Monday, August 15, 2011

Who are the people in your neighborhood???

DAVE: Today started out like any other day on our mission in Moscow. We woke up on our normal schedule, which means, I woke up a couple of hours earlier than Becky. When Becky awoke we prayed in Russian and studied the Book of Mormon, then showered, shaved, ate breakfast (or at least I did) and brushed our teeth. We dressed and headed for the door.
Our door is interesting. We have a regular wooden front door, and the metal walk-in safe. The safe door has to be unlocked with two keys. There is no other way. I don’t think you could break into this door without a ramrod and several people, not even the strongest man on earth could do it alone.
We exited to the left, which is our normal way through the parking lot and onto the street. We first pass a pre-school on the right and the Art Village on the left. The Art Village has homes, some very large. These homes must be worth a great deal of money being in the heart of Moscow. We pass one home every day, which is very large and appears to have a guard tower/home on the far corner of the yard. This home is the fourth house from the corner. The fence around the home is about 12 feet high with cameras placed every few feet overlooking the sidewalk.
Many times we have seen very large (not fat) men waiting by the gate. They are usually in a black SUV Cadillac or a black Van. They are dressed in suits with a dark shirt and no tie. Often we joke about the house as the Mafia house.
Today seemed normal as we walked our first few steps on the path we have taken almost every day. We noticed the same van parked on the school side of the road and not in its normal place across the street by the Mafia house. As we approached, a soldier exited the vehicle with an AK-47 looking rifle on his shoulder and a sidearm attached to his hip. We slowed just a bit when we saw the solider, but kept walking. When another one of the large men stepped out of the van with a pistol in his hand. I stopped or hesitated since we were almost to him when we noticed the pistol. My first instinct was to protect Becky. What should we do? Cross the street? Turn around? Run away? No, we just calmly passed the man with the handgun. We noticed as we passed him he had opened the handle. Becky believes the pistol was not loaded, since the gun seemed to come apart like a transformer toy, but that didn’t stop the heart from racing. As we approached the soldier we noticed he had reached into his car and pulled out body armor.
What was going down? We acted like nothing was out of the ordinary, just two Mormon Missionaries walking to their mission assignment, enjoying the cool morning, and everything was as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Our demeanor was cool and calm, except for our racing hearts which didn’t slow down for many minutes. We arrived at our post and enjoyed a great day serving the Lord.





BECKY: I saw something today that I would never in a million years see in Springville Utah…okay maybe if CSI or NCIS (two cop shows on TV came to town to film-) MAYBE! Dave and I had headed down the street from our apartment in front of the kindergarten/preschool. This is a place where dads and moms bring their cute little kids each day all dressed for the weather. We looked up and saw the black Chevy van parked on the sidewalk in front of the school - not in its normal parking spot. This van is very low riding-with blacked out windows-and very shiny and looks very out of place with the small children walking by. Standing outside the passenger door was this heavy set scary looking dude (actually he wasn’t menacing at first glance) anyway, this guy was holding the biggest blackest handgun I have ever seen. He was kind of inspecting it and I think we sorta scared or surprised him. He jerked – but thankfully he didn’t aim the gun at us or shoot us or anything like that. He started to bring the gun down and then it seemed like he changed his mind and figured we had seen his “toy” – Why try to hide it? So he brought it up again and flipped open the handle, checked out the clip and then thankfully by this time we had passed the big black Chevy van. We kept walking – wondering if we were in big trouble – and we passed by another car – the trunk was open and another guy was taking out a bullet proof vest out of the trunk …this was to go along with his attire of camouflage, and his AK47 hung over his shoulder. We of course talked about it all the way to work at the Service Center ---but let me back up a bit.

I have seen this black van in our neighborhood before, across from the school is a compound - a 12' high fence surrounds this compound and inside the compound (at least what we can see over the fence from our apt. window and from the sidewalk) is a huge white house and several other buildings and a guard tower with lots of wires and communication devices attached to it. There is nothing really different about this house-it has lace curtains on some of the windows - but it is gigantic and has a few satellite dishes and lots of survellience equipment on the perimeters of the 12foot high fence and cameras - Did I say lots of cameras? This is what we can see...what we can't see is the size of the barking guard dog, or the security guys who watch us from their cameras as we walk past the fence...really - we can hear the cameras rotating as we walk under those "eye in the sky" type of secuirty cameras and there are stationary ones directed towards the entrances in the fence.

A few days after we moved in, the black Chevy van was parked near the entrance of the 12' high fence. There were some guys kinda forming a welcome line (or a line of protection) to the doors of the van. A couple of men exited the compound - got in the van- and were quickly followed by the protection detail - the doors slammed and then it drove off quickly following a lead car as it drove away. Behind the van was an ordinary looking purple car (I loved the color of this car) following closely with two scary looking men in the front seat. We laughed about it that day and dubbed the house "The Mafia House"...all the way to work we talked about the "Mafia House" and wondered about the family who lives there. On the way home that afternoon I jokingly asked Dave if I should wave since I knew I was being watched.

NOT ON THIS DAY - AUGUST 2, 2011. I was grateful it was raining on the way home from work this day - and we could cover our missionary attire with our umbrellas. But then I remembered that I had the one that says "GENEVA ROCK a Clyde Company" on it. Then I worried that they would remember the logo and always know it is us the ones who saw the guys with the guns...I never worried they might see our Missionary name tags and recognize us...just the blue and gold umbrella with the GR logo.

I have never seen Dave pause in situations which make me uncomfortable like when he did the little dance on Red Square the first time we came to Russia. Adam told us not to talk and there is Dave exclaiming to everyone within hearing range "I can't believe I am on RED SQUARE"...no fear...but on this day when we saw those guns he hesitated and moved nearer to me - to protect me - I would say it is a good thing we were both carrying our umbrellas...

