While we have been all over the city this past year, it has been a great opportunity to see again for the first time much of what makes Novosibirsk such a great city as we have had Elder and Sister Gundersen in tow on a few excursions. Monday was our first shopping trip out with them. We rode the Metro to the end of the line – Karla Marxa, took a bus and ended up to the Mega Mall with the IKEA store and Ashons Market. I think Elder and Sister Gundersen were as surprised as we had been to see that shopping in Russia is pretty much the same as at home, except of course that the labeling is all in this strange alphabet. Anyway, we did our weekly shopping had a little lunch at the food court (some ate at subway and some had shasleek at KFC), then Elder Gushin came out to pick us up and take us back home. All in all a pretty busy and educational day.
Tuesday after a day spent in the office it was off to the Siberian Choir performance. Some of you might remember our entry in April when we went to see the Siberian Choir and were so impressed. They made their second tour of Novosibirsk this past week and we went again to see them and took Elder and Sister Gundersen along with us. The performance was overwhelmingly impressive once again. I know we enjoyed it as much this time maybe even a little more because we could understand some of what was being sung and said. Before the concert we stopped in a little “Mom & Pop” corner restaurant for a bite which surprisingly turned out to be quite good, perhaps even worth another visit. At the end of the day it turned out to be another great evening in the city.
The US Embassy representatives came to town on Wednesday and held a couple of meetings on Wednesday and Thursday in the “American Corner” of the big downtown library each afternoon. When they first arrived on Wednesday morning, however, they stopped in the office to visit with us and to meet our office staff. Since the church processes so many people through the Embassy each year they wanted to meet some of the people who handle all of those details and see how the system works for us. It was quite interesting to visit with them and discuss some of the issues facing the Church, the US and the many Americans who visit Russia each year and the reciprocal (or not so reciprocal) agreements we have with Russia. One thing we learned is that effective the first of September we can now get 3 year multiple entry visas when coming to Russia and will need to exit the country once every 6 months for a migration renewal trip which can be a quick turn-around instead of the every three months trip requiring the issuance of a new visa. This will be a great blessing to the operation and effectiveness of the missions and the church in general in Russia, not to mention the great help to all Americans visiting and doing business in Russia. This is something the governments have been working on for quite some time. It will also ease some of the requirements for Russians entering the US and equalize fees being charged, from what we understood. The two people who came were very friendly and generally interested and interesting. It was truly a great experience and special opportunity to be able to visit with them on such a personal level.
Thursday evening we had the Sisters over with one of their investigators to teach a lesson. The fellow they taught we have met several times before. He is a widower and the friendliest guy you would ever meet. He come to church regularly and attends English frequently. It was fun to have him in our home again and to visit with him for a while. Friday we introduced the Gundersens to Mexican food with a Russian flair – quite fun. After dinner we walked around the opera house, picked up a schedule for October (a future visit) and walked through the Centralnie Park. All of our District was off on Visa trip Friday so Saturday we had our District meeting (normally held on Fridays) and spent some time in the office as visa travelers came back into the city and re-routed to busses and trains for the return to their respective cities, passing through the office as they did so.
It has been a great week, some new experiences, refreshing and reliving some experiences had before, meeting new and interesting people, and enjoying old friendships. Life is good to us and we feel so blessed to have such a wonderful family and great friends at home. We think of you daily and remember with fondness many wonderful times with each of you. We love you.
|Fountain - in front of the Library next door to our Building|
|Young Single Audlts sing at Sunday Fireside|