Thursday, February 25, 2010

Things I Will Miss--Things I Will NOT Miss

Things I Will Miss--Things I Will NOT Miss
Weather--Snowing, heavy wind, alternating clouds and sun.
Temperature--Minus 8.7 C (+16F) Wind gusting to 40 mph

I have begun making a list of the things that I will miss and not miss when I go home. I would like to share them with you.

The list of things I will miss is the shortest and easiest to cover here. It includes:

The first that comes to mind is the missionaries. I have said this so many times that it is in danger of becoming trite, but, these young people are the highlight of our mission. There is no question about the high caliber of people being sent to our mission. Without question, they are chronologically young, but incredibly mature in the Gospel. Spiritually, they are bright lights in a dark place, maybe even brighter because of the darkness, and people-on-the-street have noticed the actual light around them and have even tried to capture it with a camera. The Light of Christ in them, along with their own spiritual light, is undeniable and a great comfort to us. These are the Lord's anointed for the preaching of the Gospel and they, along with their angels, are powerful beings on the Lord's errand.
A close second on this list is the group of young adults in Novosibirsk with whom we have had a close relationship these past 21 months. I have met many of the others from various other cities and they are equally quality young people, but it is the Novo YSA group that I will sincerely miss. They are open, loving, enthusiastically involved in everything and willing to do almost anything. Most of them are either working or still at the university with most of life in front of them. Six of our strongest ones have left during the past year on missions somewhere in Russia. They go to the MTC for a month and then they are returned to Russia to their mission of service.

Another thing we will miss is SKYPING with our family. We will be close to at least one child and grand-children when we return home, but we will still be using SKYPE to keep in touch with the rest of the family. However, there is something unique about being half-way around the world and talking in real time with someone over your computer.

Our 9th floor window is my periscope on the world. I can stand there and watch the world below while shaving, getting dressed, or just daydreaming. We can see the Ob River, the Left Bank, the train track, the main roads to our west and the buildings to the right near the neighborhood administration building. I can watch the construction workers across the street, the foot traffic along the street, the local dogs and birds, the college students going to their classes west of us, and the fireworks when people get married or on holidays.

The Gushchins and the Ozherelevs will certainly be missed. Yuri Gushchin is our mission driver and a real prince of a man. Natalia Gushchina is our office librarian and cleaner. She speaks pretty good English and is our link to Yuri. She is also a good friend and we love them both. Sasha and Lenna Ozherelev are in their late 20's and very enjoyable for us. Sasha is the physical facilities man for the mission and Lenna is Cindy's professional seamstress. She can make anything and Sasha can fix anything. He also loves root beer and I intend to leave him whatever extract I have left when we leave. They also like "Hand and Foot". All four of them take especially good care of us and we call them our "kreysha" which means your roof, your protection. A very important concept in Russia.

Some things I will not miss . . .
Where do I begin? Well, really the list is not all that long, and frankly I can deal with it all. It is just that I will not remember them fondly.

First, the cold. This is something you just never get used to. Even the Siberians hate the cold. You can dress for it and you can function in it, but it goes through you like a knife. "It stings your toes and bites your nose . . ." and any exposed skin at -35 is soon a victim if not covered quickly. It penetrates everything, even the double-pane windows. I got these pictures of ice forming on the INSIDE of our windows to prove just how cold it can get here. When we sleep with the window wedged open with a water bottle, it is always frozen in the morning and we often have snow on the window sill.

The elevator in our building. This is another of those inanimate objects with an attitude. It will stop between floors and shut off the lights whenever it wants. It will go on the blink on the day you shop and bring home 12 bags of groceries that you, and the Elders, will now have to carry up 9 floors. It doesn't like jumping in the car, more than 4 people, loud noises, or 10th, 14th, or 23rd of any given month. However, it will tolerate trash, spilled beer, melting snow, various forms of excrement, and anyone who speaks Russian.

Washing the vegetables is also near the top of the list. We usually go shopping, with Yuri Gushchin's help, on Wednesday mornings, in company with the office elders, and drop our bags at the apartment before returning to the office for the balance of the day. Regardless of the time we come home from the office, I never get started washing until 9 or 10pm. Then it is a 3-4 hour project to wash, chlorinate, rinse, and put away the produce that often includes 10-12 lettuce plants, cucumbers, tomatoes (if you can call them that), potatoes, onions, celery (on occasion), asparagus (on occasion), broccoli, cauliflower, pineapple, eggs, and other assorted things that we eat raw. I don't get to bed before 1AM ever on Wednesdays and often later.

