Dasha and Alyona - the ones who went with us on our walking tour of the Zavadskoy buildings -
took us to see their room in the dorm - dom in Russian which means any kind of home. It took me back to my Arizona State University days and living in Gammage Hall. This is a common kitchen area to the floor they are on .. they can only use the stove top, not the oven, no microwave, but they do have in their room a small crockpot and one of those electric pitchers that heats the water fast, something I'd like to have when we get home, amazing how often that comes in handy.
They were in a room for three which was more than double the size of this one. They like having fun, but they are studiers and not party-ers, so preferred having just the two of them. They are the only members of the LDS church in this dorm - dom. There was one other member in their university, but he is in the mission field now, serving in Moscow..
Both like reading. Alyona major is English which she loves, Dasha's is Political Science, which she doesn't like,but once they declare a major, they cannot change it unless they change schools or until move on to another level.
It says have a happy day.
With their "commandant" who is in charge of this particular dorm and went out of her way to be nice to us. She really likes them - and even had the guard let us in without showing our passports. When they go in to the dorm, they have to stop at the window where the guard is. They give him their university ID and he gives them the key.
We met one of the retired teachers from their school. Her husband also worked there and their son now has been one of their teachers. We were at the curb and she asked if they could help her across the street. She, probably in her late eighties now, and her husband have devoted her life to teaching and preparing young people for living in the "real" world. (whatever that is).
These two and Laila (our member from Angola) and Yulia came again Saturday to help make sugar cookies for the Institute Valentine party. Another day of the little tender mercies that make things so much better. We had a similar project last year but this is the first time I had to make sugar cookies here and I'm grateful heaven listens even to silly prayers about cookies. Everyone helped and they turned out just right. Then the three girls frosted them - it would have taken me forever - they are good at it and all did theirs a little differently so it was more decorative.
The party went well although we didn't have as many as we expected and would have liked to have had, but the evening was well planned with food and games. At the parties here, everyone seems to be willing to take part in whatever is going on, and enjoy it.
They even had a game that used the glow wrist bands like we use at the 4th of July.
Some of the best pictures are of people taking pictures as you all remember from watching your children trying to make their children smile for a picture.
A member just sent us these pictures, the members love them and so do we. They are pictures of the lights in the sky just before Saratov was made a Stake. There certainly was a great feeling of peace that weekend, appreciated much more because there had been such resistance before. Everything was in place for any "just in case's", but there were none.
Remember the board Mike did for the Saratov District Time Line -- which took us a very long time to put up at almost a piece of paper at a time. It shows all the branches, when they began and the branch, district and mission presidents from 1990 through 2015.
We knew it wouldn't take as long but expected to spend a fair amount of time taking it down:
Less than 10 minutes from start to fold and in the trash. We tried to find that poem about taking longer to build than to demolish but couldn't, but did find this quote which will do -
By definition, the process of creation has to be structured and logical in order that you have a useful end product. Destruction, however, can be random and incoherent. Actions which take little or no thought can be done much faster than those which must be carefully considered.
We are told to go somewhere exciting for our anniversaries - how many have been to Saratov, Russia. And it was exciting and memorable to celebrate our 44th at a Zone Conference with President and Sister Schwab, their daughter Jenni and all these young missionaries we have become so fond of. We do miss our family at these times, but in a couple of months we'll have that too. We also celebrated February birthdays. February 29 is an unusual birthday, and it has to be even more rare to have two sisters serving in the same mission who are leap year babies. They will be five years old this year. (the two with their heads together).
Mike picked up some Baskin-Robbins ice cream for our anniversary treat for everyone. We went the day before to see what the had (and found some cranberry-raspberry sorbet that was yum - to me anyway). With the Google Translate and the little bit of English one of the ladies there knew, we were able to make sure they would have what we needed, but one of the Elders went with Elder Waite to pick it up - just to be sure.
It it always good to be together and to be taught.
In closing, this from the Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults on January 10, 2016 at BYU-Hawaii, President Russell Nelson speaking of personal revelation:
Revelation for the church from the Lord to His servants is a sacred process, and so is your privilege of receiving personal revelation. My dear brothers and sisters, you have as much access to the mind and will of the Lord for your own life as we Apostles do for His Church. Just as the Lord requires to seek and ponder, fast and pray, and study and wrestle with difficult questions, He requires to do the same as you seek answers to your own questions. You can learn to hear the voice of the Lord through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. As helpful as Google, Twitter, and Facebook may seem, they simply do not provide answers to your most important questions! . . . you can know the mind and will of the Lord for your own life. You do not have to wonder if you are where the Lord needs you to be or if you are doing what He needs you to do. You can know! The Holy Ghost will tell you “all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi 32:5)
D&C 9:8 .. you must study it out in your mind, then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that...you shall feel that it is right.