Monday, August 31, 2009

Transfers and Visit to Yaroslavl

Most mornings during the week, we walk around Gorkova Square which is about two blocks from our apartment. We walk three times around the outside, just on the other side of the trees surrounding the square. Then, we also walk one time around on the inside walkway, seen above. Flowers beds like this are planted in many of the public areas and are very beautiful. The statue is one of Gorky, the Russian poet. Nizhniy was originally named for him, but was changed when the city became more industrialized.


We had an emergency transfer of Sister Corbett, from Canada, replacing Sister Lavrentyeva because Sister Corbett is a registered nurse and Sister Uldonova had been experiencing fainting spells and nausea.
We meet the missionaries most of the time at the train station. Pictured above is an amazing chandelier that hangs in the lobby of this vugzal (train station).

The two side walls are decorated with mosaics depicting Russian history. The upper one is a memorial to WW II.Sister Uldonova and Irra Vershinina on the last Sunday before Sister Uldonova left. Irra just returned from a mission to Ukraine. She also speaks English quite well and is anxious to do Russian translation of materials we need for training. She has been a real blessing for us
This is our district, plus Valeri. In the back from left to right: Elders Smith, Malanin, Worthington, Valeri and Rick. On the front row are Elder Traasdahl, Sisters Uldonova and Corbett and Anne. Valeri is an investigator that Elders Worthington and Malanin have been teaching. He has a baptismal date for September 5th. This was our last meeting together before Sisters Uldonova and Corbett left and transfers took Elders Traasdahl and Malanin.
Dasha Vostrykova was a mini-missionary in Yaro last November and part of December. On a trip back to Yaro to attend a baptism of one of the investigators she helped teach, Sasha and she formed a relationship and she moved to Yaro for the summer. She has just moved back to Nizhniy and Sasha stayed with us for the weekend. Both of them are planning to serve missions soon.
Elder Malanin was transferred to Yaroslavl and Elder Traasdahl was transferred to Minsk in Belarus. Elder Westbroek on the left was transferred back to Nizhniy to be companions with Elder Smith. Elder Westbroek was in Nizhniy when we came apartment hunting, but was transferred out before we moved here. Elder Nuckols came to Nizhniy straight from the MTC and will be companions with Elder Worthington.
During a YSA activity at our apartment, we celebrated Rick's birthday, watched Narnia II, Prince Caspian, and also saw photos and videos from the YSA Conference in St. Petersburg that 8 of the YSA attended. Deema Danchina had just returned home from a mission in the state of Washington. He was one of the last Russians to be called to go out of the country. We're very glad he's home. It was amusing to hear him give his talks in the two branches here. There were a couple of times in each talk that he couldn't remember the words to express himself in Russian; he is so used to speaking and thinking in English.

Visit to Yaroslavl

On the last weekend in August, we visited Yaroslavl, arriving on the overnight train early Friday morning. Rick is now the first counselor in the Mission Presidency and received an assignment to go there and call a new 2nd counselor. He also volunteered to do the financial audit while he was there. It was great to be with Elder Malanin again. He has only been gone a week, but we were glad to see him. After doing much of the audit on Friday, we took them to the Texas Restaurant. It is the one that is close to the apartment we used to live in. Later that evening, Rick went to the Family History Center and did some web conferencing tests with one of the branches in the mission and a test on the computer there to see if it could do web conferencing properly. Rick is trying to get web conferencing up and working by October so we can start to have monthly leadership meetings using that technology.
On Saturday, the branch planned a picnic. The Chernikovs met us at the bus stop and Rick picked up Max and he stayed with him the whole way (45 min) out to the picnic site. He also fell asleep for part of the time.
Besides the Chernikov children, two other little boys came with their non-member mother. They were also very cute and we enjoyed playing with them.
One of the highlights of the trip was to see these two young ladies again--Natasha, on the left, and Kristina Chernikov, who is back from nine months in Burley, Idaho, as an exchange student. We were so excited to see her again. She had an amazing time in the United States. Natasha met a returned Russian missionary from Canada just after we left Yaro and things are looking promising.
Elders Malanin and Boradin barbequed chicken over the coals at the picnic. It was delicious.
After eating, Elder Boradin pulled out Kristina's guitar and several of them sang Russian folk songs. It was the best Russian music we've heard. Also pictured here are President Chernikov (elders quorum) and two of his children, Karina and Max. Rita is sitting on the log with the other adults. She is a very good friend from English Club.
We walked down to a spot where we could see the Volga River and noticed the leaves beginning to show their color. Rita makes a good subject.
On the way back to the bus, Anne couldn't resist taking a picture of this little dacha where, as you can see, someone is presently living. They are probably there only for the summer and will return next month to the city.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Elder Worthington's Birthday, Stass's Baptism, Apartment

