Monday, December 13, 2010

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


  1. The Pushkin members seem lovely. I'm so glad you are seeing other parts of the mission, although I know the weather and travel are often a challenge. Great details. Thanks.

  2. I know I'm very late in reading this, in fact the whole blog, but it brought back so many memories of days just like this one of yours. It makes me feel happy to be home although life is pretty boring compared to such an adventure.