Monday – Christmas Eve Day-was spent preparing for the BIG day on Tuesday. We had all the Elders and Sisters in our District over throughout the morning to skype with their parents. Sister Webb of course fed them each breakfast when they arrived at their designated times which to their delight included her home made cinnamon rolls. It was a real treat for us to be able to meet at least some of the families and to be able to say hi and Merry Christmas to some of the moms. These are wonderful missionaries and we love them all so much. All the calls went fairly smoothly throughout the morning from 8am when the Sisters came over until around 1pm when the last ones finished up. Then it was off to the Mission Home for Christmas Dinner.
We had a wonderful time sharing Dinner, some counsel from our Mission President, a couple of musical numbers and a “happy” white elephant gift exchange. We all pitched in to clean up a bit and then we were off to the Opera House to enjoy the “Nutcracker” - on Christmas Day. Missionaries are permitted one cultural activity every other transfer so everyone chose this one – since there were 23 of us we had purchased tickets scattered throughout the opera house. It was a terrific evening.
The rest of the week was pretty much business as usual except that Thursday the lock on the office door froze and broke so we couldn’t get in. The office Elders and Sister Olga climbed through the kitchen window so they at least were able to get in but Sister Webb and I were not for that kind of activity so we waited patiently in our WARM apt for it to get fixed. They came and took the lock out of the door so we finally got in around noon and then by 5pm or so they were back with replacement or refurbished lock sets and everything was back to normal.
Friday evening we spent with Elder and Sister Gundersen just visiting and having a little gift exchange. We went over to their place after our Districts Meetings were over. It is so fun to visit with them, compare notes on our activities since the last time we visited, and just reflect together on our experiences in Siberia. We feel so blessed to have such close and wonderful friends serving with us here to share these experiences.
Saturday it was off to Barnaul, a city south of Novosibirsk about 5 hours by car. We travelled with President and Sister Gibbons and Elder Guschin and Sister Guschina. Barnaul was the only city in the mission which we had not yet had an opportunity to visit so this was really a special trip for us as it gave us a chance to be with the members in this wonderful city. They have just completed a new church building in Barnaul and we went down for the dedication. The Holmes, a senior couple serving their 3rd mission to Siberia and their 5th mission total are in Barnaul so this was a great opportunity to see them as well. It will probably be the last time we will see them before we finish our mission so it was a little sad as we bid them goodbye and headed home to Novosibirsk.
We are not too sure how the next couple of weeks will shape up. We remember from last year that this is the time that Russia pretty much shuts down as they celebrate the Old New Year on January 1 and the New New Year on January 7. Everyone is on holiday from the 1st to the 13th so things should be kind of slow which we will not mind as it will give us a chance to get everything organized before our departure in February. We are so looking forward to seeing you all.
Happy New Year to everyone and may the Lord smile upon you and your families and bless you with a prosperous and joyful 2013. See you soon.
|Santa visited - left something for all the missionaries|
|Ded Moroz (left) Snegarochka (right) and |
New Years Tree in front of our Library
next door to our apt
|Christmas Night at "The Nutcracker"|
|Sister Missionaries at Barnaul with|
Sister Gushina (middle)
|Elders at Barnaul with Mission President (right) and |
Area Seventy to his left