The week got off to a great start with Family Home Evening at our apartment. There were a lot of new faces this week as well as the regulars. One of the men (Deema) who comes brings us a few new sentences, words and phrases to work on for the week. He gets a big kick out of our trying but it helps quite a bit to have a native speaker coaching us once in awhile. We are enjoying having everyone to our apt each week so I know it will be hard to turn them back over to the left bank couple when they arrive. We are so glad it will be the Gundersens. We are really looking forward to their arrival although we can hardly bear the thought of the Huffakers leaving us in just two short weeks.Our Area patriarch has been in the Mission for the past three weeks stopping in each of the branches and giving patriarchal blessings. He was in Novosibirsk this past week and it was such a treat to be able to visit with him for a little while during his visit. He spoke at a fireside for the members and visitors on Wednesday evening which was terrific and then he took an hour out on Thursday afternoon to speak just to the missionaries. We spent the hour discussing The Sermon on the Mount, particularly the Beatitudes and how they build on each other with the first being the easiest to implement into our lives and the last one the hardest. We all had a great time with him and then Sister Webb and I took him and his grandson who is traveling with him, to dinner so we were able to spend a little more time with him. He is a very well educated, informed and most interesting man.
During the week we also welcomed the Noels to the mission. They will be serving in Krasnoyarsk as the CES couple in that city. They are from Salt Lake and after spending a couple of days with them we know they will be loved by the people of Krasnoyarsk. It was fun to spend a little time with them before sending the off across the mission.
And we can't forget Elder Andersen's Birthday which was the same day as District meeting so we all sang Happy Birthday of course. Elder Andersen is one of the Presidents assistants and probably the best non-native Russian speaker in the mission. He is a great missionary and we love having him in our district. We will miss him when he gets transferred in about three weeks. I won't say where he is being transferred because I don't think he has told his mom yet and she occasionally reads this blog. (Sorry Sister Andersen - you will need to hear it from him.)This past weekend will forever be a real highlight in our mission. First, we travelled by Electric train (called the lek trish key for short) for a little over an hour south of the city to the small town of Bertsk. Everyone calls it a village but the population is over only 200,000). We went with three of the sisters serving here in the city, Sister Sanford, Sister Barlow and Sister Dement. Sister Sanford is training the other two who are recent arrivals to the mission and she is doing amazingly well. It was a blast just to travel and get to visit with them for a little while. We were going to visit Tatyana who was set to be baptized the next day (Sunday). We had a great visit and lesson with her and her daughter, had a little Borscht and just as we were leaving she asked if I would baptize her the next day. Well of course I said I would be honored but I don’t mind telling you I was a little nervous. Doing this in Russian is a little tricky – the names alone are hard enough never mind the language for everything else. I spent the evening and Sunday morning reviewing and studying up on the language necessary to perform the baptism ordinance. I wouldn’t say it came off without a hiccup but all things considered it went fairly well. Tatyana is a wonderful person and it was such a blessing to be able to actively participate in her baptism. It was a doubly special baptism as Sophia, we have told you about her before, was also baptized. They are both pretty special people who will remain forever in our hearts. Another amazing week has come to a close, the time continues to fly by and our love for the country and the people of Siberia continues to grow. Everyone have a wonderful week. – Das va donya.