Branch Presidency Training
On September 26th, our mission paid the transportation costs for the 15 branch presidencies and one district presidency in our mission to travel to Moscow and participate in a training session. There are 11 branches in Russia, one in Almaty Kazakhstan and three in Belarus with a district presidency over them. As far as we know this is the only training they have ever had altogether. We had 39 there out of the 48 who were invited. Presentations were assigned out to different Branch Presidents to give. One of them wasn't able to come so Rick ended up giving 2 of the 6 presentations. These presentations covered the basics of leadership in the branches and are ones that Rick had developed mostly in Yaroslavl to train the branch there.
We had quite an unusual problem leading up to the training. On Friday afternoon when we stopped at a super market, President Woolley's and Rick's computers were stolen, along with a computer projector and some money. The car hadn't been locked and was an easy target. All the presentations were on Rick's computer. He quickly called those he had emailed the presentations to and they sent them back to him. There was some midnight oil burned trying to get ready for the next day. All the name tags that Rick had prepared were also stolen.
These wonderful sisters prepared the delicious lunch of shredded BBQ beef, rice, corn, salad and a dessert of brownies. They are from left to right starting in the front; Sister Rasmussen (serving in the office), Sister Woolley (mission mom), Sister Hall (serving in Almaty). In the back are Sister Lowry (humanitarian missionary serving in Voronezh), Galeena Nikitenkova (serving a mission in the office from Minsk), Sister Wade (humanitarian missionary from Minsk), and Anne.
As folks were leaving, one of the counselors from Voronezh sang several Russian songs to the sisters sitting in the foyer. He has been a branch president there and is now moving to Chelyebinsk, much further east.
After our training session, President Woolley took the senior missionaries to the Bolshoi Ballet. There were some nervous moments before it started because the tickets to the ballet were in his brief case which had been stolen. They found the confirmation record and used it to get in. The ballet was wonderful. It felt like we were suspended, floatingon air while we watched it. The dancing, costuming and scenery were just outstanding. President Woolley has been to ballets in many cities in the world and he said this was the best he has ever seen.
We weren't in the normal Bolshoi Hall, it was being renovated. But this one was magnificent.
Here are Elder and Sister Rasmussen and Sister Nikitenkova enjoying an intermission. They work in the office together.
We weren't allowed to take pictures during the performance, but Anne took this one of the main stars at the last curtain call.
On Monday, we went to Arbot street and did some shopping with some of the other senior couples. This picture was taken in front of Moo Moo's, a Russian buffet restaurant that we had eaten in before. (The y in the Cyrillic alphabet is pronounced "oo".)
Sister Smith, on the left, transferred to Nizhniy the first week of September from Almaty, Kazkhstan, and worked for a month with our mini-missionary, Luba Ivanova, pictured below. Luba is from the upper branch in Nizhniy. Sister Doty, from St. George, came October 1st from the MTC. Here the sisters are making a microwave chocolate cake in the little bowls. Anne had the instructions written out and taped to the counter. All the missionaries enjoyed their cakes with ice cream.
Relief Society Presidency Training
On October 3rd, the Relief Society presidencies from our 15 branches gathered in Moscow for training. The lunch was prepared by the wives of senior missionary couples and the husbands helped serve. There was barbeque chicken breasts, glazed carrots, green salad, cucumbers in sauce, rolls and sugar cookies. Anne made the rolls and cookies before we went to Moscow. She also decorated the cookie cutters to give to each sister as a reminder of the theme, "Soul, Heart and Hand." Sitting at this table are the RS presidents from both the Nizhniy branches, Sister Erina Kozhina on the left and Sister Yelena Danchina.
There were 26 sisters attending the meeting. The mission paid their transportation to Moscow. The four sisters on the left front are from Nizhniy. Sweet little sister Mikelova, in the middle front, is 80 years old. She is the second counselor in the upper branch. After arriving back at the Nizhniy train station, she tripped and fell, breaking her arm. We were all saddened by this mishap. She helped Anne in a presentation on additional RS meetings, sharing some of the wonderful activities she has organized for the branch sisters. Sister Danchina, second from right, presented outstanding training on compassionate service. There have been many reports of how much the sisters enjoyed the time together and appreciated the training.