Mormon Mission World

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012

Our Christmas Day dawned sunny and bright! The only hiccup was that we were up long before dawn.  Working with the time zones between Bulgaria and those that we love requires drastic measures at times; sacrifices that we are more than willing to make!  Sleep is overrated, right? This is the second Christmas we are away from home and we miss our family dearly.

Being so far from home and loved ones makes Skype our best friend.  It is so wonderful to be able to see grandchildren open the gifts we sent and watch Aylish plaster stickers all over her new sticker book as well as herself; and so sweet when she wants to take the doll we sent to bed.  If she were to never look at it again she has made our hearts warm with her initial reaction.  Talking to the older ones makes being far from them much easier.  We are able to see how they are growing and changing and listen to the thoughts that they want to share.

We are not complaining about our lack of a white Christmas this year since snowy roads would make travel to and from our dinner appointment more difficult.  But on Skype we can see snow falling, making Utah a winter wonderland.  Watching the snow fall was even better knowing that we do not have to experience the cold and ice.

Washington was experiencing ‘Seattle Snow’, falling on the ground and splashing window sills, as we talked with family there.  Once again it was priceless to watch grandchildren’s joy with the trinkets that we sent.  Vince may enjoy the tricky ball that we chose almost as much as I did before I mailed it.  It was delightful watching the Covington gang show off their Christmas treasures.
Due to circumstances beyond our control not everyone was able to see us on line, but we were able to hear from everyone expressing joy and love at this special time of year.  Our Christmas wishes were granted. 

For dinner we were treated by an American family who is here with the US Embassy.  They are very kind and generous with all of the missionaries. After a delicious meal and a gift exchange game everyone left with large gift bags of gaily wrapped American food items to bring a little bit of home.  Among our treats were Pam, Bisquick, Jello pudding mixes, Blue corn chips and salsa, canned crab meat and crab cake mix and sausage gravy mix – just to name a few.

  Although far from cherished family members we enjoyed a wonderful Christmas season! As Jeffrey R Holland said as ‘we keep our faith, look for the good, do something kind for someone, and seek Christ devoid of wrapping and tinsel, we find that despite external circumstances, Christmas—like the kingdom of God is “within us.”  We are looking forward to the New Year and the opportunities that it brings!  May God bless you all!  

 Love, Elder and Sister Segeberg

Friday, December 21, 2012

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Dear Friends & Family

Christmas is such a beloved time of year.  Whether you are in familiar surroundings or you are far from home, love abounds in hearts as we choose gifts for loved ones and reflect on the ultimate gift of our Savior.  Each of us has our favorite part of the Christmas celebration.

 Elder Segeberg has always enjoyed ‘giving good gifts.’  No matter how diligently we planned our holiday spending, without exception a special something would be discovered (slightly over budget) that he would anticipate by bringing joy to the recipient and could not be passed up.  On Christmas morning his enthusiasm could not be contained each year as he woke our children early to see the excitement on their faces as surprises were revealed. His greatest gift was the joy that he brought to others.

 I have always LOVED Christmas music, from We Three Kings to Up On The Rooftop.  As a child I learned all verses to each Christmas carol and song as I practiced for pageants, sang in choirs, or just skipped to the store singing these cherished melodies at the top of my lungs.  The carols brought joy to me as they tell of the gift of our Savior. The Christmas songs brought magic as they told of someone who spread joy around the world delivering toys to good little girls and boys.

In recent years I have discovered a new favorite – Mary Did You Know.  True to his nature Elder Segeberg could not rest until he had provided me with a recording of this less common song so that I could hear it whenever I wished.  Although Mary saw an angel and knew that she was part of a miracle, she probably learned little by little the significance of the child that she delivered.

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered
Will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Did you know
That your baby boy will calm a storm with His hand?
Did you know
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little b
You've kissed the face of God

Mary, did you know?
The blind will see
The deaf will hear
And the dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Did you know
That your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know
That your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding
Is the Great I Am

“Considering all that the Savior has done—and still does—for us, what can we do for Him? The greatest gift we could give to the Lord at Christmas, or at any other time, is to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. And His gift to us will be the peace of knowing that we are prepared to meet Him, whenever that time comes.

As a special witness of His holy name, I testify that Jesus the Christ is the divine Son of the living God. He will love you, lift you, and manifest Himself unto you if you will love Him and keep His commandments (see John 14:21).

Indeed, wise men and women still adore Him.” Russell M. Nelson

Even as we are far from home and loved ones this Christmas season His love is in our hearts.  How can Christmas be anything but “Merry” when we are in the service of Him whose birth we celebrate?  We love the Lord and find joy in His service on Christmas and every other day! 

May His peace be in your hearts as you celebrate this year! 

 Love, Elder & Sister Segeberg

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cooking Class

This weekend I attended a Relief Society activity.  Activities outside of the Sunday meeting schedule have been slow to catch on in Eastern Europe.  In recent months it was decided that a cooking class would be well received and draw the most sisters (and a couple of brothers), after all, who does not like to eat?  Hence the stray brothers!

