Sunday, September 28, 2008

Capka, Dinner, HT, Ribinsk & Orthodox Church

Doesn't Elder McClelland look distinguished in his capka? It really helps keep him warm on these cold days. The temperatures have been in the 30's and 40's for the last two weeks. Our heat was turned on in our building last Friday and we are grateful for the warm air while we study and read. We haven't had to have the small electric heaters on so much.

Vaneevs & Olga to Dinner

The Vaneev family came for dinner last week. Brother Vaneev, known as Brat (brother) Marat, is the first counselor in the branch presidency, his wife, Maria, is the Relief Society president and Medina is 7. She is learning English in school and it has been fun to help her with her homework.

This is the group we had for dinner. Brat Marat, Maria, Sister Gorina, Medina, Olga, Elders Keifert, McClelland and Smith in the back. Sister Gornia was staying with us while her companion, Sister Shaveko, was on her visa trip to the Ukraine. We enjoyed hearing their conversion stories and learning more about them and their families.

Home Teaching at Chernikovs
When we went home teaching to the Chernikov's, Max and Karina enjoyed playing on the exercise ball President Chernikov uses. He was in an accident several years ago and has back damage that doesn't allow him to stand straight. They are such a sweet family and we enjoy their little ones especially. We were treated to cookies and rose tea during our visit.

Another Visit to Rebinsk
During our trip to Rebinsk, we saw this cute little datcha (retreat home) and wanted to share it with you. Most of the datchas are not as well kept as this one. There are datchas everywhere, especially in the countryside. People go there on weekends during the summer months and grow fruits and vegetables on their little lots.

Inside Pravaslavny Temple
These are all pictures of the inside of the Orthodox Russian Temple on the grounds where we do service. The outside of this building is shown in the Anne's Birthday Post. It is the brick structure. They are working on the reconstruction and restoration of this building and the church building where they hold services. Father Alexander, the priest there, is very appreciative of our service. He told us he feels like we are his friends and has invited us to visit him at his datcha so we can just talk and get to know each other better. He presented each of us with a charm to show his appreciation for our work. We work in an auxillary building which is used for eating and other activities.

This will be an amazing building to visit when they have completed the restoration. It will probably not be finished for many years, however.
This picture was taken before Elder Barney left for Moscow. Don't they look like the four Musketeers? Starting left: Elders Barney, Angelo, Keifert and Smith. We'd recommend them for painting anyday!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hockey, Service, Chernikov and Transfers

Hockey Game
On Monday night, we went to Arena 2000, the home of the Yaroslavl Locomotive, to see a hockey game. This was our cultural activity for the month.
The Locomotive is one of the best teams in Russia. They won their league two years ago and were 2nd last year.
Elders Smith, Keifert, Barney and Angelo really got into the whole experience. Elders Smith and Keifert are sporting their scraves and Elder Angelo is wearing a jersey. The bought these before the game started.
It was an exciting game. With our help rooting them on they won 3 to 0. The arena was full during the game, but during breaks, it emptied out.

More Service at Provaslavny Church

We returned to the Russian Orthodox church and painted the room we cleared out the week before. Anne and Elders Smith and Angelo are starting to paint the wall. You can see the small cans of paint on the floor. They were a little larger than quart size. We were all provided brushes to paint with. If we had had rollers or a paint sprayer, we could have done the job in a fraction of the time it took us. Having some Kilz would have helped also.
Here is a shot of the job we did. Elder Barney used the ladder shown in the corner to paint the upper wall on the left.
After we finished work, we were treated to lunch by the Priest, who is seated at the head of the table. Last week, after our service, we experienced our first authentic Russian meal. This week, we had a vegetable soup, a cabbage and carrot salad and a beet salad which was much like Borsht without the liquid. Of course, this was accompanied by great bread, fresh fruit (apples and plums) and a fried vegetable of some kind that was very good. The room we are eating in is one the missionaries helped clean up and paint several months ago. It looked like the room we have been working in, which is adjacent to it.

Dinner at Chernikovs'

Elder Angelo had heard a lot about a special Kazakhstan dish called Bish Barmach from the missionaries in our mission who have served there. The Chernikovs are from Kazakhstan and Sister Chernikov spent the month of August there with her parents. Her mother came back with her to Yaroslavl and will be here when their baby arrives in December. The Chernikovs invited all the missionaries over to their apartment and served us this special dish. It has beef and pork along with potatoes and onions and a unique noodle-like substance. All of it is boiled in separate pots and served on a tray. In Kazakhstan they eat it with their hands and wear big bibs. We, fortunately, used plates and forks. The noodle-like dough was laying on the beds on cloths waiting to be boiled when we got there. It was about 24-30 inches in diameter and very thin. It was then folded and boiled.
Here you can see Elder Keifert sitting at the table in the left foreground that we ate on. In the background you can see President Chernikov with his two youngest children; Karina and Maxim, who is looking through a Book of Mormon.