Post script: since we put this blog post together we have seen a few details we missed previously...like...there are two identical houses with cameras, high fences etc. which are separated by two smaller homes...but are in the same compound . The black van backed into the other house we didn't know was also a "mafia" house thereby alerting us to this new fact. We will keep you updated on any new developments.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Taking a walk around Russia





Dave: Where is our work place? It is usually at the LDS church's building called the Service Center but our work can take us to the airport, the metro or the train. Where ever our work is...we walk.
When we first arrived in Russia we were deposited at the Art Hotel (very Dave like-don't you think?) until we could find an apartment. After checking into the hotel, we were taken to the Service Center. Walking from the Service Center to our hotel started out a little different than normal. The Budd's were kind enough to help us figure out a route to our hotel. I
looked at the map with Elder Budd and he was showing me which streets we would need to travel on until we arrived at the hotel. It was obvious he hadn't walked in that area before, but he seemed to know what he was doing and volunteered to walk with us. After an hour or two at work, we all headed out for the hotel. We were so grateful to them for doling this for us...they lived a half hour in the opposite direction. We walked, then we walked, then we walked some more. Finally, after an hour and a half we arrived at our hotel. (we only had to ask directions one time). The Budd's left us then and walked another hour to their apartment.
Luckily, the next morning a driver picked us up because our assignment for the morning was away from the service center. That evening we were dead tired from jet lag, but we studied the map and decided we could walk a completely different route which would take us through two parks and a short walk on the streets. We headed out. In just 45 minutes we were back at our hotel. After we gained a little energy and got over our jet lag we started to make the same walk in 35 minutes each way.
It was a very nice walk through the parks. It was the beginning of summer and people were out with families and friends. In the park, children were still playing at 9:30 at night. Friends gathered, and in Russia, vodka and beer are always close at hand (both are much cheaper to buy than drinking water). Every morning the park would be littered with bottles and cigarette butts, but there were plenty of park workers in the park and a few were working. By evening the park was neat and orderly and families and friends began congregating again. The pattern repeated itself every day.
When we found an apartment our commute was greatly reduced. We now walk only ten minutes to work or twenty minutes to the metro. If we walk to the service center it is still twenty minutes to the metro. Most of the places to purchase food are by the metro, so if we go to lunch we walk 20 minutes to lunch and 20 minutes back.
What we see on the way to work is enhanced by the stories we tell each other of what we observe. But to put it in more boring terms; we see a giant preschool and some very large homes, in a very expensive place called the Art Village. Mikhail Gorbechev, the last leader of the Soviet Union lives in this village. Which house? We think we have it figured out but really we have no clue. There is also a house we call the "Mafia House" (we will tell you more about this one in a later blog). We see one man every day - picking up leaves and sweeping the long sidewalks around the very expensive homes. He is very interesting all by himself...He has a weathered and worn face from much toil and work. (He has a hump on his back which adds to Hollywood's interpretation of what an Igor should look like). We say good morning in Russian to him almost daily and he mumbles the same. We also pass a playground or two and in the evening there are usually children playing and mothers or grandparents watching patiently. Becky loves this part of the walk the most.
When we go to the Metro we pass several small stores full of fruit, vegetables, meat, groceries, etc. There is usually someone passing out pamphlets and papers to advertise sales of clothing, eye glass exams and products, or some kind of program. We do have a couple of small parks we walk through, but try not to go through them after dark We pass some beggars close to a Russian church. There are some old women selling what they have produced in a garden somewhere. They only have a few items to sell, we think they must have great need for the money and try for hours to sell their onions, carrots, beets, or flowers. We arrive at the metro and are whisked away until we arrive at our destination and then we walk again. We seem to be getting stronger as time goes by.
Becky : I became a fan of walking on 22 June 2011. It wasn't because we had nothing else to cheer for - nor was it because we wanted to ---NOT NECESSARILY...It was out of NECESSITY - HOORAY!!! LET'S WALK! If we want to get anywhere - the metro, or market, the church, or to work - we WALK! More than a couple of times in the July heat I hummed..."Pioneer Children sang as they walked and walked and walked and walked..." (I didn't sing it aloud because that would be very strange here). I determined I wouldn't have made a very good pioneer but it helped me to put one foot in front of the other and we got to where ever it was we were going.
Walking in Russia is quite an ART...Do you think the shortest distance between two points is a straight line? Not so here in Russia. We do not walk a fast as those here...we are slow when we walk - mostly because we don't know the way and are not sure of what lay in the path ahead. We turn right - through breeze ways, alley ways, along dirt paths, between short buildings and tall ones, then we turn left - through the carts of food, around fences, behind one building and then another, along side the railroad tracks, cross over the tracks and back again ... until we find our way.
Maps are ok - and are sometimes quite helpful to tell us which street we may be approaching as we twist and turn and straight away find the fastest shortest route possible. It doesn't always work out though when using a map...our first night in Russia we took the long way (NOT THE WRONG WAY) back to our hotel. We sometimes say it is the "scenic route" or a "Short cut" - but for most of the time I said we were "LOST". We determined, after the first night we could cut down our hour and a half walk to the hotel by going through the parks and we predicted (more like prayed) it might take us an hour. Much to our delight - and my relief - it took about 40 minutes and we made better time every day after. The parks were beautiful with fountains and flowers, and children playing along the tree lined pathways.
My feet complained (LOUDLY) and I was ready to whine "Are we there yet" but I knew better. I needed to buy some better walking shoes after the first few days and many blisters. (yep! we walked to the shoe store).
We have found it is very important to watch where you walk and take great care...(I learned this lesson the hard way when I twisted my ankle and fell...and after it swelled and turned black and blue it was difficult to walk for almost three weeks) and I wasn't a big fan of Walking back then.
But...we have no option...we keep walking using much more caution - and we get where we are going through the maze of fences and gates-cracks and dips-holes in the sidewalk...and we step over the pipes and the trenches-and we miss the mud, and the puddles the best we can...We just keep walking - especially if we want to get there...to where ever it is we are going...and at the end of the day we rest and our feet are happy feet...
And the next day when the sun comes up - we start the day ... BY TAKING A WALK!



Monday, August 8, 2011

What its all about...



Becky: I have been trying to find a way to involve myself in our mission...Dave seems to always be studying Russian or busy getting ready to conduct audits or preparing for the training which we will do...I have felt somewhat alone and unable to determine where I fit...so after some prayer and pondering...the answer came.
We have been called together to serve this mission - there are many things we do together - but we see things from different points of view - so we will record all of the many interesting observations we make about living here in Russia and share them with everyone on our Mission... Possible Blog.
Dave: I think this is a great idea and I am all for it...I feel it is inspired where we can do a lot of learning together and spending time together...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Spreading the words


Dave has given out three pass along cards to people who were curious about us. Pass along cards are written in Russian and give a quick look about our beliefs in Jesus Christ and the restoration of the Gospel. Often people we see on the metro will look at our name tags and when we notice them reading them- they drop their eyes and act like they never looked at us at all. If they glance back again - Dave will catch their eyes and he will offer them a pass along card.


