Monday, November 30, 2015

11/29/15 Where the Sidewalk Ends, Thanksgiving Party, RS Conference

One of our new converts moved from Saratov to Tuarse, which is in the Rostov Russia mission about 540 miles from here, 11+ hours depending on roads and traffic.  Mike got in touch with the Elders there so they could follow up on the lessons and help her where they could.  After they met with her and her mother, who is now interested in the church, the Elders called to tell Mike what her schedule is if they came in to church.  They would have to get up at 3:00 a.m. and walk for three hours to get to the next village in time for the 6:00 a.m. bus.  There are very few and that is the only one that leaves in time for them to make it on time to church. The bus trip is three hours, the block goes from 11-1 (only two hours).  Then they have to wait until 6:00 p.m. for the first bus that goes back to the first village - and they arrive about 9.  They still face the three walk back to their home in Tuarse.   The cold and snow that we are getting now makes that pretty much an impossible trip; also makes our bus trip to the church here seem like a short stroll in the park, and makes us wonder why at home in Bunkerville we don't even walk from our home the very short distance to the church.
For Shel Silverstein fans everywhere - always brings a smile and warmth in your heart when you read his poems.  If you haven't read any, might be fun to look up a few.  Mike uses these poems in his English gospel study class.  

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow
,And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends
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      We held our combined "ward" (not branch anymore) Thanksgiving activity last Saturday.  It started as a ward activity, but they wanted an American Thanksgiving so it was turned to the missionaries, the district leaders in that branch.   It is hard to get turkey here - in fact, even a normal sized turkey wouldn't fit in most ovens, certainly not ours - a large chicken would have a squeeze, but they sell lots of rotisserie chicken here and the elders knew a good place. so we used chicken instead of turkey (had to buy 10). It was done just right and easily came off the bones.
   All the missionaries helped, some of the elders even did some great cooking.  The zone leaders used our kitchen because they don't have an oven.  Below, our German elder, Elder Plettig,  is making Schnitzel, which is amazing.  As a note, he went into the Provo MTC speaking only German and now, at his one year mark is doing very well with both English and Russian.
 and our Indiana elder , Elder Farmer, making his mission famed Snickerdoodles.
We (when we use "we" it means us and all the missionaries) made mashed potatoes, using all the potatoes in a 20 lb bag, and gravy (some hadn't tasted that before), corn, salads, drinks, desserts, the members brought their favorite dishes too .. and it turned out great.  Lots of prayers and planning went into this and we're always grateful that our Father helps us in these kinds of things, as well as so many other.

              Looks like a lot of food until everyone starts filling their plates, then it goes pretty fast.  There were 60-70 there, including members, inactives and investigators.                              
 There was a Stake Relief Society conference at 4:00, the Thanksgiving activity at 6:30 -- so Elder Waite and the new member of the Bishopric took that over.  It was so nice to come into cook and have all the carrots and potatoes peeled and cut up ready to be cooked.  
Our new Bishop is in the center - formerly in the District Presidency - the one on your left is the new counselor in the Bishopric that helped Mike peel and cut.  He and his wife have been back from a mission about 6 months.  She is the Stake Relief Society President.
Below, Sister Petrunin (Lydia) is setting up the tables for the light luncheon after the RS conference.  (Kind of a side note - the Relief Society was very grateful to the Elders for setting up tables for them to use -- which they actually set up for the Thanksgiving activity.  Sometimes it is better to just say Thank You than explain and that is what they did.  It worked out best for everyone.   
      Look at how she stacked the clementines. When these ladies come, whether it is their activity or someone elses, just like home, they pitch in and help, quietly and without show. After we finished the basic cleanup after eating at the Thanksgiving activity, I slipped in to watch one of the games,  and by the time I got back, she already had the kitchen floor mopped.
Lena Markelov is translating for Sister Schwab, the main speaker for the RS Conference. Lena speaks English, but it was her first time translating and she was pretty nervous, but did very well.  Her husband, President Markelov (President Mission Presidency before and President Stake Presidency now) is the one who translates always for President Schwab - and almost everyone else. The theme was unity and how important that is, especially now as this young Stake moves forward.  The other speakers were leaders in the Stake, and spoke on the same.  They are so grateful and excited for this new stake and are willing to put in the time and effort needed.  There was a very strong and very peaceful spirit there which I can't exactly explain, but certainly could feel.
        Fun Thanksgiving fact we didn't know:  On October 3, 1863 Lincoln proclaimed the official Thanksgiving holiday,  expressing gratitude for a pivotal Union Army victory at Gettysburg and announced that the nation would celebrate an official Thanksgiving holiday on November 26, 1863.   The speech, actually written by Secretary of State William Seward declared the fourth Thursday of every November thereafter would be considered an official US holiday.  That went back to when George Washington was in his first term in 1789 after the nation had come through the American Revolution.  At that time, George Washington called for an official celebratory "day of public thanksgiving and prayer."

We're kind of jumping back and forth from the RS meeting to the Thanksgiving activity, at which one of the sister companionships did some of the Minute To Win It games.  Nobody had seen them before which made them extra fun.  Here they are doing the one where a box of Tic Tacs is fastened to the end of a ruler and they have to hold the ruler in their teeth and just by bobbing their head have to get them all out in the 60 second limit.  

 Next was the game where you use chopsticks to transfer M&Ms from one bowl to another.

 Then the "pie eating" contest .. except instead of pies we made jello and then mixed it up with that whipped cream that comes in the cans .. from old to young wanted to do it and it turned out very well.  The older ones got as much jello on their faces as the younger ones, and licked their plates just as clean. The Russians always do games at parties and they always have great participation.  They enjoy gathering and have fun together.  As we mentioned before, in ways it sounds much like the way Grandma Waite used to describe their town parties when everyone got together.

.After our Sunday meeting with Institute Council, Mike was talking with one of the council members who had just been to St. Petersburg to a training.  It is a typical pose and expression that I really like, thought you'd enjoy seeing it too.

This is the entry in our apartment and our bedroom on District Conference days at the time one district is leaving and the other coming in.
From Mike's writing - on the missionaries: "they are sunny and positive, facing their calls as emissaries of the Lord seriously. The missionaries are not allowed to congregate in one place, except for district or zone meetings. After such meetings they leave with staggered timing, allowing a few minutes between the departure of each companionship, so they are not all together on the streets. But when together, when gathered as young energetic, miraculous missionaries, young men and women in their late teens and early twenties, in those district meetings, they are an exciting group, full of stories to tell about embarrassing language blunders, cooking mistakes,  “incidents,” on the streets— when someone gets in their face or tries to manhandle them--, and revealing scenes about the idiosyncrasies of companions or members. It is a physical group, so there are always tales of successes and disappointments on the soccer field or wrestling mat, and they are all authorities on tasty places to eat and homemade recipes. Within a few weeks of being in an area, they all become well acquainted with the unusual street names, the parks, and the renocks (small markets) where there are good sales on juice or Russian cuisine,. And they know how to work. Gracious, they know how to work. They understand the value of strict obedience to the rules of the mission."
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And you most certainly are in our thoughts, hearts and prayers.  We are grateful for each and all.

1 comment:

  1. The little boy eating the pie reminds me of Corban