May in Moscow!
We have had a wonderful week! This past Saturday there was a baptism in our Russian ward — a young woman who has been investigating for some time -DAd and I were able to be in on two of her discussions — she was baptized, plus one of those rare people — Arturo — who walked up to the missionaries and already knew the church was true and that he wanted to “be a Mormon” — :). Sister Decker, who translated for me the first 5 months of our mission was able to be there and talked, and Masha was baptized by Elder T. Hayden who was also one of our “original” Khahovsky missionaries. Then Elder A. Hayden baptized Arturo. The spirit was strong and it was such a great meeting and a wonderful day. Then we hopped on the train for Yaroslavl! Yaroslavl is a 3 hour train ride from Moscow and is on the banks of the Volga River. It is a small town, about 600,000 people and was one of the original settlements made by Yaroslavl the Wise. It is one of the Golden Ring Cities. There are over 20 cathedrals in this one small town — it is just beautiful!
There is a small branch here, with 2 Sisters and 2 Elders — one of the elders is also the 1st Counselor in the Branch Presidency, and the other is the clerk — it is dunking them in fire with leadership and training etc. :). But they are great! There are people in the branch who travel 2 and 3 hours by bus, one way, to get here every Sunday. One of the women is just the sweetest, most wonderful older woman. We were considering traveling to her home (2 hours away, one way) but it did not work out this time. Dad was able to give her a blessing, along with one of the Elders and she was so grateful. She and all of the saints here are so dedicated and are an inspiration. I am so grateful for their examples.
Lots of great conversations — a Sister who is preparing for her mission call to Temple Square — she is just learning English but does very well — we had a long conversation — another RS Sister who served a mission 10 years ago — is married, just a bundle of joy and good will — great English — and a young woman who teaches art, is a member — another just bundle of joy. These Saints are amazing, as well as the missionaries — -ALL of you missionaries, serving the Saints all over the world. It is so wonderful to see and feel. You truly are the Lord’s hands and feet and He loves you for your service to and love for His children. It’s so clear here where we can just — -see more clearly :) than through the bustle of every day life at home. Another great conversation with Elder Wellecke — he is German, spent a year in Provo in high school on student exchange program, so speaks Excellent English — really can talk with an American accent, altho it was funny today, after we had been talking for a long time, and were walking too — and he was getting excited about something, all of a sudden he was talking English with a German accent :). had not heard that all day and then all of a sudden it popped out — kind of cute — anyway, and now Russian — he went to the Provo MTC and is here serving in Moscow — Elder Hodges from Texas, quiet and steady and so kind. Just wonderful getting to spend some time with all of them.
We were blessed with a great Sabbath :) in their company. it was Easter Sunday here, as well as Fast & Testimony Mtg. The branch had a linger longer small lunch after the meetings in honor of Easter. Then we were able to assist the Elders in teaching a discussion/ lesson about the gospel.
Monday we met the Sisters and Sasha for lunch about 11, then they walked with us around the town, showing us some sights. I have included pictures — just a beautiful area. After awhile both Sasha and the Sisters left and Thom & I just walked for a couple more hours and enjoyed the quiet of a small town and the spring breeze and sunshine. In the evening we joined the Elders — we thought we were buying them pizza, but NO, — they made us HOMEMADE pizza! It was wonderful and they were so excited. After a great meal with them of pizza and ice cream :), we headed back to the church for the branch family home evening event. We played games and had treats (that the sisters had spent the afternoon making! ). Wonderful friendships, strong spirit-so grateful!
Tuesday we were able to join with them once more for District meeting. Inspirational, and uplifting and a little peak into the everyday life of the young missionaries. They are amazing. Then one more teaching opportunity on the power of prayer and the love our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for each of us — oh how They know us each so personally if we are only willing to open our hearts and minds to Them, to knock, to ask, to seek — They are only waiting for each one.
Back to the train and a nice ride home. This was our favorite train ride yet — both to and from Yaroslavl — I think we are figuring this out :).
So so grateful to get to know some more of our powerhouse missionaries in the Moscow Mission and to be inspired by the marvelous Saints in Yaroslavl. Thank you !! These experiences are blessing our lives for eternity.