Sunday, December 16, 2012

Jehovah Witnesses and Latter-day Saints

Today on the bus to Zelonograd to attend our Church meetings a couple of ladies sat across from us (facing us). They were pleasant and smiling. One of them leaned over and spoke to me. I smiled and said "English." Oh, she replied and then proceeded to talk in Russian. She reached into her purse and brought out a religious tract. She handed it to Dave and we said "spaseebah" meaning thank you. It appeared to be The WatchTower,  the Jehovah Witnesseses booklets that they pass out. Dave reached into his pocket and drew out a "preeg", which is a handout with a picture of the Savior on it that is used as an invitation to become better acquainted with the Church. She was a bit surprised when we handed her something in return and they graciously accepted it and read it (which was written in Russian).

We have heard that there is a presence of Jehovah Witnesses here and we had a chance to meet two of these lovely ladies today.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

KInd of creepy

Every Friday at the office I prepare the FedEx envelope and put all the letters that are going to the STates from the missionaries.  This past week the envelope came back. As I rifled through it trying to figure out why, I noticed that 5 of the envelopes had been opened and then taped, to include one for our grandson Kyler. I'm not quite sure why. The opened envelopes were all Christmas cards.. So, I remailed all of them again this past Friday and will hope they reach their destinations in the States.

Season of Sacrifice

In November our Russia Moscow Mission President, President Sorenson sent out a personal letter to each of the missionaries in the mission, the seniors and the younger missionaries. He encouraged us to consider what  we could individually do that would help us draw closer to the Lord. He referred to this as a "Season of Sacrifice." At this sacred time of year, what could we sacrifice? What could we bring to the table for the Lord that would be a blessing to us and would help strengthen us as individuals and missionaries?  He stressed that there is great power in sacrifice and he encouraged us to consider what it is that we personally might want to sacrifice in terms of either refraining from something that is negative and hindering our progress, perhaps, or doing something new that would benefit us, but maybe is hard. Maybe giving up a bad habit or working on developing a new resolve to improve upon our life in some way. The purpose is to help us draw closer to the Lord and become more like our Savior, to bring more light into our lives by righteous choices.

Because each one of us is an invidivual and our strengths and weaknesses vary greatly, the sacrifice each of us chooses to make will also vary greatly.

What I have chosen is something most difficult for me, but upon prayer and pondering, I feel that this is what is right for me.

I have chosen to sacrifice or give up chocolate and ice cream and candy in all forms for the remainder of my mission. I love sugar and it is not good for me. I have been consuming too many sweets. I'm struggling with my weight since we got here due to lack of exercise (except for all the walking) and being in an office environment all day isn't conducive to burning a lot of extra calories.) I know how much better I feel when I am making healthier choices. Sugar makes me sluggish.

The members of the Church have a sacred book of scripture called the Doctrine and Covenants. This book contains revelations received by latter-day prophets. One such revelation is found in the 89th section of the  Doctrine and Covenants, known by members of the Church as The Word of Wisdom. You may have heard that members of the Church do not drink or smoke. This counsel was given to us in the Doctrine and Covenants. It contains many treasures for everyone concerning our health and well-being. (exercise, sleeping, eating, etc.). It is meant to be a gift to us to help us live healthy lives.

I have come to know that there is a connection between spiritual and physical well beng.
I want to draw closer to my Heavenly Father as I serve my mission. become more healthier through being more obedient to what I know to be true.

Only in Russia have I ever seen.....

The Mitino Mall is a lovely modern mall. But one thing is different from malls in America. There is a security guard at the entrance to the bathrooms complete with the stile that you have to go through. He unlocks it so you can go in and use the restroom. A little different.........

An unwelcome adventure

Here it is ten days before Christmas and we decided to do our Christmas shopping for each other at the Mitina Mall. It was too cold to walk so we took a bus. We enjoyed shopping, listening to Christmas carols in English, had a nice lunch there and then headed home. A beautiful sunny day here but bitterly cold. On our way back, we missed our stop. The bus driver had stopped in a different place and we expected to get off at our usual place except that he didn't stop. We rounded the corner GOING IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF OUR HOME!! We got off at the first stop and walked home. Problem - well, there was only a sidewalk for a short ways and then we entered the construction site of the new Mitina metro stop.I can only imagine what drivers whizzing past us were thinking. Oh, those must be crazy Americans who missed their bus stop.  Here we are, icy winds blowing in our faces as we tread carefully over frozen mud and uneven snow-covered ground trying to reach the street which will take us home. It was a freeze-your-face- in -two- seconds cold and the wind was unrelenting. It is actually a balmy 5 degrees without the chill factor which was well be low zero. We were happy to reach the warmth of our apartment. It is going to be a LOOOOONG winter, especially if we keep missing our bus stops.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Wrong Choice

When we went out to catch a bus to the metro this morning it was below zero. (Three couples) We had to decide whether to take the blue line or the purple line. The purple line is risky because you never know if you'll get a seat or not, and at rush hour, the metro can be VERY busy and crowded. The blue line at Mitino starts there so we are assured of a seat. BUT to get there you have to walk about 5 to 7 minutes to the bus stop to take you to Mitino. That is what I wanted to do.
The purple line in Tushkenskaya means we take the bus right across the street from our apartment. I was outvoted. We took the bus to Tushkenskaya.. The metro was hopping at 7:40 am.  It was VERY crowded. Dave and I got in and I manged to stay in front near the door. Dave was pushed back a ways. I was astonished when, at the first stop, several more people got on. There wasn't any room! They made room! They were pushy and forced themselves on instead of waiting for the next subway which would have come along in 3 minutes or less. I was flattened and couldn't move much. Not fun.
I have heard and been told that you sometimes have to be push to get on. One woman actually got caught in the door as it closed on her. Not a fun ride.
The couples conference was wonderful (which had been our destination and I will talk about that later). On the way back, once again it was rush hour or just prior to rush hour. Everyone was on but me when it started to close. The door started to close before I got on! Dave stuck his arm in between the two doors to force it open again. I rushed inside. I have to admit that Dave's arm squeezed between the doors would have made quite a picture. I'm glad he wasn't hurt.
We have a plan. If anyone is left behind on the metro, the person left behind takes the next subway and gets off at the next stop. The person who has gone on ahead gets off at the next stop and waits for the one following behind. The wait is only a couple of minutes as a rule.
I HATE the metro when it is crowded like that.
I mentioned to my better half that I would rather walk through icy winds to get to the bus stop to Mitino and take the blue line instead of taking the purple line! Until next time, dosvidonya.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

This is not the end of the story

It appears that our computer problems are not over. Even though Dave and I both have computers that are up and running (most of the time) our office elder's computers are not..... and they have many things to do to keep the office running smoothly too.
The best news of all? Sergei, one of the computer techs, informed Dave, that oh yeah, I'm getting married in a couple of days and I won't be around.  Not sure when we'll be back. (Evgeny is the other computer tech). OH GREAT.
We have new missionaries arriving on 12/18. It is also transfer week and we will be getting a new office elder who will need to learn Elder Stegeby's responsibilities. How is he going to do that without a functional computer???!!!
Stay tuned for the rest of the story. (however, don't hold your breath It could be a while.)

Who IS that??

Upon coming to Russia I have given up cute shoes and settled for flats because I am walking so much. I don't wear the jewelry that I love either with the exception of earrings and a bracelet now and then.  I have been wearing warm tights since October.  My legs haven't seen the light of day in weeks I have new boots that are very cozy. They are very sensible and warm and fur-lined. I see a lot of these young Russian women, dressed smartly in their fur coat and high heeled boots. How do they walk in those on snow let alone on flat dry surfaces?
Today before I left for the office we checked the weather. I donned earmuffs with a hat pulled over it. My head looked huge and distorted. Scarf, glove liners, gloves, winter coat from LL Bean that goes almost to the ground. Yep, a REAL fashion statement.
I saw a reflection of myself in the mirror. Who IS that?  Well, at least I'm warm. :). With the icy winds blowing I have given up fashion for warmth. Chances are good, that if I do fall, I won't feel it, I'm so bundled up. Dos vidonya

another day at the office

The Service Center called yesterday and told us that our old computers were being replaced with new ones. Now, we have called many times to the Service Center to come and fix a printer, a copier, or this or that, and there wasn't a timely response. Well they were here within an hour and basically turned our day and office upside down. Neither Dave or I had access to our computers for most of the day which is NOT good, especially with no warning.
Then today, I am trying to figure out how th enew computer works and the most important feature on ther efor me, the M drive isn't working. I had to find other things to do. I think it's working now. We will see when we return to the office on Friday (after our 2 day conference for the senior couples. tomorrow and Thursday.) It will be SO fun seeing everyone!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The metro

I'm guessing that one of the most boring jobs in the whole world would be to work as a metro escalator guard. The woman sits in this tiny cubicle with a television screen at the base of the escalators and observes the people going up or down the escalator.
I LOVE watching people on the escalator. When I am going in one direction, I spend a lot of time watching the people going in the other direction. Some days I'm sure I see thousands of people. They come in all shapes, sizes, ages, colors. They are either talking to each other, are on the phone, texting, reading the paper, smooching or just staring into space.
However doing it hour by hour would probably drive me insane. Today the woman in the cubicle must have been bored too, as she was sleeping. It would certainly help the time go by faster. :0)

The metro system really is amazing. Consider the tens of thousands of people (if not more) that use the metro every day, the metro stations are CLEAN. The staff of people that pick up after messy customers do a good job. There is no litter. There are no wastebaskets. There are no public restrooms. Just lots and lots of people scurrying here and there.

