Thursday, July 23, 2009

Transfers, YSA Activity, President's Visit

Elder Worthington was transferred here and is the senior Zone Leader. He replaced Elder Nutt and is Elder Malanin's companion, who is also a Zone Leader now.
We welcomed two sisters into Nizhniy, both from Russia. Sister Uldonova, on the left, is from Ofa, the same town that Elder Kruglyak is from and the same mission (Ekaterinburg) that Elder Malanin is from. She has been out about four months. Sister Lavrenteva is a brand new "greenie" from the Novasibirsk Mission and will be trained by Sister Uldonova.
While we were waiting for the new missionaries to arrive, Elder Malanin and Elder Traasdahl taught Katia, on the right, with Irina, the Relief Society President of the upper branch. It was a good lesson and we felt the spirit.

Pictured above is President Smirnov of the lower branch and the couple who was visiting from Norway for three weeks.

YSA Activity
On Saturday afternoon, the 18th, we had a YSA activity at the lower branch. We grilled hamburgers and fed them first, then played some games that Anne had prepared. We had a water balloon toss, seen above. Rick is bending over the water balloon box getting another one to toss to his partner, Elder Smith (back right). Our APs, Elder Russell (with his back to us in the left foreground) and Elder Harker (background center of the picture) came up on Saturday morning to split with the missionaries before the President and his wife arrived. Elder Traasdahl is just to the right of Elder Russell with his head looking back to Elder Worthington in the background.
There were two teams (not including the missionaries) who passed the oranges under the chin, without using hands, to the back of the line and then back to the front. Here Deema looks on while Katia passes the orange to Leeda, another team member.
Here Alla passes the orange to Vasalisa.
We also took turns doing three-legged races. Elder Russell and Elder Smith are teaming up against Rick and Elder Harker.
After the race, we sang happy birthday to Elder Worthington and to show that he hasn't aged too much, Elder Harker and then Sasha jumped on his back.

New Mission President visits Nizhniy
We met our new mission president and his wife at zone conference on the 3rd. They are President and Sister Kenneth M. Woolley. They are on a two-week, whirlwind tour visiting all the 11 branches in the mission. They spoke in sacrament meeting at both branches on Sunday.
The president and his wife arrived on Saturday night a little after 7:00 after a 5 hour drive from Moscow. They came directly to our apartment where the missionaries were already assembled. Anne prepared a lovely dinner for us all and then the President conducted interviews with all the missionaries. Above the APs, Elders Russell and Harker, are playing around a bit while Elder Traasdahl looks on in the background.
Sasha, the mission driver, drove President Woolley and his wife here from Moscow and enjoyed the dinner with us. He also drove us from Yaro to Nizhniy when we moved in April.
President Woolley presented a fireside on the coming forth of the Book of Mormon on Sunday evening for the members, missionaries and investigators. Elder Malanin holds a first-edition copy of the Book of Mormon that President Woolley brought with him and passed around at the fireside for everyone to examine. He asked that we put on the white cotton gloves to protect it. It was wonderful to have them here for the weekend.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

