Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Tree, Walking Street, British Pub, English Club Social, YSA Social, Baptisms, Last District Picture

Christmas Tree
We spent part of our P-day decorating the tree and the apartment for Christmas. Sister Doty and Elder Guynn put ornaments on the tree. We used felt snowflakes with pictures of each of the missionaries we have served with both in Yaroslavl and Nizhniy. We had 37 snowflakes.
Elder Anderson adds one more.
Elder Nuckols placed the magnetic nativity pieces we found in Prague on a covered pizza pan.
Sister Chetina puts another snowflake on the tree.
Elder Worthington puts the "finishing" touch on.
The final additions and a truly spectacular Christmas tree! Full of sweet memories.

Walking Street
We took some time off one afternoon and did some Christmas and souvenir shopping on the walking street. At the end of the street is the kremlin.
We loved seeing the horses "dressed" for giving children rides. This group includes five in graduated sizes.

British Pub
This fun restaurant is the meeting place for an English-speaking group each Saturday. The missionaries all joined them for hot chocolate (the best we have found in Russia) and some fun conversation. Later, we went back and had almost-authentic fish and chips for dinner.

English Club Social
We invited our conversational English Club groups to a Christmas social at our apartment. We played games, were entertained by Elder Worthington on the guitar and ate some or our traditional Christmas goodies. It was a fun time for all of us, especially the 7 English Club members who attended. As Vladimir, Alexey and Alex were leaving, we wanted to get a picture of the traditional shopka Alexey was wearing. Helps keep him warm! It has been 31 degrees below zero here lately.

YSA Social
We also hosted a Christmas social for the young single adults. There were 20 there and 2 non-members and the elders. They played games, sang karoake, had a white elephant gift exchange and enjoyed some more of our traditional Christmas goodies. From left: Ala, Deema, Tanya, Luba, Olya, Anar and Elder Nuckols.

We were fortunate to have two baptisms in one day. Ludmilla is in the lower branch. Sisters Chetina and Doty helped teach her.
Elder Nuckols, on the left, baptized and confirmed Ludmilla and Elder Worthington, on the right, baptized Yaroslav. He was confirmed by President Kalyonov from the upper branch.
Elders Guynn and Worthington taught Yaroslav.

Last District Picture
Our last district meeting was on the day Elder Worthington left to go home. He has been a great district and zone leader. He will be missed
Our last picture as a district. In the front beginning left, Sister Doty, Rick, Anne, Sister Chetina. In the back from left: Elders Worthington, Nuckols, Anderson and Guynn. Truly outstanding missionaries who have had an impact on the lives of members, non-members and Rick and Anne.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Stockholm, Zemskov's, Thanksgiving

This is the Grand Hotel we stayed in while in Stockholm. It was built in 1893 as a replica for a hotel in Monte Carlo. The original carved woodwork was wonderful and the whole experience was really fun. We were several miles from Stockholm city center, so we took a quaint little train into the city.

This is a view from our hotel window. The bay is surrounded by beautiful homes and many boats.
We were able to attend the Stockholm temple which has a very unique architecture.
The feeling is almost one of a summer resort.
The grounds were beautiful with the fall plantings and the quiet flow of the fountain.
We took a bus tour of the city and this was the royal palace. It's quite plain in architecture and there is not a lot of security.
The Opera House is just down the street from the palace, and is more majestic, but certainly not as large.
This view from the bus window gives you an idea of the water that surrounds Stockholm. It is actually many islands connected by bridges.
We couldn't resist taking a picture of this wonderful troll outside a gift shop. Trolls are a major theme in Sweden and I wonder if the story of the "Billy Goats Gruff" comes from there.

This cute troll was outside another gift shop. Notice the skis and the Swedish flag. We also like the fact that he is standing beside a Dala horse, a native craft since the 19th century.
Sweden, much like Finland, is build on rock. These rock beds are seen along the highways and roads everywhere. It's surprising because of all the water.
Elder Worthington mentioned he would love to have a Dr. Pepper if we found one. We did and he was in heaven when we brought it back to him.