His first pass along experience was given to a nicely dressed young lady. We were riding the metro and she couldn't stop looking at his name tag so he extended the pass-along card to her. She nodded a Russian thank you and looked at the brochure and started to read. She read the entire brochure, then our stop came and we left the train. He looked back at her and she smiled (which is very unusual for the Russian people) and said an audible thank you (spaceebah).


The next one he gave away was on the same day, the return trip on the metro, to an older man who was probably just younger than Dave, he again seemed interested in our name tags and so Dave offered him a card. He looked at it, tucked it into his shirt pocket and buttoned his pocket for safe keeping. Who knows what will happen?

Today on the metro, on our way to church was much more fun. Dave has been trying to memorize the Articles of Faith in Russian and he had the Russian copy in his hand - there was a young man who kept looking at the paper, and seemed to be reading along with Dave. He leaned in to read the words. He leaned in still closer and talked to Dave (unfortunately Dave only understood a few words)- Dave offered him a pass along card with a beautiful picture of the Savior on it (all printed in Russian of course). The young man took the card and then Dave grinned - and then Dave asked the young man how to pronounce one of the words. The man told him and began to read the Articles of Faith again...he read the 4th...and then he read it out loud. It was as if this was a brand new concept to him so Dave handed him the copy of the Articles of Faith and the young man accepted, very pleased to get it. Dave glanced across the aisle with a grin and his mind working figured - if he would accept the copied version of the Articles of Faith what did he have to lose by giving him a Book of Mormon? So in Dave's carefully (yet stilted worded Russian) Dave told him he wanted to give him a special gift, "A book" and handed him a Book of Mormon. The look of pleasure really said everything...he looked incredulous and then gathered the book to his chest as if it were the most precious thing anyone had ever given him. Dave was going to ask his name and contact information but we came to a stop and he was gone.


...it was incredible, inspiring and amazing all at the same time.

It is a great work we are involved in, spreading these words of truth and hope.

But the story didn't begin on the metro on the way to church...it actually began in the morning while getting the backpack ready. Dave usually packs it as light as possible for the overland trek - with scriptures,hymn-books, notebooks etc.-the weight can sometimes seem heavy...however, this morning Dave felt a need to pack the Russian Book of Mormon...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"short stuff..."

Our mission so far has been an adventure...for the first week we were in a jet lag blur, the second week is getting better...we are finding our way from point A to Point B, learning to go through the correct metro stall (otherwise it attacks you), learning to navigate the many zillion cracks, pot holes and chasms (on the walkways) and anxious to hear from family and friends.

Our mailing address is: for letters and postcards
Elder David and Sister Rebecca Cook
Europe East Area Pouch
50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

Our mailing address: for packages
Elder David and Sister Rebecca Cook
Russian Moscow Mission
Moskva #101000
Galvpochtampt ayai 257
Moscow Russia

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

FAITH IN EVERY FOOTSTEP



Dave's family at the gathering at our home following our farewell Sunday May 29th 2011.
L-R Glenn, Christine, (Father) Vernon Osmond, Nan, Philip, and Dave. Missing from picture is Catharine (left earlier) and Bruce (in California)


On June 13th 2011 we enter the Missionary Training Center in Provo Utah to continue our service in the Church. We will serve approximately

718 days which equals 102 weeks which equals 17,232 hours which is equal to 1,033,902 minutes which adds up to 62,035,200 seconds.
When you look at it that way - We are so grateful it will be 1 day at a time -
one day filled with "Faith in Every Footstep"

Monday, April 25, 2011

TWO MORE "NOT YOUR" EVERYDAY MIRACLES...



Two different views

Dave: First, we weren’t blown to smithereens when two burners were turned on by accident just before Becky and I went to bed. Becky who seldom wakes during the night awoke around 2:00 a.m. and smelled gas throughout the house. She woke me up and together we went to investigate. We immediately opened all the doors and windows we could, and aired out the house. The gas itself seemed to choke us. After the house was ventilated we returned to bed, pausing to thank our Heavenly Father for yet another miracle.

Becky: May I begin by saying it wasn’t exactly my fault – Perhaps 99.99% of it was. Leaving the gas stove turned on, two burners without flames to temper the gas - actually happened because someone wanted dinner. I was cooking it, working to get it completed at the same time so everything was hot and ready and we could sit down together, Dave, my dad, and I. I turned one burner down low to simmer and the flame went out. I took the food to the table and didn’t check the stove. We ate and cleaned up, as I washed off the stove - that was when the second burner was turned on – accidentally. The towel must have gotten caught on the knob and turned it on. Lights out, we headed to bed after saying good night to my dad, he headed down to his room in the basement. About 1:30 in the morning, I woke up with a start. I lay there for a few moments and I knew something wasn’t right. I could smell rotten eggs. Our bedroom is upstairs and somehow the smell rose. I got up and checked the main floor. As soon as I walked into the kitchen I could hear the hiss of the burner. I turned it off, and hurried to open a window; shaking and scared the furnace might turn on, which creates a spark. I could still hear a hissing sound so leaving the house dark, I checked the stove again, too afraid to turn on a light for fear the house would blow up. (I know, I watch too many television disaster and emergency shows). The burner on the right was on 'high'. I went upstairs to wake Dave, stopping on the way, to open the front door which allowed a very cold breeze to fill the front of the house. I woke up Dave, and asked him to go and check on my dad. Gas filled the entire main floor. I know from all of the Emergency Preparedness studying we have done, natural gas stays close to the ground and doesn’t rise. I worried it had seeped down the basement and dad might have been in trouble. Dad slept peacefully, unaware of all the drama. This was a close call but a miracle all the same for the Cook family.

I too, was grateful for this miracle in our lives - but do you think it is possible Dave actually thought the miracle was - I was doing the cooking?

Dave, I know where Russia is but where on the map is Smithereens?