Transfers and Pierces arrive
On Friday morning, we saw Elder Barney and Masha off to Moscow. Elder Barney was transferred there and Masha started another mini-mission for 6 weeks. She took her full-time mission papers with her and only has her dental exam to complete while there. Two English Club members joined us at the train station.
On Friday night, back at the train station, we welcomed Chris Pierce (center with white hat) and his parents (his Dad is behind him to the left) and Sister Shavyeko (on the right), Sister Gorina (next to Shavyeko) and Elder Jenson (on left) to Yaroslavl.
On Saturday night the branch had a social for the Pierces. One of the things we did was to pass an apple around the big circle of about 25 and each of us told one thing we loved about Elder Pierce. When the apple completed the circle, Chris had to light the matches and try to get them all to burn with as few re-lights as possible.

Family History Center

Here is a picture of our Family History Center. If you double click on the picture you can see a car parked under the trees. It is parked just outside the door into our FHC. The Church actually owns the back corner of this building. It contains two fairly large rooms, one small one, a storage room and a restroom. We rent the building where we have our branch meetings. We must own a building in Yaroslavl to be officially registered as an organization here. If we didn't own this building, our missionaries would have to travel back to Moscow every three days. You can see the graffiti all over the lower level of this building. It is rampant here. We are expecting a contractor to come paint over it and make some other improvements. We have been expecting that for over a month now.

Another reason I took this picture was to show the grounds around the building. Very seldom do you see any upkeep on the grounds around the city. The parks and squares are cut, but almost everywhere else things just grow wild.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Anne's Birthday +

Anne's Birthday
Anne started her day with an omelet that Rick made her. Just a little while later, the first set of elders called and sang happy birthday. Then, about an hour later the other set of elders called and sang happy birthday. Later in the day, both sets of elders came over to coordinate for the baptism the next Saturday. They had another reason for coming over. They brought birthday presents and a card for Anne. She is sporting both of her presents in the photo above; a capka and a shawl. Two of the elders already had capkas and the other two decided to get them also when they bought the one for Anne.
After English Club Rick had arranged a surprise birthday celebration for Anne. He told the people in the English Club Conversational class that we teach and the other missionaries told their classes also. Natasha, the young lady that was baptized last month, helped with refreshments by baking two Russian birthday cakes. Anne decided that she was going to celebrate her birthday with everyone so she also baked a cake and we bought ice cream for everyone. It was a very enjoyable day. Anne is holding a card made by one of the young women in the branch and is standing next to Alex, an investigator.

Provaslavny Service
The day after her birthday, the missionaries called and said we had an opportunity to provide service at the Russian Orthodox (Provaslavny) Church where they had performed service in the past. It is just across the street from McDonalds and quite close to our apartment. This is a view of the church from the front.
Behind the church are two other buildings. The one above, they call a temple. It was built in the 1600s. It has been gutted and they are starting from the base structure to build it out again. They are also having to shore up the foundation and replace a lot of bricks in the walls.
Across from the temple is a long two story building. We went up to the second floor to a big room in the back to work. Our assignment was to clean it all out. You should have seen Elder Angelo's eyes when he asked the priest if we were supposed to take apart the set of make-shift shelves that were standing in one part of the large room. It is hard to see in this picture, because of the dust, but Elder Angelo is flying through the air to destroy one section of the shelving.
After we took the shelving apart we threw it out the window down to the ground. This is Elder Barney at the window tossing the disassembled shelving out.
This shot is of the back of the church taken from the upstairs window where we were working. After we finished cleaning up that upstairs room, we went to the back of the church and separated the red (krasny) bricks from the white ones. At noon, the priest took us all upstairs and they fed us lunch. It was our first real traditional Russian meal. We had a delicious soup to start with. There was also caviar spread on unleavened bread and Yaroslavl grown apples and plums on the table to eat. After the soup, they served us Gretchka. One of the elders told us it was buckwheat cooked in some type of broth with some carrots and other seasonings in it. Rick really liked it.

Anne's Birthday Dinner at Texac
Anne chose for her birthday present to take all the missionaries out to the Texac restaurant for dinner. We went on the Friday after her birthday. This is the restaurant that is within the same block that we live in. It is very Texicanized as you will see. Here we are out in front.

