Saturday, April 26, 2014

Cowboys and Indians in Russia

Kathy and I have been very busy this week but were able to slip away one evening and take the metro out to a park by the new soccer arena they are building in St. Petersburg. It was a beautiful area on an island and definitely high end. The park had an amusement park like Lagoon, but you could walk around without paying if you didn't ride the rides.  Kathy and I decided to escape reality for a couple of hours and take a mystical walking journey through the park and wanted to share that story with all our friends :-) We hope you get some laughs from my depiction of our mystical journey mixed with the wonderful spirit of our journey here in Russia while serving the Lord. 

 ..... As you can see from above, we began this mystical journey around the park because the marshall stood over me and ordered Kathy and I to join. He directed us to head to the marshall's office to get our badges and official cowboy and indian uniforms, which you will see later in the story, to help us fight off the enemy and teach the people along this journey. 

He wrote down some brief instructions on the side of the truck and said the map was posted on the wall of the metro. Kathy and I were worried that our mouths weren't large enough to pronounce the large and mysterious Russian letters and words. The picture above on the left shows Kathy trying to pronounce the word on the side of the van while I studied the map of the metro to the right.  

On the first part of our journey we passed by the friendly lion and tin man headed to see the Wizard of OZ. I stopped to teach them about the gospel and give them a Book of Mormon, as I figured they could share this with the Wizard who would be a great member of the church.  We had a great conversation about courage and I gave them a book that will help them find their way back to where it all began.

As we headed toward the jail to see the marshall we encountered a deadly dragon that didn't want us to pass. Kathy and I each explained to one of the heads that we were on a very important mission and had an important message to share with the people of Russia. It took a while to explain the first discussion to all three heads and then we headed onward to the mystical ice area.   

In the Ice Forest we were detained by the Queen of Ice and she definitely gave us the cold shoulder when we tried to give her a pamphlet and invite her to English Conversation this week. She  
informed us that she was in charge of her life and didn't need anything else.  We told her that we understood how awesome she was as the Ice Queen, but that our message could bring her further light and knowledge of how to return to her Father.  She agreed to meet again next week to learn more and we headed on our way through the field of dreams.

As we walked through the field of dreams we thought it was snowing as white stuff dropped from the sky. As we looked up in wonder, we quickly noticed that it was the home of the pigeons who quickly landed at our feet. We explained that we are guided by our Father in Heaven in all that we do and our message is very important to all the people of Russia. They pointed us in the direction we should go and we fed them some bread, thanked them for their guidance and headed to the Metro.

The metro was a very dark place after travelling through the mystical forest. As we navigated our way through the dark pathways, we stopped to reflect on the beauty that we saw on the wall. Many people were busy and missed the magnificence of the art as they rushed to catch the next metro.  I realized that in our lives we get so busy with our journey that sometimes we forget to stop and see the beauty and learn more about the Plan of Salvation and find the true pathway back to our Heavenly Father. 

Once we arrived at the office we spoke to the marshall who instructed us to quickly get into our armor of God, as the work was moving forward among the children of men.  We had a specific role to support the local members and the wonderful warriors who had been assigned to this beautiful area of Russia.  Just as we were ready to ride off and take on the world, I woke quickly and realized I had been dreaming.

It was actually Thursday morning and Kathy and I were preparing to help the ward do a large open house in our stake center in Russia.  I realized our armor is our mission nametag and the priesthood of God, and the message we share with all who will listen is the Plan of Salvation.  We had a wonderful day helping in the open house and talking with lots of people. Our week finished off with two beautiful baptisms today and the opportunity to teach an investigator who also committed to baptism on my birthday in May. I pray that the Lord will watch over all of us as we continue on this amazing journey.  Next week we get the opportunity to travel to an area on the outskirts of our mission. We will take lots of pictures and share the beauty of the country in Russia as we travel from St. Petersburg.  We love and miss you all very much and ask that you always keep us in your prayers. Love Elder and Sister Carter 

Sunday, April 20, 2014


We send our love and best wishes to all our dear friends on this Sabbath Easter Morning. It has been exactly 3 months today when we arrived in Russia. We were given many gifts this week as we served the Lord. We also kept in our hearts and prayers several dear friends who are struggling with severe illness, work and life in general. 