Dave: Second, our family experienced another miracle, when our oldest daughter Tiffany, with her husband Troy, received their endowments in the Salt Lake Temple. On March 26, 2011 they were sealed for time and all eternity in the Draper, Utah Temple. Together, we watched as all of our children and their spouses attended these wonderful events. I am not able to express all within my heart of the great feelings of love, gratitude and beauty which attended us, as we worshiped in the House of the Lord with all of our adult children and their spouses.

Some of the events were beyond earthly experience. The spirit of the Lord seemed to be everywhere present. Days before, several of Becky’s family expressed their support and happiness when they heard Tiffany and Troy were to be sealed in the Temple. Jean, our sister – in – law, began to cry when she heard, feeling deeply of the spirit and knowing how important this would be to Tiffany, Troy and to us. Todd, Becky's brother, told Tiffany he was "proud of her" for taking this important step in her life. The support the family has given throughout our mission preparations, and towards our family, has been phenomenal and so much appreciated.

On Friday evening, March 25, 2011, our family assembled in the Salt Lake Temple to participate with Troy and Tiffany as they received their endowments. Members of our family present were: Vernon O. Cook, my father; Nan and Bruce Oblad, my sister and brother-in-law; Catharine Rasband, my sister; our niece, Patti Cook (also a member of Tiffany and Troy’s ward - who left Jed, her husband, home to watch their children) as well as each of our children with their spouses: Tiffany and Troy (of course), Cynthia and Alan Nelson, Jenny and John Norton, Adam and Heather Cook, Liz and Kori Moore, and Kimberly and Chris Saling. Looking around when I entered the celestial room, after the session, I could see all my family there, but had to search for Alan and Cynthia for a few minutes because they were sitting behind a group of people. I don’t know if this experience will ever be duplicated - for many years - or even in my life time.

The following morning we assembled again to witness the sealing in the Draper Utah Temple. What a wonderful showing of support for this spiritual event which was to come to pass. Those attending were: each of our children and their spouses, Aunts and Uncles; Nan and Bruce Oblad, Catharine and Roy Rasband, Christine and Steve Christensen, Cousins; Jed Cook (trading places with Patti this time) Tristan Nielson, and Alexis Matson (Phil and Charlottes daughters), Paul and Sharon Norton (Jenny’s in-laws) and many friends and family of the Stark’s.

Becky: What a wonderful few days for our family to be together and share in this happy occasion. Our entire family within sacred temple walls… It was my choice opportunity to escort Tiffany as she went through the endowment and to help her prepare for the sealing. She was so nervous, and occasionally I whispered for her to take a deep breath, but she did very well. It was a day filled with emotions…as Tiffany and I walked into the room before the session began I got to look into the beautiful faces of each of my daughters, filling a row, side by side sisters in this life and the next…and then to sit and look across the room to see each of my sons, and Dave, my eternal companion, the father of my children…and next to him, sat his Father, my Father – in – law, Vernon Osmond Cook. What a handsome group of men, shoulder to shoulder, all worthy priesthood holders, these fathers in my life – they inspire me, and make me want to be a better person.

(Yes, I started to cry, and Adam, who was watching me, gave me one of his looks - where he rolls his eyes - and shakes his head a little bit – his body language says, “Aw, mom…don’t start crying now”) I was just so happy.

It was wonderful to be in the temple. To see how each of our children have grown into caring and responsible adults, are examples of righteousness, and who love and serve the Lord. The paths we travel in our lives won’t always be paved and smooth, but at least now we are all on the right path.

On Saturday, it was windy and cold, and the sun played peekaboo with the clouds, but it was a beautiful day full of warmth and love with family and friends. I think the word I would use to describe the past few days would be ‘serene’. All seemed right in the world for the moment…

Thanks Tiffany and Troy for providing us with this miracle.



11 of our 13 grandchildren who were at the temple, brave enough to sit for a picture in the freezing wind and cold at the Draper Temple March 26, 2011
(L-R) Austin, Garrett, Spencer, Colin, Mackey, Jared, Matthew, Alexa, Brooklyn, Emilee,Kellie...Isabella was in the car getting warm and so was little Brayden.
(we missed David, Kylie, Natasha and Cristian)



It was soooooo cold! Liz, Kori, Alan, John, Jenny, (me in the black coat) and Adam - "Chilling" at the temple.

Easter April 2011



Dear Family & Friends,
A sweet message of truth and inspiration.
As the time draws nearer, we continue to practice and learn the Russian language. We pull together with family - knowing time is precious and limited. We are beginning to pack our suitcases - the trick is getting everything we will need for the next 23 months to weigh less than one hundred pounds each. How is it possible to be filled with feelings of peace, calm, and composure and impatience, turmoil and conflict at the same time?
We know we are about embark on one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives but also one of the most difficult challenges - we have yet faced.
We move forward in our preparations - hanging in there through the more trying times, pensive in times of reflection, and always prayerful for continued health, strength, and the will to carry on.

Monday, March 7, 2011

"IF YOU LOVE THEM - LEAVE THEM"

One of our children told us they saw the following statement:

“IF YOU LOVE THEM…LEAVE THEM”
Whether this refers to our children or our grandchildren it makes no difference…We love them all and therefore choose to set an example of service for them. We will be traveling far from home, to many lands and meeting many people. Maybe we will meet someone’s grandchildren and it will be a reminder of the precious grandchildren we leave behind.
We will be leaving for the mission field in the Eastern European Area for 23 months beginning on June 13th 2011.

video

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Immunizations “SHOOT ME NOW”

