Sunday, November 30, 2008

Masha's call, Thanksgiving & Branch Social

Masha gets her Call

While waiting for the office Elders to arrive on the train from Moscow, Masha and Elders Keifert and Smith had a snowball fight. I think the innocent people standing by got the worst of it! We were all excited to see where Masha's mission call would be.

Elder Smith packed some pretty hard snowballs. Poor Masha was outnumbered 2-1.
The office Elders finally arrived and Masha proudly displayed "the" envelope. She later opened it at our apartment with the missionaries and many branch members there. She will be serving in the Russia Novosibirsk Mission. She enters the Provo MTC February 3, 2009. Sister Gorina is standing to Masha's left. In the back are Elders Knuth, Keifert, Barney (yes, the one who served with us in Yaro), and Smith.

How to clean out a pumpkin: one sharp knife, two scooping spoons, two strong, willing Elders! We were able to salvage enough pumpkin for a pie, a cake and 2 bags full, frozen for future use. Elders Smith and Keifert work intently, even on P-Day.

When we were in Moscow, we found this wonderful Russian folk costume which Anne decided to wear for Thanksgiving. The flowers were purchased Thanksgiving morning to bring in a little beauty. Notice the bowl of M&M's. Before dinner, we asked the missionaries to each take some, but not eat them. We then asked them to tell what they were thankful for using each M&M. Their responses were very touching as they remembered family, home and the Savior as well as many other blessings.
We were excited to find turkey parts and bought three skinless breasts. They roasted just fine on a bed of dressing. What an easy way to prepare turkey! It may become a tradition.
Our Thanksgiving dinner buffet was set up in the kitchen using the table and the drying rack with a board on top, making two tiers. Sisters Gorina and Vostrakova begin filling their plates with turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, corn on the cob, peas, mashed potatoes and gravy, Jell-o salad and rolls.
The Elders were glad we had salad plates so there was more room on the dinner plates. Elders Keifert, Smith, Jensen and Terry took time out from eating to pose for the picture.

Anne adding whipped cream to a banana caramel pie. There was also, chocolate, pumpkin and apple. Everyone was able to sample each one.

Rick is slicing ice cream from a tube. We buy it this way to serve larger groups. The ice cream has a consistency about like frozen Cool Whip, but has a richer taste.

Branch Social
At the branch Thanksgiving social, we tossed a ball of yarn from person to person. As you tossed it, you held onto the end and told why you were thankful for the person you tossed it to. We had quite a "web" woven by the end. Karina and Max loved walking and playing under the yarn web.

There were lots of goodies for the Thanksgiving "feast". The Elders bought cookies and candies as well as juice. Anne made sugar cookies to look like pumpkins, left side. The Elders made mashed potatoes and gravy, the Sisters made apple and cabbage salad, and Sister Chernikov made a yummy seafood salad.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Moscow, Renick, Zone Conference, plus

Cake for Sister Cranney's Birthday
This last week we traveled to Moscow for Zone Conference. The next day was Sister Cranney's birthday. Both Anne and Sister Gorina made birthday cakes for her. One was English and the other Russian. Because we haven't been able to find food coloring, Anne had to use white frosting for the message.

Souvenir Renick

Just at the entrance of the souvenir renick, off in the distance, are these beautiful buildings that we couldn't resist taking a picture of.
This is the main isle of the souvenir renick. There are three of these isles in parallel and they dead end into another one that extends quite a ways off to the left.
Matrushkas were everywhere. They are handpainted (many of them) stacking dolls which have from 3-15 in a set. We bought some at this stall.
Here is a shop at the end of the main isle with some interesting carved bears on top. There was interesting architecture everywhere. It was quite an adventurous experience for us.
This picture shows a sail boat and a windmill at the end where the artists are displaying their paintings.
Here is the prize Matrushka we bought there. The largest one stands 9" tall and the smallest is 3/8" tall. There are 15 in all. When the lady was showing it, we just kept thinking that one has to be the end, but she just kept opening another one until the last one was so small, you could hardly see it. They all have different cathedrals painted on the front, even the smallest one!

