Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year from Russia

Happy New Year’s to all of our wonderful friends in America, Russia and around the world. We have so much to be thankful for and ask each of you reading this blog to share with us on Facebook or this blog one wonderful thought or moment we have spent together.  

Kathy and I have truly been blessed to serve this mission and to have 24/7 to spend together in the work of the Lord.  The pictures we share in this blog will highlight our month filled with activity, celebration, bonding and sharing of faith. 

We were also told we could show the missionaries, so you will see some of their awesome faces that light every day we are here.  

We are also blessed to serve with the wonderful Russian people in Kaliningrad, Russia but are still unable to share any of their names on the internet.

We were also blessed to travel back to St. Petersburg for three days for a zone conference the week before Christmas and spent an evening with all our wonderful friends in that city. The local church groups within our faith put on a Christmas Spectacular and it was awesome.  

We also had the opportunity to walk up Nevsky Street (the main city street), take many pictures of the beautiful Christmas decorations and get another picture at the Chapel on Spilt Blood.

We currently have five amazing missionaries serving with us in Kaliningrad - three sisters and two elders. Kathy and I stay very busy supporting their efforts on the streets, in the classrooms and at our house. 

We host a lot of dinners for investigators and members of our church.  It allows us to share with them the love we have for family and the gospel.  It also allows them to hopefully feel the love we have within our home.  Each missionary that serves with us holds a special place in our heart.

We were busy this month hosting a mini-missionary training event for all of the young men and young women here who will someday hopefully serve a mission.  We prepared actual mission calls, nametags, a scavenger hunt, and took them through three hours of training. It was a fun and spiritual time.  I prepared a slide show that shared the life of a missionary and then another to help guide the training.  It is good every once in a while to put my business skills to practice. J

We also hosted a Christmas devotional with the mission president and his wife.  They brought down nativity scenes from all over the world and had displays that spoke about the Christmas season and all that the birth of the Savior means to us.  

We had a wonderful turnout of those within our church and those investigating our faith.  Kathy and I prepared all the food for the event and helped with all the audio video.  This was back-to-back with the missionary activity so we were definitely tired when the weekend was done.

Every Friday we do an English gospel conversation group where we teach gospel principles in English and then spend time after class talking to each of the participants. This gives them a chance to listen and practice their English and gives us an opportunity to teach them gospel principles.  We have a really neat group of people who come each week and have developed a special bond with each of them.  They aren’t members of our church, but we have touched their hearts and hopefully will have the honor of baptizing them some day.

Kathy and I bought a Christmas tree for the season and have had decorations set up all month long.  In Russia they actually celebrate Christmas on January 7th which is the Russian Orthodox holiday.  

This gives us a month and a half to keep the spirit of Christmas in our homes and in the hearts of the people.  We got each of the missionaries a Kaliningrad souvenir plate and wrote on the back so they will remember us. We also got them each a stocking with some of the necessities like chocolate, socks, lotion, sewing kits, odor guards, etc., ha ha.

Kathy and I decided to get a piece of Russia for Christmas. We contracted a famous Russian artist and a wonderful lady within our church to make us a painting and needlepoint.  Sorry we can't mention names, but the artist is well known and does large mural paintings for the church temples. The lady is a wonderful grandmother who spent over two months on the needlepoint.  

As you can see from the pictures they will both be memorable hanging in our home. We had them each write a brief statement on what the piece of art meant to them and we will put that on the back of each frame with the picture of us with them. What an awesome Christmas. 

We had the missionaries over on Christmas Eve for a traditional dinner and then each of them were able to Skype with their families.  We had two computers set up so two could go at a time in different rooms of our apartment.  Then the missionaries who weren’t skyping were with us in the living room watching Bible videos and talking about the true meaning of Christmas.  

It was a very special time to see each missionary get a chance to talk to those they love.  It wasn’t very long ago when we were on the other end of the phone with our three kids. That was the best gift of the season - sharing our love over the phone with the kids, and Skype today allows the families to actually see their missionary.

This last Monday our Kaliningrad branch president took us up to an area called Куршская Косаю.  It is along the Baltic Sea and is a peninsula about 400 meters wide.  It was snow covered but sunny and absolutely beautiful.  

We could walk from one side which was a fresh water lake to the other side which was the sea.  We were blessed to get snow on Christmas so it was spectacular as you can see from the pictures.  It was a great personal day to spend with our branch president and his family.  The only thing missing was each of you! Wish we could share pictures of them but that will have to wait until we are done with our mission.

In closing we wanted to list many of the things we are thankful for going into this new year.  It is a nervous time as we get ready to come back and hit the ground running with work and family.  We know that the Lord will bless us with the ability to provide for our family and make any necessary transitions. We will return on June 19, 2015 just in time for Father’s day, and our homecoming will hopefully be June 28th.  

We send our love and hope that you enjoy the memories we share below.  We can’t list them all, so if we left out a memory please post below or on Facebook. We love to hear from each of you this holiday season. Love Bob and Kathy 

  • ·  We are thankful most of all to the Lord for inspiring our prophet and leaders to call us out of normal life to serve the wonderful people of Russia.
  • ·  We are thankful to our kids and their spouses who have put up with our silly sense of humor and kept all things running smoothly in our absence.  They have watched over our affairs and stayed true to each other and the Lord.
  • ·  We are thankful for Facebook and the opportunity to stay in touch with each of you once a day. We feel like we have shared brief moments of our lives and experienced brief moments of yours.
  • ·  We are thankful for the videos of our two beautiful granddaughters, our dog, Max, two new puppies and Sophie.   Each morning we wake up and search e-mail and Facebook to see any new posts in the lives of our families.  It is like manna from heaven to get those, and also to be able to skype with the kids.
  • ·  We are thankful to the company I worked for, Preferred Sands, for allowing us to leave and serve the Lord.  I am glad they were blessed with a good year in 2014 to prepare for tougher times in 2015 as oil prices drop.  I pray every day for the wonderful friends I have within the company.
  • ·  We are thankful to all our extended family that keeps growing through marriages and friendships.  Many have married, graduated, grown, laughed and cried in 2014.  Thanks for sharing the emotions.
  • ·  We are thankful for the
    example Kathy’s sister, Vicki, and her husband and daughter provided to lift our spirits.
     They were taught by the missionaries in California this year, were baptized and are now active members of the church preparing to go to the temple and be sealed together for eternity as a family.  They are the example of why we are here - to help families return to our Heavenly Father through His son, Jesus Christ, and find peace and happiness.
  • ·   We are thankful to our parents who dedicated their lives to us!
  • ·   We are thankful for each of you.  :)


  1. You two are such bright lights in all of our lives. I'm so happy about your sister and her family. What a blessing. Stretch the Christmas spirit out as long as you can. Happy New Year. We will see you SOOOON. Oh and kudos for understanding the importance of CHOCOLATE!!🔔💖💝🎉🎊🎉🎊💝

  2. Thank you for your great example and for sharing this post, I enjoyed it very much! The pictures are so fun! Happy New Year, we love you!!