Spring is here and the Volga is running again
Dixie & Anne Leavitt's granddaughter, David's daughter, in the middle is also serving in Saratov now, we are about seven months into our mission and she has about seven left. She already is an outstanding missionary, even gets to train the new sister coming in this cycle.
This is also the first time we have noticed the lights just under the bridge at the top of the columns.
This gives you a little better view. We'll try to find a night shot, there is an activity coming up. Otherwise we are advised not to be out looking around after dark.
Mike has been trying to get a good picture with both a tram-vi and one of the buildings we like - finally got it when we were walking home the other day.
Change of subject here - but we thought it would be fun for you to see the picture on the carton of the milk we like. The milk is good and we also like the colors and the cat picture. One quart is just under 60 rubles, so a gallon is about $4.00. The eggs and apple are so you can see the relative size of the milk carton. They have good butter too, but it is unsalted which we don't like except for cooking. We have found, however that we can take two of their 180 gram packages of butter - about two cups, add a 1/4 tsp of salt, plus a little pinch, and mix it up good with the mixer, our own whipped butter. We put it in a container in the fridge, cut it into sticks when it is hard - it is pretty good.
Note too, that the blue tablecloth the kids sent at Christmas time matches the butterflies in the kitchen wallpaper -- important things.
And while we're talking about food, look at the tomatoes Sisters Leavitt and Chase found. They are yum and always plenty to go around. Theirs weighed almost two pounds.
On May 9th we were able to go with the District YM/YW to Victory Park for their celebration of the 70th anniversary of Germany's surrender to them in WWII. One of our friends here told us that Russia lost 27 million people during that war. Aaron said that we often forget how that war affected so many other countries.
We are not kidding when we say that thousands of people were at the park to celebrate and pay tribute to the veterans of that war. You can see on your right of the picture below where some are carrying flags - everyone was shoulder to shoulder and line behind line going up. You can see from the other side that it was easier coming down - but it was crowded at the top. As we got up to the top there were patriotic groups with different colored flags representing their unit.
Close to the monument at the top stood an older veteran with his wife next to him holding his hand and a flower, probably both late eighties. Their pride in their country, the victory and his part in it was evident and very touching as was the honor and respect shown them by the people going by.
This is looking down toward rest of the park.
As we were walking up, people were putting flowers, mostly red tulips, on the big flat center stones that marked each year.
They want to be sure that everyone remembers the sacrifices made. The park is huge and has memorabilia from the war - real trucks, tanks and planes included, even a train. The kids were climbing all over them, our grandchildren would have loved it. (You can google Victory Park, Saratov Russia and see more pictures, even a video is posted.)
A circle of flags from around the country - two from Saratov.
Not our picture - but a very good one of the bridge taken from Victory Park
Our day at victory park was one full of tender mercies - the result of which made it possible for us to see many things, climb to the top of the monument and feel their patriotism, and hearing, as we walked everywhere, different groups performing. There is something moving about hearing people sing their own national songs. And we were able to spend time with the seminary age youth and get to know them better.
Our mission - in fact - has been laced every day with tender mercies and blessings. I think when we get home and I kneel to say my prayers, heaven will say: "Just a minute there .. you really did use up a lot more than your share of blessings while you were gone .. come back and see us in a few months."
So, closing with a couple of scriptures that are simple and comforting: 2 Nephi 9:41 - Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him; [even though it is narrow, it is straight and it is before us, no tricks or deception]; and Alma 37:44-46 For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to the compass...just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow this course, carry us into a far better land of promise...do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way ... it was prepared for them that if they would look, they might live...so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.