Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter!

I'm not too sure how much time I've got to write, but not a ton... agh sorry I got carried away again. I read a lot of what you all wrote me (THEM'S SOME GOOD EMAILS FROM THE FAM). By the way AWESOME news about Christopher. That's such an amazing miracle, I was SO happy to hear about that. I've really been praying hard for the Blands. I know that must have been torture for them. I love that family!! I think I took cousins for granted, to be honest. It's gonna be way fun to see everyone when I get back, it was always fun to have everyone over. And next time, sam and Tyson will be back too, so it'll be errbody! Man those are the good days. Anyways, I just got a good email off the Mitch, as well, and it sounds like he's doing well. It was way fun to hear from him. thanks for passin' the word along, momma! P.S. in answer to your question yes I play piano all the time. Yesterday I got to play for sacrament meeting, which was awesome. (I played easter hymns that I'd never played before, but even though I haven't had practice in years it came really easy. It was a testimony for me of the Lord blessing us beyond our own talents and abilities to help his children. Really cool)
Anyways, Easter was fun. Russian style. It was kind of crazy, they treat it a little like Halloween. They say "Christ is risen!" the way you'd say trick or treat, and then people give you boiled eggs and gross cakes if you say it. So we decided to knock our own apartment complex and give out free dvds to kind of get to know our neighbors. It was good because even though half of the people weren't home, there were a couple people with families over for the holiday. It was good and we might be able to meet with them again. It was fun because one of our neighbors said "I know you guys live here and I was surprised you didn't come by earlier!" because he knows missionaries and our reputation from going door to door... haha. Other than that, there was a bunch of drunk people (to celebrate Christ's resurrection?) and we got threatened by a couple tipsy guys while contacting, but NO WORRIES. We're safe. Man it was such a blast.
We also had a Zone Conference this week, and splits. I got to conduct splits with the other elders in our district, and we got to apply all the stuff we learned at conference. I got to go with Elder Anderson and we ROCKED IT UP. It was one of the best and busiest days of my mission. Sad that he leaves in two weeks :( Anyways, the work is great and I've gotten settled into everything. I LOVE YOU GUYS i'm sorry I don't have more time! I hope you have an awesome week and I'll send more details next time. I can't wait to read the rest of what you wrote! Sorry this is a lame email!!!


P.S. Seth probably is going to be better than me at longboarding.... AWWWWWW

Monday, April 11, 2011

Priesthood session without Training Table!

Yes conference was gr8. I really loved a lot of the talks and it was fun because we all got to watch it in Inglish. English. All the missionaries in Samara got together in a room downstairs while all the members watched it in Russian.

But. Some important business to attend to:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PATRICK. I'm sorry I didn't mention that during the last e-mail. I feel like a jerk for that. But I'm going to write you a nice ole Russian letter for your birthday. By the time it gets to you it will be Hope's Birthday, so maybe I'll do something for her too. And then dad's will come up...So actually what I'll do is write notes going for each one of you for your birthday for the rest of my mission. And then send home a dog from the street. Or an old soviet millitary car that I sometimes see policemen driving around in.

Anyhow, thanks so much for the easter package mama!! I was a little sad so see how much you spent on it though... I really did appreciate all the stuff you sent though. And when I say "appreciate" I mean that the only edible stuff left over from the package is 1 box of Mac'n'cheese (out of 3) and the mints. And PB of course. But that was awesome to get all that from home, thank you SO MUCH for thinkin of me. That's one thing that I really want to work on, is discernment for others. I really want to be the kind of person who's really perceptive of others so that I can help people out. Sam and Mom are really good examples of that. Maybe it's a girl thing. It was really amazing for me to hear that you invited Bro. Yancey to come up for dinners on Sunday. That's a perfect example of going out of your way to lift up someone who's having a hard time. That's part of the baptismal commitment, what a great way to fulfill that. I'm sure he'll be really fun to have over, especially if you get grandpa and him going back and forth. I hope that's still going on when I get back!

