ROSTOV, Russia In this land, where Christmas is celebrated Jan. 7 as per the Julian calendar, more than 700 people viewed Dec. 16-17 a Christmas Creche exhibit the first such Church sponsored exhibit in the area.
Held in a new meetinghouse dedicated Nov. 5, the exhibit attracted both members and others. Eight local women baked homemade cookies for the guests.
Elder David Schultz, a missionary from West Des Moines, Iowa, said, "We had 42 people from Novocherkassk attend the event; eight were members and the rest were investigators, their friends and people from our English classes. One of our investigators has given us a referral of a friend who attended on Saturday night. We are already feeling the effects of a great spiritual event. Everyone who attended loved it and had only good things to say."
Sister Margaret Arnold, wife of Russia Rostov Mission President Ned C. Arnold, organized the event, displaying 25 creches from her personal collection. She first participated in a Creche exhibit in 1998, while serving as director of public affairs in the Harrisburg Pennsylvania Stake. After moving to Russia, Sister Arnold hoped to borrow Nativities from members in Rostov, but soon found that few are available in the country.
She was able, however, to borrow a Russian handmade Nativity, fashioned in Rostov. Finding it, Sister Arnold said, was "a real miracle."
"Based on the crowds of people who came, the outpouring of appreciation and love, I would say it was an overwhelming success," she said, noting that similar events will be held in coming years. "Many missionaries were thrilled with the response of investigators whose hearts were definitely touched."