Sunday, October 19, 2014

Beautiful Fall and Hump Day in Russia

We missed all of you over the past month and pray that you are all doing well with the struggles and joy we each experience and share in our journey together. 

Kathy and I are excited to share pictures and a video of our hump day in Russia (mid-point of our mission, ha ha).  Kathy has really enjoyed photography in Russia and the pictures and narrative in this blog will attempt to cover this journey.  

As you will see, this month was filled with beauty, talent, laughter, tears, service, smiles, miles, puppies, parties, miracles and testimonies!

We crossed over 31 years of marriage and cheered in the news of two more grandchildren headed our way next January and March (Krista/Taylor having a girl and then Brandon/Alyse having a boy).  

We also added two new puppies to the family with Brandon/Alyse and Shawn/Alise both getting puppies. (The puppies in the picture are new puppies we got to see at the fort where we do service). 

We were saddened and keep in our thoughts and prayers some dear friends who experienced the loss of their new baby son after only two short days of life.  Moments like this reinforce why we are on our mission teaching people that families can live together forever.  

That understanding is better than a cure for disease, because if we prove ourselves worthy, we can live together for eternity if someone with the authority “seals” us together as a family.  And what can be better than that!!

We started this past month with a trip to Svetlogorsk on our day off located on the Baltic Sea. It was absolutely beautiful and the pictures throughout this blog show the beach and city area.  

Although we can't show the missionaries, we took the missionaries in our area up there early in the morning and did our morning studies sitting on the beach overlooking the ocean. 

We then played some Frisbee, played with some stray dogs and shared the gospel with several people on the beach.  It was an awesome way to spend our P-day (preparation day).  

We also walked around the town and saw all of the attractions. It is a small coastal town with restaurants, hotels and many residential areas.

We had two parties during the last month with the church members and those who we are teaching. The first was a talent show evening. Kathy and I choreographed a hula hoop dance to the song “Happy”.  

Kathy started out as a mean school teacher and taught her Russian students the words “happy” and “clap” (from the song).  Of course she then took her coat and glasses off and let down her hair.

We then did a dance and hula hooped to the song. It was a lot of fun and the Russian people definitely weren’t expecting an older missionary couple to bust out the moves. Hahaha.  Many came up and danced with us at the end and we had a lot of fun.

The second party was a Halloween party that we threw yesterday. We had a lot of people show up along with many not of our faith.  Kathy and the missionaries spent several weeks planning because Halloween isn’t a holiday in Russia. 

We had to get creative with the decorations and as you can see from the pictures, it turned out awesome.  We started off the evening with eight “minute-to-win-it” games to get everyone involved. 

It was a lot of fun as we had them eat donuts off a string without hands, pop balloons by sitting on them, knock over cups with air from balloons, balance M&M on two pencils tied to a string while raising it up to your mouth, and sucking M&M’s with straws while moving them from one cup to another. 

Many fun laughs and a great night for all who came. Kathy made chili for everyone and the missionaries were amazing with all their help.  The branch in Kaliningrad is a lot of fun and people are willing to help and laugh.

One thing we wish could be shared with each of you was the amazing fall weather we had here in Kaliningrad. It has been in the 60’s and 70’s for the past month and absolutely beautiful. 

Kathy and I went on a walk one day and took a bunch of pictures that we will share here and at the end of the blog. We stopped by an amusement park and took a Ferris-wheel ride where we could see the whole city.

We also went to the local zoo and got up-close and personal with the grizzly bears and even caught a glimpse of the tigers cuddling.  

We saw many other animals and just had a fun day with the elders walking around talking and enjoying the animals that God has placed on this earth. 

It is sad they have to be in cages, but we appreciated the opportunity to see the majesty of elephants, giraffes, monkeys and many other animals.

Once or twice every week we ride our trolley down to the city center and go to the reenik to get fresh fruit, vegetables and various other products. They have meat, cheese, fish, candy, clothing and other areas within the reenik. 

It is a shopper’s paradise for selection and the fun of outdoor shopping. We have really enjoyed having fresh vegetables and fresh fruit every day.

We have the wonderful opportunity of helping people within and outside our church. It gives us time to work side by side with the missionaries and teach them some life skills :-) 

Our life has been a little upside down, so I will close this blog with a picture of our first apartment building. If you look closely our dog is in the dog house and we don't know if our vehicle can do a literal 180 before it hits the ground. Ha Ha.

Actually, these next two pictures show our our apartment building and our church. These are the two buildings in which we spend most of our time!  

The first weekend in October our church had its semi-annual general conference. It is a wonderful time when our prophet, apostles and other church leaders address the 15+ million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints around the world.  The conference is in Utah and then transmitted throughout the world. It is also converted into all the various languages, so we watched it in English and then with the people of Russia.  

Kathy and I testify that we are lead today by a living prophet and apostles. Families and the sanctity of family are part of Heavenly Father’s plan for us on earth. There was one talk that is beneficial for all to watch. It is one of the apostles explaining why the members of this church are so anxious to share the gospel message with their friends and family.  It explains a lot. Ha ha.  If you haven’t seen this video, we recommend you click on the following link to understand why Kathy and I are away from all of you and our family at this time in our lives.

Thanks for all your notes, e-mails and F
acebook posts. Love Bob and Kathy

Note: If you would like to watch the entire conference you can go to the link at