Tuesday, October 27, 2015

10/25/2015 Russia, Volga, Construction, Field Trip

A little over a year ago today,  October 14, 2014,  this was our first view.  We've said this before .. who ever would have thought we'd be serving a mission in Russia.  What a blessing it has been.

 we'll add this picture left over from our Volga trip a couple of weeks ago - one of our attempts at a panorama shot - gives a wider view of the island as you are coming down the stairs.
Here you can see the "island" - not so very big and covered with people during the summer.  It continues on about half again what you can see in the picture.
Related image
We took another walk to the Volga -- can you see the baby buggy - no matter the weather they are out walking the babies - and it can be the mom, dad, babushka or dadusha .. 
 Closer shot of the baby buggy .. 
 This is a big boat, and we probably have sent pictures before when it was iced in.  They store boats on the top and have this big yellow crane thing - you can see it - that moves back and forth and picks up a boat and then moves it over to the water.
We've wondered about this one .. it is actually fastened by ropes to the boat and to the wharf, makes you think that if either is unfastened, it will go down and they don't seem to worry that someone will steal it - probably works better on the ice than in the water.
It is hard to tell by the picture, but the structure closest is old, the bricks at the bottom are falling away and the walls, etc. are gone and the metal there is rusted and broken.  The shorter building behind is newer, the one at the back, newest.  There is a lot of the very high-rise apartment building construction going on in the Volga area  
 as you can see in the picture below.  Interesting though, they build the buildings and people buy the apartments, but the buyer has to put in the plumbing and electricity, plus do the decorating.  We have friends here, long time investigators, who, along with some others, paid the builder for the plumbing and electricity to be put in - he didn't do it and then skipped with everyone's money.
Bucket of concrete.  It is in the center of the picture, the bottom of the bucket almost even and just left of the peak of the roof.
 Look at the top of the crane below -- the right end has a big slab of concrete to balance the big bucket of concrete that is being lowered which you can barely see in the picture above.    At the other end of the crane (just above the wire) is a little enclosed cage where the worker is that gets everything where it is supposed to go.  Not a job either of us are applying for any time soon.
 We were walking on the walking street we've talked about and passed these school children out on a field trip.  The one little girl was fascinated by the Americans.
 Looks like home .. just a little more bundled.
Alexander is the second counselor in the Zavadskoy Branch Presidency.  Mike works with him because he is the Branch Clerk in the Zavadskoy Branch.  We actually are members of the Volzkshi Branch but the other branch didn't have anyone they could call.  They meet in the same building and we go at 10:00 a.m. to Zadskoy Sacrament meeting and then Mike works in the clerks office until our Sacrament meeting starts at 12:30.  Our block is over at 3:30.  Alexander was getting ready to leave and put on his hat, which looks cool, so I asked if we could take a picture .. we took the picture, then he smiled and put the hat on Mike's head so we got another pic.  He is also plays the guitar and sings.

We've posted pictures before of the lady who does my hair.  This is with Sister Leavitt who you have seen in pictures on the blog before (l).  She only has about six weeks left.  This is Sister Howe (r), from Las Vegas.  She has been out a week.  Another set of sisters and of elders are coming into our area.  We're grateful we don't have to set up apartments like Cecil and Carol have to .. we think it is probably as cold there as it is here, especially if you're running around putting together beds.
We are always excited to hear the conversion stories.  In 1995 Nikolai joined the church a couple of years before Tatiana, his wife, did.  They had not been married long.  The missionaries met them on the street and came to give them the discussions.  She was at work when he had the discussions, and her mother assured her that Nikolai would lose this passing interest in the American religion.  He didn’t and after two years Nikolai and his wife were traveling together on one of the buses or trams when an attractive young lady boarded and enthusiastically greeted them.  Nikolai replied, calling her Sister ___, and she addressed him as Brother Nikolai.  The three of them visited as they traveled, then after the pretty girl got off with a cheery “See you at Church Sunday, Brother Nikolai,” Tatiana pondered for a few minutes before she asked her husband about this sister of his that she knew nothing about.  So, partly to defend her home front, she began going to church.  She said she wanted to find out who this "sister" was.  She soon joined and these noble souls have been faithful church workers for twenty years.  They have served two temple missions, h was the first temple sealer in Russia.  They are loved by young and old, were one of the couples that went with the youth to the seminary age youth conference this summer in Moscow.  They have been extremely kind to us.

This is one of the scriptures the missionaries like to use.  We like it.
D&C 58:42 “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.

Until next time, stay safe.  .