TO SERVE A MISSION THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS WE HAD TO DO:
Decide we like being together as “companions” 24/7
Fill out lots of papers – and remember things we thought we forgot - dates,events...
Have our photo taken – Companions - together, smiling, & pretty happy (thank you Heather)
Hope and pray our internet is working when we push “send”
Arrange meetings with the Bishop, the Stake President and the Postman
Have a family gathering (via phone line with out of town members) to read the “call”
Buy “How to Speak Good Russian” on CD and talk with Adam (our former Russian Missionary son)
NOW - WE KNOW WHERE WE ARE GOING TO SERVE OUR MISSION WE HAVE TO:
Fill out lots of papers - remember what we didn’t write in travel journal – dates, places...
Have 31 passport photos taken – alone, no smile, & no photo shop special effects
Hope & pray internet works when sending email to travel dept. to ask dumb questions
Attend church meetings and the temple – speak in Stake Conference on “Faith and Serving the Lord”
Retirement party for Dave – Feb 23rd (Clyde Companies loss- my gain)
Gather with family often as possible – make phone calls, send emails and text message
Study Russian CD-learn how to say “Good” Хороший (Huhrrroshe)(Adam says it better)
TO GO ON OUR MISSION WE HAVE TO: IMMUNIZE
Hepatitis A(2) & Hepatitis B(2); need 3 - the last one is in June before we go to the MTC (and a Booster upon our return home from Russia)
Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis);(1)in the past Dave has gotten very sick from Tetanus – FYI- we can say “In the present…also”
Meningococcal meningitis(1)
Pneumonia shot (Dave got one even though he isn’t 65)
Flu shots –(had one in December and luckily they count!
Typhoid Pills (4)rather than a needle - lasts for 5 years instead of 2 – (We thought since we are both feeling a bit under the weather from the other shots we would wait until after Sunday to begin taking these.

In the meantime – we continue to prepare to serve our mission the best way we know how ~ with faith.




Dave: "I am a Russian Missionary"

Becky: "How many shots are there?"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Once in a lifetime adventure"...again


Здравствуйте!
“Hello!” in Russian. We received our call Wednesday Feb.9th - and opened it with the family and loved ones gathered in our home. "Dear Elder Cook...You are hereby called to serve as a missionary...as an auditor..." Dear Sister Cook, You are hereby called...as an assistant to the auditor..."
Assigned to labor in the Europe East Area headquartered in Moscow, Russia. We are to enter the Missionary Training Center on Monday June 13, 2011 to serve for twenty three months.
We know a little about Russia since Elder Adam KYK (Cook) served in the Russian Samara Mission from 1997 - 1999 - we went over to pick him up from his mission. Dave said it would be a "once in a lifetime adventure and opportunity to see Russia and that part of the world and he didn't want to miss it"... In 2007 we returned to Moscow with the Springville Museum of Art to go on a River Cruise up the Volga River to St. Petersburg...and now we are going to have another "once in a lifetime adventure and opportunity and then some...
The Europe East Area consists of Armenia; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Bulgaria; Cyprus; Estonia; Georgia; Kazakhstan; Latvia; Lithuania; Republic of Macedonia; Montenegro; Russia; Serbia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; Uzbekistan.



Opening and reading our call - Feb 9, 2011 - Tiffany took our picture and put it on Face Book as we read the words.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

WE BELIEVE IN MIRACLES...

Some thoughts from Dave about serving a mission for the Lord...

Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand: life itself is the miracle of miracles. George Bernard Shaw

Dave: I have wanted to serve a mission since I received a testimony of the Book of Mormon in 1969. However, by 1969 I was already married and any mission seemed to be either impossible or so far in the future that it might never happen.
A few years ago I remember praying about going on a mission. I told the Lord I would be willing to go anytime he wanted me to, but at the time Becky was a rheumatoid arthritis patient and very ill. She was also losing mobility.
I remember talking to an artist friend, Peter Myer, who had just been called to serve a mission in France. His first wife had died a few years before and he had remarried. He told me miracles happen and he felt it was a miracle he was going on a mission since his first wife had been ill for so many years. I told him it didn’t seem possible for Becky and I to go as a couple and I didn’t want to lose my wife in order to be able to go. He insisted again that miracles do happen. I was a doubting Thomas, but continued to pray about serving a mission from time to time over the next few years.
About a year after I had begun to pray about serving a mission, Becky’s condition seemed to be get worse. She was in so much pain, nothing seemed to help alleviate the pain she felt in her hips and they didn’t seem to function anymore. This new development caused her to talk about remodeling or selling our home she designed and move so we could have our living space on the main floor. Becky was also losing her appetite and a great deal of weight. When she became sick and tired of feeling “sick and tired” she decided enough was enough and began to study the side effects of her many arthritis meds. She found she was suffering from many of the worst side effects listed. She took this information to her doctor and met with his Physician’s assistant. She asked for help in returning to the basics, simpler medicines and smaller doses of those causing so many problems. The reply, “We can’t do that, let’s try something more…more bio meds, stronger injections, more counteracting drugs...” She just wasn't listening to her and she returned home extremely upset.
At the same time Becky was going through her worst times, I was trying to get her to go the Dr. Eric Brady, a chiropractor, who does a physical therapy called Active Release Therapy and who had helped rid me of the headaches since my concussion in 1994. She finally gave into my pleadings and scheduled an appointment. Dr. Brady was able to get her hips moving without pain after just a few visits. After looking at her hands, he also determined they didn’t belong to a rheumatoid arthritis patient. He encouraged her to get a second opinion. Along with pain, stomach ulcers became just one of the many side effects she had developed. She went to Dr. Brett Thorpe for help and asked to be tested again for RA. The results came back – negative for Rheumatoid Arthritis – no elevated RA factors. It took the better part of a year, but after being off the medications she got her appetite back, and with physical therapy she started to feel healthier than she had in 17 years. This was miracle number one.

During this time of healing for Becky, I once again began to feel hope about a mission. I felt for the first time that a mission might be possible and I went to the Lord in prayer and told Him I would go as soon as the time was right. I had no Idea what that meant, but I hoped I would have enough faith in myself and His promises that some time after I retired at 65 or 66 we could go on a mission.

