Sunday, February 27, 2011

This has been the beautiful view out our living room window for the past 2 Sundays! Our apartment stays warm and my boots & coat work well - so we don't mind the snow at all! Welcome to my living room! The heater for the entire apt. is on the back wall below the window. We turn it on in the morning and off whenever we leave the apt. Front right is a piano, I practice my simplified hymns for church in the Saburtalo branch (the other branch has a great pianist!) Front left is the dining room table. Left is a lovely china cabinet that has the owners things in the top cupboards! By the window is a door that goes out to a balcony where I can hang the laundry in the summer. The floors are all wood, so there are lots of rugs in the apt.
Elders Reese and Southwick are busy in the kitchen. There is a new stove, but sadly, the microwave oven died just before we came. I am seriously considering buying a new one!

Our shower and laundry room are combined with a utility sink. Notice the water heater is in the shower - no waiting for hot water here! Across from the shower is a small washer. We will be doing laundry at least 3 times a week.

The bathroom is a separate room. It does not have hot water but everything else works well!

Here's our bedroom - a queen size bed & soft pillows - YEAH!!! We do have a lot of blankets on the bed because it gets cold at night. We do not have a dryer, so I am hanging my laundry on a rack in the room. If no one is home I can take the rack into the living room next to the heater where it will dry faster. (learning experience - hung underwear too close to heater - it melted holes in it!!!)

We really enjoy traveling on the metro. It only costs 50 tetri (30 cents) and you can go all over T'bilisi. This is a picture of Elder Reese & I sitting on the metro with appropriate facial expressions!
Sister Southwick is sitting across from us!

Sister Southwick was sitting across from us.

One of our first adventures with a humanitarian project was a trip to Mtskheta - the old capital of Georgia. We took the metro to a stop where we met Mzia, our interpreter, and a man who wanted us to see a rehabilitation center that needed some help. As we were driving back to the metro, we went by this statue.

This was the inscription at the base of the statue!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snow!! Our first day in Yerevan was greeted by a fresh layer of snow - BEAUTIFUL! David felt like it was a good omen - it snowed his first day in Pennsylvania too! The mission home was lovely. 3 stories high with a full kitchen on each level! We were on the bottom floor. Pres. & Sis Carter were on the 2nd floor, with laundry and a small apt. on the 3rd floor. Sis. Carter made a wonderful roast, potatoes, carrots and salads for lunch (just like Sunday dinner) and we had a very enjoyable visit with them. Pres. Carter talked to us about what he needed us to do in T'bilisi.

This is the kitchen on the bottom level. Sis. Carter had stocked the fridge with food for us - very thoughtful! We felt very loved and welcomed!

This is a shot from the outside of the mission home. I am standing next to Ruben. He is the mission driver and took us around to all the spots we needed to be. He spoke fairly good english - we really enjoyed being with him. Yes they drive crazy here - just like Elder Reese - he loves it!

Our first night in Yerevan we had all the senior couples come over to visit. What a great group of people! Everyone introduced themselves and we laughed and had ice cream sundays and really enjoyed ourselves. We spent Thurs and Fri meeting with some of these couples so they could tell us about their jobs and 'show us the ropes'. They also took us out to some great places to eat! (L to R: Reese, Pincock, Rich, Peterson, Carter, Jones, VanDyke, Blunck)

After 2 nights at the mission home we were 'upgraded' to a hotel close by, to make room for the 10 young missionaries coming in.

This is the Living Room part of our hotel room. It was comfortable and warm. There was only 1 english station on TV - it was news.

Look closely at the mountain in the background. It is Mt Ararat where they think Noah's Ark landed. It is hard to see with the fog/smog - so we were excited to get this picture. It felt so close - but it is now on the border of Turkey.

We headed to the airport early in the morning on Valentines Day in Salt Lake City. We landed in Yeravan, Armenia on the 16th (with long stops in Chicago, Munich and Austria!). Yes, it was a long trip! All went well and smoothly though and we were so happy to see President and Sister Carter - our mission President - at the airport!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's been an interesting week. We have finished all our Humanitarian training. Whew! They said that they were going to be giving us all the information like a firehouse and hoped we could absorb some of it. They were right. Everyday we spent in classes where they went over everything we would need to know and how to do it. The overall theme behind it all was that we were not to do everything but to get them to do it for themselves. Quite a challenge ahead of us. But this way they will take ownership of the projects and will be able to maintain them when we are no longer there. This picture show our typical class. Notice each couple had a laptop. We also were issued a flash drive with all the power point presentations, all the books, resource materials and everything we would need. This was great as we won't have to add any more weight to our luggage, plus we will have everything easily accessible to us. The instructor in this picture is has the same name as us! He was a very dynamic instructor. Really enjoyed his presentation.
We are off! Here is Sister Reese and I heading to Georgia!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Monday we went on a field trip to SLC to see the Church's Welfare and Humanitarian Centers. It was a great trip, a lot of fun as you can see, but also very informative. The Church's Welfare system is one of the largest systems in the world and to see the center of the system was awesome.
They have a dairy which produces milk products and cheese. They also make a special milk product that is very high in protein which is sent to third world countries where it is saving the lives of children.