Monday, October 19, 2015

10/18/15 Phoenix, Birthday, Auxiliary Training, Plan of Salvation

We posted this on facebook, but just in case you didn't see it, it is worth putting here, although it doesn't have anything to do with our mission.  Actually, maybe it does, because missionaries everywhere are teaching the reality and message of our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ.  Certainly amazing and beautiful sights like this are evidence of the world they created for us "both to please the eye and gladden the heart."  (D&C 59)  These things couldn't be by chance.
       The photo was taken by James Witt in Phoenix AZ - he calls it Phoenix rising. 
(for those of you who don't know, Lynnette grew up in Snowflake, Arizona, and attended Arizona State University for a couple of years before going to BYU -- so Arizona pictures always have the feel of home.)

Birthday in Saratov - The missionaries and the Institute youth made it a fun birthday, hand warmers, notes, pictures, a "don't sell my horse", and the tradition in Russia - always flowers, plus a shopping trip a couple of days later with Mike to find something of Russia for me.

Elder Larry S. Kacher of the Second Quorum of the Seventy is the new counselor in our Eastern European Area Presidency.  He and his wife, Pauline, and Sister Carol McConkie, First Counselor in the YW General Presidency, and her husband, Oscar, were here to do a training for the branch auxiliaries.  It was well attended and all four of them did a great job getting over the message and then they took time after each meeting to talk with members.  Zhenia Markelov, our CES director did the translating for the general meetings.  After the meetings, the missionaries helped translate as they each met with individual members.  It was fun for us to have them here, testimony building as well as informative, and such a lift for the members.
The Kachers and McConkies had a full schedule.  They flew in Monday afternoon (from another training) held a District FHE on Monday night, a Zone Conference for the missionaries on Tuesday afternoon, then Tuesday night was the Auxiliary Training.  They left for Samara Wednesday morning for a repeat and also had one more series of meetings in Eastern Europe before they went home.
Elder Kacher

 Oscar and Carol McConkie with Dixie & Anne's granddaughter, Sister Hannah Leavitt who is serving in our mission.  Oscar is a first cousin to our friend Mary McConkie Donoho and the McConkie's daughter is married to Dixie and Anne's youngest son, Matthew.  Such a small world.  My dad always said you should take care how you behave no matter where you were because someone was bound to know your parents or a member of your family.
A couple of the moms held a little nursery at the back of the building so they could be there.
Mike wasn't supposed to take this picture, but since he did, thought we might as well share it .. I have a 2 kg weight (a whopping 4.4 lbs) in each hand.  With my head on the stool it makes it just right for my "reps" whatever those are.  We decided that part of my exercise is getting in and out of the chair - and it is good entertainment for Mike.  I need to get him doing his sit-ups or push-ups on video, but he looks good doing his and I just look funny.
Note, this is American made Pyrex we have in our apartrment .. see the 8 oz, but above it is 1/2 pint - isn't 8 oz 1/2 pint?  Further up is 16 oz and above that 1 pt.  (although just now in googling this we found out that a British imperial pint is 20 fluid ounces compared to the American pint of 16 fluid ounces so maybe this is a British measuring cup.)
Family History - our Branch President's wife's lesson for Young Womens was on family history .. so she brought some of their engagement/wedding pictures.  The Volga Bridge is behind them in the top one, and they are at Victory Park for the next one.
The pictures of their ancestors are fun to look at because it is such a different setting than what we are used to.  Her great great great grandfather is in the middle.  They call it gran gran gran grandfather.

Her father's aunt is second from the right.
 A good scripture from Jarom is when he says the plates are small, so he cannot write very much.  Then he underlines the simplicity and importance of the plan of salvation "but I shall not write the things of my prophesying, nor of my revelations.  For what could I write more than my fathers have written?  For have not they revealed the plan of salvation?   I say unto you, Yea; and this sufficeth me."   That plan is pretty amazing, answers lots of questions and provides direction.  Seems like we learn more about it all the time.  It is humbling to see it change the lives of people.

         From "The Plan of Salvation - A Flight Plan for Life" 
by Elder Duane Gerrard of the Second Quorum of the Seventy:
What a great and wonderful plan is the plan of salvation, which ...teaches true principles to allow completion of our journey through life...Many people wonder, “Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?” Our Eternal Father did not send us to earth on an aimless, meaningless journey. He provided for us a plan to follow. He is the author of that plan. It is designed for man’s progress and ultimate salvation and exaltation. Quoting from the missionary guide Preach My Gospel:  
“God is the Father of our spirits. We are literally His children, and He loves us. We lived as spirit children of our Father in Heaven before we were born on this earth. We were not, however, like our Heavenly Father, nor could we ever become like Him and enjoy all the blessings that He enjoys without the experience of living in mortality with a physical body.
“God’s whole purpose—His work and His glory—is to enable each of us to enjoy all His blessings. He has provided a perfect plan to accomplish His purpose. We understood and accepted this plan before we came to the earth” ([2004], 48).
We pray that things are going well for all of you, we are grateful for you each and all .  .   love   the waites

