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

7-18-10 011.jpg7-18-10 012.jpg7-18-10 018.jpg7-18-10 023.jpg7-18-10 027.jpg7-18-10 034.jpgDear Friends and Family,
It has been Christmas in July! We arrived in Seoul on Wednesday afternoon after our flight on Vladivostok Air was delayed for 2 hours due to a mechanical problem. (That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.) But Seoul is 2 hours behind us so we still had time to go to dinner at “On the Border” and have Mexican food – ahh, Heaven! And we attended a session at the Seoul Temple – ahh, more heaven! We checked into a small apartment right on the temple grounds where the temple missionaries live. At the present time there is only one American couple there. They were angels to us. She is the one who met us and took us to dinner. Her husband was out visiting a man in the hospital who is a political refugee from the Congo and who is a member of the Church. (There is a whole other story there.) Her husband is retired from the military where he served as a chaplain so they have access to the US military base and the PX. So they were willing to give us any kind of food that we could fit into our suitcases. We took 2 small cans of Crisco shortening, an angel food cake mix, some pudding mixes and jello, Stove-top stuffing, a can of Bush’s baked beans, and some vitamins.
In addition we did some shopping the next day and I was able to find some things at what they call the “Black Market”. I guess they get these American items somewhat illegally. But I found Ban deodorant which I have used for years. It cost me $15 but I didn’t care. We found a small bag of Oreo cookes, a small box of Ritz crackers, some Nalley’s sweet pickles, some baking powder, some Country Time Lemondade, some Nestle’s hot cocoa mix, some Hershey kisses and I can’t remember what else. We were thrilled beyond expression to find these simple things that I’m sure you would take for granted.
You can scarcely imagine the contrast between South Korea and Eastern Russia. Starting with the new Incheon International Airport, which has won many awards. It is so modern and so clean and they have real bathrooms! They have friendly Koreans standing all over who mostly speak English and are so willing and anxious to help you. When we got on the new, comfortable, modern bus with comfortable seats and air conditioning, the driver was in a clean uniform and white gloves and bowed to the passengers before driving away. Unlike here where the driver smells bad and smokes cigarettes constantly. We drove on a SMOOTH 3 lane highway for about 45 minutes into town. It is still the monsoon season in the Far East so it rained some when we arrived in Seoul and was raining heavily with thunder and lightening when we left. It is even more humid than here and I didn’t think that was possible BUT they have air conditioning. When you are outside it is like being in a sauna.
I fell in love with the Korean people in the short time I was there. At the temple they treated us like royalty. In the crowded streets everyone is so polite and they don’t shove or push and they know how to stand in a line. Here, everyone just crowds up to the front. Jim and I had to laugh as we were getting ready to depart because the Korean girl behind the desk walked out and arranged all the Russian passengers into a nice, neat line. We stayed in a district where there are several universities and so there were many young people on the streets. They were modestly dressed – unlike here where spike heels and as much as you can show without being completely naked is the norm.
We ate at a real McDonald’s. They do a booming business, but the Koreans know how to wait in lines. We had hot fudge sundaes and we had Crispy Cream donuts. Then when we were waiting at the airport to leave we ate at Burger King. These are things that wouldn’t excite me at home. In fact, I usually avoid hamburgers, but ohhh, they tasted sooo good. We avoided the authentic Korean resaurants because I was more than a little put off by the tanks of fish, eels, squid and octopus in front of them.
A wonderful young woman named Mi-Ja met us on Thursday afternoon and took us by subway to a chiropractor appointment for Jim to translate for him. She speaks perfect English and said she does translation for TV stations there. All those who told me that Moscow’s subway system is the best in the world have not seen Seoul’s. The chiropractor is blind and so sweet and kind. He wished he had more time to work on Jim’s messed up back but he did the best he could. On the way to his office Jim found one of those things that looks like a tennis racket but has batteries so you can swat flies and mosquitoes and it zaps them – great sport. If they haven’t caught on in the US yet I’m sure they will eventually. We offered to take Mi-Ja to dinner afterward but she had an appointment but said she would take a rain check for next time and would take us to a good Korean restaurant. She asked in fun why we do not have a “snow check”.
Everywhere we went there were kind Korean people who asked us if we needed help finding our way. Even when we were waiting for our bus to take us to the airport to leave town there was a nice young Korean man on crutches who asked if we needed help finding something. The older Koreans bowed to us on the streets. We had a couple of nice long chats with President Jun who is president of the Seoul Temple. Some older people who didn’t speak English were standing outside when we were chatting with him the second time and they wanted to have their picture taken with us so we obliged. We have no idea who they are but they thanked us profusely.
I have attached some pictures. There were so many to choose from but I had to limit myself. Don’t know what order they are in but one is me in front of the temple, one is the Korean people who wanted their pics taken with us in front of the temple (President Jun is on the far right), one shows the scooters that deliver McDonald’s, one shows Koreans enjoying Mexican food and then us enjoying Mexican food with the American temple missionary, and one shows us in front of a bell from a Bhuddist monastery dating to 1200 – Jim got to ring it.
Now we are back in the real world of our mission with new passports for the next 90 days. Things are really starting to happen for us in humanitarian work. It was raining so hard last night and this morning that we got drenched on the way to church. We walk about a mile up a gently sloping hill after we get off the bus. It was a veritable river. So we splurged and took a taxi to come home.
We have great cause to thank God for His great blessings to us; not just the temporal ones but the promise of Eternal Life through the miraculous Atonement of our Saviour. We pray for His blessings upon all of you! Love, Elder and Sister