This week Baba (Grandma) Viki organized the preparation of a traditional Bulgarian Christmas Eve dinner.  About fifteen ladies (and two fellows) gathered to prepare the feast.  First they made a rice mixture with onion, carrots and what-not to make cabbage rolls.  Once the cabbage was properly stuffed the remaining filling was stuffed into peppers.

Next a bean mixture was prepared with spices and plenty of oil to be stuffed into the remaining peppers.  Each of the entrées was placed carefully into large pans and given a final application of oil to top it off.  Then into the oven!


Finally, two types of Banitsa were prepared.  First to be prepared was the traditional white cheese variety with plenty of сирене (pronounced seer-nay) cheese (a white brine cheese, sort of like feta), eggs and oil.  After mixing the filling it is layered with phyla dough, rolled like little a jelly rolls.  The baking tray was filled with rows and rows of these favorite treats and liberally laces with oil.  Then a holiday version was prepared using pumpkin, sugar, a little cinnamon and some oil.  The same process was followed.  After the pumpkin mixture was ready it was layered with the phyla dough and the rolls placed in a large baking tray.  Oil was poured over the top. 

Some of these sweet sisters speak a little English and will explain to me what is going on as the cooking progresses.  Everyone is encouraged to jump in to practice the skills needed for each dish.  Occasionally it sounds as though a discussion on who has the best method of preparation is going on, but that seldom gets translated.  During this class I rolled cabbage rolls, stuffed peppers, and carefully spread filling on delicate phyla dough sheets.  Historically very little meat was used in meal preparation.  Oil is added to most dishes to provide the fat needed in their diets.

It is fun to hear the chatter as they visit and work together.  It is great to be here to see one more aspect of Relief Society enrich the lives of these sweet sisters.  They are strengthened as they work together, learn together, and enjoy each other’s association.  Little difference can be discerned between this activity and one anywhere else in the world. 

  I am not a very adventuresome eater, but I enjoy being part of the camaraderie as we mix and mingle in the Mission Home kitchen. 

Love Sister Segeberg

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Week-end in Turkey

We were privileged to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Istanbul!  Turkey became part of our mission a year or so ago.  Our President and his wife travel there frequently so we were able to tag along on this trip.  We were able to meet members and leaders in the branch and meet many that we normally only correspond with in email.  It is nice to meet and put names with the faces.

We had Thanksgiving dinner with the Senior couples who are in Istanbul.  Also invited to the dinner were some service missionaries who were there for the week from SLC to train medical staff on fitting wheel chairs.  Most of the couples there are Humanitarian Aid missionaries. Their translators were also included making a nice group for our festive traditional meal.  The turkeys were ordered from a local restaurant since no one had an oven large enough to cook them.  They looked a bit as though they had been run over by a truck, but tasted great!  We had all the usual holiday foods and enjoyed a great time getting acquainted.

The city of Istanbul is large and bustling with somewhere between 16 and 24 million people.  As we battled the crowds we were pretty sure that none of them stay at home.  Just think of a crowd leaving a stadium after a sporting event (maybe the Super Bowl) and the resulting traffic to exit the parking lot and you will have a vague idea of the traffic and crowds in Istanbul.

Istanbul is the only city in the world that is located on two continents.  It was strange to stand gazing across the water and realize that Asia was on the other side.  We found the city to be very clean and prosperous.  That may explain the amount of people.  Everyone that we encountered was very friendly and gracious.  The subway system is fantastic!  Getting around underground is much easier than above.

The Blue Mosque
While there we were awakened each morning to a serenade calling the faithful to prayer.  Thankfully it was not mid-summer when the sun rises early and so does the chanter; 5:54 was quite early enough.   

Inside the Blue Mosque
We were also able to visit many famous locations – The Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Market, etc. 

Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

 We (well, maybe I) found a lot of treasures to bring back.  At one shop I discovered a knife that I thought Elder Segeberg would like to add to his collection.  After negotiating a price the proprietor securely wrapped it in bubble wrap.

 The he said, “Dagger Lady, you put this in your checked bag, not your carry-on.  I not want to see you on CNN tonight being arrested for hi-jacking a plane!”  He had a thick accent and was very entertaining!  Although they are not really your best friend and only want you to spend your money in their shop it was fun to interact with them.  They have learned that a smile and a smart comment attract the most prey. It was fun!

We are seeing much more of the world than we had anticipated a year ago when we left for our mission.  Getting to experience other cultures and places is definitely a nice side benefit.  The children of God are all over, they are loved by Him just as we are.  It is a joy to learn to love them too!

Enjoy the pictures!

This street is said to have 1,000,000 people on it everyday.

Night view from Apartment where we stayed

Blue Mosque

Hagia Sophia

This Egyptian monolith was brought back from Egypt by Constantine. Made in 1479 BC

The Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar

Sultans Palace

Water source in Harem area, Sultans palace

View of the Dardanelles, separates Asia from Europe