С праздником family!
I'm pretty sure that means "with the holiday". It's what everyone says on holidays. Anyways, Happy 4th of July! It sure felt weird not seeing any fireworks yesterday, although it was the 150th birthday of Vlad this past Saturday. That was a little crazy because there were a ton of people on the streets this weekend. There were several stages set up on the square and lots of really loud music playing. The Russian President came to Vlad this last weekend which was a pretty big deal. There were lots of police everywhere. A Cinnabon opened up here in Vlad this past week so we went and it's actually really tasty. It's right next to the square. Anyhow, to first answer mom's question... how do I do laundry? We have a washing machine that we use. I don't think any dryers exist in Russia so we always have to hang up our clothes. Elder Waltman told me that Russians think they have washing machines and dryers that are combined together because "they spin really fast to dry out your clothes." No, no, no, that's just the spin cycle on the washing machine. That's not a dryer. :)
We moved this last week out of the cockroach infested apartment in 2nd River to the apartment in 1st River where the sisters had been living. They got moved to Sakhalin in the middle of the transfer for a complicated reason I won't take time to explain. So anyway, we're now in a monstrous apartment on the ground floor of our apartment building and I love it! I love not having to climb stairs and having more than two rooms! It's great! Once we unpack and we get electricity in the main room and hallway, I'll get you pictures of it. The washing machine we have in this apartment is tiny, though. I've never seen one so small! I can fit maybe 5 shirts and that's it. And it takes forever to wash things! Almost 2 hours. I need to play with the settings to see if I can shorten the time. So now, Elder Waltman and I cover 1st River, 2nd River, and Baliyava, so we'll be super busy from now on.
Yesterday, Baba Galya cornered us into making chicken with her so we helped her make fried chicken and she taught us lots of words (not that I remember any of them). I took some pictures of her and her apartment yesterday and last week so I'll send those to you. Sorry if the pictures haven't been all that great. I'll try to send more of the city. It's hard because I feel really weird taking pictures in Russia, partly because I don't want to take pictures of anything I'm not supposed to, but I'll try to get more that I think you'll like. I tried to take pictures of one of the cool painted walls but they're pretty much all blurry. I'll send those to you so you can have an idea of what I'm talking about but I'll try to take more sometime if I get the chance.
We had a classical concert at the church this last Saturday. It was really cool! One of the members here has a beautiful voice! She sings opera and I was blown away! She sang “Time to Say Goodbye” (one of the songs Andre Bocelli sings) and it was super good. We also met two girls that came to the concert (one from America and one from Denmark). They were really nice and it was really great explaining things about the church in English. We might have a family home evening with them and some of their Christian group friends at the Magill’s tonight. We'll see.
We stayed in one of the other apartments in Vlad between moving from 2nd River and 1st River. Sister Pratt picked us up there on Friday morning and on our way to the 1st River apartment, we got pulled over by the cops. When they turn on their lights, they always say something through a loud speaker (which no one can understand. Not even Russians.) So the guy came to the window and told us we couldn't make a left turn back where we had turned. Then he realized Sister Pratt was American and asked who speaks Russian. Elder Waltman and I were then told to get out of the car and Elder Waltman went back to the cop car and was told to get in the back seat. I just stood outside between the cop car and the Pratt's car. In the end, he just let her off with a warning. (probably because the cops hate dealing with Americans because they can't spell their names.) She was definitely relieved.
Well, it's been an interesting week. I just realized I don't have my cord for my camera. I think it's in my other bag back at the apartment. I'll send more pictures then next week. Hopefully they'll be good and you'll enjoy the view I have here in Russia. I love you all. Hope your week goes well!
p.s. I got letters last Tuesday from Grandma and Grandpa Gee and Bush and from Mrs. Frappier. Thanks so much!!!