I had the honor this week of using my personal day to join two great men in the office for a day of spearfishing. Sergei is an employee of the church and is being transferred to another area, so we decided to do something together before he left.
He has been a great friend and help to Kathy and me on our mission and so I am glad I had the chance to spend the day with him and Sasha, another church employee. We rented some spearfishing equipment from a local vendor and decided to leave early on Friday morning.
Sergei had spearfished before, but never in this area, so we headed about 4 hours north to a location near Petrozavodsk.
This is an area that has 600 lakes, so we thought we could find some good spearfishing areas.
As you can see we didn’t shoot any big fish, but had a lot of fun checking out new areas and watching all the small fish.
We took everything to make a fish stew, assuming we were successful. We spear fished there for about 4 hours and swam to multiple locations within the lake. After this lake we drove about 50 minutes north to another area that was supposed to have good fishing.
Finally at 1:30 in the morning we decided to bag the stew and just head back to St. Petersburg. We returned home the next morning at 6:30 am. It was neat to drive through the night, because it was a beautiful full moon and with the white nights it never really got very dark.
As you can see from the pictures it was a very successful outing and we got to see some amazing country, lots of little fish, many different lakes and had many wonderful laughes. We listened to Russian music all the way up and Sergei sang along with the music and it was awesome. Sergei and Sasha spoke mostly in Russian so it was good for me to hear and try to study the language. They could also both speak English so when I needed help they could talk with me in English. It was an amazing adventure and one to definitely be remembered.
Understanding I just got home at 6:30 a.m., I jumped into bed for 2 hours and then we headed off for the ward picnic. It was about 1 hour on metro and bus and then we walked about 20 minutes to the lake.
We had about 70 people show up and it was a great time. We visited, played games, sang and ate some great shashlika. The games included water balloon toss, relays, sand temple building, question and answer, etc.,
I think everyone really enjoyed the picnic. We had several investigators come to the picnic and it was a great opportunity to meet them on a personal level and develop some strong friendships. We have met so many people in Russia and feel we have some strong friends.The picnic and spearfishing were the end to a very busy week.
We had 12 missionaries going home this week, so we had to ensure all their bags, paperwork, finances and emotions were in check to return home. It is a very difficult time to see those young men and women who you love like your own children leave the mission after 18 months (girls) or 2 years (boys). Since these missionaries were going home we were able to share some pictures.
We are so proud of all of them and know that they are our future leaders. One of our office elders, Ty Brooks, went home this transfer and we will really miss him. He is an amazing young man and we definitely grew as we worked side by side with him for 3 months and really got to know him so well.
The morning we took them to the airport, we had to wake at 3:00 in the morning to get the vans loaded with all their bags, say goodbye and then we took them to the airport. Their flights were at 6:15 am so we had to be there by 4:30. I went in with them and made sure they were checked in properly and paid for any extra baggage fees they had. Our mission president and his wife also got up early and went to the airport with us. They are fitting in well and will be a great contribution to the mission going forward.
We hosted three dinners at our house this week. One to celebrate a birthday, one to see some good friends, Tatiana and Lena, and a big appreciation dinner for Elder Brooks. We also had the center sisters over with a new member who was recently baptized. We are also getting ready for the new office couple who arrive this week. We are truly blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives.
This week, along with missionaries going home, we had two missionaries arrive and many others transfer within the mission. We had transfers on Wednesday and so we helped coordinate all the efforts associated with those events and it was fun to see so many missionaries.
With so many going home there were a lot of changes so most of the missionaries were here during transfers. We had a testimony meeting where all the departing missionaries bore their testimonies and the spirit was amazing. We learn every day why we are here and that the gospel is true.
The other amazing event we had this week was to travel out of the country on our visa trip. (We had the missionaries turn around to protect the innocent. haha) We have to leave Russia every 3 to 6 months, depending on the type of visa each missionary has and then re-enter.
We literally drive for 2.5 hours to the border, walk across the bridge to get the stamps in our passports and on our visa’s, and then re-enter Russia. We went to Narva, Estonia for the trip.
The pictures you see are from the river where we go for the trip. There are two castles - one on each side of the river, where they used to protect their countries across the river.
In closing we would like to tell all of our kids how proud we are of them. Brandon and Alyse had a major triumph in their lives when Alyse ran a half marathon this weekend and finished in 2 minutes and 12 seconds. Brandon and Clara were at the finish line cheering, and Clara is so intelligent and beautiful. She is talking very well, running around and keeping her parents on their toes.
Taylor got a new job working for a top roofing distributor in the valley and starts his final semester at the university in August. Krista completed her final training at her new job with Primary Children's Hospital's newborn intensive care unit and their daughter, Mya, is learning to walk and talk. They just got a new pull-along trailer for their bikes and Mya loves to go riding with Taylor and Krista.
Shawn got a great new job with Morgan Stanley and is preparing for his next semester of school. His wife, Alise, continues to do wonderful things running her own hair and eyelash company. We are so proud of both of them for working so hard as entrepreneurs and building a strong marriage in the gospel. They just moved into a new townhome last week and are excited to have more room. All the kids are doing amazing and spent last weekend together at Pineview Reservoir over the 4th of July keeping our traditions alive.
The last picture is a lucky ticket. The first two numbers when added together match the last two numbers added together. I got this ticket riding home from the picnic on Saturday. Kathy and I truly are lucky to be in Russia and to have each other. I love her more than words could ever express and thank the Lord each day for restoring this gospel and providing a plan so we can live together as a family forever. We send our love and best wishes to all of you.