Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lower Branch, Our Neighborhood, P-Day, Mall, Kaljonov dinner, Teaching

Lower Branch

The lower branch building is owned by the Church. It's a beautiful two-story building and has a large chapel and a baptismal font.
It even has a spire on top. We visit the Lower Branch every third Sunday and have English Club there on Tuesday evenings.
The grounds are kept immaculate and there is a lovely garden area in the back with flowers and shrubs.

This group of young people came to visit us the Sunday evening after we were in the Lower Branch for Church the first time. From left: Sasha, Vasilisa, Tanya, Natasha, Olga, and Ilya. Tanya and Vasilisa teamed up to translate for us. Ilya is not a member, but has a baptismal date for June 13th. All the others are members of the Lower Branch. We enjoyed getting to know them better and they brought a delightful spirit into our apartment.

Our Neighborhood
We wanted to share some of the neighborhood area we live in. We walk past this rather rundown area to get to our apartment building.

This is the front of our apartment building. It's five stories and we are on the second level.

This is a old wood structure across the street from the apartment building. There is a little "Producty" (kind of like a 7-11 store) on the corner.
Looking out our back windows in the kitchen and on the balcony, we see the courtyard and this very old dilapidated house. We were surprised one morning, after it had rained, to see a little old woman come out the back door with a pail of water, empty it and then go back inside. We really didn't think anyone lived there, but we were wrong. Our hearts go out to the people who have to live in these conditions. An egg would not stay on a table in that house!
This is the back of our building. We are in the apartment on the right, second level. You can see our balcony and the kitchen window is to the right. The lilac bushes were just beginning to bloom. We've enjoyed the spring with all the flowering trees and bushes. The fragrance is wonderful!

This is the back courtyard. The flowers are blooming more now. We would like to donate a bench for sitting out there, but since there isn't a gate on one side, it would probably not last long.


P-Day with the missionaries is always a highlight of the week. Here they enjoy a game of "Phase 10" and some "munching." Beginning in the forground left: Elders Kruglyak, Traasdahl, Rosenhan, Jeremejev, McClelland and Michaelis. Elder Terrell is hidden.

While the others play games, Elders Malanin and Baxter write home and enjoy letters from family.


This is the Fantastica Mall. It's really a beautiful place and there's lots of shopping. If you look closely, you can see the Real sign in the back on the left. We do a lot of grocery shopping there. There's also a cleaners, a nice gift shop and a home center store.

Family Dinner

We invited President Kaljonov and his family for dinner. Their two oldest sons know English well and their youngest son is taking English in school now. Their oldest son, Mesha was married three weeks ago to Natalya. From lower left: Kostya, Natalya, Erina, Anne. Back left: Deema, Mesha, President Kaljonov and Rick. We fixed a Texas-style meal with barbeque chicken, potato salad, fresh fruit (including canteloupe which they had not had before) and Texas sheet cake. They enjoyed it all very much.

One of our favorite experiences is having the missionaries teach investigators in our apartment. Elders Kruglyak and Traasdahl (back right) taught Lilya, her daughter, Enna (front right), and Marat, back left, who is a friend of Tanya, sitting next to Anne. In the background, you can see the "kissing" dolls we bought for our 41st wedding anniversary.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Good-bye Yaroslavl, Hello Nizhniy Novgorod

Places in Yaro
There were a couple of places we wanted to get pictures of before we left. One of them was the flower tunnel, which was one of the entries into the city and one of the only remaining parts of the original walls. The selling of flowers is a big thing in the Russian culture. There are small flower shops almost on every other corner and you often see people carrying flowers on the streets that they have just purchased.
Here is a picture of the part of the original wall and tower that houses the flower tunnel. You can't see the tunnel from here because it runs perpendicular to this view, from the left side, where our picture was taken, to the right side of it. Since Yaro will be celebrating it's 1000th birthday in 2010, you can imagine how old this wall must be.
From where we were standing taking the picture of the tower, and turning about 90 degrees to the left, is the Volkov theater. It was built in 1750, the first theater built in Russia. We went to two plays in this theater and enjoyed them both, even though they were all in Russian.

Texac again
Our tradition is to take the missionaries out to lunch after the last district meeting before transfers. In this case it was our transfer that we were anticipating. We went to the Texac restaurant again which was close to our apartment. Elders Armstrong and Heath, in the background had been there with us before, but Elders Jouttenus, right front, and Hiatt had not. We all really enjoyed our meal and time there together.

Yaro Branch
President and Sister Collins came to Yaroslavl our last Sunday there. Both of us spoke and President Collins took the last 5 minutes of sacrament meeting. He then took the second hour and showed part of a DVD made in Russia by the church about building better family relationships. It was very well done. After meetings, we gathered all who were there and took a picture of the branch. President Collins is standing left front next to Rick who is holding Maxi Chernikov and Sister Collins is sitting next to Anne, right front.

Last Sunday Dinner
Later, after meetings, we had our last Sunday dinner together and took a picture of our district.

Nina and Radeon, from Rybinsk, Tanya, Sasha and Daniel were also there. We snapped a picture of Sasha and Tanya.

Our Barber
Elder Armstrong has been cutting his own hair since he was 8 years old. He also gives haircuts to all the missionaries in the districts in which he serves.

Visit to Yaro Families

Before we left, we visited the two families of the former and current branch presidents. Above are the Chernikovs, a delightful family,

At the Vaneevs' (Branch President and RS President), we enjoyed holding baby Maxim. He has grown a lot since we saw him when he was blessed. He is a very happy little boy.

Just Before We Left
Thursday, the 23rd of April, the mission driver brought the large mission van to Yaroslavl to load up our stuff and us for our trip to Nizhniy Novgorod, the 4th largest city in Russia. We had spent the week before boxing up everything to either move to the Family History Center for storage for the next senior couple, or, to go with us to Nizhniy. The missionaries all came to help load, as well as Ilya, Sasha and Tanya. The whole van was packed full and the two of us rode in the front seat with the mission driver. Above is a picture of us just before we got into the van which is almost like the picture that was taken when we first arrived. From left, Ilya, Sasha and Tanya.

Zone Conference
On the 26th, we took an overnight train from Nizhniy to Moscow to attend Zone Conference. It wasn't the most comfortable accommodations and we didn't get very much sleep. We did manage to stay awake during the meetings. They were very good and spiritually uplifting. Then we rushed to catch the 4:40 train back to Nizhniy, arriving at about 11:00 pm. The time went by fast because we played games with the missionaries all the way home.

Nizhniy Districts

Nizhniy and Yaro are similar in one way. Both are situated at the intersection of two rivers. In Yaro it is the Volga and the Kotorosl and in Nizhniy it is the Volga and the Oka. The Oka is much bigger than the Kotorosl. The city of Nizhniy is over twice as large as Yaroslavl, with 1.5 million in population. The city is split in half by the Oka and is referred to as the upper and lower city. We live in the upper city, about 2 blocks from the branch in a really wonderful apartment. The district of missionaries that serves the upper branch is pictured above. From left to right are Elders Baxter (DL), Milanan, Terrell and Michaelis. The last two are our zone leaders and Elder Milanan will be our district leader for three weeks starting next week. Elder Milanan is from Meahst which is in the Ekatrinbourg Mission east of the Moscow missions.

The lower district is pictured above: from left to right, Elders Kruglyak, Rosenhan (trainer), Jeremejev and Traasdahl (DL). Elder Kruglyak is from Kurgan in the Ekaterinbourg Mission. Elder Jeremejev is a new missionary from a small town in Latvia. He is a native Russian speaker. All three of our Russian speakers are learning English.