Monday, March 28, 2016

3/27/2016 Sister Clain, 17 Rubles, Buildings, Easter Eggs

The young sister missionary from France that was injured in the Brussels bombing was headed to the Ohio Cleveland Mission where Mike's sister and husband - Cecil and Carol Leavitt - are serving as the office couple.This is from Carol's letter:
    The KHS means she is called to serve in the Kirtland Historical Sight. The S could be for Sister, but there are no Elder's serving in the Historical Sights, so I am saying Sight.  That poor Sister has had a long struggle trying to come from France to serve her mission in the Ohio Cleveland Mission. Each transfer her name would be on the list, then the closer it gets to transfer time, her name would be taken off due to no Visa. Then when her Visa finally comes through, and she gets all the way to the airport, and through check in, those darn terrorist decided they want to mess up people's lives. She is now on our list to arrive in our May Incoming, if she is healed enough to come. (the picture shows up on this, but when I checked the blog on another computer, it didn't - but hopefully you've already seen her picture.) 
Inline image 1
    This next story was told us by the zone leaders.  We have a young man being baptized next week.  He is working and saving his money so he can go to chef's school.  His work is close to the Institute building and although he usually buses to work at a cost of 17 rubles (23 cents) to save money, he often walks the two hours home.  Sunday after the block the Elders brought him here because they didn't have time to go home before the fireside by our new Patriarch.  He tasted his first peanut butter sandwich which fortunately he liked, because there wasn't time for anything else.  After the fireside, because it was later than usual, he decided to bus home.  The Elders walked with him and as they were waiting, a lady who "looked like she was in poor circumstances" - that is how they described it - came up to them and asked for money or bread or anything. They said that, without any hesitation, this new convert reached in his pocket and gave her some money.  Then he turned to them and said simply - "I read in Mosiah that you should share even if you don't have much."  
Any guesses, we hadn't seen this sign before .. 
There used to be a Carl's Junior on the walking street, but the name and signs changed .. This sign loosely translated into English - Zhunior Star.
In it is pretty much the same.  After you order the food, they give you the number that goes on your table and they bring your food to you.  The cook line doesn't have the little slanty tray slots where the workers can just grab what you order.  The hamburger is cooked after you order it.  You don't bus your tray and trash - you leave it and someone picks it up.
The least expensive hamburger is the best for me - just enough sauce, plenty of lettuce, onion and pickles.  Mike's had onion rings as a layer on his hamburger - the Western.  Good onion rings, again, they don't cook anything until you order it, so it is always fresh - and greasy and good. 
We rarely see a group of dogs - all quiet - just enjoying the warm spots on the walk.
 Spring cleaning and planting has begun.  This is out our apartment window.
The Markelovs got us tickets (Lena went with us while Zhenya tended kids) to the Russian Folk Celebration - it was really amazing.  We do like the Russian Folk music - and the concerts are great.

He was so cool - good conductor and such a kind, pleasant looking gentleman. 
Here are some of the instruments -  the balalaika and others.  They usually play with their fingers - and can play so quiet that a whole orchestra is like a whisper and increase the sound as they increase the speed and intensity of their fingers - it really is amazing.
Ethnic music instruments vector set. Musical instrument silhouette on white background. - stock vector
Many of those performing have studied and practiced since they were young.  They have accordions and another instrument that looks like an accordion, but has buttons on both sides called a bayan,
The flute player came in from Moscow - and he was exceptional.
Maxim and Angelina took us to take pictures of all the buildings the Dachney and Solnechney Branches (now Wards) have rented space to have Sunday meetings in.  They used whatever building they could get, and stayed usually, for as long as they were allowed.  In Bunkerville NV Mike has gone to church in two buildings, easy walking distance.  In Snowflake, I had only one - and it was a block - a Snowflake block, not a Salt Lake City block and certainly not a Saratov Russia block.
Lenin Statue
When theater or opera/symphony buildings were not being used much because of the economy, they would rent to whoever would pay to use it.
The part of this building they rented is now a magneet (like a 7-11)
One building we had to walk down stairs and through a tunnel to the other side of the street to be able to reach the it - kind of fun, reminded me of the old tunnel when you went through Salt River Canyon from Snowflake to Mesa. (Arizona)

last three buildings
One of our Elders celebrated his 19th birthday - they seem so grown up sometimes as they take on the responsibility of finding and teaching and keeping and helping in the wards and branches, it is almost surprising to realize their age.
 In Angelina's family, part of their Easter tradition is to decorate eggs.  We had not seen this before.  They put grass or leaves or pieces of the onion or whatever the want on the eggs, wrap them tightly in pieces of nylon stockings to hold them in place and then boil them in the outer peelings of onion. Wished we could have kept them like they were and brought them home.
She made this cute basket too. 

