Monday, March 14, 2016

3/13/2016 CES Trip Part 1 - Toliatti, Izhevsk, Kaloshnikov

    We began our 2200 kl (1400 miles) trip with President Markelov to attend institute and seminary activities in some of the other areas of the mission.  Our last trip was last August and you may notice the scenery is much different now - carefully covered with big blankets and little patches of snow.  We take lots of pictures because it is all so new to us.  The best pictures we take but cannot post are of the youth and members, unless they post them first on something like facebook.  We wish it were possible to send you pictures of the feelings the spirit brings and of the tenderness and respect we feel inside as we meet and visit with the people here who stand firm often against resistance.
     Time and weather (although it is supposed to be humid, it doesn't seem to add moisture to your skin) has added some wrinkles for me - Elder Waite looks the same or better - but hopefully Russia has taken a few wrinkles out of my soul.  Plenty left to work on.
 One of the few fences we have seen and this one didn't go all the way across.  Usually there are miles and miles of fields (or snow in the winter) but no fences.  Zhenya said, however, that people do know where their boundaries are.
It is not uncommon to see a traditional Russian home with a new and modern sided shed
You can see what looks like like a small cement mixer, but we were not sure.
 Many trees and lots and lots of electric wires.
our lunch stop
 nice set up for children
 And they have good food.  Zhenya (President Markelov) knows the places to stop and what to order.  He does take good care of us.  They often use cool looking dishes to serve the food in - this was the dish for Mike's meat and potatoes.  The earthenware holds in the heat of the meal. 
 Many of the roadside cafes we go into are color coordinated, not fancy, but nice and clean - this was a bathroom stop on the to Toliatti.
The top curtain and the trim on the bottom matched the chairs.
When we got to Toliatti we attended a seminary class that meets once a week in the teacher's wife's parents' apartment.  Three of the four active young people were there and the lesson went well - from all we could understand - but fortunately the spirit you can feel doesn't have a language barrrier.  After each weekly meeting the family feeds the students - and so us too this time - chicken pasta and a salad made of shredded carrots and chopped celery - using even the leafy parts of the celery.  Both were lightly seasoned and just right.  We sat around the kitchen table and enjoyed translated happy and friendly conversation.  The youth are impressive, so similar to home.

Our hotel in Toliatti - Chocolate Hotel - they are finishing a remodel on the outside, but the inside is as many stars as you can give -- not sure where they got the name but it certain is "sweet."
 Outside of the hotel
The rooms have dessert or candy names - this wasn't our room, but made of us think of the yummy dessert John-Evan's wife, Rachel, makes.  It is one of the favorites here.
 This was our room
Talk about a completely stocked bathroom - the usual - soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc. - but then there is a shoe kit, a shaving kit, and a tooth brushing kit and probably something we're forgetting..  The shower had three settings - one at the top like a rain forest, another with two sets of three on each side and fortunately a nice regular hand-held. .
They have the cups all set up for water or chai (tea) and even a selection of herbal tea.
Does it look like the fridge is stocked from the states?
Pepsi, 7-up and Lay's Potato chips - the orange is like Fanta but is called Miranda and is better.
The breakfast spread makes our morning meal look pretty sad.  The fruits and vegetables are fresh, the eggs and meat cooked that morning.
The table areas show the work of a professional interior decorator.
From Toliatti on to Izjevks
Villages, towns and cities along the way - and also lots of open ground.
There are stands off the side of the road selling a lot of different items made out material similar to the netting we use at home for scrubbers.  We have a lot of respect for those who, regardless of the weather, faithfully set up their stands each day to sell their wares.
Quite often along the road, you can tell the trees were planted to give the roads some protection from the winds and the snows.
Lunch in Izjevks at a restaurant that serves good Russian food - in the mall that has a food court with a McDonalds, and several other American fast food places, and an Ikea where we picked up some kitchen things for the Institute.  This was my second try at restaurant borscht and it was very good.
as was what they call a vinaigrette salad - also very Russian and very good.
Mike's brave venture -a new kind of potato dish - which he liked.
Zhenya had vegetable soup and palmeni - the bread was for all and was good.
Just a cool way to bring the check - in little tiny gunny sacks.
The slide when we left the restaurant, snow in the winter, just a big slide in the summer.  
A very interesting stop this time was the museum for Mikhail Kalashnikov, who developed the AK-47,  in Russia also known as the Kalashnikov AK or in Russian slang, Kalash.  "It is a selective-fire (semi-automatic and automatic), gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle, developed in the Soviet Union."   Although originally he wasn't from Izjevks, that is where the arms factories were, and that is where he lived.  He developed the gun because at the time Germany had machine gun type weapons and Russia had only the rifle type.   In his nineties, not long before he died, he wrote a letter to the head of the Orthodox church of Russia and apologized for the terrorist type things his gun had been used for, his intent was to protect Russia.  There were a lot of interesting exhibits - weapon and other.
He was always one who liked to take things apart to see how they worked - and his father had a "Brauning" Browning pistol from America that didn't work.  He took it apart and fixed it, but never had any shells so they just played with it as a toy.
They had quotes throughout translated from Russian to English - he wrote a lot of poetry throughout his life and liked being able to express himself.  When he was drafted into the army, he was assigned to be over a tank unit, where he invented some of the equipment used for the tanks.  He was wounded early in his assignment, and it was in the hospital he began to make the drawings for the AK - entering a competition for developing a weapon.  He could have done many things but was satisfied with the work he did with weapons  He had two daughters and a son, who has followed in his footsteps and continues to work at the headquarters there..
They had original equipment from where he worked - even as he designed they said that sometimes he would try out the design himself as he went along - we thought of Mike's brother Norm who often makes his own tools to do his woodworking or other projects
We had a very knowledgeable English speaking guide who gave us many interesting snatches of history as she showed the items in the museum.

