Mormon Mission World

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Hi Everyone: We had P-day (preparation day) on Monday and spent the morning typing our blog entry for the week and doing chores around the house. We decided to go look at the local sights. So I go outside to give Sister Segeberg a weather report. It seemed fairly calm and about 40 degrees so I told her we don't need to bring our ear muffs. Boy was I wrong. It started hailing on us on the way to the bus stop. By the time we got off the bus it was a 30 MPH head wind and felt like 20 degrees.

We went to "Old Town" which is the original old part of Riga.Very old and picturesque. It was fairly cold, but very windy and blustery. We were on the edge of freezing the whole time but had a good time. We ended up eating lunch at McDonalds then went to "Stockmans" a English branded department store. We had made spaghetti sauce for a dinner with Elder & Sister Millet and wanted to find some parmigiana cheese to grate up for the dinner. We found some and also some American BBQ sauce so it was Wahoo! We scored.

                                                                A little Wind-blown
                                                                 Checkout the hat!

Monday, November 28, 2011

First Week in Latvia

This, our first week in Latvia was busy and eventful. We arrived on Tuesday and went to our new apartment and unpacked.
On Wednesday morning we had a breakfast meeting with the Senior Couple from Estonia and the other couple who will be serving in the office with us. It was great to meet everyone and the breakfast buffet at the Radisson hotel was extensive and very nice. After breakfast we went back to the office and worked all day being  trained in our jobs. Wednesday night we went to dinner at the Millets (the other office couple), then went to a store called “RIMI’s” which is kind of like a Walmart, well as close as they have to that. We needed to “setup housekeeping” in our new apartment. 300 Lats later (about $600) we went home with our loot. The prices are not “Walmart” however. They have a 22% tax on everything here so everything is much more expensive. Example: a large skillet that I bought in the states for $20 cost $60 here. We didn’t get to bed until 11 PM.
On Thursday we worked in the office from 8:30 until 4:00, then went to a special Thanksgiving dinner hosted at Brother Bailey’s home. He works in the American Embassy and kindly invited all the Missionaries in Riga to come for Dinner. There were about 40 people there which included our Mission President and his wife (President & Sister Boswell) the Area President and his wife (Elder & Sister Lawrence) and three senior couples, as well as about 24 elder and sister missionaries. We had a great time and it was very fun to meet all the Elders and Sisters. Took the bus home and got to bed at 11:00 PM.

On Friday we worked all day at the office. I finished a special project of taking the October conference talks (which had been translated into Latvian, Estonia & Lithuanian) and copying them into word, adding pictures of the speakers and making each in to a booklet. We then send them to the printers and distribute the booklets to the members. The church translates conference into Russian, but not these other languages, so we do that. Anyway it took some time but I finally got it done. Friday night we had a dinner with the Area President and his wife, plus The Mission President and his wife, plus the three senior couples in Riga. It was great to spend so much time with Elder Lawrence (member of 1st quorum of the Seventy) and his wife. Elder Lawrence told his of his conversion story when he joined the church as a young man and how he met and married his wife. It was a great story and we enjoyed his company as well as Our Mission President and his wife. President and Sister Boswell have been so kind and supportive of us. We are very happy to be serving with them.

On Saturday we had zone conference. Left the house at 8:15 and travelled by bus to the Center Chapel. The zone conference was fantastic. It started off with Sister Lawrence giving a 90 minute presentation on “The Holy One of Israel”. She went into the bloodlines of Israel and how scripture and patriarchal blessings relate. It was powerful and informative. She is a former seminary teacher and knew her subject well. I’ve read a lot off Hugh Nibley and have studied this before, and I learned a more  few things. Major point, “The blood of Israel is believing”. Elder Lawrence then talked to us for another 90 minutes about “The keys of success on your mission”. It was great and time went fast, we were not watching the clock. One thing he said that I liked: Question: What is the difference between a prompting and a good idea? Answer: Who cares, just do it! He was talking about following the spirit. We broke for lunch and had pizza that had been delivered. It wasn’t like Costco (My west coast standard) but it was good. Sister Boswell spoke about the sons of Mosiah and how she observed us like that. When the missionaries came in they were hugging each other because they were so glad to see each other. President Boswell spoke about: Most of us are 1st watch prayers (meaning we want it now), but we worship a 4th watch God (meaning God does not often answer our prayers until later, but he always answers). It was a great discussion. We then had a musical number with 5 Elders and 2 Sisters singing a Latvian song. A Latvian sister accompanied on the piano. It was sooo beautiful. Maybe the most beautiful singing and piano I have ever heard. It was titled “Heavens Near”. Elder Lawrence finished up the discussion part of the conference with a talk on the difference between the committed to baptism number and the actually baptized number. He discussed ways to bring them closer together. Then we had testimony meeting where every missionary got up and gave their testimony. It was powerful and moving. Closed the meeting and we went home and collapsed.
Sunday we went to the Russian branch for the first time. We were warmly greeted and got to use some of our Russian. During the services, an Elder sat next to us and whispered in our ear about what was going on. We could understand a few words here and there, but without the translation we would have been clueless. Some of the members spoke some English and the Branch President’s wife spoke excellent English, although the Branch President speaks very little English. All-in-all it was great. Atleachna as they say in Russian.
It was a great first week!  We were worried about jetlag, but didn’t have time to experience it. So we are now fully involved and ready to start the new week. Since today is our P-day, we are off to explore. Chow!

