This Monday will be four weeks since we left on our mission and Tuesday will be three weeks in Russia. We have been working very hard to learn our responsibilities of the mission, the Russian language and fight our sickness over these three weeks, but the journey has been well worth the hard work. We finally took Kathy to the doctor on Friday because she was running a very high temperature. They took X-Rays and determined that she had a bad sinus infection. They gave her some antibiotics and other medicine for her head, and her fever broke late into the night Friday night. This allowed her to get some sleep and she is starting a quick road to recovery.
We had some fun events this week with our mission getting two more baptism commitments and a lot of new teaching opportunities. Kathy and I worked with a couple on Wednesday evening who want to learn English and also more about the church. We also worked with another investigator on Thursday that could speak English . He is a painter and very talented. It was great to share our ideas and the gospel with him and we hope to be able to get him to church this Sunday. A funny story happened after our teaching experience on Thursday night. We were leaving the building with six missionaries and two investigators. I was walking along the road and reached into my pocket to grab my keys, and when I pulled my hand out I had the office key, and my apartment key fell out of the pocket and went down the slit in a manhole cover. If I had a picture, you would see that the odds of this happening would have been 10000 to 1 because of the small slit in the middle of a large road. Needless to say we all started laughing and then realized we didn’t have a spare key. One of the younger missionaries turned on a flashlight and we could see the keys about 8 feet down on top of the sludge in the bottom (yes we think it was sewage… ). There was a ladder leading down the manhole so we tried to get the manhole cover off. Imagine this picture with 6 missionaries and two Russians in the middle of the road trying to pull the manhole cover off - hahaha. We thought someone was going to call the police. Once we realized we couldn’t get it off, one of the elders remembered he had a magnet on the back of his name tag. So we got a long string and taped the magnet to the string and then the fishing began. It was again funny because we were all standing around him watching him try to fish these keys out of the manhole while cars were coming down the street. We would move and then go back and start fishing again. There are apartments all around and I am sure people were wondering what these strange Americans were doing in their suits trying to fish something out of the manhole. Thank goodness the Elder actually caught the keys with the magnet. We washed them off in the snow, had a great laugh and then headed home. We did get a couple pictures, but they weren’t on my camera so I will need to put them on a later blog.
We are soooo sorry for all our friends at Preferred Sands, as the cold in our various mine locations has been worse than Russia. This past week we were actually back up into the 20’s and had 30’s yesterday and today. It felt like a heat wave when Kathy and I walked the hour to the store yesterday and back. It was raining a little and we had a lot of groceries so it was some good exercise. We love the people of Russia and really wanted to share things we have learned that were incorrect. Here it goes:
- · We have been able to get many of the Russian people to smile at us as we wave to them on the street and in our apartment building. They definitely aren’t used to a wave and a smile so we give them a lot of them. Everyone has been friendly and we have met some fun friends in our language conversation classes.
- · It isn’t a dark and dreary place with lots of angry people. It is actually a very nice city where the people dress nicely, and there are lots of nice stores and people.
- · The heavy use of alcohol isn’t apparent on the streets. Most people seem busy and headed to somewhere and not just hanging around on the streets. We don’t see many beggars on the street.
- · People seem to be busy and there is a lot of construction and building of new apartment buildings. There are a lot of people that use public transportation, but the cars that are on the road are very nice. And the subway system is really good and very well kept and decorated.
- · It is very expensive to eat, both with groceries and at the restaurants. We eat at home most of the time and cook our own meals. The food we buy at the stores is good and flavorful and not drab and plain.
- · They love their sweets and the chocolate is amazing. This isn’t a good thing, but we are being really good rationing what we eat. I even lost 12 pounds my first two weeks, but Kathy was really sick last week so we didn’t do much walking and I put 2 pounds back on.
- · They heat the apartments with steam and we don’t have thermostats. You just open or close the steam valve on the radiator and if you get it wrong you roast. The country is used to the cold and is well equipped. Russians actually hate the cold, so they bundle up like champs and still look fashionable.
- · There is plenty of hot water, but it goes cold and scalding when you are showering. This can be a shock early in the morning.
- · The women here love to dress up and wear beautiful coats and high heels. To quote Kathy, “They have their strut on!” They have some tall, skinny, fashion conscious women here.
We will write more next week about this wonderful country.