Erik sent me a letter (thanks Erik), and I had a real enjoyable time looking through those pictures. You and your wife (strange to say wife) look really good, and it seems like you have really fun times together, though I did have to laugh at a lot of those poses. You know. Believe it or not, that was also the first time my companion had seen the family since I did not take any pictures from home. I wouldn't have guessed that you wanted to be a spanish teacher, and go to the University of Utah. Well, it will be great to have family close by. It is great that you have the new position at work and that everything is working out financially and you got the new callings. Here there are a lot of youth, and looking at them makes me realize how important that time of life is in shaping their future. You will influence those kids well.
Shane, what a cool opportunity to open up a new area from scratch. It sounds like you are already having an excellent time there in moving the work forward. Keep up the good job.
Fun fact- my companion knows Michael Middents. Since Michael is in the air force, my companion's dad is stationed in the same place in Louisiana. Just to make sure, maybe you want to ask the Middents about it. My companion's name is Brent Cordon. He had a language guide, and I saw the name of the person who created it. The name was Michael Middents. I had asked him more about who it was, and it comes to be that it is the Michael Middents that we know. Isn't that strange.
Mom, here are some answers- There are much more women in Russia than men. It could be because the men do not live as long (Men drink and smoke more than the women). People that want to travel and have a strong desire to learn a new language do try to do that. There is a head start here in Russia though, because learning some foreign language is typical in school. Everyone here knows the English alphabet, and a lot of products/ movie/ entertainment come from english or American roots. I can read Russian fairly well at this point, I cannot always understand the things I read, but I am fairly good at simply reading Russian.
I live on the first floor of a common apartment building (called dome дом) My apartment is fairly nice. There are three rooms (for study, for sleep, and for storage). the rooms are just normal, similar to rooms you see in the states. The kitchen is smaller, but we still have all the essentials. We have gas stove and oven and water heater. We have a room that just has a toilet in it, and a room that has a shower and sink in it. There are not a whole lot of bugs that bother me. mosquitos were bad, and I have a few bites, but soon it will be too cold for them I think. Cockroaches are not bad, and I haven't seen one since I have been here. There are many cats in this city where I live, all of different colors and appearance. There are also dogs that walk around, but not as many as cats. There are also a various type of dogs.
Dad, it sounds like you had a fun time with our talks. Too bad you cannot go to the temple, but that would be cool to get more names. It sounds like you all together take care of incredible amounts of names, and it is pretty cool how you have been doing that. I saw that picture of you and mom at the wedding. you to look the same to me. maybe I have told you, but there are a lot of people here that are older than they look (if they are really under 25), and there are a lot of people that look older than they really are (anyone really past 40). Oftentimes I take pride in having a healthy dad who looks better, stronger, and younger than most people that are younger than him. :)
This week we had a cool opportunity to help a lady in the ward put up wallpaper. Know I relatively know how to do it well, and it was a pretty fun ward activity. We went to a store called metro with the senior couple who helped us on meetings. The store was like cosco, but since I didn't have a whole lot of money, I didn't buy all of the stuff I wanted, but that was probably a good thing. I do not need any more money, but could you tell me how much money I have on my account? Another cool thing that happened is that an inactive member came to church on Sunday. He helped on the service, and he probably enjoyed the presence of the church members. Being friends to the people that are less active and even just letting them know you care can help them come back to church. I love you all. I am really excited for all of you, and it seems like you are all doing well. -Elder Larson