Closing in on the end of 15 months here in and Siberia and we just experienced another first. Monday evening the two elders serving as Assistants to the President invited us over for dinner. Elder Davis and Elder Topham. Elder Davis had cleaned the apartment spotless, while Elder Topham fixed dinner. It was awesome. Fruit salad, Plov w/chicken and Blini for desert. Elder Topham has been with us in our district since we arrived except for one transfer. He was serving as our District Leader and was amazing in that capacity, then, he was transferred out to another city. It was very hard to let him go but we knew he would be back as an Assistant to the President sooner or later. Little did we know that it would only be one transfer. This time when he left it was especially difficult for us because we know we will be gone before he gets back to Novosibirsk. Dinner was the best though and so thoughtful for the two of them to go to all the trouble to entertain two old birds like us. We really had a great time with them although it was brief because they needed to get back to work. We also needed to get back to our apartment as the sisters were bringing over a lady whom they were teaching for a lesson with us. It was a huge afternoon – evening for us and a great way to start our week.
The rest of this week was spent in dealing with transfers which began on Tuesday and mostly finished up by Saturday. The logistics of getting people into the city, changing companions, and then catching connecting flights to Kazakhstan and trains and buses to various points in Siberia is really a wonder - and if one little glitch comes up the whole matrix is afowl. We think it pretty much came together with our last people leaving for Almaty, KZ late Saturday evening. The final phased of this transfer happens next week when we receive 5 new missionaries, coming in a week after the regular transfer as they were waiting for their 3 year multiple entry visas. This is the first group getting the 3 year visas and as close as we can figure, it that means our last “traditional” visa group will go out in March and after that – NO MORE VISA TRIPS!!! It will be great for the couple coming to replace us not to have to deal with that issue. Which by the way – no word on a replacement yet – any volunteers?? This is a great place to serve.
Saturday afternoon we took Elder Anderson out for lunch as he was leaving for Kazakhstan for the next 6 months that night. We will really miss him as well – he served as an Assistant with Elder Topham and we have really come to love him even though he is a Vikings fan (sorry for your loss to the Seahawks!!). We have talked several times about how much each of these Elders and Sisters means to us and how hard it is just when we are getting really close to them to have them transferred. We know that transfers are a good thing but it is really hard on us Senior Couples to keep losing those who we depend on so much. We also lost our dear Sister Barlow who has been with us since starting her mission in Russia last May. She too was transferred to KZ and we will not see her again before we go home.
As you can tell it has been quite a week as we have transferred out several of the missionaries with whom we have served a very long time. Guess that is just the way of it!! We love it here. We love our mission assignment, the missionaries, the members, the people and the country of Russia. It will hard for us as well when we transfer home in just over 90 days. We ended our week with a birthday celebration for Elder Gundersen. It is always fun to have a few minutes to get together with the Senior Couple from Left Bank. Having good friends to serve with is the best!!Next week is Thanksgiving and then it is off to Kyiv, Ukraine for our “last” visa trip the end of November. There are miles to go before we sleep so will keep you all in our hearts and will keep working hard and caring for those you send out to serve. We love you all. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. We hope you will be spending it with your families
|Elder Topham and Elder Davis (front)|
|Sister Webb w/Cherobek (Snowman)|
Met him on our way home from dinner with the A/P's
|Elder Hyde and Elder Anderson (left)|
|Sister Barnes and Sister Barlow (left)|
Concentrating on the Birthday Cake
which by the way was "to die for good"
|We just had to snap this pic|
Two little girls out with their Dad and Mom
checking out the Snowbears in the park