Monday, January 2, 2017

4/17/2016 Radishchev Art Museum

 Dasha, Alyona and I went to the Radishchev Art Musem, another glimpse into Russian culture and history. The building is well kept and the variety of art well displayed.  We'll copy part of the history:
The Radishchev Museum in Saratov opened to the public on June 29, 1885. It is supposed to have been Russia's first major public art museum outside Mocow or St. Petersburg. Moscow or St. Petersburg. It was founded by Alexey Bogolyubov and named after his grandfather, the 18th-century revolutionary writer Alexander Radishchev. The naming of the museum after the "first Russian revolutionary", Alexander Radishchev, was a direct challenge to the authorities: Bogolyubov had to endure a legal battle to get permission. It was the first art museum in Russia open to everybody. It was opened to the general public seven years earlier than the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and fifteen years earlier than the Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg.
This tapestry covers one wall - the detail is so much more impressive than we can show here.

The artist even painted himself into the picture - the one in red facing front.
 The building is filled with art of every kind.
 This 18th Century chandelier originally had candles instead of lights, a picture doesn't do it justice.
A sample of some of the paintings

 Piano - kind of funny shaped so different sound.
 They have also more modern painters - not "modern" meaning our day, but modern meaning substantially later than the others. Although we probably wouldn't hang them in our home, some are kind of fun:

Monday, April 18, 2016

4/17/2016 Volga,

 This is our last view of the bridge and the Volga as we left Saratov Monday morning to go to the mission home in Samara.  We fly home Thursday, the 21st.

This is the view of the Volga from the windows of the Balakova building where we stopped for church on the way to Samara.  A beautiful last Sunday in Russia.

We're grateful for the experience we have had here.  The missionaries work hard and inch forward .. and we think of this scripture:
 128:22: Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. 
We will do a final and more complete update when we get home .. we're still enjoyinged the journey!    

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

4/10/2016 Yuri Gagarin, Tender Mercies

     A Doctor Suess quote  "Don't cry because it's over.  Smile because it happened."  It has been an amazing experience and we are grateful we have been able to be here and that our family has been so well taken care of while we were gone.
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      We went with President Reshetnikov, our Stake President (he was District President before Saratov was made a Stake) to his work last week which is right next to the museum for Yuri Gagarin.  Gagarin did several years of his studies at the school, and President took time to take us through the museum.
        Russian astronaut/cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first human to journey into outer space.  His Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the earth April 12, 1961. 
Gagarin in Sweden.jpg
They have reason to be proud of him.  He was a good student, a hard worker, an honorable man and appreciated the praise given him.  The story is told when he visited Manchester in the United Kingdom, it was pouring rain, but he insisted that the hood of the car remain back so the cheering crowds could catch a glimpse of him. Gagarin stated:  "If all these people have turned out to welcome me and can stand in the rain, so can I."

The different planes he worked with or flew. 

 The sign is from where he landed

Elder & Sister Waite and the museum director.
Sorry, very short blog this week - we leave Sunday for Samara, then fly home that next week, will have a couple of days in Samara so will try to give you a better report on the last couple of weeks.  We have experienced many "tender mercies" while we have been here.

TENDER MERCIES -  Elder Bednar  "Nephi wanted us to understand right from the beginning of his record that the Lord’s tender mercies are extended to those who exercise faith in Him." Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles then explained what the Lord’s tender mercies are in our life.
      “The Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. … The Lord’s tender mercies do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Faithfulness, obedience, and humility invite tender mercies into our lives, and it is often the Lord’s timing that enables us to recognize and treasure these important blessings” (“The Tender Mercies of the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 99–100).

