YOU ARE MY HERO.
We have been in our Zelonograd Ward for just over 13 months. Today one of the members, a big bear of a man with an always-smiling face, Igor, came up to Elder Sutton and wrapped his huge hand arround his and spoke to him in Russian with a smile and and moved on. A misisonary standing close by said that this brother had said, "you are my hero." The missionary smiled and said that Igor frequently said that to any missonary he saw. He loves the missionaries!
A BUM KNEE, A HUG AND A SMILE
I was standing near the front door as members came in and Luba came up to me and pointed to my knees and said something with a concerned look on her face. I immediately got the gist of what she was saying because Sister Snyder, one of our young missonaries has been suffering from a lot of knee pain. Luba had heard about the knee problem and thought it was me. She was concerned about me. Sister Snyder was stanidng close by and explained that it was her, not me with the "bum knee." Anyway, I was touched. Especially due to the fact that it was this sweet sister, who for the first 10 months of our mission, totally ignored me. No acknowledgement at all. I think I could have stood on my head in front of her without getting any response at all. Then, one day Maria, the 88 year old babushka who I greeted every week with a hug and kiss on the cheek, was able to convey to me that Luba was her daughter. One day, I tentatively approached Luba and told her how much I loved her mother, Maria. That seemed to break the ice because from then on I was greeted with a hello. When Maria died a couple of months ago, I gave Luba a hug. Now I am greeted with a hug AND a smile. Luba has become my friend.
ALEXY IS BACK.
Alexy is back. He is a 20-something young man who attended English Group months ago when Elder Sutton and I attended. He was not interested in learning about the Church, but was interested in getting to know us and practice his English. He came to church a couple of times, but it was for social reasons only. How delightful it was to see him back in Church today with the missionaries. He is now taking the discussions and reading the Book of Mormon.
A SWEET SPIRIT IN CHURCH
Even though language is still a huge barrier at Church, Dave and I feel totally accepted. I know where families and individuals sit. I look around to see who is there and who is missing. Little 5 year old Slava runs up to greet me and wrap his little arms around my knees with a BABOOLA! BABOOLA! A smile and he scampers off and returns a little later for another hug. He helps me miss my grandchildren a little bit less.
Sweet тайциа (Tyeetseeya), who is now 88 years old gave me a photograph of her so we wouldnt' forget her. She is the lovely lady who gave us a cassette of her singing several songs. She greets me with a hug and and a huge smile as she calls me Bar Bar Ah Sutton! (most missionaries go by Sister Sutton). We are on a first-named basis.
THE YOUNG WOMEN
There are others we have drawn close to. I love the young women (9 - 21 years old) and get hugs from many of them, Masha, Anna Galia... Ksenia, (Soosha) is a young 19 year old that I have grown very close to. We have spent ime together from time to time as she has asked for my advice and confided in me now and then. Sometimes she sits with us in Church. I have grown to love this young woman very much. (Fortunately, she can speak English) so I am able to understand her.
THE CHURCH IS THE SAME
Here or back in Ludlow MA. the lessons taught and the hymns sung are the same - just in a different lanuage. Our wonderul missionaries take turns translating forus. We read the lessons in English. I love knowing that Relief Society has service projects, visitng teaching conferences, and holiday parties like back home. I love hearing the topics that are discussed in sacrament meeting and Sunday School I love hearing the litle ones singing the Primary songs.
Even though the Ludlow Ward in Ludlow Massachusetts, Springfield MA. Stake, is where we will return, for now our ward is the Zelonograd Ward in the Moscow Russia Stake. Bishop Mocholov is our bishop. While it will be nice to listen to lessons in English again and to be able to take part, I will always hold a special place in my heart for our wonderful ward family here in Moscow, Russia.
By the time we leave in a few months time, I hope to know a few more names of the special people who have become part of our ward family so far away from home.