Sunday, August 17, 2008
8/16/08 A Packed Saturday
Today, Saturday, is our "P" Day when we clean the "house" and do the other non-missionary stuff you need to stay in control of your life. Today we planned to do house stuff, read the priesthood/RS lesson, write, read, and generally catch up with everything, attend Gresha's baptism at 3 pm, go to IKEA, and end the day with Lydia at "The Diner".
Wow! This all requires background to make any sense doesn't it? OK, Gresha is the 13 year old son of Valentina and brother of 23 year old Vira who came to our home with the missionaries two weeks ago for dinner (when we got 7 around our little kitchen table) and a baptism challenge.
Valentina had been baptized several months ago after being introduced to the church by a coworker. She felt that church membership would be good for her children also, but Vira was less willing than Gresha, Gregoria Vektoriya Roosikova, who was semi-interested, mostly in the attention and the missionaries. She said he was wild and having many behavior problems at home and at school. She hoped the church would calm him down and it seems to have done so. He has been attending for the past several weeks and is a different boy.
The baptism was excellent. Even the rain didn't dampen our spirits. For the first time, the Branch Presidency was all present and the president baptized Gresha. There is going to be a bond there I believe. The missionaries of the zone were all there as well as his mom's friends and some investigators. Great event.
The IKEA trip was necessitated by a mistaken purchase of a blanket, rolled in a tube-shaped plastic wrapper, thinking it was a pillow we were asked to buy for Elder Lunt. The pillows were packaged in the same wrapper, but with blue lettering. This one was green. Even the Gushins, who were our interpreters and guides Friday when we bought it were fooled because the writing on the package referred only to the construction material and not the name of the item inside.
Dinner at the Diner with Lydia (the returned Temple Square missionary) was planned during the week to hear her report on the YSA Conference she attended in Sweden instead of going to the one we chaperoned in Kresnoyarsk a couple of weeks ago. (see earlier blog).
Superimposed on this plan was the Royers, a senior CES couple in Krasnoyarsk, who were coming to a CES seminar from 11-5 at the left bank chapel where the baptism was to be held. Their train didn't leave until 10:30 that night so they would join us for the evening's festivities.
Oh, also, Elder Worthen would join us for the morning because Elder Lunt was assigned to translate for the seminar and he would be companions with Elder Royer so Elder Worthen needed to be companions with me. After the baptism and seminar, we would trade companions and get on with life.
I'm kinda worn out with all the explanation, aren't you? ANYWAY, after the baptism, we (Cindy & I, Lydia, and the Royers) started out to the IKEA shuttle bus stop in a strong rain. It had been raining off and on all day, but this was definitely "on". We had brought an extra umbrella that we gave to Lydia and the Royers had one between them (why would two people bring one umbrella?) and we started off through the housing projects and park to the bus stop, about 1 1/2 miles through unpaved paths, across major streets, and through a good, steady, cold rain.
By the time we got to the bus stop, Elder Royer was pretty soaked and sister Royer had several head wounds from Elder Royer's gallent attempts to hold the umbrella over both of them. He gave that up about half-way and just walked uncovered.
The IKEA bus picks up people at the last Metro stop on the left bank and takes them the 2-3 miles to the store and returns them to the Metro. Very good marketing. At the store, Lydia and I return our "pillow" for credit and meet the group in the bedding department where we get the right pillow and a throw for the end of the bed where we pray. Oh, I didn't mention that Friday we bought a "fall" blanket because our "summer" blanket was too light and we were getting cold with the windows open. Some people would say, "close the window dummy" and that will probably be the decision in January, or maybe November, but as long as we can stay warm and get fresh air, we wanted to do so. The blanket was white and I thought we should get something to protect it where we pray twice a day, so we bought a blue throw that just covers the end of the bed. (so get on with the story, right?)
OK, after a we got back on the but and into the Metro, we got off at the Lenin Square stop, crossed the street to the west underground in the Metro walkway lined with tiny shops selling, flowers, shoes, sunglasses, bread, etc. and came up on the west side of Lenina Street, walked the two blocks further west past the Universam store at which we shopped Wednesday and came to "The Diner".
More background. A man from Milwaukee came to 17 years ago and opened a pizza parlor called "New York Pizza" which was an instant hit. Since then he has opened something like 30 businesses in Novosibirsk, five of them in this building housing The Diner.
It is a classic east-coast diner with basic diner food and specializing in hamburgers; stainless steel, red Naugahyde-covered booths, and the smell of hot grease. After we had ordered our burgers, a bearded, heavyset guy in a well-washed red knit pull-over shirt came in the door and I knew him. It took a few seconds, but I remembered him from a History Channel documentary in our apartment that had about a 10 minute segment on the new entrepreneurs in Siberia. His name is Eric Shogren.
As he passed, I said to the group, "That's the boss". He turned and said something about us being Americans and who were we. We introduced ourselves as missionaries and he immediately warmed up. He likes the missionaries and has had a relationship with several mission presidents over the years.
He talked about his businesses and then invited us to take a tour. He was obviously excited to show some Americans what he'd done here and was proud of his businesses. In this one building he had a bar, three restaurants, a bakery, and a pizza parler. He gave us samples of some of the food he sells and took us through the back halls of the place. A very interesting guy with a fascinating ability to build businesses.
He also talked about his brother who is in politics as a staffer for some of the Republicans. His name is Brett Shogren. He said that Romney had contacted Brett about working for him if he gets the VP nomination and was excited about the prospect of Romney on the Republican ticket. I think Eric could be a good friend to have in Novo.
Well, after the burgers and shakes, we went to the mission office where Elders Lund and Worthen were to meet them and escort them to the train station for their 10 your trip home to Krasnoyarsk. This was a busy, but a good day filled with lots of adventures. We headed home in the dark about 9:45 pm past the various construction sites on our street and into our warm home. Life is good with a baptism, a Swedish store selling Chinese blankets, a Milwaukee jew selling New York pizzas and burgers, and two Sacramento softies walking miles in the rain.
What a country