Monday, April 11, 2016

April 10, 2016 Late this week

Time to come home fills the hours very quickly .. we'll be late on the blog this week.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

4/3/2016 Prayer, Restaurants, Offenses

President Monson - The Prayer of Faith, April 1978:  I suppose that during the holocaust of World War II more of the people living on this earth paused to pray than at any other time in our history. Who can calculate the concern of mothers, wives, and children who pleaded for Almighty God’s protecting care to be with absent sons, husbands, and fathers locked in mortal combat? Prayers are heard. Prayers are answered.
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Heartwarming is the example of the mother in America who prayed for her son’s well-being as the ship on which he served sailed into the bloody cauldron known as the Pacific theater of war. Each morning she would arise from kneeling in prayer and serve as a volunteer on those production lines which became lifelines to men in battle. Could it he that a mother’s own handiwork might somehow directly affect the life of a loved one? All who knew her and her family cherished the actual account of her sailor son, Elgin Staples, whose ship went down off Guadalcanal. Staples was swept over the side; but he survived, thanks to a life belt that proved, on later examination, to have been inspected, packed, and stamped back home in Akron, Ohio, by his own mother!
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I know not by what methods rare,
But this I know, God answers prayer.
I know that He has given His Word,
Which tells me prayer is always heard,
And will be answered, soon or late.
And so I pray and work and wait.
I know not if the blessing sought
Will come in just the way I thought;
But leave my prayers with Him alone,
Whose way is wiser than my own,
Assured that He will grant my quest,
Or send some answer far more blest.
A watercolor illustration of a mother and daughter kneeling to pray on a woven rug next to a couch.
We have a young lady who comes on Wednesday for an hour  because she is in the Pathway program at BYU-I and has to have an English speaking partner to meet with each week to go over the assignments, practice English, etc.  She is a delightful personality and we enjoy her.  Her parents, both deaf after childhood diseases, have taught her to work hard and to live within her means.  She is strong and faithful in the church.  Her essays are quite fun and often touching.  Following is from her last one:
     The essay "Do it Right" is partially the answer to my question from the last week discussion board:  "How do prevent the situation of children becoming dependent on or addicted to the internet?"  Books are the best helpers for working parents.  I recalled a story about my great grandfather told me by my aunt.  He grew up in a family of poor peasants.  The only education he got was from his ill-educated parents or people around him.  Back then children whose parents couldn't pay for school didn't go to school.  And at some point he took to books.  He read a lot.  Books didn't give him wealth or high position.  But it gave him education and people's respect.   Many people came to him for advice.  Several years before his death he was elected as a head of the village.  He did everything so that all his 9 children could study."  
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and from this has come a posterity of children and grandchildren who have worked to educate themselves and their children.  One stone can make a lot of ripples.
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         When Schwabs were here a few weeks ago we went with them and their daughter, Jenni, to the restuarant with the good herbal cherry chocolate chai (tea).  The brown paper bag contains the sandwich they forgot to bring Mike - he is bringing it (the bag, not the sandwich) home because it is the first brown paper bag we've seen here, lots of plastic but not brown paper.
This is why we have a difficult time ordering - although Schwabs can figure out some of the items.  The third one up is the herbal Cherry Chocolate Chai (tea).
Bottom one on this is a like a chicken wrap - and it is good.
The pictures below are from about six weeks ago when we were trying to find the chai restaurant mentioned above.  We couldn't find it, but during the search along the walking street, came across this window menu in English.
 We entered with high hopes ..
but you can see this menu isn't in English .. 
Mike and President Schwab ended up with hamburgers and fries, Sister Schwab, Jenni and I were fine with pasta, pizza and plove (a Russian dish). 
 It was another adventure - and it was fun - decor, great and the food, fine.
 This is the cool mirror in the bathroom. The lights on the side are fluorescent and it is like you are looking into a box.
It is warmer, but the sun is still having a hard time getting through the clouds - this picture as we walked up toward the bus from church.
They have an amazing system of pipes that take hot water throughout this city of 850,000 providing not only hot water, but that runs through radiators in most of the homes and buildings providing much needed heat.  This picture was taken just as you walk out the front door of the church.
     Here, as everywhere else, members get offended about something someone says or does, often unintentional and by those who are often unaware of their offense.  It is frightening when those things keep someone away from church and association with the members, because it is most often very difficult to come back. We have been strongly counseled and encouraged here not only to be sensitive to others and careful of what we say, but also to not be quick to take offense, and if we are, not to let that keep us away from friends and church.  
                         (not sure where we saw this but it is well said)
It is reported that President Brigham Young once said that he who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is usually a fool. It was then explained that there are two courses of action to follow when one is bitten by a rattlesnake. One may in anger, fear, or vengefulness pursue the creature and kill it. Or he may make full haste to get the venom out of his system. If we pursue the latter course we will likely survive, but if we attempt to follow the former, we may not be around long enough to finish it.

