Thursday, March 22, 2012

Update from Nizhniy 22 March 2012

A trip to the train station with friends and luggage and we bid good-by to our friends the Gays, who after 18 months of faithful service have gone on the midnight run to Moscow and then home Monday night.We were sad to see them go and know for sure that they have ambivelent feelings about leaving.  They were loved and in turn loved the people here.  They have earned a deserved rest.

We got on the train at midnight the following night for a trip to Moscow for meetings with all of our local missionaries on Tuesday night.  None of us slept very well.  I think that it wasn't the best wish for 2 elders to be in the compartment with me and Grandpa any more than it was for me to be in there with them for the night.  However we made it and were all up by around 6 AM and left the train by 7 AM.  We had a short walk to the metro station and then rode the metro to the Central Chapel by 8AM.  We had glad reunions with some of the missionaries we have served with previously, and bid good-bye to some who will be returning home in a month.  One of the 5 returning sisters is one from our lot.

We rode home on the Sapsan, fast train, and got in around 11:30 PM.  By this time we were short on sleep and had many short nights previously so slept in a bit this morning.  It felt good.  Today Grandpa went to help remodel the apartment with Jenya and I cleaned the apartment and washed the laundry.

We have visited this week with a couple who are adopting 2 little Russian boys with special needs, after a long time of negotiating, fall backs, and redoing paper work. They now  have custody of their little ones and are in Moscow with the final stages of preparing passports for the trip home to Florida.
They both have heart problems and the youngest needs medical attention very soon.

We still have winter here, after a false start to spring for 2 days, which gave us hope, it fell into a winter storm with 2 or three days now of more snow.  Luckily not much snow, and we hope that is the end of it.  The temp is up a bit and even with the storm, some of the ice was beginning to melt off in some degree or other.  There are still ice fisherman on the rivers near here, and the snow is still on the rooftops, alleys, and in the parks and open areas.

We are healthy and happy, doing what we can to help the work along.  We made some candy for passing out to different individuals who have helped us, and have felt blessed to do our part.  The Lord is blessing us and we count it a blessing for us to be here. 

We will start being more involved with the lower branch now that we are the only senior couple here.  The lower branch president speaks pretty good english and we hope to be of assistance in the branch to reactive and strengthen where we can.

The missionaries here have some good people they are working with and we feel confident that the work is going to pick up and we will see some fruit from the labors of all of us.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March 13, 2012 Gorodyets Tour 3/1/2012

Well this blogging is getting to be very time consuming for me.  I did a whole blog with pictures that didn't get posted and made the next one incomplete.  I'll try to relate what was in the one I lost.  (Now that I have this one posted the other post on this tour is posting as well.  So I have 2 posts about this tour,  hope you like the pictures!!)

On March 1, our district of 10 travel to Gorogyets  (Городец).  I am just beginning to pick out the new alphabet.  We have the computer key letters overlaid with stickers that include the English and the Russian letters.  No they are not in the same order and that makes it a slightly bit more complicated for me.  For example the  T is in the N place.  The M is in the V place and the O is in the J place. Instead of an I we have the ш (which says sh).  And on we go.  I personnaly have no problem with the letters but the hardest ones to learn to  read, are the ones that look like the english letter but say something different:  H is for N, C is for S, P is for R, and B is for V. Reading and typing have become a difficulty but not insurmountable.  Any way I digress form my narrative.
 Городец:   A beautiful city on the bank of the now frozen Volga river, up river from NN.  It used to be in a strategic spot and was surrounded by a high wall.  It is a city of about 30,000 and is very quaint and delightful spot.  The houses are traditional 1800's Russian archeticture.  The 5 museums we visited were painted nicely and had been mansions or wealthy merchant dwellings.  As wealthy as they were the dwellings seemed not to be very substantial and not very richly decorated.  This may have been lost over the years though. 

We saw a museum that is particularly dedicated to the showing of artifacts that have been unearthed from the 1300-1400's  in the site where the town now stands.  A lot of war impliments and several items of clothing from the era.  There is a room of stuffed animals native to the area, and a room that shows the cathedral complex that once stood on a hill in the city.  Some farming instruments and also war impliments.  One piece showed the schrapnal taken from the eyes of soldiers (ugh).  There were also several carving displays that had been used in the decoration of houses and windows previously. 

One of the museums was a 2 year old building, made in the original architecture style of Old Russia.  It had many of the same types of displays with the addition of a  type of childrens whistles, and a display of clay pots. 

Another showed more childrens whistles.  Children were believed to have been given these in the day when they believed in evil spirits.  As the children blew the whistles the evil spirits were driven away.  We all got to make one!!  They were made in the form of an animal of any sort.  They were then painted in beautiful colors.

Another was a mansion that displayed art work, clocks, books, clothing, and several irons, balance weights, early working tools of all kinds.

Lastly we saw a beautiful merchant home that displayed tea urns.  The tea urn had two parts.  The water was stored in a outer chamber and inside this chamber was placed a central tube to hold live coals to keep the water warm.  They put the tea leaves in the water and then dispensed the ready tea through a spiget to a cup for chilly patrons who would pay for a warm drink.  It was an old fashioned type of thermos, and worked very well.  They were very popular and over the years they were improved and improvised.  There were several urns there that were non operable because they were only decorative. Some were absolutely gorgeous.

