Sunday, April 28, 2013

"Palm" Sunday in Russia. Another interesting tradition.

        Today is Palm Sunday in Russia.  Next week then, of course, is Easter.  The Russian Orthodox church uses the Julian calendar to calculate its "moveable feasts" of which Easter is one.  Most of the rest of the world (including the USA) uses the Gregorian calendar.   By using the Julian calendar Easter is May 5th this year in Russia.  (Russia uses the same calendar we do for every other purpose)  The complex formula used to come up with May 5th is beyond my limited ability to comprehend so I will not even attempt an explanation.  Just trust me, today is Palm Sunday, the week before Easter and  the day that commemorates Jesus's triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  Jesus's worshippers met him with palm branches along the way.  And in many places in the world palm branches are part of the celebration.  Here's where the interesting Russian tradition comes in.
        Of course you can't find real palm branches in Russia.  In fact the only thing in bloom this early in Russia is Pussy Willows.  So in Russian the willows substitute for the palm branches.  And for the week before Palm (Willow)  Sunday you can buy these pussy willows on just about every street corner.  And then on "Palm" Sunday the vendors come out in droves and they sell these willows by the thousands. the people take them to church and then home for decoration.   Below are a few pictures we took today of some of the vendors and buyers.  Many of them set up near a church as you can see from the pictures.  Other items of religious significance are also sold.  We couldn't resist buying a small Russian Orthodox easter egg.  (As you can also see its still a little cool here in Siberia on April 28th)  We hope you are all enjoying the spring weather.  We sure are.  No snow and ice.

A Russian Orthodox easter egg

Some typical Russian Easter cards.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Finally! The First Day Of Spring!

      Today was the first day we haven't had to suit up with the fur hoods, heavy gloves and scarves and winter shoes or boots.   Up until today I don't remember a day since the first of October that you couldn't see your breath in the air.  But today was beautiful.  I think it will reach 50 degrees F.  So Karen and I walked to the little mall about 1 mile from here to do some shopping.  We stopped to take a picture of this beautiful Russian Orthodox church.  It is right next to our apartment building.  We walk past it every day.  We didn't realize how huge it was until we walked down one side of it instead of in front of it.  It is much larger than most of the Orthodox church's around here.

        This past week Karen and I were invited to dinner at the home of  a family in our branch.  Bro. Alexander Vettsel is in the District Presidency.  His wife Elena is in the primary.  We had a great dinner of chicken and vegetables in Tortillas and pita bread.

Alexander ("Sasha" is the common nickname here for Alexander) his wife Elena and their two sons Adrian and Daniel.

       Some of our young single adult  women asked Karen to show them how to make cheesecake.  It seems like she is cooking most of the time.  She cooks for the young single adults (we usually have about 8 in attendance) every Monday for Family Home Evening.  She cooks for 8 missionaries every Friday and in between we invite members of the branch to our apartment for dinner occasionally.  And of course she cooks for us.  It is truly a blessing to us and to the people here in Krasnoyarsk that she is such a hard and willing worker and is always smiling.  I've heard people ask her "are you always smiling?"  And they love her dearly.  These are photos of the Cheesecake activity.

      We have asked the missionaries to help us track down some of the inactive young single adults.  We have been working on a list for a couple of months.  We then had the missionaries for dinner on a sunday evening, divided up the list and they began calling--140 names, to try and get an appointment with Karen and I or to invite them to Institute or family home evening or to just come to our apartment for a light dinner and to get acquainted.  We didn't have good phone numbers for most of them but we have had two dinners at our apartment with two young men who have committed to start coming back to church.

    The photo below is of one of those young men, Kirill Dachenko, and the two missionaries who called him and came with him to translate, Elder Duncan and Elder Berg.

         Karen continues to work in the nursery in our branch.  We thought we would show you a little video of the nursery.  You will see that the russian language is so easy to learn that even these little kids can do it.  This is a movie of the nursery leader (one of our Young Single Adults) reading to the kids.  The photo is of Eva getting ready to go outside to go home from church.  The work continues to go forward.  It is slow and the missionaries are working very hard.  We love our work and the people here in Krasnoyarsk.