Mormon Mission World

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas week

Our week began with a trip to the hair stylists. There we sat, side by side, while two young girls worked on our hair. It was my first attempt at getting my hair trimmed since I left WA.  The receptionist speaks English well, so that was reassuring and each stylist spoke some English. I do not have a Russian vocabulary that includes hair salon terms. While I was there I added a manicure as well. The cut was done very differently than I have ever seen, but seems to have come out OK. Not quite like Marti would have done, but acceptable. A day or two later I had a hairspray crisis. I could not find a pump style and bought aerosol that did not do much to hold. Finally I found a couple that together seem to do the trick. Crisis adverted!

In the evening, off we went to meet with the Young Adult group that was going Christmas caroling for their first time. It is definitely not a tradition here!  They were a little nervous about it so additional support was recruited – us! Unlike going door to door in a US neighborhood, here caroling required a bus ride and a lot of walking. We had a pair of young missionaries, Elders Mills & Holdaway, as guides. Even with them we overshot the bus stop and had to walk a long way back (in the dark and rain.) When we finally arrived at the first apartment we sang “Silent Night” in Latvian.  Latvian seemed to be the only language of which we had a copy.  An adorable little, old couple came out and were just delighted. We gave them a plate of treats and after hugs all around we were off to try to find our next stop. Soon we realized that we had picked up an additional caroler. However, he did not seem to be singing the same carol. Apparently a drunk was following us. He probably thought he had found kindred spirits. After all, who goes around singing in the streets in the dark and the rain when they are sober? We tried to shake him, but he would have none of that. Luckily we were not able to find anyone else home, or maybe they were just frightened to open their doors to singing drunks. He stuck like Velcro.  When we decided it was too late to visit anyone else we were able to lose him when we hopped on a bus. We were hoping he did not have bus fare.

On Wednesday the senior missionaries were recruited to provide a Christmas dinner for all the missionaries attending the Riga zone conference. Usually the zone leaders are in charge and they order pizza. The mission president’s wife did not think that sounded very festive.  So we concocted a way to make sour cream potatoes (AKA funeral potatoes) without either frozen hash browns or canned cream of chicken soup. Quite the accomplishment! Apparently there was life before modern conveniences. We served ham, potatoes, green beans and bread with cake for dessert. All the young folks were thrilled with such an American meal. After several inspirational talks and a slide show of the year in review we ended with a white elephant exchange. It was fun for old and young! During the final carol, Silent Night (in English this time)  at the end of the day I was hit simultaneously with sadness to be so far from my family at this special time of year and joy to share this experience with so many incredible young people, and old ones too. When it comes to the young missionaries here, certainly only first string are sent to Eastern Europe.

The weekend proved to be a very busy time. On Saturday we had two parties to attend. The first was with our Russian church group. I quickly baked a double batch of brownies to take. There was a speaker and then a rousing game of what they called, “Jeopardy” but I think it was closer to Trivial Pursuit. The questions were based on the New Testament and church history. Who knew you could find so many obscure facts? But they had a good time. This was followed by the Christmas story for the children as well as a bag of treats for each one. A very nice luncheon was served by the ladies. One dear elderly lady loved Elder Segeberg’s Christmas tie and nearly wrestled him for it. 

Then we hurried home to bake rolls for the party we were to attend in the evening. We were invited to the Bailey’s for dinner, a program and gift exchange. Brother Bailey works for the embassy. By the time we left the rain had started again. We were off on the bus with rolls, veggie trays, fruit salad, yams, not to mention our gifts for the exchange. After getting off the bus we still had to walk about a mile. But it was well worth it. The dinner was amazing! He has access to real turkeys and spiral ham. There were around 20 at the sit-down dinner. After dinner his family led a program of Christmas carols and scriptures to bring our focus to why we are celebrating. The evening ended with white elephant exchange that was very lively. It was fun to be in a family setting when we were thinking of home and our family traditions. It was so kind of them to share their home with us for the evening.