Once in a while a stray dog comes into the metro station. They are probably trying to get warm! They have even been known to ride the metro (even though I haven't seen that). On the subway itself, it's not uncommon for people looking for money to walk along asking for money. Today a blind man was making his way along going from car to car.

 It truly is a wonderful way to get around. Getting to the station by bus might be a problem in bad weather, but once you are underground on the metro, you speed along to your destination.

There are different "lines" that go to different locations. For instance, today we took the purple line to the gray line. They are numbered and if you can read Russian, it is pretty easy to get around. Well, not ALL the time. Yesterday Dave and I were on our own trying to get to a music hall off the gray line. We walked quite a distance and realized we were on our way outside. We backtracked quite a distance to find where we had missed the gray line and were able to get to our destination without too much problem. That may be because we had a couple of missionaries that we bumped into who had a gps on their phone and we followed them. Today we needed to go to Tushkenskya and Pushkenskya. Yesterday we needed to go to Comsomolskaya. 
I still can't speak very much Russian and understanding is even harder, but I can generally read it which helps a lot. If you can read the signs, you can figure out where you need to go, how many stops, etc.

Knowing how to get around on the metro doesn't mean I have changed my mind about traveling alone. Even by bus, I have no interest in going on public transportation alone, even though I am willing to walk places in areas I am familiar with.

Some things never change. Dos vidonya

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A pleasant surprise

Today is Saturday and Saturday is the day I usually go grocery shopping while Dave vacuums and does the budget. I start at the productee which is practically right outside our apartment. Margo and Zarina were there. There are three rooms.
As you walk in Margo and Zarina sit on the left next to the little counter and cash register. Liquor lines the left wall just past them. On the right, is a room I don't use very often, but today I went in to get some juice for our Christmas breakfast with the missionaries. (have I mentioned how many wonderful and yummy juices you can get here?) We thought the missionaries  would enjoy some juice Christmas morning. There is also soda, junk food and frozen meats and pastas that we don't use. However, in a little alcove just past the juice  was an inside fruit and veggie stand! It wasn't there before! I was SO excited. Ever since Evon left very unexpectedly (along with the other little outside fruit stands, literally overnight), I have had to go to the renock across the street to get any fresh fruits and veggies. It is VERY inconvenient. NOW I don't have to!
This little alcove was filled with peppers, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, bananas, apples, grapes, potatoes. YAY. A man was sitting there just waiting for me to come and buy some of his food. There were a couple of things he didn't have today - zuchinni and mushrooms, but I was able to get everything else. SO glad that this is available once again! :0). Life has just gotten a little easier! LIFE IS GOOD.

Winter in Russia

I remember as a little girl growing up in the snowbelt in Bath NY. There was plenty of snow to make snow houses and sled. It didn't matter how much it snowed because I didn't have to shovel it. Then, moving to MA and dealing with the snow there. Shoveling it and helping little ones into snowsuits to go out and play or dropping off older kids to sled for a couple of hours. I remember a couple of times driving through very snowy and slippery conditions (not by choice). Not fun.
I know that in MA schools are canceled due to snowy weather conditions. I'm guessing that never happens here in Moscow. The Russians know snow. This is what they are used to 5 months out of the year. They have adjusted to it.
The strollers and carriages are protected from wind and snow. Babies are often out with their moms regardless of the weather. Last night, when it was in the 20's, I saw parents out with toddlers at the little playground playing in the snow. I see them with little shovels or little sleds  going down tiny hills or even playing on the playground equipment. From the first snowfall, they are bundled up from head to foot in snowsuits and look very toasty.
Snow doesn't seem to phase them at all. I haven't seen any plows at work, but I think some of the main roads are plowed. There are no snowblowers to be seen, but many men shoveling 24 hours a day to keep sidewalks shoveled. I heard them upon waking this morning at 6 am.
Cars don't seem to slow down much, but it does affect bus schedules. There is some slipping and sliding around. A much longer wait at the bus stop is an unpleasant side effect of the bad weather.
I remember when I refused to go out when it was bad conditions. I guess I had better get over that (even though I don't think I will). Waiting an hour for a bus isn't my idea of fun and then sliding around the roads even less fun.
We will see what the winter brings. The Russian people are a tough and hearty bunch. Walking to the office every morning and back is invigorating and I almost always enjoy it unless it is icy. Falling down and getting hurt is not an option because you need to walk virtually everywhere!
I wonder if I'll look at winter weather differently when I get back to MA in time for next winter. I'm thinking no.
And my better half? He's from sunny California. I haven't heard a peep of complaint from him. (I  guess I do enough for the both of us.). Until next time, dosvidonya.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Someone is watching!

I am looking forward to Dave and I doing some Christmas shopping later this month. I know pretty much what to expect now whichever mall we go to. I go to Okey with Sister Sorenson or Peggy on occasion. Okey is kind of like WalMart. It is a fairly new store in a new mall.
A security guard greets you when you first walk in.
When you come into the store (which is part of a lovely new mall), there is another security guard. There are security people are all over the store actually. When you first walk in, if you have anything with you (not to include your purse, they will stuff it in a big plastic bag and tie it shut. Maybe they're afraid I am going to try to steal??
Then, after I have finished shopping, I unwrap the bags at the check out so I can use them to put my purchased items into. They do not bag for you. You do it yourself.
In some stores there are lockers for you to put things you have already purchased in others stores so that you are not carrying around bags filled with items you have already purchased.
I'm guessing that the theft rate is low because there is someone watching carefully from every floor!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Visa Trip

Today we went out on our third visa trip since arriving in Russian 9 months ago. Alexander picked us up at 6 am and it took 25 minutes to get to the airport. (in a snowstorm last week, it took over 3 hours.) All in all, things went very well. The SVO Airport was on the quiet side when we arrived. We didn't have to stand in line to get our tickets, the flight was on time, it came back on time and it only took an hour to get back home in rush hour traffic. Thanks in part to Alexander knowing all the shortcuts! Sometimes it takes MUCH longer to go from the airport back to the office where passports are scanned. Because there was plenty of time, we enjoyed a delicious meal at Lido's. It's fun to see the different foods available in different countries. Think pancakes w/ fresh strawberry sauce, panckaes filed with cottage cheese or cheese and ham and rolled like a tortilla. Delicious fruits - starfruit, pineapple,kiwi, fresh squeezed orange juice which was SO good and Dave's juice was called santhorn. It was very smooth like a nectar and delicious but not a taste we were familiar with. There were different desserts. Orange pie, oatmeal dessert with fruit and many others. (we didn't eat dessert this time - maybe in March).
There are a lot of English speakers in Riga and the atmosphere is different from Russia. Friendly and more easy going and slower paced.
I enjoyed reading my kindle and snoozing on the plane and Dave (Elder Sutton) read and snoozed as well.
The whole purpose of these visa trips is to be in compliance with Russian law. We personally don't see the purpose. We are required to exit Russia every three months on a second passport. It is a three month visa on our first or  second passport. If we fail to do this we would be illeagle and kicked out of the country,.Russia has made it difficult for us to be here.
It is a waste of time (missionaries lose a whole day and sometimes more if you include their travel to get to the airport, sometimes from outlying cities which requires an overnight stay). It is a tremendous expense for the Church who pays for all of the missionaries throughout Russia to go out of the country and back in. Not to mention the paperwork and time involved and the $150 for each passport.
Visa trips are NOT vacations and all of the missionarie, with the exception of our Russian missionaries have to do this.
There have been two places where our particular mission has gone for our visa trips. Kiev, Ukraine (until fairly recently) and Riga, Latvia. When the missionaries arrive in Riga, they don't leave the airport. They stay until it is time to board the plane to come back to Moscow.
We have had a chance to see Riga Latvia, because of a glitch made our first visa trip out last June. It is mentioned in a prior blog post. We ended up going back to Latvia the next day and had to stay overnight. Riga is a BEAUTIFUL ancient city and we enjoyed ourselves very much. It was an unexpected treat that we enjoyed the hard way.
Very recently, our new missionaries who just arrived and those who come after no longer have a second passport which means that they will have to leave the country only every  6 months to get a new migration card which will allow them to stay in the country for another 6 months. Dave and I will still have to go out two more times, March and June, before we come back to the States. We are making progress!
It is something we all have to do. At the end of the month we are having 25 missionaries going out on a visa trip at the same time. Wow. It keeps our office elders busy when they come back and need their documents scanned. Transportation needs to be planned with 3 vans or a bus for such a large group. Our visa clerk Diana is kept VERY busy making reservations for all these flights. It is a demanding job.
Well, until March 3 or so we can keep our feet on the ground here in Russia. Dosvidonya.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Just another day at the office

Today we welcomed a new missionary couple who will be working humanitarian and living in Moscow. It's always wonderful greeting our new missionaries. Later in the month, we will be greeting 6 new elders to our mission family. Throughout the course of the day, I answered the phone and before I could slow them down, Russian speakers were talking a mile a minute. I transferred them to our Russian-speaking office elders. (one from the States and one from Sweden). Sometimes I go next door to get Onya to help out or Diana, our Russian visa clerk will take the call. I'm used to it now, hearing Russian around me and I'm used to not understanding it.