Dear Friends and Family,
A week or two ago while walking from English Club to the bus stop we ran into a boy about 11 or 12 years old who was from Kirkland, Washington. He said he was here visiting relatives and proudly said that he spoke perfect Russian without an American accent. He asked what we were doing here and we told him that we were here to do humanitarian work. He didn’t know what that meant so we told him we were here to help the poor and the needy. He said, “So, is that like everyone in Russia?”
Well, regardless of the opinion of a spoiled American kid, not everyone here is in need. There is not a lot of unemployment and the median income is about 20,000 rubles per month. To put that in perspective the rent on our apartment is 20,000 rubles a month. Many older people own their apartment because when the Soviet system broke up the government gave people the apartments they were living in. They are small, old and often crowded. In addition some like our branch president here have lost them because they didn’t own the building and the buildings have been torn down or taken over by the mafia. There are a few nice homes on the hillsides that are in stark contrast to the rows and rows of gray apartment buildings. We have seen a black “hummer” and a black Mercedes going down the street here. We will let you figure out who owns vehicles like that.
There are some old ladies who beg on the streets and who go through the garbage. There are some men we have seen sitting on the side of the street begging who have had all their toes frozen off and have just stumps left. This would not be a good place to be homeless in the winter.
This week we visited a home for children whose parents are dysfunctional due to drugs or alcohol. They also have a section where they take in street or homeless children. They said they would like beds and dressers so, again, we left them paperwork to make their request. We have also made some contact with a Catholic Church in Vladivostok that has a fledgling Boy Scout Troop. They want camping equipment for the boys. Not much happens here in the month of July because so many, especially government workers, take vacation. I understand that is also true in Western Europe. So we will just have to be patient.
Yesterday (Saturday) morning we had 3 Korean workers here to fix the water damage in our bathroom. North Koreans are used here much as Hispanic workers used to be used in the States. From what I understand of the starvation going on in North Korea, they are probably very happy to come here and work. I was trying to make home made flour tortillas but these men smelled soooo bad that I had to go stand by a window and get fresh air the whole time they were here. We are accustomed to strong body odors on crowded buses because it seems only the younger generation knows about deodorant, but this smell was something else. I think that must be what comes of having to squat over an open pipe for a toilet facility.
We will be leaving on Wednesday morning this week to go to Seoul, (South) Korea to renew our Russian visa. We return on Friday. Jim has an appointment with a Korean chiropractor. The one he has been seeing here is more like a masseur (gives massages) so he is anxious for this appointment. We will go to the Seoul Temple and enjoy good food. We are told that the food is good and the people are friendly and we can buy real French’s mustard and other American style foods and products that are not available here. It has been announced that Tuesday will be another day without water here in Nakhodka – the third since we arrived here- so it will be difficult to bathe before we leave very early Wednesday morning.
There is much more I could say but I feel a need to close with something of hope. I know that a loving God is in charge in this world. We are studying the Old Testament in Sunday School this year and when I read it I realize that not much has changed in thousands of years: God keeps trying to establish a righteous people and they keep rejecting Him. We love you all dearly and appreciate your prayers in our behalf. We pray for you also and for America. Love, Elder and Sister

