Sunday, May 3, 2015

Leaving Pskov on foot after the explosion ....

The first two weeks in Pskov have been awesome and filled with adventure. All of the main roads outside the city are two lane roads and people drive fast and are always passing each other. After one week in Pskov we went back to St. Petersburg for two days to help the new office couple with their first transfer meeting. 

Shortly after we left Pskov our bus was stopped because of a large explosion and fire on the road about 300 yards in front of our bus. The whole road was filled with black smoke and flames. We found out that two diesels and at least two cars had collided and burst into flames.  We don't know if anyone survived. :(

Understanding the traffic both ways was stopped, our bus driver went into action. He called the bus driver coming the other way on the road, and he was stuck on the other side of the explosion. So we decided to switch buses so that we could turn the buses around and continue. 

So we got our bags, hiked about 1/4 mile along the trees, through the woods, past the terrible accident, got into the other bus, turned it around and continued on our way. As you can see from the pictures, the accident was very bad. We couldn't tell if the people got out before the explosion, but our prayers go out to them.

While in St. Petersburg we were able to go on a lesson with the sister missionaries and meet with Lena for dinner. It was awesome to see all the missionaries again at transfer meeting and to wish some of the departing missionaries good luck in their transition. We love the mission office and all the people, and the new office couple is doing great. 

We serve in Pskov with two awesome elders. We do a lot of service and have been trying to get the less active people out to church. We have family home evening at our house every Monday night, 

play ping pong at the church on Tuesday with members and non-members, and help clean the house of an elderly crippled lady every week.  

This week we cleaned the grave sites for one of our member's relatives for their Memorial Day, did exterior cleaning of our church building, had people over for dinner, and walked and walked and walked.  (This is a picture of a memorial of a plane crash during the war.  The wing is from the plane, and the faces of each soldier who died on the plane is carved into the monument.)

I was called into the church branch presidency in Pskov, so we have been going through lists of all the members to see who we can extend callings to and how to get them more involved in the Sunday activities. (This picture is NOT our church building!) Ha ha

Last Sunday we had three people who aren't members of our church come and many of the faithful saints. The lessons were awesome and we are lucky to be in Pskov.

As you can see from the pictures in the blog this week, we live in a beautiful area, along a river and across from the old Kremlin.  (This is the view from outside our apartment.)

We have been going for an hour or two walk/run along the river each morning to get our day started. The pictures are of some of the landscape we see when we are walking. We have two large grocery stores here and they are about 30 and 40-minute walks from our apartment. 

We have enjoyed the walk to the store because it gives us the opportunity to see and talk with people.  We found a wonderful pastry store the other day and spoiled ourselves with an almond meringue tort that was amazing.

Yesterday we had the opportunity to provide some service to an elderly lady in our church. Most of the older generation in Russia have a small apartment in the city and a small dotcha (cabin) away from the city.  (We felt like Hansel and Gretel being lead into the deep woods, ha ha.)

The reasoning for the dotcha is to provide a place where they can raise food to eat. After WWI Russia decided that the people needed a place to be self sufficient, so the government gave all the people some land, and for a small amount of money, the building supplies for a dotcha.

As you can see from the pictures these are small rustic cabins with large garden areas. The dotcha we went to on Saturday required us to take a bus and then a train out into the country just outside the city. 

Then we walked for about 20 minutes through the fields, across the bridges and through beautiful forests to get to her dotcha.  During our workday, we had a typical Russian lunch of gretchka (buckwheat), chicken, apples, carrot salad and tea made from boiled fruit.  It was all really good.  Kathy made some pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies with ingredients from the states.  They were a hit!

Once we got there we focused on the garden areas. We put up a couple of greenhouse stands, tilled a lot of ground where she will plant potatoes, cleaned up the garbage and spoke a lot of Russian.  

They have water wells and draw their water each day for use at the house and in the garden. In Pskov, none of the people speak English, so we have to speak a lot more Russian. It helps with my language, but is difficult for Kathy when I don't understand enough to translate :-)  Most of the time I can get a basic understanding and have a conversation with them, but my vocabulary isn't very broad.

After we worked at the dotcha all day we headed back and did some scripture study. This time together with Kathy in Pskov has been great because we read the Bible in the morning and then the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants at night. I also study Russian when possible.

When we worked in the mission office we didn't have as much time for personal study, so this is nice.  The weather is finally starting to get to 50 F in the day, but it has still been raining a lot each day. We are looking forward to some warmer, drier weather.

We are down to 6 weeks and a few days before we come home and time is flying. We will go to Novgorod (another old town about 4 hours away) this week for a couple days to attend zone conference, so this week will go fast as well. This past Friday and next Monday are holidays along with next Friday and Monday. The first was similar to our Memorial Day and the second one is to celebrate their surviving the siege placed upon the country 70 years ago. 

The Russian people are amazing people with a strong will to survive and strong patriotism to their country. These are great celebrations for them. We are looking forward to attending the parade, spending the day and having lunch with our awesome members, and then watching the fireworks from our apartment window.  

We close today with our testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints  is true. Our families can be together forever and each person on this earth is a child of God. We pray for peace and love of our fellow man, friends and family. Family is part of God's plan, and we are thankful to have such a wonderful family through birth and through our association with all of you. Love Bob and Kathy