Today was mail run and the office elders came back around noon bearing packages from back home for missionaries for Christmas. There were 4 extra missionaries in the office and of course, they were very excited and started going through them to see if there was anything for them. Later I sorted through the packages and put them in our mail center in different places to go to the different outlying cities or the schoff at the Central Building, to be picked up by missionaries working in the Moscow Oblast (equivalant to a county). I also sorted letters. I love seeing our missionaries get mail and packages. It makes them so happy to get mail from home
We were pleasantly surprised to see that one of the packages was for us, from our good friends the Ladieus back in MA. We served with them in the Boston Temple and they are very special to us. AND we received 3 Christmas cards. Thank you Sue and Rachel! Thank you Linda! Thank you condo family!

Sometimes, I look at my list of things to do and I don't know where to begin. There were many things I could have done today, but I have learned the importance of being flexible. Things come up. One sweet missionary called for her companion yesterday who has been really sick. I talked to Sister T (the sick one) and I gave her some suggestions and told her I would check in on her today. She beat me to the punch and called today to tell me she is feeling much better!

Clothes keep trickling in that need to be sorted and passed on to those who can use them, or given to those in need in Moscow.

I received notice of another 4 missionaries who will be joining our ranks in April and May and there is quite a list of things to do for each one in preparing their folders and planning for them. Then there are another 4 missionaries who are going home before Christmas. Let's just say I don't have a lot of time to get into trouble.

One thing I did today was place an order with the Distribution Center. Missionaries let me know what they need and I try to get it for them. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don't. For instance, Sister I and her companiion need French materials for their French speaking investigators. I scoured the supply closet, took what few supplies in French that were there. I was told by Distribution that it would be a couple of months before the French and Armenian supplies would be in.

Dave, on the other hand, spent a lot of time on the computer funding rent and other expenditures, was involved in a couple of projects he was asked to help with. He met with President Sorenson on mission business concerning calendaring and release dates for our missionaries. He is also involved in helping find apartments, working with our realtor and coordinates everything to make it possible.

I am trying to become more organized. Let's just say that it is a work in progress. I am a work in progress. My sweetheart is so organized. Always has been. I am only organized in certain things. I'm working on it.

Tomorrow we will not be in the office at all as tomorrow we have to leave the country on a visa trip. I'll report more on that tomorrow.  Until then, dosvidonya.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Love from our condo community

What a wonderful surprise last week when we received a care package from our condo family in Thorndike, MA. It made us feel so good. Being remembered when we are so far away is a big deal even more  this time of year. I LOVE Christmas and  are looking forward to celebrating with our missionaries, but thoughts of friends and family back home are in our hearts.

How we appreciate the little things from home. Thank you, condo family, for your thoughtfulness. Everything you sent is being enjoyed and some of it shared with our young missionaries. We love the emails and the skype dates which help keep us connected with our little condo family. It is a great blessing.   Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Russian weather

Winter arrived on time here in Moscow - late October when the temps dropped. We had our first major snowstorm a couple of days ago. In fact, it is the  biggest snowfall in November in 50 years. Hmmm. That doesn't bode well for the rest of the winter. Wait. Anyway, the snow was followed by freezing rain which made walking treacherous, even in my new snow boots, which have a good tread . I must have looked like a duck as I inched my way home on ice-covered sidewalks.
The stairs were the worst. Coming out of the office, they were covered in ice and there was no treatment on them. Approaching the apartment, there are a few stairs to climb. They were covered in ice as well. Luckily, there were some men milling around outside on a work break and one of them came over and took my elbow and matter-of-factly walked me up the stairs. The same thing happened on Wednesday when we went to Zelonograd. There are stairs going down underground to walk under the streets. They get very icy.  A young man behind me, took my elbow and led me down the stairs and then went on his way.
I am considering buying a bag of cat litter at the pet store and putting some in baggies and sprinkling it liberally when needed. What do you think?
This morning (day after ice storm) I woke up to the sound of shoveling. In fact, I heard shoveling on and off all night. They rely on workers to shovel by hand as opposed to using a snow blower.. Until next time, dos vidonya.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We are in the midst of our first big snowstorm. It started snowing last night and hasn't stopped. Sure glad to have my new winter boots as they came in handy walking to and from the office today.

We are starting to see signs of Christmas. Besides the snow, we've seen one large Christmas tree in Zelonograd, the malls and stores are Christmasy as well. I LOVE Christmas. I LOVE to decorate for Christmas. Our little apartment has a few decorations here and there. Two adorable Christmas stockings, a cute little 2 foot tree, some snowmen I brought with me from America, two Father Frosts, a Santa nesting doll set and a Russian nativity set that we bought here. I haven't had a lot of success in finding cute decorations or anything with the nativity but will keep looking.

Today I spent a few minutes decorating our mission office with a little 3 foot tree, and a few other little decorations and maybe will decorate a little more tomorrow.

Our office elders, who go on mail run once a week have looked like Santa Claus the last couple of weeks, bringing to the office 24 packages last week and 22 packages today. I think that with families wanting to send a little Christmas cheer, the packages will continue to come throughout the month and into January (for the packages which are sure to be late).

How fun it was today to receive two packages. One from our condo family and one from a young woman that I have watched grow up and is now preparing to get married. Thank to our wonderful condo family for the wonderful treats. Samantha's package will be brought home tomorrow night.

We received our first Christmas card today, from our condo family.

We are looking forward to experiencing a Russian Christmas. We will share details as time goes on. Until then, dosvidonya.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Russian Thanksgiving

Who would have ever thought that we would be spending Thanksgiving in Moscow? In the kitchen after dinner our two Russian sister missionaries took the bull by the horns and were cleaning up a storm!

Our Thanksgiving day is coming to an end. Russians don't celebrate Thanksgiving or have any day similar to it; however, our American missionaries appreciate having a home cooked meal with their senior couple and having the day off to celebrate the many reasons we have to be thankful.

As we celebrated Thanksgiving with our 4 elders and 2 sisters I thought about last Thanksgiving. We were in Bath NY with my mom and sister and friends. At this time we had learned where we were going on our mission and would be in Russia for Thanksgiving. Here we are already. Time is going so fast!.

This year I have thought about what our families would be doing as they prepare for their Thanksgiving feast. Kev and Caty are enjoying a Thanksgiving at home this year with dear friends . Mike and Kristy are hosting Thanksgiving and will be joined by our son Tim and Stacy and their new baby girl Sophie. Mom will be spending the day with her boyfriend Harold French in Rochester with his son and their family. Daughter Shauna and sister Diane will be preparing now for the holiday as well, even though I don't know exacty what their plans are.

Elder Anderson and Elder Ricks came early to peel potatoes for dinner. They peeled two large bags of potatoes. The turkeys in the stores were scrawny and very pricy. We had chicken breast instead. (our friends the Luekenga's bought what they thought were turkeys and found out that they had bought geese.) We had chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade stuffing (which the elders loved), different breads, homemade applesauce and desserts brought by the missionaries.  Elder Urmston and Elder Samuelson presented a Thanksgiving message on gratitude. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of eating, a lot of love.
                                                                      Elder Anderson
                                                   Elder Anderson and Elder Ricks
                                    Elder Ricks, Elder Anderson eating a raw potato, and Barb
                                                      Elder Ricks whipping potatoes

The missionaries bring a very special spirit into our home.

Next Thanksgving we expect to be back in Bath NY with Mom and celebrating her 85th birthday surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Family is what it is all about. This year our family consists of our wonderful missionaries. Dos Vidonya. Don't eat too much turkey!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Primary Presentation

One of our very favorite  Sundays is the week when our Primary children (age 3 - 11) are the program under the guidance of their Primary teachers. The Primary program is under the guidelines of the Church, so all the programs are the same throughout the world. The teachers start preparing the young ones weeks ahead of time.
I remember when our children were small and were in the program so many years ago. Shauna, so shy and Kevin smiling and waving. I remember our program in the Ludlow Ward last year and these precious young ones (I was one of the teachers) were the Sacrament program.
It consists of talks ( 30 seconds to a couple of minutes) with lots of Primary songs sprinkled in between. The Primary class in the Zelonograd ward is small. Each child introduced themselves before they gave their "talk". They are beautiful children.
Some of the children sang solos. One little guy sang I Am A Child of God in English. What a pleasant surprise that was. He and his family had previously visited in America.
Their names included Yevah, Malina, Krisinia, Timothy, Roman and Kirill (instead of Kaileigh, Elizabeth, James and Max back home). Some were more confident than others, some had memorized their lines, some hadn't, just like back home.
How I love the music. Even though the words were Russian, the melody was the same as these little ones sang Choose The Right, I'm Trying To Be Like Jesus and the Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock along with the hand motions that go with it.
It is a source of comfort to us to know that even though I mayh not get all the words, either in Sacrament meeting or Relief Society lesson, the lessons being taught are the same in Ludlow MA. as in Zelonograd.
Every week that we attend we draw a little closer to this wonderful congregation of Russian Saints.
It was a joyful day.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Apartment Inspection

One of our responsibilities as a senior couple is to inspect the apartments of our young missionaries. Today we went to Zelonogradand checked the first one. Elder A. is going military and the apartment, though a bit dingy was clean and tidy. We told them to buy 2 new kitchen chairs and 2 "study" chairs, one new mattress and a new vacuum to replace their broken one. The apartment is in a good location. Our sister missionaries in Z-grad are in the process of being moved to a different apartment. We learned of a mold problem, a broken refridgerator that the owner refused to replace or fix and UGH! cockroaches. We have Constantine, a member of the church who is a realtor, looking for a new apartment for the sisters. We don't want our missionaries living in dangerous (mold) and dirty (cockroaches) conditions.
As I was going through some old cookbooks that I found among some articles left behind by some of our missionaries, it was interesting seeing the recipes. One of the recipes was cockroach bait. GROSS. We don't want our missionaries to have to deal with that!
The way landlords view their apartments is definitely different than in the states. For one thing, it is not uncommon for them to leave things behind; sometimes LOTS of stuff that they don't want to take and it takes up a lot of room in the closets, etc. Plus, sometimes the landlords decide they want to be paid early. (that doesn't happen. - because the missionaries need to wait until their cards are funded with the rent before they can pay for it in cash) so the landlords have to wait.
Anyway, next week will inspect the second apartment. I wonder what we will find??

