Writing a few highlights since my last post.
The month of August brought historical heat! About a week ago it was nearly 100 degrees one day and down to about 54 the next. The heat hasn't returned. It's much cooler and one can tell fall is around the corner. We are both grateful for the cool air now. Moscow has about 500 wild fires and the smoke came over St. Petersburg one day causing it difficult to breath. The news reported at one time there have been 700 deaths a day. This summer has had very strange storms of sudden rain, thunder, lightening, and hail.
There was a family of five from our branch that went out on their sailboat on a lake just outside St. Petersburg the beginning of the month. A freak storm hit the area (again) causing 12 foot waves. Many people on the lake lost their lives - this particular family still has 3 members missing. The 17-year-old son and mother's bodies have been found but the father and 2 young sons still have not been discovered. The boat hasn't been found either. It has been a devastating loss. We keep the family in our prayers and hope the other 3 will be found. Members of the branch have posted signs around the area in hopes of any news. The lake is extremely large (135 miles in length) with many islands.
I had been pretty sick with a cold and couldn't go into the office for 3 days. Today I'm finally feeling much better, however, Joe is home sick. As I write it's 1:30 p.m. and he is still sleeping. Fortunately for him his body gets over colds quicker then mine. I hope it's just 24 hours as mine as been nearly 2 weeks!
The office work has been pretty routine. This last week brought a special time to us when several missionaries gathered around my desk and talked about sports, America, trials, family, etc. Joe and I enjoy those moments as it helps all of us put aside the language barrier and relate to our culture and our future plans.
We've been walking again. I've lost 30 pounds to date. Joe has lost as well but I'm not sure how much. My goal is to lose another 10 pounds before the end of the year. It's going to be difficult now with the holiday treats, but I will try to keep up the exercise and therefore I can enjoy a little treat a day and still lose weight. Walking is pretty easy to get into our daily routine as we have to walk anywhere we go. Planning a trip to the store is at least an hour walk round trip in itself and then plan on the shopping time. It sure has been a different way of planning then at home when you get in a car and go to several destinations in an hour time. Not complaining, just appreciate our transportation we have at home and have a better understanding for those at home that rely on public transportation.
I have been knitting afghans. My sister Jill has sent me yarn. I have one completed and working on another one. I'm giving both as gifts for Christmas. Jill also sent two skeins of yarn to make stocking hats. Once I've completed this one afghan then I'm going to knit the hats. I found a craft store downtown and I might try their yarn when this runs out. I hate for my sister to keep spending money on the postage. She sent a very large box that we received this last week! It had clothing inside for me to make about 5 different outfits. The exciting thing is the clothes are colorful! The missionary checklist we received when we received our mission call told us to where solid skirts, blouses, etc. However, as a senior couple I've discovered that we wear different clothing then the younger sisters that proselyte on the streets. I've been really sick of the few clothes I brought. So they were very welcomed. She also included more powdered sugar, instant cake mixes, instant frosting mix, Snickers for Joe, and my beloved popcorn!! I love popping corn in the pan on the stovetop. It's such a treat. I don't like microwave popcorn and that's the only kind I have found here.
We went exploring Saturday (August 21) with the Hazlewoods and toured inside the Spilt Blood Church (I'm going to post a separate blog for that and the pictures). We also toured an Orthodox church. We found it interesting that people were inside taking communion, and the opposite end of the church they were selling souveniors (?) Odd place to worship. Reminded me of the people selling goods in the temple that Jesus threw out!
Last night we had dinner with the Mission President Podvodov. Sister Podvodova cooked up a fabulous dinner (as usual). It was the last dinner for the Clements (CES couple). They go home on the 24th.
It's going to be sad that they're gone. That makes Joe and I the "senior" senior couple. It seems like we just got here. The Clements will be the 3rd senior couple to go home since we arrived last August.
We hope everyone is doing well. We are happy here and most especially grateful to God everyday for our many blessings and for sending us here to St. Petersburg. It's truly a beautiful city full of culture and we are blessed to be here and discovering a part of history we would otherwise never have bothered getting to know more of.