We were able to attend two baptisms in our mission and teach many people this week. The highlight of our week is that our beautiful niece,Vanessa, was baptized on Saturday before Easter at the age of 15. She is an amazing example to all of us and reaffirmed why we are here is Russia helping to unite families together forever.  

Our son, Brandon, was able to perform the baptism and all the kids participated through talks and songs. Vanessa's whole family including Kathy's sister and brother were able to travel to St. George, Utah for her baptism. Vanessa's father, Ron, is also going to be baptized this Thursday and we are so excited for their family. Kathy's sister, Vicki, did an amazing job putting everything together. Kathy's father lives in St. George and they were also able to spend time with her father. It is hard for us to miss such wonderful events, but we see the blessings they receive through our service in Russia and feel blessed to have the opportunity to serve. We look forward to going through the temple with their family someday and getting sealed for time and all eternity.

Back in Russia, we had a community service day on Saturday and were able to go to a beautiful monastery area and rake up leaves, clean up the garbage and make our community better. Our journey to perform this act of service started with a beautiful walk across the bridge on our way to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg. You can see it in the distance beyond Kathy and in the picture above and below. I included a link if you want to learn more about this historic landmark. 

Walking across the bridge is always a wonderful experience to glance up the river and appreciate the beauty of the area we live, so we decided to share this picture. The temperature this week moved from the  30's into the 50's and will be in the 60's on Sunday into next week. 

It was fun to see everyone out on this 
beautiful day and we had a great turnout for the service project. In the Russian Orthodox Church, the people get their bread baptized for Easter and so there were a lot of people coming to the church where we were cleaning up the grounds. It was awesome because we were able to see a ton of people and everyone was happy because of the weather.  

People from young to old joined in the cleanup efforts and it was amazing how much work we were able to complete. 

We wanted to share the pictures of a couple of little kids still bundled in their winter attire. It is so cute that the parents bundle their kids up in winter snow/ski outfits to keep them warm during the winter months and into the spring. In these pictures you see these darling kids having fun next to the workers who are in short-sleeved shirts :-).

The people of Russia don't seem to do Easter egg hunts like we do in the United States, but they make this wonderful bread and decorate the top. The stores were extremely busy as everyone bought these little muffins for their kids and family. We snapped a quick picture to allow you to experience Easter in Russia with the Carters :-)  We were going to buy one for each of you and send it home, but you will just have to settle for an air hug XOXOX. Ha Ha 

I got a real surprise on Thursday when I went with a driver to take some missionaries to the airport at 4:00 am. When we came outside they had our mission van up on a tow truck. It is a new airport and they didn't have any signs saying we couldn't park. Instead of a Ticket in the US, they actually put your car up on a tow truck and you either pay off the driver and police on the spot or they give you a ticket and haul it off.
Then you have to take a taxi back home and arrange to go down to the city and get it out of the tow yard. Understanding the difficulty of the situation, I paid to get it back then and chalked it up to experience. It must be a real lucrative business because there were a bunch of tow trucks lined up to haul off cars just like taxi's waiting to pick someone up. 

 We also wanted to tell you that the mission got an easter present. Since all the missionaries work so hard on our mission, they decided to get us a new mission fleet of cars so we don't need to walk so far (not really). Kathy and I got to pick out the vehicles, so we decided to get these cool stretch limos to haul more people. Ha Ha.   They use these Limos all the time for Russian weddings. As part of the wedding celebration, the wedding party travels all over the city and takes pictures. They travel in these stretch limo's and I don't know how they make the corners in the narrow streets.  

Well, we hope everyone reading this blog had a wonderful Easter weekend and took the chance to remember the Savior's willingness to die and be resurrected. This allows us to repent and use the atonement to be forgiven of our sins and return to our Heavenly Father. This the true gift of Easter. Love Bob and Kathy

Sunday, April 13, 2014


This was a very busy week in the mission and at home!  Our grand daughter Mya had her first birthday and we were able to Skype in and share her opening her presents and then eating her cake. Her parents, Krista and Taylor always make everything special and this was no different.

