Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Karen's Letter Nov. 28, 2012

Hello everyone, 
    Thank you for your continual support and interest.  We can't believe that December is just around the corner.  I have to say that the time has gone rather slow for me,( Mom), but November just flew by.  I guess I am getting used to living here now and have some sort of a routine.  I have had some homesickness, but, it goes away thank heavens for that.  We love hearing about what is going on in the good old USA.  We pray for you and want you to know that we love you very much. 

    I have learned that a pot of soup can be the best medicine.  Most weeks, I have made a pot of soup, or two.   But, for some unknown reason I have felt impressed to make it in the largest pot I have.  While I am making it I am thinking, what am I going to do with all of this soup.   The very next day I find out why.  A call  from the missionaries asking us if they can use our apartment for teaching.  Of course we say yes.   One morning a call to ask if it  would be alright if the YSA could make Halloween party decorations in our apartment.  Sure, no problem, and another pot of soup.  It doesn't take much time to eat a bowl of soup and it sure warms my heart to know that I am feeding them something nutritious.

     One day at a bus stop about ten, ten year olds got on the bus and sat right in front facing us, and to the side of us.  They were beautiful kids.  They all had knit hats on.  They began to laugh and tease each other by taking each others hats off.  They were busy talking and laughing when one of them spied our name tags.  One young man whispered to his friend and so they quieted right down.  Dad smiled at him and offered him a "mento".  He declined.  Soon, they began to laugh and tease each other again.  We were getting close to our stop so dad said to them in Russian, " How was your day?"  The boy looked surprised, smiled, and in very good English answered, "very good".
As we got up to wait for our stop, dad gave him the rest of his mentos.  He smiled and said in english. "thank you very much".
All of a sudden they were yelling  trying to get the candy, so dad gave the other group on the other side of the bus another package.  Then they began to yell, then all of a sudden an old man at the front of the bus turned around and yelled at the children.  They became instantly quiet.  I felt so bad for them, they were  having so much fun.  

     We were walking with Masha our YSA leader and she began to tell us that she thought we should have a service project to clean out the library.  I got so excited because the library is a room with about seven portable closets in it.  The closets are just helter skelter with stuff falling out of them. I have been wondering why it is such a mess and was happy that Dennis, one of our Institute teachers was going to get these young adults working on it.  So dad and I ask her when this was going to happen, and she said that she didn't know.  After we arrived home we were checking our  emails and ran crossed a notice on face book from Masha.  We found out that the service project was the next day.  That same night dad found out that the young men were going to go on a hike to Stolby. (Dad is the young mens president)  Dad looked at me and asked, "do you ever get the feeling that we don't have a clue what is going on over here?"  If it wasn't for facebook, we would be out of the loop.

      Last Sunday  our branch began getting a choir together for Christmas.  I thought that I could probably help sing in it if I practiced the words at home.  I walked in and saw them standing around the piano.  Someone told me where the altos were standing so I went over by Masha (another YSA).  The pianist turned around and said something to me and then began to play the alto part.  I began to sing, but I was the only one.  I looked up and saw everyone watching me.  I stopped, she stopped, She turned around and began to talk again then  played the alto part again.on the piano.  Olga, our visa lady told me to sing louder.  I again began to sing (all alone).  After I finished I leaned over to Masha and ask, "why am I the only one singing?"  She told me that I was the solo.  
     Dad decided that he needed to get serious about getting a haircut.  He got on google translate and found out how to say "haircut" and got ready to go.  I told him that he probably needed to learn a few more words like "same" same as I have now.  When the missionaries first come from  America they have a an actual hair style, but after a few cuts in Russia, they all end up the same, with a buzz.  I could just see him coming home with a buzz.  He didn't seem too worried when he left.  I  was prepared for the worst, but when he came back he actually had the best haircut he has ever had. He said that after they got through laughing at the way he said haircut, everything went very smoothly.  The cost, $30.00 American dollars, the most he has ever paid.  He said that they are meticulous. They spent one hour on his hair

     Each month at testimony meeting it is inspiring to hear of the different conversion stories.  We get one or two each time.  This time one of the branch presidency bore his testimony.  His name is President Kotob.  He said that he thought of himself as an atheist. He had just come back from the army, it was tough.  He walked in and saw his mother kneeling in prayer.  As she got up, he ask her what she had been doing.  She said, "son, God is real and you had better find out".  He said, not long after that, he met the missionaries. 

