Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A BIG THANK YOU to the Parrins and Lynne for our care package!!! It was so much fun to get and we loved all the surprises inside. When Stephanie's Mom, Lynne came to visit her here in Tbilisi - she was kind enough to do some shopping for us. Unfortunately the door stops got left at home. Luckily for us, she mailed them after she got back home - along with lots of fun treats!

Marcy was asking about our Marshutkas. This is a favorite mode of transportation. They hold about 20 people - more when you cram in the small isle way! They were really old and kind of scary to ride. Then the government stepped in and bought all new yellow ones. I hear they even have air conditioning! (but will they use it?) I rode in one last night to go visit a sick sister in the branch (with the missionaries and RS President) I had a plate of fruit I was holding. We were standing in the isle way and a lady in the seat took my plate from me to hold! Georgians are good at helping each other out. So the sister was feeling a little better, we asked if there was anything we could do to help her. She said no and then started setting the table to serve us some food. I told her NO, that we were here to help her - it did no good. I did manage to help her cut up the fruit and get things ready for us. It was very nice and the missionaries did give her and her daughter a blessing before we left. So - I guess I can't visit the sick anymore!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We were in the Marriott hotel - looking for information on city sights - when we saw this couple in one of the banquet rooms. We thought they must be getting ready for a wedding and asked if we could take their picture. They were very accomadating. They even insisted we take our picture with them!

Come to find out that they are traditional dancers and that this is their 'costume'.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Dear Friends and Family, the first week of September we were fortunate enough to go to a Humanitarian Conference in Istanbul. We were there for 4 days and had a fabulous time. This post is a little long - so get out the popcorn and soda and hopefully you can stay awake!

We opted to go to our hotel by way of the metro/trolley. It was clean and quiet - but cost almost double our metro!

We stayed at the Grand Plaza Hotel - very nice accomodations and the breakfasts and lunches there were excellent. We also had our conference here. We arrived before our room was ready, so we joined our buddies from the MTC - the Maxwells. He spent some time working on my computer. Thanks again E. Maxwell - I know you're reading this!

The 4 of us set out for a couple of hours of exploring the neighborhood, doing some shopping and had a yummy lunch along the way.

Here's a close up of the food. It was a chicken kababe, french fries, cooked tomato, rice and a peper. Their salad was a little different, but good. You can see that the food is normal!

Our next adventure with all the senior couples was the Sultan's Palace. The place was huge, with lots of different buildings. We saw all the jewels, clothing, carriages and weapons. Below is Sis. Maxwell and I in one of the rooms.

There were many beautiful stained glass windows and tiled floors and walls. These were my favorite.

We had a wonderful dinner that night at a very elegant outdoor resturant and then headed in for the evening. Tuesday was our first day of conference and they started at 7:59. There were 17 humanitarian couples and about 8 people there as presenters. It was an excellent day - lots of inspiring messages and a lot of helpful material. I kept thinking that I wished I had this info when I first started my mission, but realized that I wouldn't have understood it nearly as well as I do now with some experience to draw from. The only picture we have from the conference is E. Reese eating the VERY BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER!!!

We were able to do a little siteseeing on Wed. and headed to the Blue Mosque. There are a lot of Mosques in Turkey, but this is the most famous. It is being used as a Mosque and so we had to take off our shoes and cover our shoulders.

It was beautiful on the inside - and was tiled and painted in soft blue colors.

Sitting in the park just outside the Mosque - we saw this corn vender serving an interesting man.
Next we headed to the Hagia Sophia - a one time church turned mosque turned museum.

This now museum was huge. There was some interesting old artwork on some of the walls.

Again we saw a beautiful ceiling.

While E. Reese contemplates the grandure of the building... S. Reese is saying "Take a picture of me here - I love the color of the marble - if I ever have a home that I get to decorate - this is what I want to use!"

This is the view out of one of the upper windows - the Istanbul skyline!

All of our meals were amazing. This picture is taken in one of the cisterns that has been converted into a resturant. They were originally built to store water for the palace and are huge! We really enjoyed our meals because we got to sit next to different couples and get to know them - it's so nice to know that there are others going through similar experiences as ours.

You hardly notice this small building during the day - but at night it shines!

We had all day Thursday to play before catching our plane that night. We started in the Grand Bazaar!

It went on for blocks and blocks. Some of it was covered indoor shops. Lots of color - every spot was filled!

Notice the flags hanging down - we saw lots of flags! Lots of things to buy - I bought 2 summer skirts. E. Reese was disappointed - they didn't have any chocolate - no wonder we were called to Georgia and not Turkey!

Lots of the Bazaar was out on the streets.

We had a fun time - you can easily get lost! We were trying to find the spice bazaar!

Just taking a good guess - we thought about 8 % of the women were dressed totally covered in black. There were about 30% that had their heads covered with beautiful scarves and wore light coats that covered them - they were dressed very nicely. 5 times a day there would be a loud singing prayer heard over the loud speakers.

We did find the spice market - it smelled wonderful!

Here are some interesting pictures taken while out exploring the city. This inventive guy takes his stereo along to play the songs he hopes you'll buy.

We found an opening into a courtyard - very pretty.

We did have lunch at Burger King - E. Maxwell really wanted a hamburger - then E Reese saw this place - Burger Turk. Looks just like the Burger King - I just don't think I could eat at a Burger Turk.

Our last adventure was going on a Bosphorus cruise through the waterway seperating the two continents, Europe and Asia. We saw lots of Palaces, Fortresses and old and modern homes. Istanbul is located on 2 continents.

We really enjoyed our trip to Istanbul - what a great memory it will be! We also learned many things that we will be able to apply to the rest of our mission here. We felt very loved and appriciated. We were very impressed with all the thought and care that went into this excellent conference.

Friday, September 16, 2011

We have visitors from the US that come to Tbilisi occasionally. They find the church and come to visit us. This week we had a man from Idaho - we went out to dinner with him and afterwards he took a picture of us in front of the fountain on Rustivilli. I was impressed because E. Reese was smiling!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Missionaries wanted to have a branch fast for missionary work in Georgia - so we planned a branch dinner to start the fast. We planned on 70 people and bought and fixed a lot of food! Here are some of the kitchen workers - Anna, Leanna and Nana. Leanna is our Relief Society President, she wanted everything to look beautiful - and it did!

The Elders planned a short presentation on fasting and missionary work - I really felt the spirit, even though I didn't understand a word!
There were only 30 people there - the tables were loaded - there was no place to put your plate! We ate and ate and ate - then we passed out plastic bags and sent all the food home with the members.

A few of us got together for a photo on the stairway - I love these women - they are wonderful to work with and be around and laugh with. It was a delightful evening.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Last P-day the missionaries invited us to go bowling with them. It has been a long time since we've done this - but E. Reese and I held our own. I bowled a 122 (with a cute RED ball!) and E. Reese beat me with a 124. Amazingly - he also beat all the Missionaries - way to show them E. Reese! They were very impressed with us!

E. Reese - action shot.

Two of them chose to play pool - the one without the tie is Georgian - he has his missionary papers turned in and is waiting for his call.

The happy group!

There are some things you can totally rely on to be the same - no matter where you go! If I didn't know better - I would think I was in Elk Grove - fries, hamburger - tasted EXACTLY the same!

Friday, September 2, 2011

I love all the fresh flowers that they sell on the street corners. These are the flowers that reminded me of Glinda. I love having them on my kitchen table.

Elder Reese, of course, is all about the Chocolate. Luckily for him they had lots of really good dark chocolate here - this is the stash that he is taking to Turkey to share.