It is getting warmer in Siberia. We actually saw some water droplets falling from the roofs this week. It is so exciting to be welcoming in the spring – last night we noticed on our computer that at midnight it was 12f above in Novosibirsk! We, however, were sitting in our hotel room in Helsinki, Finland the last night of our 2nd visa renewal trip. We flew in on the 1st, Sister Webb’s birthday, with about 15 of our missionaries who also had to renew their visas. They all left Friday evening (remember they give the senior couples an extra day) and we leave today, Sunday, arriving home in Novosibirsk tomorrow morning around 6am. Yesterday we took the ferry which is more like a small cruise ship, from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia. It is a 2 and ½ hour trip and the whole time I have Gilligan’s Island theme song running through my mind. All was well though and no one got stranded on any uncharted islands.
Tallinn is an interesting combination of old and new. The Old Town is surrounded by “the wall” built in the 500’s A.D. and contains within some grand old churches and various other buildings all built over the years. The city of course grew continually and has always been a sought after strategic location by the various ruling powers so has been conquered and reconquered several times. Last of course by the Russians. Then in 1991 when Estonia became independent they began a modernization program and have brought many new businesses and of course the building that goes with to the city. We enjoyed the afternoon walking the streets of Old Town with its shops, narrow streets and big open squares. We were taking a picture at the top of a hill when a lady called out in English and asked where we were from. Turns out she and her husband were from Utah serving a mission in the temple in Helsinki and were also enjoying the day in Tallinn. Very strange. Then when we stopped in a shop to browse the lady spoke in Russian – we were able to carry on a fairly decent conversation with her. She could understand most of what we said and we could understand a little of what she said. We thought at first this was strange also since most of what we had been hearing was Finnish, but the more we considered it the more sense it made since the people here have been under Russian rule for so many years they are mostly Russian in culture.
Since we left early in the morning of “the birthday” all the folks in the office threw a big party for the birthday girl the day before. Such a party, big red roses, cake, ice cream, singing and enough food for three parties. If there is any excuse to party the Russians will make sure it happens. Kind of like Americans I think. People are People the world over!! The Sister Missionaries also took time out to decorate our apartment door for the occasion. Sister Webb is their favorite person in the whole mission.
This past week we also welcomed another Senior Couple to the mission, Elder and Sister Holmes who are serving their 5th mission and the 3rd (by their request) to Novosibirsk. They will be in the city of Barnaul where they have served each time they have come. The people there love them very much and are so excited to have them back. We had dinner with them and President and Sister Gibbons at the Mission Home on Wednesday evening.
Tuesday we sent home 4 sister missionaries; two Sisters from Samara (Russia), 1 from Ukraine, and 1 from Germany. What a production. They had so many people who wanted to say goodbye that we had folks coming and going through the office all day long. Finally, though all the goodbyes were said, buckets of tears shed and the Sisters made their way to the Mission Home for their last night in the Mission before catching their various planes home early on Wednesday morning.
Well that has been our week – we hope you enjoy the pictures representing a “snapshot” (no pun intended) of the events of this past week. We are loving our mission, the people here, and the many varied experiences we are able to share together.
Building to right of blue neon sign is
Hotel Seurahone where we stayed
|Crossing the Baltic|
Great to smell the Ocean again
|Still lots of ice|
|Gates to Old Town|
|Russian Orthodox Church|
in the Background
|My Bud - from Tallinn|
Surrounding the old town
|One of many open squares|
in Old Town
|Overlooking "Old Town"|
|The Birthday Door|
|Singing Happy Birthday at the Airport|
March Visa Renewal Trip
|The Birthday Girl|