Sister's Conference

On Friday November 16th all but 5 sisters in the Russia Moscow Mission met at the Central Building for the day. Siste'rs Conference takes place once a year. This was my first time attending. It was wonderful.
It offered a chance for the sisters in the mission to spend the day together, to be spiritually fed, to have fun visiting with each other, renew old friendships and establish new ones. Oh, how I wish I had mycamera. I would have gotten some great pictures of the hugs and love that I witnessed between these wonderful women, younger and senior alike.
The missionaries get a chance to live with many different missionaries in the course of their 18 month mission. Transfers take place every 6 weeks. President Sorenson mixes and matches the companionships and gives the missionaries a chance to work with different missionaries in different areas.
There is definitely sacrifice to come. Some of our missionaries were on an overnight train for 10 hours to attend. It was nice for our 4 new missionary sisters to have a chance to get acquainted with most of the mission family sisters.
Sister Sorenson encouraged the sisters to be professional and yet feminine and went over the rules with the young one. For instance, no flirting. We are on mission to serve and spread the gospel. Flirting doesn't fit into this at all. She referred to us as the Lord's angels bringing the gospel to others. Making the covenants we have made is an experession of a willing heart. Keeping the covenants is an expression of a faithful heart. We are modern day Mary and Martha's, eager to choose the good part.
It was interesting to learn that it was in 1898 that the first single sister missionary served in Great Britian.
Elder Turner, one of our fine elders who will soon be on his way back to Georgia where he lives, spoke on contacting. As mentioned before, missionaries here do not go door to door. Contacting takes place on the metro, on the street, on the bus, at English group.
There was a little glitch with lunch when Subway delivered 55 12" subs when we had ordered 55 6" subs. Our dear office elders had accidentally ordered double what we needed. It took some scurrying to come up with the money to pay for it. And the extra sandwiches were enjoyed or taken back on the trains.
In the afternoon, Sister Sonda, who takes care of the mental health of our missionaries and throughout much of Russia, spoke to us on the importance of not only loving our neighbor, but loving ourselves. Shr brought up that it is importnt to balance a desire to do all we cn to help others with the wisdom to be prudent in meeting our own needs to retain our power to serve.
It was a long day. I left the apartment on 6 am to go with Sister Sorenson and help her set up, and we returned at 6 pm. WONDERFUL DAY.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


We had a wonderful and busy day as we welcomed 6 new missionaries from the United States and had a chance to orient them and get to know them. What a blessing they are going to be in our mission.
As we welcomed these 6 exceptional young people, I also said goodbye to two of our missionaries who are returning to the States after serving an honorable mission.
I haven't known Sister Amy Daniel as long or as well as I would have liked to, but I have seen what a fine person she is and how well loved by the other missionaries.  She has served honorably and is now returning to her father in CA. Amy followed in her mother's footsteps serving a mission. Her mom died a few years ago and it was a hard thing for her dad. We have communicated a time or two. Now she is returning to him and her family.
Elder Goddard will be flying home as well. We have known and served with Elder Goddard for about 6 months. We have seen his energetic spirit, enjoyed his sense of humor, enjoyed having dinner with him and his companion, watched him interact with Russians who are learning English, and we have come to love him.
I called Amy and Kayden today with a message from President Sorenson and used this time to say good bye to these two wonderful young people. Before hanging up, Kayden said, "Sister Sutton, I love you." You know, it just doesn't get any better than that. Dos Vidonya.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Today was a very busy and wonderful day at the office. We greeted and oriented our 6 new missionaries from the States and enjoyed getting to know them. There was plenty to do and the day flew by.
The office elders had gone on mail run early hoping to be back around 1 for the pizza from PaPa John's and the homemade cookies that Sister Sorenson always sends. It was around 3 when they showed up with LOTS of mail. Three huge Santa-sized bags filled with 24 packages for missionaries. WOW. The most ever. Now the mail center REALLY looks like a post office with packages everywhere. I imagine that it will continue to be busy until after the first of the year as families mail packages to their missionaries.
It took me a while to take them out of the bag, label the city they are to go to and start the process of letting family back home know their packages to their missionaries have arrived safely. Now it will take a little while to figure out how to best get the packages to their destinations. I rely on missionaries coming into the office for one reason or another, to take packages to their cities.
That is definitely a blessing of working in the office. We don't have to wait for our packages. We just carry them to our apartment. :o) (the elders offered to help me, but I wanted to do it myself). It provides a LITTLE exercise anyway to be moving around more than I generally do in the office.
Is it really possible that Christmas really is right around the corner? Is it really possible that we have been here for nearly 8 months? Wow.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Zone meeting

A couple of weeks ago we attended Zone Conference. The mission is divided into 4 zones - Voronezh (the one farthest away), South Zone, and North and East Zones which meet together. We are in the North Zone.
Dave has attended three out of the four conferences and handed out new phones and phone numbers,  HUGE undertaking. It still is not completely done. His own phone is not working! (as of today).
Anyway, the purpose of these conferences is to be spiritually fed and it is wonderful to see many of the missionaries that you don't get to see to often. I love seeing the joy as they see each other, the hugs and back slapping.
It is easy to get attatched to these missionaries. Especially certain ones. One whom I love and was with him from the beginning, Elder R, came up and said Sister Sutton I love you!! The elder behind him said Mama Sutton!
It is true that one of the things we do is become substitute parents on occasion. Remember, these young ones are far from home. It is a joy for Elder Sutton and I, along with other senior couples (who love "their" missionaries as much as we do, to be there for these precious and strong young men and women. One of our sweet Russian sisters, Sister G who has been with us in our district for the past 6 weeks or so, shyly asked us to write her a letter. We hand out letters to our missionaries and she doesn't get as many as some. Dave wrote her a nice letter and I am going to do the same this week.
What a blessing for us to be around these missionaries. How we love them! Sometimes it makes it a bit easier being away from our own children and grandchildren.

Senior Couples Council

Almost every Thursday night the senior missionary couples get together at the Central Building in Moscow, not far from Red Square. There are currently 17 couples serving in various capacities. Humanitarian, law, auditors, medical, ward and member support, (serving in the congregations and teaching leadership skills), CESm, (Church Educational System), working with the young single adults (18 - 30 years old) and office which is us. There are myriad other things which each couple does. Medical, auditors and law serve throughout Russia, not just the mission, so they travel A LOT all over! 

Thursday we had been asked to make a presentation so we chose to share exactly what it is that we do in the office. It was very well receieved ad we had comments such as "I'm sure glad I don't have their responsibilities!"

Each couple has plenty to do and each strives to magnify their responsibilities in serving the people and members in Russia, whether it is supplying wheelchairs to a hospital, teaching the member leadership how to conduct an audit or take care of physical and mental issues.

We have talked before about some of what we do. The bottom line is that we serve the missionaries who serve the Lord! It can be something as simple as  ordering Book of Mormons or toilet paper for the mission office, offering a kind word to someone who might be feeling discouraged or homesick, inviting the district into our home for a hot meal and some touches of home. Our service covers many things.

As I mentioned Elder Sutton handles finances, making sure cards are funded for paying rent. (Russian landlords tend to be VERY impatient and sometimes want to be paid earlier). is phone rings off the hook. I have recently started putting his phone in our bedroom and closing the door so he can eat in peace!

Our mission president, President Sorenson, whose schedule is beyond busy, counts on us to keep things running smoothly in the mission office. He uses Dave often as a sounding board and he acts as his Executive Secretay. One of the office elders is the executive secretary to the mission presidency, another of the elders orders train tickets for those missionaries who need to come into Moscow from the outlying cities.(among their many other responsibilities) and we don't want to forget Diana, our visa clerk, who is truly an angel.

I try to make sure the mail gos to the city it belongs and that changes every 6 weeks with transfers of missionaries to different locations and I call the parents to let them know their packages for their son or daughter has arrived safely. (it may take weeks and they appreciate knowing).

ANYWAY, we heard some very kind remarks about how much our service is appreciated by our senior couples. One sister, Sister Jones, who arrived with her husband within the past three months, came up and told me. "If it hadn't been for you and Elder Sutton, we would have gone back to the States."  ANYTHING that could go wrong did go wrong (through no fault of our own). And when yuour are exhausted from jet lag, don't have a place to live, furniture for your apartment and can't speak the language it can be very stressful indeed We were very distressed that those responsible for taking care of these important things (after we had offered to take care of it ourselves and were told no, they would do it.  Well They dropped the ball.) .But we were able to step in and do what was needed to take care of them and we also learned a few things about how to make sure what happened to them in getting settled here in Russia is not repeated. Sister Jones shared, that they prayed and thanked God for the Sutton's who helped make everything right. And then she jokingly asked about angel wings. Well, we all know that I am a LONG way from being an angel. But knowing that the small things we did for them helped them was a blessing for us.