We recenly had a baptism that was really a wonderful experience.  We have had the visit of our mission president and his wife who came to teach, inspire, and see the branches and generally be of support.  They achieved all their goals as far as I am concerned.  They both travel extensively and are rarely at home in Moscow.  He does all the missionary conferences, all missionary interviews, and then all the interviews for the branches, nine in all in 3 countries.  None are very close to the other so it is a major time consumer just to get around to all the missionaries each 6 week period.  He has duties in the office, meetings, and newsletters, and general challenges to help solve.  What a great team they are and are enduring well.

We are currently helping with the missionary effort by visiting and generally helping the young missionaries.  We enjoy it and are happy to be here.

We will be sahying good-bye to the other senior couple serving here.  They are in their 18th month of service.   Since we are all on a 3 month visa and theirs runs out on the 20th they are leaving here the 19th and we will miss them. They both are talented and have given much to the growth of the lower branch.  We will try to take up some of the duties they have been involved in and hope to help keep things going in both branches.  President Woolley will be back 14 April again to conduct some branch business and missionary interviews.

Whimsical wood carving of a hunter and his faithful dog.
We liked these a lot and they show the gifted
talents of the locals.

One of the delightful decorative tea pots on display
in the museums at Gorogyets.

Plaque showing the happy family listening to the
recording of societ propaganda.  See how
engaged they all are and how it
adds to family life!!!

Helmet unearthed in the Gorogyets area.
The owner is unknown but this is the most valuable
piece in the museum.  Helmet has silver and gold
overlays and is believed to belong to a prince.
From the 1300-1400's.  Nose protector is missing.
Close up of the cathederal model that once stood on a hill
overlooking the Volga river and all surrounding
country side in Gorodyets. 

Beautiful lace work shown in a work done to
show the CCCP revolution.  (USSR)

Intricate wrought iron work in an archway of a building.
Gorogyets,  Russia
Detail on the east side an 1800's merchant home which
now houses the tea urn display. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

8 March 2012 (more tour pictures) Alan's Birthday 2-26-57

 My brothers birthday was on 26 Feb.  Hope it was a great day.

Spring Tulips
It has been a time of joy, a time of snow, a time of warmth, and a time of cooling.   The weather here is like anywhere else, unpredictable and as variable as any.  We are happy to see the sun more and even though it is usually cooler when it is out.  The tulips were a gift from Dad to me for Women's Day.

Collection of Tea urns from the 18th century Russia.

New museum in Gorodyets in traditional architecture.

Museum in Gorodyets
 chain armor from the 13th or 14th century.

The sign reads Gorodyets.  You see the frozen River Volga in the background.
There is an open channel about half way across in this location. 
There is a huge motor works on the opposite side of the river.

8 Mar 12 Tour of Gorodyets

We are busy with cooking for the missionaries and some of the people here.  We try to make a place for the missionaries to come to that is inviting with some good food to enjoy before or after teaching.  We enjopy meeting people here.  They are warm and accepting of us and seem to like to call on the two american senior sisters to bake goodies as much as there is occassion to do so.  We enjoy serving and hope that the bit we do bears fruit.
Our recent highlight was a baptism for Oley a very sincere and sweet young woman.  She seems very intregrated into the young peoples lives already.  She has been a joy to get to know and see her grow.We are working with Oleyg, who has good English skills.  He wants to help so we have invited him to help us with some Russian.  He is helping us to pronounce phrases and then we try to memorize them.  He is a joy to work with.  The missionaries are teaching him and we try to back them up.  This is the best part of our mission experience,  seeing people come into the church and working with those interested.

Recently we worked with Vladimer who is our driver's father.  Andre has been waiting 20 years to see any movement in his father toward religion.  It is a pleasure to work with him.  He is our age and it is fun to see him reading and then teaching us what he has read.  He seems to be very excited to the extent that when, we were there he excused himself to go read the Book of Mormon while he was thinking of it.  We have high hopes for him.

We have been helping a sister who has recently had a baby, visiting with the missionaries to some people our age, and generally helping out.  Grandpa went to the father-son activity and had a good time on the national Defenders Day.   Today is national Womens Day and one of the men at English Club gave me a small bouquet of flowers.  What a sweet gesture.  Grandpa gave me some Tulips, they remind me that Spring is coming soon. 

We recently had a tour of 5 museums in Gordyets, a city just about 30 minutes north of NN.  It is a beautiful city of about 30,000.  They are preserving much of the early Russian architecture in the houses.  It is very unique and interesting.  Will include some pictures of our tour. 

We stay healthy and are  happy to be here and enjoy the young missionaries.  We get attached to them and eventually they are transferred.  We are going through that right now.  This week our zone leader  has been asked to be an assistant to the president.  One of the elders that served here when we first arrived will take his place as zone leader here in NN.  We have two sisters leaving, and our sweet Elder from Vladivstock has been transferred to the office.  We will miss them all. Soon we will be saying goodbye to the other senior couple here, who leave on the 18th or 19th of this month.  There is currently no replacement for them that we know of.  We will try to make up for their activities as much as we can.  We can stand to be a little busier.  They are church education missionaries and as such have a special calling to work with the youth of the branches.  They will be missed so much.
Model of Cathedral in Gorodyets
now demolished.  Must have been a
beautiful complex.

Beautiful whimsical carving on display
in Gorodyets

Detail in lace, the actual is about 2" square.

Childrens Museum.  Whistles were given
to children so that as they blew them
it would scare of evil spirits.  They could
be molded from clay into any shape they wanted.

Detail of  museum in Gorodyets.  This is a selection of many
houses in the area.  Beautiful architecture and fine work.