Monday, December 13, 2010

More Random Photos

A few weeks back we went out to lunch with the new couple; the Roberts, McArthur's and Hazlewoods. Joe and I had noticed this "Rock and Roll" diner behind the Moscow hotel. It advertised the best hamburgers in the world. Well, we all decided Carl's Jr has better hamburgers, but the venue was quite fun. It reminded us a bit of "Senfield" coffee-type place. Pretty good music too
On our way to Pushkin I took a picture of this mother carrying her baby in this very warm carrier. We still see many parents pushing or pulling their children on sled-type carriers or the big wheel "buggies." But we've seen more of this type of carriers as well.

These two pictures I took this past fall. It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day and I just really love the architect design on the buildings throughout St. Petersburg.

This is one of several type of granite statutes we see in the parks close by our home

Sister Hazlewood and I

This monument is in the main post office and it marks the exact center of St. Petersburg and all measurements are taken from this spot.

Last transfer day Elder Anderson was showing off his new "shopka"
I think it was hilarous!

Pushkin Branch Visit - Sunday Dec. 12

Finally arriving at the bus stop

Now that Joe is the 2nd counselor in the mission presidency we were asked to travel to other branches to give talks as well as Joe checking in with the branch presidents if there are any congregational or building needs the mission needs to be aware.

This was a real fun branch. Although small in number (15 normally attend) they are powerful in their commitment to worship together.

We hadn't traveled to this branch before so we weren't sure how long it would take. We left our apartment at 9 a.m. and was going to catch a trolley car to the metro (saves about 15 minutes of walking), but no trolley car was showing up so we started to walk hoping to get to the next trolley stop before the next one arrived. About 1/2 way to the next stop we turned and saw the trolley coming - we began to run in the deep snow as fast as we could - but we didn't make it in time. So, needless to say, we ended up walking all the way to the metro.
The underground metro ride took about 45 minutes to get to the outer part of Pushkin. When we got out of the underground we weren't to sure which way to walk because the "spiral monument" we were told to walk towards was no where to be seen (it was snowing pretty hard). So we called Elder Haddock who served in Pushkin and he got us in the direction we needed to go. Like I stated, it was snowing pretty good and it was cold. Also, it was snowing against us, so even though we were bundled up as much as possible, the cold snow was blowing in our faces making it hard to see.

We arrived at the bus stop and fortunately it was only about 10 minutes before we flagged down the little mini-bus we needed to catch.

Not knowing where to get off I called Elder Broadhead (who serves at the Pushkin Branch) and handed my cellphone to the driver so Elder Broadhead could tell him in Russian where we needed to get off. The driver let us off, but the elders were no where around (dej'a vu from Sestoretsk a few weeks back!) We called again and the driver had let us off about 3 blocks too early so we began to walk some more and soon met the missionaries who walked us to the branch building.
After peeling off the layers of warm clothing we put on some slippers they had for us and off to the meeting we went (we were about 10 minutes late).

Pushkin branch members with us and Elder Way, standing next to me, who is from Wyoming

Relief Society sisters

After the worship meetings were over (Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School, and Relief Society for the sisters and Priesthood for the brethren) we all had snacks and herbal tea. I had taken some toffee and other members had small cookies. It was all very tasty and the warm tea helped warm us up.

The Relief Society sisters. The 3 younger girls attend the first part of the meeting with a song and prayer and their teacher (plaid shirt) takes them to their own class room for their lesson.

Vladimir and his wife. He sent this photo as well as his two cars

We were about to leave for home and one member, Vladimir, asked if we would like to come home with him for dinner. He is a building contractor and consultant. He is married and has 3 children. His two daughters were at church with him. They are in the 1st and 3rd grades and his son is 3-years-old. He is 39 and she is 28. His wife is not a member so she doesn't come to church. Although, we later found out that she is taking the discussions and has a desire to come now.
After a delicious dinner of beef and potatoes, carrot salad, and a tomato/cucumber salad prepared by his wife, Vladimir gave us a tour of his home. He lives in the newer part of Pushkin - meaning - the older part has all the old palaces and other historical sites, while the newer part is being built up with homes and commercial buildings. He currently has a 5 level home and still finishing up on it. When complete it will be 11,000 square feet! It felt like a maze in the house. He has an indoor swimming pool, a tanning bed, and a sauna. The kids have their own play room which has all kinds of climbing ropes and exercise equipment as well as fun rugs, toys, and play houses. Her mother lives with them so the floor with the play room also has it's own kitchen, bathroom, and a private room for the grandmother. He also has a home office and large den/family room.

He has a two-car garage which had a Mercedes in it along with a Rolls-Royce Phantom. These two cars are parked for the winter. The Mercedes has a TV/Blue Ray player for both back seats, a refrigerator, massage seats, and a special air system that circulates fresh air that is not taking in outside air. He calls this his "cruising car." His "family car" is a Mercedes SUV.

Another garage is just for washing the cars with an apartment being built above it for the worker who will be taking care of the cars.
He, his wife, and children are all very lovely and friendly. It was a real pleasure to get to know them. He speaks pretty good English so it was easy to communicate. His wife or children don't but he is teaching them.

