We are to the season of snow-melt-ice...more snow-more melt-thicker ice...still more melt on top of the melt-even thicker ice and on and on and finally it really is cold, into the below zeros - the teens and twenties sound like summer weather. Our Russian friends just smile and say .. Russian winter. When they talk about the "hot" summer coming that will be in the 80's, it sounds pretty good to us. Elder Waite attempts to keep the walk in front of the "office" which is what everyone call the Institute, cleaned off. That doesn't just mean shoveling, it means chipping away the ice. You can see that the walk behind him for a very long way is still icy. Walking is like being in an ice skating rink though not nearly as flat, lots of holes and ruts - but maybe that is better. One of the sister missionaries in Toliatti fell when they were out on the street contacting and broke her ankle. Their tender mercy for the day, they said, was that the first one to stop to see if they needed help was a nurse just getting off duty from a fairly close hospital. The sisters said "she called an ambulance just like she was calling a cab." They got the sister missionary to the hospital where they set her ankle. When she was able to go back to the apartment, the elders came and helped, but it looks like she is going to have to go back home to the US for surgery. We've been blessed. I've fallen once, Mike a couple of times, but no injuries. We just hold on to each other and slide along.
This is a grocery cart from the larger store we shop at, Ashan. They have a great system for the carts always being returned, in fact, most don't take the carts out of the store. Just above where you see the chain coming out from the grey box, you can barely see the tip of a 10 ruble coin, which you have to put in to allow the flat hook at the other end of the chain - in my hand at the bottom of the picture - to come apart from the cart in front of the one you are getting. When we finish shopping we push the cart back into the line, return the hook into the slot of the cart in front and the 10 ruble coin pops back out. Seems to work very well. We've never seen any carts in the parking lot.
When the Yorgesens were moved to be the office couple in Samara, we were assigned to help with the Humanitarian projects in this area, which they had been doing. So, Friday morning we went with Pavil, the area Public Relations for the church here and a couple of Elders to take care of the closing of one of those projects - a TB hospital in a town right across the river. We had to be in masks, plastic shoes and gowns. Elder Waite's was just a bit tight when he buttoned it over his suit, but anything looks good with his Russian hat, or shopka. After whatever items their project covers has been delivered and put into use, there are papers that have to be filled out and signed and stamped, pictures taken and a certificate of completion that goes to the Church's humanitarian center in Moscow. It is very interesting and touching. We really don't realize what we have at home until we see what they don't have here. The doctors and nurses who work in these hospitals are very dedicated to their work, just really nice people. We belong to an amazing church.
We went again on Friday to the District Meetings of the missionaries in the Dachney/Solnechney areas. It is good to be able to get to know them better. We are impressed that the missionaries here contact on the streets even in this weather and don't complain about it. Below are a couple of better pictures of the building, last week the picture was from the bus stop that is up a little hill and across the highway.The complete area inside the fence where in the spring will be grassy, is now a solid sheet of ice, just the sidewalk coming in is chipped out. You can see by the second picture that it is a good sized building, for here anyway.
This building and the building in Engels are owned by the church and both have baptism fonts. Other buildings that are rented only have movable tanks like the one below, the cover is similar to a pool cover at home, but heavier. We wanted you to see it, so blocked the faces that we can't publish on a blog. The missionaries joke that the investigator has to jump from the steps and make it into the font to be able to be baptized. They use a ladder that goes up the side and then down into the water.
Our S&I Director for all of Samara is standing behind Elder Waite. He is great - he does well with any age and also serves as first counselor in the mission presidency. He and his wife also speak pretty good English. They have a young family, little girl, almost 4 and a little boy who just turned one.
Mike took the picture below when he was taking a picture of the outside of the building above. If you look close you can see a young woman pulling her baby on a sled stroller. She is on a road that goes up away from the building. The sled/strollers are quite inventive, some are strollers that have sled runners that will fold down below the wheel so they can go on the snow. Others also have small wheels on the back they can tilt back on if they need to push on wheels for a while.
And finally - the haircut, which we will not post pictures of. Somehow in the explaining to cut off malinki (little), it ended up as manoga (a lot). Oh well, Grandpa Waite always said the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut was just a couple of weeks. Actually, it isn't a bad haircut, although she isn't as good as Randy, she is very good, but it is short. I should spike it up. My mother could always remember any rhyme - this is one of those and the haircut made me think of it:
For beauty I am not a star
There are others more fair by far
But my face - I don't mind it,
Because I'm behind it
It's the people in front that I jar. :-)
Kind of a long blog this week, so will close. At a lesson with the sisters and an investigator a couple of days ago, the young woman asked about the Word of Wisdom, wondering why coffee and tea are not good for you. We found a couple of statements from lds.org to answer that question so thought we would pass them on, makes us think of the scripture in Samuel "Obedience is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of lambs." Elder Nelson's quote also remembered me of the promise in D&C 89:19 about the blessing of wisdom. (I do know "remembered me" isn't correct English, but it seems to say it best.)
· This is a question that people ask us as missionaries quite a bit. A lot of people are looking for a specific answer such as "because they contain caffeine" or "because they are addictive", but the real answer is, we do not drink coffee, tea, or alcohol, because our Heavenly Father has commanded it. We have been given our bodies as a gift from God, and while we control them, we are his children. He wants us to stay as healthy and happy as we can and gives us these commandments so that we can do just that. Sometimes we do not understand the commandments of God, but we must follow them, so that one day, we can be worthy to return to live with him and have eternal happiness for forever.·
· “One keeps the Word of Wisdom knowing that obedience will not only bring freedom from addiction, but it will also add blessings of wisdom and treasures of knowledge.”—Russell M. Nelson “Face the Future with Faith,” Ensign, May 2011, 35