So, Sam's going to be a trainer again, eh?? My trainer told me that if a sister trains, it's a big deal, because sisters in the field don't have the regular leadership positions. And you ardy done it 2X now!!! Ahh yeah! That means you're a good missionary. Who's surprised? Plus you've had nothing but native-speaking companions before that, so I bet your Spanish is rockin'. My Russian really flew when I was with Elder Kazakov in Kazan. And that was just one cycle. Lucky Duck! Is your new companion-itza from America? I'm sure you'll write about it next email, just curious. It's going to be crazy over the next two cycles. On May 6, at the end of this cycle, 15 missionaries are going home. 25% of our mission. And then at the end of next cycle, another 25% of our mission is going home. So everyone that's left is going be training or leaders pretty much. Scary. I'm happy here working with a companion on his last cycle! I get to "kill" him. That's gonna be weird... Anyways,I haven't been the "oldest" in a companionship yet. Well, don't need to worry about that yet! Still got about 4 weeks. But enough about me WAY TO GO FOR BEING A GOOD MISSIONARY. You're an awesome example, sistar. Keep it up, and be EXACTLY obedient for your new dochka (daughter). That'll be so important. But you ardy no that!!

ITEM OF BUSINESS I forgot to address. Mom I got some important news/information for you that has to do with the mission blog and the Law of the Land. Apparently, it's illegal for you to put pictures of anyone up on the blog without permission, so if you have any baptism pictures or anything like that, you have to blur out the faces or something. Same with regular e-mails, if I've written an investigator or member's name then you have to omit it. It sounds RIDICULOUS but I guess that's what they're telling us. Apparently the church gets in trouble for all this "violation of privacy" stuff. Also, I'm gonna work on not writing too much about investigators' specific stories in my emails... in the white handbook it says to not write personal stuff about any investigators. HOW'D I MISS THAT. Anyways, just felt like I should let you know... sorry if that makes stuff ridiculous, it's just what they been telling us so that the church doesn't get in trouble...

And now with a couple minutes left, let's get back to Conference. Wasn't it amazing? I really loved it. I heard Elder Porter's name, that was really cool. Also, there's been a lot of excitement, because the mission president of this mission who just finished up last June, President Bennet, is now an area authority. It was fun for all the missionaries to hear his name over the pulpit yesterday. I never got to meet him, but I hear from lots of the older missionaries that he's a real champ. Also, we found out that he's going to be serving in Moscow COOL huh. He might be visiting his old mission so I might get to meet him. We'll see.

Mom, I LOVED Elder Oaks's talk. I think it was you who mentioned that one. That one, along with some of the things I learned in Elder Christofferson's talk were exactly what I needed. Answers to some of the questions I had coming into Conference this time. It was really amazing. I think the other talk you were thinking of was Elder Robbins from the 70. He talked about "be" and "do." I really loved his talk, even though it was mostly for parents. But I learned a lot from it. And of course everybody loved Elder Scott's talk. Errrrrrrbody talked about marriage. Kind of fun/weird for me. President Monson's talk was good during Priesthood, too.

And it's already time to go AHHH I love you all so much family. And friends, if they read this. Things are going good, I love my mission, and it's already getting too short!! I love it so much. There's lots of good things going on, I wouldn't trade all the stuff I've learned for anything. Until next week.



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

No I haven't seen Conference yet...

Because it was on in the middle of the night, and so we're all fixin' to watch it next week. Although when we showed up for church yesterday they were playing it over a loudspeaker for some of the members who came early. It was in Russian and I was in a different room so I didn't catch anything. But next week we get to go to the Avrora branch building and watch it. They're gonna have it on the second floor in Russian and the first floor in English. Cooool. I'll pay close attention to the talks mommie mentioned. Elder Holland's always good.

So, hi everyone. How is life? The weather is GREAT I didn't even wear a hat today. And I've packed away my marshmallow coat, hopefully until next winter. It's nice and warm this time of year. I'm here in Bezimanski, my new area. Pretty awesome here. Hey, Sam didn't get my email? Maybe I just wrote late or something. I don't remember what happened last monday, to be honest.... That was back in Kazan 3 or 4 years ago. Anyways, it's good to hear from home, I'm glad everyone got to go to the priesthood session. That's reeeeeaal good memories for me. I always loved going with the boys and dad. I'm going to look forward to that next year. So what else is new? Oh I read about Jameson, that's crazy. He said he talked to McKay on the phone, so apparently they're serving in the same mission. That's really crazy. There's a ton of connections. One of the assistants to the President here is Elder... from Centerville (Scott). He's a year older and he went to Viewmont. He's in Bryson's ward so we talked about that a little bit. We went on splits yesterday (I just got back this morning), so I was with him all day. It was a lot of fun because we gots the same roots. I also learned a ton because he's probably the best missionary in this mission. I'll get back to that. Anyways, that's one thing I love about serving here in Samara already, I'm right at the center of the work it feels like. The office is right next door to our area so we got to do splits with the Assistants and all that. It's a HUGE contrast from Kazan, where we had no contact at all (besides telephone) except for once at the end of the cycle. Nuts.

