(Bob here): It's been way too long since I've added a post. Moscow is getting to be seriously dark these days. Next week it's not supposed to get above freezing for three days running, so winter is around the corner. Friday was a holiday in Russia, so I stayed home from work and enjoyed a day of relaxation. No one seems to know exactly what the holiday is to celebrate. It used to celebrate the Bolshevik Revolution I think, and they're trying to come up with a contemporary justification.
Our life here is still interesting and busier than we'd like. I seem to deal with a constant stream of problems that arise somewhere every day. Some good things are happening, like we organized the first Church legal entity in Turkey a few weeks ago; and some things are not so good, like passage of a restrictive religion law in Kazakhstan last month. I've been traveling to the point that I needed to have additional pages sewn into my passport -- it feels like a small novel now.
KLynn is now on the steering committee of the Moscow Chapter of the International Women's Club. She's the only American on the committee. She is in charge of the "Embassies of the World Dinner-Dance" in February. It's a charity fund raiser black-tie dinner hosted by 15 to 20 embassies around town, followed by a dance and silent auction at a downtown hotel. This kind of fell into her lap because some other women are leaving Moscow before February. She is more than a little stressed about it, but she'll do fine. This is supposedly one of the major "society events" of the year in Moscow and attracts a lot of high profile people. KLynn will be working closely with a lot of the ambassador wives and hopefully will be able to become something of a good-will ambassador for the Church. This is quite a change from the dairy farm in Idaho where she was raised. I think she's starting to go native here in Moscow. A few days ago she was going to an IWC meeting. She missed the shuttle bus from our neighborhood to the local metro station, so she caught a "gypsy cab," which is common practice here but to westerners it looks eerily like hitch-hiking. (We have a car, but Moscow traffic is unpredictable.) She goes shopping at a local market. She takes her little pull cart and gives candies to the families who run the booths there where she buys food. A lot of them are from Central Asian countries. They don't speak each others language at all, but KLynn has developed warm relationships with several of them. She is quite an amazing woman.
Tonight we're going a the "Marine Corps Ball" at "Spaso House," the residence of the American Ambassador. (It's a beautiful home. There are pictures on Wikipedia.) A neighbor who works at the Embassy was able to snag tickets for us. That will be fun. Our neighborhood here feels almost like Utah. The six-plex across the street from us is rented by the U.S. Embassy for employee families, and four of the six families are LDS -- Russian speaking returned missionaries. I walk to go home teaching.
The highbrow stuff we do is about 5% of life. The rest is ordinary living. I put in long hours at work and fight traffic going and coming. KLynn keeps busy mainly with homemaking and a group of women from the international expat community with whom she has become good friends. Her best friends are from Honduras, France, Poland, and England. We've also made good friends with several young African men who joined the Church here in Moscow. Many of them were enticed to come to Russia by unscrupulous travel companies in Africa who charge exorbitant fees based on promises of employment and housing that are totally false. These poor fellows get stuck in Russia with no language skills and nowhere to go. A lot of them are attracted to the Church, where they find a friendly support group. We've had a lot of them to dinner, and they are a nice bunch of guys. Each of them has a story. We are also friends with a group of Filipino LDS women who do domestic work here to support their families back in the Philippines. (I ran into the cousin of one of them at the little LDS branch in Istanbul lasts month. Talk about a small world!)
Our daughter Cindy and her family were here for ten days in October. Her husband Joshua just finished a medical fellowship in Germany and Austria. We enjoyed spending time with them. We've also seen our son Rick and family a few times since they've been in Germany. They're doing great, and it's been fun to try to speak a little German again. We're spending Christmas in Utah and will see four of the six children. It's hard to be away from them so much.
I'm not quite sure where all this is taking us after the next couple of years that we'll likely be here in Moscow, but it has definitely changed the course of whatever will come next.