True to Christmas tradition, we made a list of those here we wanted to remember with a little treat. Thinking to say something they could actually read, I went to Google Translate and typed in "Merry Christmas from Elder Waite and Sister Waite." (Unless you put each name it translates funny.) So - this is what we printed on our labels:
От старца Уэйт и сестра Уэйт
Mike took the ones for District Meeting Thursday night; and Friday when we had Sergei and Anait (the one who does the Matroshka dolls) over for dinner, we gave them theirs. He looked it and started to laugh. Apparently there are several translations for Elder, the one for Elder-missionary is старейшина (Sta-ray-sha-na). The one we used, старца (Startsa) means wise old man.
So "Merry Christmas from Wise Old Man Waite and Sister Waite."
We had more comments today from others we had given them to but they understand google translate so also thought it was funny. They did comment that they don't consider him "old" although they feel he certainly is wise. I whole-heartedly agree!
It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas here, but they celebrate on the 7th of January. There are Christmas tree lots all over and the only thing you need to check is how tall you want it. It almost looks like they have just topped a lot of tall trees so the shape and fullness is always great.
the sisters at the branch building - quite a few helped decorate ..
and we have our apartment decorated like last year, adding a couple of ornaments that have been given to us:
I mailed a package to a recent convert who has moved to Moscow thinking that I would learn and then could mail more packages. However, this was the first time and last time at the same time as my Dad would say. I went with the sisters because our Russian sister (on the right) had to get her passport. Had she not been with us, we probably would still be there. The only advice we were given is that we should take a Russian with us and it didn't take long to understand why. You use their boxes, which isn't really expensive but the lines and figuring what you need and repacking is a very long process and takes someone "Russian fluent" in the language. Hardly any of the missionaries ever try to mail anything home. Sister Howe, left, is from Las Vegas.Then they needed the address written in Russian, including zip codes and indez number which would have been pretty much impossible without Sister Mateykina's help.
All in all, it has been a good Christmas. Mike usually takes me shopping for an outfit, but my choice was to wait until we got home. So, instead, since it had "warmed up" to 40 degrees F, wasn't sprinkling anymore and the sun was out, we decided to walk down by the Volga, but this time take a different route and walk on the other side of the bridge that is less developed. The clouds looked like they were just resting on the bridge.
The bus was crowded and the windows muddy, so we missed the last bus stop before the bridge where we should have gotten off. But since they let us off in the middle of the bridge before when we walked down to the island, we asked - more in pointing than words - if they would let us out there. We couldn't understand the words, but could tell by the hand actions of the driver and the money-taker lady that it wasn't allowed and as we neared the Engels side, they pointed out a man in one of those bright chartreuse colored highway-worker like suits, who apparently was there to stop people from going on the bridge.
And we remembered another rainbow on our trip to Provo to the MTC 14 months ago.
We got off at the first bus stop and headed down toward the river, at least that is where we thought we were going. We did find a sidewalk that went along the side of the Volga, but also there was an 8-10 foot wall, some parts tin and some cement, between us and the river. The "sidewalk" was dirt, therefore slippery mud because of the snow that had melted; but hoping for a road either taking us down to the Volga or up a street so we could see over the wall, we hung on to each other - more me holding on to Mike - and laughed as we sloshed and slipped along for a couple of miles. There were no openings to go down to the Volga and no streets on the other side where you could go up. At the top of a little hill, we could see then it wasn't going to change and also that we probably weren't in a very good area.So we sloshed and slipped and slogged back. It was fun, we enjoyed the rainbow and the sky - and getting back to damp but solid ground and a bus stop that had buses coming and going. We usually can take the 284B or D bus, so when a 284 came, we thought it would work. However, after we got further back into Saratov and it took a couple of turns we weren't used to and missed a turn we were used to, we decided to get off. Mike now can find our way back home even if, as he said before "we're not lost .. I just don't know where we are." It was a little longer walk from the bus than we had planned, but still was a good day and in truth, Mike probably enjoyed it more than shopping.
We had our zone conference and Christmas dinner for all the missionaries in our zone. Sister Schwab made honest to goodness chicken enchiladas with sauce and real chopped green chile that her children brought when they came over. We also served beef (hamburger) soft tacos, Spanish rice, Sister Schwab's signature cooked brown/sugar carrots that the missionaries always ask for, and for dessert brownies with ice cream and crunched up candy canes.
the very large, and very tasty enchilada is hidden under the torilla.One of the highlights at the end of the meeting - President Schwab had each missionary come with a favorite scripture about Christ .. there was only one used twice. It was really tender to have each one give the scripture and tell why it was important to them. We do enjoy these young missionaries and are impressed with the many things they do. The one we want to share is the one that was used twice. We also know that the safety from the mighty winds and shafts and hail the dark side sends, in truth comes from building our foundation upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God!
Helaman 5:12 – And now, my sons (and daughters and everyone) remember, remember, that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless woe, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build, they cannot fall.