Sunday, January 31, 2016

1/31/2016 Tender Mercies, New Patriarch, More Snow

  Our hearts are always touched at the tender mercies in seeming small things.   Saturday was one of those extra busy days where, although assignments and responsibilities didn't overlap, they were too close in some cases.  We came from one with barely enough time to get out to Solnechney to a baptism.  We knew it would be close, needing everything to fall into place exactly, which it never does when it involves taxis and traffic.  But, feeling it was important that we were there, and there in time for the program before the baptism, we asked our Father again for help, and the help came.  The Elder's called the taxi and it was here within minutes, the first time ever for us.  The traffic wasn't as bad as usual, still we seemed to move ahead slower than we needed.  But, although most drivers have a hard time finding the Solnechney chapel, this driver went right to it. And, finally because of a couple of complications at the building, the baptism was late starting, within a few minutes of when we got there.  We felt the comfort of his help and we are grateful.
     This is one of the few long time member families - their 8-year old daughter was the one baptized, and their oldest son, on the left, is preparing for a mission. The mom often is the translator when people are visiting from Salt Lake, also can do sign language.  They are all active - and lots of fun.
 The two in the middle are sister missionaries, the other two are members, the one on the left helps with the Institute teaching - an excellent teacher.  The Bishop's wife is in the pink.
 Andre is in one of our Singles programs - we have known him almost since we got here, is an active and involved member, but this is the first time we've met his mom.
     Always have liked this story on prayer about a little boy who, the week coming up to his Saturday birthday, always prayed that it wouldn't rain on his birthday and his older brother kept telling him his prayers wouldn't make any difference.  If it was going to rain, it would rain.  Saturday came - and so did the rain.  His older brother was quick to point that out "See, Heavenly Father didn't answer your prayer."  But the little boy trustingly answered..."Yes, he did, he just said No this time."
Image result for picture of boy kneeling in prayer
Apparently this video didn't play in the last blog, so will try again ..
Elder Plettig, our German elder, took this picture from his apartment window.  We have been told that it is a mirage - like a desert mirage, but this is in the sky when there are certain cloud conditions.  We never cease to be amazed at the beauties of our world.
We walked down to the park - lots and lots and lots of a type of crow.  For any who have seen Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, it could be a little scary with so many and their cawing.
The trees, all wrapped for winter, look like a row of the KKK.
Some even shovel their roofs

 No matter the snow, no matter the cold, one of the delightful things about children is that they can find something to make it fun.  This is the side of our building where they have stacked up the snow from the parking lot - full of snow, dirt and ice chunks.
 This is his snow cave, it goes down and in and then back up to a hole to get out on the other side.  
        Another fun place.  The snow is scraped up into piles at certain places along the sides of the walking street which goes about four or five Salt Lake City blocks.   Stores line either side with a walking area in the middle about the size of a highway lane. These boys were laughing and pushing and playing what we used to call "King of Bunker Hill" in my growing up days,  with the one at the top trying to keep the others from getting up there.  ("I'm the king of Bunker Hill .. I can fight and I can kill" - how do you think those words would go over in today's world.)
In places the snow looks like soft brown sugar ...
 And some cars won't get out until spring.
 Someone asked - so this is the stairway up to our apartment.  It looks kind of rough, and is cement, but actually it is great -  one of our blessings - the stairs are smooth, each an even height and the stairwells are warm.  We are on the 4th floor and can take the 54 steps or the lift (elevator).   Mikkelsens, in Odessa Ukraine, are on the 4th floor, 57 steps we thought Ned said - and no lift.

Since we're looking at building things - In the sports complex walkways, they have a strong vinyl flooring with a wood look finish.  When there is a tear, they go down up and down the inside and outside of the tear with a tool that seals it - almost looks like it is nailed, but it is not.  Pretty clever - looks like a fancy design unless you get down close, although no two designs are the same.
           Elder Neuenschwander was here to train our new Stake Patriarch, Nikolai Vasilev who was also the first Russian sealer in both the Helsinki, Sweden and Kiev, Ukraine temples.  They were planning another temple mission and haven't been able to get everything lined up - suspect the need for him in this new calling is the reason.  (Below - Elder Neuenschwander and our very good friends, Tatiana and Nikolai Vasilev.)  Elder Neuenschwander, a Seventy then, was the one who came to reorganize the Mesquite Nevada Stake after President Whipple passed away.  He is now one of the church Patriarchs that comes to Europe and spends a month or so traveling around to give patriarchal blessings.  Everyone came here for dinner and that is always fun.  We didn't even need a translator this time since he speaks fluent German, Russian and of course, English.
 Elder Neuenschwander, President and Sister Schwab, Waites, Vasilevs & President Reshetnikov
No molasses, but we tried a cream/honey recipe for taffy.  It turned out OK - I didn't cook it long enough because the first time we tried it I cooked it too long .. maybe next time I can get it right.  And they don't have candy thermometers here, so that isn't an option.  But Maxim and Lina enjoyed it anyway, hadn't seen anything like it before.

An old heating system on top of a building by the church - still works.  They follow the saying we've heard President Packer use - use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.
Mike has been able to do some teaching - with the help of the elders - for the mid-Single Adult class that meets on Sunday and for the older Single Adult class that meets on Tuesday nights and he enjoys that.   He is helping now to train the new clerk in the ward we belong to - remember Mike is clerk in the ward we don't belong to and thanks to John Gleave and the help center in Salt Lake continues to learn how to do what needs to be done.  It is kind of funny because sometimes in the training they have to go back and forth from the English to the Russian screen .. they use the Russian screen most.  He also continues to add things to the history time line and we are trying to get as many of the old pictures as we can.  This is of the first songbook they had in Russian - just a few hymns - but they were so very grateful to have it.  The ladies in primary are wishing they had more of the children's songs translated into Russian  because there is so much teaching in them.
A quote from Elder Christofferson on something I've been studying - not necessarily understanding, but still fun to learn.
Elder Christofferson - This personal persistence in the path of obedience is something different than achieving perfection in mortality. Perfection is not, as some suppose, a prerequisite for justification and sanctification. It is just the opposite: justification (being pardoned) and sanctification (being purified) are the prerequisites for perfection.
And a good scripture to go along with that:

2 Nephi 31:19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save..
 20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
 21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen
   Grateful to you all -- 

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