Dear Friends and Family,

For those of you who do not have a slow, dial-up connection may I highly recommend that you go to LDS.org and scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “The Boy’s Home”. This will give you a glimpse of what humanitarian work in the church is all about. It is a great little story and would be a great start to a Family Home Evening discussion.

Hope this finds you all doing well. We understand that the weather on the Pacific coast has been quite rainy. It has been beautiful here – quite warm and humid yesterday (Sunday). On Saturday we had a picnic for our little branch and 4 or 5 members of our English club came as well. The day started out with an early shower but cleared up into a beautiful day. We took a bus and then caught a train that took us out into the country. The train was full so we all stood in the little boarding room with our arms full of things we needed for our outing. Luckily, it was only about a half hour train ride. Ater we got off the train we walked and walked to a little lake. We picked up trash and piled it for 30 minutes to make a place that was clean. We built a fire, ate, and played games. This was not a developed area – no picnic tables or things we would expect. The two little girls who were there with a member of the English Club thought Elder R made a wonderful Grandfather (Dedooshka). One of the games that one of the ladies brought involved a bag full of empty plastic bottles that she threw into the lake and everyone tried to sink them with rocks. We just wouldn’t think of polluting a lake in that manner but it means nothing here. To eat there were bananas, some cold mashed potatoes, some kind of a fishy smelling potato-like salad, and big fat sausages dripping with fat that were roasted over the fire. I brought cheese aned crackers (something I could eat) and the cheese was a big hit. It was a wonderful day!

On Wednesday of last week we went with our translator to a children’s camp outside of town. They had been given a walk-in freezer to store food for the children but we needed a couple more legal documents to close the project and wanted some pictures for our records. We went to one of the outer bus stops and they picked us up in a car. We had a hard time telling the driver not to leave without our translator. Our translator said this was a good introduction to Russian flattery. The director kissed my hand when we were introduced and they said nothing was too much because of what we had done for them. No one else cares about them. They sometimes work without salary from early morning until late at night because they care about the children and on and on. They asked if we would like some food. Our translator said it would be very rude to refuse so I said, “A little.” We went into an office and were served boiled egg halves topped with mayonnaise (Russian – not like ours), brown bread, apple juice. Then they brought each of us a large plate with rice and some kind of ground meat in a loaf. We were struggling through this and the director and his female assistant were talking to us the whole time. Our translator said there was no need to respond, just smile and nod. Then she would say, “Smile and say something nice. Act like you are enjoying this food.” It seemed the more I ate the larger the food on my plate grew. Then they brought each of us a plate with sunny-side up eggs and a thick slice of something that looked like soft bologne. I was definitely not eating that! The translator told them that I was on a diet. Jim made a valiant effort and ate most of what he got. Then they served us borscht – the first I have had here and it was good. The lady said she would serve us seafood next time – squid, etc. I hope we don’t have to go back, but of course, they want more from us. This time a walk-in refrigerator. We told them to submit their request and it would be considered. They took us home in a van with some of the employees who were getting rides back to town and the translator (Galeena) and I laughed all the way over the experience we had just had. But we were able to close one of our open projects! Hooray!

Galeena told me that when she was first a missionary on Temple Square in Salt Lake City that some Russian men came and she was assigned to give them the tour. They were angry at her and asked what a Russian girl was doing in this American church. They threatened to turn her family’s names into the Russian FBI and threatened her. After that she did not want to take any Russians on tours and told her director that she would do Japanese tours because she also speaks fluent Japanese. But she eventually was able to do Russian tours again. For those of you who don’t know, there are young women at Temple Square from all over the world who can give tours in just about any language. Galeena said there was even a young woman from Pakistan there.

We have attached some photos of getting on the train, Elder R playing Twister (in Russian), and the long walk back to the train. Then there is me sitting on the train on the return trip. I wanted to include more but realized that if you want to see more you can go to our blog. Our love and best wishes to all! Elder and Sister R

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