Mormon Mission World

Monday, February 27, 2012

March Here We Come

The highlight this week was a Seniors Conference. The other couples, the Perry’s from Estonia and the Flake’s from Lithuania, came to Riga to participate in the event. We hosted a dinner for all the couples on Thursday evening which was a great opportunity for us to share our experiences and ideas with one another. 

Also, it was an opportunity to get to know each other better. The Flakes stayed with us while they were in town which was a lot of fun.  On Friday we attended a seminar which was presented by a couple, the Bices, who had flown in for the event from Moscow.  They gave presentations on, “Overcoming Addiction” and “Strengthening Marriage and Family.”  We now have information and material to start courses and groups to address these problems.  Sadly, there is a great need here as well as in other areas to address these concerns. Now that we are armed we are excited to be able to be of more help in our areas.

Of course, in conjunction with the event there were several opportunities to sample local restaurants. We took a long lunch on Thursday to try a place nearby.

 After we concluded for the afternoon we visited Old Town and had dinner in an Italian restaurant there. On Saturday we had a little time for sightseeing before we had to put the out-of-towners back on the buses heading for their homes. 

There was also a baptism on Saturday afternoon and we had a couple from our branch over for dinner and the evening. So it was a busy day!
On Sunday the Bices were still in town so we gathered at the Millets in the evening for another dinner and very interesting conversation. Boy, this missionary work is going to be hard on the hips! There is never a shortage of things for the senior couples to talk about – how we feel about where we are serving, our feelings about the process and, of course, very dear families that we left behind. We all agree that we love where we are and the people we are meeting. The desire to help the people improve their lives and find more joy is strong in each of us. The time is passing very quickly. The weeks just fly by with so many activities.

Looks like we are having fun, and we are. But we work hard too. No, really.

Elder & Sister Segeberg

Monday, February 20, 2012

Things We Have Been Reminded of this Week

The things we have been reminded of this week:

1.      Temperature is very relative! As the week progressed the temperatures increased. By Thursday we were up to 18°F. I had the window in the lobby at the office open most of the day. Any of the Elders and Sisters that dropped by commented on how warm the weather was and how they were enjoying the change. In WA we would think we were freezing if the temperature was 18°.  In fact, we would be freezing if it were 18°. After -22° that is a 40° increase and it felt warm.

2.      With Skype, family can feel very near even when they are very far away! We so enjoy the opportunities to chat with family on Skype. Grandchildren can show us their accomplishments and new treasures. They can act silly and play with us just as they did when we were there (just no hugs!).

3.      Small treats are huge when you are far from home. My favorite sister sent us a package that we received this week. The postage probably cost more than the contents, but the thought was the best! Thanks Sis! I will be warm from my heart to my toes as we munch on the treats! Fuzzy socks and candy, what more could you want?

4.      It is possible to enjoy dinner with no drink (or dessert), when the young Elders arrange a dinner for the zone at a near-by restaurant for 2 lats a plate. That is just under $4.00. The restaurant had a lot of charm and good food. We had a room to ourselves and enjoyed the opportunity to visit. Since tap water is not an option in this part of the world even having water for 40 people might have equaled the price of the food. This was in conjunction with a two day leadership conference. We were fortunate enough to be invited to dinner even though we had to hold the fort down and man (and woman) the office during the conference.

 5.      You can feel the Spirit even when you can’t understand the words. On Sunday we had an exchange with a sweet gentleman at church who can speak no English and we are limited on our Russian. However, we could feel his sweet spirit and his love. Also, as we sang one of the hymns I could feel the Spirit even though I was doing all I could to keep up singing in Russian and not really thinking about what the words were in English. It was a sweet feeling.

6.      A woman does not have to have a Crest smile to look beautiful when her face is beaming about her baptism! We attended a baptism on Saturday evening where Irena was baptized after several months of working with the missionaries in our branch. I have noticed during the past couple of weeks that she has had a special glow. On Saturday she was beaming, although a little nervous. She was wearing a new skirt and sweater. I am not sure she has ever worn anything but jeans before. But she said it was “only fitting!” A young Nepali fellow was baptized as well and had the same glow! It is exciting to see and fun to participate in these special events. As the Branch Presidency finished confirming her a member, she gave Elder Segeberg a kiss on the cheek. He said that he was thinking, "I bet a year ago she never would have thought she would be kissing an elderly American man someday" I guess life is unpredictable sometimes. :)

Elder Stookey, President Sasha, Irena  & Elder Grover

                                            Elder Koltko,  Rom & Elder Thomas

Monday, February 13, 2012

Still in Latvia

Greetings from Latvia!  Although we have been reassigned to the Bulgaria-Sofia Mission we are still in Latvia due to the paperwork required to obtain a Bulgarian long-term visa. We could leave tomorrow and enter on a tourist visa. But after 90 days we would have to leave and if our long-term visa was not processed by then we would not be able to return to Bulgaria for three months. Since there is little hope of completing the visa process in less than 90 days, it has been decided that is it more prudent to wait until all of the necessary documents have been obtained before going.

 The most time consuming part is a background check to insure the Bulgarians that we are not criminals. They don’t just let anybody into Bulgaria apparently. On Monday, after spending a few hours at the office to complete weekly reports, we set out in pursuit of our background check.  The application was completed and what we needed was a finger print card to send with it to the FBI. Off we headed. After a bus ride we had to hike about six blocks in temperatures around -13ᵒC as we headed for the Latvian Police Forensic Department which was open until noon then closed for an hour lunch before reopening for the remainder of the day. When we found the building the policeman (who was deeply involved in his book) told us we needed to go to the second door about 50 meters up the street. When we got there that nice policeman told us that no one was there and we would need to come back at 1:00. It was 11:30, so dismayed but not dissuaded we decided to get lunch while we waited.