Our apartment is not so bad, although I won't miss the pealing wallpaper or the need for extension cords, but the washing machine is truly the most forgettable. I did a whole posting on that process last year and it still goes on. Whatever I am doing, washing takes a big chunk of my time. After all, you long-timers know that I am in charge of washing and world peace, and clothes washing is a real time consumer.

The dogs are another thing I won't miss. As you know, I was concerned for the 9 puppies that were born in the construction site across the street early in the winter, but now that they have grown to maturity, I am ready for them to demise. I mean really, who needs 15 dogs running in a pack all night (9 puppies, three adults, and 3 other strays that have joined them) barking, baying, whining, and barking some more. I watched one of the younger ones down below our window bark continuously for at least 10 minutes, apparently calling its siblings. Finally the pack shows up amid the usual barking, jumping, licking, mock-fighting, and then all troop off for a new adventure somewhere to the west. I WON'T miss that.

Finally, I won't miss the gulag mentality I see in many non-LDS people, the knowing that life is crummy, but enduring, suffering, scrambling, scratching, taking, misusing, defrauding, abusing, living a hedonistic lifestyle of the hopeless but getting all they can in spite of it instead of working, learning, growing, improving, giving, serving. These people have an enormous capacity to suffer and endure, while brutally using whatever power or strength they have to get whatever they can from fellow inmates. It is just heartbreaking.

On the other hand, the members we know are the lights and life of our time here. They have hope. They have vision. They know who they are and what life is about. Their lives are not any better, but they are living it better. They are riding the wave instead of being dumped on. I love them so much.

What a country

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Lost Name Tags

The Lost Name Tags
Weather--Clear and warming
Temp--Minus 1.7 (30F) Wind--Strong 18-25 mph

After 21 months in the mission field, I lost my name tags SOMEWHERE. I have worn that tag daily and managed to keep track of it all this time. What went wrong?

I cannot believe that it just jumped off my coat lapel because it has an alligator clip with very strong teeth and it could not just fall off. Maybe it doesn't want to go home. Maybe this is another of those inanimate objects that has developed some sort of intelligence and is making its own decisions.

I cannot blame it for wanting to stay here and if it had just talked to me about how it feels, I would have worked something out. I have several extra ones that I could use and could have just clipped it to the curtain and that would have been OK with me, but it just seems to have taken things into its own, well, hands? No, its own teeth. I am just disappointed that it felt that we couldn't talk this thing out and found a compromise somehow.

Other missionarys' name tags seem perfectly content to go home with their owners. Owners? Well yes, these objects, particularly name tags are named after the person who does, actually, own them. Look at how content Elder Tanner's and Elder Swenson's name tags seem to be on their shirts. No contention. No independent thought or action; just doing their name-tag-things like they were created to do.

If any name tag would be independent thinking, it would be Elder Olson's. He was a self-motivated independent thinking young man with his own ideas. Although a great Financial Elder, he had his own direction. Now, that could infect a name tag with all kinds of ideas about finding itself and making a statement, but no. His name tag filled the measure of its creation and did its job.

Now, Elder Ahuna. There's a real potential for name tag rebellion. This elder is so relaxed, I would not be surprised to see his name tag do almost anything including being AWOL. I don't think that there is a tense centimeter on his entire frame. He is a friend to everyone and OK with anything, BUT, now that I think about it, his shirt tail HAS been showing signs of imitating his relaxed demeanor by hanging out and refusing to be tucked in. That's right! Another case of attitude infection of an inanimate object. This could be worthy of further study. zzzzzz 
 Thank goodness our new missionaries don't seem to have this problem. It's hard enough coming into the mission field with so much new without having your name tag giving you fits. Sister Fesenko here is showing great name tag control and discipline. She even has the same clip that mine has and hers is behaving just right. It's a sign of complete control when everything works as it should.
Whatever the cause, I am anxious to find and reconnect with my name tag and maybe come to some agreement on what's expected of it.

Maybe then it will become an agent of change and be a good influence on my pens that also seem to be unwilling to stay where I put them. They must share a common ancestor with this name tag.

What a country

Odds and Ends Observations 2/13/10

Odds and Ends Observations
Weather--Overcast with light snow
Temp--minus 22C (-7F) Wind--10-12 mph from the west

I have made many observations from our 9th floor bedroom window and while walking or riding around our limited area of experience. Surely these cannot be generalized beyond my actual experience, but they COULD be a microcosm of the activity all over Siberia for all I know.