 There was a talk by President Eyring in the October 15 conference.  Here is a part we liked.  There are things we get used to saying in our prayers, it isn't that we don't mean them, but we don't have the "pleading" in our hearts.  This reminds us of the importance of having the spirit with us at all times and for specifically asking - pleading  to have that.  

My purpose today is to increase your desire and your determination to claim the gift promised to each of us after we were baptized. During our confirmation we heard these words: “Receive the Holy Ghost.”1 From that moment, our lives changed forever.
We can, if we live worthy of it, have the blessing of the Spirit to be with us, not only now and then, as in such remarkable experiences as we’ve had today, but always. You know from the words of the sacrament prayer how that promise is fulfilled: “O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them.”
And then comes the glorious promise: “That they may always have his Spirit to be with them” (D&C 20:77; emphasis added).
To always have the Spirit with us is to have the guidance and direction of the Holy Ghost in our daily lives. We can, for instance, be warned by the Spirit to resist the temptation to do evil.
For that reason alone, it is easy to see why the Lord’s servants have tried to increase our desire to worship God in our sacrament meetings. If we partake of the sacrament in faith, the Holy Ghost will then be able to protect us and those we love from the temptations that come with increasing intensity and frequency.  The companionship of the Holy Ghost makes what is good more attractive and temptation less compelling. That alone should be enough to make us determined to qualify for the Spirit to be with us always.
Just as the Holy Ghost strengthens us against evil, He also gives us the power to discern truth from falsehood. The truth that matters most is verified only by revelation from God. Our human reason and the use of our physical senses will not be enough. We live in a time when even the wisest will be hard-pressed to distinguish truth from clever deception.
    Our weeks continue to be filled with meetings and missionaries and members and investigators. The days are full and there is always fun mixed in somewhere.  We have learned much - from the scriptures and other studies, from the inspired words of our prophet, other church leaders and our mission president, from the members and missionaries we associate with, from the Russian people and being in another culture, from each other. and always just from life itself.  Our Father has watched over us and our family and we are grateful!. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

3/20/2016 CES Trip Part 2, Izjevks, Kazan, Ulyanovsk, Saratov

First a correction that is mostly for our records - the restaurant with the good Russian food was in Kazan which is where the Ikea is.  Izjevks had the Mexican restaurant - authentic decor, great food.
 These were the burritos, the tacos were just as well-presented.  The chicken fajita wasn't as fancy but was equally delicious.  
That size of a lock would certainly discourage someone from breaking in, or out if was a jail.
 and the grandsons especially would have liked the displays with guns and swords.
In Kazan we attended another Institute activity where they watched the Worldwide Devotional recorded at BYU-H.  President Nelson is the speaker.  The association with the youth is always good and President Markelov is fluent in English if we need translating.  We stayed at a Mariott here - they even have copies of the Book of Mormon in the hotel drawers.  
We left early Sunday morning so we could get a few hours on the road before we went to church at the Ulyanovsk Branch.  We didn't get to the Kremlin this time, but got a few pictures as we passed.  This one was when we came in after the activity.
We left early  - very impressive buildings - and places for strong defense
This isn't part of the Kremlin, not sure what it is but it is massive and beautiful.
In Ulyanovsk, a city of about 500,000, the church leases space in this building.  It isn't very big, but it is nice and there definitely is a good spirit.  All meetings and activities are held here.  There are not yet a lot of members, but the ones there are faithful and friendly and grateful to have the gospel in their lives.  Their stories and testimonies are tender and fun and moving and testimony building. Because President and Sister Schwab were there,  they had the ear phones/headsets and one of elders translated as members bore their testimonies so we were able to get the whole meeting.   
As a note, and probably not a surprise because of the signs and colors, but not one of the big signs says Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Nor does the arrow point to it, but there is a small sign, The church is on the second floor.
 This was a sight that we didn't expect to see here and it might be a little cold to ride right now.
 For a bathroom break, we stopped at the place we stopped on our last trip, August, 2015,  where they had the dogs that wandered into our cozy little lunch room to finish what we had left.   You can see the red brick foundation barely coming up from ground level in the background.  The dogs were still there, bigger but still friendly.   