Christmas day was very quiet. Although we had received two invitations to dinner we decided to stay home and have time together and to Skype with our family. We had a schedule worked out to squeeze everyone in since the time difference means we are awake most of the time they are asleep and vice versa. Early in the morning when we woke to begin the day with two calls we discovered that our internet was down. So we quickly dressed and headed to the office to use the wireless there. We were concerned that we would have to spend our entire day there. Luckily, (blessed we were) that when we returned from church it was working again. It was great to be able to see almost all of our family! We miss them tons, but seeing their smiling faces was great! Monday morning our internet was down again! We were truly blessed!

During this season I love the opportunity to reflect on my blessings. First of all there is the gift of our Savior that brings us so much hope in this life as well as the next.  There is our family that is dearer to me than I can express. Then there are countless tender mercies that He sends our way. One that I have been grateful for is the fact that my knee is not bothering me.  Ever since my surgery several years ago I have seldom taken a step without thinking of it. It is tight and stiff at best. Last spring I discovered (in Hawaii) that it likes the warm much better than the cold. I was concerned how I would do here. But I have had no problem with it. In fact, I seldom think of it except when using the stairs. Truly a tender mercy! The mild weather we have had thus far here has been a tender mercy to me.  The Bailey’s sharing their home and family with several senior couple who are far from their own families, the internet working when we were depending on it. The list goes on.  I don’t think there are coincidences, only things we take for granted at times.  Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! Ours was very different, but very nice! 

Elder & Sister Segeberg

Monday, December 19, 2011

December 12-18th

Monday - It's Pday and we have been very busy.
Started out by getting up and immediately doing Carrie's hair color. I took on the role of Andre and gave her a hair color treatment. It came out great and she was happy. It looks just like Marty, her professional hair-dresser in Federal Way. When she's happy, I'm happy.
Showered and shaved, dressed then ate breakfast. Did our studying, then left for a walk to the Elkor mall about a 20 minute walk down Brivibus iela. Walked around there then came back. All-in-all it took 2 hours.
Cooked all afternoon. I made Lisa's chicken noodle soup. Carrie made home made noodles for me. This soup uses Mash potatoes as a thickener. It is super delicious.
Carrie made rolls and brownies and Connie's chicken salad. We are set for the week.

We had the Sister Missionaries over for dinner. Sisters Sandberg and Grineviciute. Sister Sandberg is from Orem and Sister Grinevicute is from Lithuania.We had a good time and the Sisters enjoyed the dinner.
Full day at the office today. We opened at 8:30 and had nice quite time until 10:00. Completed the Missionary Baptismal Certificate for President Boswell. Sister Segeberg got the design down on word, and we found some heavy stock to print it on.

Worked on the process of burning the Mighty Baltic Mission 2011 Christmas DVD that Sister Boswell put together. Need a better burning program.

Went to the post office to pick up packages. There are so many at this time of the year that we decided to take the van. The post office is only about 1/4 mile away to walk, but by car is 2 km. The traffic flow in Latvia is crazy. It is almost impossible to make a left-hand turn. There are no left-hand turn lanes, and, there are signs that prohibit you from even attempting it.You have to carefully plan your route because you have to make many right hand turn groups. Most light you have to go straight thru or can turn right. We had to go 2 Km more to get to the PO because for this.

Today was transfer day. Around noon time the office was flooded with Elders and Sisters either coming to stay at the Mission Home tonight for departure for home tomorrow or just coming to say goodbye to the people leaving. A local Sister received her mission call and she opened it in front of everyone. Lots of hugging and crying went on.
17 missionaries are going home tomorrow, so they all come into the office, then go to the mission home for the night and get taken to the airport in the morning. Many others came in to say goodbye and see the Mission Call opening. It was pandamonium with 30 or more people in the office. When the Sister opened her call, it was to the SLC Temple Square mission. She will be with the other local Sister that is also going there

This afternoon we had a power blip that took out the Cisco AP. It uses POE and has a special power supply for that. It looks like the POE unit is now dead. I went to M79 and bought two cheap switches and wired the two computers that were using wireless into the network. They now have full access but President Boswell's laptop won't be able to access the internet. I can get an AP at M79 for 22LS to fix the immediate problem. Maybe tomorrow.