One of my observations is that I see people walking alone down our street at all hours of the day and night; alone. I mean, at 3:00 AM when Sister Cindy has finished her last email and run completely out of things on her list, I can stand at my side of the bed, next to the window, and see one or two people walking down the street solo. It seems interesting that ANYONE would be on the street at that hour (it seems strange to me that I would be up to observe this phenomenon at 3AM), walking alone from somewhere to somewhere, alone. The streets must be considered safe to be alone at a time when only criminals and the homeless are afoot.

Another observation is associated with the elevator. As we stepped into it tonight we looked down to see 4-5 hand-print-size puddles of liquid about 1/4 inch deep. With our 20+ month experience with puddles in our building and particularly in the elevator, we both looked at one another and said, "I hope that's melted snow."

An associated observation is the fauna and flora on our 18 staircases as we go to the office each day. As we walk down the stairs each morning we have to dodge what has been left on the stairs by our, usually young, neighbors and their friends. We pick our way amid the cigarette butts, partially consumed cans and bottles of various liquids, the by-products of apartment remodeling, and puddles of vomit, some of which are thoughtfully absorbed by notebook paper that is now dried and permanently stuck to the stair.

We had a puddle of used spaghetti in front of the elevator two months ago that, rather than being removed by the donor, just soaked into the unsealed concrete floor for several weeks along with being tracked away by the shoes of those running the gauntlet of obstacles on our stairs. It is hard to believe that the donors of these various deposits don't get it. It has to be that they are so sick(or drunk) that the issue of cleaning up is simply beyond them. Logic would suggest that the donors must be visitors to our building because if you lived here you would not tolerate your own mess for very long; would you?

The fauna consists mostly of the stuffed animals in our living room. As soon as the YSA kids come into the room, they grab one of them and hug them the whole evening. Even the missionaries, mostly the sisters, hug the toys, but even many of the elders seem to get some real comfort from them. When Sister Cindy started buying them at Ikea, I objected. Now I see the wisdom in it and am glad that we have them. Here, Anya Kovalenko demonstrates her technique with the panda. Anya is a returned missionary from Japan. She was also my choir pianist, my translator, and a good friend, one of those who has moved from Novo for work in Moscow. We miss her a lot.

I have mentioned the cars that start, run, and turn off multiple times during the night. I can look out the window at various times of the night and see the hazard lights flashing on the street, in the parking lot across the street, and in our own parking lot. It is kinda creepy to walk through the parking lot past blinking, driver-less cars with running motors each building its parking-lot volcanoes beneath their tailpipes.

Russians want to be friendly and occasionally we get a glimpse of that. This past week, a young lady pushing a pram (for you in Rio Linda that's a baby buggy) caught up with us and started asking us something. I gave her my usual "don't speak Russian" response and with limited English and gestures she asked if we bought our shoe-chains (Yak Traks) in Russia. We said no, but maybe they were available. Sister Cindy immediately wanted to see the baby and bonded with the young mom.

She asked the lady for her cell phone number and promised to call her with some information. Now, you have to picture this. I have a 22 pound briefcase slung over my head and left shoulder, cutting off my circulation while we are standing there, and Sister Cindy starts pulling on my coat, trying to get at a pen for her to write her phone number. After the lady writes the number, Sister Cindy tries to tell her where we live. Then she gets real aggressive and tries to expose my name tag while she explains that we are missionaries. The young lady, somewhat amused and a little disappointed said, "I know. I live across the hall from you."

Of course, we have seen her several times and I once helped her down the stairs between the elevator and the exit door with her pram, but we did not recognize her in all the clothes we all have to wear. We all laughed and she was genuinely pleased to make the connection. It seems that her grandmother slipped on the ice and she saw our shoe-chains as a possible solution. Nice lady.

A little farther on, as we approached the office on the driveway, a lady in a full-length mink coat approached us and, smiling, said something in Russian, I gave her my usual answer and added, "Amerikanski". She smiled broadly, apologized and waved as she walked on. It was a very pleasant encounter.

I will have more observations from the 9th floor window, but I need to get this posted so my readers don't get discouraged and quit checking in. Reason: I have a secret goal to get 1,000,000 hits on the blog before we go home in April. At first I thought that no one would read this but family. Then when I put the counter on the blog and saw that over 100,000 hits had occurred, I sort of checked on the count every once in a while and watched it grow. Now that it is over 900,000. The one million mark is not so far fetched. We'll see.

