Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Back on the Farm" The office in Novosibirsk 12/20/08

"Back on the Farm" The office in Novosibirsk 

Light snow
Wind 5-7 mph
Temp -18c

By now we are back in the groove and attending a baptism at the Left Bank chapel, the District Christmas program, and having the Gushin's for soup and a game after. The baptism was great as usual.

The District held a Christmas activity including a nativity, skits, a small choir, and a box of chocolates for every adult and a big gold chocolate coin for the children. It was difficult to understand everything (in Russian) but the story is well known to us and the skits were pretty obvious; A great activity.

We later had the Gushchins to our home for dinner and their first game of UNO. They do not play games and this was a new experience. The Tortilla Soup was wonderful and the game was fun. What a nice family. Here is sister Gushchin with her grandson Pasha after the program.

Thinking back, we enjoyed Madrid just as we enjoyed Prague, but we don't belong in either city now. Novosibirsk is our home and these are our members and missionaries.

I do have to comment on some differences between Madrid and Novosibirsk. It is an observation about the spirit of the place. In Novo, when you ride the Metro (underground) the only sound is the train. Almost no one talks or looks at other people on the train. You could be crushed cheek to jowl or in an almost-empty train, in either case there is almost no interaction except possibly young lovers or a couple of babushkas gossiping. On the street it is the same. There you don't talk to people or look at them. The phrase from one of our YSA's is, "Don't bother strangers".

In Madrid it couldn't be more opposite. On the Metro there is an audible hum of conversation with people laughing, and a feeling of simple happiness. On the street, people smile at strangers, give directions when asked, and the spirit is genial joviality everywhere. It is a very pleasant place to be. We even got entertainment on the Metro.

Now in Novo, we got back to work with our office tasks, preparing for transfers on the 10th, and looking forward to Zone Leader Conference. Let me make this clear, we are not unhappy to return here and we are not angry, as we have heard from others, to be back in Russia. This is where we belong and where we can make the biggest contribution to the work. It is not about our own comfort and convenience. It is about service to God and our people.

What a country

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