We woke up at 5 am so we could participate and it was well worth the lost sleep. Mya looked beautiful in her birthday dress and opened our present, "U of U Cheerleader Outfit" as we watched from Skype. They took off her dress to have the birthday cake and she came over to give us a kiss on the computer and we got an awesome picture of the computer screen. 
She is so beautiful.  We also wanted to send a shout out to Alyse's sister Jennica who is a cougarette at BYU. Brandon's wife Alyse traveled to Florida and watched her sister compete and they took first in Nationals in the competition. Each of our kids married into some amazing families and it is great to share the extended journey, as we love each of their families. 

In Russia they hold General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints one week after they hold the meeting in Salt Lake City. This allows them to translate all the talks into Russian and also takes into account the 10-hour time difference. It was awesome to listen to the prophet and apostles again. We watched part of it in Russian and part in English. 

Understanding many of the missionaries in the mission travel up to two hours to attend conference, Sister Carter and I decided to throw a breakfast for the 30 missionaries who were traveling in for the conference. We have a little two-bedroom apartment where we held the party and so we used another apartment to cook the bacon, while we cooked the eggs, pancakes and cut up fruit in our apartment. The pictures I attached shows us cooking up some bacon and all the missionaries in our bedroom, and, yes, they are piled on our bed for the picture :-). We aren't allowed to post any pictures of the missionaries while in Russia, so we had them turn around and got their best side anyway. Ha Ha.  We just wanted you to know there really ARE missionaries in our mission! They are amazing young men and women who we have the honor to serve with each day. 

We had some great teaching opportunities this week with new investigators and also did our missionary apartment inspections. We go around to all the missionary apartments every 6 weeks and do a formal inspection of their apartments to make sure they are clean and safe.  As we went into one apartment I snapped a picture of a fun setup they had on their table. Even though they are on missions, the missionaries don't lose their fun personalities. Hopefully they are not depicting how they "catch" investigators. Ha ha

We were impressed with the condition of the apartments and the level of cleanliness that the missionaries did in preparation for the inspection (Note: Hopefully the other 5 weeks they don't look like my kids rooms at home. :)  )

When Kathy and I went to the store this week, we snapped a couple of pictures of things that are different in Russia. The biggest difference is we walk an hour insted of jump in the car and drive 5 minutes.  We pull a "Bob Cart" that is a back pack on wheels.

This allows us to walk a greater distance to a discount store and bring more home. In the US we have mayonnaise and Miracle Whip but in Russia they have about 100 different kinds of mayonnaise. This isle is ALL mayo. Also, we have Ketchup and Fry sauce in the US and they have 50 different flavors of Ketchup. The ketchup and mustard all come in squeeze packets. They also love their Kielbasa (sausage) and so we took a picture of the section showing all the different kinds. We love Kielbasa and always have a couple sticks in our apartment for some fun snacks.  As the weather warms up we will continue to get some great pictures of Russia.

I figured we would close with a picture of the entrance to our apartment. There aren't any fancy pools, tennis courts or other amenities in the apartments like in the US, and the door to the entrance looks like a back alley entrance to a warehouse. You can see I have been to another store and 

have two bags over my shoulders and carrying a third. We didn't take the Bob Cart with us on this trip.  Our apartment is actually one of the nicer apartments in the area. The funny thing of the week is that we have to brush our teeth in the kitchen sink, because we only have filtered water in the kitchen. You definitely don't want to put the tap water in your mouth if it isn't filtered. :-)

We love the people of Russia and the opportunity to serve the Lord. It was awesome to listen to conference and hear the testimonies and messages of our prophet, apostles and other leaders. The gospel is true, we know why we are called to serve at this time and love each of you dearly. Thanks for following our journey and for your continued prayers on our behalf.  Love Bob and Kathy.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Navigating the Winds of Russia