My new best APP is google translate. I use it daily to figure out what things are in the food Ad's as well as everything else.

Got authorization today to buy a new computer for the office. I bought an ASUS laptop that has good specs. I was surprised to get it back to the office and turn it on. Only had DOS on it. Had to go buy Win 7 to put on it. Oops.

Today I determined that I was not going to get the Cisco AP going, so I went to M79 and bought a cheap Wireless AP. Had the office up and running on Wireless in an hour. Everything is working fine at the moment.

Started the project to burn the Mighty Baltic Christmas DVD that Sister Boswell put together. She did a great job on it and it is very nice. I burned 28 copies today for their first Missionary Christmas Party in Lithuania on Monday. I was afraid that it would take longer, but got it done by 5PM.

Went to the Millet's for dinner and a movie. We had a good time and watched "While You Were Sleeping", it was a sweet movie and we talked for a couple of hours after the movie. Had a great time. We really enjoy being with the Millet's, they are a sweet couple.

Went to the Restaurant supply store and Prismo this morning. It is a ways from here -- over the river and through the woods. Spent a bunch of money. I hope we are done feathering our nest here.

Sister Skvortsov called while we were shopping and asked what time they were suppose to come to Dinner tonight. We had invited her and her husband (the Russian Center  Branch, Branch President) to dinner tonight, but hadn't heard from them since we invited them. That's great. We'll see if they like American cooking. 2 PM

The Skvortsov's arrived and we had dinner. We had a pleasant evening and ate and talked. Sister Skvortsov speaks very good English (she teaches English in a school here). President Skvortsov speaks a little English, and understands more than he can speak. He did get lost sometimes if we were speaking because we speak so fast.We talked about each of our cultures and they told us of their experiences going to Russia and how they were treated, even though they are native Russian speakers.

                    President and Natalia Skvortsov
We have Church at 1:00, and got back home at about 4:30 PM.
Miss the car. We have to take the bus everywhere.My mobility is very restricted. In the spring would like to see more of the country than just Riga. Maybe we can rent a car?? There is an Opal van that we can borrow for shopping on Saturday, but it isn't available all the time. It actually is used by the Assistants to the President mostly.

This is the most foreign we have lived in another country. While in the military we lived in several different countries but had military support, such as commissary and BX. We could get all the foods and goods we were use to.

This is different. All writing is in Latvian or Russian. Yesterday we bought a package of what we thought was whipped topping. Well that was what we thought it showed on the picture. Turns out it was yeast. The package was written in German and we obviously don't know what the word for yeast is in German. We do know what it is in Latvian though.

It is much different being a tourist also. When you are a tourist you stay at a hotel and generally eat in restaurants that cater to tourists. That really insulates you from the real culture and living conditions. If you really want to get to know a country, live on the local economy for a while.

We skyped with Shelly & Vince, Wendy and her gang, Ryan and Amanda, and the Christmas gathering at Aunt Helen's house. It was a big skype night. Busy week.

                      View of our apartment from the street. We are the one that has blue lights in the window
                                                              Our little Christmas tree

See you later,
Elder Segeberg

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Good Week

Week of Dec 5th - 10th
This week was busy. We had P-day on Monday and took the van and went to the Alfa mall. We bought a 32" LG flat screen (I know, it's small- but I'm suppose to be roughing it) and found leather winter boots for Carrie. Most of the boots she looked at (and there were many) were very expensive 100 LS plus (1LS = $2), but she found some she liked for 48 LS, so we were happy.

An interesting thing that happened on Monday: we had a leak from under the pedestal of the shower. Every time we took a shower water flowed out from underneath. We had the plumber over several times to fix it and to no avail. So on Monday the landlord (who speaks no English), came over with his son, John, (who speaks pretty good English) and a plumber to fix it. They didn't believe what I was telling them about the water coming out from underneath. They thought the shower doors were leaking. So I explained to John about what we saw and he had a discussion with his Father and the plumber. So instead of just turning on the shower and watching, the Father strips off his clothes and jumps in the shower while the plumber watches for leaks. Lo and behold, the shower leaked from underneath the pedestal. The plumber is now ready to go to work and cuts a hole in the side of the pedestal so he can fiddle around underneath. After 30 minutes John comes to me and tells me it is all fixed, then they leave. I go in and turn on the shower and quickly shut the doors. You guessed it, leak not fixed, and maybe even worst. I walk up three flights of stairs and tell John the bad news. They scheduled for Wednesday to come back and actual fix it this time. Yeaaa!

