Another Halloween and no trick-or-treaters!! Halloween is becoming a little more popular as an event here but the door to door tradition is not observed at all. Some of the people here say that they do a little of that sort of thing on New Year’s Eve but only to selected friends. It is not the mass affair that we see in the USA. We celebrated the evening at our English Conversation Group with some really great people and learned from them as we discussed and taught them a little English.
The really big news of the week, however, is that the Church was granted a license to register in the cities of Almaty and Astana in Kazakhstan. This is a big deal as there are only 17 churches outside the Islamic faiths that have been granted licenses at this time. We are really excited about what this means for our young missionaries and the members of the church in general living in these cities. We reflected on our visit to these cities last summer and the people we met there. We are very happy for them. Also, this past week the Young Guard, a pro Kremlin youth organization staged demonstrations against the church and the missionary efforts in Russia. There was not much ado here in Novosibirsk but in Moscow they had several demonstrators and held up large facsimiles of an airline ticket for the missionaries reading “Moscow to Washington”. They were calling us a totalitarian organization collecting information for the FBI and the CIA. All the missionaries in our mission stayed inside for the day including us. It was really kind of nice – we spent the day cleaning, reading, and just catching up. Then it was business as usual on Friday.
We have dealt with a few emergency issues this week and some last minute changes in transfer assignments one of which resulted in a new office elder coming into the office. We were just getting the new ones whipped into shape and now must start over again. Elder Bailey is from Burley, ID and a really nice, energetic and enthusiastic young man. We are looking forward to working with him for a while. He came with his companion, Elder Hyde (previously in our district – we have missed him), who had accompanied him to the city to our district meeting on Friday. We had tacos and tamale pie which was a super big hit. There were 10 missionaries and they put away a few tacos!!! That evening we went to the Ballet “Swan Lake” with President and Sister Gibbons and Elder and Sister Gundersen. We also took Sister Olga and Sister Luba from the office with us. It was an amazing performance enjoyed by all. Saturday we spent the day at the office catching up there and then Saturday evening we took Elder Hoggan, our office elder who is leaving us, out for a going away dinner. The Gundersens joined us as well since Elder Hoggan is in their district and we had a very enjoyable time.
Sunday, at church we were listening to the announcements when we heard one of the elders behind us translating in English for someone. Of course our curiosity got the better of us so after the meeting we went to the back and met a wonderful couple from Utah who were in Novosibirsk to adopt a Downs Syndrome 4 year old girl. They had just arrived on the 5:30am flight this morning. We visited with them and invited them over for dinner this evening. It was fun to visit with them and to hear their story. They have 4 children of their own and one other adopted child with Downs so this will be six children for them, the oldest being 16. They are amazing people.
Every day in Siberia brings with it a myriad of different events and experiences. The temperature is dropping fast, the wind is out of the north, it is snowing tonight and we are getting our winter gear dusted off for the coming Siberian Zima (winter) – wish us luck. For those of you who care – Russia does not do daylight savings time so it is now 1 hour more on the time difference (15hrs for PST). We love you all and wish for you a very happy and interesting election week.
Our new Office Elder (bottom left)
|A BIG hello from us to you|
At Swan Lake
|Morning in Siberia|
the Full Moon setting