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."


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