Wednesday, November 5, 2008

ZLC and a Birthday 11 6/08

ZLC and a Birthday 
11 6/08

Weather Report
Rain-wind 20-30 mph
It's a yucky day in the neighborhood.

Yesterday and today was Zone Leader Council, a meeting of all of the Zone Leaders from each city. Ten cities and 20 Zone Leaders gathered to receive instruction and motivation for the next 6 weeks. These pictures are taken in a circle around the room.

These are the finest of the best. They are seasoned missionaries, experienced leaders, and strong in the Gospel. As we see them and hear them, we are impressed with their maturity, with their judgment, and with their desire to take the Gospel to the elect.

The Assistants to the President (AP's) Elder West and Elder Robertson are strong, capable leaders with a major responsibility to instruct and motivate the missionaries. We love them and admire their determination to move the mission to new heights.

The Zone Leaders are responsible for the welfare, safety, and success of the missionaries in their cities. In some other missions where the member population is higher and the distance smaller, you can have several districts in a zone. Here Zone and District are synonymous except for the city of Angarsk which is part of the Irkutsk Zone because it is very close.

The evening started off with a dinner at 5pm. Some of these Elders have traveled overnight by train, some by a 6 hour plane ride, some 4-5 hours on the bus. They arrive through out the day and stay busy with other missionaries until dinner. There is no sitting around.

Sister Cindy and I went to the Tuesday evening general meeting so we had to leave the office about 4:30 to go by electric bus to the mission home. Out the front door, we go down into the Metro, pass by the usual entry and go out the other stairway that puts us on the other side of Kirova street, a 4 lane road with 6-7 lanes of traffic bent on destroying anything in the road not made of steel. We found that the Metro is a better way of crossing the street than running in the dark across a wet, pot-holed thoroughfare full of aggressive Russian drivers.

Once up on street level, we walked half a block to the bus stop. Several marshutkas (8-15 passenger vans) pull up and depart again before our electric bus arrived. It is like any other bus except it runs on electricity taken from overhead wires by two booms on the roof. There is a money taker, usually a woman, who takes each of our 10 ruble notes, gives us each a ruble coin change and a thin paper (like adding machine tape) ticket from a roll suspended around her neck on a string; all without looking at us or changing expression.

At the first stop, which is about 1 1/2 miles from where we got on, we get off, cross the street back to the other side, cross another street to the right, walk to the left a block to the Mickelsen's street, turn right past the police cars parked helter-skelter in mid block by the police station,and across the street again to enter their building's iron-gated courtyard. We call it the blue building because of the blue tinted glass facade on the upper stories.

Half way back into the courtyard, we enter a security door into a glass cubicle where there is telephone keypad. we punch in 12 and the # sign, the second door opens and we are admitted into the elevator corridor. Up to the 4th floor, we ring the doorbell of number 12. Apartments here are numbered sequentially from bottom to top. You don't know what floor the apartment is on by the number because there is no floor reference.

We are the last two arrivals and we take our place at the 15 foot long dining table. The dinner is not very surprising, being selected by the AP's. It is eithr New York Pizza, Rosticks chichen sandwich and marely warm fries, or Kentucky Fried Chicken, always supplimented with something by Sister Mickelsen followed by a dessert that has to include ice cream.

This meal was the fried chicken, 4 pieces each. I got through three pieces and then contributed to the "extras" bowl that was passed to the really hungry. This is a great choice in my book. Barely warm pizza or cold fries can't hold a candle to warm Kentucky Fried Chicken, with all that grease and MSG, it is to die for. (or maybe a cause of death, not sure) We also enjoyed rice and green beans, an attempt at neutrition by Sister Mickelsen, followed by cake & a slice of ice cream. (remember the ice cream somes in a log, wrapped in a plastic bag)

After the meal we remove the chairs from the wall-side of the table and move it against said wall, enlarging the room and giving enough chairs for the ZL's. Each picture above was of a different section of the room after the Kentucky Fried Chicken, beans. rice, and rolls were consumed. We are now in President Mickelsen's home with its large living room/dining room that could easily hold 75 to 100 chairs set in rows, but we have 26 at this meeting.

The AP's conduct the meeting and give time to each of the leadership for their part. Sister Cindy and I had 10 minutes. The office elders had 30. That shows who has the most to say. Here is a little contrast between Sister Cindy's shoes and elder Worthen's.

Our big message was about the new cell phones that would give each companionship a phone. Lots of cautions and conditions to having a cell phone, but I believe it will make or elders safer (the sisters already have phones) and more efficient. It remains to be seen.

After the meeting (9:00) we all head for home and bed. The next day they meet again from 9 am until 3:30pm. This is mostly instructions and inspiration. Afterwward, we had invited the AP's and office elders to our home for birthday dinner for Elder West. As it turned out we had 18 Elders for dinner. We gave us using the table and just fed them in the parlor. We had to put a little water in the soup, so to speak, but sister Cindy came up with a great meal.

If you can't tell from the picture, Elder West is blowing out the stub of a candle that has burned down into the cake ( it is a recycle candle). The fideo below is of the happy birthday song in Russian.
What a group of great Elders. What a country.


Shannon Simmons said...

loved the video!!!! Keep up the great work - and dont forget my blog:) I just posted a new article today that I think you'll especially enjoy dad!

Trisha said...

I think you are bit confused on the language. Uno dos tres is spanish the last I heard. Love seeing mom in the pics, but would like to see more of you too.