Dear Friends and Family,
The local people say that this has been about the coolest Spring here in Eastern Russia for 70 years. For that I am extremely grateful. The humid and really hot weather hasn’t begun here yet. We have had some delightful thunder and lightening storms.
You may remember the pictures of the “scarey” apartment building where we visited a lady when we first arrived here in town. This lovely lady made a comment at that time that her shabby little one room apartment was all that she guessed she had earned or that the Lord felt she deserved. That comment really haunted me. Some turn of events in her life has allowed her to move to a two room apartment in a much nicer building, where her aging father will live with her so she can take care of him. But even though it is bigger and has a small kitchen and bathroom, the apartment was in bad shape. Jim finally convinced her to let us help. So we and the young missionaries have spent a few days there trying to make it beautiful for her. She said we could paint the ceiling but chips of the old paint just peeled off with the roller so we had to spend much time just scraping the ceiling. During Soviet times they couldn’t get paint so there is some kind of white rocks that they soak to get a whitewash and that is what was on the ceiling and walls. They still sell those rocks here. After much scraping and painting the ceiling finally looked good and then we scraped the walls and patched to prepare for wallpaper. We got the papering well started so that she could finish it and her brother came to help her. He has really done a lot of work for her and I can’t wait to see the finished product. I am so happy for her. It isn’t much by our standards but it will be a palace compared to where she has been living – and just a small taste of the mansion that she so richly deserves. I could not help in this situation but to think of the parable of the beggar who sat each day at the gate of a rich man and begged for the crumbs which fell from his table. When the beggar died he was in glory and the rich man in torment. Things will be interesting on resurrection morning, won’t they?
You may also remember my description of traveling about 45 minutes out of town to a mental institution where we hope to do a project. Our little church group planned some entertainment and a dance for the people at this insitution on the last Saturday in May. At the last minute our visa clerk said that the American missionaries couldn’t go there without permission from our city officials. We have no idea why and we didn’t tell her that we had already been there. But the Russian members who went said it was a very rewarding and delightful time. These people see almost no one from the outside world.
Jim is serving well as the branch president here. He is amazed at the inspiration and wisdom – wisdom beyond his own – that comes to him as he counsels with the members. We normally have about 30 people in attendance at our Sunday meetings but last week we had 44 and 48 this week. Next Saturday is our branch picnic so we will give you a report on that next time.
We received some wonderful and happy news last week – that we get to be grandparents again. Our beautiful daughter is expecting and is due early in November. I am, of course, sad that I will not be there for the event but I will certainly be home in time to do the normal grandmotherly duties – spoiling, bragging, etc.
We cannot tell you how very much your love and support (and packages) and prayers mean to us. This mission has been more difficult than we ever imagined. The young Elder who is currently our district leader said that he prayed for two years before his mission and said, “Lord, give me the most difficult mission you have.” So he is not surprised that he is here but, personally, I have never prayed for anything but easy stuff in my life. (This is Sue talking.) So, maybe that’s why I’m here.
We love all of you and pray for you as well. I so hope that the difficult economic times that I read about are not affecting any of you too badly and that all of your needs and righteous desires are met. Miss you all like crazy!! Love, Elder Jim and Sister Sue R