It doesn't seem possible that in two short weeks we will be back on American soil. The countdown, of necessity, has begun. We will be greeting our replacements, Elder and Sister Meilstrup on Tuesday. They relayed their excitement to us in email. I remember how excited we were for our journey to begin as well. Wasn't it just yesterday that it was us who were packing and preparing and finding ourselves on a plane that brought us to this great land , dropping us off at the Sheremetevo Airport? It sure seems that way. I can remember clearly how I felt when we were greeted by President Sorenson and the feeling of disbelief as we zipped by large highway signs that I couldn't read. I remember the dreary, gray, cold snowy day. (Unfortunately, about this time the jet lag set in and I don't remember much very clearly for the next three weeks with the exception of snippets here and there).
Are we getting trunky we are asked? No. We definitely have mixed feelings about our departure. We have family and a life back in the United States waiting for us. We have also had a family and a life here. At times it has been hard, but we always ALWAYS have loved what we are doing. Our missionaries, our Zelonograd Ward and our mission president and wife have been our family here. And dear Svetlana, our cleaning lady who keeps the mission office spotless, Diana, the visa clerk and Luba......how we will miss them!
It will be very hard to leave them. And our apartment has become home, Fameen and Lola, Zarina, and the others who work in the little convenience store have become our friends, and yes, believe it or not, I have learned to LOVE the metro. I will even miss Svetlana, our sometimes cranky (OK, almost always cranky) concierage who takes her job so seriously, but who, to my delight, has greeted me with big smiles and a pleasant greeting, the past couple of times our paths have crossed. (I wonder if the candy bars I pass her way have anything to do with that?)
We are very busy trying to get things written down for our replacements and to do as much as we can to make the transition easy for them and our wonderful mission president and dear wife, who has become my friend. We also hope to show them a few things around the office as well in the few days we will have together.
Getting our apartment ready to "turn over" to them, meeting with our landlady Jane and introducing her to her new tenants.............there is still MUCH to do and so little time.
We are experiencing our "lasts." Last District meeting, last zone conference, last walk to the office, last walk out back into the woods. (we have yet to find the lake that is back there somewhere!) So many more "lasts" still ahead. :(
But still, we are going to enjoy these last two weeks we have here We have already said goodbye to some of our missionaries who we will not be seeing again. Tears have been shed, words of love and appreciation shared. A piece of my heart goes with each of these young ones I have grown to love.
One young elder said, "Sister Sutton, you have been like a second grandma to me." OK,I admit I would prefer to be a second mom as to a second grandma, but I will take it.
Among the senior couples, everlasting friendships have been forged that we will always cherish.
I get teary-eyed just thinking about leaving. I can honestly say that I will be leaving a bit of my heart behind in this country. Yes, the countdown has begun..............I don't know if I'm ready (and I know of a surety that my sweet companion struggles with this as well.)