They also have a cannery where they produce the same items you would see in any grocery store. All these facilities are run with volunteer labor from Church members and anyone else who would like to help. Today they were making applesauce.
They have a bakery where they make bread. Can you smell the fresh bread? It was delightful to walk through here!
The Church owns and runs Desert Industries Stores. Used and new products are donated, then they are cleaned, repaired and ready for sale - just like a thrift store. These stores are also used for training people for employment.

Next we went to the Humanitarian Center. This was a highlight for us as this will be our mission assignment. These are some of the wheelchairs we will be distributing. These are made for rough use. It was found that normal chairs were wearing out and breaking apart where they were being used in countries where they do not have paved roads. (Cobblestone, rock, or dirt.) These are made with bike tires for easy repair. The one on the left is called the "Rough Rider" it is for really rough terrain.

Clothes that are not sold at the Desert Industries Stores are collected and sorted here. They are bundled up to be sent around the world where needed. It was amazing how much is sorted, bundled and shipped every day. Tons and tons!

These are the Humanitarian Kits that are assembled and sent where there are hygiene needs, mostly third world countries. These kits are assembled in many places by Church members and friends. Sister Reese remembers assembling these in Elk Grove.

Another highlight of the day was a visit to the Joseph Smith Building in downtown Salt Lake City. It is a beautifully restored building. We were treated to a very nice (fancy) lunch. This was the view out the window. What a beautiful day and a great view of Temple Square.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

We have come to the end of our first week here at the Mission Training Center (MTC). The week was dedicated to teaching us out of the "Preach My Gospel" book. We learned not only the gospel principles contained in the book but also on the importance of teaching by the spirit. It has been a very busy week. Long days but the experience has been fantastic. We spent the days in large instruction groups of about 25 senior couples and into small groups called Districts which were made up of 4 couples. The sessions were full of great ideas on how to do our assignments and how to improve our ability to teach. In the small groups we did a lot of role playing. It was fun but challenging. The instructors, all returned missionaries, both old and young, were great. The spirit was so strong their were many times that the eyes were moist with tears.

This is the world map showing where all the Senior Missionary Couples who are in our Humanitarian group are going. It is amazing all the different places we are going and the different assignments we have been given. The assignments are Humanitarian, Employment, and Medical.

This is the Language Training Room for the missionaries going to the country of Georgia. Here are the two fantastic Elders going to Georgia at the same time as us, Elders Offuit and Steggel (LtoR). They have had to learn both Russian and Georgian because the scriptures (Book of Mormon) are only in Russian. Amazing as it has only been 9 weeks since they started! Brother Brown, the first Georgian missionary (2005) who is one of the instructors, said that these two Elders have learned the language the fastest of the missionaries sent to Georgia so far. We study with them in the evenings and they are so good at helping us and so patient. They are always full of energy and so very excited.

These are on the MTC (Mission Training Center) campus. Today is Preparation Day for us, the day to do laundry, write home, polish shoes, and catch up on other personal items. Note: No dress or suits for a few hours today-yea! A time to relax and catch our breaths. Some think it's cold here..but Sister Reese, "The sun is shinning!".

We just had Peter's bike shipped to him, this reminded us of him.

Laundry Day! This picture shows only about 1/8th the size of the laundry. It is very efficient, the machines worked very well, and very inexpensive, ($.25 to wash and $.50 to dry!).

We are on the second floor this is the hall and stairs to get to our room. The building is being remodeled and a large addition is being added on. Apparently we were very lucky as our room has been perfect. Some of the other Senior Couples have had problems with hot water, heat, and noise. We feel really bad for them.

In the main meeting room building there is a very large hallway and in it is this very large world map. It is tradition for everyone to take there picture in front of it pointing to where they are going. There is Georgia!

This our District (The small group we worked together with the first week), we became very close as we studied hard and role played and shared many spiritual experiences. (LtoR)
The Adam's-Working in SLC at Church Headquarters in charge of Humanitarian Senior Couples.
The Everton's-Netherlands, Medical
The Reese's-Georgia-Humanitarian
The Maxwell's-Kazakitstan-Humanitarian