Saturday, November 26, 2011

Driving around the villages outside of Tbilisi - Elder Reese sees this man hearding turkeys. We just had to stop for a picture of the Turkeyherder! (can you imagine him going home to his wife and telling her that an American took a picture of him and the turkeys!)

On Sunday after church we went to the metro to deposit the tithing checks (there is a single teller bank in each metro!) and we saw this lady with her daughter and her 'pet' getting ready to go on the metro. We just had to get a picture - I'm thinking she's going to dinner and was asked to bring the chicken!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

We are doing a humanitarian project with Misha. He is a diabetic and has his own NGO (non goverment organization) that helps diabetics in Georgia. He asked us if we would publish a book for diabetics that gives them information on living a healthy lifestyle. He was able to get a really good price on the publishing and here are the 1000 books he ordered. They are very nice and have a "Published by the Foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Georgia" at the end of the book in English and Georgian. On Monday the 14th Misha picked us up and we went to 3 different clinics to pass out the books. He had a box in the trunk and at the first stop he counts out 20 books and hands them to E. Reese. Only 20 books? Misha has called all the doctors that see diabetics and has a list of how many books they want - some want 50. I'm thinking this is going to take him a long time to pass out 1000 books 20 at a time! He is a kind and patient man.

We went to 3 clinics and it took us about 3 hours. The third doctor was one of the authors that contributed to the book. Here E. Reese has the book open to what she wrote.

The clinics were in old buildings and the doctors officies were small and cold with old desks and chairs. Doctors do not get paid much here - but the 3 we saw were very happy in their jobs.
Finally our container of wheel chairs made it to Tbilisi! The order for this project had gone in before we got here back in February. The church gives away a lot of wheel chairs through out the world - they are very needed. There are a lot of details that have to be worked out - so it takes awhile to get them. These literally came on a slow boat from China! On Nov. 11th we finally got them through customs and to this yard. Here is the container. It was so exciting to open it and see all the white boxes - each a wheel chair for someone in need. The boxes were seperated into sizes. I had my clipboard and did all the counting and checking off who got what.

E. Reese was helping in the truck.

At one point we stepped into the office, where it was warm to compare numbers - we worked out the problem and got all the wheelchairs devided up. I had 3 different groups taking the 290 chairs. One of the groups had his own sub-groups come in and that's where the numbers got off (yes, it was his mistake - not mine!) This is Levon, wonderful guy that got everything through cutoms and here in a timely manner - and of course, Mzia our interpreter.

Only 3 hours later, we are in the Women of Georgia's van, headed home with the last of their wheel chairs. It was a great day - I thought everything went really smoothly. Now the wheel chairs will be handed out to the people throughout Georgia. We will be going to see some of the distribution ceremonies over the next few weeks - this is the best part!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Saturday, November 5th, was a great day! A wonderful lady, Sister Edzita, was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We are so happy for her and even happier for us, because we get to associate with her! Right after her baptism we had a Relief Society party. I had mentioned that I wanted to learn how to make chortchellas - so here we go. Another name for them is 'Georgian Snickers'. First you string the walnuts using a needle and thread.

A picture of myself, Dali (she is an investigator that comes to my english group) and Armina - who is the mastermind behind our project today!

OK - Leala did not really string any walnuts - but she loves being in all the pictures - here she is with Keti, who is filling out her papers to go on a mission.

Next, you take grape juice and add a lot of flour and cook it slowly on the stove. She had this huge wooden spoon and I felt like I was stirring a witches brew!

When it gets really thick, you lay the string of walnuts in the sauce and use the spoon to cover the nuts with more sauce. Then you slowly pull the nuts up and they are covered with the sauce. Then we strung them on a stick between two chairs where they hang for several days until they dry. We put the extra sauce in cups and ate it for dessert.

They also showed me how to make Tolma. You start with a grape leaf that has been soaked in water and add a meat mixture (hamburger, rice, onions and spices). Then you roll it up and stack it in a big pot. They are covered with water and boiled for about 30 minutes. We ate tolma and a yummy chicken salad and bread with our grape sauce and cookies for dessert.