Dear Friends and Family,
I think the monsoons have come. We have had a rainy and foggy week (still quite warm and very humid) and it is still raining today (Monday). On Thursday night we had a bit of a scare. I will have to preface it by telling you that we have been told to have our apartment rental agreement near the door in case authorities come. Before we show our passports we are to get a badge number and then call to verify that they are legitimate, etc. etc. We were told that we should never open the door to anyone after 10:00 PM. At 3:00 AM Friday morning someone was knocking loudly on our door and ringing the bell persistently for a full half hour. We called the Elder who is our District Leader. He didn’t answer. We called the other set of missionaries on the South end of town but they didn’t know what to do or how to call the police. We called our translator who tried to call the police but got no answer. Later she called back to tell us that she did reach the police and they were on the way. Soon a policeman came and the people banging on the door left. We were relieved but still too shook up to sleep. Later in the morning we discovered it was our landlady and her son knocking on the door. A pipe had broken upstairs and she was afraid water was coming into our apartment. We had some water leaks in the bathroom but nothing major. I guess the apartment on the first floor really flooded but it missed us. Seems silly now but we were very scared at the time.
We have tried in our own small ways to celebrate the Fourth. Last Tuesday I went all out and fed the missionaries hamburgers (I had to spice the meat with worchesthire sauce, etc, because it doesn’t taste great) and almost real hamburger buns, french fries, and baked beans. We also had a little celebration at English Club yesterday. My subject for discussion was, of course, American Independence Day but first I asked them what they loved most about their native land. The comments were not positive and the discussion turned political and I wasn’t able to get it back. As missionaries, we are supposed to avoid politcal discussions. A fairly new member named Andre told me that Russia has an independence day so I wanted to know about it. He said it isn’t a big holiday and it is in November and it is when the world gained its independence from the Soviet Union. In other words, it marks the break up of the Soviet Union. I always appreciate his sense of humor.
Some time I would like to use an update just to tell you about the wonderful Russian people we have met here and some of our experiences with them. They do not warm up easily but once they do they would do anything for you. I saw a man getting off the bus yesterday who had the Statue of Liberty tattooed on his forearm. I wish I had seen it earlier and talked to him.
We stopped at the main town square on our way home from church yesterday during a brief break in the rain to take this picture in front of Lenin’s statue. That seemed like an ideal thing to do on the Fouth of July (just kidding!). There are statues of Lenin all over. Our missionaries who have been on the island of Sakhalin, north of us, say that there is one that is about 30 feet hight there. If you look carefully in the foreground you can see the crumbling concrete and the weeds all around. This is so typical of everything here.
Best wishes to all of you! Love, Elder and Sister

