Serving the Lord in Russia

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our Happy Thanksgiving in Moscow

Our Thanksgiving in Moscow was full of gratitude, love, outstanding missionaries, delicious food, lots of laughter, tender moments, and sweet memories.  What joy we felt to have 13 of our faithful missionaries in our home to celebrate Thanksgiving with us.  Our Kakhovsky District joined us for the wonderful feast and afternoon.  Yes, we did have turkey and pumpkin pie, thanks to the Titus family who live here in Moscow.  Brother Titus works at the American Embassy and we were able to purchase a turkey, one can of "Libbys" pumpkin and one can of evaporated milk for each of our 7 missionary districts.  Each of our senior couples is assigned to a district of missionaries and they graciously had their district into their small apartments for Thanksgiving dinner.  Each district is claiming that they had the best time and food.  As missionaries we have so many blessings and gratitude was abundant on Thanksgiving, as it is everyday.

Our Thanksgiving table before the feast.
At the feast.
After the feast.
Sister Sorenson and our new missionary, Sister Matyanova from St. Petersburg, shaping the rolls.

Our many chefs.

After our feast, our district leader, Elder Nikolaichev, planned an activity based on The Title of Liberty as found in Alma 46.  In verse 12 it reads, "And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it - In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children..."  Elder Nikolaichev, took his shirt (he had another one) and wrote, in Russian, "In memory of our god, our faith and families...of our Moscow mission, goals, and district of Zion." and instead of hoisting it on a pole we wrote our names on it.  We all took turns wearing our Title of Liberty and expressing what we were thankful for. 

We were then able to play a short round of Guesters before our missionaries left to get in a few hours of work before retiring for the day.

We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving as missionaries here in Moscow.  How grateful we are for this opportunity to serve the Lord.  And thus ended our day of thanksgiving as missionaries and as "...true believers of Christ..."  Alma 46:14.

Our Happy Thanksgiving 2010!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

1 + 9 + 1 + 64 in Moscow

In Moscow we have 1 district, 9 branches, and 1 mission branch.  And they are all teriffic!  There are about 2,150 members in our district and we are growing.  Miracles take place here weekly with baptisms and we have been so thrilled this month because on November 13th a family of four were baptized, on the 20th a mother and son were baptized by the husband who was just baptized in September and next week, on the 27th, we have another family of 4 being baptized.  Missionary work formally began here 20 years ago and now we have a mighty missionary army of 64 (which includes 4 senior couple missionaries that give full time missionary service and 3 senior couples that help us part-time because of their East Europe Area responsibilities).  Twenty years ago my aunt and uncle, Pauline and Joe Pace, were the first senior missionaries in Moscow.  It's been so thrilling for me to walk in their footsteps.  They helped build the foundation here and now the work is moving forward quickly.  In fact, things are lining up for Moscow to be formed into a Stake.  When that happens, it will be the first stake in all of Russia.  That will happen in the Lord's time depending on our faith and good works.  Here are our branches.

Our Podolsk Branch.

We call this the South building and our Kakhovsky Branch meets here.  We have a baptismal font in this building.

We call this the Central Building and our Rechnoy and Arbatski Branches meet here.  We use this building for our zone conferences, other training, teaching investigators, leadership meetings, district, branch and missionary activities, etc.  This church building is one of two that the Church actually owns.

This is where our Zelenograd Branch meets.  This is the other building that the Church owns and there is also a baptismal font here.

Elder Baldakov (from Russia) and me in front of the Perovo Branch.

Perovo Branch building.

This is our tiny Universityetski Branch (the door on the left).

Our Lotoshino Mission Branch is located about 2 hours north of Moscow and there have been no missionaries there for the past 5 years.  The Church has rented this "driving school" building on Sundays for our 15 members who live in that area.  However, there are only 2 members who are active right now.

On this is beautiful Sunday morning when we attended our Lotoshino Branch these are people who attended church that day.  Keep in mind that Stephen, our driver (Alexander), our two Office Elders (Croese and Hansen) and me are the visitors.  That leaves the Branch President and his wife, their daughter-in-law, granddaughter, their son (who is taking the picture), a member and a friend she brought that were in that Branch.  The son and his family have since moved.  What great faithful saints!

This building is where our International and Sokoiniki Branches meet.

This special lady from the International Branch, Irina Williams, was taught and brought into the Church 20 years ago by my Aunt Pauline and Uncle Joe.  She and her husband are two of the faithful active members here and have contributed much to the growth here.  Thank you, Aunt Pauline!  I also love Irina!

President Sorenson reporting to work at the Mission Office.

And so the work of the Lord presses forward in this great land of Russia!  We love it here and are grateful for the privlege to serve here at this historic time.  Miracles in Moscow are going forth!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Great Patriotic War

In order to have a deeper love and appreciation for the Russian people it is important to know some of their history.  It is hard to grasp the devastation that befell the Russian people by the end of the Great Patriotic War (known to the United States and other countries as WWII).  Millions and millions of Russian people died during the years between 1941 and 1945.  There are many, many war sites, monuments, museums, etc., reflecting on their great heroes from the past.  Last week, on our P-day, Stephen and I went to see Victory Park.  Although initially proposed in 1947, this memorial complex, honoring the victims of the Great Patriotic War, did not open until the 50th anniversary of the end of that conflict, in 1995.  It is a genuinely moving tribute to the Soviet Union's estimated 27 million war dead.

Zurab Tsereteli monument, is 141.8 meters high and reflects the 1,418 days of the Great Patriotic War.
At the base of this monument is St. George, the patron saint of Moscow, slaying the dragon.

The eternal flame in front of the Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War.

One of several dioramas inside the museum.  This one reflects the 1941 Battle of Moscow.

Red Square in 1941.

Two dioramas of the 1941-1944 Siege of Leningrad.

Unfailingly moving, the Hall of Memory and Sorrow holds 19,500,000 names of the dead or missing.
From the ceiling hang tear-like shaped prisms, each one representing so many thousands of people.

In the Hall of Glory it lists the names of the 11,000 soldiers awarded the highest military honor, the Hero of the Soviet Union.

One of the war's Hero Cities, Kiev.

Another one of the Hero Cities, Moscow.

In Victory Park is the Church of St. George the Victorious, which was the first church built in Moscow since the Revolution.