Sunday, September 23, 2012

Renewed Appreciation for America

This afternoon after Church, KLynn and I invited three young African members to join us for dinner.  All three of them joined the Church here in Moscow, and they are very nice young men.  They all spoke at length about the extreme corruption that is endemic to their home governments, and how the leaders of their countries enrich themselves at the expense of the people.  Each of them spoke in the most glowing of terms about America, and in particular about America's respect for the rule of law.  They made the point that their countries are rich in natural resources, but the masses of people live in abject poverty because the government is so inefficient and corrupt.  They compared their countries with Germany and England, which are not nearly as rich in natural resources, but where the people enjoy much higher standards of living.  Listening to them gave me a renewed appreciation for our systems of law and education, which make possible the high standard of living we enjoy in America.  It also made KLynn and me take pause to think about what we may be able to do, in some small way, to help some of these struggling countries.  We have been richly blessed with opportunities for education and the financial security that comes with it.  At this stage of life it's high time to start thinking about ways to use my legal training and our other resources to give back.  The Church service we are doing in Eastern Europe is a good first step, and it continues to be very rewarding.  I'm not sure what will follow, but this has been a life-changing experience.  There is a lot more to life than trying to earn as much money as you can.

Earlier this week I went to Tallin, Estonia, for part of the Europe East Area Mission Presidents Seminar.  I participated on a panel with other members of the Area Executive Committee to field questions from the mission presidents.  I always enjoy the opportunity to go to these seminars and associate with the mission presidents.  They and their wives are truly exceptional people, and they give great service.  It's a rare opportunity to get to be a fly on the wall and listen to the instruction they receive from the Area Presidency and other general authorities.  They are asked to do a lot!

By the way, since my last posting, which was quite a while ago, I had a biking accident here in Moscow near our home that resulted in a severe concussion.  I spent a few weeks back in the U.S. recouperating, and I'm now mostly symptom free.  It's good to have a thick skull.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Anniversary / Birthday Trip to Czech Republic

This last week KLynn and I celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary and my (Bob's) 60th birthday.  We spent four days in Prague and Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, and it was wonderful.  I had heard so much about Prague I was afraid it had been built up too much in my mind.  It wasn't.  It really IS that pretty.  Cesky Krumlov is a preserved medieval city near the Austrian border.  It will spoil us for Disney World forever.  A few pictures follow:

 This is KLynn with St. Nicholas' Church and part of Old Town Prague in the background.

 This is on the way to Karlstein, about 25 miles outside of Prague.  It has a fairy-tale castle on the top of the hill to the left.

KLynn with Cesky Krumlov in the background.  It is amazingly well preserved.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and well deserving of the distinction.

We hired this vintage Skoda roadster and driver to give us a driving tour of Old Town for an hour.  It was a good way to see the city.

This is a shot looking across the Vistula River during our driving tour.

This picture captures the spirit of the trip.  We had a memorable time.  It's been a good 38 years.

This is a shot from the Charles Bridge.  Prague has lots of tourists in the summer, and with good reason.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Concert at the Palace

Today, Sunday, KLynn and I went to Izmailava Park, to the old Tsar's palace built in the 1600s I think, for a musical program by a baritone singer friend of ours, and a guitarist / accompanist.  The concert was very nice and the park grounds were beautiful.  It is a hidden gem.  Pictures follow.

This is a gateway to the palace grounds.  The concert was in one of the wings off to the right.

This is walking back from the palace toward an Orthodox Church.

This is the pathway through the palace grounds.  The onion domes in the background are the church.  It had rained earlier in the day and the path was a little wet.

This is KLynn standing outside the church.  (Headscarves for women are customary inside Orthodox churches.)

The old church in the foreground was built in the 1600s.  The newer one is in the background.

Wednesday evening we went to the Moscow Conservatory for a fabulous concert of Beethoven's 9th Symphony performed by the Moscow State Orchestra conducted by Pavel Kogan (formerly the principal guest conductor of the Utah Symphony).  We had dinner at a little sidewalk cafe before the concert, the concert hall was beautiful, the music was magnificent, and it was one of those near-perfect evenings.  Summers in Moscow help you forget about the winter.  There is much in Moscow that is beautiful.  I'll miss it when it is time to leave.  It is becoming home.