Miracle number 2: With Faith all things are possible

Although a mission now seemed possible, it still seemed like many years before it would or could happen. My father retired at the age of seventy five. I thought seventy five was a little too late to do all the things I want to do in my life; however, sixty six or sixty seven seemed a good age and likely for me. I was not looking forward to retirement. I liked my job as Vice President of Corporate Communications and Community Relations. I was enjoying the political aspects of the job especially my involvement and participation in the Ronald Reagan Club, and the political action legislative committees in and around the Salt Lake area; (Associated General Contractors, Utah Manufacturing Association, Salt Lake Chamber, and Taxpayers Association). I was a director on the Mountainland Applied Technology College board as well as the Mountainland Regional Council board. In the past, I had the responsibility of marketing and promotion and had recently been reassigned this department again. As a CPA and independent from the Accounting Dept of Clyde Companies, I oversaw the auditing department, which added another interesting dimension to my job.
At this time in the United States the economy is suffering a severe downturn. Knowing this, but without warning and seemingly out of the blue, Wilford Clyde, President of Clyde Companies Inc., started talking about offering several key executives an early retirement package. I have to admit I was extremely discouraged when I first heard that I might be offered the package. I replayed the scenario in my mind over and over and felt all types of emotions, some positive, but mostly negative. I took it very personal; had my thirty four years of service to the company and the Clyde family meant nothing? THEN --- I remembered - I had been praying to serve a mission someday and felt that with enough faith I promised the Lord I would leave when He wanted me to. It took only a millisecond to change my thought process and waited with great anticipation until I was offered the package. The offer seemed good to me when it was first explained to management, and it got much better when the offer was actually given. The Company offered ten executives an early out and I opted to retire as one of the five who accepted. This gave us the financial means and medical coverage we need to retire. Faith does precede the miracle…

Miracle number 3 “..only by persuasion, long suffering, ….”

I learned a valuable lesson at this time in my life. Throughout this whole experience, I had been praying to the Lord about a mission, many times I pleaded with the Lord to help me find the way that I might serve a mission - I just forgot to include Becky in those prayer sessions. The retirement decision was decided on together; however the mission plans were a complete shock to her. She is very comfortable in our home, loves working in the yard, planting a garden, and enjoys watching the grandchildren play on the swing-set, the “park” as Emilee and Mackey call it. It is a gathering place for our children and their families and it is filled with love. Upon hearing the answer I had received about it being the right time for us to serve a mission - she cried. She said she hadn’t gotten that answer; in fact she wasn’t sure about anything at that time. Although it took some time for her to get used to the idea of a mission, she began to warm up to the idea - and soon got her own answer to prayer, and we began to discuss the real possibility of serving a mission together which brings me to miracle number 3 - Becky is willing to go!! As soon as we decided to accept the retirement package, had our finances worked out, and I signed the actual contract at Clyde Companies, she actually agreed to come with me and serve a mission. She is still struggling with leaving her responsibilities of the care of her father, and her children and their spouses, and her wonderfully perfect grandchildren she said she would go. We set the wheels in motion by getting in touch with Bishop Stewart and as we filled out our papers she struggled with some of the feelings the questions raised. In the very first section of the papers it asks how long we would be willing to serve a mission. We left that question open but we continued to talk about how long she could go for. She agreed to 18 months, I was good with that, but after more talking together and consideration along with prayer she decided she could extend to 24 months. Two years of serving together. She still doesn’t want it widely known and is pretty selective who she chooses to tell about our plans until we have the call in our hands but I could sing it from the highest roof top. She always tells me she feels like she is living in some musical, singing my own songs, with my hands out stretched and dancing in circles. I didn’t have to persuade or suffer while she made her decision for too long at all.

