Dear Friends and Family,

Before I start my tardy weekly update (we just got internet installed in our apartment and it seems to be pretty intermittent service), allow me to suggest a book for your reading list. It is called, “A Train to Potevka” by Mike Ramsdell. I was given this book by a couple of sweet sisters at the Miss. Trng. Center and Jim and I read it on the long flight from NYC to Istanbul. It is a slightly suspenseful and true spy story but it gives a glimpse of the Soviet Union at the fall of communism and a peek at the world in which we now find ourselves.

May I also suggest a movie that we enjoyed during our long flight from Moscow to Vladivostok (probably the last movie we will see for 2 years) since we were in first class on that flight. It is called, “Have You Heard About the Morgans?” or something similar. It starred Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker and Sam Elliott. We laughed so hard, maybe because we were tired. But the couple played by Sam Elliott and Mary somebody and their lifestyle reminded us so much of ourselves.

And now to our life here. Our Russian missionary, Elder Kosodoev, finally got a companion – a young man from Idaho Falls. So we haven’t had to be his shadow and walk all over with him. Also we have figured out some bus routes so we are more able to get where we want to go without walking so much. All four local missionaries meet at our apartment on Tuesday mornings for zone meeting. I try to feed them some lunch after but it was pretty sparse at first since I had not much food and nothing in which to cook it. I made spaghetti for them last week and potato soup this week.

It isn’t like there is a Wal-Mart where you can go and get everything you need in one place. It is more like a treasure hunt where you look in every store you see to try to find what you need – a pan here, some drinking glasses there, some plates here, etc. It’s always serendipitous excitement when you find something you have been searching for. There are still some things we need but we have enough to get by.

Our first Sunday, the 2nd of May, we went with the branch president (local church leader) and Elder K. to visit a lady who is a new member. She is recently divorced and struggling. She and her 6 – 7 year old son live in an apartment about 1/2 to 1/3 the size of our son and daughter-in-law’s bedroom.We wanted so much to do something to help her but helping individuals is up to the bishop or branch president. Our commission is to help groups.

Also on that first Sunday we met a charming young lady who had served a mission on Temple Square and in Portland, Oregon. She translated for us during the meeting. We are asking permission for her to be our translator for a while until she goes off to BYU in the Fall – a full ride scholarship. They told us in training to take the first month to get acquainted with our area – where to shop, banks, etc. We have been here almost 3 weeks and are so anxious to get started with humanitarian work.

On Thursday of last week we boarded a bus with the 4 missionaries for the long 4 hour ride to Vladivostok for an annual mission meeting. It was raining and the bus was muggy and hot. But our weekend in Vladivostok was pretty wonderful. We were in the same hotel with a couple from Utah that are serving in Ussirisk (sp?), the Hendersons. When we weren’t in meetings they took us to stores to show us some things that were good to eat. I should have bought them there because I can’t find them here in Nakhodka. I did buy some baking powder and some vanilla, which comes in a little packet in powder form. Our meetings were so inspiring.

Also Sunday (May 9th) was a huge holiday here – Victory Day. What they call the Great Patriotic War(we call WWII) ended 65 years ago for them. Little children draw pictures about the war, which are posted in public places. Everywhere we went there were men cleaning up and sprucing up the huge city of Vladivostok for the celebration – looked like they were working 24 hours. We were already on the bus returning on Sunday afternoon when the big parade was held. They just parade around a parade ground, not thru the streets like us.

An American ship, the Blue Ridge, was in port for the celebration. We met American sailors everywhere we went. I stopped each group and asked where they were from and thanked them for their service.

We took many nice pictures of the sights we saw in Vladivostok, including the ship and the home where Yul Brynner was born in 1920. Our daughter will get these posted on our blog for you to see. The hotel we stayed in was a 5 star hotel but the only difference between the beds and the floor was about 18 inches. I am too old to sleep on the floor any more. The Hendersons have learned and they travel with an air mattress. That’s all for this week. Love, Elder and Sister Rahi

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