Thursday, October 15, 2015

10/11/2015 Walking the Bridge, Snow/Cold, Hair, Shoes, Flames

Tuesday 10.6.15  - 72 Degrees and Sunny
 Wednesday 10.7.15 - 43 Degrees and not so Sunny and it looks like it is here to stay.  It was a late winter last year but the locals think it will make that up this year.
At least we checked off one of our bucket-list items Tuesday before the cold set in.  We took the bus to Engels, across the Volga, but got off  half way across where you can walk down the steps to a kind of island out in the middle of the river.  This is "the place" during the summer for swimming, boating, sunbathing, picnics, etc.  Although it was 72 degrees, the place was deserted.  (Did we just say "although" as if 72 degrees was warm enough to be doing those kinds of activities.  Certainly the last year has changed our perspective on what degrees it takes to be warm or cold.)
 a view of the underside of the bridge
 We do not have any idea what these are - there were probably at least fifty or more scattered along the shore.   Couldn't help but be reminded of the book "Holes."
 This is the pavilion, which, we suspect, has seen many more exciting things than two missionaries
 Everyone loves a swing, and this is the typical swing you see over here -- usually not more than one swing per frame, wide seat, and sturdy with plenty of room on either side between the frame, plenty of room for kids to go back and forth without getting hit by the swing.
The stairs going up from the Volga to the Volga Bridge
 You can set up individual "picnic" areas but tables aren't provided as they are often at home.  The weather here is so harsh during the winter it would be very hard to keep anything from being ruined unless it was very strong metal - and they do keep the metal things painted to protect them.
View of Saratov from the steps going down to the river.
 At least not the angry waves like Carol & Ceil had
You can easily see where the drop off is so wading out very far isn't safe unless you are a good swimming and know what is coming.
View from the bridge - the building on the left with the green roof is one of the many buildings the church has met in over the years.  
No matter where you are, seems that often you will have a very beautiful sky..  Amelia McConkie (Bruce R. McConkie's wife) took up painting in her early sixty's and it turned out that she had a real talent.  Often her paintings would include different kinds of  skies.  She said she always wondered what the sky would be like when Christ returned.
This building is at the right just as you come off the bridge and it looks like a big office building
but when you get past it and look back - looks like a children's playground, so maybe it is an apartment building because the part underneath the playground looks like a huge parking garage.  
The couple in the middle posted this on their facebook page.  They kind of knew each other but both started coming when the SIngle Adult class was started and were instrumental in getting it going - and are now married.  She introduced a friend from work to the church who came with them to the class, has been baptized and is now married to the other one in the picture.who also regularly attended the weekly class.  It says:  "Welcome to visit the Institute of Religion. Strengthen your faith. Acquire true friends."  
  It is true, we have had the blessing of both.
We were visiting a family the other day and their daughter unbraided her hair, and she had just had some cut off the bottom - makes you think of Rapunzel.
 Look closely to see if you can tell what is wrong with this measuring cup - - -
 do you think this elder needs new shoes??
 Our stove has become a good friend.  We're always grateful it does a good job for us on treats for dinners.  This little burner, and you can only get a very low flame, is great for heating or rewarming.  It is steady and slow, but doesn't burn.  You can see the size of the other.  A lesson in that I'm sure.
This will forever be one of our heart-warming memories of Saratov - Mike, in the shade of the big trees behind the soccer fields, teaching the English Gospel Study class to a couple of amazing young people we enjoy and have have grown to love.
Thought from General Conference, Elder Andersen: Faith is Not By Chance but by Choice which goes along with President Uchtdorf's Doubt your Doubts before you Doubt your Faith:  
 Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not something ethereal, floating loosely in the air. Faith does not fall upon us by chance or stay with us by birthright. It is, as the scriptures say, “substance … , the evidence of things not seen.”5 Faith emits a spiritual light, and that light is discernible.6 Faith in Jesus Christ is a gift from heaven that comes as we choose to believe7 and as we seek it and hold on to it. Your faith is either growing stronger or becoming weaker. Faith is a principle of power, important not only in this life but also in our progression beyond the veil.8 By the grace of Christ, we will one day be saved through faith on His name.9 The future of your faith is not by chance, but by choice.....How we live our lives increases or diminishes our faith. Prayer, obedience, honesty, purity of thought and deed, and unselfishness increase faith. Without these, faith diminishes. Why did the Savior say to Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not”?   Because there is an adversary who delights in destroying our faith! Be relentless in protecting your faith.