Miracle number 4 – Family is central to the plan…

After making the decision to retire, we talked about how to tell the family. We had plans to travel to Texas and spend Thanksgiving with Jenny and John and witness Brooklyn’s baptism. We would tell the Norton family at that time but decided that we would tell individual family members one at a time to judge their reactions, whether favorable or not.
After I knew I would be given an offer to retire early I took some time on October 28th and traveled to Salt Lake to talk to my father, Vernon Osmond Cook. I wanted his opinion and thoughts about my retirement and our missionary plans. Dad’s response was almost instantaneous. He said he thought it was a great idea and there is more to life than money. He couldn’t think of any negatives about accepting the offer and serving the Lord. Dad said “David, you could spend the rest of your life serving the Lord and being richly blessed”. I told him I hadn’t talked with anyone else except Becky – since it hadn’t been announced officially in the Company, and wouldn’t be for another month and half…imagine my surprise to see this posted on my Facebook wall later that afternoon
It was good to visit with you again. I pray that all future events will be according to your best thoughts and wishes. You and Becky will make a wonderful missionary team. May the Lord's blessings attend you, and the best of everything be yours, Love Dad
With his support I gained more confidence that I was doing the right thing. Luckily no one keeps track of my Facebook account.
After talking with dad, I felt I needed to talk to Adam since he still worked for the Company at Geneva Rock Products. I was concerned about how he would take the news of my retirement. We have been able to enjoy a wonderful relationship on a working level as well as father and son. Adam’s reaction could be labeled as “cautiously optimistic”. I then told him of our hopes to serve a mission and again he exhibited that “cautious optimism”. We have always relied on Adam for so many things, and we knew we would need more of his involvement and help with our personal finances especially if we were called out of the country on a mission. He called the next day and told me he was happy for us and it was about time I did something like this and he committed to help with whatever we needed him to do.
Cynthia and Alan invited me over for dinner one night while Becky was in Salt Lake helping Kim with our newest grandson Brayden. Thinking I was being very sneaky, I dropped a hint about Becky and I going on an extended vacation, and did they think it would be possible to find someone to stay in our home while we were gone. Cynthia said “We will do it!” I was so glad to hear her enthusiastic response. Then she asked where we would be vacationing. Alan just looked at her and took no time saying “Duh! It’s a mission”. I didn’t say yes, and I didn’t say no. I have never been one to have much success in the sneaky department. The Nelson family has now begun to make plans to prepare to move into our home during our “extended vacation”.
During our trip to Texas, Jenny’s in laws, Paul and Sharon Norton and their entire family were there to see not only Brooklyn’s baptism but her cousin Natalie’s also. While sitting in the heated car the morning of Thanksgiving Day, watching a game of flag football starring John and his older brother, and also watching Colin and his cousins play some scrimmages on the sidelines I took the opportunity to visit one on one with Paul and ask several questions about serving as a senior missionary couple. Paul was the mission president in the Chicago North Mission while John was a student at the University of Chicago working on his MBA. We visited for about an hour discussing the importance of missionary work and the sacrifice it is to serve but Paul stressed it was so worth it. I felt really good about our talk and told him that we hadn’t told Jenny or John just in case something happens that would prevent our going on a mission. At Thanksgiving dinner Paul turned to his niece, who also lives in Flower Mound, and all of us sitting around the table invited her to tell David and Becky about her parents who are currently serving in Australia on a mission…”as they are thinking about a mission.” Jenny’s head darted up, and she started to say something like, “Are you…?” we were in a state of shock, we laughed it off, shaking our heads, not to deny what Paul had said, but more to try to figure out what we had just gotten ourselves into. We were able to distance ourselves from the subject as there were dishes to be washed and pies to taste. Later, after about the 6th or 7th football game was winding down, we were sitting in Jenny’s family room and both Paul and Sharon shared with us their testimony of missionary service, the lessons they learned, the sacrifices they made and the blessings which came from their years of service. This seemed to help put aside some of Becky’s fears about leaving her family and grandchildren. The night before we were to leave and all the other Norton families had driven off to their respective homes, we once again sat in the family room with Jenny, John, Paul, and Sharon to share the news of my retirement and hopefully be able to bring up the possibility of us going on a mission when Paul announced to everyone that Dave and Becky are going on a mission. Jenny and John’s reaction was very positive. One potential problem—Jenny had called Becky, before they left Australia, to ask her to watch the children while Jenny traveled to Prague with John’s company. Becky had made a promise and didn’t want to go back on her word. Jenny turned to Sharon and mentioned they would need someone to watch their children in May of 2011. Sharon looked to Paul and quickly consented.
The reality of actually going on a mission began to wake us up to all the needs and responsibilities we have. One of our main concerns was Becky’s dad, Bill. For the past few years, Becky and I have taken care of his finances, a lot of his medical needs and setting the schedule of his care by the family. Bill has requested he not be put in an “Old Folks Home” until he is no longer able to care for his personal needs. Becky has done a lot of research on her family history and knows her grandfather, Robert Christopher Inman, Bill’s father, was placed in an insane asylum in the Thirties when the family was unable to care for him. This is the picture Bill carries in his mind of an “Old Folks Home” and Becky, understands the reasons he fears being separated from family, assured Bill she would see that he not go to a retirement home or assisted living as long as he is able to care for himself. If we were to go on a mission, Becky’s brothers and sister-in -laws would be required to take our share of the responsibility for Bill. We have a lot of respect for Bill and want to take care of him until he leaves this life. Becky agonized about how her inactive and non-member family members of the LDS faith would react to our desire to serve a mission. There is no doubt that our leaving would add more responsibility to her family, some who are not in the best of health.
The Inman family conducts meetings periodically to discuss what is to be done with Dad and how he is doing traveling to the homes of family members and what changes might need to be made to see to his care. I felt the necessity to call the December meeting to give her siblings an accounting of his financial net worth and ask them to take a more active role in managing Bill’s finances. There were several items to be discussed including my retirement and our plans to go on a mission. Becky was beyond stressed and feared the possible reactions of those in attendance. We gathered in a restaurant-bar that is owned by her nephew and went through Bill’s finances, money management, gains and losses and his expenses. I kept trying to get the conversation around to “mission” and Becky kept saying “later”. At the end of the discussion we said we had one more thing to announce. This was it, no drum roll, just that we have decided to serve a mission for the LDS church. Instead of the negative response that was expected, the family was unanimous in their positive responses. Becky’s sister, Jayne (who is not a member of the Church) stated “I want to go”. In a moment of shock and concern, Becky said it again…to make sure they understood exactly what we were saying. They understood. We expressed our concerns about putting the extra burden on them and for not carrying our share of the responsibility for Bill’s physical care. Todd, Becky’s brother, was even more positive about our doing what we want to do while we were still young enough to do it. We are pleased with their support and for the first time since we began talking about a mission she relaxed and seemed to enjoy the idea of serving a mission. Later when we got in our vehicle, Becky turned to me and with a big smile said “WE ARE GOING ON A MISSION!” She repeated the same response when we stopped at Adam and Heather’s home for a short visit and to get our mission pictures taken. A great weight is lifted from our shoulders.
Other reactions from family members –
Tiffany said something to the effect, “It’s about time, you have wanted to go on a mission and have talked about it for as long as I can remember “
Liz laughs every time she says the word mission. She is very excited and happy to tell everyone she knows in Cache County her parents are going on a mission. Poor Cache County!
Kim's reaction was a mixed one. She is excited and happy for us, but she knows that a mission will mean missing a lot of firsts for their family, Brayden's first words, first steps, first birthday, etc. etc... This is something that has caused Becky hours of worry also.
It is a wonderful time to be living - computers, face-book, email, blogs, SKYPE, cell phones... Family is really central to Heavenly Father's plan and our children and their families are making plans to gather together once a month -
Way to Go Family!

Miracle number 5 – Modern Medicine

For years I have had trouble swallowing certain foods including, rice, nuts, whole wheat breads, carrots and other raw vegetables. At times while eating these foods they would get stuck in my throat. When this happens, the food had only one means of escape, which is up. With my desire to serve a mission I felt I should tell my Doctor, Dr. David Voss that I had been having trouble swallowing. He asked if I would be willing to have an upper GI to see if there was anything wrong in my esophagus. He wrote a prescription which I ignored for three weeks, because I thought I was in perfect health, but might possibly have an allergy to these foods. I finally called Dr. Thorpe, the same Doctor Becky went to for her stomach problems, and asked him to do the medical procedure. He found several sores and ulcers as well as scarring in my esophagus and stomach area, and a hiatal hernia, which had nearly closed off the opening to my stomach. Dr. Thorpe prescribed some acid reducing medicine, and ordered a bland, tasteless and strict diet of small portions, then redid the procedure three weeks later. My throat and stomach had healed and Dr. Thorpe was able to stretch the opening to my stomach. Now for the first time in years, I can eat all the foods previously causing trouble. I feel each day is a new miracle and a testament to the blessings of modern day medicines.