We love our mission here and the people we know. Even the people we just see and meet periodically like the checkers at Megas (supermarket) or the Metro guards, or the security guard in the Zoloni Kupola (green roof) building where we have church. They call up from my heart a sincere love. I have heard it said by other senior couples that you are filled with God's love for the people, but I doubted it; just missionary hype. Well, it's true. I am filled with love for all of these people, even the ones who don't look at or talk to us or those who donate the stuff to our stairs, or the drunk teenagers who congregate on our landing and leave sunflower seeds all over. I love them as brothers and sisters and cannot help myself. It is a gift God gives his missionaries to allow them to love strangers. It is a neat feeling.

What a feeling. What a country.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Last Visa Trip 2/5/10

The Last Visa Trip
Weather -- Gathering overcast
Temp -- minus 21F (-29C) Wind -- 3-5 mph from southwest

Last Monday we returned from our last visa renewal trip. This is sort of a benchmark because as you all know we have had to leave the country every 90 days to renew our Russian visas and those trips usually take about 5 days; some longer. Where else could you go on a mission and get a 5 day trip to exotic places like Madrid, Prague, Riga, Almaty, Kiev, and Helsinki every three months? Come on you retirees. The Novosibirsk Mission needs you and you need this great experience. Nicki, come on--these are your people!

The morning we left it was -37C (-34.5F), but it didn't feel much more than -20. Look how we have become acclimated in 20 months. A warm day is -10 and we have to consider wearing something lighter.

We landed in the new Terminal D in Moscow and would have had to change terminals to Sheremetyevo International Airport, Terminal 2. By shuttle bus except we got picked up by a van arranged for by our friends at the U.S. Embassy. We needed to meet with the people in the American Citizens Services department who service and track American Residents in Russia to discuss how best to register our missionaries with the embassy. We met them several months ago when they visited Novosibirsk and came to our apartment for lunch. These employees of our government are not the stereotypical government workers. They are genuinely very nice, fun people and very concerned about serving the needs of U.S. citizens in Russia. I cannot praise them enough for being so dedicated to my personal welfare. I have some nice pictures of them in our apartment but for security reasons I will not publish them.

After our embassy visit, we wanted to visit the Moscow Central Baptist Church where Ezra Taft Benson visited and spoke in 1956 on a tour to evaluate the humanitarian needs in eastern Europe. He bore a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation right in front of his government guides and guards. Recently, President Uchtdorf visited the same church while on a tour of the Europe East Area with Neil L. Anderson. It has become quite famous among those who know its history.

We had a bit of trouble finding it even with the directions of the embassy folks and our local driver, but we finally located it and had a wonderful visit. When we went inside, the "guard" came out of his little office, greeted us and when he learned that we were Americans who had come to visit his famous church, I think he knew who we were and was both helpful and gracious in letting us take pictures and telling us of the church's history. He even found an English-speaking lady who told us about the building. Here, Sister Cindy is taking in the moment of victory as she finally got to see the church after two years of plans that fell through.

This was the culmination of a dream for Sister Cindy. Ever since we came to Russia and had to pass through Moscow twice on our visa trips, she has wanted to visit here. Here she shows the #2 Pastor and the watchman the articles about Elder Benson in 1956 and President Uchtdorf in 2009. We first became aware of the then Secretary of Agriculture Benson's visit when we were coming to the USSR in 1990 with the Sister City tour to Moldavia. Our friend Charlene Hunt told us about it and felt that we needed to make a pamphlet about it to take with us and . . . well, that's another story, but our interest in this church goes back that far. It was such a joy to finally BE there to see and feel the place we had talked about to those gospel-hungry people we found almost 20 years ago. Wow, what a thrill.

The rest of the trip to Helsinki and our hotel was pretty routine. During the three days we stayed downtown we shopped, attended a concert, ate, walked, took a bus tour, and generally enjoyed a beautiful city amid the falling snow and visibly pleasant people; with few exceptions, the Helsinkians are courteous, happy, and helpful.

We especially enjoyed the concert and the eating. The concert by the Helsinki Philharmonic featured a Sibelius concerto that was outstanding.  The eating included seeing an ice-bound sailing schooner and the Chapel. The schooner is moored at the dock near what would be the craft fair on the waterfront during the warm months. Even now the fur dealers and fish mongers were there in tents amid the falling snow.

