It has been snowing all week and as the snow continues to pile up and the ice build-up on the sidewalks grows larger we ask ourselves – will it really be hard to leave Siberia? The answer is always the same – absolutely! Our last week in Siberia was filled with tears (mostly frozen), sweet goodbyes, lots of hugs and promises to stay in touch and possibly connect again sometime in the future. Last Sunday evening we spoke in a fireside meeting with the Young Single Adults (18-30) in Novosibirsk, Monday a little last minute shopping, Tuesday some final training with the Gundersens who will fill in for us, Wednesday our daughter Sarah arrived so we spent some time showing her a little bit of the city and then attending a “going away” party at the church – we spoke again!
Having Sarah come is really a special treat and she brought much cheer with her. Although, we are sorry that she walked into the middle of a Siberian Winter, we think she did quite well for her first day. She flew from Salt Lake to Moscow with the US Ski Team on their way to Ukraine so that was kind of fun and as it turned out quite fortuitous (a story for another time). She had a long layover in Moscow so one of our recently returned missionaries and a friend met her at the airport and showed her around Moscow which she really enjoyed. – Thank you Max V.
Thursday afternoon we had lunch with everyone in the office. This was a pretty poignant event but we enjoyed taking a few moments to tell them good bye and share special memories they each have contributed to our time here. In the evening we hosted our building podeze for a little open house to tell everyone goodbye and a big thank you for being so kind and helpful this past year we have lived in the building. Russians don’t do this sort of thing they hardly speak to the people on their own floor let alone the building so it was interesting but quite fun although only one person came. Our landlord also stopped by with a little gift and Marina V and her mom Lenna came over and visited for awhile.
Friday we finished up at the office, finalized our packing and then in the evening we took Sarah to the Opera House and enjoyed a Ballet performance of Sleeping Beauty – quite breath-taking as usual. Then Saturday morning we left for the airport around 4:00am. We missed seeing President and Sister Gibbons who were returning from a Mission Presidents Seminar that same morning. Their plane arrived at 5:50 and ours departed at 6:30 so of course we were in different parts of the airport. We arrived in St Petersburg at 8:30 am (3 hour time difference) dropped our luggage at the mission home and boarded a train for Finland. We needed to activate our new visas so we rode the train to Finland, turned around in the train station, re-entered Russia and returned to St Petersburg. Sarah stayed at the Mission Home with President and Sister Clark while we made the little jaunt to Helsinki. They have been so gracious and kind and helpful. They just returned from the week long Mission Presidents Seminar as well so we knew they were tired but they greeted us and took care of us in grand manor. We spent the evening and all day Sunday with President and Sister Clark getting briefed and going over schedules and calendars of upcoming events. We met some of the missionaries and members and will be ready to go in the morning.
This is an overwhelming assignment but we look forward to the next few weeks with great anticipation. St Petersburg is an amazingly beautiful and historical city so we hope our duties will give us opportunity to experience much of what the city has to offer. We know it is our love of the Savior and His gospel that has brought us here and we will serve Him and the people of St Petersburg the very best we can. We love you all and look forward to seeing you soon.
|George and Alicia from our English Group|
Hard to say goodbye to good friends
|Pyotr - also from English|
We learned more from Him than he from us
of this we are certain
|Nastia and Dasha from the Young Single Adults with|
a parting gift for us
Very special album of some precious people and memories