Miracle number 6 –Receiving a Priesthood Blessing –


I consider myself to be in very good health. I have always exercised, sometimes more consistently than at other times, but for the last year I have been very consistent and exercised five to six times each week jogging, biking, or lifting weights. When I was required to get a stress test as part of the medical exam for my mission papers I felt (almost arrogantly) nothing could be wrong. The day arrived to take the test and I drove myself to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center and reported to the cardiology unit. I was hooked up to all the patches and wires and monitored in a resting state and on the treadmill as I walked. The treadmill increased in speed and slope. I thought it was an easy test, and one I handled well. After the test the doctor asked if I had chest pain or trouble breathing, which I didn’t. He then showed me my test results, and said I had “flat-lined” on the lower end of the EKG. I know that flat lining in a medical emergency means that the heart has stopped and I wasn’t anywhere near death. He said I had a 5% chance that the test was a false positive, but I would need a nuclear stress test, which he scheduled for the next week. As I was leaving I asked him if he meant I had a 95% chance there was something wrong with my heart. He said “yes.” What a blow!
All of the family was gathering on Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of the Savior, except for Jenny and John and their family in Texas, and Liz and Kori and their boys in Logan, and I realized this was a perfect opportunity to ask for a priesthood blessing for Becky and myself. The family met together in the family room as worthy Priesthood holders placed their hands on our heads and pronounced a blessing on Becky and I. Our son, Adam Cook, and sons - in - law, Alan Nelson, Chris Saling, and Troy Stark stood in the circle, first, Chris anointed and Adam sealed the anointing and blessed Becky with peace in her heart and to quiet her fears and then Troy anointed my head and Alan sealed the anointing and gave the blessing. I don’t remember Alan saying I would be healed, but he did say that all would turn out well and to trust the doctors. It seemed an easy answer – Trust the Doctors and all would turn out well.
The second test was similar except that a nurse put an IV into my arm and injected what I thought was some kind of radiation, I guess that is where the nuclear comes from in the test. They took thirty pictures of my heart in a resting state then hooked me to the heart monitor and had me step back on the treadmill, similar to the test I had done a week before. After the treadmill the nurse took thirty more pictures of my heart. I noticed the test results from the treadmill looked very different than from the first test results. I asked the physician’s assistant who was monitoring the test if this was a good sign. He thought it was better, but refused to comment further since it is the doctor’s responsibility to tell me. Not as reassuring as I would have hoped the PA said the test results would be available in a couple of days and they would forward the results to Dr. Voss. This was Tuesday December 28, 2011. I called the Doctor’s office on December 30th to hear the results, but it was closed for the New Year holiday weekend. Waiting is not something I am fond of, but there was nothing I could do but wait. So, I waited and waited some more. The New Year came and as soon as the office opened on January 4th, I called but still no results. As luck would have it, Becky had an appointment the next morning with Dr. Voss. I was now retired so I tagged along to find out if the results had come yet. Having to do medical tests during the holiday is not something I would recommend to anyone. After Becky’s results from some tests and her blood pressure was taken, I asked about my results. Doctor Voss still hadn’t received the copy but he was able to look them up on line and to our great relief there is no problem with my heart - no blockages of any kind. Blessing from worthy Priesthood bearers can produce miracles – one answered at a time!

I don’t know how many miracles will be required to actually get us out on a mission, but Becky and I will be counting.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Oh the places you'll go...




Cynthia thought it would be fun to guess where and when we will go on our mission...these are some of the suggestions ~ No cash prizes awarded

Dave ~ Topeka or South Africa May "As good as guess as any"
Becky ~ Hawaii June

Tiffany ~ New Zealand April
Troy ~ Argentina
David (21) ~ ?
Kylie (20) ~ ?
Natasha (17) ~ Kansas March (LOL) Sorta the same guess as Grandpa

Cynthia ~ Madagascar March
Alan ~ Ukraine May
Austin ~ Brazil
Kellie ~ South America
Alexa ~ Georgia USA (Birthplace - Lex will probably want to come pick us up & tour the area)

Jenny ~ Scotland
John ~ "Zion"
Colin (10) ~ Australia or England
Brooklyn (8) ~ Guatemala
Isabella (6) ~ Texas or Australia
Jared (4) ~ America

Adam ~ Moscow, Russia March
Heather ~ Samara Russia April
Emilee (6) Mackey (5) ~ TEXAS ... because "they don’t think Grandpa and Grandma should be too far away from all their grandkids!"
Garrett (2) ~ Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (which happened to be on the T.V. when asked)

Liz ~ Russia June
Kori ~ Poland May
Spencer (4) ~ "To a mission on my birthday" (Going Anywhere - but leaving for sure April 5th)
Matthew (2) ~ "A mission to Mario on Christmas"

Kim ~ Japan April
Chris ~ Canada May "Oh Canada"
Brayden 3 month ~ "Babble-Babble" or is that "Bubble-Bubble" (Kim says he chooses Hawaii - in May) A trip for Pineapple Ice Cream could be in Brayden's future


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED SO FAR

The word, "call" has taken on a whole new meaning for us. Note to self - Must relearn to use the extended version "cell phone call" or "telephone call" when referring to talking on mobile phone or land-line. No more shortcuts. LOL

With this said...

We got a call from our Stake President Sunday night to tell us he checked on our mission status.
(I think he was really checking on Dave's status after being retired for one whole month)

Mission...possible STATUS UPDATE

1/2 ~ electronically submitted Mission Papers to Bishop ... sent to Stake; 1/7 ~ began required immunizations; 1/9 ~ met with Stake President ... got medical form back to have Dr. complete more information; 1/11 ~ Mission papers sent to Church Headquarters ... accepted; 1/19 ~ email questionnaire from Missionary Dept... "How comfortable are you serving...? Look for call in 4-6 weeks"; 1/27 ~ Phone call from church for clarification on Dave's medical form...wrong hemoglobin count; 1/30 Call from President Oldroyd ~ Mission Status "Waiting for Assignment..."

WE ARE WAITING...

Continue to work on common goals -
1- to rid our lives of accumulated things - clutter and junk - just stuff we don't need or want to store to prepare our home for while we are gone,
and...
2 - see if we can stand being together 24/7 (so far - so good), making good progress.

After having our papers in for almost a month...we have learned -
We should NEVER begin a sentence with "We just got a call..."
Spending time with family is more important than just about anything...
and - Patience, the virtue - is at times...difficult

Family gathers at Brayden's Blessing - January 30, 2011

All is Well...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mission Picture


Our wonderful daughter-in-law took this picture for our mission. She is very talented. We are lucky to have her in our family.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I Hope They Call Us On A Mission

Medical Exams - Check
Eye Exams - Check
Dental Exams - Check
Liver Exams - Check
Final Exams - Check
Interviews - Check

All done, now we wait! And wait! And wait!

I hope they call us on a mission...soon!