Monday, July 6, 2015

7/5/2015 Visa Trip, Couples Conference, Missionary Work

First to let you know that here a Visa trip doesn't refer to a trip that has been charged to your credit card.  Foreigners living in Russia have to leave the country every three to six months (we are on the 6 month, some of the missionaries are on the 3) and then come back in to have your Visa re-stamped. Wednesday, June 30, was ours.  We left at 1:00 a.m. that morning and got back about 9:00 p.m. that night and it included four different plane trips: Samara-Moscow; Moscow-Riga; Riga-Moscow; and Moscow-Samara.
          From Mike's Journal: " ,, the longest delay was the 3 hour layover in Moscow coming back, (where they had a comfortable arrangement of curved stools that wound around the pillars, just the right size for a comfortable nap) 

the shortest in Riga, Latvia where because our flight was late, we were to be boarding the plane going back to Moscow just five minutes after we landed in Riga. The airport was packed and the lines were very long, we were past boarding time and by now we were under 40 minutes to actual flight time for our connecting flight back to Moscow.  Elder Yorgesen talked to two young people at a closed security check where baggage is scanned.  He showed them the tickets, one of them spoke English.  They were kind and responded immediately. In just a few minutes we had an official there, also a young fellow, who did a private document check and ticket scan, which gave us the boarding pass approval. 
       Then they sent us to the area where you you have to take an outside bus to the D-gates.  We raced to that area, they looked at our tickets and once again, and within not many minutes, another official appeared.  This time it was a lady in her late 30's or early 40's with a friendly smile.  She quickly assessed the situation, scanned our tickets and called a shuttle bus that arrived in just a few minutes. (one of the big, long three-double-door buses, they use to move the passengers between planes and the terminal and usually take 50-60 people at a time.  We didn't have time to take a picture of the outside of the bus, but this is what they look like)
 We got a 6-man ride with the lady attending us to make sure we got back to the right place.
  The bus crossed the tarmac and stopped at the foot of the steps they wheel in that go up into the plane.  She (bright jacket on the left) stepped out, checked with the stewardess to be sure it was the right flight then directed us up to the plane we had exited less than 30 minutes before."
        We actually were the first ones on the plane and a couple of the stewardesses recognized us and wondered if we knew it was the flight on its way back to Moscow. We explained that it was a migration trip - something they understand in English or Russian.   More than our share of tender mercies for the day.  Again our Heavenly Father took extra care of us.  It gets pretty complicated if missionaries miss a flight, especially since none of us speak enough Russian to be able to schedule another one.

         So we wouldn't have to make two trips to Samara, they had the couples conference after the visa trip.  Saturday was a one day trip to Shereavo which is rustic town where a famous Russian painter lived, Illya Riken.   It is a 2 1/2 hour trip on a boat each way.  The first one, the streamlined one is the one we thought we bought tickets on, the next one is the one we were on, but it was a nice ride and we had more time to enjoy the scenery.
Amazing hours on the river - the day was full of those things that "please the eye and gladden the heart" - so blessed to be able to be here together.
These are the couples now in the Russia Samara Mission.  l to r - President & Sister Schwab, Elder & Sister Rowley - member/leader support and help in the office, Elder & Sister Dunn- CES in Samara as we are in Saratov, Elder & Sister Waite, Elder & Sister Yorgesen - office couple.
We got back this morning, so don't have a lot of time.  We will fill you in more next week on the trip to Shereavo.  These are some of Illya Repin's paintings that we really like.  One of the most famous is the one of the boatmen having to pull the boat up a part of the river. 

They have even done a bronze of this that is on the walkway by the Volga in Samara.
We'll close with one of our favorite thoughts from Elder Holland on missionary work:  
 Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. ...  
We are grateful to be able to be here.

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