Zemskov Visit
The wonderful Zemskov families came for family home evening. Andre and Olga are in the center, her parents are on the left and his are on the right. Their two children are Masha and Vanya and their niece, Sonya, on the far right, was visiting. Andre's father is not a member, but is investigating.

Elders Guynn, left, and Worthington were very proud of their peach cobbler which they made for Thanksgiving dinner. After tasting it, we agreed they should be proud! Having those creative aprons must have helped them be such good cooks.
Thanksgiving dinner was special for all of us. Starting left, Elders Worthington, Nuckols, and Anderson, Sister Chetina (almost hidden), Elders McClelland and Guynn, Ludmila, an investigator, Sister Doty, Alusha and Pasha, newly baptized. Erina, another investigator, is there, but hidden. We had Thanksgiving thoughts printed on cardstock taped around each cup and also positioned in the floral arrangement. It was very festive and, as the Russian's say, very tasty!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Transfers, Nizhniy, Baptisms, Tolstoy's Home

Here is our wonderful district just before transfers took place. We are going to miss the three who are leaving. Starting in the back left: Elders Nuckols, Westbroek, Smith and Worthington. Sisters Smith and Doty in front.
This transfer saw Elder Westbroek (on the left) and Elder Smith both leave Nizhniy. Elder Westbroek who has been an outstanding district leader, finished his mission and went home. Elder Smith stayed a week to orient Elder Nuckols before he was transferred to Rayzan.
Sister Smith (on the left) also finished her mission. She will be missed by Sister Doty and all the missionaries as well as the members. Elder Westbroek and Sister Smith took a night train to Moscow.
Elder Anderson (on the left) came in on the train the next night and was Elder Worthington's companion for a week while Elder Smith oriented Elder Nuckols to his new area. Then, Elder Anderson became Elder Nuckols' (on the right) companion.
Sister Chetina (on the right) came in on the plane the next night at 11:30 pm and is Sister Doty's new companion. Sister Chetina is from a town in the Ekaterinburg Russia Mission.
Elder Guynn (on the left) transferred in from Rayzan the following week after a visa renewal trip that Elders Nuckols, Anderson and Guynn all went on to Kiev. Elders Nuckols, Anderson and Guynn all came out together three months ago. Elder Guynn is Elder Worthington's (on the right) new companion. (Hope you could follow all that!)

Scenes from Nizhniy
The first big snow fall of the year. The picture was taken on October 30th looking out our kitchen window.
The next day, after more snow fell, the children in our complex made a snowman. Can you find him?
Public transportation is really big here in Russia. Here is a Marshutka (small bus which is privately owned) at this bus stop with a larger city bus (run by the government) getting ready to pull in to pick up passengers. There are 21-24 seats on a Marshutka and often times there are about 50 people crammed on to it. Marshutkas are our normal mode of transportation most of the time. Notice the advertising posted all over the pole in the foreground. You see it everywhere.
Here is a tramvai, an electric bus on tracks. These were installed a long time ago and are cheaper to ride. This tramvai track is about a half of a short block from our apartment. We take it sometimes to ride down to one of the grocery stores we shop at, if we don't walk that distance for our daily exercise.

Dasha was contacted by Elders Worthington and Nuckols, came to English Club and was given to Sisters Smith (on the right) and Doty (on the left) to teach. Dasha was baptized on the Saturday before Sister Smith went home.
Pasha has appeared on our blog a few times before while he was being taught by Elders Westbroek (on the left) and Smith (on the right). He is the boyfriend of one of our members in the lower branch. He was baptized on Sunday, the day after Dasha was baptized and just two days before Elder Westbroek went home.

