Saturday, August 30, 2008

Apartment Inspections 
One of our jobs is to inspect the missionary apartments. Not just for cleanliness, but also for safety, health, and possible problems with the physical facilities in the apartment. In Kemerovo, a problem with old vibrating plumbing and a faulty connection in the water shut-off under the bathroom sink involved our elders in a major flood of their apartment and the apartments below and we don’t want that to happen again.
These pictures are of the office elders’ apartment that we just visited. Their building is on the south side of Voshod Street, just 2 blocks south of our apartment through a group of apartment buildings and businesses. We can see their street from our sun room.

The entry is typical of the apartment buildings. They are usually dirty and need repair. Theirs is a Khrushchev era, 5 story building with no elevator. The next generation of apartments was built under Brezhnev and is 9 stories with an elevator, usually starting on the second or third floor. You see these two formats all over Novosibirsk.

They don't have any snow doors so immediately inside the exterior entry door that is controlled by a magnetic lock like ours, but is opened with a code rather than a magnetic button on the key ring, we find the mailboxes for the building. The steps are not all the same height so it is a little challenging to gage each step.

Their apartment is located on the 5th floor so we have a little climb ahead. Their unit has only two doors because they don’t share a hall like we do. Their entry is a little cluttered with shoes because it is customary to remove the shoes when entering a home; lots of snow & mud around.

Their clothesline is also in the short entry hall, between the front door and kitchen door so we have to duck under the recent wash. Elder Worthen deftly removed the hanging garments as we passed under them.
The picture to the right is a view from the window next to the couch. You see the second desk, required, and the entry door. They have a small rung in the living room, but most of the floor is nailed-down linoleum.

We quickly check out the living room and bedroom to see that they have the proper furniture and beds. The furniture is old and worn and in the bedroom the beds are typically narrow and short for our big elders, but they meet the standard. This bedroom has a rug; a cut above the norm.

The kitchen is also typical; about 6’ x 8’ with a small sink, refrigerator, stove, water filter, and two cupboards. The refrigerator is the same size as ours, but with a separate freezer and fewer things in it.

The cupboard has their dishes and elder Lunt is showing us his favorite bowl. Not too much required for two elders.

Three of the stove top burners work, but one of the working ones has a bit of a bulge that makes frying eggs a real challenge.

Under the sink we see a common plumbing technique, using flex pipe, like a radiator hose, to connect the p-trap to the old cast-iron sewer pipe. I could not decide whether the wall paper was pealing to reveal the blue paint, or the missing paint was revealing the wall paper, both of which were missing in the rest of the under-sink cabinet.

Finally the bathroom; this one is not typical because it has a toilet in the same room as the tub. Most toilets are in their own closet. This particular arrangement requires that the user sit somewhat sideways because the tub and toilet seat actually touch, making it a little snug for big boys like elder Worthen.

It is also atypical because there is no sink. The elders have to use the tub for hand washing or teeth brushing; note the long-neck spigot on the tub. One thing that is typical is the accumulation of rust in the aerators on the end of each spigot. Few of the elders know that this is the source of their “low water pressure.” I showed them how to clean them out and improved the water flow dramatically.

Sister Simmons counsels them on the basic preparedness items of a week’s supply of food, two days of water, and $100 U.S. on their persons at all times. The recent earthquake in Irkutsk gave everyone a moment of reflection on being prepared. Things can go south here in a hurry.

As we exit, sister Simmons gives them a new scrubby-sponge and an American candy bar with a word of encouragement and one and a half “attaboys” for having a pretty good-looking apartment. We will see them in a few hours in the office and share sister Simmons’ cookies with them. We love them and hope that we have given them some encouragement to keep a clean orderly, and safe house. They have a lot to do and keeping up the apartment is easily put off.

What a great group of elder in this wonderful country.
What a Country/

No comments: