Wednesday, December 31, 2014

12/28/14 Two Whites in One Day/Zone Conference/Branch Party

They tell us the real winter is starting and it certainly is getting colder.  Sometimes the windows of the buses are frosted so it is hard to tell when to get off.  That is by way of comment and not by complaint.  We are doing well, so good to be here together.  To Mike has fallen the care of the finances.  It is a cash  society (I'm good with a credit card - Amazon and Costco probably have been sorry to have us gone - and the gas industry too.)  We should have had Mike taking care of our money all of these years.  At the end of last month, he had more than the books showed. 

We had a couple of "whites" in a day.  About mid-day, white-clouds in the blue sky - the blue sky something we hadn't seen for a while.  This is on our "walking street" which has a lane of traffic on either side, then the "park" area in the middle with the trees and grass - in the spring - on the sides of the walk.  It has been warm enough to melt the snow just enough to freeze it back into a very slippery walk.  At the end of each day we count that we have not slipped and fallen as one of our tender mercies.
Our second white was that same evening.  This picture was taken out of our apartment window.  There is more snow tonight, but too dark for a picture.

It has been a busy week - Our mission zone conference was held the day after Christmas,  so our mission president and his wife were here.  Sister Schwab planned a back home Christmas dinner for between the sessions.  They brought some things when they came and we fixed some things down here:  frozen cherry salad, ham, cheesy potatoes, rolls, candied carrots which we hadn't heard of before, but they are lightly candied and very good, evidenced by the very empty pan part way through the meal.  For dessert, Sister Yorgesen had made her famous brownies, and we served that with ice cream  and chocolate syrup.  Everyone spoke in English and all the conference talks were in English - felt like home.
This was held where we meet for church, in the recreation area right behind the chapel.  The zone meetings are in the chapel.  Sister Schawb found the plates, place mats .. etc .. everything at the Metro store (kind of like Walmart) in Samara so it had a real Christmas touch.  It was fun to see and hear the missionary's appreciation
Saturday, the next day, was the Branch Party.  The young women - we have only four - came over earlier in the afternoon to make and decorate cupcakes and cookies.  One young man came along because he was the only one and they didn't want to leave him out.  They wanted me to teach them how to make and decorate cookies.  They think American Babushkas can do all those kinds of things.  Making them is one thing, but creative cookie/cupcake decorating is not one of my talents.  We had picked up a lot of different things for the toppings, and also found a good frosting recipe.  Another tender mercy, I didn't have to demonstrate my weakness,.  They sat right down and went to work - often more frosting than cookie, and the young women's president was good at decorating.  It was a fun activity and when we took them to the party there wasn't a crumb left.  Also, the party was fun - would have reminded you of a way-back-when Bunkerville party.  
The Elders even added a tree and decorated it at the last minute - was a warm, welcome sight.  They made the snowflakes and had pictures of Christ from some of the pamphlets, pretty cool.
Finally to Sunday - This was on the board when we walked into our Sunday School class.  She had written on the board before class, then added the picture and the chart during the lesson. .  "Kingdom Which Shall Never Be Destroyed."  You can tell she is prepared and a good teacher by the lesson and the participation - not because we can understand.   

It touches our hearts and builds our testimonies to associate with the members of the church and to hear their tender stories and strong testimonies in the face often of difficult circumstances.  There are very good people here.  Our young missionaries, after their study and planning in the mornings, are out teaching lessons or on the street contacting in all sorts of not so great weather looking to find those who are searching.  Little miracles happen every day.  Our Heavenly Father certainly watches over us and takes care of our individual needs.  We have thought of Elder Bednar's talk on the tender mercies of the Lord.  "Some may count this experience as simply a nice coincidence, but I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord’s timing of His tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them.
Since last October I have reflected repeatedly upon the phrase “the tender mercies of the Lord.” Through personal study, observation, pondering, and prayer, I believe I have come to better understand that 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. Truly, the Lord suits “his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men” (D&C 46:15).
Recall how the Savior instructed His Apostles that He would not leave them comfortless. Not only would He send “another Comforter” (John 14:16), even the Holy Ghost, but the Savior said that He would come to them (see John 14:18). Let me suggest that one of the ways whereby the Savior comes to each of us is through His abundant and tender mercies. For instance, as you and I face challenges and tests in our lives, the gift of faith and an appropriate sense of personal confidence that reaches beyond our own capacity are two examples of the tender mercies of the Lord. Repentance and forgiveness of sins and peace of conscience are examples of the tender mercies of the Lord. And the persistence and the fortitude that enable us to press forward with cheerfulness through physical limitations and spiritual difficulties are examples of the tender mercies of the Lord."
Love from Russia -   Elder & Sister Waite  :)

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