It is nearly the end of July; we’ve been in Russia for 11 months; we have 7 more to go but who is counting. The time seems to be flying by – the Huffaker’s whom we have become very close to will be leaving for their home in Colorado in just over 2 more weeks. We will certainly miss them. In preparing for their departure the weekly Family Home Evening has been moved to our apt and will be here until the Gundersen’s arrive in September. Our first FHE was this past Monday and there is where the fun began.
After spending the day in the office we slipped out a little early to go home and prepare for the meeting. We needed to fix something for everyone to eat as most come straight from work and don’t have a chance to eat. We had a small problem in the kitchen but everyone seemed to enjoy the soup, bread and desert so “all’s well that ends well”. Tuesday it was back to office stuff and our weekly meeting with President and Sister Gibbons. We had 4 new missionaries (2 Sisters and 2 Elders) that came into our mission from the Moscow West Mission as part of that consolidation so we went over everything with them that we would do for new missionaries. Wednesday evening Elder Webb attended Mission Presidency Meeting where we video conference with the two counselors who are overnight train rides away, one in Omsk to the West and the other in Krasnoyarsk to the East. Isn’t technology wonderful. Sister Webb went to English Club where she had to conduct the last part of the meeting. Going to English is so fun – different people seem to come each week, some are very regular but there are always new faces. We get to work with those who speak a little better English than most, so meeting them and learning about their lives, goals, and aspirations is really an amazing part of our whole experience here.
Thursday evening we had the two Elders serving as Assistants to the President over as they taught a lesson to a young man, Alexsey. He is living here with his mom and going to the University studying to be a steam power engineer. He will be baptized on the 29th along with Sophia who has had several lessons here in our apt as well. We are very excited for them – it has been a wonderful experience for both of us to be able to participate in their teaching. Friday the Sister Missionaries brought Jenia over for a lesson also. She is about 40 something and recently lost her son to a sudden and mysterious illness that took him in about 2 months. She is really struggling with the pain and emotion of that loss and after the lesson she wanted to hear our thoughts on why such things happen and how we deal with them and if we do actually have a Heavenly Father how can He help; will He help? She is in a very tender place and the physical pain of this recent loss has been very difficult for her to handle. I think we were able to help as we discussed God’s Plan of Happiness, the eternal nature of our earthly relationships, and the blessings of eternal families.
Saturday morning we up bright and early and headed out to our local renok. All the local farmers were in (a giant farmer’s market) so we loaded up with fresh fruit, produce, and eggs, bought some weed barrier to act as a sunscreen for our kitchen window and headed home. After dropping everything off, we headed out to the nearest mall where we finally broke down and bought an air conditioner. It has been super hot and humid here, and since we don’t have air conditioning it is about as miserable inside as it is out. It is just a little portable one but it has cooled our apt down to a tolerable 79 degrees. It has been nearly 90 inside our apt so this has been a welcomed relief for the past couple of days. We are going to enjoy this for the rest of the summer.
Then in the afternoon we hooked up with Alexsey (from Thursday eve) and the Huffakers and we all went to the Dolphin Show. It wasn’t a big show – only two dolphins and a small tank but it was really fun. We sat in the 2nd row so as to have a really good view, about 5 feet from the tank but when they came by and handed the people in the front row a big piece of plastic to keep the water off we knew we were in trouble. After the show we walked to the Huffaker’s, soaking wet, for a visit before heading home. Today was Sunday and it was great to have a quite Sabbath to rest and rejuvenate for the week ahead.
We are having a marvelous time in Sibera and one thing has been manifest over and over. People are the same no matter where you are. They love and care for their families, for the most part they care about others, they work hard, play hard, and want to be good. I think if we as human beings could just get out of our own way and all be a little more trusting and caring what a wonderful world we could have. Everyone have a marvelous week.
|On the Beach|
|One of our new Office Elders and|
his version of PB&J