Wednesday, July 27, 2011

RUSSIA: IT'S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL (Coincidental Meetings, BYU vs. U of U Goes International, and a Serendipitous Purchase)

We had a number of amazing coincidences on our big trip this summer that prove you can run, but you can't hide.

1.  When we heard one of the couples on our trip was from Bakersfield, we asked if they knew my sister and her husband. They said, "Do they have a son named Brent?"  Why, yes!  Turns out the man is my sister's stake president.

President Hawkins chatting with a fellow clergyman in a living history museum in Aarhus, Denmark. 
2.  We made friends with a couple of retired BYU professors.  He had been a chemistry professor and she had been a technical writing professor.  He looked really familiar to me.  We finally figured out that his first semester teaching was my first summer term at the Y.  He was my Physical Science 100 professor.  I was proud to tell him I got an A in his class.
"Mr. Zimmerman"

3.  We ran into missionaries in Moscow.  One of the elders, whose name I unfortunately did not write down, was from Payson.  His grandma's sister is Ila Peterson, one of my mom's good friends and the mother of one of my high school friends.
Yeah, I know this is the worst picture of all time of me.  Enjoy using it against me, Dave.

4.  I had to speak in a Sunday fireside for our mostly LDS tour group. (I'm sure it was because of my connection to Doris's stake president, who was asked to conduct the meeting and was the one who asked me to be one of the speakers.)  I told a story about Mom, and afterwards I was approached by a man who asked her name.  Turns out he was married to my Aunt Resa's sister Renata (now deceased) and is in Bob's mother's ward where he has been her home teacher.

5.  I discovered that a husband and wife in our group are in my good friend's ward in Riverside.  They currently serve as temple workers in the Redlands Temple.

6.  We became friends with one of the couples who was seated at our dinner table on the cruise.  When I came home and was telling Rachael about them, she asked if they have a son named Mark who served a mission in Fiji and if their family ever lived in Santa Barbara.  Yes and yes.  Turns out she dated the son Mark when they were both living in the French house at BYU.
The Brinkerhoffs

I often run into people I know in faraway places.  It's bizarre!

We did learn on this trip that no matter how far away from home you are, Cougars and Utes will butt heads.
Bob and Scott.  If these guys can be friends, then the Cold War must indeed be over.

Our Utah State Aggie friend also had to get in on the act.

Finally, one of the most unbelievable chance encounters on our trip happened on Arbat Street in Moscow, where we we spent an hour shopping and sightseeing. 

Bob and I were browsing through the stores when all of the sudden Bob let out a squeal.  This is what he found:

Bob was so excited that he bought this matryoshka doll without even bargaining, probably paying twice what he should have paid for it.  It is a bit tacky, but hey, "To Think That We Bought It on Arbat Street!"  How could we possibly resist such a find?


  1. This is amazing! I can't decide which story I like the best (but those matryoshka dolls are unbelievable!).

  2. I think I had that chemistry professor too! He looks vaguely familiar, at any rate, and I took biochem from a Zimmerman. Crazy coincidences! The LDS world seems to be especially small.

  3. I loved reading about all of these people and your connections to them!

  4. Judy - that photo of you isn't all that "great" - I have "better" ones already!

  5. My mother is the queen of this phenomena, finding a second cousin selling gas in the mountains of Peru, while we lived there in the 1960s. All of us teenagers were in the car, shaking our heads in disbelief and rolling our eyes. Now we envy her.