Tuesday night we left the office at 5:00 PM and took the bus, with the Millet's, and went to dinner at Elder & Sister Davis's. They are the CES couple and live several miles from our apartment. They fixed Mexican food. I had the best Salsa and chips I have ever had in my life. The main course was a soft shell taco and it was really good, considering what they had to work with.This isn't exactly a Mexican food haven.It's hard to find the ingredients needed. We did find cilantro in the food store under the name of Kolendra. Shtow?? We looked it up on the internet and found out that Coriander in America is the seed and cilantro is the leaf, of the same plant. Who knew??

On Thursday we went to the National Opera House (incredibly beautiful and ornate building) to see "The Nutcracker". President & Sister Boswell, Elder & Sister Millet went as well and we all had an enjoyable time. Lots of leaping gnomes (those guys dance in sheer tights), and pretty ballerinas. Very elaborate production and the hall was all gold leaf. we had great seats, first row, lower balcony. and only $30 each.

(Back row) Sister & President Boswell, Elder Millet (front row) Elder & Sister Segeberg (Sister Millet took picture)

Saturday we went shopping at RIMI's in the morning, had down time in the afternoon, then had the Millet's over for dinner and a movie (The Joseph Smith story). It was a good evening. Sister Segeberg then skyped with Aunt Helen until way past missionary bedtime. I won't tell President Boswell on her. What happens here, stays here, haha.

Yesterday was Sunday, and we have the morning to read scriptures, work on our journal, and generally relax until we leave to catch the city bus for church. We attend the Center Russian Branch. We have enjoyed going there, the people are warm and friendly to us.We don't always know what is going on, but usually have a young missionary whispering in our ear a translation of what is being said.

One thing we have been very impressed with is the caliber of the young missionaries. They are personable, dedicated and hard working. It is amazing how mature they can seem for such young people. We had a meeting with someone who is having marriage issues. The Elders were very sensitive, in spite of having no experience with marriage, they made several insightful comments. The main experience they have with relationships is learning to work well with their companions. Not quite the same as marriage, but some of the same principles apply - patience, tolerance, understanding and cooperation. I was very impressed! It makes you want to write to their moms and tell them how great their sons are doing and how proud they can be of them. We are actively engaged and figuring out what we are suppose to be doing. The weeks are going fast.

This next week is transfer week, so we will be busy.
Love to All
Elder & Sister Segeberg

Monday, December 5, 2011

Second Week in Latvia

Well it was a busy week. We worked in the office everyday, Tuesday through Friday. On Saturday we went downtown and walked around what is called the "Open Air Market". It actually is part open air and part inside. The inside part in in four old dirigible hangers, ah the good old days when we could fly in lighter than air, air ships.The fruits and vegetables seem to stretch on for miles, some we had never seen before and had to examine them. Sister Segeberg thinks that there can't be any hogs left in Latvia. There was one whole hanger that was full of different little companies sell pork and pork products. There was everything there but the "oink", and Sister Segeberg thought she saw some of those. There was a fish hanger, and a beef/meat hanger, etc. It was the men's worst nightmare, endless shopping and hours of walking around looking at stuff.

 Checkout the hat! Do I look sporty or what. Sister Segeberg of course looks great.

This is the Freedom Monument. Latvia got their Freedom from the Soviet Union in 1991. You can't see it very well, but there are formal guards at the base. We watched the changing of the guard.

Sunday was Fast & Testimony meeting at our Russian Branch. We got up and gave our testimony in Russian, and everybody actually understood us.They seemed very please that we could speak some Russian.The members are very warm and appreciative of us. We have a translator with us during most meetings. We went home after church and made dinner than relaxed and had Sunday evening Ice Cream. The ice cream here is good. Talk to you next week. Dasvadanya!