Friday evening we attended a choir concert at St. Andrew's Anglican Church performed by an expat women's performing group.  They weren't professional, but it was fun.  The president of the International Women's Club this year (wife of the Polish Ambassador) sang in the choir and invited us.  She and KLynn are becoming good friends, and I'm glad we went.  Saturday evening we had my office staff, their families, and some of the missionaries for dinner at the Pokrofsky Hilly Bowery - about twenty people.  So it's been a busy week-end. Life is good.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Saturday in May

Yesterday, Saturday, was one of our better Saturdays here, probably because we were involved in giving service.  Yesterday morning we went to the Moscow Anglican Church about a ten minute walk from the Kremlin and helped to weed their garden in preparation for next week's service celebrating the jubilee of Queen Elizabeth's reign.  The lovely old building was built in the late 1800s and looks like it's straight out of Devonshire.  It was seized by the Communists for many years and returned to the Church in the 1990s.  There has been an English church on the site since the 1500s, dating back to an agreement between Elizabeth I and Ivan the Terrible.  An earlier building was burned by Napoleon.   (He didn't much care for the British.)  The pastor - an exceptionally nice man - told me that during the Communist revolution the Red Guards had a machine gun emplacement at the top of the Church tower, and the parsonage still shows bullet marks from the White Guards.

Yesterday afternoon we met one of my home teaching families at Red Square and took their four young children for a few hours while the parents had some time alone together.  It was a win-win experience.

Late spring and summer in Moscow are as delightful as the winter is dreary.  We are enjoying the long sunny days and green trees in the parks.  KLynn is getting into the throws of her new assignment as General Officer of the International Women's Club, and she is still on the board of the American Women's Organization for the next few months.  My work continues to be interesting and challenging.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

One More Cultural Video

At the risk of over doing it, I've added one more link to a folk dance video.  No one should feel any sense of obligation to watch this, but part of the purpose of this blog is to create a history of this time of our lives.  With that thought in mind I've added one more video link from the Moiseev dance concert I attended a few months ago during one of KLynn's trips to the U.S.  I'm not sure in what concert hall the video was filmed, but the "Summer Dance" was the opening number at the concert I attended.  I think it is one of the signature pieces of the Moiseev Company.  When I saw them perform this number it gave me a new love for the Russian people and their heritage.  When I watch this in future years I'll miss Moscow and think back fondly on our time here.  Enjoy.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Friday Night Folk Dance Concert

Last night KLynn and I attended a dance concert at Tchaikovsky Hall by the Ukrainian Academic Dance Ensemble.  Rather than try to describe it I'll try to add a link to a You Tube film of the "Hopak," their grand finale.  The film is good, but doesn't do them justice.  Sometimes I really love living in Moscow.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

More Spring Pictures

I uploaded a bunch of pictures from my camera this morning, so here are some samples:

These first pictures are from the Kremlin/Red Square area a few days before the May 9 Victory Day celebration.  The above picture was taken on Red Square at the opposite end from St. Basil's Cathedral.

This is just outside Red Square.  The equestrian statue is Marshall Zhukov, the commander of the Soviet Army in WWII.  His horse is stepping on a Nazi Eagle.  I'm told that after the war his popularity was so high that Stalin demoted him to a factory superintendent or something like that to get him out of the spotlight.

This is the "Eternal Flame" and tomb of the unknown soldier, just outside the Kremlin walls.

The day these pictures were taken we were hosting Gordon Madsen (on the left), who was visiting from Salt Lake.  We went to a restaurant called "Rasputin" located in an old monastery near the Kremlin.  KLynn and I had eaten there once before, on Christmas Eve our first year here.  The young couple in the picture are my assistant, Denis, and his then fiance, now wife, Elena.

This picture was taken at a park KLynn and I visited a few weeks ago.  The sign, in Cyrillic, is pronounced "Hot Dogi."  Guess what they sell there?

The sign above this stand is pronounced "Grill."  Reading signs in Cyrillic often is pretty easy, but my speaking vocabulary is still embarrassingly limited.

Denis and Elena were married last Friday in Moscow.  That night they came to our home for a visit and pictures.  KLynn and I were honored.