This is from the show cases with gifts he had received -- and has my initials L.S.W., so the photo.
This picture, another gift, a beautiful hand carved piece, we would have liked to bring home to our son, Aaron Michael, who has always liked the work ethic of the buffalo.
One of Kalashnikov's interests was his yard and garden - so along with the inventing of tank weapons and guns, he made one of the first lawn mowers so he could use it in his yard.  It looks more like a weed eater.  He also made a rotisserie for meat and chicken that rotates several different ways.
They made their own paper out of bark - you can see the curved pages where he has drawn designs and some of the diagrams on his guns.
The kids didn't have toy guns, so they made their own, this was a sample - you can see where they used the wood and different sliding lock mechanisms to make it like the automatic weapons.
Our guide showed us the phone - asked if any of us noticed it was different - then we realized it didn't have any dial face.  His work was secret and they didn't want calls coming in or going out - the only person he could call was the minister of defense - who was the only one able to call him.
This is just one of many awards - this was the highest award possible to receive.  The stones are genuine and the gold the highest quality.
Elder Waite with our guide at the end of the tour.
Hotel in Izjevks
the view out the window at breakfast.
the view out our hotel window.
It is late getting this posted, and we won't have nearly as many fun pictures next week, so will stop this here and continue next week. 

We thought it would be kind of fun for you to see the general schedule the young missionaries follow in the Europe East missions.  Adjustments are made according to lessons they with investigators or recent converts.  Also there has been a new program utilized for holding those who have been members - They re-teach the original lessons.  It has been very well accepted and has had an effect for good on those who have re-taken those lessons..  :
6:30 - 8:00 - Get up, exercise, breakfast, get ready
8:00 - 9:00 - Language Study
9:00 - 11:00 - On the streets contacting 
11:00 - 12:00 - Lunch
12:00 - 3:00 - Contacting 
3:00 - 4:00 - Personal Study
4:00 - 5:00 - Companionship study
5:00 - 6:00 - Dinner
6:00 - 9:00 - Contacting on the streets
Finally - to end this week
 a good and true quote from President Hinckley.
How grateful we are to be able to be here and work with the people here.  We have enjoyed the reading and studying of the country and the people and have especially enjoyed the studying we have done together in the scriptures and in our reading of Jesus the Christ by Talmage.

.  From a talk by Elder Neal A. Maxwell at BYU in 1979 titled Patience.  It is worth your time to listen to or read. 
"Saint Teresa of Avila said that unless we come to know the reality of God, including his omniscience, our mortal existence 'will be no more than a night in a second-class hotel.'  Our second estate can be a first class experience only if you and I develop a patient faith in God
 and in his unfolding purposes." 

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