Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Came - Christmas Went!!

Another week has passed by so quickly and it was pretty full of activity.  Okay, maybe not the whole week but at least the last few days with Christmas and all.  We received an email update from the young man I took home a few weeks ago and he is doing so much better.  It was great to hear from him and wonderful to hear he is getting better.  We then spent the week preparing for the weekend and the festivities of Christmas.   We went to lunch on Friday at the James Fennimore Cooper Restaurant with the office staff.  There was the typical Christmas flair to it all with a White Elephant gift exchange, etc.  We also celebrated the birthday of one of the staff so that added to the fun of it all.  The restaurant itself was quite interesting (we have included a couple of pictures), it was a page right out of the old west.  When we walked in I thought I was in Montana for a moment; wood boardwalks in front, hitching rail for the horses, a few saddles and miscellaneous tack out front.  The inside was all done in frontier décor.  There was a teepee set up, bear skin rugs (head on), mounted Elk, Moose, etc. and lots of Indian artifacts everywhere.  We ate Moose shashlik (ka- bobs) and venison steak for lunch.  It was really fun and we thought for a moment we must be back at home, really interesting to have the frontier America setting for lunch.
After lunch we hurried home for our district meeting with the elders and sisters of our district.  This happens every Friday at our apartment.  We found some real live sesame seed hamburger buns (a first) so we fixed hamburgers for them which was a tremendous hit.  After our meeting we all hustled downtown to the opera house where we went to see the Nutcracker performed.  It was amazing.  Words simply cannot describe the splendor of the performance.  It was definitely a different interpretation than we are used to seeing but simply magnificent.
Saturday it was more baking and Christmas preparation.  We also attended a baptism in the afternoon then came home and did a little more baking.  And then it was Christmas.  Our first Christmas without our family!  We hardly had time to miss them tho’ with everything going on during the day.  Our Christmas started with missionaries showing up at the apartment at 7am to use our computers so they could skype and face time with their parents.  They each had 30-40 minutes, we fed them breakfast while they were waiting for their turn and then as the last one finished up we were out the door to church (only a few minutes late).  Then it was off to the Mission Home where all the missionaries in the city gathered for dinner, gift exchange, and socializing.  We stayed until around 8:30 then came home and crashed.  Today – the day after – we are simply resting and catching up on a few things that need some attention.
Christmas in Russia is not the big deal we make of it back home, primarily because the culture is not based in Christianity and a belief in Christ.  The people our age tell us they were taught in school that there was no God. The main holiday here instead is Jan 7th the old Russian New Year and “Father Frost” comes by on the eve before to deliver presents.  So we have a whole week of celebrating to look forward too, which we will tell you all about next time.
We are so thankful for our belief Jesus Christ.  We testify that he lives.  He was born the Son of God of a mortal mother Mary, He walked the earth in the meridian of time, teaching the truths of His gospel, healing and comforting all he met.  He gave his life willingly and took it up again in the miraculous atonement that we each may live again with him.  We cherish this testimony and give special thanks this time of year when we celebrate His birth and life.  We wish each of you a joyous Christmas and pray His choicest blessing to accompany you in this New Year.
All our Love
Randy and Sue

A couple of the staff at the Teepee

Elder Webb with the Office "Chief"
Elder Webb and the Mission President
Right Bank District
After the Ballet

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