KLynn posed Elena for this, and I thought it turned out well.  They didn't have the money to hire a photographer.  Denis is almost like family.  Elena doesn't speak English, but she is very nice.  Denis is going to law school at night, and Elena works in a bank

KLynn and I were hardly dressed for wedding pictures, but here we are.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vicory Day May 9, 2012 (Russia though the back door)

Today Russia celebrates Victory Day, the day the Germans surrendered ending World War II in Europe.  It is one of the biggest holidays of the year.  Unlike many holidays in the U.S., the purpose behind this holiday is not lost on the Russians.  There was a big military parade downtown, but  KLynn and I drove to a park quite a ways from downtown, near my office, and were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in the middle of a local celebration.  It was far away from the pageantry of Red Square and was a genuine and heartfelt celebratory event.  We felt that we were blessed to get a peek into the soul of the Russian people.  I'm growing to love and appreciate them more the longer I'm here.  A few pictures follow:

These two woman were some of the WORST singers I have ever heard, but their enthusiasm made up for what they lacked in talent.  They sang period songs that were popular during the war.  This was a little "side stage" and very few people heard them.  It rained quite heavily earlier in the day, which I'm sure kept a lot of the expected crowd away.

This group sang Cossack folk songs.  They weren't professional quality by any means, but it was the real thing and KLynn and I enjoyed them immensely.  A couple of them spoke some English and we were able to visit with them. I felt they gave us a slice of real Russian culture.  I appreciate how they are preserving their heritage.

The Cossack folk group consented to a picture with KLynn.  I gave them my business card and they promised to send me their web site.

This booth paid tribute to a military unit. It was quite touching.

I particularly appreciated the old photographs of soldiers.

The helmet shows bullet holes, into which someone placed flowers.  Virtually every Russian family lost multiple loved ones during the war. 

These little boys played the balalaika.  They were way cute.  A lot of the children wore the old military style caps that were sold for the event.  We bought some for our grandchildren of course.

The veterans are specially honored on Victory Day.  This old gentleman was wearing his ribbons and carrying flowers that people gave him.  I wonder how many of our Viet Nam veterans ever feel appreciated like this.

The girls wore the military style hats and the ribbons signifying Victory Day.,

This little boy took himself very seriously.
 This is the main stage that was set up for the day.  Here a group of young men were enacting scenes from the war period.
 This is the audience in front of the main stage.  The front was reserved for veterans and their widows, all of whom had flowers.  Some wore their husbands' medals.

This is a group of folk dancers on the main stage.  The sign on the back of the stage says Victory!  KLynn and I are so glad we happened on this celebration.  We won't miss it next year.  If anyone plans to visit us in Moscow, May 9 is a good time to come.

Changing the subject, a few weeks ago KLynn and I attended a "town meeting" hosted by U.S. Ambassador McFaul at Spasso House, his official residence.  It was an interesting event.  As you can see, a lot of people were there and we were well fed.

This is a view of the chandelier in the reception room at Spasso House.

This is Ambassador McFaul speaking to the group.  He is a very gifted speaker.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Home Sweet Home

I thought I'd post a few pictures of Pokrovsky Hills, the town home community where KLynn and I live. It is one of the nicer areas of Moscow, and we feel very fortunate to live here. This is the pavilion and play area. A lot of young expat families with children live here, because it is built next to the Anglo-American School. (The picture was taken March 31, 2012.) We don't really live in Moscow. We live in an expat enclave within the city. It's gated, safe, and pleasant.
One of the advantages we have for much of the year is use of an expansive outdoor freezer/refrigerator just outside the sliding glass door from our dining room. (We're having guests for dinner this evening from the International Women's Club, so the drinks are "chilling" in the refrigerator. Last week it was definitely a freezer.
This is the view from the balcony off of our master bedroom. It's a beautiful view in each of the four seasons. Most Muscovites don't live like this. The great majority of people live in small apartments. KLynn and I are totally spoiled.
Here is home sweet home, Pokrovsky Boulevard Number 27. We have enjoyed living here. It has truly become home, all except for the grandchildren!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Ides of March Plus Two, 2012

Women's Day Troika Ride in the Forest (It sounds like more fun than it was).

