Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sun and blue skies

We have been treated to some sunny weather and blue skies over the past few days. It certainly has been a welcome change from gray skies almost consistently since October. Yes, it is still cold, but mostly we find the air invigorating and refreshing, and as long we are dressed warm, being outside is a pleasant experience, especially since there hasn't been any new snowfall and the sidewalks remain clear. SUCH A BLESSING. Days are getting longer and my husband says he can feel spring in the air. Well, we will see. March is still ahead of us yet, so we will see. Hope he's right. I am SO ready for spring!!


Diana is the Russian visa clerk who works in the Moscow Mission office. She is also a member of the Zelonograd Ward so I see her most Sundays with her 5 year old son, Slava. He is a cute little guy. Very active and curious and non-stop energy. He has the sweetest smile. Over the months, I have greeted Slava at church and shook his hand and greeted him with a "preevee et, Slava." Things have stepped up a notch. He ran up to me last week and said "baboola!" and then ran off. Today the same thing happened several times. This time I wrapped him in a quick hug before he took off.
I asked Ksenia what baboola means. She said it means grandmother or old lady. WELL I am a grandma and I like being called grandma, but the old lady???  Not so much. Babushka also means a grandmother or old lady. We have several wonderful babushkas in our ward. I am NOT a babushka, but I will happily be a baboola. And there IS a difference between the two, in my own mind at least.
I don't get a chance to wrap my own grandchildren; Abby, Kyler, Kevin and Sophia in a hug right now, so for the time being I will enjoy receiving hugs, smiles from Slava, who also blew me a kiss as we left the church for home.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Never in a million years would I have ever expected to celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary in a famous restaurant in Moscow Russia. We celebrated, along with John and Carolyn Naegle, another senior couple who share the same anniversary date. They have become good friends here in Russia. We wanted to do something extra special for our anniversary and the Cafe Pushkin came highly recommended.
                                           Here we are on the metro on our way to dinner

Cafe Pushkin is near Pushkin Square in Moscow and is ranked #2 of over 5000 restaurants in Moscow. It boasts Russian cuisine. It is a restored 1800's Moscow residence. You walk in and you are whisked away to a different era.

There is someone waiting to greet you upon walking into the building. We were sent downstairs to the coat room where a man dressed up took our coats and handed us our token to to get our coat back. It was not a ticket, but a very nice engraved token.

There are two main areas. We were in the antique pharmacy which has a long bar reminiscent of a pharmacy of the 1800's. Very beautiful and lush and ornate. This whole floor is non-smoking. The waiters are dress in old servan frock and coat. they are very attentive.

The service was impeccable. The silverware shiny and glasses and tablewear spotless and very beautiful.

There is also the Library which has ancient globes and thousands of books. It is very lovely, (but they allow smoking there so we chose to dine in the Pharmacy.)  There is also a roof top terrace which is wonderful in the summer months.

The menu was unlike any I have ever seen (of course, then again, I am not exactly a world-renowned traveler either).

Some of the items on the menu were:

wild boar with apple ravioli, pumpkin mash, mushrooms and cedar nuts

eel stewed in ceamy sauce
\fish sausages

steamed pke head stuffed with fish and apples

Russian degustation

borsch - beetroot soup with smoked goose fillet and sour cream.   (hmmmmmm)

or how about roasted marrow bones with chili sauce and gherkins (Russians love their pickles)

The dessert menu include

pistachio cake

honey cake (which is traditional Russian and very delicious)

Or how about prunes stuffed with whipped curds glazed with forest berries, jelly and chocolate?

This is only a small sampling of what is on the menus.

Our waiter stood next to our table ready to take care of our every desire. We were glad that the menus came in English |(and a couple of other languages as well)

We had heard that the water closet was beautiful so after dinner that was our next stop . the water closet. WOW. BEAUTIFUL. The sinks were stenciled in a blue china pattern and imagine our surprise when the toilets as well had the same beautiful dark blue stenciling in and outside the toilet to include the bowl itself. WOW.

When we went to get our coats, he not only handed us our coat, but he helped us put them on as well. Not THAT's service.

We had a lovely time and made some wonderful memories.

|Until next time, Dos vidonya.


It's fun and interesting seeing the different reactions to people when they look at your name tag. Sometimes they are very discreet and look away when you make eye contact with them. Sometimes they will smile. It is easy to see that they were just curious and once they read the tag, they go back to what they were doing.
Last week on the bus, a man was standing with a couple of women and he was trying to read Dave's missionary tag, but couldn't quite see it. So he moved up close to him, looked at it and went back and reported what he saw.
A couple of days ago, on the metro Elder Naegle was sitting with his eyes closed and his nam ag was partially obstructed by his collar. There was a  young man in his early twenties who tried to read it. Elder Naegle opened his eyes and noticed him looking at the tag and he smiled at him. This encourged this young man to walk over to  Elder Naegle and lifted up his collar to get a better look at the tag. At this point, Elder Naegle stood up and tried to converse with him. He was interested in learning more and Elder Naegle wrote down the website of the church website for him. ( A seat became free next to Elder Sutton so he sat down next to him and immediately using his ipod started looking up the website. A phone number was given to him so he could call the missionaries if he wanted to.
I have noticed many times the friendly interchanges between the missionaries and people they meet on the metro. Many of these meetings are with the younger people.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The day in a life of a missionary

How many times have I mentioned that life is different in Russia? Missions are different too. There are many kinds of missions as has already been discussed, but I would like to share what a typical day for one of our young missionaries is like.

