We thought we had posted this but got to checking our blog this am and noticed it wasn't there.
What a great week – it was a little different for us but certainly one of the most enjoyable. Of course we dealt with the bustle of visa trip week as we sent 31 missionaries out on their visa renewal trip. This is always a logistic enigma and generally brings with it a glitch or two – this one was no exception but as usually happens all worked out in the end, everyone is now back safe and sound and the process of getting them back to their assigned cities is over. We are so looking forward to the new 3 year multiple entry visas taking effect which will greatly reduce the expense and administrative juggling of this whole procedure. That will begin by the way with our new 5 missionaries coming in this next week. It will probably take a couple or three more months before we have everyone on the 3 year cycle but at least we can see light at the end of the visa tunnel.
Tuesday was a historic day for the mission. After we finished our normal staff meeting, Pres Gibbons, Brother Peter Nikolaiachev (Bpat Pyotr for short – pronounced Braut Peoter) and Elder Webb traveled about 1 hour south to the town of Berdsk, which we told you about a couple of weeks ago, to meet with the city officials there and register the church in that city. We had a wonderful meeting with the folks at city hall the result of which is that we can now have missionaries working full time in the city. This week we will be searching for two apartments, one for the elders who will transfer there and “open” the city and one for our new Senior couple coming in January who will serve there as well. We will also hold church in their apartment so will be looking for a little bigger one than normal. Being part of opening a new city, visiting with the city officials and getting things started in a totally new area was an exciting experience. We (Elder and Sister Webb) will be traveling there each weekend starting in December to conduct church meetings and visit with the active and less active members there until the Elder and Sister Beck arrive in January and then this will be their assignment. We are really looking forward to having this opportunity as our mission begins to wind down. Hopefully, we will be of some assistance as this small group begins to grow.
Wednesday evening began our Senior Couples Conference. The couples from all over the mission came in to the city for a couple of days. They came from Barnaul and Krasnoyarsk and of course Novosibirsk representing the Siberian portion of our mission and from Astana, KZ from the Kazak part of our mission. We also have a couple from Almaty, KZ who were scheduled to arrive but at the last minute their flight was cancelled and the next available flight was two days later so they joined with us by skype for some of our meetings. We started with an early dinner at the Mission Home and then all went to the ballet where Spartacus was being performed. This was really a different more athletic ballet with mostly male dancers but really very enjoyable. Thursday we spent the morning in training and instruction from Pres. and Sister Gibbons. Also, joining us by skype for the meeting were the McClelland’s from Almnaty and the Beck’s our new couple coming in January on a 6 month mission. They will be serving in Berdsk. After lunch at the Mission Home we paid a short visit to the local Art Museum for a little break and then we re-adjourned for more instruction, questions and answers and finished the day with a nice Georgian dinner. Friday we reconvened at the Mission Home for a testimony meeting and final instruction and encouragement from President and Sister Gibbons. The testimonies were wonderful and very inspiring as you might imagine. Sister Webb and I are the old timers as far as these senior couples go so it was especially uplifting for us to hear thoughts, pre conceived expectations, experiences, and testimony from those who are newer to this whole experience. The blessings that have come into all of our lives through our missionary service were shared as well and they are many and they are remarkable, miraculous actually. One couple serving now is here in Russia for their third mission and have served in Scotland and Cambodia as well. They are both in their mid 70’s and are amazing, a real inspiration to everyone.
We have seen miraculous things happen in our lives and the lives of our family and we attribute it all to our Heavenly Father’s watchful and caring hand in blessing us as we serve. We know He is aware of each of us and that He loves and cares for us deeply. We love Him and are so thankful for all He has and does bless us with each day. So much has happened while we have been here to reaffirm our testimony that He lives and that He knows each of us personally.
|Bro Nikolaiachev, Pres Gibbons and Berdsk Admin Staff|
|Pres Gibbons, Elder Webb in Berdsk|
|Communist Party Rally infront of the Opera House|