Sunday, February 28, 2016

2/28/2016 Volga, Fiji Temple, Men's Day, The Lift, Learn of Me

We were excited to find this very old picture which was taken at a time before they were asked not to take baptism pictures.  This is from the island underneath the middle of the bridge that you've seen pictures of before.  No one knows who it was, but we are grateful for the picture and the feeling it brings and also being able to see the bridge in the background as it drops into Saratov.
Just in case you haven't seen this picture:  SUVA, FIJI After the winds and rain of Cyclone Winston (the worst storm ever recorded in Fiji history) pounded Fiji during a long and devastating night, the sun rose on the Pacific island nation—shining its light on the Suva Fiji Temple. The storm, which struck Fiji with winds up to 175 miles per hour came in the nighttime hours between the LDS Church’s youth temple cultural celebration and the temple rededication.  No Latter-day Saints or missionaries were reported injured by Tropical Cyclone Winston.  Early in the morning after the cyclone, birds flew above the temple—a sign to Elder Johansson that the rededication would go on. “President Eyring came here to dedicate the temple, and he will do that." 
        Suva Fiji Temple, seen as the cyclone hits the island nation on Saturday, February 20, 2016.  
I had just started baking some peanut butter cookies so we would have treats for an Armenian family with three young children the elders were bringing over, when the sisters called and needed me to go with them to their old apartment so they could finalize with their hazain (landlord).  I had one tray in the oven (our oven is only big enough for a dozen at a time) and one ready to go in, so asked Mike if he would take out the one when the timer went off, then cook the other tray for the same time and then turn off the oven.  
      This is what I came home to.  He didn't know how to turn the oven off and didn't want it to just stay on heating everything up, so he took the cookie scoop and tackled the job, and only had these two trays left.  He even did the double cross with the fork on top. 
           They celebrate a day for the men similar to our Father's Day, and here they are putting together food plates - this is from the activity at Zavadskoy branch.  They often have a couple of kinds of fruit, bread with meat and cheese, a treat and juice to drink.  The programs are great - there are some readings, some musical numbers, some skits and many participate and all enjoy.
 If you look close you can see the front car towing the one behind with what didn't seem like a very strong band, but it worked, even going up over a curb and across a divider section and then on down the road, hope it has good brakes.
The snow is starting to melt and the beautiful white soft looking snow is gone, leaving the dirty snow that was shoveled underneath, but we're not complaining because the snow is melting and it is great to have more dry sidewalk to walk on.
 When we were moving the sisters, the elevator took that opportunity to quit working.  Two of the elders were in there along with a load they were taking down - or planning to take down -  two floor fans, some boxes and a couple of the twin size thick foam mats rolled up so it was pretty crowded.  A neighbor called the people who fix the elevator (they probably have a full time job here) and we put a scarf in the door so they had some light, then had them stick their hands out so we could take a picture.  Always using their time wisely - they did companion study while they were waiting.  This is the same apartment building where the lift didn't work at all when Sister Leavitt was leaving to come home and suitcases had to be brought down the 9 stories of stairs.  A couple of weeks ago the sisters crowded into the same elevator with their Christmas tree  The door shut, but the elevator wouldn't move.  Maybe it is good they have moved to another apartment. You can by the top picture the elevator isn't exactly roomy.
 This is the walking street when we were out running some errands the other day.  It gives you a better idea of the width of the street with the stores on either side.  This was almost surreal and quiet as the people moved around and toward and past us .. a light snow and we were bundled so it was a comfortable walk.
 Also got a picture of the full conservatory that day.  Many Russians start here as children and study voice, piano or an instrument and quite a few take it to a professional level even if they don't become professional.  We've gone to a couple of recitals there and were impressed.  The building is amazing - there are stages and recital areas and practice rooms and teaching rooms and get ready rooms and waiting rooms and the list goes on.  It is old but well taken care of and beautiful inside and out.
We met a lady on the bus that attempted conversation and was so friendly we finally got out the iphone and used google translate, it was fun and she was so pleasant.  We were both headed to church and got off at the same bus stop, she went another way at the first block to the evangelist church.
 At church: The lady on the left is wearing the women's version of the shopka.  During the cold part of the winter, you see quite a few of them, although mostly in the natural fur colors.  Occasionally you get a color, the blue or red most often.
We have a babushka in our ward that used to be in professional music and she likes music led the proper way.  There was a picture before of them outside in the cold practicing when we had the fire drill.  There was another sesions today and it is fun and touching to see them work together .. Grandma just snatched up Laila today after sacrament meeting who had struggled with the upbeat and then always staying with the count. It is both fun and touching to see them work together.  Laila got the 2 - das, diva; the 3 - das, diva, tri and the 4 - das, diva, tri, chiteri.  She got it down right and Grandma praised her as they laughed and hugged and led music together.  It was great.
 We had to pull everything out so we could get a box ready to send with the Schwabs in their crate, huge blessing.  We had wondered how we would get Mike's books back that we mailed over.  You can see it had been a long day!
President Schwab told an interesting story in our zone conference.  In one of the Samara districts they had a woman who had been taught, read the Book of Mormon and continued to read daily.  She studied and prayed and asked questions and accepted everything they taught her, but she just wouldn't get baptized although she was completely active in church meetings and in activities. After several sets of missionaries, one finally asked again the question that had been asked before and then pushed it a little .. "If you know all of these things, why won't you be baptized."  Finally she, with apologies and some embarrassment,  gave the reason -- she was afraid of water.  They worked through that and she was baptized.  She was thrilled -  and glad to have it over. 
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     Something to think about !!
From President Monson's March First Presidency Message, Learn of Me:
 ...we are all teachers and we are all learners. To all comes this gentle invitation from our Lord: “Learn of me … and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” I invite all to ponder their efforts to teach and to learn and to look to the Savior as our Guide in doing so. We know that this “teacher come from God”2 was more than a mere teacher. He who taught us to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our strength, and all our minds, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, is the Master Teacher and the Exemplar of the perfect life....The Savior’s entire ministry exemplified love of neighbor. Indeed, His love and service were often His lesson...Help God’s children understand what is genuine and important in this life. Help them develop the strength to choose paths that will keep them safely on the way to eternal life.

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