                                          View from our apartment
                                          Another window view
                                           Mission President -The Boswells in the middle, and two Senior Couples that work in the office, the Segebergs and the Millets
                                           Area President, Elder Lawrence and his wife, Sister Lawrence, and us.
                                         Old Lutheren church that is in front of our rented apartment chapel (Center Chapel)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We're In Latvia

We made it. Here we are in Latvia. We are so happy to finally be here after all the months of preparation. We were staying in the MTC Senior Couple Apartments (brand new). We got up at 3AM on Monday, November 21st and got ready, then completed final packing. We had four large suitcases that were packed and weighted to exactly 50 lbs each. Additionally we had two carry on suitcases and I had a backpack and Sister Segeberg had a large soft-sided briefcase. We were loaded. We then moved all the luggage down the elevator to the staging area outside the building. We then moved the suitcases out to the parking lot and hoisted them into a large truck, then boarded a bus for the trip to the airport.

After the hour long bus trip to the airport, we unload the luggage truck, in the rain, and start trucking our luggage into terminal 2. When we get to the kiosk that checks in multiple airlines, we are told that we are in the wrong terminal, so we saddle up and pull our luggage over to terminal 1 where the check-in goes smoothly. Now to get through security. Well, we got through, but not before being xrayed and all the other hectic "take everything out of your pockets, all electronics out of the bags, ETC." Finally we could just relax and wait for boarding.

The flight to Chicago was uneventful, which is good.In Chicago we waited about 3 hours for our flight to Frankfurt. The flight to Frankfurt, GE, was 7.5 hours and felt every minute of that. The seats are very close together and we were as crowded as I have ever been on a flight.I thought someone told me that international flights had more room? When the guy in front of me put his seat back, I could have easily given him a head massage.Unfortunately for him, I reserve massages to Sister Segeberg's foot massages.

We got to Frankfurt and had a 4 hour wait for the flight to Riga. Frankfurt is a huge airport and it took us an hour to carry our backpacks and "stuff" to the next gate.
The flight to Riga, Latvia was delayed about 1/2 hour, but was only two hours when we finally got in the air and was pleasant.

We were excited to land in Riga. Finally here! I was anticipating going through "custom", as I have years ago in other countries. There was only an exit door to the outside, and a small door marked "Customs" so I stopped and asked a security guard if I needed to go through customs and they looked at me strange and started asking me if I had excessive money or other "funny" things and I said "no", so they just told me to leave and had no interest in anything else, so we went out the exit door --- and there was our Mission President and his wife, smiling and hugging us. We were so happy to see them. They loaded our luggage and us, into there van and off we went to the Mission Office, getting a tour of Riga on the way.

At the Mission Office we met the Millets, the other office couple we will be working with. They are wonderful and we are going to enjoy working with The Mission President, his wife, Sister Boswell, the Millets, and all the missionaries here in the Baltic mission. Everyone is very friendly and nice. Some elders, lead by Elder Millet moved all our luggage to our apartment while we chatted with President  & Sister Boswell.

We finally got to our apartment about 4PM, Latvian time (GMT+2). The apartment is great. Right downtown about 2 blocks from the Mission Office. We unpacked and the Millets came over about 6PM. We had a dinner together and got acquainted. Very nice. We are happy to serve with such great people, and, we have a breakfast meeting with the Senior Couple who live and work in Estonia. They are in town, so we have a chance to meet with them and the Millets for breakfast.

We are invited to go to a large Thanksgiving dinner at a couples home who work at the US Embassy. All the Senior Couples and the Mission President will be there. Sounds like fun! Will post pictures soon.
Love: Elder and Sister Segeberg

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Completed Second Week at MTC

 Once again we have had a busy week. We were in class from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm Monday thru Thursday.. This week we learned several office systems as well as the churches office system. In Word, Excel and Outlook we felt like superstars because we had have plenty of opportunities to work with those. For some of the others it was their first exposure to them all. One Tuesday there was another great devotional.This was was with Tad Callister who spoke about '10 evidences of the apostasy.' He has written several books that Dick has enjoyed in the past.

  On Friday we had lunch with a friend we had not seen in maybe 30 years. It was great to see him again and hear what has been going on in his life. We have enjoyed all the visits we have had in the past few weeks.

