New Branch Presidency
On January 11th our branch presidency was reorganized and Murat Vaneev, who was first counselor before, was sustained as the new Branch President. Daniel Jatileni, who was 2nd counselor and is a 6th year medical student, is now 1st counselor. Dimitri Gavrilov, who was Elder's Quorum President, is now 2nd counselor. Our former branch president, Sergey Chernikov, was called as Elder's Quorum President. It is great to see him sitting in the audience after 7 years, 7 months and 7 days as branch president. They are expecting their 4th child any day now.
Pictured above is the Vaneev family. Sister Maria Vaneev is Relief Society president. Maximus is one month and Medina is 7. She will turn 8 the end of this month and will be baptized.
Paul met Lilia in a small sweet shop where she works across the street from the branch. Paul is a refugee from Somolia. He left his country because, as a Christian, he feared for his life. For those of you who remember, he brought her to the first baptism we had back in August. They were married in October. Our sisters have been teaching her since soon after they were married.
Pictured are all those who attended the baptism. There were two investigators there: Olga, in the tan sweater and Larisa, standing in front of the steps.
Sister Brown had been promised a transfer to Kazakstan and she was excited about it. The mission office had delayed this transfer several times and had to delay it again for reasons explained later. We saw them off at the train station early in the morning. Masha is standing next to Sister Brown.
Sister Gorina was busy talking to two non-members, Lewde and Galia.
On Saturday morning, we called into a special meeting that President Cranney set up. He started that meeting by reading a letter from the First Presidency describing a reorganization of the Moscow and Moscow West missions. The Russia Moscow mission now includes only greater Moscow That means that Yaroslavl, Nizhegorodskaya and Almati, Kazakstan have been moved into the Russia Moscow West Mission. The West mission gave up the areas in Moscow that were previously within their boundaries. In this reorganization all missionaries,except senior couples, who were in each of these missions before the reorganization are staying with their mission. There is a short, two week transfer where West missionaries are going to the areas where our old mission used to cover and becoming familiar with their new areas and the Moscow missionaries are going to those parts of Moscow that used to be part of the West mission and becoming familiar with those areas. At the end of the two weeks, Feb 9th, missionaries who are out of their mission will be transfered back to their missions.
Above you see Elder Armstrong, on the left, Elder Heath, second from right, just arriving in Yaroslavl at the train station. Elders Jenson, in the center, and Elder Smith, on the right, have two weeks left here.
Elder Heath, Tanya and Elder Smith. Tanya is a returned missionary who takes care of all the paper work for missionaries transferring into and out of Yaroslavl.
Every few months we travel to Ribinsk to see members of the branch who live there. We stopped on the way and took the picture that appears above and used to be at the top of our blog for most of the winter.
Elders Jenson and Armstrong are pictured along with Sergey Varnofski, a member who drives taxi. He was baptized two years ago here and soon moved back to his home in Uzbeckistan. He moved back to Yaroslavl about 3 months ago. This time he brought his wife and mother.
Masha Leaves for Mission
We hosted a going away party for Masha at our apartment on Saturday night. She left for her full time mission the next day on the 7:15 am train. The two girls on the right are Sveta, an investigator, and Lena, Sister Chernikov's sister and a returned missionary. Here Masha passes a ball of yarn to someone and says something nice about them, then, they pass it back to her and say something nice about her.
Sasha is playing for everyone to sing along. Lena and Deema are enjoying the music.
The next morning we were at the train to say good-bye to our little ray of sunshine who we love so much. If you think we look cold, you're right. It was -25 C (-11 F). It was the coldest day we've experienced so far.
Several others also showed up to say good-bye to Masha. From left to right are Elder Smith, Masha, Leude, Elder Heath, Galia, Sveta Danilova (a returned missionary and the branch Primary President) and Shondra (1st counselor in the RS and a 4th year medical student from Guyana).