Tolstoy's Home
We were assigned to go to Tula by the mission president to interview a new counselor for their branch presidency. It just so happened that Sister Smith served in Tula for some time in the beginning of her mission and also decided to visit there that same weekend with her family who came to pick her up. Pictured above are Sister Smith, her father and mother and her niece, Savannah (who has been like a little sister to her). Sister Smith didn't know that Savannah was coming. It came as a big surprise for her. They are standing beside a pond just inside the Tolstoy estate.
Here we are pictured in front of Tolstoy's home. It's hard to tell this is the front, but the front door is just behind Anne's head. We flew into Moscow and were picked up at the airport by our office couple, the Rasmussen's, and they drove us to Tula. They have an apartment there and spend most weekends in Tula, teaching English Club on Saturday and then they go to church on Sunday. After the visit to the Tolstoy home we grabbed a bite to eat and drove the 2.5 hours back to Moscow to catch our plane back to Nizhniy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Upper Babushkas, Evgeny's baptism, Elder Nelson Visit, Sasha Going Away, Eleanor

Upper Babushkas
These three sweet babushkas come faithfully to Church in the upper branch and sit on the same row together. We love seeing them and watching how they care for each other.

Evgeny's baptism
Evgeny's conversion story is quite miraculous. He watched a TV interview with two missionaries 17 years ago and wanted to find the Church all these years. He went to several churches, but when they didn't have the Book of Mormon, he knew they weren't the Church he was looking for. One day he was looking for an office and happened to see the Church's sign on the outside of the building. He went in and Elders Worthington and Nuckols were teaching a lesson. They invited him to stay. They have continued to teach him and were able to see him baptized in October. Elder Nuckols is on the left and Elder Worthington on the right.

Elder Nelson Visit
The day we had anticipated for several months finally arrived. Elder Nelson, a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, arrived at the Nizhniy airport with Elder Pearson, in the background, President and Sister Woolley and their interpreter.
After the meeting with the members, Elder Nelson was willing to have pictures taken with missionaries and members. It was such an honor to be with him and to hear his message of love and gratitude.
The day after the meetings, we met Elders Nelson and Pearson to take a culture tour. Because the traffic was so congested, they decided to spend their time at our apartment while their cell phones were charging. We had such a wonderful visit and enjoyed listening to Elder Nelson play the piano. He started with "Sunrise, Sunset." After he finished, he quipped, "When in Russia...!" Sister Doty felt honored to be able to be with our special guests. Her companion had to leave the night before for a visa renewal trip so she was staying with us. She received some very personal and timely advice from both Elder Nelson and Elder Pearson, first counselor in the Europe East Area Presidency.

Sasha Going Away
Sasha, on the right, is a member from the lower branch. He found out during the week that he would be leaving for military service for one year. All Russian young men are required to serve one year. We hosted a farewell party for him. Selyena, from the upper branch, shares her good-byes with him.
This was most of the group who gathered to say good-bye to Sasha. Sisters Smith and Doty are in the back on the right. Elder Smith is is on the left in the forefront. Sasha is sitting between Anne and Rick.
From left to right: Posha, Ilusha, and Olya. Posha is investigating the Church and has had several lessons in our apartment. Olya is a member and Ilusa is her 4-year old son. Posha and Olya are planning to be married in the spring. Posha is such a sweet, loving man and Ilusa loves being with him.
Ilusha enjoys hiding and found this wonderful spot under the kitchen table. He is such a fun little boy and loves wearing the Angel Moroni tie we gave him.
During Sasha's farewell party, we each shared something we liked about Sasha and gave him advice. Here Elder Nuckols, standing, and Elder Worthington share thoughts with Sasha.
Elders Smith, left, and Westbroek listen to others share their good wishes to Sasha as they wait their turns.

Nizhniy Landscapes
Early morning mist hangs over lower Nizhniy Novgorod.
A picture from the upper city looking down the hill and across the bridge to the lower city.

Our darling little great granddaughter, Eleanor, was born May 8th. We're looking forward to getting to know her. One of the blessings we'll enjoy when we return home.