07 February 2014

Insights from Sochi, Russia -by Nancy Sr.

So our mom/coach, Nancy Sr., has been giving family & friends updates from Sochi, Russia for a couple weeks now and I've been wanting to share some of those insights with you. I asked the mom, and she will daily or every couple days, give me something she's written for you, with videos! Enjoy...

6 Feb 2014

Sochi, Russia

It's the day before the opening ceremonies.

I will have to say that when I was here 1 year ago , it seemed impossible that the Olympics could happen. The amount of work still to be done was daunting. Not much seemed finished. But what slowly emerged before my eyes after not being able to see much when I came in at 2 a.m. , was an incredible "fairyland" still badly needing it's finishing touches , but amazingly receiving them over this last week. 

Today, to my disbelief last year that it could ever happen...it has happened! 

Everything for this Olympics was started from scratch after buildings had to be purchased and levelled. Never before has an Olympics had 5 venues all in a "bubble" (so coined because of the circular grouping of the speedskating, hockey, figure skating, shortrack speedskating, curling, and the opening/closing ceremony stadium venues). And then within adjacent levels of security: the Olympic village, press center, the "more important than the athletes" castle hotels, all the meeting "houses " for the different countries (ie: USA house, holland house, P&G house etc). 


The Olympic village, where the athletes stay, lines the coastal waters not far from where 2 massive cruise ships (for needed accommodations) are parked. Most countries are in a single building complex, while smaller countries may share. Security stands on the side where the fencing borders the water. Most building wear the flags and the name of the country. The USA house bears no markings...

Below are 2 videos from the Olympic Village now...

On top of all that is within this area, that will be (after the Olympics) the lavishly updated Sochi resort, is a newly constructed Tribune for car races (circling the venue interiors) and a Disney world amusement park, the entrance to which is lined with palm trees mirroring Disney world Florida. It's hard to believe those palm trees will survive!!!

In addition to the sites and buildings, an entire road and rail system was created to accommodate the millions who would pass through this relatively small area in such a short period of time. Presently, every day, thousands of people organized in bright intricately colored jackets and pants for their particular jobs, come streaming out of the railway system and buses and cascade into the venues to work or prepare for the opening ceremonies. 

An incredible amount of preparation has happened in this last week before the opening tomorrow. It has gone from seeming chaos of new drivers and workers (coming from Moscow to Siberia to Turkey) who not only couldn't communicate with us but couldn't drive us a few miles without getting lost for 1 hour, to a system of mass transit slowly seemingly becoming (hopefully) a brilliantly organized plan. There are massive secured parking lots of hundreds of buses and cars.

Security has escalated from just the entrances to the bubble and occasional police cars, to security and police seemingly always within a stones toss. There are mounted police, slow driving police, standing police, and undercover police. It feels safe, yet sometimes I can see in the mass entrances of people, that maybe someone could slip by???

One night I missed my ride back, and as I stood on the curb just outside the bubble, a group of 20 volunteer interpreters were walking by and asked if they could help me. I said I needed a ride to my hotel on the other side of the bubble, just 1 1/2 miles away (as the crow flys) but not for walking alone at nigh. They said they would take me there. I said how? They said for me to come with them on the city bus, and then they d walk me to my place. I said, "don't leave me, promise". They said they wouldn't. The bus wasn't on a route to get close and I had to get out still 1 and 1/2 mi away. I looked at them and 8 walked out with me and said "we promised we wouldn't leave you and we won't. We'll walk you to your place".  They said," it's just another adventure for us".

When they got to my place we took a picture and we group hugged! I gave each something I had that would be meaningful and a memory of the night :)

Wow...I felt God was in each one of their hearts. Their graciousness was something I will never forget!

Goodnight from Sochi, Russia...the night before it all begins! 

Nancy Sr.


Videos from last March 2013, contrasting what venues looked like then...to what they are now (previous videos!)