Dear Friends and Family,
Here is a piece of useless trivia for you. The name Vlad in Russian means ruler or sovereign and vostok means East. So Vladivostok means “Ruler of the East”. We traveled to Vladivostok on Wednesday afternoon with the 4 Elders on a hot, humid bus with old broken down seats. Four hours later we arrived and Jim and I were able to take a taxi to our mission president’s very nice apartment with air conditioning. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. We spent the night there and then went to zone meetings on Thursday. They are always so inspiring. After the meetings we went upstairs to the mission office to receive instructions for our upcoming trip to South Korea to renew our visas.
Because of that we were a little late getting to the bus station. The bus to Nakhodka was full so we walked to the train station – in the oppresive heat – and caught the train at 7:00 PM. It was way more comfortable and we were able to open the windows. The countryside is lush and green right now and really makes you think that you are in Asia and I guess this is considered Asia. There were wild orange day lillies or tiger lillies in bloom as well as purple wild iris here and there. The little potato plots at the country cottages were all in bloom. It was a pleasant ride. We arrived in Nakhodka at 11:00 PM and again took a taxi because we weren’t sure that buses were running that late.
Jim was at the Elder’s apartment last Monday ( I am working backwards here) helping them with some plumbing when he came home suddenly and told me that Stass from English Club was picking us up at 12:30 to take us to an orphanage. We hurried and got ready and rode about 10 or 15 miles out of town to a regional orphanage for disabled children. Stass didn’t know it was for the disabled. He had just passed by and thought the buildings could use some paint. There are about 400 children there from 4 to 18. They have various disabilities from Down’s Syndrome to autism. Some are victims of polio and some have various birth defects. The buildings were old but well maintained and clean. We were so impressed with what they are trying to do there for the children. The children’s art work was everywhere on display and we saw pictures of some of the older children learning to dance. They have those who are able work in the laundry or kitchen and even some make repairs to the buildings. We went to the sewing room where girls with badly twisted hands were crocheting and they sell their hand knitted and crocheted items. No one was in the carpentry shop, which is very poorly supplied with tools.
We peeked into a dormitory room where little Down’s Syndrome children had just been put down for a nap and they all popped up and one little girl with ribbons in her hair came running over to me. I wanted to pick her up but she was shooed away and put back to bed. After an extensive tour we asked them what their most pressing needs were. The director said they would like walkers and strollers to help some of the children be more ambulatory and some wood working tools for their carpentry shop. We gave her the paperwork to fill out her request. We will then submit it to our office in Moscow for approval.
This visit was hard on our Russian friend. The disabled are not visible in Russian society. And this is difficult without any faith to explain that we all wanted to come to earth and receive a body; and that these children are automatically exalted in God’s kingdom. It became difficult for me, too, when the director said that they try to give these children a happy life because at 18 they will probably all be sent to an insane asylum.
An update on our cute little blond English teacher and her son. They came again to our Family Home Evening last Monday for the second time and Stass came too. I made strawberry rhubarb pie with the rhubarb she gave me and some frozen stawberries. It was a big hit. She and her son came to church today! It was thrilling to me. I know some of you don’t belong to my church but in a Godless country like this it is thrilling to see someone try to find Him. She also asked if we were having FHE on Monday night and said she would be there.
I have heard of the rain in the Northwest from many of you and hope that your weather is getting better! I would send you some heat and humidity if I could. As you celebrate the Fourth of July this coming weekend, please think of me and celebrate double. As many of you know, it is my favorite holiday and it will be just another day here. May God Bless America!!! Love and best wishes to all! Elder and Sister

Sorry for the posting lag. Our daughter got busy and it took me awhile to find the time to learn how to do this. Now that winter has set in this looks like good inside work, its only -10 C outside this morning.

Dear Friends and Family,
We so enjoy hearing from those of you who have time to write! I think we are going through the three month homesick blues. Today, Monday, is our darling grandson’s second birthday and we are not there to share it with him.
Mondays are our free day/preparation day and we have been wanting our Russian Elder to take us to the site of a new Russian Orthodox Church that is being built high on a hill overlooking the bay. He took us there last Monday because he had a feeling he would be transferred later in the week, which he was. We have attached a picture.
We hired a driver (the son-in-law of one of our members) who also took us to a spot he thought would be good for another church picnic but he drove down a stream bed to get there so I don’t think that will work for us. We were thrilled to hear a cuckoo bird in the woods when we got there. Sounded just like the clocks. Then we went to a high hill overlooking the north end of Nakhodka Bay and climbed part way up. The old stand-by members of English club climbed to the top a few weeks ago but part way was good enough for me (Sue) as it was so hot and the bugs were eating me up. Also enclosed a picture of the view from there.
My sweet sister-in-law shared her recipe and I was able to make a cheesecake for our Russian Elder before he left. He had tasted it once and liked it and asked me if I could make one. I won’t tell you how many rubles the cream cheese cost. They have a large container of it at the cheese counter and you tell them how much you want – it doesn’t come in nice, neat little packages as it does at home. Our best to all! Elder and Sister Rahi
We visited the city ambulance service on Tuesday. Church Humanitarian services had donated a small and a large ressucitation dummy for them to train in CPR. They received this last November but we still had to get final paper work and a picture and see how many people had been trained. ( Luckily, they did not try to feed us! ) We have now been successful in closing all of the projects that were still open here and want so much to get started on our own but that is proceeding slowly.