We are forging some very strong and eternal friendships among the wonderful missionaries we work with and serve here. Some days are very long indeed. However, we came to serve a mission. We are NOT on vacation. (however, we do get to see some truly magnificant sights!)

We put our children, grandchildren, moms, siblings, cousins and friends back in the States in the capable hands of our Heavenly Father and go about what we have grown to love.....our mission, the wonderful missionaries and  loving Russian people.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hospitals and orphanages

Moscow is the showplace of Russia. As mentioned before, it is kept clean, there is much employment and we have at our disposal in the mission a state of the art medical center and dental center. However, many of the hospitals are a far cry from this.

Our two doctors in the mission have the responsibility to check out the hospitals in the whole mission. What they have found is very different. Because most of the money is spent in Moscow, the outlying cities are hurt financially by not having what they need for even some of the basics. It sounds like some of them a person would be much better off taking their chances outside of the hospital. Very sad indeed.

Their description of some of the hospitals brought me to tears as I learned of good doctors who cared about their patients, but didn't have the means to take care of them. Many of the stethoscopes they wear, don't even work. They pretend. There is a great need for the basics to properly care for their patients.

In one hosptital the patients have to provide their own toilet paper and food. Hopefully they have family who can bring these items to them. Others don't have sheets for the bed. The list goes on. It is truly heartbreaking.

And unlike America, there are lots of orphanages. They are for certain ages. Such as infant to age 4, "middle age" and older. Many of their needs are barely being met. When asked about adoption, it appears that babies with special needs (such as cleft palates) are available for adoption, but by the time the couple from America is through it has cost $30,000 or so. Elder Storm, who works with his wife in humanitarian in Russia and has done so much good! has said that it kills him to leave these precious babies. He carries them around and how they cry when he puts them down!!

It appears that they want Russians to adopt the children. Sadly, however, the divorce rate is very high and intact families are very often not available.

You never know what you're going to get

We went to dinner tonight with friends. I ordered a marghareta special pizza w/ mozzarella, basil and tomatoes. When the pizza came, it was cut in 8 pieces. On each piece there was one tiny cherry tomato and in the middle one sprig of basil. OK. Basically I had a cheese pizza with 8 tiny cherry tomatoes and a sprig of basil.  (and it wasn't very good - the Papa John's pizza we order every 6 weeks when our new missionaries come is MUCH MUCH better). On the other hand, there was a drink made with fresh orange slices, lemon slices, lime slices, maraschino cherries in a sparkling (they call it gas) water that was very delicious. Live and learn. :0)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

It Happened AGAIN!

We left Church today after  Sacrament meeting because we need to be in Moscow by 5. That meant taking the bus back to Mitino and getting another bus to the metro station. At the metro station we plan on taking the blue line to the brown line and going three stops on the brown line to the Novoslobodeskya stop where we will walk 1/2 mile or so to the Smart's home where we are joining them and another couple, the Storms, for dinner.

The windows on the bus are FILTHY this time of year. We literally had to use the front window of the bus to see where we were. When we needed to be let off, Dave pushed the button for Stop. Usually, he goes up and tells the bus driver, ostanovka, which means bus stop. However, there were lots of people at the front of the bus and we thought they were getting off too. But nope. We pushed the button several times and the bus driver kept on going. The button obviously didn't work or he would have stopped. SO, we ride along to the next stop, a good 20 minute walk away. Off we go, walking BACK to our apartment.

Luckily, it was a nice afternoon for a walk, and we were properly dressed for the 40 degree weather. No harm done. A little more excercise than planned is all. We will soon be leaving for Moscow. Hopefully without incident. :0)  Dosvidonya.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Last night after phone calls are no longer supposed to take place, both of our phones started ringing constantly. I ignored them for a while and then begrudgingly got out of bed to answer. The message was that missionaries are under lockdown for Thursday.  We are to stay in our apartments and not go to the mission office, Church-owned buildings (such as the Central Building) or chapels. We were instructed not to go out in public and wear our Church name tags, but to stay in for the day. It appears that there are some demonstrations which may occur at the church buildings themselves going on which could cause some problems.
The Church avoids confrontation at almost all costs.
This request came down from the Area Presidency and included other Eastern European missions as well - Vladivistock, Samara, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk as well as the Moscow Mission.
It really comes at an inconvenient time. Today was supposed to be North and East Zone Conference. Missionaries from these zones, which include some of our outlying cities had been brought in my train (or were going to come in early this morning, traveling through the night). There is expense involved in the transportation  and of course, time. Needless to say, the North and East Zone Conference was canceled and has not yet been rescheduled. The two other zones, Voronezh (9 hours away) and South Zone have already met.
SO, what does this mean? It means that the pile of shirts that needed to be ironed have been ironed (most of them anyway and the refridge got cleaned out). DAvid was able to get the budget done and assist in helping some missionary sisters find a new apartment to move into and he also checked up on some of our missionaries. We also sang happy birthday to Sister O. who's birthday is tomorrow. We are enjoying a relaxing day here in our apartment and will probably get together with the Naegle's later to play games. They live in the next building over.
The word lockdown is scary, but we are not in danger, we are safe. We just need to remember that things aren't handled in Russia the way they might be at home and added precautions are needed to prevent confrontation.
Anyway, I think I can squeeze a nap in before dinner! It has been a day off for us.
Life in Russia is certainly interesting!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Some things I have learned to substitute for in the kitchen. But how do I find a good substitution for grahm crackers? Sorry, I just don't think it's going to happen. I don't care for boxed cookies which I guess could be a substitute if I were to find anything remotely grahm crackerish, such as vanilla wafers which could be crushed, but haven't seen anything like it.  I only have 1 complete box of grahm crackers left. OH NO!!! I guess you can tell that I use grahm crackers a lot, for pie crusts for my homemade puddings that I make (and the missionaries love) and they are pretty good for snacking as well. I'm really going to have to stretch these out.

Winter is here.

Winter arrived a couple of days ago. In fact, it's snowing out now. We can look forward to this for the next 5 months. I have heard that snow plows arn't used very much so I am wondering about the condition of the roads. I hear that snow gets packed down on sidewalks and doesn't get shoveled which could mean icy walking on the way to and from the office or anywhere else we need to go. SIGH.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Russian tradition

Deeona, our Russian visa clerk who works in our office had a birthday yesterday. Several us brought gifts and left them on her desk (she didn't come in as she took Slava, her 4 year old son for a doctor's appointment.) She came in today and said she had baked a cake and would bring it in tomorrow. Sister Naegle and I said WE should be bringing a cake for HER. But she said no. This is Russian tradition that on their birthday they supply the birthday cake. In fact she had baked 4 cakes. One for her family, one for the Service Center where she works parttime (connected with the mission office), one for us and I can't remember who the 4th one was for. It is fun learning about traditions in this great land that we are currently living in.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ivan (Eevon) is back

I am pleased to say that even though the vegetable stand is gone, Ivan is back with a truck from which he will sell his fruits and vegetables throughout the winter months. That is very good news in deed! It would be incredibly inconvenient for me to have to go across the highway (Piatnitksy Highway) to go to the renock to buy fruits and veggies there which would take about 25 minutes total as opposed to going right outside my apartment building door and getting what I need. Especially with winter weather already upon us.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sometimes it just takes a smile

When I was at the productee, there was a man there and I smiled at him. We carried on a very limited conversation, but he learned I was from Massachusetts and had 1 brother and 3 sons ( couldn't remember the word for daughter) and a husband. My grocery bag was very heavy by the end of my shopping excursion, that he offered to carry the bag all the way to the apartment for me. Very nice. On the way, I learned that he is from Kubikstan. People are pretty much the same wherever you go. If you are friendly and show an interest in them, they respond. A nice way to start my morning.
(I didn't have the heart to tell him that I wasn't through with my grocery shopping.) I had planned on stopping at the vegetable truck, which wonderfully showed up in place of the stand where Ivan had been two days ago.) So, anyway, I brought up my groceries and am now ready to go back down and get the fruits and veggies I still need.

Peanut butter

This morning I walked over to the productee to do some shopping. I am amazed that this little store allows me to get almost everything edible that I would get at the little white store across the street and about 7 minutes walk away. Today there was peanut butter!! Iwas So psyched! It cost the equivalent of $7 for a small jar, but it is peanut butter and I bought both jars. I want to give our 3 sets of missionaries a jar each  for Christmas. One of them loves peanut butter so much. He was lamenting yesterday when he was in the office how much he wanted some peanut butter. I took him into the kitchen with me where I had brought about the equivalent of 3 tablespoons of the yummy peanut butter and gave it to him with the instructions to return the container to me it was in. (( We'll see if that happens. ) had taken it to fix myself a sandwich for lunch). Since peanut butter is hard to find it is a real treat for our American mishies.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gone Without A Trace!!

I have loved having the productee and the vegetable/fruit stand practically right outside our apartment door. I stopped by to see Ivan (eevon) last night to buy some mushrooms and strawberries. Everything seemed just as it always is.

SO, imagine my great surprise when we met the Naegle's outside this morning at 7:15 at "the Lions", in front of our apartment building and the vegetable stand was gone!!! There was no sign that it had ever been there. It had been a metal 3-sided building w/ an open front. It was filled with all kinds of delectable fruits and veggies. Strawberries, watermelon, zuchinni, onions, apples, grapefruit, etc. NOTHING was out of the ordinary., nothing to suggest that they were "going out of business."

