Sunday, March 8, 2015

3/8/2015 A Poem, A Fall, A Hospital and Holiday Flowers

Image result for black & white picture of Russia
Who Are You Boy?
(Poem to a missionary from a Russian Convert 2009)
Who are you boy?  
From your land of plenty
Teaching of God if there is any.
You have all, we have none
Do you know what that feels like son?
And yet, you ask me to believe
In something that I cannot see
Some force you say will bring me joy.
Do you know what that feels like boy?

Where you are from, faith is free
But it has a price for me.
When I have pain I have my bottle
Hurt dies quick when you drown it in vodka.
That's enough to warm my soul
I work, I sleep, the days go by -
I am waiting for the day I die.
you don't understand this place
You say believe, obey, have faith.
Live life well, serve and give
Here .. we just live.

Who are you boy? Why did you come?
To save a soul who once was numb?
To teach a wretched, hateful man
Who cursed your help, refused your hand.
I thought that we were worlds apart.
So, how is it you knew my heart?
A fraction my age, you calmed my rage.
Mercy paid my generous wage.
I should have been left behind
It is hard to love my kind.
Hope in your heart, power in your hands
Why did you come to this distant land?

I know now, it was for me
The curtain fell, but I was not free
Until a boy from nations away,
Brought me my Lord, I bless the day
He led me to weep at my Master's feet,
The American boy I met on the street.
New and naive, still in his teens
With a message to bring the world to its knees.
I thought that the truth would come from another,
I did not know this boy was my brother.
Image result for black & white picture of Russia
Had a fun fall this week.  We were just coming back from getting some groceries.  As we came down our sidewalk, just before the gate, there was ice on the sidewalk that continued and sloped down the gutter, then to the road .. just enough of a down slant that when I slipped and went down, I was kind of tipped to the right on my backside, my nice slick coat served as a sled, and I just kept sliding several more feet... actually it was kind of fun and I wasn't hurt - we always count that as one of our miracles.
Sorry we don't have a picture - but if you painted this bear black that is probably just how I looked. :)
Image result for picture of someone slipping on ice

We had another opportunity to go a closing on one of the church's humanitarian projects, this time a children's tuberculosis hospital.  From Mike's writing: "Two months ago we went to this children’s TB hospital to take pictures of the furniture they were requesting funds to replace.  One of the items was a bed stand, for each of the 20 cots that now had no place for each child’s personal storage.  We took pictures of the old desks, chipped counters, cupboards and tables long past due for a big outdoor bonfire, and then we were given permission to slip quietly into the rooms where children were sleeping, covered completely.  It was an emotional moment as we almost reverently moved among the small sleeping covered mounds to take our pictures.  
               Then yesterday we went back for the closing visit,  met again with the doctor and his head nurse - they have both been there 17 years.  They were very appreciative, and we were invited to have cups of chai (herbal tea), cookies and chocolates, but at first there was a formal meeting and the doctor gave us a colored certificate of gratitude for the Church’s generosity.  We took pictures and shook hands, then the nurse led us from room to room, showing us the clean desks, marble counters, large new dining tables and the bedside stands, one for each child.  We were pleased with what the church does and could sense the genuine gratitude of the staff.  But the scenes that gave life to our visit were the children, the bright, happy children, from 2-5 years I’m guessing.  At the dining tables they were smiling and waving to us, posing for our pictures.  They come to this hospital for six to twelve months to be cured, although the effects are always there.    For each of us there was, I believe, the temptation to sit up close to them, read a Russian version of “Cat in the Hat” and hug them – such innocent, bright eyed children.  
               It was our final stop before returning to the doctor’s office (like a business office, not a patient room) and the herbal tea and chocolates, when we happened on an open door framing a nurse dancing with tykes perhaps 2-3 years old.  They were circling the nurse to the rhythm of the music and we distracted a couple of them who seemed curious about these visitors, as fascinated with us as we were taken by them.  We filmed them to be able to refresh our memories of their beauty and happiness, but I’m sure we recorded the tender scene in a more permanent place in our hearts.  We are sure there are many times in their lives that everything is not so good.
(Before and after pictures are posted below.)

These are the beds, now with new bedspreads and new nightstands,  the before picture had children in the beds and although they were completely covered, we can't post the picture.  We were impressed with the staff and the love and care they show the children.

I'll copy two different explanations for their March 8 holiday:  "March 8th (восьмо́е ма́рта) is also known as the International Women's Day (Междунаро́дный же́нский день). This holiday emerged as a political celebration to symbolize the fight of women from all over the world for their rights, full equality with men, democracy and peace. As the time passed, the political motives of the holiday moved to the background and March 8th simply became a women's holiday in Russia and other republics of the former USSR."

"8 March – International Women’s Day - In today’s Russia International Women’s Day has nothing to do with the feminist movement for protection of women’s political rights. On this day women enjoy being taken care of by their men and children. 8 March is kind of a combination of St. Valentine’s and Mother’s Day. It is a wonderful day of womanhood, love, flowers and indulgence. Being aNational Holiday in Russia International Women’s Day is free from work."

We saw men of all ages walking and on buses, carrying flowers.  They have to be fresh and given in odd numbers - even numbers of flowers are only given at funerals.
(side note - the book you see in the bottom left of the picture is Mike's word book; our bus trips give him time to study - some trips more than others)

Interesting, we saw lots and lots of the yellow flowers.  They are from the mimosa tree - the ones he has in the top picture above.  We found out that it is the traditional flower to give because years ago when, because it is still very cold this time of year, they didn't have and couldn't bring in fresh flowers the mimosa tree was the first blooming and had these flowers.

There are cars and stands everywhere selling them, some have the other flowers too - a few roses and some tulips.  This car was on our way from the bus to our branch building this morning.

It has been warmer - mid to high twenties - but enough the ice is starting to melt enough that some of it is gone when it refreezes during the night so there are more dry spots on the walks.  The next week is supposed to be in the low thirties, so more ice will clear from the walks.  There are higher piles now in the "ice chunk graveyards" that line the sides of the streets because the ice is easier now to chip out.
It has been a great experience already for us.  Even those times we feel the longing to have our grandchildren "on our laps instead of our laptops," we would not be anywhere else and are very grateful to our Heavenly Father that we are able to serve.  Our lives have been touched for good by the saints here, by the missionaries and by the people.
There is in Moroni 7 verses we always like for the conviction and comfort they bring: 35-37: "..has the day of miracles ceased, or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men?  Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them?  Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?  Behold I say unto you, Nay: for it is by faith that miracles are wrought and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men...."   (Hebrews 11 is also a good chapter on faith)
So, signing off for this week with what my youngest sister always ends her emails with ..."Onward and upward."    Grateful for each of you.


  1. You two certainly keep busy. Glad to hear that the Spring Thaw is finally making its way to you. With all these falls, the Good Lord must be looking after you.

  2. I love coming to your blog and reading about your mission! I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the picture of the bear sliding. I'm sure you looked much more graceful :) Love you guys!