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

Dear Friends and Family,

I was going to start this message by telling you about the holes in the ground with a pipe that are the public toilets here in many places like bus and train stations and even the newer Vladivostok Airport. But I decided that I am just being too negative and so I am going to talk about all of the positive things here. One positive thing is that I have been sent here instead of someone who has a weak bladder. I can go for hours without having to use a facility and always carry wet wipes and tissue with me that I brought from home. Not sure what I will do when I run out. I am also blessed at my advanced age that I can walk so far and am in very good health.

Some other positive things. Our apartment, and most apartments here, have a wonderful electric hot water pot that makes boiling water almost as soon as you can get the tea bag in your cup. There are many wonderful herb teas availbale here and Russians love their “chai” maybe even more than their “kofe”. All of the apartments that I have been in so far (and that is quite a few) are very clean inside no matter how humble the outside may look. The stairwells can be stinky and dirty but the apartments are clean inside. Haven’t been in one with an elevator yet so I am also glad that I can walk up many flights of stairs.

You see very few ugly window blinds but instead there are beautiful window treatments (drapes and curtains). I am taking pictures of some that I might want to try to replicate when I get home. The ice cream here is also pretty good. It comes in a plastic bag.

The trees here are finally leafed out and there are tulips blooming by several of the war monuments and public areas. They are so beautiful! It is like having a second Spring because the tulips that were everywhere in Istanbul a month ago were just at the last stage of bloom. We were told when we were there that tulips actually originated in Turkey and the story is that some royalty from Holland many hundreds of years ago did a favor for the Sultan in Istanbul and was offered jewels in return. All he wanted, though, were tulip bulbs which he took back to Holland. (Haven’t verified the truth of this).

There is all kinds of fixing up and construction going on here in Nakhodka. There are half a dozen new apartment buildings going up near us and just down from the store where we usually shop they are building a new large grocery store. It should be done soon and I am hopeful that it will be wonderful and have lots of the things I need in one place.

We had an appointment on Thursday of last week at a day care facility to assess their needs but it didn’t pan out. Our translator set us up with a meeting with the director of the seaman’s center here in town. Our little branch of the church shares space with them. He used to be in some kind of social work with the regional government and thought he could set us up with some groups that could use our help. He also gave us complimentary tickets to a performance at the center last Friday night of a jazz quartet from New York. Jazz isn’t our favorite music but it was a nice diversion.

Our translator’s mother is a nurse in a maternity hospital and she would love it if we could buy some blankets for use there but she said the director would most likely just take them and sell them. There is central heating all over town and it is turned off early in April and there have been some cold rainy days and the patients get cold. There is also central hot water that is turned off at the same time but we have a very modern apartment with a small hot water heater so we don’t have to heat water for a bath and dishes.

We also have discovered 5 open humanitarian projects from a year ago or more. We have been spending time as sleuths trying to get all the facts on them so they can be officially closed out. You know how it is, no job is ever completed until all the paper work is done.

And I will close on another positive note with the attached picture of shopping in Nakhodka. Bet you can’t find this where you shop. There are also baskets of chicken feet that have been washed very white and clean, if that tickles your fancy. The picture is of me and our sweet translator. Love to all! Elder and Sister R

Dear Friends and Family,

On a raining Wednesday morning of last week we boarded a bus here in Nakhodka and went four hours to the Vladivostok airport and flew for 8 hours to Moscow. Because of the time difference we arrived in Moscow at about 4:00 PM, which was only 2 hours after we left Vladivostok. We were the last to get off the plane. We figured there was no hurry since we had to try to figure out the directions we were given to find a bus to take us to the Metro (subway) and on to our hotel. So we took some more time trying to figure it all out and as soon as we walked out of the exit a taxi driver was there with a sign with our names on it. We were we relieved. He didn’t speak much English but he could say “traffic jam” with perfect clarity. We arrived at our hotel at about 5:30 and our humanitarian supervisor was there to greet us. Boy, they take good care of us!

