Dear Friends and Family,
We started the week with about 17 people in our little apartment for Family Home Evening. It was a little chaotic for me but our young Russian friend Kate brought piroges (some stuffed with cabbage and some with egg) and some kind of a small jelly roll type dessert. She is a great cook for a 19 year old girl. I fixed lunch for the Elders the next morning and left all the dishes so that we could have another Gospel discussion with Kate. Then the Elders and us left on the four hour bus ride to Vladivostok for our zone meeting. This meeting happens every 6 weeks but I understand that it will soon be only 4 times a year. It was a wonderful meeting as usual. These young, dedicated Elders are a constant source of inspiration. We also got to meet our new office couple who are great people!
I was able to weigh myself on the the scales at the mission president’s where we spent the night. I have lost another 10 pounds since the last meeting 6 weeks ago. If I hadn’t found Crown Pies I’m sure I would have lost more. They are like moon pies that you can get in the states but these come from Korea. I eat one and think, “That was good!” Not something I ever say here. So then I have another one or two. I eat to stay alive but nothing ever tastes good. But things are looking up: we received packages from our daughter and from our dear friend, Linda. They spent a small fortune, something I didn’t want anyone to do, to mail us goodies.
The Mission President asked us to go from Vladivostok to a town called Usserisk to check it out with a couple who are there but who are going home in September. I think he wants to put us in that town. We will fill you in later on that and the town, which is about 40 miles as the crow flies from the Chinese border. We didn’t get home until Thursday night and the Elders had put the packages in our apartment for us. So we finally got to open them. I am rather ashamed to confess that I cried like a baby at the sight of all the wonderful seasonings, taco seasoning, Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix, a large bag of bacon bits, jello, canned tuna and canned chicken, peanut butter and other goodies. I hope it isn’t just that I am too attached to food but maybe because it was a touch of home, or maybe because I am hungry most of the time. Anyway, I couldn’t stop crying that night and the next morning. We had a wonderful dinner tonight (Sunday) – tuna salad sandwiches. They were so good.
On Friday evening we went with a group of disabled children that we are trying to help to go see some trained dolphins who are in a tank in a cove about 20 miles out of town. It was a great experience.
Our internet was down most of the week but it was OK since we were gone so much anyway. We had received a lot of monthly reports from other Humanitarian Missionaries around Eastern Europe that are always interesting to read. The ones near Moscow had pictures of the devastating fires there and spoke of a village that was completely destroyed. They were busy putting together a relief package for them. We also finally heard from the couple in Ismir, Turkey about the young man who had put in his mission papers. He was called to serve in Everett, Washington. He is the first LDS missionary ever called from Turkey.
Here is a great link for those of you who have something more than a dial-up connection. It is our former translator, who is now off to BYU telling about her conversion to the Gospel when she first entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo a couple of years ago. I think you will love it!
Well, Jim has been on the phone inviting people left and right to our apartment for Family Home Evening tomorrow night so I better go rein him in and do some preparation. We think of you all constantly and miss home but are grateful for this opportunity to serve the Lord by serving our Russian brothers and sisters. Sweet is the work! Elder and Sister