     Dad gave you the pictures of the train ride to Novosibirsk.  This time the going was rough.  The beds were as hard as rocks.  I tossed and turned all night, but must have finally fallen asleep because I had a dream that Dad was on his bike and I was running along side of him because I had a skirt on.  All of a sudden my hip was killing me.  I thought what in the world have I done to my hip.  Then I woke up and wow, my hip really was killing me.  I rolled over again but never could get confortable.  The ride back was much better.  We found out that we are going again on December 12 for a mission conference.
The Conference...
     The seniors mission conference was wonderful.  So nice to get together with other couples and share stories and ideas and recipes.  President Gibbons gave us  great ideas to ponder.  He said that some day we are all going to report to an eternal customs officer.  What are we going to be able to take with us?  D&C 137:1-2, D&C 130:2, D&C121:4, D&C 130:18.  Then in my journal on this very page "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life...Psalms 27:4
     He compared the Book of Mormon to a mansion.  We are all still in the basement looking around, there is still so many more rooms, gardens, and places to search. 

     There is a YSA man who has been in the church for about twelve years.   He always comes to FHE and eats his heart out.  He has a job, but must make very little.  One day his name came up and we wondered why he doesn't pass the sacrament.  Dad ask him about it, he thought about it and said, yes I would like to pass the sacrament, but I do not have the right clothes.   So we had him come early to FHE.  Dad had some white shirts ready for him and a couple of ties. Sure enough, on Sunday he was all dressed up ready to pass the sacrament.  I told him what a great job he did, he told me that his heart was beating fast and he was nervous, but he thought that he had done a good job. He said that he didn't want to make a mistake, he wanted to do it right.
      He said that he loves to walk in the snow, he walks for miles at a time, and always has a smile to greet you.    Last week he thanked me and said, "I am excited to find what you will fix next time."  He speaks english very well.  He is an example of the "humble and meek"  who will inherit the kingdom of God. 
     One day Masha (2) we have two Masha's in our YSA group told me that she would like to learn how to make an apple pie.  She said that when she thinks about America she thinks about apple pie.  I told her that we would get together and make pies.  Finally the day came.  I had tried cooking several different kinds of apples to see which ones would work.  We went through the whole process and she went home with a pie.  As we cooked she wrote down all of the directions and amounts.  At the end I ask her if Russia has measuring cups and spoons.  She said, "I don't know".  I said  then  how do you measure the ingredients.  "Oh, we use a glass, or a half of a glass, or a half of a half of a glass".  I began to laugh, I said how big is the glass, she put her fingers up and said about this big.  

     Thank you Patricia Ewing for the books.  Patricia is one of my COB friends, (church office babes).  When I left on my mission she gave me some money.  I have saved it, knowing that at some point it will come in handy.  One morning when I woke up the thought came to me, we need to buy some books for the nursery.  They have no books for the children.  We arranged to meet the nursery leader and took a Saturday to go shopping.  She took us to about three book stores.  She found some really good deals on children's books.  We bought about ten wonderful books, and still have money left over.  The past two weeks have been heavenly because when the children get tired and restless at the end of cla

     The weather has certainly changed for the worst.  We get snow about every other day, and then inbetween, temperatures of about 7 to 10 degrees F below zero. We have been walking like old people, careful of each step because, like we were told, the snow freezes and then thaws and then freezes so there are layers of ice.  We also have the added problem of the run off.  The roofs drain the water down long pipes which empty onto the sidewalks.  The water runs and then freezes.  It is like a skating rink.
We haven't fallen, but have seen people fall.  We don't know when we will strap on our spikes, but, again, as we were warned it will get to 30 or 40 below, so maybe that will be the time.  The amazing thing is that women are still wearing beautiful boots with spiked heals.  They fly on and off of the bus without a glitch.  There are also old people walking around with canes and bags.  They look like they can hardly get around on dry ground.  One cane dad noticed had a spike on the bottom of it.  Maybe that is what we will get next.

