Dear family and friends,

Thank you to all who responded and especially to those who said they would remember us in their prayers. When we get more time we can write to you individually.  Thank you Mary P. for the letter.  Don’t know how you found our address here but is was wonderful to get personal mail from someone we love.

We are re-packing and doing laundry today in hopes of flying out to Istanbul tomorrow morning.  However, three couples left for the airport this morning and then returned because of the ash cloud over Northern Europe which has closed the airports.  Will keep you posted.

We learned about church humanitarian services this week starting with a great field trip to Welfare Square and the Humanitarian Center.  Rest assured that if any give donations to humanitarian aid that it all goes to help the poor and the needy around the world.  There is no overhead in the program because of volunteers like us who go around the world to administer it.  There are about 18 paid employees in church headquarters who administer it world wide but they are paid out of general church funds. We learned that these are the major initiatives that the church focuses on:

– Clean water – 5,250,000 people have been helped in 52 countries.  We did a case study of a current project in Ethiopia where water is being piped from a spring to a large village 18 miles away.  The native people are digging and working on the project so they will feel ownership of it.  They have been washing, bathing, watering livestock, etc. out of a stream and wonder why they have constant sickness.

– Vision care.

– Food – this is a relatively new initiative that helps people grow crops and raise livestock to better feed themselves.

– Wheelchairs – over 350,000 have been provide to the handicapped since 2000.

– Neonatal Resuscitation Training – we lead the world in training doctors, midwives, etc. to save the lives of newborns and decrease the infant mortality rate.  Have done this in 65 countries so far.

Having said all of this, we will probably not be involved in any of these things  because Russia does not allow us to import ANYTHING.  We are sure that we will find useful things to do using the resources that are available and also doing what our mission president directs us to do. We feel a little like Nephi in the Book of Mormon who was “led not knowing beforehand the things which he should do.”

Had a wonderful Devotional on Tuesday night with Glenn L. Pace of the First Quorum of Seventy.  Can’t share much except that if we could remember our pre-mortal life with our Father in Heaven we would be far too homesick to stay on this earth.  God loves us!

We are attaching a picture of the famous map in the Missionary Training Center showing us pointing to where we are and where we are going.  If all goes as planned, we will have circumnavigated the globe by the time we come home in two years.

Our love and best to all!

Elder and Sister R