Monday, April 18, 2016

4/17/2016 Volga,

 This is our last view of the bridge and the Volga as we left Saratov Monday morning to go to the mission home in Samara.  We fly home Thursday, the 21st.

This is the view of the Volga from the windows of the Balakova building where we stopped for church on the way to Samara.  A beautiful last Sunday in Russia.

We're grateful for the experience we have had here.  The missionaries work hard and inch forward .. and we think of this scripture:
 128:22: Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. 
We will do a final and more complete update when we get home .. we're still enjoyinged the journey!    

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

4/10/2016 Yuri Gagarin, Tender Mercies

     A Doctor Suess quote  "Don't cry because it's over.  Smile because it happened."  It has been an amazing experience and we are grateful we have been able to be here and that our family has been so well taken care of while we were gone.
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      We went with President Reshetnikov, our Stake President (he was District President before Saratov was made a Stake) to his work last week which is right next to the museum for Yuri Gagarin.  Gagarin did several years of his studies at the school, and President took time to take us through the museum.
        Russian astronaut/cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first human to journey into outer space.  His Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the earth April 12, 1961. 
Gagarin in Sweden.jpg
They have reason to be proud of him.  He was a good student, a hard worker, an honorable man and appreciated the praise given him.  The story is told when he visited Manchester in the United Kingdom, it was pouring rain, but he insisted that the hood of the car remain back so the cheering crowds could catch a glimpse of him. Gagarin stated:  "If all these people have turned out to welcome me and can stand in the rain, so can I."

The different planes he worked with or flew. 

 The sign is from where he landed

Elder & Sister Waite and the museum director.
Sorry, very short blog this week - we leave Sunday for Samara, then fly home that next week, will have a couple of days in Samara so will try to give you a better report on the last couple of weeks.  We have experienced many "tender mercies" while we have been here.

TENDER MERCIES -  Elder Bednar  "Nephi wanted us to understand right from the beginning of his record that the Lord’s tender mercies are extended to those who exercise faith in Him." Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles then explained what the Lord’s tender mercies are in our life.
      “The Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. … The Lord’s tender mercies do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Faithfulness, obedience, and humility invite tender mercies into our lives, and it is often the Lord’s timing that enables us to recognize and treasure these important blessings” (“The Tender Mercies of the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 99–100).

Monday, April 11, 2016

April 10, 2016 Late this week

Time to come home fills the hours very quickly .. we'll be late on the blog this week.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