     Not yet, we had one right after we arrived, but not since.  There was a young lady who was ready for baptism.  She is a beautiful young adult, full of life and very good student. The day before her baptism one of our little missionary sisters got the dreaded phone call.  She (the missionary) began to cry, we were worried.  The young gal cancelled. She told the sister that her parents were against it.  She loves her parents and they had just bought her a car and are paying for her college.  They told her that if she joined the church that would all change. She still wants to be baptized, but will have to wait until she is on her own.  What a heart break, what a backward step for that young girl.  All of the blessings will be put on hold.  
     There are several others that are close, we are praying for them. The missionaries  are working hard to bring souls unto Christ.  These missionaries have plenty to do, and they don't stop, they are like the energizer bunny.  We love them and are so proud of them.  They are truly the Lord's servants. 
     We want to wish each of you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS.  We know that some of you have had hard things come into your lives this year.  You have all been such great examples of hope, faith, and hard work.  We pray that the Lords spirit will fill your homes and lift your spirits and you go forward in faith.  We know more than ever the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We know that without it we would be in a dark place.  The light of Christ leads us to his eternal message, may we all have that light with us each and every day is our prayer.  All our Love Elder and Sister Noel 

Some of our family home evening group

One of our terrific Institute teachers, Dennis Baranov

Some of our Institute class

 Some of our young single adults learning to "Index"

Our other terrific Institute teacher Konstantin Tolomeev. (The two teachers team teach the same class.)

Karen teaching Mashsa Shishmareva how to bake an apple pie.

The final delicious result
One of the nursery leaders reading to a child from one of the books that Karen was able to get for the branch.

This is a children's theater near our apartment.  The guys with the horses wait outside for the performance to end and then give the children rides on the ponies, for a small fee, of course.

This is a video of the theater.  It is called "театр кукл"  pronounced Teeater Kookyl.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Krasnoyarsk city buses