It took us almost 3 hours from start to finish - but we had a great time. Here are Tamuna and Edzita - new friends. Our sisterhood was strengthened by this activity.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Being the only small branch in the entire country of Georgia has it's advantages. The last week in October we were visited by Elder Nuenschwander, his wife and Slava. E. Nuenschwander, a emeritus general authority, and his wife are now serving a church/branch history specialist mission for Eastern Europe and he is a Patriarch. Slava is the E. Europe's family history specialist. Slava trained our 2 family history people. E. Nuenschwander gave blessings to 5 members of our branch and I worked with him to set everything up and keep things going smoothly. Here he is with Elgouja and Denara. It was a joy to be there and see the people come out of the patriarchal blessings - they glowed! The missionaries were having a district meeting and E. Nuenschwander was able to

sit in for a little bit and then talk with the Elders. What was most amazing was the time we were able to spend in counsel and conversation with our guests. We learned a lot about doing church, branch, family and personal history. We showed them around Tbilisi and Mtskheta - all our favorite spots. His wife was delightful. Where else but Georgia would E Reese and I be able to recieve personnal counsel and advice from a General Authority for 2 days - unbelievably amazing - the Lord is truely blessing us in so many ways!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Our apartment was a 45 minute metro ride from the church. Sometimes Pres. Reese would make several trips in one day. We started thinking that it might be a good idea to move closer to the church and the next thing you know - we are packing! Senior missionaries have lived in this apartment for 10 years and had accumulated a lot of stuff! We sorted through things, boxed up things, got rid of some things and on the last Saturday in October we had our 8 missionaries come over and help load up the truck. We were out of this apartment and into our new one in under 2 hours! We have trained these missionaries to be excellent Elders Quorum movers! Here is E. Reese packing up in the old apartment. This is the entrance of our new apartment - the mirrors are the doors of a huge closet - storage area. To the left are the 2 doors to the office and bedroom and further down that hall is the bathroom.

To the right and behind me is the kitchen. We are the first people to live here, so everything is new. In the far cornor is my washing machine. The far side is a glass window and door that opens out to the balcony. I love all the light! There is also a table and 4 chairs here - lots of room to cook.

To the right of the entrance hall in our living room - it is HUGE. It has a navy blue leather couch, love seat and chair - it so reminds me of my old couches! We also have a nice dining room table in here that opens up enough to hold all the missionaries - we'll test that out on Thanksgiving! Again, lots of window and a door that opens to another balcony.

This is our office, where we spend most of our time. We just got the internet working (after 2 LONG weeks!) and are back to work. This apartment is on the cold side - so notice the heater between the 2 desks.

And here is our lovely bedroom - they have since brought us nice end tables to replace the cardboard boxes! Built into the wall is a nice closet, shelves and lots of storage room. Behind the curtain is another window and door to another balcony!

The bathroom is nice - now that we have a shower curtain and have figured out how to work the water. It is always a challenge when you are the first ones in to get all the 'bugs' worked out. We are in the nice neighborhood of Ortachella. The store is accross the street and the buses and marshutkas are close. It takes us 20 minutes to walk to church - which we do whenever we can because it is good exercise. We are a 5 minute taxi ride away. Our next goal is to figure out where all the buses go!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Here in Georgia we work with 3 main languages. The missionaries learn Georgian at the MTC and most of our members speak this language. Some of our members - especially the youth speak only Georgian. Most of our members also speak Russian with several speaking only Russian. Some of our members speak English with several speaking only English. All the materials that we use are in Russian. We have very few written materials in Georgian. We were very excited when during the summer we finally got 'Preach My Gospel' printed in Georgian. Our church services and classes are done in Georgian or Russian depending on who is in charge! We do have headphones for our English only group so Sacrament Meeting is translated and whenever we speak, we have a translator stand by us and translate into Russian. When we have General Conference, we can get it in English and Russian only. So imagine how excited we were to hear that they were having the Sunday Sessions of General Conference translated into Georgian!!! 2 of the members of our branch did the translating the week before conference and then they read the talks on Sunday while the General Authority was speaking. It was so amazing to be a part of history here in Georgia. They heard the Prophet for the first time in their native language. We took lots of pictures and had them write about their experience to be shared with the Quorum of the 12. We even had an article written on chuch new, Here is the picture that was used - I am the photographer, so I am not IN the picture! This was a great step for Georgia - we are hoping to start translation on the Book of Mormon the first of next year. It takes about 5 years to complete - so we are anxious to get started!