Ten days ago was a Russian holiday, International Women's Day. KLynn arranged for us, her brother Lary. and his wife, Marianne, to spend the day near Sergiev Passad, a monastery city about an hour or more drive from here. We met at a home with a group of other tourists who were enjoying a day outside of the city for the holiday. We followed our guide in the car for about 30 minutes out into the forest where sleighs ("troikas") were waiting to take us to a campsite about ten minutes away. They had a campfire going, hotdogs on skewers waiting to be roasted, and sundry things to drink, some of which were Word-of-Wisdom-permissible. We roasted hotdogs, took a few more sleigh rides into the forest, visited with the others in the group, and had a reasonably good time considering how cold it was. (What were Napoleon and Hitler thinking when they invaded Russia?) The woods were pretty, and we enjoyed the blue skies. Later that afternoon we returned to Sergiev Passad for dinner at the home of the tour guide's mother. The best part of the day was a lecture about the history of the area from the mother, who speaks excellent English. It is considered by many to be the most sacred spot of Russian Orthodoxy. KLynn and I had visited there our first summer in Moscow and toured the monastery and churches, which are beautiful. The monastery was founded by St. Sergei several centuries ago, and since Soviet times it has regained its earlier prominence in the Orthodox world.

This last week we had the pastor from the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy over for dinner. He is a delightful young man who just graduated from Yale Divinity School last year. He is a year older than our youngest daughter, Lizzy. He mentioned that he had told some of his parishoners he was planning to have dinner with us, which prompted mixed reviews. I'm constantly amazed at how much prejudice there is against the Church in the world. We enjoyed a lovely evening together, though, and we are looking into the possibility of joining resources in some of their humanitarian activities. The pastor and I are planning lunch next week with our area welfare director. Some of the Chaplaincy's projects are partially funded by the International Women's Club, which is how we made the connection. I hope this will be an opportunity to build some friendships with other faith based groups. There is much more that binds us together than separates us.

Meanwhile, KLynn has now been invited to take a leadership role in the American Women's Organization. This is in addition to her work with the International Women's Club. She is busy almost every day doing good things and making good friends.

The other day I spoke with one of the humanitarian missionaries in Istanbul. He reported that the Elders have now completed their initial language training and will now begin teaching in earnest. They have already started teaching some people, and there were half a dozen Turkish investigators in Church last Sunday. It's going to be great fun to watch the Church take hold and grow there. President Roth, the mission president, and I agreed to meet some day in Istanbul for the creation of the first stake. On a more mundane topic, we now have both of the rugs I bought in Turkey laid out in our townhouse here, one in the dining area and one in the living room. They are both exquisite and will be happy reminders of this period of our lives.

It is now past the middle of March, and the thermometer has crept above the freezing point a few times for part of the day. We still have a lot of snow on the ground, and it still snows a few days each week. The days are getting longer, though, and spring will arrive eventually. I am still wrestling with some sticky issues at work. Ukraine and Kazakhstan are keeping me particularly busy right now. I enjoy my association with KLynn's brother Lary, and Marianne. They are faithful souls. Lary had a health incident this past week that gave us a scare, but it turned out not to be serious and he was back in the office on Friday.

KLynn and I will be coming up on our two year mark here in another few months. Most days it seems like I just deal with a stream of frustrations and problems, and I often wonder if I am really accomplishing anything. Looking back, though, we can see some great things that have happened here, and the legal work has played some incremental role. I don't know how long KLynn and I will be in Moscow, or what will come after. I do know, however, that our lives have been altered by this experience already, and we will not be the same people when we return to the U.S. Among other things, my attitude about serving a senior mission has changed dramatically. KLynn and I are now planning to serve multiple missions. The biggest limitation will likely be how long the Office of General Counsel wants to keep me on board and whether we have other international opportunities (such as rule of law initiatives etc.) that would be the functional equivalent of serving a Church mission. There is a lot of work to be done, and it's a great ride - even better than a troika ride in the forest.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