     Yesterday Karen and I taught the "Preach My Gospel" class at the branch.  Had about 10 present including 4 missionaries.  Elder Topham interpreted.  It went ok.  But getting there is what is noteworthy.  It was typical. . . but noteworthy.  There is no Metro (subway) in Krasnoyarsk.  They could use one since the traffic is heavy most of the day.  So our transportation is all by city bus or taxi. Since taxis are more expensive we almost always take the bus. The buses are fairly old. Each one has a driver and a conductor.  The conductor collects the fares. Right now the fare is 16 roubles or about 50 cents each.  We ride the bus about 2-4 times per day.  The buses are about 25 feet long and have one or two seats running most of the length of the bus (except where you get on and off and that area is open.)  There is an isle down the middle where people stand that is about two to three feet wide.  Barely room for two people to stand side by side (and the conductor has to squeeze by these people to go back and forth collecting the fares).  There are bars and handgrips for people to hang on to, which is good because there are a lot of fast starts and stops.  You have to be aware or you will go flying. . . .except last night, as you will see.
     If you take the bus before rush hour then sometimes you can get a seat.  We get a seat about half the time.  But if it is at rush hour, which is from about 4:00 p.m. to well into the evening at about 8:30 or 9:00 p.m.,  then forget it.  There have been many times (in fact most times) we have come home from the branch building after 9:00 and have not been able to get a seat because the bus is full.  Most of our work is at night and we spend most evenings visiting or at the branch building. If things go well and there is little traffic then we can get to the branch in about 30 to 35 minutes.  If things go as they usually do then it is anywhere from 45 minutes to almost 1 1/2 hours (like last night.)
        Yesterday was as bad as it has ever been.  It was full rush hour.  When we first got on the bus it was packed with hardly any standing room.  They never limit the number that can get on so if more get on then you just have to squeeze in tighter.  And believe me riders are not shy about squeezing and forcing their way in.  Last night I was pushed so hard against one of the posts that I could hardly breathe and then 5 more people got on and no one got off.  Some young man had his arm around Karen just so he could find a place to hang on.  Of course it became so tight at this point that you didn't need to hang on because no one could have ever fallen down.  Then the conductor had to squeeze by to collect fares.  It was actually quite hysterical.  I counted 55 people standing in the isle holding on to something (or someone) or other.  (Now think of this same scene with everyone wearing their heavy winter coats, scarves and fur hoods and hats.) And then for some reason they started pouring the heat into the bus.  It was like an oven on wheels.  It took us almost 1 1/2 hours to get to the branch.  And then we had to fight thru the crush of people to get off.  We have missed our stop before because we couldn't get through the crowd to the door in time.
     So last night we got back on the bus at about 9:00 pm and, of course it was full.  However the conductor spotted a seat and motioned Karen over to take it. (The people here are very nice)  The traffic at this time was heavy.  When we finally got to within about two to three blocks of our bus stop (ostanovka) the bus stopped completely.  After about 5 minutes going nowhere we decided to get off and walk.  Usually they don't let you get off between bus stops but we pushed the button and the driver kindly let us off.  We walked to our street, with busses lined up all the way, went into a little grocery store, did some  shopping and when we came out our bus still had not reached that store.  We  finally got home at about 10:00 p.m.
        Just riding the bus is an adventure for us.  We have met all kinds of people on the bus.  But we will save that for a later day.  These photos were taken at the bus stop about 1 block from our apartment.
        We love it here in Russia.  Everyday is a new adventure.  And on top of that we get to serve the Lord with these beautiful members in the Krasnoyarsk branch.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Senior Couples Conference

November 11, 2012

      We just got back yesterday morning from a conference with all the senior couples in our mission.  It was at the mission home in Novosibirsk.   With the ride back yesterday that makes our 6th 12 hour train ride. (three round trips)  We have done it now in the summer, fall and winter.  We got back safe and sound about 8:30 a.m. yesterday  morning.  Those train stations are surreal to me.  They are right out of a scene from Dr. Zhivago.  The fir hats and coats, the bags, the crush of people.  It is truly an adventure.There are some photos below.  The temps are in the 0 to 15 F. range. 
     Our mission president had tickets for us to see the ballet "Spartacus."   He and his wife went with us.  The Novosibirsk ballet/symphony theater is magnificent.  It was built during the time of Stalin's regime.  Even though I am not a good judge of what is good ballet (except I know that my daughter and grandaughters are good dancers) we looked at it as a possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity to see an authentic Russian Ballet.
        The ballet was great.  I didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I did. I probably know as little about ballet as anyone,  but these dancers looked first class to me.  I've never seen anything like it.  And the live orchestra was also wonderful.  But is was a little too long for me, and I tried hard but I couldn't quite accept Spartacus in a sword fight in tights.  
         It was a great conference.  It was good to talk with the other senior couples and feel their spirit.  They are great people.   The older couple you see sitting with us in the theater have been on five missions together.  Three of them (including this one) in Siberia.  They requested Siberia two more times after their first time.  They also served in Scotland and Cambodia.  They are to say the least, hardy (not to mention dedicated). 
         The picture of the red flags shows a rally by the Communist Party right outside the Theater.  We had no idea they were going to be there.  They had loud speakers and there appeared to be a lot of yelling.  It was hard-core communist party.  I was a little reluctant to take a picture but decided to chance it and then hurry into the theater.  The speaker was really getting the crowd whipped up.  Lots of security standing around.  It was amazing.
      We miss you and love you.  We love to get your emails .
Elder and Sister Noel
PS.  The short video at the end of the blog is all I could get of the ballet.  But it gives you a little idea of the sound of the orchestra.