On our way we had passed a little Italian restaurant that we had been interested in trying. The reviews said that they had good food and reasonable prices. It also looked as though it might be warm in there as well. It was not the fanciest place but we decided to take a chance. The reviews were correct – the prices were reasonable and the food was good.

After lunch we headed back and when we arrived the room was full of people. We were surprised that so many people could need to be finger printed. The lady was moving everyone through quite quickly after taking their documents and giving them a piece of paper. That is until she got to us. It seems this was not the correct place and we needed to go back to the first door – the one with the fellow trying desperately to read his book. We are not sure what the others were doing there, maybe marriage licenses since there were mostly couples. Any way we returned to the place we had gone originally.  

As well as the fellow still attempting to read his book, there was a nice lady who spoke English and escorted us to a small office where our finger prints were taken.  The two ladies there were a bit annoyed that we spoke only English. It seems in the MTC they did not have a language task for Police department, not to mention forensic unit.  Since the word for fingers and toes is the same in Russian I was hesitant to try my limited language skills on them for fear they would want us to remove our shoes!

Our request is now on the way to the FBI and it is a matter of waiting for it to be processed and returned to us. By then we will have the other documents we need and can finally set out for Bulgaria by way of Warsaw – where the closest Bulgarian Embassy is located. When we married, Elder Segeberg said he would show me the world. I just didn’t realize which part of the world that would be. What is wrong with Tahiti? Rome maybe or Paris? Guess not! But how many people can say they have spent a romantic evening in Warsaw? Or any evening at all, for that matter?

It has been a busy week in the office due to the Millets returning to the US for a funeral. We are both finding out what we do not know since the Millets handle part of the office procedure. It will be good training for us so that when we get to Bulgaria we will be better trained. Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they mourn the loss of a loved one. 

Hopefully we will have pictures next week again.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Baby It's Cold Outside

Очень холодно (ochen hól-od-na) = Very cold

  The theme of the week for the Mission Presidents weekly letter is, “The Frozen Chosen” and that would be us. The temperatures have been very, very low. Up until this point the winter has been mild. All the way into January it was like being home in Seattle – rainy and mid to high 30’s. But as the month progressed the temperatures began to dip - one degree at a time. It reminds me of the frog in the water that is gradually heated up. He doesn’t notice and is ultimately boiled. We have cooled one degree at a time until we are nearly frozen through and through. The temperatures have dipped to the negative numbers, both Centigrade and Fahrenheit.  I think the lowest we have seen is-30C which is -22F. Going out for a stroll would be fool-hearty since we need to bundle up just to go to the office which is only five minutes away.  When we did venture out it was a contest to see who could layer the most clothes. Elder Segeberg has the biggest challenge with his feet and my challenge is my hands. Although if I layer two pairs of gloves and top it with my rabbit fur mittens then put them in my pockets, I can manage to avoid frost bite. Not warm, mind you, just no frost bite!  So we have stayed in most of the week.
                                          Strolling in the cold

                                        No - that isn't a bandito, just Elder Segeberg dressed to go out.

                               It had warmed up when we took this pic. It was -30 the other morning.

                                           With the Buffs

One exception was on Wednesday evening. We went to teach a Strengthening Marriage class and had to go across town to teach it. This involved a walk to the first bus stop, where luckily the bus we wanted was just arriving, then a walk of several blocks to another bus, where luckily the bus was once again just arriving. Neither bus was very warm (they must have turned the heat off when the temps dropped) but the second one was pretty much a refrigerator (the freezer compartment.)  The windows were frosted on the inside and there was no insulation on the metal sides –brrrrr! Then we walked another block or two to the place we were to teach. Thankfully that was warm! After the lesson we did the bus rides in reverse. Luckily, once again, the buses arrived right when we walked up. Usually the buses come quite frequently and there are a variety of  buses we can take. But to this location there is only one bus. 

As we left the final bus and were heading for home we saw the Mission President on his way home from a meeting – all bundled up and nearly unrecognizable.  He unwrapped his scarf and said, “if you two are just out for a stroll, you’re nuts!” We assured him we were not that crazy! After we returned home it was definitely time for hot chocolate and a warm blanket! But our hearts were warm and full! It makes a good story and it really was cold, negative something, but there is joy in helping others. The couple we are teaching are sweet and very in love. They are experiencing some communication challenges as well as the, ‘we have been married for two years now and some of the things you do are not as cute as they once were’ syndrome. Mostly what we can do is help them learn to better communicate and not let mole hills turn into mountains. We love them and they will always be dear friends.

Friday night we went to the Millet’s for dinner and a movie. It was -10 deg F out and we had to walk. Dinner was good though.

                       Riga 2nd Branch Presidency. Sergejs, Sasha & Elder Segeberg -what a happy group

As we were chatting over lunch one day, we discussed what we like least and most about being here. For Elder Segeberg it is the transportation that is the most challenging. He misses the freedom to hop in the car and quickly get to where you want to go. For me it is the challenge of not being able to obtain the ingredients I need to cook and bake whatever I want. With a lot of thought you can do a work around for some dishes. For others, you are just dead in the water. I am making a list of things we are able to make – after a fashion at least. 

But we could agree on what we like the most and that is the people we have gotten to know.  Although most people on the street have a grim exterior, once they let you into their lives you are deep in their hearts. We love that!  So I guess the moral of the story is, we are cold on the outside but very warm on the inside! До свидания (do svid-an-i-ya)! Good Bye!