Serving the Lord in Russia

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our Merry Christmas in Moscow

What a wonderful Merry Christmas we enjoyed here in Moscow!  Except for missing our children, their spouses, our grandchildren, my mom, our sisters and their families, our aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends, we truly had a very happy Christmas.  How can you not be happy and feel blessed when you are surrounded by valiant and faithful missionaries, members, and friends we have made here in Moscow?  I have told our children for years, "this Christmas is going to be different," and it was for all of us.  However, we were able and excited to call and Skype our family and were thrilled to hear and see them.  How grateful we are for the miraculous technology we have so that these wonders can happen.  Thank you for your Christmas greetings, cards, pictures, wishes, and prayers.  We feel so very blessed to be serving the Lord in Moscow as missionaries and at this particular time in history.

We have had many, many special Christmas gifts this month.  Here are a few of them.

This is one of my new friends in Moscow, Irina Williams.  Twenty years ago, when my Aunt Pauline and Uncle Joe Pace served here as the first senior couple missionaries in Moscow, they found, taught, and baptized Irina.  She and her husband have been active members of the Church all these years now.  She and I have a special bond because of my aunt.  Thank you, Aunt Pauline!  I love Irina!

On December 18, 2010, we reached the 2010 mission goal of 60 baptisms set by President Cranney and his missionary leaders a year ago. We actually ended up with 63 baptisms for the year 2010.  Thanks to the guidance and tender mercies of the Lord in allowing our faithful, obedient, and hard-working missionaries to accomplish this inspired goal.

Thanks to some dear friends in Salt Lake City who were willing to let us borrow a violin, and with the help of a new friend in Moscow who brought it here, we were able to have the gift of beautiful violin music during Christmas.  Our dear Elder Hansen touched many, many hearts with his talent of making this violin sing.

All our Elders sang at the District Christmas program the evening of December 18th.  I liken them unto "the army of Helaman," valiant and faithful in every way.

Our Sisters ("choirs of angels") sang for us at our all-mission Specialized Training on December 14th.

We had a mission Christmas conference on December 24th with ALL our missionaries.  We felt so grateful to be able to gather together to enjoy one another, have a delicious dinner, an uplifting devotional, singing Christmas hymns, and a fun time  They are the very best!!!  Below are some of the talents/skits that our Districts presented. 

On Christmas Day we had a few of the older Russian Single Adults over in the afternoon for dinner, a devotional, and visiting.  One of our guests is a son of one of our senior couples from Texas.  Anyway, these wonderful members of the Church fixed most of our Christmas Russian dinner and it was delicious!  We had chicken, two kinds of Russian salads (one is like a potato salad), and I prepared a relish tray, cheese and crackers and for dessert an ice cream chocolate cake with hot fudge sauce, a cranberry-raspberry sauce, toasted sliced almonds and a maraschino cherry on the top.  We had a wonderful time together.  While they were here it started to rain which, because of the cold, then turned to ice.  We all tried to go out caroling after dinner, but I chickened out because is was so icy and slippery (my big fear is falling here).  They went and I stayed put.  All too soon it was time for them to catch the bus and they went to visit a Russian war memorial before they headed to their apartments.

Christmas morning.

This is what it looked like Christmas night after it had rained and turned everything into ice.  Don't you think you could ice skate on that snow?

The next morning ice lay heavy on the trees in front of our home.

Our Merry Christmas in Moscow!

"God bless us, every one."  

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Time at the Mission Home

I love decorating for Christmas!  Over the years I have collected many treasures that family and friends have given me or I have made myself and I brought just a few of them with me to Moscow.  I didn't know what to expect here in Moscow as far as what would be available to purchase for Christmas decorations.  I was pleasantly surprised to find so many options.  My first desire was to find a Christmas tree.  Thanks to our driver we were able to purchase an artifical tree, two strings of lights and a few tree ornaments.  I decided to try my hand at making gingerbread boys and girls to hang on the tree.  It took about two weeks to make them.  You know, a few minutes here and a few minutes there but they turned out ok and they smell good too.  So, here is how our mission home looks at Christmas time.

This nativity set is from the early 1950's and Stephen remembers this being out every year in his home when he was a young child.  Our children also remember having this out at Christmas.  I'm sure Stephen's parents never dreamed that this would be displayed in Russia.

On December 26, 1976, Stephen's sister, Claudia Nielson, and I went down to ZCMI to try and purchase a couple of Christmas decorations that were on sale for half off.  Both of us were able to buy one of these great treasures.  It was my first nativity set as a new wife and mother.

I've been able to add a few new Christmas decorations to my collection this year.  These next three decorations were all hand carved and painted by Russian artists.  That means six artists were involved -- three that did the carving and three that painted.  I love their work.

This is the artist, Tatiana Zamanova, who painted the little Santa (Dyed Muroz in Russian) on the sled.  I went to a Russian cultural class and they had her demonstrate painting the famous Matyoshka dolls.  She was so darling.  I was able to purchase this one pieces of hers.

Now the best 2010 Christmas decorations of all.............

Our Zone Leaders Council on December 2nd.

Our Sister's Conference on December 9th.
Merry Christmas from Moscow!