The big day which we have mentioned before finally arrived. Sunday the 18th of March was historic for the Church in Siberia. All of Siberia was organized into one mission district and designated a “Prepatory Stake”. This means that they are looking to be formally organized into a stake within the year. It is definitely a significant event for the members here as they can now look forward to the building of a temple in Siberia. It was quite amazing to see the people gather from several of the cities we have visited, meet each other for the first time and realize that they were part of a much bigger organization. One young girl who belongs to the small branch of about 20 in Novokueznetsk had never been in a meeting with so many members of the church before. The meeting was held at the Double Tree and even tho' there were just over 300 in attendance she was quite overcome. Congregations of around 100 each met in Omck and Krasnoyarsk with internet broadcast from Novosibirsk.
Sister Webb led a missionary choir which sang 2 numbers for the meeting and one of our new and very special friends was called to be the new District President. He is a young man and a new father. His wife spoke as well as he during the meeting and we could feel the power of their leadership. Their new little daughter “Sophia” has captured the hearts of everyone here as well.
Also this past week we received 5 new missionaries; one sister and 5 elders. They will be a great addition to our mission. The new sister is really quite amazing. She is 32 years old, so about ten years older than most of our sisters, has a Masters Degree in civil engineering and has been working as a planner designing bridges and freeways in Utah. It is pretty impressive for her to take this time out of her career to come and serve.
We have had several interesting interactions this week with people we have just “bumped” into or have been introduced to by our missionaries. We took our Zone Leaders to an Italian restaurant this past week. We are always looking for good restaurants because they seem to be few and far between. This is not from a lack of places to eat but rather because the cuisine here is rather bland; from sweets to spices the flavors are pretty mild so it is a treat to find a place that actually has a little zing. Anyway, on our way there we were stopped in the metro by a man who just wanted to talk and find out more about us and our church. Mostly, I think because we were American but we had a great time visiting with him. Then later while we were looking for the restaurant we talked for a while with a young woman who we had stopped to ask directions. Both of these gave us their phone numbers and wanted to talk some more. Always fun. Dinner was great, quite tasty, great atmosphere, piano player and all, and very reasonable as far as dinner out goes.
Also, we had a young doctor come to our home this past week to be taught by the missionaries. It was another great experience for us to be involved in teaching and answering many his questions. Sister Webb also visited with a man on our elevator who lives on the 16th floor. He is Russian, speaks great English and spent 6 years living in Boston. We have commented to each other several times how exciting it is to meet someone who speaks English.
We love serving here in Siberia. We continue to meet so many wonderful people and have made friendships that we know will last a lifetime. Even tho’ we spend a lot of our time working in the office we are having many opportunities to help teach the gospel and when we can watch the change in people and see the light come into their eyes when they realize that our Father in Heaven lives and loves them as he loves each of us; that there is more to life than just the here and now and that Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to return and live with our Father in Heaven again – it is absolutely amazing.
Have a wonderful week – we know that we will. Life is good and surprisingly it is good everywhere. People are people the world over – they love their families, they hope for a brighter day, they care, and they are for the most part very good people – just like each of you. We love and miss you.
|Sister Webb warming up the|
Always a heart stopper
|Getting ready for the |
|Sunset on another wonderful week|