There is also a smaller veggie stand in front of the building that is totally gone as well.

It is a mystery! Where did it go? I counted heavily on that little stand and now it is gone. I will ask Margo and Zarina who work in the productee where it went. (the question is will I be able to understand them?)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

CHRISTMAS IS COMING! I have a favor to ask.

It is almost November and Christmas is right around the corner. I LOVE Christmas. I love decorating for Christmas, I love the music of Christmas, I love the smells of baking.  I love everything about it.
This year I will miss Christmas cookie baking with my granddaughter Abby. I look forward to resuming that next year! We can each wear our new Russian aprons that I will be bringing to the States from Russia! I will miss not decorating very much (even though we do have a few little things to decorate our apartment.)

I have a favor to ask our family and friends concerning Christmas this year as we spend it in Moscow. I would love if you would send us Christmas cards that we can use to decorate our apartment. We do have a few little things here, but Christmas cards would really add to the cheer and atmosphere of our living room. PLUS hearing from you would be so wonderful.

I am going to give you two addresses which can be used to send Christmas cards if you feel so inclined.
David and Barbara Sutton
Muravskaya St. Bldg #1, floor 3
Moscow Russia 125310
 (the above is our physical address at the mission office)
\or \

David and Barbara Sutton
Russia Moscow Mission
Glavpochtampt a/ia 257
Moscow 101000
(this is our post office box) the office elders pick this up at the post office on mail run day)
Both are good addresses.

We will post more about Christmas in Russia closer to the holiday. Things are different here in many ways! and we are looking forward to eaxperiencing Christmas in Russia.
However, family and friends continue to be most important, regardless of miles that separate us.

I know you are all busy, but please consider sending us a card or a note this Christmas season. We love you. We think of you and we pray for you. Because we are so busy, especially now  that our workload has increased due to our much larger mission, we probably don't take the time to tell you how important you are to us. Until next time, dos vidonya.

Mail call!

You may have asked your post office how long it takes for mail to arrive in Russia. They will say within 10 days or so.  That may be true, but once it arrives in Russia, it comes to a standstill. It can take 2 - 6 weeks to get mail here. Packages need to be very specific with the contents. The better taped up it is the more unlikely they are to bother to open it and check it. (My mom wraps packages very well.). I am pleased to report that we have not had any problem receiving our packages which have been most appreciated, from Shauna and Mom.

Sending packages and mail is a different story unless it goes in the pouch from inside the office. Lines in the post offices are long and the waits are long. Not fun.


Let's talk about mail here in Russia for a few minutes. In the office, I volunteered to take over the distribution of mail and leave our office elders to other responsibilities.

The mail for the whole mission comes through the mission office. We are talking about cities  = Nizhney, Zelonograd, Smolensk, Podolsk, International (Moscow) the only English speaking ward, Perova, Ryazan, Voronezh, Kaluga, Arbatski, Tver, Tula, Lotoshino, and a few others. It is my responsibility to take each letter or package, and put it in the compartment set aside for each city. Then, when missionaries come in to the office from one of those cities, they can take the mail for their district. Keep in mind that Voronezh is 9 hours away so we have to wait for a zone conference or visa trip to send the package on its way as it cannot be forwarded in any other way.

That is one of the advantages of being in the office. We don't have to wait to receive our mail. :0)
For the cities in Moscow, our office elders deliver these to a "schoff", located at the Central Building, which is, as the name would indicate, centrally located to the Moscow missionaries. Or, with the zone conferences that are held every three months, mail can be passed out to missionaries then. It is a time consuming process.

After 7 months here in Russia......

I am feeling more comfortable on the metro. Anyone who knows me know I am incredibly directionally challenged and very uncomfortable driving or going out of my comfort zone, meaning the area in which I know how to get around in.
The metro system is excellent and I can say that I now know how to go about finding my way around should the need arise when I had to. Being able to read Russian is fairly crucial though and I am able to read the signs so that helps. However, I have no intention of taking the metro by mysel..

The Russian money system continues to be a challenge. Since this is a cash only society, trips to the bank are necessary to make sure we have the money we need for the day. And of course, the differences between the USA and Russian is interesting. For instance, today, when I was going to go to Okey (like a Super WalMart),  I took with me a 5000 ruble bill. Wow. However, it is only euals around $170 American dollars.

We have pennies. They have kopecks. I don't know why because you need 10 kopeks to equal a ruble which is the equivalent of $.30. Almost worthless. We have dollars, they have rubles.  I'm pretty comfortable with the money now. (I should be after 7 months).

I understand the Russians have certain bank accounts. However, we cannot. We draw out $ from the ATM and carry the cash with us. For instance, opening a new apartment might require Dave to carry 150,000 rubles. You REALLY have to hold your money tight to the vest when you are carrying that kind of moneh (around $4800 American). Of course, carrying large sums of money makes no sense except for short periods of time. Luckily we are right next door to the bank, but how much easier it is to write a check or use the MasterCard! MasterCards are used; however, we are not comfortable using them here.

After 7 months in Russia, I am continuing to find new and different foods in the grocery store that one is unlikely to see in America. For instance, dried goldfish....for snacking perhaps?? Yum. Rows and rows of "soak", or juice. There are all different flavors of delicious fruit juices and it takes up a whole long row at the grocery store. In the next aisle over, rows (on both side) of liquor, vodka, etc.

One thing that caught my eye this past week on a top shelf was different kinds of canned meats. The animal head on the can showed what delicious treat was found within. Hmmmmm. Horse, goat, pig and sheep were all available. The Russians love their meat and are big eaters of sausage. They also love mayonaise and there are many different flavors. You will find it in the refridgerated section in pouches.

I'm getting more used to the traffic, crazy drivers who also use sidewalks if they feel so inclined, BUT I don't like it. It is a 20 - 25 minute drive to Zelonograd, but it takes us up to an hour and 20 minutes at times to go that short distance because of the heavy traffic.

and perhaps mail is the biggest issue I am working on. That is coming up next. Dos vidonya.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Rude bus drivers

We had our first dinner invitation to the home of a Russian couple this past week. Kirill and Katya, a young married couple are members of the Church in Moscow, have been having different missionary companionships in their home for dinner and this past week was our turn. They are a lovely couple who work at the Service Center in Moscow. They live in a tiny apartment near the Service Center  which is owned by the Church and well utilized by our mission.
Kirill is the man Dave goes to with financial questions. He is Dave's first point of contact. He is a church accountant. He came to the office a few times to help orient Dave in his responsibilities.
They are expecting their first baby in a couple of weeks.
The neighborhood they live in is one of the loveliest I have seen.

Getting there was a bit tricky because we had to take a matrushka instead of a bus. We had to depend on the kindness of other passengers to let us know when we were supposted to get off, because we were totally unfamiliar with the area. We made it!

However, on the way home, Kirill and Katya walked us to the bus stop, a lovely walk in a nice neighborhood. It could have been any small town in America. We were familiar with the road we were on, but when we got up and pushed the button for the bus driver to let us off, he didn't stop. We were let off with the other passengers at the next stop which was  following an area of construction. It was REALLY fun walking back to our apartment on a busy road where there was no sidewalk (due to the construction)

I'm not sure what the bus driver's problem was, but it was NOT amusing.

Water filters and worm pills

Some of our responsibilities in the office are a bit out of the ordinary. I have learned as time has gone by that our mission is not just about helping the mission run smoothly; it is not just about giving President Sorenson peace of mind that all will be well in the office during his many absences as he travels around this vast mission seeing to the needs of his missionaries; it is also about NURTURING our young missionaries. Hmmmmm. I like that. Sometimes we play the role of Mom and Dad to these young men and women who are far away from their families.

Due to visa trips, interviews with President Sorenson and other reasons, many of our missionaries find themselves in the office. We have enjoyed getting acquainted with the ones we don't know (who have been in the outer cities for instance). Dave has had a couple of really close relationships with our office elders and it has benefitted both of them. After all, we, too, are away from our family and this is a chance to love and be loved by these precious missionaries.

I try to make sure there are healthy snacks available for hungry missionaries when they come back from their visa trip to Latvia half starved. (arn't young men usually half-starved?) Our young women too. Sometimes I'll have baked some muffins and bring them to the office when there is a special meeting between President S. and his AP's  (assistants to the President).

I am responsible for placing orders and making sure we have enough Book of Mormons, other missionary needs, toilet paper, copier paper and even a new laminator which was purchased last month. Everything we need in our office, kitchen and bathrooms.

What does all of this have to do with water filters and worm pills you might ask? WELL, Elder Sutton is responsible for ordering water filters for each companionship and making sure that each apartment has them. Making sure new apartments (which we open up as our mission grows and we have a greater need for more apartments) have new water filters installed.

What is the need for water filters? Well, the water here in Russia is not safe to drink due to antiquated pipes and the distribution system through which the water runs. Drinking the water from the tap can and will most likely make you VERY sick and cause all kinds of unwelcome problems. The water filters have to be changed every so often as well, and he has a system set up to make sure the new filters are passed out in a timely fashion and he lets them know when they need to be changed.

There are NO drinking fountains to be found anywhere. There is no such thing as a free glass of water at a restaurant. You order bottled water. Gas or still.With bubbles or not.

That's where the worm pills come in. Every missionary who leaves to go home from their mission gets a very special "gift" in their farewell packet. Two boxes of worm pills (different kinds) They are to be taken upon arriving back home (where that may be - Germany, Vladivstok, US, or Sweden, etc). These pills rid your system from any unwelcome critters that may have found their way into your intestinal tract during your stay in Russia.

