The Elders were talking about counting their blessings at the end of the day .... well, he yelled at us, but he didn't swear; he swore a lot but he didn't hit us or spit at us.
An entry on one of the Engels Branch history discs reminded us of a headstone in the Santa Clara cemetery Aaron Michael and his family saw when they were looking at family headstones:"Accidentally Killed By An Indian"
And, this is the entry from the Engels, Russia history:
"2005 March 9 Engels: Marina Azarenkova baptized, given a calling in RS, dies in November"
* * *
Mike has been working on a history of Saratov, and one of the areas in that history is the buildings they met in. Mikail, from Zavadskoy Ward was willing to take us to the buildings for that Branch/Ward, so we met him Monday at the church building. Dasha and Aloyna (converts of about a year, Institute Youth, English speakers and good friends) came with us to translate. We thought it would be fun for you to see the buildings and how many places they have met. Only the first one would be considered easily accessible. (You can tell that some of the notes are taken from Mike's journal.)
We took a bus and rode for a very long time before Mikail finally gave us the sign of only two more stops, and there we got off to a day of hiking on icy sidewalks. One of the nice miracles is that, though we slipped several times and walked great distances between buildings, no one fell. We enjoyed his enjoyment, his talk of playing Santa Claus, his explanation of each building. After the first building (below), where they used the bottom floor and were in for about a year,
Mikail said we had a ten minute walk, which I’m certain was nearer thirty than ten. But the day, though chilly, and the snow frozen hard, and the ice glassy,
we liked the walk:
we liked the walk:
once up over the tracks,
once across the tracks.
He wove us through complexes and across long stretches of tracks, but got us to four of the six—I think six—buildings. This is building number two - the part you see here was just a huge room where they had sacrament meeting. Where you see the yellow trim, the building extends over to the rooms where they held classes. They were here four or five months,
and this was where Mikail was Santa Claus.
The next three pictures constitute their third meeting place and they were there almost three years. They had 170 members, with over 100 coming each week to Sacrament meetings. Now they have a little over 50 each week. As mentioned before, many faithful members from here and the other Saratov branches moved to Moscow for work, starting in about 1998 when the value of the ruble dropped. Those that came to organize the stake here even joked that this was really the second Saratov Stake, the first one was organized in Moscow.
The white and blue building below was where Sacrament meeting was held The classrooms were in the parts of the building you see in the bottom two pictures.
This is their fourth meeting place, and the most difficult to get to, we had another short bus ride and then walked around buildings and across empty lots. They met here a year and a half.
When Mikail finally said it was the last building we would be visiting, not one of the four of us had any idea where we were. We had walked through nice wooded areas and into some “sketchy” streets, trash on the sides of the road, and it all was another world.
We were still in Saratov, Zavodskoy section, but there was nothing familiar.
Mikail showed us the tram to get on, told us when to get off, and the number of the next tram to catch, and the girls followed his directions, and after a long ride on the hard seats of the tram,
and traveling by the most humble of homes.
We ended up on Rockova Street, only two blocks from our apartment (and that was only because by then Mike recognized where we were and had us get off. The walk from where we had been directed to get off would have added four blocks -Рахова ул (Rockova Street)
and their blocks are longer than Salt Lake blocks. )
and their blocks are longer than Salt Lake blocks. )
One of our Elders who is from Arizona, has a talent for cartoon type drawing, so when that companionship is in charge of English club, he adds his talent. This first picture says:
"You didn't read the Book of Mormon? Then, I am sad" and was more effective than anything he could have said.In English Club they were doing phrasal verbs - so he illustrated - a big help to those
that are trying to figure out English.
Couple of close-ups
We went again to the game center that some of the wards/branches rent out on Saturdays. This time, along with the sports participants, one of the scout leaders was there teaching this young man to rappel - not as good as a cliff but it is a good beginning. I'm not sure what it was built for, but they have adapted it very well and it isn't far to fall if you make a mistake.
Friends from the Zavadskoy branch and the zone leaders ate with us last Monday. He would like to retire, but is also known as the "idea man" and they don't want him to leave because what they want to build, he can visualize and outline; they just follow his lead. She works as an engineer. They are fun to be with, they obviously enjoy one another. They tell stories, actually she tells and he fills in details along the way. Their first daughter had some problems in her legs when she was a child and when the doctors tried to fix it, they made a mistake resulting in the amputation of both legs. Not to be discouraged, they worked hard and taught her, along with their next two that they could do anything they were willing to work for, regardless of handicaps. She had a good voice and musical ability, so they enrolled her in the best music schools here. Now, with an amazing singing voice and prosthetic legs, she professionally sings and dances, does very well. They are very proud, for which they have reason. (If you study and do well, the state pays for your education - and their three did.)
A tender moment between the two of them as they were getting ready to leave and he knelt down by her to help her put on her boots.
This is the fiance of one of our Institute members. Her smile and fun personality reminded us of Meresa Woods so we immediately liked her. I think we expected her to speak English.
She is from Vladivstock, Russia and served a mission in Rostov Russia, which is where our Russian sister is from. It was fun to see their reunion as they met in hall of the Institute office and spoke in rapid Russian as they talked of people and memories there.
In the scriptures, peace can mean either freedom from conflict and turmoil or the inner calm and comfort born of the Spirit that God gives to his faithful Saints.
Since all of us have trials we have to face and things we have to work through, it seems the peace we are looking for is the inner calm and comfort that comes through the Holy Ghost. As always, our Father gives us simple directions and another great promise if we follow them:
D&C 19:23 - Learn of me, listen to my words, walk in the meekness of my spirit
and ye shall have peace in me.
We are constantly touched, impressed, awed, amazed - what is the word - at the many, many things our Father in Heaven has given us - in our wonderful world, with the sacrifice and atonement of Jesus Christ and through the restoration of the gospel. We are grateful.