Elder Worthington's Birthday
Birthdays are always special for us. This will be Elder Worthington's last before he leaves to go home later this fall.
He wanted cheesecake instead of traditional birthday cake, so that's what he got! Having only 2 candles to blow out ensures wishes will come true.

Stass's Baptism

The highlight of a mission is a convert baptism. Stass, on the right, has been faithfully taught by Elder Traasdahl, on the left, and his companions. Stass will be an asset to the Church here and is looking forward to serving a mission after his one-year wait.

Our Apartment

We thought it would be fun to share some pictures of our wonderful apartment. The entry hallway is always full of shoes when the missionaries and investigators come. It's a very well-kept tradition to take shoes off when entering a dom (home). It also houses a large storage closet for coats, shoes and other items.
From the entry hallway, it opens up into a nice large foyer so it's not cramped when you come in like a lot of apartments. (Click on the picture to get a better view of the darling frog we found. He sits on a rock that says, "Welcome Friends." Even the Russians love to read it.)
The living room is spacious and comfortable. The display cabinet gives us room to share the treasures we've bought in different countries and cities. Sister Lavrentyeva and Elder Traasdahl relax while waiting for a meeting to start.
The other side of the living room is used for a dining/game table. Elder Smith and Sister Uldonova are waiting for the meeting also. (You might notice the rug. It's one of the cute "town" rugs and is a hit with the missionaries and small children. They like racing their cars and playing on the town streets.) The piano is on the right behind the sofa.
Elder Malanin, on the other side of the display cabinet, is ready for their meeting to start. We use the TV for showing Church DVD's to investigators.
The kitchen is large enough for several people to work in at the same time and has nice cabinets and countertops. The highlight for Anne, though, is the little dishwasher. It's just large enough for two and when we have company, we run it twice.
At the other end of the kitchen is a small table where we eat most of our meals when we're alone. The corner cabinet holds the microwave and storage.
We also have a small storage room with an extra refrigerator and shelves for additional food, tools, cleaning supplies, etc. The missionaries love the refrigerator because we keep sodas and extra fruit for them there.
The master bedroom is large compared to the one we had in Yaro. The bed is somewhere between a queen and king. We added rugs on either side of the bed and into the middle to make it more comfortable.
We also added the little bench for sitting to put on shoes and socks. The wardrobe is the only closet, but has plenty of room for the clothes we brought and the dresser on the other side has large drawers.
Anne is getting her weekly update letter ready to send. The office is very comfortable for both of us to use our computers and the printer. There is a sitting area and a large storage cabinet across from the little loveseat so we have plenty of room for books, paper, files, etc. On P-day, the missionaries use the office to send emails to family.
The large bathroom also houses the washer. The tub is large and the shower is very nice. It also has it's own hot water heater which we have used the last two weeks while the hot water in the building is turned off. Very convenient! We're also very fortunate to have a second water filter system in the bathroom so we don't have to keep filtered water in bottles for brushing our teeth. We're also lucky to have a half-bath off the foyer for guests to use.
The third bedroom has been such a great place for storage and doing all those household things like hanging clothes, sewing , and ironing. The sofa makes out into a bed for guests or it's nice for the missionaries when they want to take a quiet nap on P-day. Luba, sitting in front, from the upper branch, and Rita, from the lower branch, are the young single adult reps for their branches and have come to plan activities for the next few months.
The sewing machine has been a life-saver for Anne because of all the missionary mending, hemming and making fun gifts. The table was an old door we added legs to. There is also an extra wardrobe at the other end of the room which we use to store out-of-season clothing and ironing waiting to be done. This little apartment is such a blessing for us. We love using it to entertain, teach lessons, feed the missionaries and members and enjoy quiet time from the world outside. How grateful we are each day for this little bit of heaven.