More from Turkey and Moscow

A few days after the last posting, I (Bob) left for Istanbul again and KLynn left for the U.S. to visit our daughter Rebekah and family in Chicago and daughter Lizzy and family in Durham, N.C. She enjoyed seeing children (grandchildren mostly) and the warm North Carolina weather and sunshine. My trip to Istanbul was for the Area Interim Mission Presidents Seminar. This particular seminar was expanded to include the area authority seventies and the two stake presidents (Moscow and Kyiv). They and their wives are an outstanding group of people. It is a privilege to be able to associate with them. I had a few small parts on the program dealing with legal issues, but it was mostly fun to be a fly on the wall and listen to our area presidency train the priesthood leaders. I have grown to admire and appreciate the members of the area presidency a great deal. They have been a powerful influence for good in my life. It is also useful to spend time with the mission presidents and establish personal relationships with them, so they are more than a voice on the telephone or a name on an email. A highlight of the week came on Thursday morning. I left the seminar to meet with our local counsel, Nuri Bodur, to discuss a number of legal matters. At the end of our meeting I invited Nuri to walk over to the new rented Church meetinghouse, which is near his office, and to meet the "young volunteers" (we don't use the term "missionary" in Turkey because it carries a negative connotation). Nuri and I had done a lot of work to help prepare for the volunteers' arrival in Turkey, and Nuri was happy to come with me. It was a moving experience for me to meet these four young men, knowing what they represent. I felt that I was in the presence of greatness. Three of them are from the United States (one from Kaysville) and the fourth is from England. They carry a remarkable spirit with them. I posted a picture of me standing with the four of them. A second picture of the young volunteers is with one of their teachers, Terry Smith (the older man on the left); a young woman who is a member of the Church and a native speaker who helps with their pronunciation; and Nuri, the young man on the right. Terry has lived and taught in Turkey for many years. The next morning at the seminar we sang "Called to Serve" as the opening song. As we started singing, President Roth (the Bulgaria Sofia Mission President) and the four Turkey Elders walked into the room and stood at the front. Several of the sisters in the room took out handkerchiefs and wiped their eyes. The Elders each then bore their testimonies in Turkish. Murat Cakir, the branch president in Istanbul and a native Turk, told me that after one week the Elders were at a second semester college level. They will do well. Murat established an LDS website in Turkey a few years ago, and he has over 1,000 referrals from people who have responded to his website asking to learn about the Church. I sat next to Murat at dinner one night and he shared his remarkable (I would say miraculous) conversion story, which took place many years ago. Preparations for the Elders' arrival in Turkey have been underway for a long time. Istanbul is a great city. I posted a picture of the Haggai Sofia, one of the city's great architectural gems. It was build by the Romans as a Christian Church in the sixth century and is now a mosque. (I also posted a picture I took last night of KLynn at our favorite Uzbeki restaurant. Sometimes it seems like we are living in a movie set.) I sat next to one of the mission presidents and his wife on the flight back to Moscow last Saturday. I shared some of my experiences about helping the Church to get more established in Turkey, and he with great solemnity told me I need to record it in detail. He's right. That will be a project for the next few weeks. KLynn got back from the States yesterday, and there was much rejoicing. I'm glad she gets to visit family, but it's not fun for her to be gone. One more thought, the Moscow stake presidency has asked the local members to fast and pray that we will be able to obtain land for new Church meetinghouses (a project that has been going on for years). I am not at liberty to post the details in a public blog, but this past week I could see and feel the affect of those combined prayers and fasting. I am optimistic that we will be successful. It's a privilege to part of this work.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