SOOOOO, one of my responsibilities is to track down worm pills at the aptekas and make sure the missionaries have them. So far I have been unsuccessful in finding a pharmacy that will deliver which would of course make my life a lot easier. I am going to ask the office elders to help me see if something can be worked out.

So, there you have it. A little out of the norm, don't you think?

Until next time, dos vidonya.

Busy, busy, busy

I know it has been a while since I updated the blog. We have been SO BUSY. The other office couple have gone now and the workload has increased (as we knew it would). We are not complaining, mind you. We came on a mission to serve and expected to be busy. When I get home from the office, I am too tired to blog.

Life has been going along at an even keel with nothing extraordinary to share.

Dave (Elder Sutton) serves as the Financial Secretary. He is  responsible for making sure that our 130 missionaries have their cards funded so they can pay their rent, he conducts audits around the mission (which I remind you, is the size of US) He is also the Executive Secretary to the Mission President and these two with the myriad responsibilities thst come with it keeps him VERY busy. He is the OFFICE  MANAGER. His phone is ringing constantly with an elder here who has lost his card and it needs to be replaced, or a set of young sisters call  whose refridgerator has broken down and the landlady won't fix it. What to do? MY RENT DIDN"T SHOW UP ON MY CARD and my landlord is bugging me! HELP! These are things he deals with on a regular basis. Some are more urgent than others. Emergency visits to the doctor requires reimbursement, or, in some cases, missionaries who don't budget well and run out of rubles before the end of the month. Elder Sutton deals with all of this
Do you remember me mentioning that we are dealing in a cash only society here? Money is funded to the companionships (younger missionaries) and then they draw off the rubles to pay for rent, or go to the grocery store and so on. Sometimes they don't have enough money to get through the end of the month.

My husband as of late has also been going into the mission office on Saturday mornings to play catch up. We haven't made it to English Group of Senior Council for the last two weeks. Service in the office takes precedence over everything else.

And then there's me. Sister Sutton. Office secretary. I answer the phone. I have people hang up on me because I can't understand Russian very well. I speak it better than I understand it. And I don't speak it very well! I take care of the missionaries before I even meet them. When word comes in thtat they are coming there are folders to make up for each missionary which consist of several steps. There are our returning missionaries who need airfare arranged for them (and many other things). I have plenty to do to keep myself busy.

 I perform secretarial duties for my husband as well and make phone calls for him .When there is a letter that President Sorenson needs written, he brings me and dictates to me. He learned that I used to be a stenographer and so here I am 40 plus years later, taking letters in shorthand! WOW.

I am VERY grateful for our wonderful office elders who are very computer savvy. They teach me new things on the computer and answer my questions. And also Deeona, our visa clerk, who handles all the passport and visa issues (of which there are many here in Russia - along with our office elders)

Other more interesting responsibilities to follow. Dos Vidonya.

Monday, September 24, 2012


A babushka is grandmother in Russian. I have read a book to Abby numerous times about a babushka. An older somewhat chunky woman with a wrinkled face, baggy stockings and a kerchief around her head. That is my description. We have a few babushkas in the Zelonograd Ward that fit this description.
I have a Russian friend, Onya, who works in the CES Office in our building. She was born in Siberia, served a mission for the Church in Japan, is a single gal who works hard. Onya is what I would describe as a typical Russian. A little quiet and perhaps a bit standoffish with people she doesn't know. However, as we have gotten to know each other and become friends, her warmth and humor and loveliness shines through.
Today I was getting ready to leave the office and she commented. "Oh, happy belated birthday.. I LOVE your hat you look so cute" she said." Do I look like a 62 year old babushka? " I asked. She said her grandmas were 65 and 79 when they died and they looked like babushkas. She said, you do not look 62 and you do not look like a babushka. You are a cute lady." Well, you can imagine that that just made my day.
While I LOVE being a babushka, I don't ever want to look like the Russian version of one. If I do, just shoot me and put me out of my misery.  Dos vidonya.
PS - there are many young beautiful attractive babushkas in Russia

Arrested! (and a pack of wild dogs)

You have probably figured out that it is not us that were arrested. Today, Elder Everett and his companion came into the office. Elder E, was one of our office elders for the first several months and we both grew very close to him. Anyway, it has been an exciting week for him and Elder L.

They were singing songs when the police cars came rushing up and arrested them, right in the middle of I Am A Child Of God....for singing. It appears that someone didn't like their singing and called the police. Four missionaries, 2 elders and 2 sisters were crammed in the back of the police car and taken in for questioning. There was no one to translate. Luckily, the elders could understand. They called Luba, our contact if we should get into trouble of any kind. Fortunately, the missionaries happened to be in the town Luba lives in so it didn't take long for her to arrive and get everything straightened out. Thank heavens for Luba!

A PACK OF WILD DOGS -  The area that Elder L. and Elder E were walking in one night last week wasn't the best. There were many drunk and aggressive people around. However, Elder E related the experince they had when coming into this area. A pack of 7 wild dogs started following them. They growled at people who came too close to the two young elders. Eventually, about half of the dogs went in front so that the elders were surrounded by dogs. It appeared that Elder L and Elder E had their own security guards.  A couple of drunks (not using any sense) approached the elders aggressively and met with angry barking. Sometimes guardian angels have four legs and a tail, what do you think?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fresh bread and whortleberry juice

I continue to look for Russian foods to try. Surprisingly, a lot of the foods we thought were Russian really are Ukranian. Today when I was in our productee, I was looking around and found some whortleberry juice - a Russian food. So, I decided we would have a little glass of it with our dinner. It appears that whortleberries grow on trees. I need to do a little research to be sure. The juice tasted similar to cranberry juice, but a bit milder.

Also, when I walked into the productee, the 2 women who work there are almost always sitting there behind the counter. This morning neither of them were there. Hmmmm. The productee is made up of three small rooms. The room we walk into where the cashier is also has booze lined up on the walls to the left. There are two rooms on the right - one with juices and frozen food and junk food (just like back home!) and the other room to the right has the beans, rice, flour, eggs, dairy, etc and on the right as you walk into the room is two large baskets, usually full of fresh bread. Today that's where my two friends were. Fresh bread had just been delivered and they were busy wrapping half loaves of a dark bread in baggies. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, the fresh bread here and today I saw just how fresh!

Bread is so inexpensive here. One loaf is 16 rubles, just over $.50. ( and more depending on the size. A HUGE loaf of fresh baked bread costs a little over $1 that would easily be $4 in the Big Y back home. (and not as good.)

Anyway, we enjoyed fresh bread (I never get packaged bread here with all the fresh bread available), whortleberry juice and a delicious homemade veggie pot pie for dinner. Dave topped his meal off with a piece of delicious dark Russian chocolate.

Until tomorrow, dos vidonya!!

Just Tripping along!

Today I was using the two largest burners on the stove top and the oven was on, along with the fan.  It is most annoying that the circuit breaker kept tripping! I can only imagine what preparing Thanksgiving dinner for us and 6 missionaries is going to be like! Luckily the circuit breaker board is right outside the front door.


I have trimmed Dave's hair a couple of times over the past 6 weeks but there was not doubt he was getting a bit shaggy so one of the office elders made an appointment for him to go to the barber at 5:00 on our way to Central Building. This meant leaving earlier to catch an earlier bus to take us to the metro. Well, we got there 25 minutes early. I was wandering around on Music Alley waiting for him. He came out within 5 minutes and said there was a line of 4 men in front of him and that it didn't matter that he had called ahead. He would still have to wait his turn and it would be close to 6 before he could be seen. So much for making an appointment!!


I have been curious exactly how much we are spending at the grocery store since I am shopping so differently and in rubles instead of dollars.I kept tract this month and was very surprised to see tha including toothpaste, dish soap, etc. I came in $200 under my bill back home. Maybe it's because we are eating so much more simply? I'm not sure, but it's good. As I said, we are eating a lot of fresh produce, lately from gardens that Russian people are selling to us. Since we are eating out so much out of necessity, I'm guessing we're not paying any more than we would back home.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sounds a little fishy to me.

There are some things here in this great land of Russia that I will never get used to.. I have been going to the "little white store" (favorite and closest grocery store) for months and I just noticed something I hadn't seen before. In one of the aisles on the end near the ketchup there are different kinds of dried fish in saranwrap-type wrapping. It's amazing that anyone would buy it.I had noticed them before; however, I didn't notice that there is also goldfish to buy. Goldfish? Those yummy crackers in different flavors? NO! REAL GOLDFISH. REAL DEAD GOLDFISH, dried and ready to snack on. YUCK.

But  even more gross in my opinion is popcorn. They do have microwave popcorn available which isn't very good I hear. I would love to buy just plain old popcorn that I can pop myself, with nothing added. Our friends the Luekenga's found a packet of microwave popcorn in the back of their kitchen cupboard one day and their kids, who were visiting from the States, decided to fix it for a snack. As they are nibbling away, they make faces and said, "this tastes kind of fishy." Upon closer investigation, it was determined that yes, it was not their imagination. The popcorn was indeed fishy.  Are you ready for this? They were eating cavier-flavored popcorn. HOW GROSS IS THAT???

Is it any wonder we have added plain popcorn to our wish list to be sent to us? In return, I will try to find caviar-flavored to bring back to you if you want.

