Thursday, February 25, 2010

Things I Will Miss--Things I Will NOT Miss

Things I Will Miss--Things I Will NOT Miss
Weather--Snowing, heavy wind, alternating clouds and sun.
Temperature--Minus 8.7 C (+16F) Wind gusting to 40 mph

I have begun making a list of the things that I will miss and not miss when I go home. I would like to share them with you.

The list of things I will miss is the shortest and easiest to cover here. It includes:

The first that comes to mind is the missionaries. I have said this so many times that it is in danger of becoming trite, but, these young people are the highlight of our mission. There is no question about the high caliber of people being sent to our mission. Without question, they are chronologically young, but incredibly mature in the Gospel. Spiritually, they are bright lights in a dark place, maybe even brighter because of the darkness, and people-on-the-street have noticed the actual light around them and have even tried to capture it with a camera. The Light of Christ in them, along with their own spiritual light, is undeniable and a great comfort to us. These are the Lord's anointed for the preaching of the Gospel and they, along with their angels, are powerful beings on the Lord's errand.
A close second on this list is the group of young adults in Novosibirsk with whom we have had a close relationship these past 21 months. I have met many of the others from various other cities and they are equally quality young people, but it is the Novo YSA group that I will sincerely miss. They are open, loving, enthusiastically involved in everything and willing to do almost anything. Most of them are either working or still at the university with most of life in front of them. Six of our strongest ones have left during the past year on missions somewhere in Russia. They go to the MTC for a month and then they are returned to Russia to their mission of service.

Another thing we will miss is SKYPING with our family. We will be close to at least one child and grand-children when we return home, but we will still be using SKYPE to keep in touch with the rest of the family. However, there is something unique about being half-way around the world and talking in real time with someone over your computer.

Our 9th floor window is my periscope on the world. I can stand there and watch the world below while shaving, getting dressed, or just daydreaming. We can see the Ob River, the Left Bank, the train track, the main roads to our west and the buildings to the right near the neighborhood administration building. I can watch the construction workers across the street, the foot traffic along the street, the local dogs and birds, the college students going to their classes west of us, and the fireworks when people get married or on holidays.

The Gushchins and the Ozherelevs will certainly be missed. Yuri Gushchin is our mission driver and a real prince of a man. Natalia Gushchina is our office librarian and cleaner. She speaks pretty good English and is our link to Yuri. She is also a good friend and we love them both. Sasha and Lenna Ozherelev are in their late 20's and very enjoyable for us. Sasha is the physical facilities man for the mission and Lenna is Cindy's professional seamstress. She can make anything and Sasha can fix anything. He also loves root beer and I intend to leave him whatever extract I have left when we leave. They also like "Hand and Foot". All four of them take especially good care of us and we call them our "kreysha" which means your roof, your protection. A very important concept in Russia.

Some things I will not miss . . .
Where do I begin? Well, really the list is not all that long, and frankly I can deal with it all. It is just that I will not remember them fondly.

First, the cold. This is something you just never get used to. Even the Siberians hate the cold. You can dress for it and you can function in it, but it goes through you like a knife. "It stings your toes and bites your nose . . ." and any exposed skin at -35 is soon a victim if not covered quickly. It penetrates everything, even the double-pane windows. I got these pictures of ice forming on the INSIDE of our windows to prove just how cold it can get here. When we sleep with the window wedged open with a water bottle, it is always frozen in the morning and we often have snow on the window sill.

The elevator in our building. This is another of those inanimate objects with an attitude. It will stop between floors and shut off the lights whenever it wants. It will go on the blink on the day you shop and bring home 12 bags of groceries that you, and the Elders, will now have to carry up 9 floors. It doesn't like jumping in the car, more than 4 people, loud noises, or 10th, 14th, or 23rd of any given month. However, it will tolerate trash, spilled beer, melting snow, various forms of excrement, and anyone who speaks Russian.

