Monday, May 4, 2015

5/3/2015 Spring, Walks and a Wedding

Going back about  a month - a picture of just a part of Saratov so you can see how huge the city is and how close the buildings are.  The city, 850,000 residents, extends much past this.

In the second picture, what looks like a ski run is just several months of ice and snow.  The temple in the background was closer in a previous post with the sister missionaries standing by it in the snow.

Now, fast forward to no snow and better weather.  This is out our kitchen porch window - it was a little before 7 this morning - glad we took the picture because by 7:30 the wash was taken in.  
As mentioned before, most apartment buildings have stores or offices on the main floor with the apartments above.  The most floors we've seen is twenty.

These stairs go from the sidewalk down the the branch building, but because of the ice, have been un-usable.   You have to be careful when they are dry, but at least you can walk on them instead of slide.  You can see the grass and green plants starting to come out, even in an area like this, which is not planted or tended, it just grows.
 The people are out with spades turning up this dark rich soil, planting flowers, trees, grass and gardens where they aren't already growing, we've only seen one roto-tiller,
Two women are working here - we're not sure who owns these little plots of ground that run along the sidewalks, but they seem to share in the taking care of them.
It has been warmer and the trees are getting their leaves.  You have seen a similar picture to the ones below but with lots of ice and snow.
 Mike took this hoping you could see the that the leaves form little canopies going down, thought especially that John Gleave would like it.
 We have started our Sunday afternoon or evening walks, exploring the part of our world that is fairly close.  It is nice because we can just stroll instead of the catch-the-bus pace.  We laugh now because we wondered about being able to get our walking in while we were here.  There are plenty of safe places to walk and plenty of walking to do.  Our travel, along with most of the people here, is buses and walking - you have to walk to get to the buses, walk from the bus which takes you as close to your destination as their route allows, walk to your destination, walk back to the bus, sometimes carrying purchases - sometimes not so light groceries  (Mike has the two heaviest and I have the one least-heavy) -  and walk to get back home.  We're not complaining about the walking, just telling you about it.  Still, we're thinking that when we are back home, we may drive across the street to the Waites or the Haderlies or we'll be so used to it, we'll  just walk up the hill to Bunkers for FHE.  At least we won't have to worry about walking on ice.  As a side note, everyone has the larger, heavier reusable bags.  If you have to get a bag at the store, there is a charge.  We have two red ones and a green one - pretty sturdy.
Image result for images of reusable shopping bags

Here are some pictures from our walk down some side streets.  Again, mentioned before, the age of the buildings plus the extreme weather really beats up the outside, but you often see curtains, plants and cats in the windows.  This was one of our "we're not lost, I just don't know where we are..."  days; but now Mike is able to find our way back home from wherever we happen to be, even if the sun usually sets in the east.
 We were able to attend a wedding last Saturday - a couple that have been part of the older Single Adult class.   The car is decorated simply and traditionally and
 the bouquet of teddy bears was a special thing between them, so it was fun to see them added.  

The cake was probably 4 feet both ways and 6 inches tall - it is a traditional and favorite "honey" cake which is used often for weddings.  The frosting is like a marshmallow cream.  They used a cart to bring it into the building 
The ceremony at one of the government buildings where they sign the documents and then go into another large room where all the guests are seated around the sides, and exchange rings.  As people come up to congratulate them, they often bring flowers, so the bride's arms were full and other people were helping hold them.  The small daughter of one of their friends came with her handful of dandelions, which were as graciously accepted as were the big bouquets of flowers.  
It was so great to be there and see it all.  They will go to the temple as soon as they can - it is a major trip here, either the Ukraine - which still has a bit of unrest, or Finland, which is quite far.  They went from the government building to the park for pictures and a ride in the Cinderella carriage.

Fortunately a couple of the Elders were able to go so we could communicate if we had to,  although you'd all be surprised at how little I talk over here.
Everyone went back to the Branch building where more people were waiting in a well decorated hall for the reception, food and program.  It went from 4:00 to 6:00, then a break for eating and dancing, about 45 minutes, then back to the program and games until almost 8:00.  Fun games and good numbers - some because they were talented, and others because they were fun.  From the stories Grandma Waite told, this must have been what their parties were like in the early days of Bunkerville and Mesquite.  They enjoyed being together and we enjoyed being with them.

This next Saturday, on May 9, they celebrate Victory Day, which marks Germany's surrender to the Soviet Union in 1945.  It became the end of the Great Patriotic war for the USSR, which lost about 25 million citizens in the four years of fighting. TV networks broadcast World War II inspired films, younger generations honor veterans, and in Moscow the festivities end with a military parade at Red Square.  There are lots of banners, posters and flags.  This large poster is on the outside wall of the business building adjoining our Branch building.  Mike has hold of the bag on his shoulder.  The people here love their country as we do ours.  We are grateful for the association with the humble and faithful and fun people we have met here.

So two thoughts if you've made it to the end of  this weeks' long blog -  In Second Nephi, there are scriptures in Chapter 8 that seem to speak directly to our missionaries all over the world:
 8:7 - Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart I have written my law, fear not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.  8:16 - And I have put my words in thy mouth, and have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth.  8:22 - the Lord and thy God pleadeth the cause of his people.

and the promise in D&C 19:23
Learn of me,
and listen to my words, 
walk in the meekness of my spirit 
and ye shall have peace in me.
Grateful for you all !!!!  

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