4/3/2016 Prayer, Restaurants, Offenses

President Monson - The Prayer of Faith, April 1978:  I suppose that during the holocaust of World War II more of the people living on this earth paused to pray than at any other time in our history. Who can calculate the concern of mothers, wives, and children who pleaded for Almighty God’s protecting care to be with absent sons, husbands, and fathers locked in mortal combat? Prayers are heard. Prayers are answered.
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Heartwarming is the example of the mother in America who prayed for her son’s well-being as the ship on which he served sailed into the bloody cauldron known as the Pacific theater of war. Each morning she would arise from kneeling in prayer and serve as a volunteer on those production lines which became lifelines to men in battle. Could it he that a mother’s own handiwork might somehow directly affect the life of a loved one? All who knew her and her family cherished the actual account of her sailor son, Elgin Staples, whose ship went down off Guadalcanal. Staples was swept over the side; but he survived, thanks to a life belt that proved, on later examination, to have been inspected, packed, and stamped back home in Akron, Ohio, by his own mother!
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I know not by what methods rare,
But this I know, God answers prayer.
I know that He has given His Word,
Which tells me prayer is always heard,
And will be answered, soon or late.
And so I pray and work and wait.
I know not if the blessing sought
Will come in just the way I thought;
But leave my prayers with Him alone,
Whose way is wiser than my own,
Assured that He will grant my quest,
Or send some answer far more blest.
A watercolor illustration of a mother and daughter kneeling to pray on a woven rug next to a couch.
We have a young lady who comes on Wednesday for an hour  because she is in the Pathway program at BYU-I and has to have an English speaking partner to meet with each week to go over the assignments, practice English, etc.  She is a delightful personality and we enjoy her.  Her parents, both deaf after childhood diseases, have taught her to work hard and to live within her means.  She is strong and faithful in the church.  Her essays are quite fun and often touching.  Following is from her last one:
     The essay "Do it Right" is partially the answer to my question from the last week discussion board:  "How do prevent the situation of children becoming dependent on or addicted to the internet?"  Books are the best helpers for working parents.  I recalled a story about my great grandfather told me by my aunt.  He grew up in a family of poor peasants.  The only education he got was from his ill-educated parents or people around him.  Back then children whose parents couldn't pay for school didn't go to school.  And at some point he took to books.  He read a lot.  Books didn't give him wealth or high position.  But it gave him education and people's respect.   Many people came to him for advice.  Several years before his death he was elected as a head of the village.  He did everything so that all his 9 children could study."  
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and from this has come a posterity of children and grandchildren who have worked to educate themselves and their children.  One stone can make a lot of ripples.
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         When Schwabs were here a few weeks ago we went with them and their daughter, Jenni, to the restuarant with the good herbal cherry chocolate chai (tea).  The brown paper bag contains the sandwich they forgot to bring Mike - he is bringing it (the bag, not the sandwich) home because it is the first brown paper bag we've seen here, lots of plastic but not brown paper.
This is why we have a difficult time ordering - although Schwabs can figure out some of the items.  The third one up is the herbal Cherry Chocolate Chai (tea).
Bottom one on this is a like a chicken wrap - and it is good.
The pictures below are from about six weeks ago when we were trying to find the chai restaurant mentioned above.  We couldn't find it, but during the search along the walking street, came across this window menu in English.
 We entered with high hopes ..
but you can see this menu isn't in English .. 
Mike and President Schwab ended up with hamburgers and fries, Sister Schwab, Jenni and I were fine with pasta, pizza and plove (a Russian dish). 
 It was another adventure - and it was fun - decor, great and the food, fine.
 This is the cool mirror in the bathroom. The lights on the side are fluorescent and it is like you are looking into a box.
It is warmer, but the sun is still having a hard time getting through the clouds - this picture as we walked up toward the bus from church.
They have an amazing system of pipes that take hot water throughout this city of 850,000 providing not only hot water, but that runs through radiators in most of the homes and buildings providing much needed heat.  This picture was taken just as you walk out the front door of the church.
     Here, as everywhere else, members get offended about something someone says or does, often unintentional and by those who are often unaware of their offense.  It is frightening when those things keep someone away from church and association with the members, because it is most often very difficult to come back. We have been strongly counseled and encouraged here not only to be sensitive to others and careful of what we say, but also to not be quick to take offense, and if we are, not to let that keep us away from friends and church.  
                         (not sure where we saw this but it is well said)
It is reported that President Brigham Young once said that he who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is usually a fool. It was then explained that there are two courses of action to follow when one is bitten by a rattlesnake. One may in anger, fear, or vengefulness pursue the creature and kill it. Or he may make full haste to get the venom out of his system. If we pursue the latter course we will likely survive, but if we attempt to follow the former, we may not be around long enough to finish it.

From Elder Marion D. Hanks, June,1974, who many of you won't remember:

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I would like to tell of one lesson among many that he taught us and that you and I must learn if we are to merit his friendship.  Christ’s love was so pure that he gave his life for us. . . But there was another gift he bestowed while he was on the cross, a gift that further measured the magnitude of his great love: He forgave, and asked his Father to forgive, those who persecuted and crucified him... What is our response when we are offended, misunderstood, unfairly or unkindly treated, or sinned against, made an offender for a word, falsely accused, passed over, hurt by those we love, our offerings rejected? Do we resent, become bitter, hold a grudge? Or do we resolve the problem if we can, forgive, and rid ourselves of the burden?  The nature of our response to such situations may well determine the nature and quality of our lives, here and eternally.   It is required of us to forgive. Our salvation depends upon it. In a revelation given in 1831 the Lord said:  "...Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.  “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.  (D&C 64:8-10)
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(from last week - this is a speed bump - and they are serious about it, but the most fun is a taxi driver who tries to miss all the pot holes in the road - some of them would make for good rides at an amusement park)
We are grateful more than we have words to express for the people here and their good care of us.  They have allowed us to share in their lives and we are learning much.  As we have said before, it continues to be an amazing experience.