Monday, September 28, 2015

9/26/15 Many Thanks, Missionary, Pumpkins, Fall

There are times people do things for us or ours that touch us so deeply it is hard to find words to express - one of those times was after our home burned in August of 2006.  The strongest emotions of that time came not because of the loss of our home, but because of soul stirring gratitude for the  love and support that was poured out upon us and all of our family.  We are still grateful for the many, many who helped.  That flood of gratitude comes again for our own children who have helped each other in extra ways, and for those who have stepped in and done for our children what we would have done had we been home.
The young man in the suit is leaving for his mission to Moscow.  The young lady on his left is our Institute president for this next year, the secretary is next to her.  Next to the missionary is another young man from the Institute -- good friends and great kids.  They are in and out of our home but always in our hearts.  These are the youth that will soon be the leaders for the church in Russia. (We can post this picture because one of the girls posted it on our Facebook page.)

The East European area helps those who are going into the mission field by providing funds to get missionary clothes, so the Elders went with us to get another suit, shoes, belt and coat.  
 Just trying to find shoes that fit .. he was doing a great sad face for the picture, but he was smiling most of the time. 
He had already picked up some of the things he needed when he went to Kiev to the  temple last month.  Even though it was a little wet at times and we probably walked at least five miles as we went to different stores, walked through the "mall" and then walked back across town to see if we could find a coat.  But, it was fun even for Mike who usually resists shopping trips in any form.
 The pumpkins are ready and mixed with some squash in the pictures below.  They are different in shape and color than the ones we are used to - but inside it is still the regular orange pumpkin meat (there must be a sunday school lesson in that statement). They make some pretty cool jack-o-lanterns .. some may remember those from last year.  

While the sidewalks are dry, we decided to make a big grocery run - we weighed the bags when we got home - 32 pounds total for the bags, a little over 40 for the babushka cart.
Signs don't do us much good - we take pictures and catch a missionary as soon as we can.  This simply says that the milk section (which has been out front) has been moved to the bread section.  We did notice the milk was gone, just didn't know where it went to.
Another picture of one of the babushkas taking care of her corner of the world:
Spent Saturday again at the sports stadium to watch the branches compete in their football which we call soccer.  It was a beautiful day, leaves kind of rustling down as they fell, and even a few chestnuts.  We were thinking of  "roasting them on an open fire" but were told that the ones here are not edible, in fact dangerous to eat.   The edible ones will have a definite point on them.  These are smooth, make good jewelry so they say.
 Mike worked with the English study group again - this time under a canopy of trees with a soccer game going on in the background again, families standing around talking and mothers playing with children, much like home.  It was a peaceful time, made us think of the lines in Browning's poem.  How grateful we are that we know of our Father in Heaven:
The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven—
All’s right with the world!

We never cease to be awed with our amazing world.  This "Looking Up" was shot in about five hours by Mike Mezeul from a rooftop in Dallas.  The pictures are approximately 10 minutes apart.
Closing with this scripture - Ether 12:41 - And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

9/20/15 - Fullers' soap, rug, soccer (football), teaching

What is fullers' soap?  Interesting beginning for this week's blog.  Reading in 3 Nephi 24:2 which references Malachi 3:2-3  But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap;  So Christ makes is possible for us to be clean and here is the explanation of fullers' soap, something else to add to what my brother used to call my walking encyclopedia of unrelated facts:

"A fuller was someone who cleaned and thickened (to make it "full") freshly-woven (usually woolen) cloth. The process involved cleaning, bleaching, wetting and beating the fibers to a consistent and desirable condition. Fuller's earth was a variety of clay that was used to scour and cleanse the cloth. Fuller's soap was an alkali made from plant ashes which was also used to clean and full new cloth. Since fullers required plenty of running water, along with the natural substances described, a fuller's field was a place where all were available for the fullers to conduct their profession."  Aren't you glad you know this...  :) 
A few weeks ago we mentioned a grandmother, mother and daughter who we had to dinner, a family of artists.  This is the picture you have already seen that the mother painted:

The daughter, 16, was sitting next to me at an activity and was going through her YW notebook.  This is the picture she had done in pen - Rebecca at the well.
Monday is our cleaning day and as I was shaking the rugs, decided I couldn't snap them hard enough to get all the dust out.  We have one window that opens up over nothing but an area with plants in it ..  enough said, the picture should say the rest.  Maybe not such a good idea.  Our window (4th floor) is right above where you can see the rug (3rd floor).  If the occupants of that flat decide to push it out of their window, it will only land on a canopy over the first floor.  It is comforting that there are enough floors above us they won't know who dropped it.  Note:  they did get it out of their window but were nice enough to toss it so it went to the ground.
This woman is out no matter the weather, praying all the time.  The missionaries say that if you put money in her cup she prays for you.  The young missionaries can't give her anything,  but we can and Mike often puts in some.  As far as I'm concerned, when she's kneeling on the ice, she earns it no matter what it is.  She does use a thicker blanket in the winter.
 We needed to clean the fridge and we had leftovers .. this was a good solution to the problem.  We do have exceptional,enjoyable missionaries here...and not just because they appreciate home cooking.
Many of the buildings new and old have images like this on them - wish we could tell you what it was and why the cat .. but on holidays almost all of them will have flowers on them like this one.
Repaving the area where the cars park
and tamping it down .. they work hard and fast to get everything done while things are dry.
 Elder Plettig, our new zone leader, from Germany.  He has been out about ten months and went into the Provo MTC knowing only German and a very little bit of Russian.   He does well now in Russian and English.  He grew up in the church, but couldn't come on his mission until he had finished our equivalent of Bachelors because his school doesn't allow you to finish your program if you leave before you're done.  This was at game night, they had investigators there .. he said he hadn't done this for about five years.  Took a bit, but it was fun for everyone.  Someone of you try it !!
 Nobody really was paying much attention at first, but as the time went on, the cheering crowd grew.
 you just can't see them, they are at the right out of the picture
 except for Ilia
 This last level took several tries before he could get them to stay.
From the inter-branch soccer game we went to last Saturday
Most of them just come and play but this new convert plays a lot on the side too.  Nevertheless, they all do quite well.  Obviously he was a definite advantage to his team.  It was especially fun to watch him as he kept the ball corralled between his feet as he moved it down and away from everyone.  And he is a great young man.  He has baptized his mother and younger brother.

