mine in this missionary couple. Christine Armbruster is an invaluable part of my crew. She is the consummate intern: talented, capable, independent. Low maintenance, high yield. And the unsung hero of this project, the one doing more work than anyone in the country right now, is Jonathan Wright. We have a schedule, equipment, this blog and even a cyrillic alphabet cheat sheet because of him. He's even slated to edit these pieces when he gets back stateside. Please, pray for him.

And when these films are cut together, when they have music and subtitles so that my son can understand them, I hope he will finally know why I went away. I'll let the Russian saints do the talking, because compared to them, I'm only sounding brass.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Vasya Sneak Peek

Today we are working on getting the transcript of Vasya's interview translated into English so that we can edit it and post it to the blog. When we are finished we will post the Russian version to the blog and have a link to a subtitled version on Youtube for those that would like to see it in English. It was quite thrilling to film Vasya and his band so we thought we would put a little taste here seeing that not all of it will make it into the final edit of Vasya's story. Hope you enjoy! Here is a link to the full text of Elder Rasband's remarks on talents.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Day at the Dacha

I threw together several iPhone clips from our day at the dacha--a wonderful day to be sure. "There is too much to shoot here," said Jed Wells, our director. "It's all so beautiful."

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About This Blog

Welcome to the Russian Mormons blog. The purpose of this blog is to share meaningful insights on the faith and beliefs of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Russia.

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