Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Battle of Novosibirsk, Midnight 1/1/09

Wind 8-10 mph
Clear sky under cloud cover with light snow

Yesterday morning I got up to the flash of golden light in the windows of a building across the way. I thought of the old story about the young man who saw a house on the other side of the valley from his own home with golden windows and walked all day across that valley, arriving at evening only to find that the windows were not golden at all, but normal glass. Turning around at dusk he spotted another golden windowed home back across the valley and recognized it as his own home, reflecting the glow of the setting sun just as this house had reflected the rising sun. Moral: we can find beauty in our own lives if we get the right perspective.

Well, I took these pictures to show how the story could be true, one from the front facing north and one of the rising sun out the back windows from the Cabo Room (now the ice house). Both are beautiful in their own way.

Now on New Year's Eve it sounds like we are in the middle of a war zone. Explosions are going off all around us, some as near as our front driveway. We can see rockets shooting skyward right in front of our window and bursting just above our heads with a deafening explosion. Fortunately, the people in this building don't have all that much money and each of their celebrations is short. However, the city is alive with skyrockets, explosion, and car alarms. It IS a war zone.

As I sat in the kitchen and tried to write, I could hear the explosions going off all around us. As I thought I heard something interesting, I tried to get to a window with my camera to capture a video clip for you readers, but I have discarded most of them because they are often over by the time I got set. I have included just one for effect, but trust me, the show is constant.

The pyrotechnicians are all amateurs and many are suffering from the last 6 hours of drinking so we are a little anxious about their skills and aim, especially the ones working in our front yard. We had heard some stories about New Year's and were a little anxious.

The Mickelsens told us a story about the missionary couple who had previously occupied the apartment they eventually lived in during their first mission here. They had gone to bed sometime after midnight and were awakened out of a deep sleep by an explosion in their living room. When the gentleman got into the room, the curtains, carpet, and couch were on fire. He managed to get the fire under control while his wife called the police because they thought someone was trying to kill them. The investigation revealed that a skyrocket had hit and burst on their window, breaking it and showering live sparks inside, catching things on fire.

Another story from someone else included a neighborhood group setting off rockets with spectators, including children, standing within feet of the launch tube. One of the launchers fell over after the rocket was lit and shot horizontally through the crowd and exploding against a building. Luckily, no one was injured and everyone had a big laugh.

A few fountains and sparklers at home pale in comparison to the fireworks these Russians get and I just can't imagine that so many could be discharged without someone getting in the way. We will never know since we can't read the paper or understand the news on TV.

On New Year's Day the missionaries gathered again at the Mission Home to play Risk (and Rook this time), share a meal (nachos and Sister Simmons' cinnamon rolls), and watch the last 15 minutes of Narnia I and the sequel, Narnia II, with popcorn and juice. Cindy and I later discussed the symbolism and deeper meaning behind C.S. Lewis' stories. There is a lot there to uncover.

Now we are again at the kitchen table involved in what Cindy calls "parallel play", Cindy finishing her email and me writing this. I have hope of a 11 PM bed time and a 7 AM rising for my new exercise and scripture study program, the only New Year's resolutions I am making this year. It has been a great year for Cindy and I and a wonder to finish it amid the shouts and fireworks of New Years in Novosibirsk.

May God bless you in this new year with good health and good experiences that will bring you to a sure knowledge that He loves you and knows you by name, that He is an exalted man, glorified and perfect, not a mist or a cloud or an essence, but a real person. He would like to hear from you in a quiet moment. Maybe you could ask Him if He is really there. You may not hear His voice in your ear, but you may just feel His love in your heart and His arms around you to comfort you and let you know that He hears your prayer.

To the friends whom I've never met, but have hit this blog 150-plus thousand times since May, if you don't know it yet, I hope you will discover this year that you are a child of God, and He has sent you here to learn, grow, and become more like Him and His son, Jesus Christ. You can do this. You can become more like them by being just a little more patient, just a little kinder to your enemies as well as your friends, just a little more honest, just a little more charitable. No big changes, just baby steps like I heard about in a movie once. Try it. Your life will be better.

What an idea. What great missionaries. What a country.


Shannon Simmons said...

Happy New Year!!!! Keep up the great missionaring!

Trisha said...

Thanks for the insights. We watched Narnia the other day and the girls and I had the same deep talk about the other messages that are in this story. Way cool.