From Elder Marion D. Hanks, June,1974, who many of you won't remember:

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I would like to tell of one lesson among many that he taught us and that you and I must learn if we are to merit his friendship.  Christ’s love was so pure that he gave his life for us. . . But there was another gift he bestowed while he was on the cross, a gift that further measured the magnitude of his great love: He forgave, and asked his Father to forgive, those who persecuted and crucified him... What is our response when we are offended, misunderstood, unfairly or unkindly treated, or sinned against, made an offender for a word, falsely accused, passed over, hurt by those we love, our offerings rejected? Do we resent, become bitter, hold a grudge? Or do we resolve the problem if we can, forgive, and rid ourselves of the burden?  The nature of our response to such situations may well determine the nature and quality of our lives, here and eternally.   It is required of us to forgive. Our salvation depends upon it. In a revelation given in 1831 the Lord said:  "...Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.  “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.  (D&C 64:8-10)
*  *   * 
(from last week - this is a speed bump - and they are serious about it, but the most fun is a taxi driver who tries to miss all the pot holes in the road - some of them would make for good rides at an amusement park)
We are grateful more than we have words to express for the people here and their good care of us.  They have allowed us to share in their lives and we are learning much.  As we have said before, it continues to be an amazing experience.  

Monday, March 28, 2016

3/27/2016 Sister Clain, 17 Rubles, Buildings, Easter Eggs

The young sister missionary from France that was injured in the Brussels bombing was headed to the Ohio Cleveland Mission where Mike's sister and husband - Cecil and Carol Leavitt - are serving as the office couple.This is from Carol's letter:
    The KHS means she is called to serve in the Kirtland Historical Sight. The S could be for Sister, but there are no Elder's serving in the Historical Sights, so I am saying Sight.  That poor Sister has had a long struggle trying to come from France to serve her mission in the Ohio Cleveland Mission. Each transfer her name would be on the list, then the closer it gets to transfer time, her name would be taken off due to no Visa. Then when her Visa finally comes through, and she gets all the way to the airport, and through check in, those darn terrorist decided they want to mess up people's lives. She is now on our list to arrive in our May Incoming, if she is healed enough to come. (the picture shows up on this, but when I checked the blog on another computer, it didn't - but hopefully you've already seen her picture.) 
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    This next story was told us by the zone leaders.  We have a young man being baptized next week.  He is working and saving his money so he can go to chef's school.  His work is close to the Institute building and although he usually buses to work at a cost of 17 rubles (23 cents) to save money, he often walks the two hours home.  Sunday after the block the Elders brought him here because they didn't have time to go home before the fireside by our new Patriarch.  He tasted his first peanut butter sandwich which fortunately he liked, because there wasn't time for anything else.  After the fireside, because it was later than usual, he decided to bus home.  The Elders walked with him and as they were waiting, a lady who "looked like she was in poor circumstances" - that is how they described it - came up to them and asked for money or bread or anything. They said that, without any hesitation, this new convert reached in his pocket and gave her some money.  Then he turned to them and said simply - "I read in Mosiah that you should share even if you don't have much."  
Any guesses, we hadn't seen this sign before .. 
There used to be a Carl's Junior on the walking street, but the name and signs changed .. This sign loosely translated into English - Zhunior Star.
In it is pretty much the same.  After you order the food, they give you the number that goes on your table and they bring your food to you.  The cook line doesn't have the little slanty tray slots where the workers can just grab what you order.  The hamburger is cooked after you order it.  You don't bus your tray and trash - you leave it and someone picks it up.
The least expensive hamburger is the best for me - just enough sauce, plenty of lettuce, onion and pickles.  Mike's had onion rings as a layer on his hamburger - the Western.  Good onion rings, again, they don't cook anything until you order it, so it is always fresh - and greasy and good. 
We rarely see a group of dogs - all quiet - just enjoying the warm spots on the walk.
 Spring cleaning and planting has begun.  This is out our apartment window.
The Markelovs got us tickets (Lena went with us while Zhenya tended kids) to the Russian Folk Celebration - it was really amazing.  We do like the Russian Folk music - and the concerts are great.

