Dear Friends and Family,
On Thursday, May 12th we were invited to a talent show by a long time member of our English Club, Larissa. She teaches English at the University level and each year her school sponsors a talent show all in English for their students as well as students from all of the local schools and villages. Awards are given for the best performers in several categories and I understood that this was the second day and final round. It was amazing and wonderful! In the category of recitations there were students who did sililoquies from Shakespeare and from many classical English poets. One young man did a piece from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” that I thought was especially good. Then there were skits. The ones I remember were a re-enactment of a famous Russian fairy tale and one about Alice’s tea party with the Mad Hatter and one about the Jungle Book. All of the performances were excellent. In the third hour they started the musical performances. The Russian Sisters and I especially enjoyed the old Abba songs but there was a little girl about 7 or 8 who sang, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?’ and she really stole the show. Her little friend accompanied her on the flute. We had to leave before it was over because the Sisters had an appointment and Jim had already left to go meet our two new Elders at the bus station. They had never been to Ussurisk before and didn’t even know how to find their apartment. (Just imagine, if you will, if we in America taught a foreign language that well, or even our own language that well?)
The following day we were at the apartment of our wonderful Relief Society President. Jim had borrowed a roto-hammer so that he could drill holes in the concrete walls (pretty standard for all of these Russian apartments) and installed a curtain/drapery rod for her. He noticed that the chair he stood on was pretty near to collapsing so he sat on a stool to glue the chair and put some screws in it. Chairs seem to be a scarce commodity here. Apartments are too small for them so they mostly have little stools to sit on. Jim was sitting on a stool to repair the chair and the stool collapsed with him. (Oh, his poor back!) So then he re-glued and put screws in all four of her stools. His tool bag is getting too heavy to carry around so he has to be selective and leave some tools at the apartment. But I drew the line at his buying a roto-hammer so he had to borrow one.
We finally have received approval for two of our projects here. One will equip a play room at the main childen’s hospital here in town. The other for the Blind Society will provide canes, a talking blood pressure monitor and blood gluclose monitor and scales. It will also provide electronic readers and a computer that will be programmed for the blind. They will even get two sets of chess and checker games for the blind.
This week Jim was at the Elder’s apartment constructing a bed so he could get one of the guys up off the floor. The Elders were in Korea on a visa renewal trip. So I went by myself back to the office of the Blind Society to get corrected invoices so we could pay for the things they are getting. The director, who is also blind, was having a meeting with about 6 other blind people. She introduced me and told what we are doing. They all applauded. It is very humbling to accept thanks for the many church members who give so generously to the Humanitarian Fund.
As I was walking to this office I was enjoying some of the many beautiful trees in town that have white blooms on them right now. (Don’t know what kind of trees.) I was thinking how much more bearable life is in this bleak and dreary place with a little beauty to look at – then I entered the little office with 6 or 7 people who couldn’t see. Another humbling experience.
We found out that the petite Armenian girl that Jim baptized a few weeks ago plays the piano and we sure need some accompanyment. Our singing was pretty sour last Sunday after we lost the Elder who could play. So Jim asked her about it and she said first she needed to tell her father that she had joined the church so he wouldn’t wonder where she went on Sunday mornings. We and the Sister missionaries prayed and fasted for her on Friday because that was the day she was going to tell him. She is in her early 20’s and didn’t need his permission but also does not want to lose her home while she is attending college. I was hoping that she told him the things I had shared with her about the Church being well established in their homeland of Armenia. Our church has been there since their devastating earthquake in 1988 that killed 50,000 and has provided much humanitarian aid. When we were ready to build a church there the leaders of the country gave us 3 acres in the capital city that has a breath-taking view of Mount Ararat across the border in Turkey. As most of you know that is where Noah’s Arc is supposed to have landed. Anyway, her staunchly atheist father said, “No problem.”
We thank all of you for your support, love, and prayers. We pray for you, too, and for our country in these troubling times. Remember that there are no coincidences, only miracles where God chooses to remain anonymous. And miracles happen every day.
We love and miss you all like crazy! Elder and Sister R

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