How about that, boys and girls – TWO Christmases!! Yes, Monday, January 7th was Orthodox Christmas in Russia or the Russian Christian Christmas – and it is just as big a deal as December 25th Christmas. Everyone was still off work until Wednesday so we had a fairly quite couple of days. Our meeting Tuesday was just President and Sister Gibbons, the Office Elders, AP’s and us. We reviewed and mapped out the next few weeks and it seemed kind of weird that we will be home and have left all this behind during this next cycle. We have one more transfer (Feb.6th) and then before the next one rolls around we will be gone - very strange.
Wednesday everyone (our 3 Russian employees) came back to work. We did a “welcome back to work lunch” for them and they got a real kick out of it. The big comment was “we will have to take some more days off so we can do this again when we return!” It was fun for us to see them enjoy the gesture so much. All three of them are the absolute best and try so hard to help us with our Russian and to learn some English themselves so we can all communicate better. We are so thankful for Olga who speaks English so very well and can help out so much. Actually, she runs the whole place so we are always glad to see her return whenever she has been away. We are trying to get her to come to visit when we get home.
Thursday turned out to be just another day except for the Ballet we attended with Elder and Sister Gundersen in the evening. It was a beautiful snowy evening as we walked to the Opera House. It is always a treat to be able to attend the super performances there. Then Friday came and brought with it our weekly District Mtg with all the missionaries in our District. After our meeting Sister Webb went with our Sister Missionaries to visit an American girl who is in the hospital here (the hospital is a story for another day) and I went with our District Leaders to visit a young man from Kenya, working for the circus here in Russia, who was in the TB hospital in another part of town. We both had very interesting, yet wonderful, experiences and it was a little different to “split” and not be together. It is always an uplifting experience to go visiting with the missionaries.
Saturday we had an all-day training meeting with all the Branch Presidents, District and Mission Presidency and the District Council. For those reading this that don’t get the “church speak” these are the people who are the leaders in the mission and the various cities throughout Siberia. The Church is firmly established in the 7 major cities across our mission; Omsk, Tomsk, Novosibirsk, Barnaul, Novokuznetsk, Kemerovo, and Krasnoyarsk. All of these cities are big cities of over 500,000 which is still mind boggling for us to realize that are so many big cities in Siberia. But then again Siberia is a pretty big place. After the meetings were over we ordered up a taxi and headed once again to Berdsk for the weekend. It is a very special little group trying to get established in Berdsk. We are still meeting in the apt we have rented there but are working hard to secure a permanent place to meet. After Church was over and everyone went home we, that is to say Sister Webb, fixed a little something for the missionaries before they left and then we packed up and headed back to Novosibirsk and our little apt which has become home to us in Russia.We hope this coming week is the best ever for everyone. We love you all and hope you are enjoying good health in the New Year.
|Leaving the Opera House|
Gundersens in the foreground
|Church Leaders in Siberia|