Do you know how I can tell when Christmas is getting close?? Sister Webb starts breaking out the Nativities and all the accompaniments that go along with them. OK. I admit I love this time of year and all the festiveness that comes with it. I love how it makes us kinder, softer and just simply more pleasant toward one another (most of us anyway) as we remember why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. We don’t have a lot of decorations around here but we have chosen a few pictures to share with you some of the ornamentation we have collected over the past year. We have had a great time getting our apartment ready this past week and when all the Elders and Sisters came over for District Meeting on Friday they loved it so that made it all worth the effort. Besides all the decorating the week has been crazy.
Pres. and Sister Gibbons returned from that extensive trip to visit the members and missionaries in Kazakhstan that we mentioned last week. So we had a big staff meeting on Tuesday to get caught up and regrouped in preparation for the next round of transfers, new arriving missionaries, Kazak visa applications and due to a change of policy from our Area Presidency we have two visa trips this month one each week coming up in two weeks. And our washing machine quit!!
We talked to our faithful Bro. Pyotr about the washer. He in turn called our landlord, who called the repairman. This is the routine when you don’t know enough Russian to carry on a technical conversation with an appliance repair guy – let alone know how to get a hold of one. He responded, an appointment was made and he came over Friday evening to fix the washer. Funny thing here is – Elder and Sister Gundersen came over as well for dinner and a visit on Friday evening. While we ate dinner the repair guy fixed the washer. Both activities took place in our small kitchen. You should have seen the four of us trying to engage the repairman in some sort of a conversation. He was a great guy and we could tell he was interested in our conversation so we made a gallant attempt. Between the four of us we learned a little about his family and that his kids spoke some English. He didn’t. It was great and another reminder of how much we still haven’t learned. He had to come back on Saturday morning with one more part but we are back in business so will have clean clothes to wear.
Saturday afternoon we packed a bag and headed for Berdsk again. We had nine at church on Sunday – two more than last week but the two extras were our young office elders who we talked into coming out to speak in our meeting. They did a great job and it swelled the ranks too. We served borscht and kelbasa for lunch after church. The borscht we brought from our apt in Novosibirsk. Sister Webb and I spent one entire evening making the borscht which was pretty darn good and solicited rave reviews from all partakers. After dinner everyone went home, we cleaned up the apt, packed our bag and then ventured out ON OUR OWN to make our way back to Novosibirsk (a one hour journey). We decided to try the public transportation rather than a simple taxi ride (about $5us or 150 rubles as compared to$50us or 1500 rubles). We let me tell you – this was like an Amazing Race adventure. Although, we knew a little of what we were getting into it still was exhilarating. We first climbed into a Marshootka (a small van that has seats for 15 plus a driver but usually carries around 20+) for the twenty minute ride to the train station. Once there we purchased tickets for the train to Novosibirsk, about a 1 hour ride. Problem – which track to be on to board the train. We asked several people before we finally found one young girl who took the time to listen to our Russian and tell us we were in the right place. We got on the train – no boarding platform – you just hop up about 3 feet to the first step right from the ground in the middle of the train yard and began to enjoy the ride home. We enjoyed it too long as we missed our stop and after several Russians speaking a mile a minute tried to help we decided to get off at the next stop. Good news – we were still within the city limits of Novosibirsk – Bad news we had about a 30 minute walk to get back to our neighborhood. We finally made it!! Thank you all very much for your continued prayers – we are sure it is only because of you that we are surviving. We now look back on that little episode with fondness, well it at least gives us a chuckle.
|Christmas Corner w/window decor sent from our daughters|
|Nativity from Prague|
|Nativity from Kazakhstan|
|The Fisher-Price "family favorite"|
|Door to the "Crazy Americans" apt|
also from our daughters
|overlooking the train|
this is where we got off but also looks like where we got on
|Enjoying the "long walk" home|
stopped for a quick rest in front of a big Russian Orthodox church
Please have a great week, enjoy the Christmas season and know that we love you all. Thank you for all the thoughts and prayers you send our way. We will see you all soon.