Sunday, October 14, 2012

Conference Weekend in Novosibirsk

Every week begins with a shopping trip to the Grocery store.  Elder Gushin, our mission driver and an Area 70 for the church, meets the two Senior Couples living in Novosibirsk and the two young elders serving as office elders at the Mission Office and it is off to Megas one of many different large grocery outlets in our area.  This week, however, Elder and Sister Gundersen and Sister Webb decided not to go so it was just the boys – Elder Gushin, Elder Webb and the Office Elders.  We completed our excursion in about ½ the normal time and we were all marveling at how this was possible when Elder Gushin made the comment – “no Sisters”!!!   No offense intended to any females who may be reading this blog.  It was quickly observed that we also had one less couple and only about ½ of our normal load so we quickly surmised that most probably we had forgotten many things we had been sent to purchase.  Anyway it was all good.  I returned with most of what I had been sent for and later that evening Elder and Sister Gundersen ventured over to our doma and the four of us enjoyed a video for Family Home Evening. 

Tuesday was just a day filled with all the normal office routine and meetings.

Wednesday we rode the bus out to the big Reenok.   This is the giant outdoor market full of thousands and thousands of little shops all selling the same things which we have described for you before.  Elder and Sister Gundersen were looking for winter hats, and the Sisters came along as well, looking for hats and gloves.  It ended up being very cold and windy out there, so we hurried with our shopping.  The Sisters had all worn their new winter boots so they were warm, but Sister Gundersen and I had only our walking shoes and my feet have never been so cold in the whole time we have been here.  We made friends with a little gypsy lady who asked what we were looking to buy and we told her scarves—so she led us all over the place trying to find scarves, and then she would disappear for a while, then reappear and lead us in a different direction.  Finally we told her we were done shopping and headed to the bus so she told us goodbye for the final time.  She was quite funny and we couldn’t understand much of what she said.  On the way home we stopped at the fantastic deli across the street from the office then went to the office and shared our selections for a late lunch.

Thursday Elder Webb played the piano for a funeral at the branch building.  It was a neat experience for us to see a Russian funeral.  The funeral was for a sister in the branch who was one of the very first members in Novosibirsk.  She is the mother-in-law of Brat Pyotr, who works with us in the office.   She was a very dear lady—loved by everyone in the branch for her example and her excellent teaching.  It was very sweet how many of the sisters brought flowers and placed them on the open casket.  They would get up and say something about Sister Lidia, then place the flowers on her.  And it is true what they say about giving an even number of flowers for a funeral—they were all in twos or fours.  Odd numbers of flowers are for weddings and birthdays and happy occasions.  Another thing, we had to be very careful not to smile.  We noticed everyone was very, very somber and it didn’t seem the polite thing to do to smile—even when greeting each other.  After the funeral everyone boarded two buses the family had rented (the open casket was also placed on one of the buses) and they all rode out to the cemetery.  We asked how far away the cemetery was and found out it was way outside of the city.  So we did not go to the cemetery as we needed to be back at the office but watched as everyone loaded the buses and left.  All in all, it was a very sweet experience, especially to see how loved she was by all of the people in the branch.   We ended up staying at the office until about 8pm waiting for a couple of our missionaries coming in from Kazakhstan.  Elder Webb went home for about an hour from 6pm to 7 and taught a lesson with two of the elders to two men (one of whom is a neighbor in our complex) while Sister Webb stayed so someone would be at the office when the Elders arrived.  After the elders arrived at the office, President and Sister Gibbons came into the office, Elder Webb arrived back, and we all decided to go get some dinner since it was about 8 o’clock and no one had eaten.  So we went to the Carl’s Jr that is about a mile away and enjoyed a hamburger-- a favorite place for missionaries to go.  We enjoyed visiting with Pres. and Sister Gibbons as we are planning a senior couple’s conference in a few weeks so it was nice to have some time to go over the details of that with them.  We should mention here that one of those missionaries arriving from KZ was a native Kazak on his way to serve a mission in the New York New York North Mission of the Church.

Friday night 4 young Chinese men came to our apartment for a missionary lesson.  They spoke less Russian than we do so the teaching was all in English.  It was very touching to see the earnestness and sincerity with which they approached the finding of their faith and a belief in God.  They commented several times that they had been raised their whole life being taught that there was no God but they felt in their heart there was something more for them to find – so they began their search which has led them to our missionaries. 

Saturday and Sunday we spent the day watching General Conference.  Yes we know it was last weekend and we did manage to watch a couple of sessions live, Saturday morning session we watched on Saturday evening here from 11pm to 1am.  We just couldn’t do the 3am to 5am slot as we still had a whole day facing us and we followed the same routine for the Sunday morning session.  The other sessions we managed to watch during the week.  However, the conference sessions are recorded and DVD’s are sent to the various units throughout Eastern Russia where satellite is not available so we gathered with the members and the missionaries and spent this weekend watching Conference.  The DVD’s come one set in Russian and one set in English so we set up two rooms in the church and you can choose which language you want.  It was a great weekend and with the announcement of a lower age for missionary service we are expecting an increase of about 40 missionaries within the next 6 months or so.  We have heard that the church is expecting the missionary force to increase to around 90,000 from the current level of 57,000.  The work is definitely being hastened. 

So that is part of our week in a nutshell.  We are not too excited about the upcoming snow, wind and cold, but can endure it knowing that we will be on our way home before it is over!  We hope that all of you are doing well and enjoying the fall weather—minus the smoke!!  Have a wonderful week. 
Progress on the "New" Building - 27 stories
This building was just started the end of May

Harvesting and turning in the gardens

Going to work - down our street
The mission office is just down to the right
and across the street from the building on the right

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all of the fun input on your activities. Find it quite interesting how we are able to teach Chinese people the gospel in wonderful ways so that down the road they can be the foundation for much growth of the church in their own country.

    Blessed rain in Cashmere and the surrounding area has made the air fresh and really helped dampen the fires. Prayers answered again and again.

    Hugs to all.

    Randy and Eileen