Dear Friends and Family,
What a wonderful and busy week this has been! We had about 15 people in our little apartment last Monday evening for Family Home Evening. I used the precious cupcake papers I got in Seoul and made cupcakes – a first for our Russian guests. They loved them. We took a picture of everyone holding one to send to the dear sister in Seoul who gave them to me.

We had several visits to places that need our help and submitted our first project for approval. It will be 25 beds for a shelter for street kids and children whose parents are dysfunctional due to drug or alcohol abuse. When we visited an old folk’s home we thought they really needed beds as well because theirs were in terrible shape but they would rather have a large washing machine to be able to keep up with the laundry and maybe a hot water heater. We went into one of the rooms to visit with 2 old ladies and one of them said to me, “You are an old lady also.” I told her that I am indeed.
Jim and I were able to teach a first discussion to a 19 year old young lady who speaks fluent English. She spent last summer in the US on an exchange program and longs to go back. She misses chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter sandwiches among other things. She went up to the Elders on the street because she recognized that they were Americans and has been attending English Club. She seems anxious to hear about the Gospel but the Elders turned her over to us so it wouldn’t be a case of falling in love with handsome young missionaries. (We aren’t so loveable.) She asked if we would have cupcakes again for FHE tomorrow but I have to disappoint her. See attached picture of her and me.

On Saturday we went to a commercial sauna with a small cold pool to have a baptism. I am not sure how old Tiasia is but it was quite an ordeal for her to get into the deep cold pool and be baptized. We have been able to sit in on her discussions since the Elders are not allowed to meet alone with a female (of any age). We have grown to love her so much. She is so generous and kind but full of spit fire as well. We went back to the church afterward because she had bought all kinds of treats to celebrate with. I felt so badly that she had spent so much money. She lives in a one room apartment. But she said it was the happiest day of her life.

This week has also been a week of sad goodbyes. Our dear translator, Galina, leaves tomorrow morning (Monday) to attend BYU. She has mixed emotions as we do because we are happy for her opportunity but sad to see her go. I think when I get home I will drive to Utah and kidnap her for a while. We also said goodbye to the mission office couple in Vladivostok. They were such fun and wonderful people and we will miss them a lot. We have not yet met the new office couple but we were told that they are from Salt Lake City and that they were quite sure they were going to New Zealand on a mission. He had served there as a young man and had been in touch with the mission president when they submitted their papers. They had all their family gathered when they opened their letter with their mission call and it said Vladivostok, Russia. They were quite certain that it was a joke. Now, for those of you who are members, I have to tell you that he is the Home Teacher for Elder Rasband, who gave the talk in the last conference about how missionaries are called. So the next day he called Elder Rasband and told him that was a funny joke but now he would like his real mission call letter. Elder Rasband assured him that it was no joke and that he was needed in Vladivostok. We are anxious to get to meet them.
We have found a new translator, also named Galina, and it looks like another busy week for humanitarian work. There are so many common names here. Women are named Galina, Tatiana, Natalia, and Olga most commonly. Men are Sergey, Andrey, Ivan, and Dmitri. There are a few more, of course, but they are not creative with names as we are in the states. We have 5 Tatianas who come to our church so Jim and I refer to them as blond Tatiana, piano player Tatiana, etc. because he has trouble with last names in Russian.
We sincerely hope that you are all enjoying a wonderful summer! Much love, Elder and Sister Rahi