The Chapel has an interesting story we learned during our bus tour of the city. In the early days of the city, its western boundary was what is now a boulevard that lines a 5-block long park that ends at the marina. The park was a meadow where a sheepherder tended his sheep and lived in a shack that stood there for many decades after his death; known as the chapel. When the park was dedicated and the roads extended, a cafe was located on the site of the chapel and took the same name. It was built in the mid 19th century of iron and glass and has become a landmark as well as a great restaurant. Of course, I had the lamb and garlic potatoes; heavenly.

Friday night we moved to the Temple "Guest House" which is a hostel build just south of the Temple. The accommodations are spartan, but clean and comfortable considering that it is fully occupied Sunday through Friday with patrons from as far away as Ulan-Ude who must travel 3 days, stay 5 days, and return for 3 days on each trip. Most are only able to attend the temple once in their lifetime because of the time and cost. Attending a temple session and doing other work was  highlight of our trip.

Another highlight was having lunch with a member of the Helsinki stake presidency, Ilkaa Aura, who was a teenage exchange student with a Utah family many years ago. Our traveling companions, the Moleffs, have a son-in-law from that family and got us connected with President Aura. On the way to his home he showed us a place on the Baltic Sea that the city plows in an oval and people cross-country skate. It was so unusual to be standing ON the Baltic. We saw skaters from infants in carriages to grandparents. There was even several skaters using parachutes like the wind-surfers in Hawaii.

Ilkaa took us to his home for a wonderful lunch of typical Finnish fare that included smoked/baked salmon, smoked trout, potatoes in creme, mung bean sprouts, cheese, and reindeer salami. We met his new wife Paula, his first wife died last year and he married this lady just a few months ago. She is only a couple of years younger than he and had never been married. What a great lady and so gracious. I didn't even mind when she poured black licorice syrup over her ice cream. I love new things, but that was way beyond my tolerance for the exotic.

Sunday we drove with several of the temple missionaries through a pretty good snow storm about 45 minutes to a ward conference in the Helsinki Stake and enjoyed their block meetings with the help of an interpreter most of the time. Three cute sisters sang the special musical number. They were so cute and right on pitch.

After the block, we had an extra surprise; another Finnish meal. This time it was to celebrate their conference meeting and starred salmon soup, bread, and a table full of beautiful desserts. I enjoyed it all.

We have enjoyed our visa trips, but I am glad they are over. The short trips are exhausting, the time difference is confusing to my body, and the uncertainty of the government officials all combine to make these trips primarily a disruption in the work. I am grateful for the work of Olga, Pyotr, Sister Cindy and all the embassy and Moscow central office to make sure we get there and back safely.

What a trip. What a country

Friday, February 5, 2010

Pillow-Talk in Novosibirsk 2/4/10

Pillow-Talk in Novosibirsk
Weather -- Clear and Sunny Temp -- minus 10F (-17C)
Wind -- 7-10 mph from the east

Pillow-talk is a little different here in the mission. For you single people, this is the time between going to bed and sleeping that most women use to communicate with their husbands about the events of the day because they are hardwired with this special calendar in their heads attached to a mental notebook that are both activated when they get horizontal.

Below, Brian and I are having a little pillow-talk, but it isn't the same thing.

At a time when a man's thoughts are either on romance or sleep, his wife's systems are cascading dates, names, needs, he-said/she-said dialogues, and honey-do list items that would choke a horse. As this dialogue continues, the husband's inclination for romance is permanently stifled and sleep is his only refuge, but as the wife senses his relaxation she ups the volume or employs the elbow to be sure that he gets the entire message. If all else fails, early the next day she will "remind" him of what he agreed to last night while he was trying to go to sleep and he is defenseless.

Well, here in the mission field the process continues unabated, but the topics revolve around the situations, people, and commitments of the mission plus one new category; metabolic processes. To try and keep this blog "family friendly" and socially acceptable I will euphemize the dialogue so as not to offend the sensibilities of the reader, but please realize that these additional pillow-talk topics are important to older couples out in the mission field away from their usual remedies, medicines, doctors, exercise routines, and other helps to stay healthy and mobile.

Below, Grammy Cindy is having a little pillow-talk with Hannah (number three grandchild), but that's not the same either.