Winter scenes from the train.

A Communist Party rally outside the theater.

Inside the Theater in Novosibirsk

The Noel's and the Holmes

Intermission during the ballet.

Our conference inside the mission home.

Another adventure on the Trans-Siberian Railroad.

More inside the theater.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Karen's Fourth Letter: October 30, 2012

      Hello, everyone, thank you for your emails and comments.  It is so nice to hear from you, and no. you are not bothering us.  We love to know what is going on in your lives.  
     This month has flown by, but not without some great lessons, and revelations.  The biggest one came one night at family home evening when a new investigator arrived.  He is a young man, eighteen years old, who works three jobs.  He was found by one of our sets of elders. 
      While playing UNO (here they say (OONA) I watched him interact with the other YSA and the "vision of family home evening" just came into my head.  I realized at that moment, the whole purpose of family home evening here is for these young adult investigators to get to know people their own age.  We play games, eat, and visit together.  So on Sunday when he comes to church for the first time, he will already have friends, people he knows who will shake his hand and call him by name We also hope that they will feel the spirit, and want to come back. 

     HUGS AND KISSES;  When we first put the little cardboard stove and sink in the nursery, (by the way our daughter Marianne showed me this idea before we even left for our mission)  I thought that the kids (five boys) were going to rip it apart.  I made the mistake of not glue gunning the sink down tightly.   One little boy loved taking out the sink and throwing the play food inside the box.  He just continued doing until I held it down.  I let go when he walked off, but the next thing I saw was him taking out the sink, tipping the box over and crawling into the sink hole. I got a hold of his legs  before he could get all the way in and pulled him out.  I thought, wow, this is incredible.  I have never before seen kids act like this.  But, during the week, I got the sink glued in, and re-taped other places. Dad  was able to make a second table for the nursey.  It has made a big difference, now they have room to sit without touching one another. The wildest of them all gave me a hug and a kiss during nursey.  That's kids for you. Every week we see improvement, and that is all you can ask for. 
     We also took pictures of the children folding their arms and being reverent next to a picture of Christ.  We use their pictures to remind them to be reverent.   These kids are a little confused because the chapel is also a rec-hall.  During the week it is for fun and games, and on Sunday it for sacrament meeting.  I know that they can learn the difference, but it is a bit confusing. We also hung up pictures of children sharing, hugging, and giving each other gifts.   We noticed that they love looking at the pictures. 
     Language struggles.
    About two weeks ago Masha, our YSA leader ask us if we would give the spiritual thought at a YSA fireside. (she speaks very broken English).   I ask her how much time she wanted us to take and told her that we would.  When I told Dad about it, he replied, "I don't think there is a spiritual thought before the speaker at firesides."  He checked with Masha, while having a Russian speaking missionary present, and come to find out, WE were the speakers.
       Sister Peebles from Ogden, (many of our Ogden friends know her)  needed a new bed when she first arrived in Russia, so Dad and I ordered one from an IKEA center, had it delivered and then went over and put it together.  She is such a cute girl and we all love having her here.

     A couple in our branch Konstantin and Julia, were married on Sept 27th.  We realized that we could walk to the wedding ceremony if we knew where it was.  We got up early and scouted it out.  We actually found the building and then knew how long it would take us to walk back for the wedding.  
     We arrived in plenty of time and soon recognized many people from our branch.  All of the young parents brought their children with them.  We have noticed that the children go everywhere with their parents.  I don't think that they ever get a date alone with their spouses.  
     All of the guests were waiting outside in a hall way while a lady held a pillow with a cup on top of it.  The bride and groom were waiting for her to open the double doors.  She said something, and then the doors opened.  Everyone walked in and sat down.  Constanteen and Julia stepped up onto a stage about a foot higher than where we were seated.  There was a lady at a desk with a mike on her blouse.  She began to talk and then she walked closer to the bride and groom.  She married them and then they exchanged rings.  Here the ring is placed on the right hand.  After the ring exchange, they were taken back to the desk to sign the marriage certificate.  Here, you must be married by the state first before you have any church marriage.
      After signing the papers, the music began and they danced for us.  A live, string quartet and a piano player (comes with the wedding chapel) played the music. It was very beautiful.  
After the dance, the bride and groom came down and walked around and hugged, and shook hands.  As they left the building we all threw rose petals at them.  They walked across the street for pictures.  There was a park, with benches and it was a nice sunny day for pictures. They took tons of pictures, everyone loves their picture taken, they pose and make big deal out of it, it is fun to watch them.