An Eventful Week

This has been one of the more eventful weeks since we arrived in Moscow. For me (Bob) it began last Friday, February 10. I flew to Istanbul and met that afternoon with Church and temporal affairs leaders regarding preparations for the first proselyting missionaries in Turkey and other matters affecting the Church. Four young Elders from the Bulgaria Sofia Mission arrived in Istanbul on Tuesday the 14th. On Saturday morning we held the organizational meeting for the new Church legal entity in Turkey. I conducted the business of the meeting, which consisted of choosing officers and members of the board of directors and board of auditors. We needed sixteen Turkish residents to fill all the required slots, and we had just enough. The person who was selected as treasurer and a member of the board of directors is a young Turkish man who was just baptized a month ago. He became interested in the Church through the Internet, looked up the Istanbul branch and was baptized a few weeks later. I have the feeling he will become an important leader of the Church in that country. My participation in the meeting was something of a cross between conducting a business meeting at my old law firm, using Robert's Rules of Order to entertain motions etc., and conducting a sacrament meeting with an exceptionally large number of sustainings to Church callings. Everyone who attended sensed it was a historic moment for the Church in Turkey, and we all felt privileged to participate. Sunday morning I flew from Istanbul to Salt Lake City for annual training meetings. I arrived around midnight Sunday night and stayed with Mindy and family in Kaysville, which was wonderful. I met Rob and the girls for dinner Wednesday night, which was also a highlight. I tried to call KLynn regularly while I was away, but it was hard to find her at home. She was in the throws of final preparation for the Embassies of the World Dinner and Ball, which was last night, February 17. Her week was more eventful than she wanted. On Monday, four days before the event, the Russian Military Band, which was to provide music for the dance, cancelled. KLynn had to scramble to find a replacement. Fortunately, a few weeks ago someone recommended that she contact a German fellow here in Moscow who organizes events professionally. He stepped in at the last minute and booked a band which turned out to be fabulous. KLynn was pretty definite about the kind of music she wanted, and they came through perfectly. The music was lively but not overly loud, and the atmosphere bespoke a formal ball rather than a dance club. (It was WAY better than the U.S. Marine Corps Ball we attended a few months ago.) I left my Salt Lake meetings early to arrive back in Moscow yesterday afternoon in time for dinner at the Swiss Embassy. The flight to Moscow was delayed out of New York, my luggage was delayed getting off the plane, and there was a HUGE traffic jam on Lenningradsky Shosse, the main road into the city from the airport. By the time I made it home, changed into my tuxedo a drove down to the hotel to meet KLynn, we made it to the Swiss Embassy exactly when dinner was scheduled to start, at 7:00. It was a small but appreciated "tender mercy." We had a very nice time at the embassy. The evening began with drinks and visiting with the embassy people and the other guests. Seating at the long and beautifully set dinner table was assigned, and I was able to sit near the ambassador, who is one of the most charming men I have ever met. KLynn had to excuse herself from dinner early to go back to the Ritz Carlton Hotel for last minute preparations, but I stayed through the multi-course dinner and visits afterward. After dinner, without really trying, I found myself and the ambassador standing by ourselves for about ten minutes, and we had a good discussion about the Church. The ambassador spoke very highly about the Church's reputation in the business world. (He was a Swiss banking lawyer before becoming a diplomat.) I was able to tell him about some of the challenges the Church is facing in that part of the world, and he seemed interested and sympathetic. Around 9:00 I got a ride with some of the other guests to the hotel and I was immediately WOWED by all the activities KLynn had arranged. Before the doors to the ballroom opened the guests gathered in the large lobby on the mezzanine level. The theme of the evening was "Venetian Carnival," and many people wore ornate carnival masks (KLynn's was white with sparkles and feathers). A baritone sang to piano accompaniment, and there were mimes, jugglers, artists doing portrait sketches, and young ballet students from the Bolshoi Company (who provided entertainment during the dance) mingling among the guests. The atmosphere was festive, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. KLynn had borrowed a large greenery arch from our office building and decorated it with flowers, cloth, Christmas ornaments, etc. There were many other "KLynn-esque" touches that added flair. We didn't have a camera and don't have pictures to post now, but there were several media photographers present last night, and we'll try to get some pictures from them and post later. KLynn, as the organizer and unofficial hostess, was in exceptional form. She wore a new black dress she had bought for the occasion, and she was radiantly lovely. KLynn took me in tow and introduced me to several people with whom she had become acquainted planning the event. We had nice visits with the ambassadors from Iceland and Madagascar and their respective wives, and we briefly met the ambassadors from Colombia, Iraq (whose wife is from Finland), the European Union, and the new ambassador from the United States. The daughter of the Iraqi ambassador is a student at the Anglo-American School near our home, and she was one of the artists KLynn had doing sketches. At 10:00 they opened the doors to the ballroom and the dancing began. The Ritz Carlton Moscow, situated across the street from the Kremlin, is one of the most elegant hotels I've ever seen, and the ballroom was exquisite. KLynn and I enjoyed dancing together and visiting. Besides several of KLynn's friends from the International Women's Club, we met the wife of the ambassador from Angola and her daughter who had recently arrived in Moscow. They were dancing up a storm. The master of ceremonies for the evening was a young man from England who hosts a travel and culture show on local Moscow television and occasionally on the EuroNews Network. He was wonderful. He also has an excellent singing voice, and during a break for the band he sang songs from "Phantom of the Opera" and "Jekyll and Hyde." Three young ballet dancers also performed. Altogether the evening was a great success. I was immensely proud of KLynn. She is having a great experience here and having a strong impact for good, both inside and outside of the Church. Everyone she meets knows why we are in Moscow, and she is able to leave a positive impression of the Church with many people, including people of influence in their respective countries. By the time the festivities wound down at 2:00 a.m. KLynn felt relieved and gratified that her efforts had paid off so well. In a few months she will begin preparations for next year's ball, and who knows what else. On Tuesday KLynn is leaving for the U.S. to visit Rebekah, Lizzy and families, and I'm heading back to Istanbul for the interim mission presidents' seminar. And the beat goes on.