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.
A POT OF SOUP
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 MORE BUS STORY
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.
MORE LANGUAGE LAUGHS
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.
MORE TRAIN RIDES...
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 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.
THE MEEK AND HUMBLE...
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.
WHAT'S MORE AMERICAN THAN...
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.
HURRAH FOR BOOKS...
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
HOW LOW CAN IT GO?..
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.|