Monday, February 23, 2015

2/22/2015 Skype, Pie Crust, Frozen Fish & Zone Conference

First - There were a couple of pictures from when we were in Samara I forgot to post - the first is a Catholic church, we posted a picture of the tall part of the building on the right, but forgot to put in the whole building.  The other is one of their big squares - there are several in most cities and the architecture on the buildings in the square is beautifully detailed and the size overwhelming and there is always a massive statue.
In the 2.1.15 post we told about the miracle at the District Conference when, about 20 minutes before the meeting, the power went off in the building but with cellphones and laptops they were able to go on with the conference and broadcast to three other locations.   So now, a kind of fun side story.  The only light in the chapel came through the now fully opened blinds, not bright but at least sunlight (rare this time of year, especially as cold as it was and with a bit of snow.)   As we were sitting there waiting for the meeting to start, some of the sisters stood and started singing .. the song was "The Lord Is My Light."  I don't think that was planned by the way.  We didn't even notice it but one of the Elders pointed it out last week.  Another side note - the power came back on about 20 minutes after the meeting was over.
Sorry this is so blurry, we took it from a moving taxi - if you look really close you can see two mounted policeman.  They are in the area we call the walking street which runs in between roads on either side.  It was fun to see them.  I guess they have a mounted police unit here.  
A couple of weeks ago when the sisters were contacting, they met a young Angolan girl, early twenties, who has come to Saratov for university and speaks Portuguese, a very few English words, and is learning Russian.  She is a new member of the church and had been trying to find it here.  They set up an appointment with her, then called to see if they could use the Google Translate on the i-phone where you can talk and supposedly it translates back and forth - sometimes not exactly correct, but it works.  When they got to our apartment with her, one of our Elders, Elder Harrison was just leaving.  He had been helping Mike in translating an English training document into Russian.  When he heard the story, he said his sister Elizabeth had just gotten home from her mission to Angola.  So .. long miraculous story short - we got his sister on Skype - this is 3:30 a.m. in Utah by the way - and she and the sister missionaries sat in front of the laptop here with Elizabeth - three days home from her mission - on Skype in Utah, 7-8 thousand miles away translating and helping teach this young woman.  There were even some people Elizabeth and this young lady both knew.  They have had another Skype session, and will meet again Wednesday of this week.  The Angolan girl is bringing a roommate who is interested.  The whole experience, timing and everyone being where they were and etc. etc. - - those things are not coincidences .. the Lord is in charge of his church.
This weeks cooking adventure:  We found some cookies that look like the Teddy Grahams, so assumed they could be crushed and used for a graham cracker crust.  So we could have chocolate pie with some of the instant chocolate pudding and dream whip that we received Christmas time.  I followed the recipe for graham cracker crust,  and fortunately did not cook it quite the length of time it asked, cooled it and filled it with the chocolate pudding.  President and Sister Schwab were here for a Branch conference Sunday and then the Zone conference today so we had them drop by Sunday evening for chicken and rice - thanks again to our Christmas packages - before they went on to more meetings.  And for dessert,  we served the pie.  It is blessing I didn't cook it the required time because to say the crust was plenty crunchy is an understatement, you can see by the picture that there was no bending when Mike picked it up with a knife.  And you had to chop down through it, but once you got a bite sized piece it was quite good - kind of had a heath bar taste.   It was much more fun than if it had turned out right.  They even came back over tonight after our Zone Conference for soup and sandwiches before heading home - and we finished it off.  Sitting in the fridge didn't soften the crust a bit - but it did make the taste of the crust and the chocolate pudding richer.

We told you about the carts at the market that you have to have a 10 ruble coin to insert so they detach from the other carts.  We gave the bus a 50 ruble note hoping for some 10's in change, but they gave us four 5 ruble coins instead.  We weren't sure how to ask one of the clerks for change, but we had seen this little machine on the way into the store, and since it has the 10 ruble sign on it, then slots for 1, 2, or 5 rubles, we put in two fives and out came a 10.   We were pretty excited - doesn't take much to make us happy when we figure something, even something simple, out on our own.  And I also see I need to curl the back of my hair different -- two good things to learn in a day.
 You have to look close also to see this one -- this is the display of a frozen fish vendor on the sidewalk .. the fish you see standing up on their fins are frozen into that position, pretty clever.  We were going take a closer picture, but the vendor came around the corner to see what we were doing and he was very big and he wasn't smiling.  
 In our Zone Conference today, President Schwab told of them going to Turkey for the East European Area Mission President's Conference.  He said he and Sister Schwab decided they were going to do what they tell their missionaries to do and talk of the church with everyone they meet.  So they committed to that in their prayers and asked for help, aware of the problems with their very limited Russian.  Their trip included two flights both ways .. and on three of those flights, they "just happened" to have seats next to Russians who also spoke English.  One was interested in the church, one kind of and one not, but with all they had good conversations and exchange of numbers. You never know.
     Also, during the lunch break, several of the Elders' companionships went out on the streets contacting.  There had some interesting experiences.  One set met a young man who had just come in from another country with his wife and small child -- they were interested in the message and are coming to English club on Tuesday night.  Another set, however, talked to a larger, older man who at first seemed friendly, then they asked him what he knew about life after death.  He changed from being friendly and asked the elders why they were here, they were not of his country.  They tried to explain and talked politely to him but he said .."If you keep talking, you better believe in life after death." They eased quickly to the end of the conversation and left.
      Finishing up this week with a thought that President Schwab brought from the Area Presidency to the missionaries - "Obedience brings blessings, but exact obedience brings miracles."  


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