Moscow Metro
Rick is quite impressed with the Moscow Metro. This is a shot of riding down one of the long escalators descending down to the metro tracks. This shot was taken when we were about 2/3 of the way down the escalator.
There is a lot of classical architectural detail included all throughout the Metro tunnels. This is a shot of one of the ceilings.
This is a shot of one of the platforms where you wait, most of the time no more than a minute, for the next train. For the most part, all the floors and walls are marble and are kept very clean. After having been on the subways of New York and the underground of Paris, Rick finds Moscow's Metro to be a step up from both of them. Madrid's was newer and quieter, but not as archetecturally beautiful. The train cars are nothing to shout about, especially when compared to Madrid's newer, cleaner ones.

Train on the way Home

Here is our district on the train on the way home. It is a four hour train ride, but we enjoy it together. From left to right are; Elders Smith, Jenson, Terry, Sisters Gorina and Vostrykova, then Elder Keifert.

Masha's Birthday
After our institute class on Saturday, we celebrated Masha's birthday with a pineapple upside down cake that Anne made. She is actually 25, but wanted to be 21 again. We are teaching "Introduction to Family History" in institute.

We found out at Zone Conference that Masha will be entering the MTC in Provo on February 3rd, but we don't know which mission she will be going to yet. Here mission call hasn't arrived, but President Cranney could tell us her entry date so she can know when she will go in. We are expecting her call letter to arrive at the Mission Office this next week. Someone from the office will bring it up along with our 2nd passports for us to sign.

Radeon is an Elder

Radeon from Rybinsk was ordained an Elder last Sunday. He will be going on a three week mini-mission starting Friday, the 21st. We are very proud of the progress he has made. His mother just got her temple recommend to go for the first time. She has been a member since 1995 or so. She isn't sure when she will go, but we are happy she now has it.

The "Cute" Stump

On the way back from our service project at "Fund Charity" we came across this stump beside the sidewalk. Anne thought it was "cute" so we took a picture. The word "cute" was bandied about by the elders for a while. Elder Smith told Sister McClelland that when he calls to tell her about his cute fiancee, he hopes that she doesn't think about this stump.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Halloween Party

Branch Halloween Party

As people walked through the front door, there was a "tunnel" into the foyer. Rick is standing with Alexey at the end of it. This helped everyone know there was something different in store for them.
The refreshment table was decorated with a little witch that was donated by the humanitarian center where we do service. The fall squashes were brought to us by an English Club member who had been trying to find pumpkins, but was not able to. Everyone looked for pumpkins, but there were none to be found. Anne made the cupcakes with gummy worms on top. We have not been able to find food coloring, so we thought chocolate frosting would look like dirt for the worms to come out of. They were popular as well as the rice krispie treats. The other packages of candies and cookies were purchased at local grocery stores.
Our district is the epitome of inventive costuming! From left: Elder Keifert as Ryu, the Street Fighter, Sister Gorina as a young girl, Shonra (Anne's VTing companion) as the mad doctor, Sister Vostrakova as a girl punker, Elder Terry as a zombie. Back: Elder Smith as a victorious boxer and front, Elder Jensen as the lovable Yoda.
Let the games begin!! It's hard to see, but each of the people has a pencil tied around their waste and is trying to get the pencil in a soda bottle. The pencil hangs down from the middle of their backs. It was fun to watch them moving around trying to get the pencil over the bottle opening. Elder Keifert on left and Natasha on right.
The Mummie Wrap was very popular and used a lot of toilet paper. The race was on to see who could get wrapped first. There were candy prizes for winners at each game station.
Sister Vostrakova really displayed "an attitude". She is a mini-missionary and had just arrived the night before the party. What a trooper to come up with a costume and help with the games. In the background, you can see the balloon/dart toss game and the line with donuts hanging down.
Eating donuts on a string was popular and fun to watch. Anne made the donuts since the ones in Russia don't have holes.
The Texan and his cat. We had fun coming up with costumes. Rick found his hat at Metro for 99 rubles which is about $4.00. Notice his belt buckle. We made if by wraping foil over a cardboard cutout. Anne's tail was a piece of the garland we used on the refreshment table and the ears were made from styrofoam liners that came in her new boots, colored with marker.
Tossing darts at the balloons was very popular. Masha, on the left, did the face painting for anyone who wanted. DeCasta is throwing a dart.

Rick's favorite Halloween picture of Anne.

Sasha got into the whole costume thing as a gangster. He was really a hit with his long fur coat. Lilia stole the show with her entrance as a pirate. She had all the detail, including the little parrot on her shoulder.