Now, March, 2016 and the building is almost finished - weather just a bit different
When we have a missionary leave our area, we have permission from President Schwab to take them to dinner.  It has to be during their dinner hour - and is to be no more than an hour, which has always proved to be plenty of time.  We always ask - what have you learned since you have been in Saratov - answers are varied but always reflect the growth they have had and are interesting to hear.  This cycle, Elder Pacheco, one of our Zone Leaders, was transferred into Samara.  He and his companion Elder Plettig (both of these elders you have seen pictures of before) knew of this restaurant through an investigator, so we tried it and it was good..

 They have good food, good atmosphere and are known for is their chai (tea) including their varieties  of the fruit teas - the reddish one is called cherry chocolate and the other is a berry type - both good - but the cherry chocolate almost sweet even without any sugar.   And the price in dollars isn't much, although in the last week the ruble has strengthened some which is very good for the people here.
just wanted you to see the pitchers close-up.
 We even tried ice cream, which was excellent - strawberry for Elder Plettig.  He will continue to serve here as a Zone Leader, which we are very grateful for.  He will now serve with Elder Affleck who was an office elder until the new senior missionary couple - the Stewarts, came in to take over.  We know Elder Affleck from over a year ago when he was in Solnechney   - another great elder.
and pistachio for Elder Pacheco who we will miss, he will be serving in Samara.
One of the sisters was leaving, but instead of taking them to eat, they invited us over to their apartment for a meal they cooked.  They did a good job and it was fun to be there with them and hear their stories.  The wallpaper in every room is different - and all patterns colorful.  They are on the 13th floor so they have a great view of the city and can also see the Volga.
 There are balloon vendors all over, especially the walking street.  You can't even see her because of the balloons she is carrying.  When the parents buy them for the kids, they don't buy single balloons but bunches consisting of figures and regular and large and small.
We posted this on facebook, but if you didn't see it - interesting historical picture when the bridge was under construction.  Is interesting to see the span not completed.  There is a bridge further down they used until this was completed.  The word in the orange box is Volga - Cyrillic alphabet.
We went to one of the activities in another ward and they did a skit about the grandchildren visiting their babushka (grandmother).  The kids wanted to sleep in and she wanted them to get up early.  The skits are always clever, and they have fun at their activities - skits and readings and songs .. we always enjoy going.
 The Babushka - played by the Bishop
 The lady that paints the matroshka dolls came over and taught the sisters and I how to make borscht.  She is known for her cooking as well as her painting.  An interesting cooking note - the way they tell if there are enough vegetables and cabbage in the borscht is by putting a spoon in it - spoon part to the bottom of the pan -- if it doesn't stand up straight - you add more cabbage.
Elder Waite and the sisters enjoying the borscht.
          A few more thoughts from Elder Maxwell's talk on Patience which also brings 
new thoughts as to what patience is:
        "There is also a dimension of patience which links it to a special reverence for life.  Patience is a willingness, in a sense, to watch the unfolding purposes of God with a sense of wonder and awe, rather than pacing up and down within the cell of our circumstance.  Put another way, too much anxious opening of the oven door and the cake falls instead of rising.  So it is with us.  If we are always selfishly taking our temperature to see if we are happy, we will not be.
     ....patience is to human nature what photosynthesis is to nature.  Photosynthesis, the most important single chemical reaction we know, bring together water, light, chlorophyll and carbon dioxide, processing annually the hundreds of trillions of tons of carbon dioxide and converting them to oxygen as part of the process of making food and fuel.  The marvelous process of photosynthesis is crucial to life on this planet, and it is a very constant and patient process.  So, too, is an individual's spiritual growth.  Neither patience nor photosynthesis are conspicuous processes.
         Patience is always involved in the spiritual chemistry of the soul, not only when we try to turn the trials and tribulations - the carbon dioxide, as it were - into joy and growth, but also when we use it to build upon the seemingly ordinary experiences to bring about happy and spiritual outcomes.
        Patience is, therefore, clearly not fatalistic, shoulder-shrugging resignation.  It is the acceptance of a divine rhythm to life; it is obedience prolonged....sometimes that which we are doing is correct enough but simply needs to be persisted in patiently, not for a minute or a moment but sometimes for years.  Paul speaks of the marathon of life and how we must 'run with patience the race that is set before us.'  (Hebrews 12:1)  Paul did not select the hundred-meter dash for his analogy."