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.