Sister Cindy is undoubtedly going to take me to task about this blog, accusing me of various insensitivities and generally massive poor judgment, but I write this for two purposes. One, to let you parents know the struggles and challenges of we older missionaries that the young ones don't have, and two, to let the older readers see that these things can be dealt with, overcome, or avoided and that they should not let their fears of such keep them from serving away from home. I will probably treat all of this with some attempt at humor, but that's how I cope with difficult things.

Recently, a pillow-talk session went something like this.
Sister Cindy, "I love you. Thanks for all your work today."
Me, "You're welcome, I love to serve. You worked hard too"
SC, "What did you weigh tonight?"
IMe, "I didn't want to know."
SC, "Well, get up and weigh yourself. You need to keep on top of this."
Me, "Mumble, mumble." Returning to bed, "196".
SC, "Was that net or gross?" (I subtract the weight of my garments, watch, glasses, etc to estimate my true weight and keep the number as low as possible)
Me, "Net of course. It is always net. Why do you always ask that?"
SC, "I just want to be sure."
Me, "Well, it's net, always net."
SC, "Did you p_ _ p today.
Me, "No"
SC, "You need to get up and take some Yucky Tea." (This is an herb tea that is a blood cleanser with some definite lower track impact)
Me, "Mumble, mumble". Returning to bed, "I drank the last of it. You will need to make some more."
SC, "Did you drink it ALL?"
Me, "Not the dregs. I hate the floaties."
SC, "That's the best part for you."
Me, "I hate the floaties."
SC. "You need to drink more water. I made an appointment with the dentist for Friday night to fix my other broken filling. Can you stay at the office while Olga and I go to the dentist or do you want to come home before I go? Oh, I can't leave you alone at home or the office. Maybe the office elders will stay with you."
Me, "I can stay at the office and I promise not to leave and fall down on the ice."
SC, "I don't know. Maybe I should cancel that appointment. You should call the office elders and get them to stay late."
Me, "It's 2:15 am. I'm not calling the office elders now."
SC, "I know that. Just be sure to call them in the morning. I'll write that on my list for tomorrow." (gets out of bed, goes to the kitchen and writes down that I should call them) (returning to bed) "I wrote it down. Now be sure to call them."
Me, "Cindy, it will be fine for me to stay at the office. I promise not to do anything life-threatening."
SC, "Do you need any cleaning supplies at the store? President Gushchin will pick us up at 9:00 am for shopping."
Me, "Blue Fairy and some bleach."
SC, "Do we have plenty of toilet paper?"
Me, "We have at least 8 rolls in the toilet."
SC, "Maybe you should bet another 4 just in case."
Me, "In case of what?"
SC, "Just to be sure. Are you keeping water in the humidifier?"
Me, "Yes."
SC, "I had another nosebleed this morning. Are you sure you are keeping it going?"
Me, "Yes. Are we done?"
SC, "Did I start the dishwasher?"
Me, "I don't know."
SC, "Can you go look?"
Me, "Sure, I love to serve."
SC, "The Left-bank Sisters will bring their investigator to dinner and a lesson tomorrow at 5. We need to leave the office at 4. OK?"
Me, "OK. Are we done?"
SC, "Are you keeping up on your blood pressure pills?
Me, "Pretty much."
SC, "What's pretty much?"
Me, "I missed a couple of days but I'm pretty much regular. Are we done?"
SC, "How are you doing on our taxes? Can you be done by the end of the week?"
Me, "Hmm, mumble."
SC, "Are you sleeping?
Me, "No, I'm just looking at my ideas like the guide in Guatemala."
SC, "Don't you go to sleep yet."
Me, "What was the question?"
SC, "Can you finish the taxes this week?"
Me, "I think so. Are we done?"
SC, "I think so." Kiss "Good night"
Me, "Good night. I love you. Roll over and don't snore"
SC, "No, YOU rollover and don't snore. Roll over! Straighten out your legs. You are in my space."
Me, "I would have to get out of the bed not to be in your space."
SC, "Come on . . . move your legs just a little. There, now I can cuddle up to your back."
Me, "I love you."
SC, "I love you too."

Well, that's pillow-talk in the mission for a couple of 67 year old missionaries. I love my companion and I'm glad I don't have to worry about where I am going to be transferred every 6 weeks.

Noting the picture to the right, you would think that it would be easy to control someone smaller than yourself, but it is the other way around. Without her, I would probably weigh 250, have high blood pressure, and starve, but I would get more sleep.

What a partner. What a country.