 Dad taught his English Gospel Study class at the stadium after the game so the kids didn't have to make the trip over to our apartment - it was about a 30 minutes taxi drive for us to get to the game.

 This is my view from the stands while he was teaching.  There was a very competitive soccer game going on.  They call it football - the football we play here, they call American football.
The weather has been perfect for walking in the evenings - wide walking street and lots of people out doing what we all are, soaking in the good weather before the cold comes.  We're going to miss it, but certainly grateful we've been able to enjoy the time walking.  It is comfortable and safe to be out.  Wish the pictures could also give you the feeling of the leaves falling and people talking, many young parents and babushkas pushing baby carriages.

We are the "them" in this scripture:
Fourth Nephi 18 - How blessed were they for the Lord did bless them in all their doings.
Grateful to you all for being part of our lives and our families lives.

Monday, September 14, 2015

9/13/15 Fortune Cookies, Work, the Volga

Our children and grandchildren will be glad to know that fortune cookies can be found for Krishelle anywhere.  The first one on the bottom left says - "Today everything is a possibility for you." which is a good prediction for the journey Craig and Krishelle (our daughter and son-in-law for those of you who don't know) and their little family begin as Wednesday they leave Bunkerville, Nevada, their home for 11 years. to go to Utah valley where Craig will be working for BYU. 
The elders said the next saying on the bottom right also has a good message, but it doesn't translate into English very well.

 It is getting cold here - and an older gentleman across the way has been spading up the ground in "his" area.  People here often will adopt an area in front of or close to their apartment building and take care of it, weeding, often planting flowers or plants and just fixing and cleaning up in general.  When he pull weeds, he lays them out in nice straight lines and then when he is all finished he makes neat little stacks and picks them all up.  There is a great lesson in the meticulous care he takes of that little piece of ground that is not even his.
 Sometimes on the walking streets we will see the same thing, either an area around a certain tree or a strip here or there that is faithfully taken care of - usually by a babushka or daedushka (grandpa and grandma aged people).  They keep the leaves raked or broomed up and dig around the trees and bushes.  There is something about working the earth that appeals to us all.   This actually is a couple of younger women who were spading and planting.
This is the first recycling area we've seen - obviously for cardboard.
We do enjoy walking to the Volga.  The end of good weather is close, the air has a different feel and   the river even seems to take on a different look .
The sun's sparkling effect on the water is, well, sparkling is probably the best word to describe it
They have cleaned the ribbons from the statue of the two faces so you can see it better.    
 We have sent a similar picture before, but the weather is better in this one and the new ribbons still bright.  We always like seeing the bridge in the background.
We won't leave the Volga this time without giving you proof that many of these older men swim every day, this at least is one day's proof it is true.  It isn't warm outside and we suspect the water isn't  warm either; but they all say it is healthy.
These pictures have been painted on the wall that runs alongside the wide walking area by the river.   Each picture is probably about 10ft x 14ft .  These are just a few of probably 25 or 30.  We're not sure how long they have been there because the paint is still good, the colors bright.  It is the first time we've walked along that section.

It is something about coming back - most often in any group of paintings there will be at least one if not more that are about the war.  
Wish we could tell you more about what is going on - but we didn't think this was Columbus  :)
Something about the cat wishing it could be as loved as the dog is.
The walk back up from the Volga, but it is good exercise and being down there is worth it.
Elder Francis M Lyman – 1903 – As a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Lyman was encouraged by President Lorenzo Snow to extend the blessings of the restored gospel to Russia.  On July 24, 1903 he dedicated the land and prayed earnestly for the well being of those “in whose veins the blood of Israel flows generously, as well as the Gentiles.”   In the English Gospel Discussion class that Mike teaches on Saturday,  three of the tribes we don't see much lineage of in America are represented:  Dan, Asher and Naphtali.  We both enjoy that class - they all speak English pretty well and understand even more.  They are fun personalities and it is nice to be able to communicate.  They are fiercely loyal to the church and speak of its importance in their lives. 
     We have another member, now the District YW President.  She was telling about her early days in the church and how she saw some who were so strong fall away and she worried she would lose her testimony.   She decided she would always keep the Sabbath day holy, she wouldn't shop and she wouldn't let it become part of her work week.  She testifies that the strength she gained from that has helped her keep her testimony strong and active.   She loves the youth and the youth love her and her encouragement for strict Sabbath day observance and her example of that strengthens not only them and us, but all she works with.  We know the blessings that can come from the keeping of that commandment.
    This is transfer week and in our zone only two companionships remain as they are.  In the Saratov zone we have 20 missionaries, not counting us (one of our greatest blessings is that we don't and won't ever have to change companions.)  Of the 10 companionships, 6 will have new trainees on this cycle, 2 had new trainees last cycle, so we don't have the language strength we have had in the past. However, fortunately, our Father is in charge and who He calls, He qualifies, so we know all will be well.  As always, we are so very happy to be here.  Our Father has taken good care of us and our family and we are grateful much beyond words.