Anatole came in camouflage and Masha added the face painting to complete his costume. Rick is in the back and Paul on the right. Daniel is in the black hooded shirt with the long black nose.

Rita, from English Club, was adorable in her oriental outfit. She was such a help in cleaning up after the party. She always has a wonderful smile and is a delightful person to be with.

The pictures we took of the spook alley didn't turn out well because it was so dark. Everyone enjoyed the creativity of the missionaries and most of them were scared going through. It was a evening to remember, for sure!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Birthdays, Theater, Service, Transfers

Elder Angelo's Birthday
Elder Angelo turned 21 and we were able to celebrate his birthday on his birthday, it was a P-day. Anne made a marble cake for him. He said he had never had one. We have had a hard time finding birthday candles, so we have to conserve by using 2 for twenty and 1.
We took a picture of the district at Elder Angelo's birthday when Elders Smith and Jenson were on their visa trips in Spain. Elder Angleo, Sister Gorina, Sister Shavyeko and Elder Keifert.


We are allowed a "culture" night once each transfer. Transfers are every six weeks. This time it was the sisters turn to pick the activity. We went to a hockey game on our last culture night as you may remember. They decided to have us go to a Russian theater here in town. The Volkov Theater is the first one ever built in all of Russia, a distinction we were surprised that our city had. It is currently being restored throughout the interior. The molding around the stage is all carved wood and the curtain drop had an oval hole with a backdrop to give a 3-D effect.
The ceiling had eight of these chandeliers with gold-leaf decoration around the whole thing. It was very beautiful.
It was, of course, all in Russian. Our missionaries said it was high level Russian and they only understood about 40% of it. On the other hand, we understood only a few words and picked up the general story line from the gestures and actions on stage. The set revolved so that there were not scene changes. It just turned to where the next scene was set. It was very well done.

End of Provaslavny Service
Last week was our last time for service at the Pravaslavny Church. We finished painting the floor. It took us three sessions to finish it because we kept running out of paint. Each week we came back to paint floor, we had a different color of red (crahsney in Russian). Father Alexander asked to meet with the sisters. In their first meeting he showed them a DVD prepared by his church on our church. They said it was about 50% correct in what it said. They have agreed to meet with him again, but this time they will show our DVD on the Restoration of the Gospel.

Anne felt sorry for all those whose birthdays had already passed or were after they were going to be going home. So we decided to have an unbirthday for Sisters Shevyeko & Gorina and Elders Jenson & Keifert. There were 22 special candles on the cake. Special because they were the relighting kind. Each tried to blow them out, one at a time without success.
Then, they decided all four of them should blow. Those candles put off a lot of smoke. Lucky (?) for us we don't have fire alarms in our apartment. They finally got them out by dropping them in water.

This picture was taken at our last district meeting, the day before transfers.
Elder Angelo and Sister Shevyeko were transferred. They are the last two from the original district which was here when we arrived. It was hard to see them go. Sister Shevyeko is holding a "goody" bag that Anne always makes for our departing missionaries to help them through the 4 hour train ride to Moscow.
Here we have our new missionaries arriving at the train station, along with our returnning mini-missionary, Masha. Masha is in the red jacket. She spent the last 6 weeks in Moscow serving with Sister Brown (former Yaro missionary). She got to help teach and see baptized one of their investigators. We filled out her papers for a full-time mission just before she left on her mini-mission and she is waiting for her call to come from Salt Lake.

Elder Terry is the fourth from right. He came to replace Elder Angelo. Both Elder Jenson and Elder Terry are now designated zone leaders. Yaro has been designated a Zone for some time with only 6 missionaries in it, but we had a district leader. President Cranney decided to make Yaro a full zone this transfer by appointing these two as zone leaders.

Sister Vostrykova (Dasha), in the black and white jacket, came to replace Sister Shevyeko. She is from Neegzny-Novgaroad and is on a mini-mission for 6 weeks. She turns 21 next September and wants to go full-time then.
We finally got the 2nd package sent from home. It was so big it was hard to get up to Yaro on the train. When Elder Keifert came back from Spain on his visa trip, he brought 3 other smaller packages that had arrived for us. This one would have been impossible to drag around Moscow. This big package was sent a month before the other smaller ones he brought up. The big one took 2 months and the smaller ones took 4 weeks.