Thursday, August 30, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012
I spoke a little too soon when I said that everything had gone smoothly.  At the airport in Novosibirsk we checked our bags and kept our carry-ons, just as we had done before.  When time for boarding came we were placed in a small bus and driven out on to the tarmac, quite a distance from the airport.  As we boarded a large burly man came flying out of the airplane (this was a commuter jet) and pointed to our bags and said “nyet, nyet nyet.”  He would not let us board with our carry-ons.  He called a supervisor and she came storming out, however she was going to just check our bags, put them on the plane, and we would be gone.  But the first man would have nothing to do with that. 
        He was going to make us go all the way back to the terminal, through security and back to the check-in to check our carry-ons.  This made the second woman quite mad and she spent the next several minutes yelling on her phone at everyone who we had passed with our carry-ons.  But we got back on the bus, back to the terminal, back through security, checked in our carry-ons, then back through security, back on the bus and back to the plane.  All this time the other passengers were waiting for us and I am sure getting more upset by the minute.   One of the other passengers was very helpful to us and had helped us carry our bags to the plane and seemed quite concerned for our welfare.  Anyway everything worked out and we were off to Krasnoyarsk with only a small delay.
  We were met in Krasnoyarsk by the elders, sisters, branch president and counselor in the district presidency (who is a taxi driver, lucky for us.) 

Outside the entrance to our apartment.  Left to right: Karen, Sister Erekson, Sister Montgomery, Elder Barnes, Frank, Pres. Vettsel, Pres. Kotov.

The kitchen in our first apartment.

Living Room
We have no dryer so this is how the clothes are dried.
It is customary in Russia to remove your shoes when entering anyone's home.  So there is always a long shoe horn nearby (they call it a "spoon" or "Lozhka") to help you get your shoes back on.

Just outside the door to our apartment #7.  We are 4 flights up and no elevator.  You can see the sign put there by the Young Single Adults.  It says "Welcome".

        After Nagele’s we were driven to the airport by the church’s contract driver.  They hire a lot of driver’s to get the missionaries around.  Very few missionaries drive cars in Russia.  
         Then came a 4.5 hour flight to Novosibirsk.  We got there at 5:30 a.m. and were met by Pres. Gibbons, two AP Elders and Elder Guchin, The Area Seventy (who is also a church contract driver.)  They took us to the hotel where we crashed until about 3:30 p.m.  We then met with Pres. Gibbons at the mission office for interviews and orientation.  Then had dinner at his home.  It is now 11:00 p.m.   I have totally mixed up on the times and dates since leaving New York.  We have crossed 12 time zones and have two more to go to get to Krasnoyarsk.
So far everything has gone smoothly but it has been physically demanding.  We feel like the Lord has blessed us to get to this point.

Elder and Sister Webb on the right (office missionaries). Elder and Sister Huffaker on the right (CES missionaries).  Huffakers leave in a couple of weeks to go home.

The statues erected during the communist era are massive and powerful.  I'm not sure who these guys are but you can see from the car right behind them how big they are.


I ordered "Pancakes" for breakfast.  This is what I got.  Much like crepes with an unidentifiable meat-like substance in the center.  They really weren't too bad.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012
We are now safely in our hotel room in Novosibirsk.  The travel here was long but uneventful..  We left SLC at 8:30 a.m. on Monday.  It was a little emotional but we were so busy with so much on our minds we didn’t think much about that.  It was about 4.5 hours to New York where we had 1 hour to change planes.  Then it was about 9 hours to Moscow.
We really did not know what to expect in Moscow.  Surprisingly the airport is one of the biggest and most beautiful we have seen.  

Moscow Airport Terminal
       We made it through all the check points, got our bags transferred to the flight to Novosibirsk and then had 10-11 hours to spare before our next flight.  Fortunately Elder and Sister Naegle met us and they took us into town to the U.S. Embassy to get our “second passport”.  We need a second passport so that we can use one to apply for our next visa in three months while in Finland.  Since they have to take the passport to apply for the visa, and we can’t be without one at any time, we must therefore have a second passport.  That took about 2 hours.  They then took us on the Metro to the famous “Red Square” (after a stop at a Burger King for a hamburger).  The Mall was gorgeous).  The Kremlin is along one side, St. Basil’s church on the other, another church of some kind on the other and a beautiful long official looking building on the other side that is really an expensive, exclusive Mall.  (Lenin and Stalin would turn over in their graves.)  Lenin’s tomb is also on Red Square.  

The Metro (Subway) in Moscow is beautiful and immaculately maintained.

An interesting fountain near Red Square

Red Square.  When I was a boy I saw news reels of the Russian May Day celebration.  Lots of tanks and soldiers marching for the Communist officials.  I never thought I would actually visit where this all took place.  The large official looking building is actually a Mall.  On the inside it is very gorgeous, exclusive and expensive.  Lenin and Stalin would turn over in their graves.

The Kremlin at Red Square

St. Basil's Cathedral at Red Square

Karen at a little outdoor market in Moscow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012
We are almost done with the MTC experience.  We have both really enjoyed the last several days.  Associating with the other couples and with the young elders and sisters has been a real highlight.  The classes have been very informative and inspiring.  But tomorrow we go home and begin to pack to leave for Russia on Monday.
A typical day for us here is to get up around 5:30 a.m. and go exercise.  We then get to breakfast about 7:30 a.m. and classes start at 8:00 a.m. We have been studying primarily “Preach My Gospel”.  We have done a lot of role playing with the other couples.  The last couple of days have been mostly CES training-learning how to make a lesson plan for a seminary or institute class.  We have classes until 4:30 (with short breaks and a break for lunch) and then do language training from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  So they are long 12 hour days and we are pretty tired by the end of the day.   We've been able to see Chase Noel a couple of times.  He looks great and seems to be enjoying the experience.

Chase and Frank (Elder Noel x 2)

These are the other missionaries in our District and a couple of our trainers.

       July 9, 2012
       Today the big day has finally arrived.  We are in the MTC.  We were met by missionaries who guided our every step.  They took our bags to our room and we spent the next couple of hours being being processed: pictures taken, cards and keys issued, immunizations checked, orientation, buying supplies, unpacking and settling in.  We got quite a reaction from the group when Karen told them during the introductions that we are going to Siberia.  The brother conducting said “Its really nice in Siberia. . . the 3rd week in July.”
Elder and Sister Noel in front of the World Map in the MTC

Our room is small and reminds me of the dorm rooms I had in college at USU.  But I think they will be fine.