Monday, January 12, 2015

1/11/15 Baby It's Cold Outside

Did we really post the picture of the weather last week thinking it was cold -- those above zero temperatures look pretty good this week.  The big pipes you see below, and have seen here before, are the ones that run all over the city and bring hot water into the buildings and then it goes through radiators for heat, and they work well, pretty amazing system for the size of city this is.  Just in front of the bottom of the pipes you can see a manhole cover - what you can't see is the steam coming from it, the picture didn't catch it.  The heat from the water underground causes the steam and also that is why the area around the manholes is usually clear.
 It is probably two or three hundred yards from the church to the bus stop.  Below is the where we walk up from the church, the picture above with the pipes is when we are walking away from the church.  Then we have to cross the street - a big one but it has a pedestrian walk close - to get to the bus stop going home.  The snow has been nice because it is easier to walk on than the ice.  You would all like their green traffic light signal.  Below the green light there is a little green-light stick man who starts strolling as your time to  walk starts, but as the seconds tick down, the little man walks faster and faster .. very clever and fun to watch.
Our first visa trip was another experience - the visas here are good for three months, then you have to leave the country and come back in.  We left Samara at 6:30 a.m. - then to Moscow - then to Kiev - back to Moscow - and then to Saratov and were back at the apartment by 11:00 p.m. which is good, because some of the trips have been more than 24 hours and lots of waiting in the airports.  In Kiev we were only at the airport.  Would like to be able to go to the temple, but that involves more expense and overnight, but at least if they send us there again, we can somehow arrange to see the Mikkelsons.  We took a picture out the window when we were in the airport and as we were taking off - but we'll leave those for the Mikkelsons to send.  At a couple of the airports, they bus you from the airport terminal to the plane and back -- just to give you an idea of the speed and smoothness of that travel - here is a sign that is in the buses..
     We did have time in Samara before we left and walked up to where they had ice sculptures in one of their squares.  Mike is standing with their Father Christmas.

They even had a young man who had a reindeer and  giving rides to the children. 
All of the cities here have beautiful churches, this is one of the Catholic churches.  It even had bells playing as we were walking down the sidewalk by it - pretty cool. 
We were in Samara for Sunday, so also attended one of the branches there - they had headphones for all the English speakers and one of the elders has a microphone that will translate to all at once so we got all the talks.  It was testimony meeting, and again, pretty tender to hear some of their stories. This is one of the stand alone buildings that the church owns and it is tucked in behind a tire store.  They don't need a large parking lot because most people don't have cars.  The chapel area you see is upstairs, the stained glass windows are as you walk upstairs.   

.  Sometimes the blog seems like all we do is travel around and see things, but you can't take pictures of the feelings and experiences that touch our hearts and strengthen our testimonies.  We are busy with meetings with the missionaries who teach investigators at our apartment, and most late-afternoons and evenings have things going on at the Institute building we need to be to - FHE for those who don't have families, English Club, Institute, District Meeting - for Mike only, Activity Night for investigators and those members who want to come.  We attend the district meeting of the missionaries in our district, and starting last Friday will also attend a couple that are about 45 mintues away by bus.  One of our miracles last week - the Elders from our district sent us in a taxi because of everything we had to be to - the driver of said taxi was not exactly sure of where he was taking us and let us out when he hit ice he couldn't get past, pointed at what he thought was the church building and let us out.  We were about a football field and several fences away from said church building, but two Russian women came up when they saw us trying to figure where we were going.  We called one of the missionaries who could talk to them - after a conversation the older one (older than I am and Russian dressed in fur coat and cap) indicated us to follow her.  She took us back along the trail we had come from, about one hundred fifty yards to another building, along that building and around the corner .. and there was the church with the blue roof and steeple.  She took us right to the door and then started back on her way.  We are certain the kind little lady was our guiding angel for the day.  And we're grateful for that kind of personal help.  We're grateful to be here and grateful for all the support from back home.       Love    The Russia Waites

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