This week was a crazy week with many teaching opportunities, early mornings, lots of exercise and late nights. We ended March with 8 baptisms and more of the existing members are coming to church. Kathy and I had the opportunity to go out teaching almost every night this week in the snow, wind and rain. We also had the opportunity to meet a wonderful young couple that the mission president had invited over to his house for dinner.  We continue to be impressed with the people of Russia and enjoy the opportunity to meet and hear about their lives.
On Saturday we decided to walk from our house to the Peter and Paul fortress. We walked all the way there along the Neva River (about 6 miles one way).  The wind was about 20 – 30 mph, so it was a fun and difficult journey.  I have attached a google maps image so you can see where we live and where we walked. This will give you an appreciation of the beauty of St. Petersburg.  As you can see from the pictures we took at the fortress, it is very amazing and would have been a strong hold for this area during the 1700 – 1900’s. It protected against any ships coming up the river that weren’t desired and it also housed the prison for people waiting trial. I will also put a link to information about the fortress for any who are interested.
Kathy caught me looking at the hot Russian women and had me locked in the stockade, while she made her way along the fortress. Once I convinced her that I was just looking at the object behind the young lady, she let me out so we could enjoy the day. :-) As we walked along the river and reflected on our journey to Russia we were amazed at how many great friends we have in this world and how each of you have touched our lives.
We also thought about the things we missed and didn’t miss about the United States and also some funny things about Russia.  While we were thinking about this we stopped to use the bathroom. (However, there aren’t any bathrooms along your walks so you need to have a strong bladder.)  One
funny thing about Russia is the bathrooms are COED.  Yes, I was standing there in the bathroom and a woman walked in and sat down in another stall.  I thought I had accidentally walked into the woman’s bathroom and said excuse me. She just smiled and washed her hands. 

As I left I looked at the door and it had a mans sign on the door. Then we started looking around and noticed that many restrooms had a man and woman on the door, however they don’t seem to care.  Lesson learned, make sure you go into a stall and close the door when you go to the bathroom or someone may join you. Ha Ha.
Kathy decided to list some other things she missed or didn’t miss
Things Kathy missed –

Driving,        Guacamole, cake and gravy mix,          Disposals,     Cute skirts,            CafĂ© Rio,              smoke-free restaurants,        
Sweet Potato Fries,    My granddaughters, kids, dog  and friends  A dryer  (Think crusty towels), Running errands,
Hobby Lobby,   Putting up holiday decorations
People that will say hello, when you do                                         Drinks with ice   Fry sauce (and good fries!)
Knowing what’s in the cans in the grocery store.                             
Mountains (non-existent here)                                            Maverick gas stations and Road Trips

Things Kathy doesn’t miss –

Only two kinds of mayo (They have hundreds of flavors here)       Yard and Housework (apartment takes 20 min. to clean :-)
Scooping dog poop, The inversion. Squeegeing (?) my shower. 
Hundreds of names to remember.  (There are only about five different names for boys and five for girls here.  So if you forget someone’s name, you have a 20% chance of getting it right if you pick one of the five.)
Worrying if I took stupid all bundled up in the cold.
Taking forever to decide what to wear. (It doesn’t take long when you only have ten outfits.) 
Taking days and days to put up holiday decorations.
Bob being out of my sight for more than ten minutes. J

Funny things –
The grocery carts here have wheels that rotate in 360 degrees.  That means you can move your cart sideways or any way you want.  It’s weird and it’s hard.  Ha ha. But if you grocery shop with a guy, they have to push the cart. J

We finished out an amazing week by listening to the Prophet, apostles and general authorities during our semi-annual conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There were some amazing talks and true inspiration and motivation provided by our leaders. For those of you who missed it or would like to watch it again, you can watch the video and read the talks at . If you look on the right side of the page it lists the General Conference. You can select the language and watch it in Russian. ha ha. 

We close with a picture looking down the never-ending escalator in the Metro on our return home.  We send our love and best wishes to each of you and hope you have some fun plans as we move into the summer months. It is still in the 20’s and 30’s this week, but the snow doesn’t stay on the ground very long. Love Bob and Kathy