6:30 am - A missionary's day starts. They have until around 8 to shower, breakfast, etc,

8 - 9 am - personal scripture study of the scriptures or Church materials, such as reading the Liahona, Ensign.

9 - 10 am  - the missionary companionship study the scriptures together, plan their day, practice lessons, maybe do some role playing to help them be more effective, etc.

10 - 11 am - language study. Studying the language is so important. Missionaries are expected to teach in the person's language. This means that even if a Russian can speak good English, he is still taught in his native tongue.

As you probably know, Russian is a tough language to learn and practice, practice, practice is |SO important, even though our missionaries have had 2 -2 3 months of intensive language training at the MTC before coming to Russia.

11 - 12 - lunch time and clean up.

The rest of the day they are expected to be out being missionaries! This includes street contacting. Our missionaries here in Russia DO NOT go door to door. They meet people on the street, or in the metro.

It is important for them to be creative in finding people to teach. They are invited into homes or invite an interested person to come to church whee they can be taught or ask questions, etc. These meetings with individuals last for generally about an hour.

Another way our missionaries interact is through service. As Elder Simmons mentioned, we have a lot of babushkas in the wards and branches.  (older women) The missionaries assist in moving furniture, remodeling their apartments or helping them tend their gardens in the summer at their daschas.

Almost EVERYONE has a dashcha that they retreat to in the summer to get away from the hustle and bustle of a large city. |this dasha can be anywhere from a shed to a fancy home on the lake. Many of them are very humble, but provides the people with a chance to get some fresh air and have a garden and grow their own vegetables.

The missionaries are expected to be in their apartment by around 9:30. Their day isn't over yet, though. There are phone calls to make to check on the other missionaries in their district to make sure everyone is ok, and to make some plans for the next day. At some point during that 9 hours, they sometimes get something to eat!

One day a week is Preparation day, a day to do laundry, grocery shop, play sports and relax, see some cultural sites. It is a day to rest from their vigorous missionary routine. Sunday, of course, is Church and they meet with investigators then and visit members in their homes as well.

I have seen some of our wonderful missionaries at work. For instance, on the metro, it is not uncommon for them to strike up a conversation with a passenger. Sometimes it results in a referral, sometimes, just a friendly visit, sometimes it doesn't go well.

Our missionaries here in Russia are up against it sometimes. The language of course is hard. It is a tough language to understand! ESPECIALLY when they speak fast.

As mentioned before the seniors are not prosylyting missionaries. What we do in the ofice is much different than what our young missionaries do.

I have the greatest love and respect for these fine young missionaries who have put their life back home on hold to come and share the message of the gospel for 18 months to 2 years. They touch the lives of many. They are a blessing.

I'm sure grateful for the two missionaries who taught me the gospel over 40 years ago, 2 young men, Elder Lemmon and Elder Fetzer. God bless our wonderful missionaries, here and throughout the world!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Winter drags on

I AM SICK OF WINTER. I wonder if there really is grass underneath the snow that has been on the ground since late October? I've seen glimpses of blue sky and sun now and then, but mostly it is cloudy and gray. We still have a good 7 weeks left of winter though. I guess I should consider myself lucky, however, because usually February is the worst month of all with temperatures around 30 below. We have been blessed with temperatures in the 20's and 30's. I'll take it!!

Also, we had been warned about the sidewalks. Most of the winter we have walked on snow-packed sidewalks. However, because of the lack of new snow the street workers have been able to chisel away at the sidewalks and we are now enjoying clear sidewalks. It is GREAT.

I have been walking with my head down for months to keep from falling. It's nice to be able to look straight ahead.

There are tentative signs of spring though. Days are getting longer. I LOVE light. It doesn't get dark now until after 7 pm as opposed to around 4 and gets light around 9 am now instead of 10:30. We are going in the right direction.

Until next time, dos vidonya!

Different and yet the same

We attended Church today. It was pleasant walking on mostly dry sidewalks. There hasn't been any snow in a week or so and it has allowed the street workers to get the sidewalks nice and clear, which is a great blessing. Walking on snow-packed sidewalks is difficult.

It was  a lovely day at Church. It was Ward Conference.They have ward conferences back home, too. As I was sitting in our meetings, it struck me again how things in Church are the same in so many ways, even though thousands of miles separate us.

The meetings are in Russian, of course, and Sister Snyder and Elder Samuelson did a wonderful job translating for us. It is remarkable and comforting to me to know that as I am hearing the Relief Society lesson on the power of the Holy Ghost, that the same lesson is being taught in my home ward back in Ludlow MA. The manuals for Priesthood and Relief Society, Primary and Young Men and Young Women's are also the same. The same principals are being taught to our members all over the world. Our members are learning and teaching the same things world wide.

 Families sit together, the same hymns are sung (I cheat and use my English hymnbook, but Dave sings from the Russian one), little ones cry and need to be taken out. The same sweet spirit is felt in the Zelonograd Ward as in the Ludlow Ward. Sacrament is blessed and passed to the congregation using the same words by the young men just like back home.

As we sat together in the Investigator's class today, Roman (can't spell his last name) was teaching and with a few key phrases from Elder S and some sign language from Roman, we were able to follow the gist of the lesson. It was great. (I think we understand a few more words too).

Us, the senior couple and 6 young missionaries, 2 young women and 4 young men all took part in the class, along with some of the young men and women and one investigator. There was a sweet spirit in the room.

One little guy, Slava who is approaching 5, came up to me and called me baboola which means grandmother. His mother, Diana, who works in our office laughed and said the loves the baboolas in the ward. I love being calld grandmother in Russian or English!