I went straight to bed and slept pretty well in spite of the music coming from the beer garden below. I awoke at 3 AM (10:00AM our time). Moscow is a very modern and nice looking city – a world away from where we live. There were trees everywhere, like the Garden of Eden to us. We had some amazing training on strengthening marriage and family from a licensed therapist from Utah. She and her husband (a dentist) are getting ready to serve their fifth mission in July to Jordan. They have served in South America, Indonesia, twice in the Ukraine. Because she has a master’s degree and some other good connections she was asked by the government in the Ukraine to help them establish a foster care system. At the time, they wanted to join the European Union but had too many children in orphanages to qualify. She kept telling them that they should let her teach about strong families and marriage and then they wouldn’t have so many orphans. Subsequently, the government changed in Ukraine to one that is more friendly to Moscow so then they didn’t care about joining the European Union. Then they asked her to teach about strengthening families. Then some of the women in the classes said but what about my husband? So, after she was home from her second mission there the government made arrangements with our government to bring her back to teach about strengthening marriage all over the Ukraine. That is sort of the short of a rather miraculous story. But she was great!

Also had two hours with Igor, who is the church’s chief financial officer here – more like a lawyer. He tried to explain to us the reason for all the paper work we have to do just to give charitable donations. What it boils down to is that, gift or not, things are considered income here. Talked about a church unit in Moscow that wanted to make quilts for someplace in need. The government said you should be able to get a certain number of quilts out of a certain amount of material. What did we do with the rest? Who was making money on it? And could we prove that the batting inside was the same batting that we bought? He tried to explain that we are amateurs and may not get exactly what they expect out of the fabric. They didn’t buy that story. So don’t make anything! Buy it already made. Also said that some organizations that we try to help will call him and offer a kick-back if we approve their project. Has had death threats and threats to his family. Said he has told people that they can kill him but someone just like him will replace him. The LDS Church will not take kickbacks and will not pay bribes, no matter who is in the position.

We found some time in Moscow to go to Red Square and see some sites. Also did some shopping on Saturday morning at what they call a Reenik (spelling?). This was a huge one with a lot of stalls selling a lot of typical Russian souvenirs. I came to Russia without a purse, hoping to get by without one. That has worked in rainy weather but it was beautiful in Moscow so no coat pockets. I carried aspirin and toilet paper, napkins (couldn’t find tissue) in a plastic bag because I was suffering with a head cold. So I finally broke down and bought a small cloth bag type purse. It was supposedly made by hand in Uzbekistan – used to be part of the Soviet Union but now independent. It cost 2500 rubles and they wouldn’t come down on the price. Then we found one almost the same for 1300 rubles and Jim talked them down to 1000 – that’s about $35.00, which is more than a cheapskate like me would spend on a purse but I really like it and if it lasts to bring home it will be a nice souvenir. For pictures we took in Moscow, wait about a week and go to our blog site https://vladivostokmission.wordpress.com/ and our daughter will have them posted. Scroll down til you find them.

Arrived home Sunday evening about 6 PM and again went straight to bed after flying all night. A very interesting thing happened today and that name Uzbekistan came up again. Our Russian missionary called us about 3 PM and told us that he invited a couple over to our apartment for family home evening. I asked if he wanted some dessert and he said, “No, a dinner. This is Russian custom to feed people.” He also said that he wanted to talk about the importance of families, something we had just had training in – Wow! Jim and I hurried to the store. I made scalloped potatoes with ham, cooked carrots glazed with honey and cinnamon, a cabbage salad and apple crisp. The couple turned out to be from Uzbekistan. They look a little Asian. He spoke Russian fairly well and translated for his wife. We also had two single ladies that the missionaries invited – that made 8 and I only have 6 plates.

After dinner as we talked about families the subject of prayer came up and the gentleman said that he was supposed to pray 5 times a day but he works and is not able to that much. He is here working as a brick mason. I whispered to the American missionary sitting by me and asked if he our guest was Muslim. The missionary replied “yes.” I was horrified to think that I served him pork. The Russian missionary remarked at what a miracle it is that people from 3 different countries were able to be sitting here together to discuss religion. He is right – it is! All for now. Love, Sister and Elder Rahi