An interesting ice pattern in front of this car, like three little castles, not sure where it came from
Playground in our parking lot,
The walking street
the snowflakes during this snow were like tiny pieces of paper.Elder Meredith wrote of the dangers of the ice that slides off the roofs here - "this week we were walking down the street when i saw warning tape blocking the path ahead of us. people would duck under the tape and continue along the "forbidden path." i wondered why it was blocked off so i looked around and then up. just above the sidewalk was the overhang of a really high roof. on that roof was about 3 feet of snow waiting fall off. it had equally long icicles. the people were unaware of the danger just above their heads. the tape, which seemed to be restricting their path was meant to protect them. in 1 Peter 5:8 it reads "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." that is a a frightening verse because, as members of the church, we fully recognize that there is an adversary who seeks our eternal destruction. he seeks to make all men miserable like unto himself." (Elder Meredith served with us here in Saratov)
It teaches the same lesson as Elder Von G. Keetch's story in his October 2015 General Conference talk (Blessed and Happy Are Those Who Keep the Commandments) about the surfers who were complaining about the heavy mesh barrier across the entrance of the bay that kept them from getting out to the big waves until a local surfer handed them binoculars so they could see the dorsal fins of the big sharks feeding on the other side of the barrier. How true the children's song .. Keep the commandments, in this there is safety and peace.
Elder and Sister Jackson were here this past week. They are the Europe East area advisers for Self Reliance, working out of the Moscow Office. The church's concern is that members know how to take care of themselves spiritually and temporally and the saints here are interested in being able to do that. They introduced the program in the Saratov area last Sunday and will start classes that go for twelve weeks. There are three sections to choose from. One covers principles, skills and habits, then there is one on finding a job and the third is on starting your own business. The Church never ceases to amaze us at the many areas they help in - always helping people to help themselves.
The Jacksons and our native Russian missionary.
An interesting side story. This is the Jackson's second mission. About eight years ago, they served a 23 month mission to Russia Rostov mission. As we do now, they had to go out of the country every three months to renew their visas. They had gone out for three visa trips, and when the fourth rolled around, decided they were tired of hauling suitcases around, so took just one bag between the two of them with barely enough to cover the two days.
At the border they were delayed, and it took them and the two elders with them several hours to get through, but they were finally cleared They went on, stayed overnight and went to the temple the next morning, then headed back to the border where they were delayed again, but longer this time. Finally the elders were cleared, their visas were stamped and they were sent on, but the Jacksons were told they could not go back into Russia. Those that handle those problems in the mission office and the area office went to work while the Jacksons spent spent ten days in a motel. Their mission president went to their apartment and gathered a few more of their things and brought them out to them. It was not a solvable problem, apparently they had been put on some sort of list and couldn't get back in the country for 5 years. They did get one more suitcase and their mission president brought more of their things back when he completed his mission, but some of the things they just had their president give out to the members there.
So with about four months left on their mission, they were assigned to Georgia, which is a small country between Turkey and Russia. They had been there almost two months and were headed to a conference when they got word that Georgia was being bombed, that was about 2008. They went back and although they wanted to stay to help the saints there, the church wouldn't allow it because of the danger and evacuated them with all the other missionaries. Determined to finish out their twenty-three months, they were assigned to the Czech Republic for the the last couple of months.
We also met the new Europe East Area audit couple - the Henriksons.
They just happened to be here the same time as the Jacksons, so Monday we all got together and went to the new Mexican Restaurant that opened several months ago. In fact, we are both thinking it was Sister Leavitt and her companion who discovered it. It isn't like the Mexican food at home, but it is still very good. They make their own tortillas for their tacos and burritos and also make "homemade" nachos from those tortillas, which come free with their chicken steak or regular steak which is also tender and good. The manager even speaks pretty good English so it is always fun when he is there. We have permission to take a companionship to dinner if one of them is leaving the Saratov District, so we have been in there several times and he recognizes us.
The three of us all had on the big black coats - and as we were walking across the icy streets, we were accused of looking like like three penguins.
It also reminded us of President Packer's story, happier ending, in his October 2012 talk on The Atonement when they were unable to get into a harbor because the lower lights weren't on. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/the-atonement?lang=eng