4th of July P-Day, Transfers

We celebrated the 4th of July on the P-day before the holiday. We planned a picnic in the park with games, food and lots of R&R. Anne made cookies decorated like flags for each country the missionaries represent: America, Russia and Latvia. From left: Elders Traasdahl, Malanin, Nutt, Armstrong, Smith and Jeremejev.
It seemed a little ironic that Rick wore is Russian t-shirt while enjoying his American flag cookie!
While the elders played frizbee and football, we took a walk along the edge of the park. It provided a great view of lower Nizhniy and the Oka River.
The wildflowers were in bloom and it was a lovely, colorful scene all down the hillside.
On the way back to the picnic area, we walked along this beautiful path through the Birch forest.
Elders Armstrong, Malanin and Traasdahl hope to catch the football. (Actually, the ball dropped between them.)
Elder Traasdahl makes a break to catch this pass ahead of Elders Armstrong, Smith and Nutt.
Elder Malanin looks for someone to pass to while Elder Traasdahl guards him. Rick makes a break from Elder Smith and Elders Armstrong and Nutt wait for the action to pick up.
Elder Jeremejev gets into the action by taking pictures.
In the evening, after our picnic, we attended a wonderful presentation of romantic Russian songs sung by the two women on the left who have professionally trained voices. The one of the right was the fantastic pianist. It was one of our favorite culture events since being in Russia. It was organized by the upper branch activities committee chairwoman.
Elder Jeremejev has provided many hours of entertainment with his piano playing. He learned to play just three years ago and does not read notes. He plays from hearing the music and then adds his own embellishment. He also plays his own compositions. He is truly remarkable.
This transfer has been hard for us. Elders Jeremejev and Nutt were both transferred. Elder Nutt will be serving in Kazakhstan with Elder Baxter and Elder Jeremejev goes to Tver, south of Moscow. They both left Sunday right after meetings.
This is the last picture of our Zone before transfers. From front left: Elders Malanin, Jeremejev, and Traasdahl. Back left: Anne, Rick, Elders Smith, Armstrong and Nutt. These pictures were taken in front of the lower branch building.
It was a hard day when we said good-bye to Elder Armstrong. He's heading back to the states after serving very faithfully for two years. He's been an exemplary missionary and we loved serving with him both in Yaroslavl and in Nizhniy. We wish him well in all he does!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Baptism, Visit to Kremlin

Ivan Zemscov turned eight recently and he was baptized a member of the church. He got up, on his own accord, in last month's testimony meeting and bore his testimony. He surprised his parents. This family is unique in Russia. Both sides of the family are members of the church. This is a three-generation family picture where all are members! Andre, the father, was just sustained as a member of the branch presidency and he is a returned missionary from the Baltic States Mission. His mother is on the left. Olga's parents are in the center of the picture between Olga and Andre.
As we were exiting the church we turned back and had to take a picture of the water pipes that run in front of the church building. Here they are arching over the driveway that leads to the back of the church. This type of water system can be seen all over the city.

Visit to Kremlin
We stopped on our walk to the Kremlin to take this picture on our walking street in front of the theater. It was Elders Malanin and Nutts' turn to write home on our computers that morning, so we walked with them to the Kremlin.
We also paused to take this picture at a statue of a Russian police officer. The "walking street" has several statues depicting different activities that are placed randomly.
Here is a picture of Anne in the middle of the beautiful flower garden (with mowed grass) just inside the Kremlin wall.
Here is the Kremlin tower, built in 1500, where we entered. Anne is talking to two of the missionaries.
World War II monuments are everywhere in Russia. Just inside the Kremlin walls was a line up of several vehicles from that war. Here Elder Armstrong poses in the back of a pickup truck.
Elder Traasdahl is saluting as he poses next to a submarine tower that was part of this display of World War II relics.
Elder Malanin is posing next to a Russian Army aeroplane.
There are a lot of grounds and quite a few buildings still in use inside the Nizhniy Kremlin. Here we are walking past the church inside the Kremlin. Pictured are Elder Jeremejev, Rick, Elders Smith, Malanin and Nutt.
This shows the whole church with a bell tower on the left.
At the back of the Kremlin overlooking the bluff is the intersection of the Oka River, coming in from the left, merging with the Volga River on the right. We walked down the path you see in the bottom left corner of the above picture to get to the lower part of the town.
On the path on the way down was this picturesque little prayer chapel.
At the bottom of the bluff was the Kremlin wall, and just outside was this restored church.
We wanted to get to the spot where we could take our picture in front of the Nizhniy sign that is shown at the top of our blog. It turned out to be a longer walk than we expected. On the way, we saw another beautiful church. This one was a little more unique because of the multicolored domes on its top. (Click to get a closeup.)

Across the street from the Nizhniy sign is another church which we we first saw it that it had and Angel Mormoni on top of the tower on the left. But, of course, upon closer examination we saw that their angel had wings.