What else is going on? Patrick quit Little Caesar's HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET FREE PIZZA. Nah I'm joking. Good to hear that you've got something really solid that you're going after, seems like you've got a future with this lacrosse thing... Oh send my sadness to the Chipping's, that would be really scary. I'm really glad to hear that they're alright. And that's news that Amie's pregnant, congrats! I'm starting to wonder how many new people there will be in the family when I get home... So far we've got Brad and Carrie's new baby and soon the Chipping's and Dave and Chelsee's too. My companion's mom had a baby while he on his mission, so he's going to meet his sister for the first time in about a month. CRAZY. By the way, yes. My new companion is called Elder Swainston. He's a really great guy from Orem Utah. He lived in Providence until 7th grade, so he probably knew Tyson. I said the names Tyson and Tanner and he said it's really familiar, so he's going to look up in the yearbook when he gets home. Small world, right?

So I'm getting used to things here waaaay faster than I did in Kazan. We go by foot everywhere, so I've already got a really good feel for the area. Also, I've got the phone because I'm senior companion (hyuk hyuk) so making calls to investigators and members has already gotten me acquainted with lots of people that live here. This area's great. It's nice and ghetto, just the way I like it. Elder Swainston calls it "the Red Light District." I had a good laugh about that one. Right now there are about 35-40 people that come to church in our branch, although we have a branch list with 270 people on it. Lots of inactives. But doing work with them has been really great. We've been reactivating AND finding. One of the recently re-activated members gave us a referral before we could even ask. That was pretty great. She really trusts the missionaries now and her son is getting ready to get the Priesthood. Other than that, we had lots of time stopping by addresses on the inactive list and contacting along the way. Even though lots of the addresses are wrong or the people have moved or whatnot, it still was really effective because we found a good amount of people along the way. Including ... He's a new guy we found on the street. We met him on the street, the next day we gave him a tour of the building, and the next day he came to church. He's got lots of promise. So I'm really loving it here. It's a nice cozy little ghetto town.

I'm short on time, but last night we had a cool experience. Elder ... and I made some really solid plans with lots of goals for our split, but we also put a lot of focus on being led by the Spirit during the exchange. We set a goal to pray before and after every activity to make sure it was what the Lord wanted us to do, even though we already had set plans. And so we were on our way to a member's house, and we needed a man there because it was a lady there alone. We called people but didn't get any helpers on the lesson, so we decided to stop by a member's house whose phone wasn't working so see if he could help. But we prayed first. Right after the prayer, I felt like we should skip going to ... house and go straight to ... But I didn't say anything because if ... wasn't there we'd have to meet with ... out on the street, and she's somewhere in her 60's. So that wouldn't have been fun as it was getting colder at night. But as we kept walking I couldn't get over it, so I told Elder ... and he went right with it without asking any questions. On the way there we met this girl at a bus stop. She stared at the tags for a while and then she said, Oh you're Mormons. I've studied about you guys already. So we started talking to her and it turns out that she learned a bit about Mormons and read the ENTIRE Book of Mormon. It was crazy. We can't even get sincere investigators to do that sometimes. It's so rare to find someone on the street who's already put forth that much effort to learn. So we switched numbers and I'll find out later from Elder ... what happens with her (we were in his area). Then we passed through a park and found a guy sitting on the bench waiting for his wife. We were able to sit and talk with him, and it turns out he's got a family of 4 kids which is crazy in Russia. We got to briefly share the message of the Restoration with him, and we got his number to meet again, too. As it turned out, we called a member who didn't answer his phone earlier and he was able to help us, and we had a really great meeting with Sister ... We even got to set up a lesson with one of her friends who she called on the phone while we were there. It was amazing because we had no idea how it was all going to work out, but as we followed the Spirit, it turned out to be the most effective night that it could've been. And it was because we did what the Lord had planned, and counseled with him.

So that was neat. Also, after everything was said and done I got to have a gooooood long chat with Elder ... about Centerville while we were laying in bed. We stayed up pretty late swapping names and stories. Other than that, though, I learned some things and made some goals that have already changed my attitude towards missionary work. I'm LOVING it here. I'm sorry, but I think I worry about here more than I worry about home.... I hope that doesn't offend anyone! But whenever I have time, I get to pray for you, and write to you once a week. Besides, without you, I wouldn't even be here. I LOVE the work and I LOVE my family. You are all awesome. Don't ever do anything that will distract you from coming out, brothers. This is the best experience of my life.