Saturday, June 30, 2012

Trip to Riga, Latvia Happy Birthday Carmen, Terry, and Ryan

                      June 28-29, 2012
We were chosen to be couriers for some passports that have to be taken out of country to be processed for new visas.  We were delighted to do it as it is a very fast trip indeed if we don't have another purpose other than stamping a visa out of Russia and a new one into Russia.  Stamps are very important here and elsewhere on the continent.  We don't go anywhere without somekind of stamp confirming we are legal in the country, community, and have a sponser who has a stamp! 
We have to leave Russia every 3 months because we are on religious visas.  It makes things complicated but the system has been streamlined and now it doesn't take much time.  It is difficult for us sometimes, when we sit in a foreign airport and wait for a plane to pick us up in 2 hours, and we just have to wait.  However our purpose is not to tour, it is to work.  So, this time we got a few hours to tour while we waited for a plane to take us home after we completed our business in Riga.  It may not happen to us again so we took advantage of our time there.
Riga is a beautiful city on the Baltic Sea.  It was a beautiful day and we saw a lot of Riga and a neighboring town of Jammal (pronounce the "J" as an "H".)  It is like a seaside resort with lots of top notch homes and wonderful trees, grasses, bushes, and lots of flowers.  The architecture is beautiful and it has the old mixed with the new.  Some of the new is done on the old style, just charming.
We hired a taxi driver, a friend of our contact there in Riga, and both of them toured us around for a bit.  We then ate dinner on the beach at a wonderful restaurant.  We had a 16th floor room in the Radisson Blu Latvia and could see the skyline for a long way.  We will publish some of the photos we took there. 
We have met our new mission president, our former president went home after a three year service term. We will miss them, but will surely enjoy our new president.  He and his wife will be coming to visit our city and to interview the missionaries here this Saturday and Sunday.  It will be fun to get to know them better.
We do enjoy our time here more and more.  We have wonderful missionaries who work hard and one of the sets of 2 missionaries here just completed a week of hard work and accomplishing 15 hours of discussions.  Here in Russia that is a difficult hallmark to acheive.  We are pleased that they are working hard and reaching out to others in a happy, delightful way.  They had to schedule many more hours than that to get the 15 hours.  Now they need to call and talk to and set up more meetings, where they couldn't set them up before.  
We have had some good meeting ourselves, and have been pleased at how well we are accepted. 
We had a chance to wish our daughter Carmen HAPPY BIRTHDAY on May 30th then on June 25th we sang, badly, to Ryan Bailey our daughter, Hannie's, husband. 
We want to wish a happy birthday to Terry.  Haven't been able to get him on the phone so will post this so he will know we didn't forget him.  Happy Birthday to all.

Fountain in 'Riga park.

Skyline of Riga from our hotel room.

Garden in one of the many parks, Riga.

Changing of the guard at the Freedom Monument
just a few minutes before Hilary Clinton visited
to place flowers at the monument.

Windblown but happy on the beach
of the Baltic Sea in Jammel, Latvia.

Don't know if you can tell how big these peppers are.
We couldn't pass  up a chance to photo these beauties.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 27th, 2012

Dear family and friends.  It has been a long time we have made an entry on our blog.  Linda has been the one that has done the posting in the past however this post being done by Jerry.

We are enjoying very nice weather for the most part.  It is sunny during the day and the temperture usually is between high 60's and mid 70's.  Most nights cool down.  We do not have airconditioning, only a couple of fans.  We are managing fine.

I have spent a couple days out in the country helping dig the footings for a new house.  The soil was black as coal for the first 20 inches and the next 25 inches had some clay but no rocks.  It was fairly easy digging. It is very common here for people to have what they call a Datcha, it is a summer home in the country.  They grow gardens at their, village or datcha summer home.  The homes are small fairly rustic, more like what we would call a cabin.  It is very peaceful and nice out in the country.

The sun comes up around 4:00AM and it is not dark until about 11:30PM so there is a long growing period during the day.  The potatoes and other vegtables really look good.

In early December Linda and I went out to dinner one night at a Japaneese restaurant.  The little gal that served us our sprite spoke good English.  As we talked with her, she just had a glow about her.  We invited her to come to our English Club.  She started coming and then started taking the missionary lessons.  The end of May Dasha was baptized.  She asked me to confirm her a member and give her the gift of the holy ghost, it was a very special honor. 

We have had a couple of trips to Moscow and tonight we will be leaving to go again.  One trip was for a Mission Conference with our Mission President and his wife who just finished their mission and went home this Monday.  The second trip was a combined conference with our mission and the Moscow Mission, which we are now a part of.  It was very special because we had a number of general authorities at the conference.  Elder Christofferson, Elder Rasband, Elder Stevenson, the new Presiding Bishop and our Area presidency, who are all three members of the 2nd Quorum of seventies, along with two mission presidents.  Their wives were with them too.  What a great experience!

We are going to Riga, Latvina tomorrow to renew our Visa's and will be able to stay overnight.  We hope the weather will be good and we will be able to see some of the city while there.  It is on the Baltic Sea, a real new adventure for us!

The missionary work is going along fairly well here.  We are keeping busy with many different activities:  English Club, supporting and feeding the missionaries, supporting both of the Branch Presidencies as best as we can, setting up some Young Single Adult/Seminary activities and firesides, trying to line up some Humanitarian projects (we have three identified) and doing some teaching.  It is all good and we are greatful to have the opportunity to be here.

Raenie and Charlie announced that in January we will have another grandchild.  We are excited for them.  Jacob and his family will be moving to the Baltimore area in July on a three year assignment.

Dasha's baptism

May 10th Russian Victory Day WWII Veteran with ribbons/metals,tulips given to him by people, like us, to show respect.

One of the many Russian Orthodox churches in Nizhniy overlooking where the Aka and Volga rivers join