He was so cool - good conductor and such a kind, pleasant looking gentleman. 
Here are some of the instruments -  the balalaika and others.  They usually play with their fingers - and can play so quiet that a whole orchestra is like a whisper and increase the sound as they increase the speed and intensity of their fingers - it really is amazing.
Ethnic music instruments vector set. Musical instrument silhouette on white background. - stock vector
Many of those performing have studied and practiced since they were young.  They have accordions and another instrument that looks like an accordion, but has buttons on both sides called a bayan,
The flute player came in from Moscow - and he was exceptional.
Maxim and Angelina took us to take pictures of all the buildings the Dachney and Solnechney Branches (now Wards) have rented space to have Sunday meetings in.  They used whatever building they could get, and stayed usually, for as long as they were allowed.  In Bunkerville NV Mike has gone to church in two buildings, easy walking distance.  In Snowflake, I had only one - and it was a block - a Snowflake block, not a Salt Lake City block and certainly not a Saratov Russia block.
Lenin Statue
When theater or opera/symphony buildings were not being used much because of the economy, they would rent to whoever would pay to use it.
The part of this building they rented is now a magneet (like a 7-11)
One building we had to walk down stairs and through a tunnel to the other side of the street to be able to reach the it - kind of fun, reminded me of the old tunnel when you went through Salt River Canyon from Snowflake to Mesa. (Arizona)

last three buildings
One of our Elders celebrated his 19th birthday - they seem so grown up sometimes as they take on the responsibility of finding and teaching and keeping and helping in the wards and branches, it is almost surprising to realize their age.
 In Angelina's family, part of their Easter tradition is to decorate eggs.  We had not seen this before.  They put grass or leaves or pieces of the onion or whatever the want on the eggs, wrap them tightly in pieces of nylon stockings to hold them in place and then boil them in the outer peelings of onion. Wished we could have kept them like they were and brought them home.
She made this cute basket too. 

 There was a talk by President Eyring in the October 15 conference.  Here is a part we liked.  There are things we get used to saying in our prayers, it isn't that we don't mean them, but we don't have the "pleading" in our hearts.  This reminds us of the importance of having the spirit with us at all times and for specifically asking - pleading  to have that.  

My purpose today is to increase your desire and your determination to claim the gift promised to each of us after we were baptized. During our confirmation we heard these words: “Receive the Holy Ghost.”1 From that moment, our lives changed forever.
We can, if we live worthy of it, have the blessing of the Spirit to be with us, not only now and then, as in such remarkable experiences as we’ve had today, but always. You know from the words of the sacrament prayer how that promise is fulfilled: “O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them.”
And then comes the glorious promise: “That they may always have his Spirit to be with them” (D&C 20:77; emphasis added).
To always have the Spirit with us is to have the guidance and direction of the Holy Ghost in our daily lives. We can, for instance, be warned by the Spirit to resist the temptation to do evil.
For that reason alone, it is easy to see why the Lord’s servants have tried to increase our desire to worship God in our sacrament meetings. If we partake of the sacrament in faith, the Holy Ghost will then be able to protect us and those we love from the temptations that come with increasing intensity and frequency.  The companionship of the Holy Ghost makes what is good more attractive and temptation less compelling. That alone should be enough to make us determined to qualify for the Spirit to be with us always.
Just as the Holy Ghost strengthens us against evil, He also gives us the power to discern truth from falsehood. The truth that matters most is verified only by revelation from God. Our human reason and the use of our physical senses will not be enough. We live in a time when even the wisest will be hard-pressed to distinguish truth from clever deception.
    Our weeks continue to be filled with meetings and missionaries and members and investigators. The days are full and there is always fun mixed in somewhere.  We have learned much - from the scriptures and other studies, from the inspired words of our prophet, other church leaders and our mission president, from the members and missionaries we associate with, from the Russian people and being in another culture, from each other. and always just from life itself.  Our Father has watched over us and our family and we are grateful!.