This was our first time having met a family that is well off here in Russia. They in no way projected themselves as upclass or any class different then others.
When we were going to leave, Vladimir asked if he could drive us to the metro. When we were on our way he told us he had a meeting with his partner in St. Petersburg so he drove us all the way home. (It's about an hour drive by car versus the two hour travel time it took by walking and metro). We were very appreciative of his service because as it was we didn't get home until 6:30 p.m. and had we taken the metro it would of easily been 8 p.m.
A long day for us, but very rewarding in so many ways.

This was a rescued bunny Vladimir built a cage for. There were two that kept showing up on his property but he thinks the other one was used for a someone's dinner

Three Amigos dining

We enjoyed another evening out with the senior couples (Hazlewood's and McArthur's) as well as Igor (the mission driver) and his wife December 9.
We love this Mexican Restaurant. We ended up ordering 4 Fiesta Platters which consisted of BBQ ribs, hot wings, fajita fixins', chips, salsa, and beans/tomato salad. All very yummy. After dinner we went outside and had a snowball fight (Sister Hazlewood was the winner!)

Left side: Elder & Sister McArthur, Joe and I
Right side: Sister Hazlewood, Igor and his wife

Igor is taking this picture so he's not in it. Elder Hazlewood is far right.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Winter Pictures

It's funny how Mother Nature can sometimes make you wish you hadn't wished for something. Let me explain. In early November we started getting snow flurries, little more than enough to color things white. Nearly each morning on our way to the office we would comment and chuckle oh gosh it's snowing again wish it would do something different. Wouldn't it be nice to have a change of pace. Well we actually did have a couple of days when the sun would shine enough to let you know it was still up there somewhere. Guess what? Yep the snow flurries went away and Mother Nature decided to give us a change of pace. Thanksgiving Day we got our first real snow fall and the snow has now started to accumulate. Pictures are definitely worth more then a thousand words.

November 25th Thankgiving Day

November 25th

December 7th colder more snow and this little fellow is dressed for the occasion. Taken outside of the Consulate.

December 7th waiting for our trolley for the ride home.

December 9th Picture taken from our balcony. You guessed it more snow.

December 9th Another picture taken from the balcony. Weather forecast for December 10th....3-5 inches of snow. Weather forecast for December 11th....2-3 inches of snow.

Saturday December 11th. Too much snow for the bus to take the normal route to the grocery store so we had to walk the last bit to the store.

December 11th.

Sunday December 12th Waiting at the bus stop for our ride to visit the Puskin Branch. As you can see it is still snowing.

We were invited to a member's home in Puskin after church services. Its had to tell from this picture but there is about a foot of snow. Wonder what waits in store for us between now and December 21st when winter actually starts?

Last three pictures were taken Monday morning, December 13 outside our apartment building.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sestoretsk Visit

Joe and I visited the town of Sestoretsk Sunday to give talks and fellowship with this small branch of the Church. I've included pictures of the inside of the chapel.

Winter pictures near the bus stop we were at. It was a beautiful sunny day, but extremely cold!

The one picture shows some of the typical winter travel arrangements (sleds or intertubes).

The picture with the dog is Elder Haggard (who has also been assigned the branch president). A young lady came to church and brought her dog.

There are 3 branches that don't have priesthood leaders to operate the branches so missionaries have been assigned to not only proseltye but to run the church branches. Keep in mind these missionaries are only 19-20 years old. They are doing a remarkable job in keeping up the finances, visiting the elderly, and assisting with all other matters to the church members.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving November 2010

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner with President Podvodov and his wife Sister Podvodova (sitting at the head of the table), other mission office staff, and the McArthur's (CES couple). Everyone brought a food item. It was a great experience to eat Russian food for Thanksgiving. All the food was very good.
Although Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Russia, the mission president holds this annual dinner for the benefit of the missionaries. Prior to dinner Sister Podvodova shared a popular Russian story of giving thanks and we sang a hymn "Love One Another."

Table being prepared. Joe's chicken/vegetable lasagna in the foreground.

This was a 3 layer cake. Tasted a bit like a spice cake.

This is a cream cheese cake

Turkey covered with cheese, and yes, mayonnaise. Made by Sister Podvodova. Very delicious.

This is a pumpkin pie. Very delicious braided sweet bread filled with shredded cooked pumpkin.

These are a mushroom mix inside little pastries.

Random Photos for November

Walking to Brother Nikiforov and Irinia Degtyaryova's wedding November 25. Just another snowy, cold day in Russia!

This is the exterior of the building of the wedding we attended. This building was also rented by the Church where the first branch held services in the early 90s.

"Chef Joe"
He's becoming well-known throughout the mission for his excellent cooking. He took this photo for the cover of a cook book he is putting together.
Joe's first baptism.
This little girl's name is Serinyeh Sergoyevnah Yenokyahn.
Her mother was baptized a few weeks ago and is from Armenia.
This beautiful scarf was made by a sister as a thank you for a service we provided for her.