Actually, this has been one of the most quiet and nicest weeks since arriving in Siberia. The weather has been the best – it is a balmy 77 degrees as we write this on Sunday evening at 6pm. Blue skies, cool fall nights, some fall colors beginning to show up in the trees, gardens and crops being harvested – it is just like home. Pres. and Sister Gibbons have been gone on a Mission Tour with a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, Randall Bennett who also serves as 1st Counselor in our Area Presidency, and his wife. They all returned to Novosibirsk Thursday evening just in time for our Mission District Council Meeting. This meeting is held twice a month by skype and District Council members (similar to the Stake High Council) and District and Mission Presidency members from across Siberia joined via vidyou for the meeting. It is monumental for the church in Siberia to be able to reach across these vast distances where the people have been so isolated and repressed for so many years. You can see the dark clouds of oppression that have been hanging over this great country for so many years, lifting to let the light of hope and prosperity shine through brighter and brighter each day. This is truly a great and wonderful country.
Friday was our Mission wide dual Zone Conference and all the missionaries came into the city for a day of instruction and training from Elder and Sister Bennett and Pres. and Sister Gibbons. When we first arrived in Siberia there were about 70 missionaries serving here and those numbers dropped to a total of 60. We have now ramped up our numbers to the mid 80’s and by December we will have over 90 missionaries serving here. 22 of those will be sister missionaries. Needless to say it was quite a gathering on Friday to have them all here and meeting together. The instruction was blunt, pointed and no holds barred but delivered with much love. One Elder said it was a “spiritual” slap in the face – a real wake-up call for him. Another said he had never been “chewed-out” and felt so good about it afterwards and another that he had never felt so loved while being “called on the carpet”. Goals were set, commitments made, and many new leaves were turned over. It was a great and very successful Zone Conference.
Saturday and Sunday were filled with District Conference leadership meetings and general sessions, all of which were very uplifting and inspiring. We, ourselves, were motivated to be better in our service and in our relationships with each other and those around us. Throughout the weekend we have been blessed to have the other Senior Couples in the mission here in the city so we have spent much time with them in between the various sessions and meetings of our conference. They have all returned to their respective cities this evening and one couple returns home to the USA so things have quieted down considerably for us. Tonight we are preparing for a quick trip to Helsinki in the morning and will return home Wednesday morning. Have a great week. You are each in our thoughts and prayers every day.