Washing the vegetables is also near the top of the list. We usually go shopping, with Yuri Gushchin's help, on Wednesday mornings, in company with the office elders, and drop our bags at the apartment before returning to the office for the balance of the day. Regardless of the time we come home from the office, I never get started washing until 9 or 10pm. Then it is a 3-4 hour project to wash, chlorinate, rinse, and put away the produce that often includes 10-12 lettuce plants, cucumbers, tomatoes (if you can call them that), potatoes, onions, celery (on occasion), asparagus (on occasion), broccoli, cauliflower, pineapple, eggs, and other assorted things that we eat raw. I don't get to bed before 1AM ever on Wednesdays and often later.

Our apartment is not so bad, although I won't miss the pealing wallpaper or the need for extension cords, but the washing machine is truly the most forgettable. I did a whole posting on that process last year and it still goes on. Whatever I am doing, washing takes a big chunk of my time. After all, you long-timers know that I am in charge of washing and world peace, and clothes washing is a real time consumer.

The dogs are another thing I won't miss. As you know, I was concerned for the 9 puppies that were born in the construction site across the street early in the winter, but now that they have grown to maturity, I am ready for them to demise. I mean really, who needs 15 dogs running in a pack all night (9 puppies, three adults, and 3 other strays that have joined them) barking, baying, whining, and barking some more. I watched one of the younger ones down below our window bark continuously for at least 10 minutes, apparently calling its siblings. Finally the pack shows up amid the usual barking, jumping, licking, mock-fighting, and then all troop off for a new adventure somewhere to the west. I WON'T miss that.

Finally, I won't miss the gulag mentality I see in many non-LDS people, the knowing that life is crummy, but enduring, suffering, scrambling, scratching, taking, misusing, defrauding, abusing, living a hedonistic lifestyle of the hopeless but getting all they can in spite of it instead of working, learning, growing, improving, giving, serving. These people have an enormous capacity to suffer and endure, while brutally using whatever power or strength they have to get whatever they can from fellow inmates. It is just heartbreaking.

On the other hand, the members we know are the lights and life of our time here. They have hope. They have vision. They know who they are and what life is about. Their lives are not any better, but they are living it better. They are riding the wave instead of being dumped on. I love them so much.

What a country


Shannon said...

Its hard to believe that your mission is so close to being completed. I will miss having you on mission. I know my life has been blessed (in addition to all those you are serving and serving with) and I am sure that I will see a notable difference in my life when you return. I will also miss skyping you in Russia. I mean, really its just cool to be able to say that I have family in Russia that I regularly Skype. Its just a fantastic demonstration of the power of technology. Thankfully, we will be able to still skype- DC is just as good as half way round the world when it comes to regularly chatting. I am getting very excited to see you soon. But, dont get trunky. Keep focusing. Love you.

Trisha said...

It is true there are things that you will miss mostly the people, and there are things that you think you will not miss... However one day a smell, a sight, or sound will happen and it will bring all the glorious memories back. Then you will miss it all. Even the washing machine. Ok you might be right on that one. But some of the others will be missed.

Mindy said...

Love all of your recent posts. Sounds like quite the country. I'm not so sure that I could deal with used spaghetti laying around outside my home. I hope that you find your name tag but if not I hope it leads someone to the church and if that happens then he did do a good job, even if he was a little bit rebelous. I will continue to check your blog out and hopefully you will reach your 1,000,000 mark. Have a great week!

Mindy said...

Ohps, this is actually Carol not Mindy. I was logged into her blog. :)

lelia said...

Everything you write is a revisit from being with you last summer. It was such a blessing to have a 6 day closeup view of your life in Novo and your work in the mission there. I relate to everything and the wonderful people in your church and the dedication of the young missionaries. The Lord has blessed you both in so many ways and your life and work there is a reflection of that blessing. I look at your blog spot every day - my contribution to your million points of "light?"

Rene Weston-Eborn said...

Thanks for allowing your blog to be open and for sharing. We have read your blog often in anticipation. I have to say, I probably shouldn't have read the "things you won't miss" :)

My son will be there in 16 days to serve his mission. He is SO excited---he his in the MTC now and is counting the days down.

For me,mom, I am sure I will be on my knees more than I am now. Hoping he will be safe, eat healthy, and be taken care of....

Our Russia adventure is just beginning.

Love Sister Rene Eborn