Here we all are in front of the sign inside the restaurant. You can't tell it very well but the Texas neon sign is on top of a map of Texas.

This is a shot looking across the dance floor over to the saloon. There is a bar on the right behind the post. On the post is a "Wanted Sign" for Osama Ben Laden. Just to the right, there was a small stage where they had live singers performing for part of the evening.

This is the door out of the dining area back to the font desk. Etched on the glass is "Cowboys, leave your guns at home." Most of the signs there were in English.
But, the menu wasn't. The covers were made out of leather. It took us quite a while to make up our minds what we were going to have. Four of us had T-bones, one had a rib-eye and Anne had the cowboy steak. The food was very good, by any standard.
Anouther one of the cute touches was out near the front desk by the coat check. There was a cowboy who had a lighted cigar (red light in the end) and a horse behind him whose ears and mouth moved.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

River Walk +

Marcia Sperry Visited Us
We were excited to have Marcia Sperry visit us for a few days. She had been with a tour group and stayed after they left to spend three days with us. She was a hit with the missionaries and members of the branch. While she was here, she got to sit in on one of the missionary lessons being taught to an investigator in English. Marcia speaks Russian quite well and also was able to converse with a member who enjoys speaking French.

English Club

This is a picture of some of our English Club students. Starting right front, Pasha, Alexi, Rita, Ilya, Tonya, Larisa, and Rooslan in the back. We love teaching each week and enjoy getting to know each class participant as they share their lives and their work with us. We teach the conversational class. We can only do that because it is all in English. Marcia helped in the beginning English class because one of the elders was still on a visa trip.

River Walk
We took a three-hour walk one morning along the Kotorosl River. It was a beautiful day and there were not many people around that early. There is a lovely walkway which has steps leading down to the lower level, closer to the river. The Kotorosl empties into the Volga.
This view looks back toward the area where we live. There is a large marina at the bend with lots of boats and yachts. We see people out boating when we cross the bridges to go shopping. At this point, we have walked about halfway and if you double click on the picture, you will see a little red sign on a distant building. That is the Carousel store we went to after we finished the riverwalk. We were tired for two days!
This picture is the Savior-Transfiguration Monastery built in the early 13th century. It is now used to house the Yaroslavl Museum-Preserve of History, Architecture and Arts. Notice the point where the paint stops. We could see the crumbling bricks. They will probably finish painting it before 2010 when the city will celebrate it's 1,000th year anniversary.
This soccer/tennis court complex was near the end of our walk. It had rained the night before, so they were brushing the water off the surface and a group of young men were playing in the far end arena.
This is a picture of the "Summer House" or "Temple of Love". It was built in 1840 and has become a tradition for all newlyweds to have a picture taken there on their wedding day.
This is a WWII memorial at the far end of the sports complex. In the center is an eternal flame (which is hard to see in the picture). The left side depicts a Russian soldier and the right side a woman waiting for her soldier to return. We have learned that there were more Russian people killed during WWII than all those killed in all the other nations added together. Every town and city has a WWII memorial.
This picture is the Church of the Saviour on Town. While we were walking past, the bells were chiming and echoing across the area. If you double click on the picture, you can see an icon picture under the large lower dome. There were flower gardens around the base at the front which were really lovely.
We wanted to include this picture because it represents the enormous amount of reconstruction and renovation that is taking place in Yaro. There are many churches and government buildings being worked on. It's wonderful to see this preservation taking place.
After our long walk along the river, we needed to finish our grocery shopping. This is the Carousel store we shop at for things we can't find closer to home or at Real or Metro. It takes us about 25 minutes to walk one way. If we have a lot of items to buy, we take our little rolling cart and fill it for the trip back. The store is kind of like a WalMart, but the departments are in separate little shops. They have shoes, clothes, garden, jewelry, etc. If you double click, you can see the top of another church in the background.

Elder Keifert Quote
We had to include a picture of Elder Keifert this time. He has a quick wit and always makes us laugh. This picture was taken at the bowling alley on Sister Brown's birthday. But, we wanted to share a cute thing he said while Marcia was here. We were talking about everyone's favorite holiday and how they celebrate here in Russia. Elder Keifert said he liked Halloween the best. We were surprised and asked him why. "Oh," he said, "the mission lets us dress up for Halloween. It's totally fun. Last year my companion and I traded clothes all day. We even wore each other's name badges!" Well, we all had a good laugh. But the thing we appreciate is that even though they joke around and have fun, when it comes to teaching the gospel, they are totally serious and in tune with the spirit. We Love Our Missionaries!!