This is the church building at Dachney - you can see it from the road - has a blue roof and a blue steeple. Makes you wonder why our taxi driver last week couldn't find it. Mike took the picture from across the street while we were waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the bus. The bottom picture is also as you look across the street, you can see the end of the church at the left of the picture. Lots and lots and lots and lots of theses kinds of apartment buildings everywhere.
One bus came just as we got to the bus stop a little before six, but in truth was so full that although they opened the doors, only one person could get on and he was almost caught when the doors closed. We waited another 30 minutes in the cold (not complaining, just reporting) and got on the next one, also full, only because we've learned from watching the babushkas, to stand by the front bus door they get off through, and after everyone getting off is off, just step up and the driver will let you on. It was so crowded even then we could barely move. The ride home was not quite as exciting, emptied enough that we could sit down, and took an hour and twenty minutes, just lots of slow moving traffic because of the weather.
We've had two major grocery trips this week because of some mission and district meetings coming up: Ashans - similar to a large Smith's and about 20 minutes away by bus (after you walk 10-15 minutes, depending on the ice, to the bus stop) / Metro - similar to a large Walmart . (Same walk to the bus stop but 30-40 minutes away.) / There is another store we didn't go to, and Mike was so sad to miss it, we'll have to try another time :( - Lenta - and that would compare more to a Costco, but adds another 20-30 minutes on the bus. We posted a picture earlier, it is the one, because of its location and the roads coming - or not coming - in the bus has to let you off at the bottom of a little hill and you have to scale the hill to get to the store. Metro is the only place you can get cheddar chesse, bottles of taco sauce, cream of chicken or tomato soup, so we load up when we go. They usually have the baking cocoa but didn't this time, but we did find a new candy bar we like. We fit right in walking along with our bulging bags of groceries and crowding onto the bus to get everything home. Here is a picture of the carrots at the store and then after we got them home. We were used to the scrubbed vegetables at home, but once these are cleaned up, the are yum cooked or raw.
I took my first fall this week, the ice has been worse than usual. We count it as one of our tender mercies that I didn't break anything - including the precious bottles of taco sauce. We also got boots for Mike this week, even walking and finding our own way to the Sportsmaster store down by the Volga - and realized it isn't as far as we thought.
Here are a couple of pictures of the Kiev Ukraine temple - there were two groups from our district that went on temple trips last week. They stay and do as many sessions each day as they can. One couple from our older single adult group came back engaged, both have been divorced and looking for someone to whom the church is also important to. It is fun to watch them.
We have a big district meeting coming up on the 1st of February. President Bruce D. Porter, a member of the First Quorum of Seventy and who is also the Eastern European Area President will be here to determine if Saratov is ready to be made a stake. Right now in Russia there are only two Stakes, Moscow and St. Petersburg. He has meetings the day before with the District Presidency, the Branchs' leadership and the Mission Presidency, then the meeting for everyone is Sunday. The prayers of the faithful saints here are humble and fervent, they were close once before and didn't get there, so you can imagine that the excitement is running high. It would open the doors for a lot of growth in the church here. We are grateful to be able to be a small part of it all. We are reminded of a FHE lesson Aaron Michael gave many years ago to fill a requirment for something - and we concur with all of our hearts .. "The church is true, there's work to do!!!"