Mondays the missionaries come here to use the computers to write home and Monday evening is home evening at the building, or we have someone up here - always with a couple of missionaries to translate. Tuesday evening is English Club which the missionaries teach while we take care of the institute class for single adults over 45. Wednesday night is Institute for 18-31 age group. We have an Institute Council that we work with to plan activities, service projects, etc. Thursday night Mike goes to the District Council meeting, Friday night is game night where the missionaries bring investigators. Saturday Mike teaches an English gospel study class to some of the young people who speak English. Sunday we go to both branches because, as we mentioned before we are in one branch and he is the membership clerk in the other. Sunday afternoon at 6:00 we meet with the mid-single group, ages 31-45. During the week and something we really enjoy, often the missionaries will bring investigators or new members to our apartment for lessons. Two girls who are sisters were here and Mike made a goal with them if they would, we also would read a chapter each day. We finished the Book of Mormon, and now are working on the mission challenge - to read the Book of Mormon in 65 days. We are on schedule with that.
Mixed in all of this, Mike is working on a history of Saratov, first a time line showing mission presidents, district presidents, and a line graph showing when each branch started. He would like to have it ready for the conference coming up next Sunday. We have gone with Presidents Reshetnikov and Markelov and taken pictures of all of the buildings the church has met in over the years, and Mike has gone through the available historical discs for each branch (with the help of Sister Leavitt's good language skills) and we're trying to take pictures we need from that. We've been able to go to member's homes and get their stories and pictures - either with missionaries or President Reshetnikov has taken us. It has been very interesting .. also interesting that when he's through, someone is going to have to translate that back into Russian.
The truth of and importance of the gospel in people's life is evident every day.
Well - enough of our exciting daily routine .. on to this week's blog:
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Mike and I are included in the email that goes out to the district members on indexing. Saratov District is almost always at or close to the top. They are already above 2500 names indexed for November as you can see. This is the note Tatiana sent this time. Our email automatically translates emails that are in Russian into English. This one is a pretty good translation - some are pretty funny.
Дорогие друзья! За 4 ноябрьских дня наша группа сделала 2 500 имён в Марафоне по индексингу
Мы все просто МОЛОДЦЫ! We're all just great!
Join please those who is not on this list!
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We do like this picture!! There is a good spirit that comes with indexing and family search no matter where you are.
We visited a lemon greenhouse last week - he has 250 plants. It is about 30 minutes from us - if the traffic is good, which it wasn't on the way over.
They grow very large lemons which is a good thing to do in a lemon greenhouse :)
There have two iguanas - two very large iguanas - not sure if they are there for interest or if they are useful in the greenhouse. Our grandson, Ben (Taylor Lorum's oldest) has some kind of a similar animal so we'll find out from him and post it next time.
And a closeup - maybe he is there to scare the bad guys.
We made the awful mistake of thinking we could remember what everything was - enough said. So we don't know what these are, but you can see that there is a lemon that is grafted into the tree...
The sides of the building and the top row of panels that are at the peak of the roof are double pane. The rest coming down the roof are single pane. The heat rising up from the building is enough to warm those and keep the snow melted, he said it just slides off the roof, so even during the winter they don't have ice or snow on the roof.
Lemon and orange on the same tree, he has someone who does the grafting. He did it all originally but it takes too much time and he said he had the business to run.
Not sure what kind of a flower, but really beautiful
Very hot water runs through these pipes which go all through the greenhouse to keep it warm.
more pipes, pretty amazing system.
and more lemons - you can see the single pane part of the roof above them.
These are like large clementines
We looked this up when we got home - This Goliath Birdeater is a spider belonging to the tarantula family, the largest spider in the world. By leg-span, it is second to the giant huntsman spider, but it is the largest by mass. It is called birdeater because of an 18th century copper engraving showing one eating a hummingbird, but usually eat worms, toads and bugs. The spider is a delicacy in northeastern South America, prepared by singeing off the hairs and roasting it in banana leaves. The flavor has been described as "shrimplike". We'll leave that cooking and tasting to someone else.
There were some beautiful red leaves in this area, they flower in the spring.
Pretty pink flowers, not sure what they are either, but at least you all know about the birdeater spider
Nikolai has us stand at a couple of certain spots and took these pictures. We were the only ones there so he spent quite a bit of time with us as he took us through, just as we finished a bus of school children showed up. Nice timing.
Down another of the rows
Ilia is behind Mike
A banana tree
little tiny pomegranate (granate is the Russian word) - about the size of a golf ball.
Ilia (r) was the translator so Mike was able to talk to Nickolai - pretty amazing man.
He said they do this just to make the pipes look more decorative.
Finally at the end
Natasha's niece, Victoria. It was a holiday and she was out of school and visiting them. That is why they decided on the lemon greenhouse trip, and we're glad we were included.
Just kind of interesting as we were walking back out to the street, an old military vehicle of some sort. The greenhouse is back a bit on the right and out of the picture. It is tucked way back in so you have to walk in and out and around a few things to get to it.
The entry is through the building behind Mike & Ilia.
We came back along a part of the Volga we hadn't seen before, but this is the only picture we could get and you can barely see the river - but the sky is pretty.
Mike has helped some of the youth here get started in the Pathway program. It is through BYU-I. They have to pass an English proficiency test first, which is pretty basic, but still hard for many to pass unless they are in a situation where they use English. We have three in it now. Two of them come regularly to an English gospel study class Mike does on Saturday - we've posted pictures of them before.
The other young lady comes on Wednesday because one of their weekly assignments it to speak English for at least 30 minutes and also go over the assignment for the next week. We have really enjoyed her and she is headed to the temple in Kiev this week with a friend from Pathway. She is on the left in the top picture with Sister Leavitt and her friend who came in from the Rostov mission, is in the bottom picture
And our story for this week is the conversion of the friend, who is married with two children. Her train got in about 10:00 a.m. and they didn't leave until 5:00 p.m. so she stayed with us until Olya got off work. She told us this story:
Her husband was watching TV during the elections when Mitt Romney was running. He liked what he was saying and thought he seemed like a good guy.
He heard the word Mormon for the first time and looked it up on the internet. He said there were so many bad things he decided there must be something good for people to work that hard to tear it down. So he went to the church website and read, then requested a Book of Mormon. The missionaries from the Vladistock (sp?) mission came on a four hour train trip to bring two Books of Mormon - one for him and one for his wife. But he didn't say anything to her. There were three members of the church in their town who met every Sunday and he started going - still didn't say anything to her. He took the lessons on Skype - and still didn't say anything to her.
After a couple of months he came to her and said he had found something he thought she would be interested in, a church where the focus was the family. She started taking the lessons on Skype and on the third lesson, they asked her if she wanted to be baptized when he was on December 8. She said he kind of looked sheepish and said .. "I forgot to tell you..." After she finished the 5th lesson, they had her read Moroni 10:4-5 and asked her to pray about it. Praying was hard because it was something she had never done but she finally decided she wanted to know because her husband knew and was going to join the church. She went into her bedroom and simply asked - Please, Heavenly Father, tell me if the Book of Mormon is true. She said that immediately she was enveloped in a warm feeling and she knew. They were baptized. Her husband was immediately made the group leader of their group, now five. That was three years ago and they have 25 members and he is the Branch President. They have been sealed in the temple, their son has been baptized and their daughter will be baptized when she turns eight. She also said that there is another branch president in an area close to theirs who learned about the church the same way - saw Romney on TV, looked up Mormons, requested a Book of Mormon - the missionaries came and he and his wife and their two children were baptized...
This scripture fits the story. We also express thanks to our Father for everything we have and are..