Sunday, August 31, 2008

Natasha's Baptism & Transfers

Natasha's Baptism
Natasha Borina has been in a part of the Yaroslavl branch for about 2 years. She had not been baptized because it was against her mother's wishes. In early August she gave a talk in sacrament meeting and the next week was called to a position in the branch. The next week her mother told her she could get baptized if she wanted to. We held the baptismal service on the banks of the Volga River near the picnic site, depicted in an earlier post. Above, she and Sasha Yartsev, who baptized her, are shown with Elders Pierce and Barney. Sasha was baptized last October in a different river. Elder Barney confirmed Natasha the next day in sacrament meeting.
Here is Natasha with Sister Brown and Sister Shavyeko.
Here they are in the water. Sasha and Elder Pierce gave talks at the service and Brother Vaneev, the first counselor in the branch presidency, conducted the service and welcomed her into the branch.

There were 8 investigators, 7 missionaries, and 10 members there. (Elder Angelo was in Spain on his visa trip.)

Afterwards, we had a picnic on the beach beside the river with lots of fellowshipping by members and missionaries. Eventhough it was overcast most of the day, during the baptism and picnic, the sun was bright and warm.

Here is a hovercraft-type boat that passed by after the service was over.

A large barge pushed by a boat also passed us. This river is a main cargo transportation route in Russia.

Rick's Birthday

Anne invited many of those attending the baptismal service over Saturday night to celebrate Rick's birthday. His birthday was the day before, so the two of us celebrated by going to dinner together to a Swedish buffet restaurant. Rick is half Swedish on his mother's side, so he was anxious to try the buffet.

Elder Pierce and Sisters are Transferred
Elder Pierce, on the left, went home the next Friday. He really had a hard time and didn't want to leave the mission field. He felt he had more to accomplish here. He went home a few weeks early because of the way visa trips had to be coordinated. He will be missed, but has left a lasting impression on those he taught and worked with.

The sisters were also transferred out of Yaroslavl. Several members and some English Club members came to the station to say goodbye. We now have 4 missionaries here in addition to us. We hope to get sisters back soon.

Elder Smith Arrives
Elder Smith, the one in the center above, arrived that evening at the train station. He is Elder Keifert's companion and will be a great asset to the work here.

A Park
On the way back from the train station the morning after saying goodbye to the sisters and Elder Pierce, we walked back to the branch building. On the way, we walked through a beautiful park that is right across the street from the branch.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Our Apartment

A Tour of our Apartment

Anne in the kitchen making cookies. Our kitchen is 7' x 13'. You can barely see the stove behind Anne. It is quite old and we still have trouble keeping the oven lit. She does a lot of baking for the many meals we serve to members, missionaries and investigators. A week ago it was five days in a row that we served meals to some set of people.

Anne and Sister Shevyeko in the living room studying Russian. (Notice, Matt, we are still missing one picture (upper left) in the arrangement of our family pictures.) Our living room is 12' 5" x 15'. Our porch, which is just outside the living room, is 38" x 15' long. We use it for storage and there is a clothes line there for drying our clothing. We also bought a drying rack that we use inside.

Here is our tiny, little bathroom. It measures 5'5" x 1'4", if you don't count the bathtub area. Our washing machine is also housed in the bathroom giving us just enough room for one person to stand in the left over space. The washer will hold the equivalent of one queen-sized bed sheet. We wash something almost every day to make sure we have clean clothes and linens.

Here is Rick in our study which is 9'3" x 11'2". It is a nice size room for its purpose.

Here is a different view of the study.

Here is Anne in our bedroom which is 9'4" x 12'4".

This is a view from the doorway of our bedroom looking into the room.

Here we are with Kristina Chernikov at her going away party in the branch building. She left for Burley, Id., two days later to be a foreign exchange student for the coming school year. She has already had some wonderful experiences there. It turns out that the mother in the home she is staying in is the sister of our youngest daughter's very good friend.
We took the missionaries out for pizza on the last day before transfers. Elder Morgan, our district leader, became an assistant to the mission president the next day. He is on the back, left of the table. Elder Angelo, on the back right became our new district leader. They were companions. After the dinner one of the missionaries told Anne that they had talked and they would much rather eat her cooking than go out to eat.
The next evening at the train station Elder Keifert and Masha arrived. Elder Kiefert is standing behind the packages. Masha (short for Maria) is second from the left. She is returning from a mini (6 week) mission to a neighboring town. She joined the church a short time ago and has completed her medical training to become a doctor. She is due to start her practicals (internship) this fall. Alexi is standing next to Anne. He attends English Club and has become a good friend.
We celebrated Sister Brown's birthday in our apartment with the rest of the missionaries and one investigator, who is in the middle of the picture below between Anne and Sister Brown.

Here is Anne with Sister Shevyeko on the bottom row and Shondra and Masha on the top row. Sister Shevyeko stayed with us overnight because Sister Brown left on her visa trip to Spain. After the first night, either Shondra or Masha became her temporary companion. Sister Shevyeko is from Ukraine and will go home in December. Shondra is a medical student here and is from Guyana. Her native language is English. She is Anne's visiting teaching companion.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Picnic, District, Rabinsk

Branch Picnic
On Saturday, July 26th we went on a picnic with the local members of our Yaroslavl branch. We played Americanski footbol, soccer and tossed the frisbie around. There were about 20 in attendance, including four who were investigating our church.
There was also plenty of time to visit. Here Rick is visiting with Elder Pierce from Rexburg, Id and Natasha, one of our investigators.
Medina, the daughter of the 1st counselor in our branch presidency, is showing off a doll she made out of the local fauna.
Sasha, a convert just baptized last October, is preparing hot dogs for our lunch. He is 18 and organized this activity. He was sustained the next week as the branch Activities Chairman. Marat Vaneev, the first counselor in our branch presidency, is looking on.
The food is all layed out for us to eat. We had hot dogs, sliced tomatoes, sliced up cucumbers, bananas, cheese, cookies, filtered water and Anne made some banana bread which all enjoyed. Everyone had a great time.

All the missionaries in Yaroslavl gathered at our apartment to celebrate Elder Barney's birthday on Monday night. We had a cultural night and watched a couple of Russian movies made in the 50's. We didn't understand much, but the missionaries enjoyed them. At the top are Rick, Elders Morgan, Angelo, Pierce and Barney. In the first row are Anne and sisters Shevyeko (from Ukraine) and Brown.

Dinner with Chernikov Family
On Thursday night the Branch President and his family came to dinner. Kristina, the 15 year old in the middle, leaves on August 6th for Burley, Id and will be an exchange student for the school year. They have one more daughter who was staying with her grandmother who wasn't included in the picture. Kristina has been tutoring us for the past couple of weeks. We appreciate her very much.

Trip to Rabinsk
On Saturday we took a 2 hour train ride to Rabinsk to visit 3 members who lived up there. The train stopped many times to let people off to go to their datches (summer homes). The picture above is of one of the train stations along the way.
While in Rabinsk, we visited with one older sister and then with a mother and her son. While walking back from their apartment we saw this very cute home and decided to take this picture. The members there were very welcoming and we had spirit-filled visits in both homes. On the way home we decided to take a taxi which took us only an hour and only cost 800 rubles for the four of us ($34).