On the wall in our kitchen is a map that shows where the missionaries come from, just showing you the western states so you can see our/your star. It looks like there are a lot from Utah, and there are, but if you add up all the others from across the US it is pretty close, right now we have missionaries from Utah we well as from Boston, Sweden, California, Florida, Texas
We meet with one of the members and her son twice a month to work on her English and our Russian. It has been quite fun. We had the kids send us Cat in the Hat, she has been reading it just from the words, so will give her the book this Monday, later Green Eggs and Ham. She gave us the Russian book by Pushkin about the fisherman and the goldfish - in Russian - and we've attempted, Mike mainly, with her help to read in it. Last week she and Elder Waite read from the Book of Mormon alternating verses - she read in English and he read in Russian. She only had to correct his pronunciation a couple of times. She is a very good artist - below is one of her paintings - very detailed and very colorful - this one in pastels. It is hard for her to sell them during the winter because she can't take them to one of the outdoor Renigs (lots of shops in one area) to sell them.
Elder Bruce Porter and Sister Porter, he is our Eastern Europe area president, were here with our mission president, President Schwab and his wife for a special District Conference. Our regular building was closed down so we had to meet at another main location and then they had to transmit to 3 other locations. It was a cold, windy day, cloudy at first and still lots of people, members, investigators and friends were there and excited about all going on.
It was early but everyone that needed to be on the stand was seated and many of the congregation were already in their seats. The Elders and some of the brethren were working on the Skype to the other buildings. Then, about 20 minutes before the meeting the power went off in the building. In just a few minutes one of the District Presidency stepped to the podium and asked that everyone pray that they could get things fixed. It quieted immediately except for those working on the transmission equipment and those checking through the building. It was pretty tender to see all the bowed heads and to feel the strong, peaceful spirit. The power didn't come on, but laptops and cell phones were gathered and set up - the wifi still worked even though the electricity didn't. Those speaking spoke loudly and those working on the transmission alternated the equipment, which miraculously outlasted normal battery life (they said batteries usually drain pretty fast with that kind of streaming) and they were able to carry the full session to the other locations and everyone in our building could hear even without a microphone. In her talk Sister Porter mentioned she was grateful for sun and light. The sun had come out - still cold though - and they had opened blinds so there was plenty of light. It was an important meeting for Saratov and there were many miracles today. We are grateful we could be there. (You've seen various view of this, it is the church we have to travel to for the extra district meetings. This is the front and the path you see is the only non-ice in the whole yard. We had a taxi driver today who would have made a good Indy driver - the fastest we've ever made it home, which was another tender mercy - so we could be ready when people came to eat. )
When there are visitors, we have dinner for them at our apartment so they can eat before they go to the airport. We're impressed with our leaders here - humble, kind and very dedicated servants of our Father and His Son. They are comfortable and fun to be around. We move the kitchen table into the frontroom where there is more space. (You can see our grandchildren's Merry, Merry Christmas photos behind us.) So Elder & Sister Porter (in picture), President & Sister Schwab and President Blinkov of the mission presidency came today and enjoyed some Bunkerville favorites - turkey (chicken) stew and the jello poke cake with the dream whip/pudding on top - ingredients gratefully sent from home. I'm always pretty nervous about the meals, but pray a lot and heaven has really blessed us; things seem to work out and taste good - one of what Wilda always called "modern day miracles." Certainly for us it is a very tender mercy.
We learned a very important lesson this week, or I learned and Mike learned from my experience - don't pet the friendly family dog even if it cute and fluffy and snuggled down in the arms of one of the family. It was between a small and medium sized dog. I wasn't even close to the head with the hand I was petting it with, but it turned quickly and bit the little finger on my other hand, got both sides, so there are bruises and teeth punctures here and there and is pretty swollen and sore, but is getting better. Good lesson learned on a healthy dog. We wouldn't pet a dog on the streets anyway, but this just x'd off any in homes too. We did have a picture, but decided it was kind of yuk to post.
A scripture that really jumped out that we've seen probably many times .. Alma 13:5 - ..being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared -- " and that is all it says and He certainly was prepared -- such a simple statement that says so much.
Also, one of the Elders shared a quote his mother has always used from President Ezra Taft Benson.
"When obedience ceases to be an irritant
and becomes our quest,
in that moment God will endow us with power."
love you all -- the Russia Waites - and happy grandparents today again for the 19th time