     There were hand made decorations, which the YSA'S had helped make. They made folded birds out of paper.  These birds are the ones who are supposed to bring your babies to you, like in American it is the stork.  So I guess they are hoping that they will have many babies. There was games, music, a guest book plus a sit down dinner.  The dinner consisted of boiled potatoes, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, cheeses, crackers with liver paste on them and fruit plates.  There was of course a wedding cake, and some other cakes.  They are big on layered cakes here.  Very thin layers and many of them. 
     Then there was pickled  vegetables, carrots, cauliflower, and pearl onions.  There were plates and plates of sliced meats. Every kind you could think of.   There were apples, plums, and several varieties of tangerines.    There was a ton of bread because sandwiches here are very popular.  They put a little mayo on and then pile it high with other things.  Most of the people eat open-faced sandwiches.  The cheese here is very good.  There is no added oil, you just get the good old cheese, it is delicious.  
     Another popular food here is stuffed rolls.  The rolls look like normal rolls, different shapes, but just normal rolls.  Then when you bite into them there is a filling.  Some have cooked carrots or corn, mashed potatoes, cooked hamburger, ham.
     The wedding cake was absolutely beautiful.  It was made to look like a dozen roses wrapped in a white paper.  The roses were all purple with silver glitter on them.  The white cake was wrapped around the roses and decorated to look like lace.
When it was time to cut the cake, they both put their hand on the knife and cut it together.  They cut the cake for the guests, but not for themselves.  We got to eat a piece, it was very good, not, too sugary.  It also had a filling in it, but I couldn't tell what it was.  
     There were games and activities for everyone to participate in.  It was almost like a wedding shower that we have for the bride in America, but the groom was playing right along with the bride here.  I will just tell you about one game that I played. Five woman stand on one side of the hall, and 5 stand opposite on the other side.  There is a ribbon strung back and forth down the line so that it is zig zagged back and forth.  Each person holds on to the ribbon.  The bride and groom begin to walk down the hall to break through the first ribbon, as they break the ribbon they stop and take turns telling us what a good husband or good wife must do.  I have no idea what they said, but everyone was laughing, and having fun as they broke through all of the ribbons.
     There was a skit with one of the YSA young men dressed up like a big Russian hunter.  He had on this huge fur hat with a rain coat.  He began to tell Julia (the bride) how much he missed her, and how much he is still in love with her.  He ask her why she had run off with another guy.  I guess it was pretty funny because everyone was really laughing.  There were other games, and then the bride and groom left.  
     Frank and I began to help clean off table and put them away.  We decided that we would do the heavy work, and then go home.  I saw the grooms mom begin to put food in baggies.  Her daughter (from out of town) began to vacuum.  Her grandson (about 8) began to sweep.   Dad  and I decided that we had better start washing the dishes.  Dad washed and I dried.  As we talked we began to realized that these people have to catch buses in order to get home.  Then we realized, SO DO WE!!  We realized that we could call a taxi.  So we stayed and cleaned and come to find out the mother and daughter and grand-kids had to take a taxi also.  We got home about 10:30pm, so that wasn't so bad.  It was a good chance to serve, we felt good about it.

