Monday, November 16, 2015

11/15/15 Saratov Becomes Russia's Third Stake

  From the Church's Eastern European News:

В Саратове основан кол Церкви Иисуса Христа Святых последних дней

  It says that on 15 November 2015 Saratov District became Saratov Stake in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the third stake in Russia.

      For most of you, the chances of knowing any of the people is pretty small, but we will put the pictures in because we want you to see them.  We have gotten to know them and grown to love them; they have been good to us.  It reminds us of Stephen after he returned from his mission to the Canary Islands, saying how small it looked on the map when he first got his call, but how much bigger those islands became as he got to know the people.
     Today in the general session of the Saratov District Conference, the Saratov District became the Saratov Russia Stake, the third stake in Russia.  The other two are Moscow and St. Petersburg.  What a memorable day for the church in Russia and in Saratov and for the many members and missionaries and leaders who have prayed fervently and worked long and hard for this day to come.  It was a quiet, peaceful and very exciting and humbling day with no opposition, an answer to many prayers.  Five of the branches will be made into wards: Zavodskoy, Volshki, Solnechney, Dachney and Penza.  Engels, Marks and Balakova will remain branches, although Engels is close to qualifying which hopefully will come soon.             
  . Anatoly Reshetnikov (middle)  is the new stake president. His counselors are Evgeny Markelov (left) and Evgeny Kosmynin ( right.)

                President Reshetnikov - his wife on the right in the yellow

President Markelov, first counselor, and their son
                              Lena Markelov, their daughter and her mother (visiting from Idaho)
Kosmynins (Second Counselor) and the Porters
The new patriarch is Nicolai Vasiliev who also was the first Russian temple sealer. They have served two temple missions - the first in Helsinki and the next in Kiev.   Those who have wanted patriarchal blessings have had to wait until a visiting Patriarch came twice a year, so the members are all excited to have their own. The Vasilievs are among the stalwarts of the church here, faithful members for twenty years as are the Reshetnikovs.   Their countenances reflect what wonderful people they are.  
President and Sister Porter spent time every meeting mingling and meeting members.  Here they are with Mike Kazantsev, a member from Engels.  
Elder Waite has been working on a timeline showing when the branches started, when branches were combined and the names of the mission, district and branch presidents.  We had a fun time putting it up - none of the modern printing conveniences.  They are probably here but we didn't know how to find them or tell them what we wanted if we did, nor could we find poster board or rolls of paper.  So the background and the rest as a matter of fact, went up one sheet at a time.  He also had gone through the historical discs with Sister Leavitt's translating help and we have met with members so had pictures from back through time that he put on a thumb drive and had them rolling through on the family history large TV.
      It was a long project with many little tender mercies along the way as different people "just happened" to be in the right place at the right time and were able to either do what was needed or save us time by showing us how to do something - and we are grateful for our Father's help.  There are three chairs in the second picture but you can see just the backs so they look like they are holding something up 
When the Elders were helping, it looked like the three of them were in a police lineup.
Maxim and Lena pointing to the years they were baptized.
 Our Mission Presidency  and Sister Schwab - President Blinkov, Sister Schwab, President Schwab and President Markelov, now first counselor in the new Stake Presidency.
Our last District Council meeting Thursday night.  The district presidency is in the middle front.
District Presidency w/President and Sister Schwab.  The two counselors are now Bishops in a couple of the wards which will be very good.
          We had a luncheon for the outgoing District Presidency and the visiting authorities and the wives and families on Saturday between the priesthood meeting for the men and auxiliary training for the women and the evening adult session.  Then on Sunday after the meeting, we were able to repeat, this time with the new Stake Presidency, authorities and families.   Kind of fun .. our branch president's little boy, two years plus a little, wandered in and while the blessing was being said, happily and noisily crunched away on the potato chips.  
Jumping back to the luncheon Saturday between sessions.  We made chicken salad to serve on rolls which we usually can get at our Ashans, but they were almost out and the ones left were too hard.  But then, I saw these packages of hamburger buns, they looked soft and were a good size, and we were able to get enough; thought that I should check one, but just didn't get to it.  I stepped out of the women's meeting as soon as Sister Porter finished her talk to do a couple of final things .. one being to make sure the rolls were cut.  You can see them on the right side  of the table and you have to admit they look like hamburger buns.
So I cut into the first -- and there in the middle was a dollop of jelly - they were a kind of sweet roll and had jelly inside of most, chocolate inside a few, which was worse.  Mike was great, he took his "hamburger bun," put on the chick salad and ate it just like that was the way it was supposed to be.  Actually everyone took one, they were good, but some just ate it like a doughnut, and put the chicken salad on the side.  Wish I could describe that first sinking, desperate feeling when I cut into it, knowing that those who were going to eat were within a few minutes of coming in and that there is no such thing as a "quick run" to any store - none close here anyway.  The people here are very much make do with what they have, so all went very well; someone said it just added to the memories.  One of the sisters later showed me on the label where it said пончик which means donut.  I knew the word because our granddaughter, Stephen's Brinlee, likes them enough that for her birthday one year that is what she wanted for her cake, so when we started learning Russian we told everyone the word.
     When we left the meeting - this is what we came out to - four-ish inches and still falling - the first snowfall of the year.  It started part way into the meeting.  After coming out and seeing the fresh blanket of snow, one of the members said that she thought it was fitting that after coming out of that meeting, everything was pure and white, ready to make new footsteps as we moved forward.
We are safe and happy and grateful to be here even though we have to be away from family and friends.  We feel the words to the song .. "Because we have been given much, we too must give."  We are grateful more than we can say for a Father in Heaven who does as he says in D&C 84:88 .. "I will go before your face, I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you to bear you up."

1 comment:

  1. What a blessing to be there for that wonderful event! Missions are the best!