Sunday, 11 January 2009

Service Project with Seniors & Saying Goodbye to Elders

The senior missionary couples looked forward to bringing some holiday cheer to the elderly at the same institution where we had done a service project last year at Christmas time. We were invited to go on January 9 to take the bags of candy we had packaged at our Family Home Evening and sing some Christmas songs. Marina Kharlamova, who works at the Meridian building and who is a counselor in the district Relief Society, helped us with preparations and was our interpreter.

Marina Kharlamova

Yes, it was snowing!
The sign on the building behind us says
"Happy New Year" in Russian.

[left to right] Chris, Sharon, Steve & Linda Rees,
David Yorgensen, Clark & Renee, Linda Nearon,
Narene, Greg, David Nearon, and Sam

We sang several songs and passed out the candy treats to four different rooms where elderly were seated and also walked through the halls delivering treats to those bedridden. We shook their hands as we handed them their ribbon-tied bag and wished them a "Happy New Year" in our best Russian. One lady smiled brightly as she told us "Happy New Year" back in her best English.

In one room a group of ladies seemed to especially appreciate our rendition of "Frosty the Snowman" and "Jingle Bells" and clapped along in rhythm as we sang. In each room, we ended our music by singing "I am a Child of God" in Russian and then "Silent Night" in English. I started to get teary when we began singing "I am a Child of God," but it wasn't as emotional for me this year as it was last year. Perhaps it was easier this time because during the past year Sam and I have visited a number of institutions where children are disabled and limited in what they can do, and it is harder to see children with such a bleak future. It is rewarding, though, to see you have made someone smile or to know you have brought some cheer into someone's life if only for part of a day.

After we finished with our service project, all but Marina went to eat at My My's at Aeroport. It is a buffet where you can see what you want to select. I like the borsch soup (beef broth with shredded beets, potatoes, cabbage, onions, carrots, thin strips of meat, and diced garlic and seasonings).

We had some time before we needed to get back to our apartment, so we went to the Shepards and had time for some visiting and one round of Rummicube. While we were there, their landlady and family members came to get the rent. It seemed like a friendly social call more than business, and I was impressed with how Greg told her about our church in response to the landlady's question about whether or not we are a Protestant church.

When we left the Shepards, we met Elder Salinas and Elder Mills at Sokol. We had invited them to our apartment to eat with us and give us a spiritual thought. They had gotten permission from President Collins to come, as they would be going home on Monday after completing their two-year mission in Russia.

Elder Salinas, who will be going home to Texas;
Narene & Sam; and Elder Mills, who will be
returning home Monday to Las Vegas.

We first grew to love Elder Salinas in Tver when we were assigned to that branch, so we were pleased when he was transferred to Moscow and attended the Yugo Zapadnaya branch. Elder Mills is also a special young man whom we have grown to love. We will miss them both, but feel fortunate to have been in the same branches where they served. I had made chili the day before and baked chocolate chip bars, so it didn't take long to get the salad and other things ready to put on the table. The Elders gave us a nice spiritual thought about preparing yourself to withstand the storms of life and receive the Lord's blessings.

Elder Mills also spoke in sacrament meeting on Sunday. I took oatmeal raisin cookies for people to help themselves to after church on Sunday. We met at 7:00 p.m. for church, because for Russians it was a work day in order to give them a longer Christmas/New Year's holiday. Here are some photos we took after church with a few of the branch members.

Elder Terrell, Lydia, Elder Lundquist (who had been
serving in Belarus and also was returning home
on Monday), Anthony, and Elder Salinas

Sister Ireland & Sister Lydia
Lydia is a sweet lady who always gives me a
hug and a kiss. She was baptized as a new
member about the time we came to
the Yugo Zapadnaya branch.

Elder Mills with Sister Natalia and her husband.

Elder Salinas and Peter

Elder Salinas and Elder Mills will take home with them special memories of the time they served in Russia.

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