     Isn't it amazing that even Krasnoyarsk has a China Town.  We walked to it to find a paper store, paper here is like gold.  You hunt for it, and pay a lot for it.  As we were walking I glanced over to my right to see an old lady probably in her 80's climbing down some stairs backwards.  She was on all fours, working her way down to the bottom.  I couldn't believe my eyes, so I left dad standing there and went over to her.  By then she was down on the level ground, but I could see that she was hanging on to a cane in her right hand.  I pulled on her to help her stand up straight.  She looked up at me and said, "thank you"  Spaceeba, Spaceeba, Spaceeba.  She showed me her little plastic bag with a couple of jars of medicine in it.  Evidently she had gone to get her medicine at the building, but couldn't get down the stairs.  She had such a sad face, with her little cloudy eyes looking at me.  I thought how in the world are you to get home again. We watched her shuffle off on her way.  We passed the building and for some reason I looked back.  I could see that the company had built a cement ramp for people to walk down, BUT they did not build a railing for them to hold on to.  

     President Gibbons, our mission president has challenged all of the missionaries to read the Book of Mormon in the same amount of time that it took Joseph Smith to translate it, 85 days, so that would be by Christmas.  Dad and I decided that it would be good for us, and also for the YSA's to do the same.   We are all reading and it is amazing because even the investigators, and newly baptized are doing it.  Our YSA leader, Mausha,  who has only been a member four months told me that she couldn't understand why people read the book of Mormon over and over.  She said that now she understands because this time she is finding new things to learn.  Isn't that so cool.  That is what happens to all of us, but it is because we are all in different stages of life and circumstances every time we read it.  She is way ahead of everyone else and it having a good experience.  
     President Gibbons also told the missionaries a true story that he heard from a man while visiting Kazakstan (in our misson).  He said that years ago a  man was searching for the truth, he had been bothered by his own religion, and wanted to know the truth.  He was out side one day watering his trees.  He felt impressed to look up.  He saw two young men walking down the street.  One of them was carrying a book of Mormon over his heart.  The man was drawn to the book, and felt like he had to look at it.  He went toward the missionaries and ask them about the book.  They of course told him and to make a long story short.  He read it, got baptized, and is now a leader in the Kazakstan branch.  
    President Gibbons has asked all of the missionaries to carry books of Mormon with them at all times.  Because of this new idea, there have been some really good experiences for these missionares.  One day Elder Probst was on the bus when a lady actually took the book out of his hands and began to look through it.  She asked him questions about it, and then he gave it to her.  Another day Sister Montgomery and her companion were standing waiting for a bus.  This bus came up and stopped and the driver opened the drivers door.  That never happens,because they only open their door if they are exiting.  The bus wasn't the one she wanted so she just stood there with her arms wrapped around the book.  He yelled out of the bus, "What is the name of that book you are holding?"  She said, "It is the book of Mormon, do you want it?"  He ask, "how much is it?"  she told him that it was free.  He replied that he did want it.  She gave it to him and he drove away. 
     Buses, here are on a tight schedule.  There are check points here where men stand with notebooks and pencils checking their watches to make sure the buses are on schedule.   When buses pull up to to a stop,and  another bus is there, they immediately begin to honk their horn so that the bus will get out of their way. For him to even stop for one second is unheard of.
     We may never know where these books of Mormon end up, but the challenge for these missionaries is to place a book each day and to not go home at night with the book.  They must give it to someone.  So far they are going through Books of Mormon like crazy. 
       Everyone is doing well with their reading. they like the book and are asking questions.  On Monday Dad always tells a story out of the Book of Mormon and the YSA's and investigators take turns reading it.  This Monday a young investigator named Alex was here for the first time.  He wanted to take a turn reading, so dad called on him.  He read the part about the brother of Jared asking God about light in his ships and about how the ships were build to weather the storms.  Dad told him how God sometimes God does not take away our problems, but he prepares us so we can handle our problems.  After dad was finished he asked if there were any comments. Alex said, "I know this is true because I have had problems, but now I am here and it is good."
     On October 12th we were in the train station  waiting for Elder and Sister Gunderson who were coming from Novosibirsk for a CES conference here in Kransnoyarsk.  While in the train station we saw two policemen come inside. One of them had a German Shepherd on a leash.  He began to walk around the waiting room letting the dog sniff luggage.  He went row by row up and down until he came to a lady with a little girl about three years old.  She began to cry violently as the dog looked her in the eye, but the police officer did not call the dog away, he just let him sniff at her and frighten her until the dog was content to walk on.  It made me so sad to see her so frightened.  
     As we exited the station and were going down the 100 stairs or so we saw a sight that has been haunting me.  There was a small man with only one full leg trying to get down the snow covered stairs.  His other leg was cut off above his knee.
Even though it was cold that day we  could see his leg because it was only partially covered with his pant leg. He was leaning on homemade crutches with cloth wrapped over the ends of the sticks.  We were horrified, thinking at any moment he would slip and kill him self on the rock steps.  Dad and Elder Gunderson put down the suitcases and went over to help him, but he did not want help.  We just said a prayer in our hearts and watched him make it all the way down on his own.
     We went with Sergi and Julia to Russian Orthodox Church that has just been built.  They wanted us to see their church, they have been in ours many times.  She brought a scarf for me to wear over my head which is tradition.  As we walked in there was a whole entry full of things to buy.  Books, pictures, and tons of candles.  We didn't buy anything, but Julia bought candles.  Dad ended up going back to buy two candles because it is a donation and you light them and then place them in a holder to burn.  There was an area where you put candles for people who have passed away.  
     The inside of this chapel  was beautiful, a lot of gold leaf, and pictures all over the biggest wall.  There were so many pictures that I couldn't tell you what they were of.  Mainly different poses of Christ in pain, and at birth, and all different circumstances.   There were no benches, or chairs, just a big room.  I asked Julia why you can't sit down.  She said,  "It is tradition that you stand while the speaker talks to you".  Then she told me that you can kneel if you have sins that you need forgiven.  

