Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Left to right-Sis.Webb, Sis.Gibbons, Olga, Yulia, Sis.Huffaker, Sis.Gushina, Pres.Gushin


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Russian Party

Last Friday, Yulia, who works in our office and is Russian, had a birthday. She is also getting married this weekend, so we had a little party for her. Russians love parties, and Yulia is pretty special to everyone here. I was planning it, but I had help from Sister Huffaker and Sister Gibbons. So we planned a little lunch, and Sister Huffaker and I had tied a quilt for a wedding gift. We invited Olga at the office and Sister Gushina from the office, and thought it would be just the six of us. We bought salads at the deli, and a small cake, and Sister Gibbons brought rolls left over from Thanksgiving dinner. We got flowers and candy, and then we all helped decorate the Mission Presidents office with balloons, banners, etc. for the party. Then, as it turned out, the husbands, the office elders, and several friends all came too. I was worried about having enough food, but Olga dished up the salads and just gave everyone a bit, and Yulia cut the cake into small servings, so it turned out fine. She was thrilled and it was quite fun! She was leaving that night for Omsk, where her family lives, the groom lives, and where the wedding will take place. Her husband to be is the Branch President in Omsk, and they will have a big party there. Here are a couple of pictures from the happy event!

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Monday, November 28, 2011


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Produkti Hooray!

We are just a little excited because since the time we arrived at our apartment, we have watched as the building across the street developed a little retail space. We hoped it might be a grocery store, or produkti
as they call it here. Then just yesterday a sign went up that read, opening soon, supermarket. This will be so handy, especially this time of the year, if we run out of something we can just pop in there. We are really getting spoiled! The picture was taken a few weeks ago.

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Catching Up

Things were pretty hectic around here the last couple of weeks so here is a little flavor of what’s happening in our world – First of all I had to make a quick trip to Utah to escort a missionary who was sick and unable to travel alone.  Left Novosibirsk on Friday (before Thanksgiving) arrived Las Vegas Friday night.  We flew to Las Vegas as there was a big snow storm forecast for Salt Lake on Friday evening and they didn’t want to take a chance on the plane getting diverted some place strange.  His parents picked him up at the airport and I spent the night there and flew out early Sat am to Salt Lake and spent Saturday and Sunday with Sarah, Jennifer & Steve & family, and Tyler & Harrison, who drove down from Idaho Falls.  We went straight to Wal-Mart and picked up several things I had on “The List”, ate some American Fast Food, some good Mexican and some Salmon over the weekend and then hit the Salt Lake airport early Monday am for the flight back to Novosibirsk arriving here Wednesday morning at 6 am.  What a trip.  It was fun to see the kids for a few minutes and to touch down in the “good ol’ USA” for a moment.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the two young sister missionaries serving in Novosibirsk moved in with Sister Webb for the 4 days/5 nights I was gone.  They had a great time.  The Mission President didn’t want Sister Webb to be alone but I am not really sure who took care of whom.  Well, I think we all know the answer to that.  Those two sisters could hardly say goodbye as they packed to head back to their apartment.  They held on tight to Sister Webb and each took their turn at a little cry.  They really fell in love with her which I know we can all understand.  All of this happening right before Thanksgiving.
We spent Wednesday (day before) cooking pies, making stuffing, and getting things prepared for Thanksgiving Dinner.  We had dinner at the Mission Home with 23 people, President and Sister Gibbons, the Huffakers, whom we have mentioned before, us and 17 young missionaries (4 sisters and 13 elders).  For those of you who know there should be an even number – refer to the above – so we are left with one “threesome”.  The day started out with me sleeping in (recovering from the jet lag) and Sister Webb putting in our two turkeys to cook.  Turkeys are great here.  We got both of them into one (yes one) 9x13 pan.  I think they were about 6 pounds each, maybe.  They biggest we could find anywhere.  Pres. Gibbons called and told us their water was off so we may have to move dinner somewhere else.  A few hours later he called back, the water was back on and so was dinner.  He came to pick us up and everyone began converging on the Mission Home.  Dinner was wonderful, we visited, washed a lot of dishes, and watched a couple of movies (Bing Crosby in “Holiday Inn” and Disney’s Tangled).  A great time was had by all!!!  The missionaries had never before seen “Holiday Inn” so it was fun for them and they laughed all the way through the movie.
We are now back to our “normal routine” for a few days and will get ready for our visa renewal trip to Helsinki, Finland next Friday.  We are looking forward to that and will let you know about our experience there.  We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and took the time to reflect on all we are blessed with in our lives.  We love you and miss you.  May God continue to bless each of you in all you do.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Road Rage in Russia??