So here we are on the eve of our departure from the MTC. Our clothes are washed (thanks, Rick & Brenda for lending us the use of your washer and dryer - usually the kids bring laundry home to mom and dad. We reversed the tables and brought ours home to the children.), our bags are packed and weighed. Even though we are wearing as many layers as we can and have chosen the heaviest clothes we have with us to wear we are still right on the edge of the weight limit on every bag, but are hoping if the airport scales are off it is in our favor, not the other way. The shuttle comes very early to pick us up so we will be turning in soon. The trip takes about 22 hours from door to door. We will write again as soon as we recover from jet lag. It will be fun to explore and post pictures of our new area. Da svee-da-neeya!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

First Week at MTC Completed

The first week at the MTC is over, and what a week it was! We were definitely busy, in classes every day from 8 AM till 8 PM. On Tuesday we attended a devotional with a General Authority, Elder Eduardo Gavarret. It was great to be able to attend that. There were at least 2000 in attendance.

We taught the first and second lessons to volunteers. The thought of it was a little intimidating at first but it went well. I enjoyed watching Sister Segeberg jump into the fray and carry the discussion. Our companionship works well. We also attended a language department testimony meeting where everyone bore testimony in their new language. Our instructor told us we did well but I think his job is to encourage us not depress us.

Next week we will spend our time being trained on office duties. We are looking forward to that because we feel we can handle the computer systems. This weekend we are resting up and trying to recover from colds. I was nearly better when my cold returned with a vengeance on Wednesday. Hope we will be better before we leave the country on the 21st.

Monday, November 7, 2011

In the MTC

Our first day in the MTC! It was great! Rick and his family dropped us off this morning. It was not lost on any of us how we had been the ones dropping him off about 24 years ago. Our accommodations are very comfortable, like in a very nice hotel - 4 star at least, in the recently completed senior couples housing area. We did not get assigned to the Marriott, but the only real way to tell is that there is no big screen TV . We had a few meetings this afternoon and did some in-processing then had dinner and now we have study/free time.. Tomorrow we have classes during the day, then a devotional at night with a general authority speaker. I'll let you know who that was later this week. We had about 88 people in our senior group and we all got a short period of time to stand up and introduce ourselves. Everybody is very nice and we have had some good conversations over lunch and dinner. The young elders and sisters are very kind and courteous to us, I feel like we are in a very special place.

We sang one song today - Called to Serve -- it was rousing, but I had such a lump in my throat I could hardly sing. I've always loved that song from the time we took Rick to the MTC and sang it together with the new missionaries. We have sung it as we dropped each one of our sons at the MTC and now it was our turn.

It is great to be some what settled after out nomadic wanderings of the past few months. And it is great to be finally beginning this new chapter.  Saying good-bye to our family and friends was hard , but we look forward to sharing our experiences with them on Skype. Yeah, for electronic media! We picked a great time to go.
Love - Elder & Sister Segeberg

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Set Apart

Tuesday night we were set apart by our Stake President, President Miles. He gave us a wonderful blessing and the time with him was very spiritual and uplifting. Ryan and Amanda were with us at this meeting and were asked to give a testimony and express their feelings about our mission.It was touching and wonderful to have these experiences.

The Bishop kindly drove us to the airport on Wednesday and we had an uneventful flight to SLC. Today we went into the MTC for a russian tutoring lesson. We got to meet the tutor (Brother Ryan Smith) that we have been working with for the last few months. After the russian lesson, we went to the Verizon store here in Orem and talked to a young woman that took an interest in our problem of canceling our Verizon cellphone contract. She spent a long time on the phone and computer researching our problem and finally found away to convince district managers to forgive the termination fee. We are of course very happy we don't have to pay the $870 termination fee.Yeah! what a blessing. Looking forward to Monday and MTC induction.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In the MTC in One Week

We had a busy Sunday. We spoke in Sacrament Meeting then had a family dinner, and finished with an open house at Karen & Bud Little's home in the evening. Many people came by to wish us well and say goodbye. We are very appreciative that Karen and Bud hosted this open house for us so we could say goodbye to our friends in the Auburn area.

Yesterday and today was spent taking care of all the last minute details. We sold our remaining car and talked to Verizon about leaving the country and canceling our phones. That didn't go well.We've talked to several people in the Verizon company and all want us to pay $870 in early termination fees.Doesn't matter that they can't provide service in Latvia. Hmmm. After 60 we should have been on a pay-as-you-go plan.

We are excited that it is finally time. We fly to SLC tomorrow, then into the MTC on Monday. Thursday we get to meet our Russian tutor at the MTC and have a Russian lesson in person.Starting next Monday we will see him daily for Russian lessons. I have heard that the MTC is intense. Will let you know soon.