Shawsh-lik on P-day!! We bought a little charcoal box, the Russian version of a Hibachi, and some skewers, wood chips, etc. and had a Russian BBQ on Monday this week. We fed all the missionaries in the city for their P-Day activity as well as some church members and some non-members. It was a blast. Chicken, Pork, and Beef Kebabs and all the trimmings were featured. It turned out to be a huge success judging from the comments made and all the people who attended. Anyway, we had fun preparing for and putting it on for everyone. Just like home except we sure missed the big gas grill. Then it was off to the Metro and the Left Bank, and a 20 minute walk to Huffaker’s for the weekly Family Home Evening. It was a great evening and well attended by the young people. We even had a non- member father and his twin 18 yr. old sons who came to listen. We all had a wonderful time.
That was Monday. Tuesday was our weekly office staff meeting with Pres. and Sister Gibbons. Much planning and organizing was on the docket as we get ready to bring the entire country of Kazakhstan into our mission. We received our first three missionaries from Moscow, slated for KZ over the weekend. They are just great and as expected will be a great addition to our missionaries. After our staff meeting and taking care of the normal business necessary for the day we headed out to a craft fair. It was pretty interesting but not a lot different than what we can see every day at any of the neighborhood reenocks. We think it was meant to be that we should go however, because after roaming around the booths for a while we noticed a KFC across the street and decided to get a quick bite. While we were sitting there eating a man came by and said – “I heard you speaking English. Are you from America? The sound of English being spoken without a Russian Accent is like music to my ears. I just had to stop and say hello.” We had quite a discussion with him, met his Russian wife who teaches English and enjoyed a pleasant time filling a needed void in his life apparently. He and his wife are in Novo taking care of her aging mother and have been here for 4 years. Prior to that time they had been living in Colorado for 11 years. Anyway, he is now coming to church and meeting with our missionaries. So even tho’ we were feeling guilty for leaving the office for a couple of hours it was all good. We made it back to the office, finished up a few items there and finally made it home. That evening had our last Russian lesson with our tutor from the MTC. It was a bittersweet parting. We stayed up late baking cookies (see below), doing laundry and getting ready for our trip on Thursday. Along, came Wednesday – exciting news – Brian and Barb Gunderson, great friends from Wenatchee, have received an assignment to serve a mission in Russia, Novosibirsk no less. They will be arriving in September. We are anxious to welcome them to SIBERIA!! The rest of the day was spent playing catch up at the office. Then we headed out for English. We are doing the advanced group again this session but this time we had some help from the Sisters. In fact they did the whole thing, very nice. They did a fantastic job too. We had a fairly large group with some amazing English speakers and some really interesting people. It was fun getting to meet and know them all. After English we shared Sister Webb’s Chocolate Chip cookies (5 doz) baked the night before (see above) with everyone who came. They were a big hit as you might well expect. We saved back 4 doz to pack for our trip the next morning.
Thursday morning it was off to Almaty, Kazakhstan. What a treat it has been to be here. The grass is green, the streets well paved, sidewalks are smooth, air is fresh and the MOUNTAINS are green. We drove up to a ski lodge in the mountains, rode a gondola up another mountain to a spot where the country of Kazakhstan was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel, and spent the weekend with some wonderful Kazak people. We held a fireside about Family History Saturday evening followed by a Founder's meeting which is necessary to register the church for preaching in Kazakhstan. Today (Sunday) we attended church and heard some sweet testimonies from the faithful members of Almaty. Elder Webb bore his testimony - (in Russian) and time ran out before Sister Webb had a chance to do the same. After church the Senior Couple serving here hosted us all for dinner and an afternoon of visiting and sharing experiences of church service. This is their second mission; they served a couple of years ago in the Moscow West mission. The 4 young missionaries serving here joined us for dinner as well. It was a wonderful Sunday.
In the morning we leave for Astana, the capital of KZ for a couple more days and then back to Novo on Wednesday. Almaty is a beautiful city and the mountains reminded us a lot of our own mountains back home. Being from the APPLE CAPITAL of the WORLD it was interesting for us to learn that Almaty means “grandfather apple” and they say that all apples can be genetically traced back to Almaty! Who knew! Enjoy the pictures and be thankful for the blessings of life we are all privileged to enjoy. Life is good. Our love to all.
P.S. We are posting this entry from Almaty but are unable to see it as all blogs are blocked inside KZ. We are told that if you download Opera you can read blogs but they are working on making sure that gets blocked as well. Anyway, please excuse any flubs you come across as we were unable to edit.
|Sister Webb w/Grandfather Apple|
|Joining us for the afternoon -|
|Looking over Almaty from the|
|"Trash Art" in the park|
a short walk from our hotel
|Going crazy in the "American Isle" at the grocery store|
|This just looked too much like our mountains|
This is roughly 8000' tho & the bare hillsides
are from snow and avalanche damage - not logging
|Most of the missionary force in front of the|
Branch Building in Almaty