Monday, November 30, 2009

Stockholm, Zemskov's, Thanksgiving

This is the Grand Hotel we stayed in while in Stockholm. It was built in 1893 as a replica for a hotel in Monte Carlo. The original carved woodwork was wonderful and the whole experience was really fun. We were several miles from Stockholm city center, so we took a quaint little train into the city.

This is a view from our hotel window. The bay is surrounded by beautiful homes and many boats.
We were able to attend the Stockholm temple which has a very unique architecture.
The feeling is almost one of a summer resort.
The grounds were beautiful with the fall plantings and the quiet flow of the fountain.
We took a bus tour of the city and this was the royal palace. It's quite plain in architecture and there is not a lot of security.
The Opera House is just down the street from the palace, and is more majestic, but certainly not as large.
This view from the bus window gives you an idea of the water that surrounds Stockholm. It is actually many islands connected by bridges.
We couldn't resist taking a picture of this wonderful troll outside a gift shop. Trolls are a major theme in Sweden and I wonder if the story of the "Billy Goats Gruff" comes from there.

This cute troll was outside another gift shop. Notice the skis and the Swedish flag. We also like the fact that he is standing beside a Dala horse, a native craft since the 19th century.
Sweden, much like Finland, is build on rock. These rock beds are seen along the highways and roads everywhere. It's surprising because of all the water.
Elder Worthington mentioned he would love to have a Dr. Pepper if we found one. We did and he was in heaven when we brought it back to him.

Zemskov Visit
The wonderful Zemskov families came for family home evening. Andre and Olga are in the center, her parents are on the left and his are on the right. Their two children are Masha and Vanya and their niece, Sonya, on the far right, was visiting. Andre's father is not a member, but is investigating.

Elders Guynn, left, and Worthington were very proud of their peach cobbler which they made for Thanksgiving dinner. After tasting it, we agreed they should be proud! Having those creative aprons must have helped them be such good cooks.
Thanksgiving dinner was special for all of us. Starting left, Elders Worthington, Nuckols, and Anderson, Sister Chetina (almost hidden), Elders McClelland and Guynn, Ludmila, an investigator, Sister Doty, Alusha and Pasha, newly baptized. Erina, another investigator, is there, but hidden. We had Thanksgiving thoughts printed on cardstock taped around each cup and also positioned in the floral arrangement. It was very festive and, as the Russian's say, very tasty!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Transfers, Nizhniy, Baptisms, Tolstoy's Home

Here is our wonderful district just before transfers took place. We are going to miss the three who are leaving. Starting in the back left: Elders Nuckols, Westbroek, Smith and Worthington. Sisters Smith and Doty in front.
This transfer saw Elder Westbroek (on the left) and Elder Smith both leave Nizhniy. Elder Westbroek who has been an outstanding district leader, finished his mission and went home. Elder Smith stayed a week to orient Elder Nuckols before he was transferred to Rayzan.
Sister Smith (on the left) also finished her mission. She will be missed by Sister Doty and all the missionaries as well as the members. Elder Westbroek and Sister Smith took a night train to Moscow.
Elder Anderson (on the left) came in on the train the next night and was Elder Worthington's companion for a week while Elder Smith oriented Elder Nuckols to his new area. Then, Elder Anderson became Elder Nuckols' (on the right) companion.
Sister Chetina (on the right) came in on the plane the next night at 11:30 pm and is Sister Doty's new companion. Sister Chetina is from a town in the Ekaterinburg Russia Mission.
Elder Guynn (on the left) transferred in from Rayzan the following week after a visa renewal trip that Elders Nuckols, Anderson and Guynn all went on to Kiev. Elders Nuckols, Anderson and Guynn all came out together three months ago. Elder Guynn is Elder Worthington's (on the right) new companion. (Hope you could follow all that!)

Scenes from Nizhniy
The first big snow fall of the year. The picture was taken on October 30th looking out our kitchen window.
The next day, after more snow fell, the children in our complex made a snowman. Can you find him?
Public transportation is really big here in Russia. Here is a Marshutka (small bus which is privately owned) at this bus stop with a larger city bus (run by the government) getting ready to pull in to pick up passengers. There are 21-24 seats on a Marshutka and often times there are about 50 people crammed on to it. Marshutkas are our normal mode of transportation most of the time. Notice the advertising posted all over the pole in the foreground. You see it everywhere.
Here is a tramvai, an electric bus on tracks. These were installed a long time ago and are cheaper to ride. This tramvai track is about a half of a short block from our apartment. We take it sometimes to ride down to one of the grocery stores we shop at, if we don't walk that distance for our daily exercise.

Dasha was contacted by Elders Worthington and Nuckols, came to English Club and was given to Sisters Smith (on the right) and Doty (on the left) to teach. Dasha was baptized on the Saturday before Sister Smith went home.
Pasha has appeared on our blog a few times before while he was being taught by Elders Westbroek (on the left) and Smith (on the right). He is the boyfriend of one of our members in the lower branch. He was baptized on Sunday, the day after Dasha was baptized and just two days before Elder Westbroek went home.

Tolstoy's Home
We were assigned to go to Tula by the mission president to interview a new counselor for their branch presidency. It just so happened that Sister Smith served in Tula for some time in the beginning of her mission and also decided to visit there that same weekend with her family who came to pick her up. Pictured above are Sister Smith, her father and mother and her niece, Savannah (who has been like a little sister to her). Sister Smith didn't know that Savannah was coming. It came as a big surprise for her. They are standing beside a pond just inside the Tolstoy estate.
Here we are pictured in front of Tolstoy's home. It's hard to tell this is the front, but the front door is just behind Anne's head. We flew into Moscow and were picked up at the airport by our office couple, the Rasmussen's, and they drove us to Tula. They have an apartment there and spend most weekends in Tula, teaching English Club on Saturday and then they go to church on Sunday. After the visit to the Tolstoy home we grabbed a bite to eat and drove the 2.5 hours back to Moscow to catch our plane back to Nizhniy.