     On Saturday night the missionaries threw a Halloween party.  They don't really celebrate Halloween over here, but there are a few people who like it.  Our YSA leader is one of those people.  She is also an artist so she made some pretty nice drawings and the sisters painted and colored them.  On Friday night after Institute we were helping to hang up the pictures when the custodian saw what we are doing.  He did not want those pictures in our building.  He thought that they were evil and he was very upset.  One of the members of our branch presidency speaks very good english.  He asked me how I felt about making them take down the decorations and I told him that it is his building, not ours, and that we would do whatever he wanted us to do.  He told us that we could keep the cute ones, and just take down the others.  So that is what we did.  It was a little us-settling at first because we were afraid Mausha the artist would get her feelings hurt, but she was ok.  The party turned out fine and everyone had a great time.  
    Mixing two cultures with holidays is tricky because we have no idea how they feel about our holidays.  Now we know that Halloween is evil in Russia.  Mausha is now excited about Thanksgiving, which is totally American.  She is so cute, she loves parties. 
    Our visa trip was interesting and fun we have pictures of it on our blog.  We are busy, busy, but that is what we prayed for, so it is "ALL GOOD" which is a saying in our mission.  We are so blessed to be here experiencing the Lord's tender mercies on his children.   We hope that all of you feel our love and prayers.  Elder and Sister Noel

Konstantin and Julia,  The Bride and Groom

The "Ribbon" tradition.

The Wedding Cake

Olga, our visa lady.  She makes sure we are all here legally.

The Mother's of the Bride and Groom:  They meet them at the door to the chapel with this large loaf of bread.  They give them advice, congratulate them and then the bride and groom eat some of the bread.

Some of the evening's entertainment.

The Russian Orthodox church that we went to visit with Sergey and Julia.

Some of our Young Single Adults helped with decorations for the wedding.

Notice the guy in the Russian hat.  He is the hunter in the skit that Karen talked about.

Here's a few shots of the Halloween party that our Young Single Adults and Missionaries put on for some of the younger members of the branch.