We'll update the story of Liza first. We were going in to pay the cell phone bill when we ran into her, so she came in with us just in case we needed hel p, which we often do. The green and white sign behind us says Megaphone, the cell phone company the church also uses. Liza's husband has been hired by a school in Moscow to teach English which will also provide them with an apartment. So, as soon as Josh gets his work visa and gets into the country, they will move to Moscow where he will teach English; she will finish her last year of university. She should have her spouse's visa in a year and they will return to the US and BYU. Although it has been a very difficult, she doesn't complain about being sent back, but seems to be able to see the positive things that come. Another tender mercy for us has been the cell phones which "just happened" to take the Russian chip so we can get in touch with each other and also the i-phones can be used as translators of sorts which has been very helpful - and funny sometimes since it doesn't always translate exactly what you have said.
Before we went to the Dacha last week we went to another farmer's market that is only open during the warmer months. There are trucks and stands all the way around the perimeter and then rows of trucks in between, all with produce to sell
The produce may look alike but Zhenya, picking up cucumbers so Lena could make pickles, carefully examined them at many stands before he finally bought a box. He has on the blue shirt, Mike is right behind him in the baseball cap.
Just waiting for buyers ...
These are the bottles they use for the pickles, close to gallon size.
Mike is helping on a project for the history of the church in Saratov. President Reshetnikov, baptized in 1993, has started taking us to the buildings where they have held church. There have been 11 in 20 years. He has an amazing memory and has lots of stories.
This was the first building and they were only there a few months.
Next they moved to a movie theater that was renting out areas because nobody had the money to go to the movies and they needed income. The church met in the "green room" for less than a year.
Fourth is the Aviation College building where they were for four years. More later.....
There is just something happy about a rainbow
You may remember the young Angolan girl from an earlier post in January or February I think. That post is below and following that an update. Kind of a long story to join all the side stories, but we think you will enjoy it:
Jan or Feb 2015 - 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 fairly new member of the church, had missed being active at home and had been praying and trying to find it here. So it wasn't by chance that they found her. An appointment was set up, they called us 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 enough to communicate a bit.
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 at a little better hour for Sister Harrison in Utah. 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.
Laila has continued to faithfully attend Sunday meetings, Institute on Wednesday evenings and branch and district activities, even though she doesn't understand most of it. She is pleasant and fun and the other youth and the leaders and members love her. Her Russian is improving slowly, her classes are in Russian mostly. A computer was set up conference time just for her so she could listen in Portuguese and still be there with everyone else.
The sisters teach her every week either by Iphone or skype with Elizabeth.
May 2015 and August 2015 - Side story that will become part of main story - from May 31 post when we went to the post office and the lady at the information desk who speaks some English helped us. Turns our she also speaks fluent Portuguese since they lived there for 12 years. We've "just happened" to run into her a few times because she lives close and shops at the same corner market and outdoor market. She didn't want to come up to the apartment until she knew us better, so Sunday evening we set up a time convenient to her and Laila and met Natasha and her son at one of the big plaza areas next to where they hold the circus. He is 17 and speaks Russian, Portuguese, Spanish and English. They also lived in Spain a couple of years.
More meetings will come from this, and if it works out we would like her or her son to translate for the sisters. The translating would give them the lessons too.. Laila was so excited to be able to communicate and chatted animatedly with both mother and son. She has 12 other friends from Angola at school with her but they aren't really supportive of her church activities and can be a little mean about her attending meetings in a language she doesn't really understand. Her standards are a bit different also and they don't always like that. She says her strength to stand comes from daily studying of the Book of Mormon and saying her prayers.. She is an amazing example to all. She and Natasha exchanged phone numbers and Natasha told her to call if she needed something or just wants to talk.
August 2015 - More to the story. The parents of one of our missionaries, Elder Greenburg came to pick him up because his father's grandmother was born about an hour from here, so at one time they had ancestors here. A tender mercy for them, they were able to hire a member taxi driver that Elder Greenburg knew from when he served in Saratov and who knows the area very well. He took them a lot of places in the two days they had here although there isn't much left of the towns their family lived in. But they got pictures of where things were and old buildings still there.
Elder Greenburg's father served in Brazil and speaks Portuguese so Laila was able to talk with him at church. You can see how pleased she was.
The Greenburgs came back to our apartment after they had finished everything else to wait for their train, which wasn't until late evening. So they were at the apartment when we got back from our meeting with the post office lady and her son. Brother Greenburg then was the translator for the sisters to give a lesson to Laila. He gave the opening prayer and Laila was thrilled to hear a prayer in her own language. Then, with Mike and Elder Greenburg, Brother Greenburg was voice in giving Laila a blessing in Portuguese. Wish there was a way you could feel the spirit that was there in our small apartment in Saratov Russia as that blessing was given.
We are grateful to be here .. as Aaron said many years ago when he had to give the FHE lesson - very short and very true: "The church is true - there's work to do."
thanks again to all of you for your love and support