We live on a two lane street about as busy traffic wise as Cottage Ave back home.  In fact if you cut down the trees, removed the sidewalks and turned all the houses into high rise apartment houses you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  Walking home one night this past week we came to our little street which seemed a little busier than usual and had to wait for a minute to get across.   Actually, there were so many cars that night they got backed up from a red light about three or four blocks down.  As we stepped out between the stopped cars here came a car driving down the wrong side of the street passing all the stopped cars.  Apparently, this seemed like a good idea and immediately there followed about a dozen others bent on “improving” their place in line.  For a moment you would have thought this was a two lane, one way street.  Then the light changed and it became quite a circus.  People were cutting in trying to get out of the way of the oncoming traffic. It reminded me of when one of you (no name) cut me off when turning around in Toppenish one evening.  Anyway, we entertained ourselves for several minutes watching while all these drivers tried to get back in line.  Everyone got along fine though, very little honking, no shooting, I mean shouting and we commented that back in America someone would have been hurt from road rage in a situation such as this.
One of the young couples in our “Prehoda” (Branch for those of you familiar with church speak aka congregation) whom we have grown quite close to had their first baby this past week.  As mom approaches delivery time it’s off to the hospital which I know sounds quite like a normal procedure.  Here in Russia however, approaching delivery is like a week to ten days before the actual event and mom stays in the hospital all that time.  The baby was delivered Wednesday eve and Dad is hoping to be able to bring them home tomorrow (Monday am).  No complications everything went fine – it is just the Russian (free medical) way.  Yesterday, Sister Webb and Sister Huffaker (the other Senior couple in the city) did a quilt for an upcoming wedding while Elder Huffaker and I went with two of the young missionaries to teach a lesson on Heavenly Father’s Plan for us, answering the age old questions – where did we come from?, – why are we here?, – and where do we go when we leave this life?, to a young Buddhist girl who is studying to come to America and be a doctor.  It was an interesting and very uplifting discussion.  On our return to the Huffaker’s apartment Elder Huffaker suggested we take a “shorter” route.  This involved riding a bus and a short walk (normally we ride the Metro and take a long walk) to their apt.  Well, after a 45 minute wait in the cold for the “1150” bus our trip began.  Had we taken the normal way we would have been back at the apartment before the bus picked us up.  We climbed on the bus which was packed with mostly 4th or 5th grade kids, I presume returning home from a field trip of some kind all, wound up and having a great time.  We of course had to stand.  After picking our way through a traffic jam, stopping several times to pick up and let off (always picking up more than letting off), we finally arrived at our drop.  We clawed our way out of the overstuffed bus and made the short walk back to their apt.  Total time elapsed – 2 hours 10 minutes. - shorter??  You be the judge.  It was really fun though and another “cultural experience.”   
We want to send out a BIG thank you to Terry McCauley who called us this past week.  Thanks Terry and we are so glad you are doing well.  You remain in our prayers.  We miss you all and love to read your comments.  Have a wonderful winter.  We will share what we can of the cold Siberian winter with you.  Love you all.

Sister Webb relaxing on the NEW furniture

Monday, November 7, 2011

Browsing at the Reenick

 We have mentioned the Renick before but this week we have included a couple of pictures.  This is really an amazing place.  They have many such places throughout the city but most of them are much smaller that the “Central Renick” where I managed to sneak a couple of photos.  This really is quite the array of shops.  At times it reminds one a little of Pike Street Market in Seattle and yet parts of it are like Harrods in London (not as upscale tho) and there is still a little touch of Flea Market atmosphere about it all.  You can find anything you might be looking for from soup to nuts, kitchen sink to light bulbs, and even inexpensive furniture to extravagantly expensive fur coats, hats, etc.  They really do have it all.  Our fun thing was trying to buy a pumpkin.  Once we had figured out the Russian word for pumpkin and we could see large pumpkin looking thing to point to, we went to work trying to communicate.  They wanted 660r or about $23.00!!!  for their “pumpkin”.  By the time we got down to $3.00 or 100r we ended up with something that was about the size of a small cantaloupe, shaped like a pumpkin but looked and felt more like a gourd.  We took it home, cooked and cleaned it and made it into pumpkin bread.  On the inside in looked like a pumpkin and with enough cinnamon and nutmeg it even tasted like pumpkin.  Turned out great.  We also bought Sister Webb a shopka (hat) and a scarf and then just walked around taking it all in.  Good thing we bought the hat and scarf as it has now turned cold, low 20’s when the sun is out, and with the wind, which blows mostly all the time, the temp always feels about 10 degrees colder.
5 new Elders arrived last week and in that group there is a concert pianist and a professional violinist.  Pres Gibbons kept them both in the city for their first transfer as I believe he wants them to perform at Christmas time.  Sister Webb is working with the choir (a real experience).  We sang for a mission wide conference on Sunday – I don’t think I have ever heard anyone sing so badly as a couple of the people who sign with the choir. (Come to think of it – maybe I have).  We had others in the choir ask these people not to sing with us (but how do you not include everyone who wants to try to sing in a church choir?).  It is a volunteer thing you know!  Anyway, as a group it didn’t sound too bad so maybe the Christmas time thing will come off okay, especially if we have some professional musicians filling in the gaps.
Once again this week has made us both so thankful to have born in America.  I know most of us complain a lot about the system back home and you are all dealing with the “campaign” season right now which just accentuates the frustration but we really are so blessed.  Here we have visited in homes where the people have absolutely nothing and live in a space smaller than most kitchens I have seen back home.  There are very nice homes as well but they are a rare exception. How thankful we are for the rich blessings in our lives: nice homes, family, friends, clean air & water and so many things we just take for granted.  This experience of being in Russia and working with and serving the everyday people has, I know, changed our outlook and attitudes about life forever.
We love you all.  Thank you for your prayers, thoughts, moral support and phone calls and e-mails.

Beef Anyone?


Typical Vendor
Fruits, Nuts, Pumpkins! (upper left)