Until later, dos vidonya!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

American Russian Dental Center (ARDC)

Today was our trip to the dentist for teeth cleaning. After a bus ride and 2 metro stops, plus a 10 minute walk, we arrived at 11:10, 50 minutes early. We were told that the hygenist would not be in until 2. Luckily, it is a beautiful warm sunny day here in Moscow, so we walked around and ended up having lunch at the Starlight Diner, a fifties American diner with wonderful food. We are going to be going there to celebrate our birthdays in a few days.

The ARDC is a beautiful modern facility. BUT there is a major difference. When you walk in, there are two little machines on the floor to your right. Remember when I mentioned that Russians take off their shoes when they come into your home? Well, you put your feet one at a time in the first machine and WHOOSH! your foot is magically wrapped in a blue plastic bootie (similar to what you find in hospitals). This protects their floors and you don't have to take off your shoes.

Our teeth cleaning experience was a bit different, but Helen, our hygenist did a wonderful job. They use all the techniques as back home for the most part. We were each given a pair of goggles to wear, which is a good thing because, as Dave described it, he felt like he had been through a car wash. Helen used a LOT of high-powered water irrigation type therapy along with the other usual teeth cleaning techniques. The dentist who runs the ARDC lives in Sacramento and works a month in each location, going back and forth. We didn't get to meet him as this is his month in Sacramento.

Well, on the way out of the dentist office, we were able to use the other machine by the front door. This one, you put your slippered foot in and it takes off your disposable slipper and whisks it away. Kind of cool.

We got back to our apartment after 4 with another new experience under our belt. Until next time, dos vidonya.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Russia National Dancers

Our experience began when we had to find our way to the Cosmos Hotel where it was. We are learning our way around the metro. It took 3 different metro lines (they go by color) to arrive. Being able to read the stops helps a lot. We left from Tushkenskya and ended up Voodenhah.  It is spelled with a Russian B, a Russian D, a Russian H and a Russian X.  BDHX spells Voodenhah.  The B and D don't look like that, but they H and X are the same. Anyway, we were pleased to get there safely and meet up with our friends the Naegle's, the Cook's and their families who are visiting from the States.

The Hotel is HUGE, luxurious and very high-end and the show took place in their concert hall.

It doesn't make any sense to be living in this beautiful land of Russia and not take advantage of the culture here. So, we were really happy to have this chance to see the

This incredible dance show has entertained audiences all over the world, from Russia to Australia. We were delighted  The show presented its most refined form of Russian traditional performance art. There were over 50 dancers and many unique costumes decorated with pearls, silver and gold, all created and hand-embroidered especially for the show. WOW. There are over 300 unique costumes and we were privileged to see perhaps 30 of them.

The show was presented against a backdrop of panoramic sets that reflected the pre-revolutionary Russia, patriotism, and modern Russia, from orthodox to heroic. It gave us a glimpse of the traditions and culture and history of this country.

There were many kinds of dancing, to include Russian and the countries surrounding Russia that included the Old Soviet Union to include Ukraine and Latvia. It was so impressive to see the dancers gliding. You didn't see them walking; they were gliding. They were on their tiptoes. It was such a beautiful sight.

It was fun. It was mesmerizing. There was humor and a bit of light acting in one of the performances. The dancers had amazing stamina and fitness. They are in outstanding shape to be able to dance the way they did.

There were dances performed to include countries around the world, to include 1950's America!

.Anyway, we experienced Russian culture at it's best and it is not something we will soon forget. In fact, we bought a DVD to bring home with us so we can enjoy the experience again and share it with our friends and family.

Dave and I both agreed that it has been one of the best performances we have ever witnessed.  Since both of us have birthdays in September, we decided that this was a wonderful birthday gift to each other!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Trip to the grocery store

Today was another first for me. I went to the grocery store alone. Not a big deal you say? Well, it is to me. With the security guards posted at the front entrance and the language barrier, it was always more comfortable to go with Dave.  BUT it was time to go alone. AND I have learned what to do and not to do to get into trouble with the guards.

I walked out the front door of the apartment at 10:40, walked over to the "little white store" which is what we call the grocery store we most frequent. I know pretty much where everything is so shopping didn't take long. I was hoping there were lasagne noodles and there were, BUT they were on the highest shelf where I couldn't reach. I waited for a tall person to walk by and ask for help. (by pointing of course). It's amazing what you can accomplish if you smile and point.

Because of the lack of a checking account, we haven't really kept tract of how much we are spending in catagories like we would do at home. I decided it was time to find out how much I am spending at the grocery store and how close it is to my budget back home. The receipt was for 999.73, or approximatley $32.25. Another 500 rubles at the renock where I got fresh veggies, or $16.12. I am curious to know at the end of the month how much I spend here. We will see. We are always within the money allotted for the month and have never gone over so that is good.

My watch died and I wanted another one. In the malls they are VERY pricey, but I finally found one at one of the outdoor renocks, a Calvin Klein for 1000 rubles, or approximately $32 so I bought it. We both need fur-lined winter boots which we will buy a little later.

However, if the temperatures keep dropping it will be sooner than later. We really didn't have a summer, with it in the 80's only about 10 - 14 days and now it is in the 50's and 60's. As my daughter would say, it is NOT amusing.

Anyway, another experience under my belt. One experince I will never have (intentionally anyway) is traveling the metro by myself. As I have said before, the metro is HUGE and even though I may know to take the purple line for 12 stops and switch to the green line for one, getting from the purple to the green is a problem for me. Nobody ever accused me of having a sense of direction.

I have to admit traveling by myself is not something I want to do. I do know how to get to Z-grad on the bus which consists of 2 bus rides and a 10-minute walk, but do not want to go by myself. So, I probably never will. At least that is my plan.

Until later, dos vidonya.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Eating Out in Russia

 Today a group of us were in the center of Moscow and decided to go to the food court in the mall that we had been to many times before. Sister L said she wanted to try the buffet at the Chinese restaurant. None of us have had Chinese here in Russia so it sounded like a great idea.

We went to the restaurant and saw some yummy choices, but learned after being seated that it was not cafeteria or buffet style. The menu was totally in Russian and there was no English speaking waiter. Oh boy. Then we learned we were not even in a Chinese restaurant at all, but a Turkish restaurant.

The four couples were able to recognize a couple of words on the menu.  Dave and I ordered rice and vegetables. The O's ordered chicken and vegetables, which turned out to be a little like a chicken soup with juicy chunks of chicken, a few veggies, to include french fries as the potato. That is right. French fries. They said it was good. Our rice dish was tasty too, with lots of spinach, carrots and a vegetable we didn't recognize. A couple of them ordered borscht, which they recognized on the menu.  Anyway, we survived just fine. The restaurant was lovely, but we probably (definitely) will not go back.

The B's shared that when their children were visiting them here a few months ago they were hungry and looked for a snack in the cupboards. They came across some microwave popcorn. As they started munching, they made faces and said it tasted fishy.....Fishy popcorn? Well, it just so happens that it was caviar flavored popcorn. Wow. Sounds like something I want to go out and buy! (just kidding).

As I've mentioned before their bread is wonderful and fresh baked and so inexpensive. You can get a huge loaf of fresh bread for under 30 rubles (one American dollar). Fruits and veggies are still in abundance in the little fruit and vegetable stands and I still get my eggs, 10 in a baggie from my friends at the productee next to the vegetable stand and pay 30 rubles for those as well. These are fresh eggs. Grapes in all varieties and watermelons are everywhere right now. The nectarines are WONDERFUL.

We have found it necessary to eat out a lot. Wednesday and Thursday we are away at the dinner hour. We enjoy the Hoky Poky (our pronounciation) and the waiters know us there as we go almost every week for good traditional Russian food at very reasonable prices. They have the most wonderful dessert. It's called honey cake and it is many layers of grahm cracker tasting cake  (they don't have grahm crackers in Russia that I have found, but this sure does taste a lot like grahm crackers) with a light fluffy filling. They have a buffet that doesn't interest me because there isn't that much of a selection. However, they do have 3 different kinds of holadeyets, which is a meat jello, Beef, chicken, and pork (I think). I can't begin to tell you how gross it looks. This light brown jello w/ chicken or beef as the bottom layer. YUMMY!  Other tasty choices on the regular menu include beef tongue with greens. The Russians do love their meat and also have many different kinds of salmon and chicken dishes.

Fortunately, they also love potatoes. One of our favorite meals is the "Grandma's dumplings, which is homemade pierogies filled with potatoes and onions served with a light creamy white sauce,and of course, just good old fried potatoes.

A week or so ago the three couples went to a Japanese restaurant in our area within walking distance and it was WONDERFUL. There just wasn't enough of the food . Servings were small and our Japanese waiter, so friendly and knowing a little English, didn't bring everything we had ordered. BUT we liked it enough to want to go back. We will just know to order more food.

So, so far we have had traditional Russian food, Japanese food, Turkish food, good old American food at the Starlight Diner, which looks like a Fifties diner in America, we have hit the potato bar wher eyou can get a baked potatoe with anything on it you want (and a few things you wouldn't), Sharma, which I think my son Michael would LOVE. It's a big piece of beef or pork, roasted all day and sandwiches are made fresh. The missionaries have been warned to stay away from Sharma stands though and to make sure to get it only from reputable places where you can see that there is electricity and running water.

If nothing appeals to you, you can always find a Subway, Kentucky Fried Chicken or McDonalds or Burger King. No thank you! We will continue to experience Russian food. (except for the holadeeyets).

Bon appetit!