Well hi family!
I am writing already on my last week of cycle one! What in the world! What a crazy 6 weeks it's been in good ol' Kazan. I am going to do my best again to try and report this week, but probably won't get the hundredth part into my epistle. It was a crazy week, lots got done and we've been all over creation! No, we have not had the opportunity to watch conference yet. I believe this weekend we are, so we are excited to get some investigators out to the branch for that! We left Tuesday morning to Tagliatti for the middle part of the week. Elder Christensen was due for a visa trip, so we had a beauty of an 8 hour bus ride there. I spent the time there with Elder Glad and Elder Wiseman while he went to Keiv for the day and back. Kinda funny how they have that so coordinated with all the missionaries. But my pictures are first at this lady's and her house. I found the Uzbekistan version of Kim Jensen! Haha she was the kindest lady. We went to teach her for the first time there in Tagliatti. She was so nice and listened, and then brought out all this food for us! It was so awesome. She had five daughters, so we were nervous for just a marriage auction, but it ended up being so good. It was only us and the lady and her youngest daughter and then all the sudden the others brought in all this food! The rice is called plove. It's so good! And she also made this stuff called peroshki in Russia. But hers was Uzbekski so I don't remember what they were called. But they are like a scone filled with potatoes in Russia, but the ones she made were only filled with onions. Weird I know, but trust me on this one. It was awesome. She is from Uzbekistan and grew up in Turkmenistan. Crazy. The other pic I just included to show the coat. Yes, that is fox fur. Nothin’ too fancy, but it’s a good coat. :) We came back to find our area somewhat falling to pieces. We had some great meetings on Friday and Saturday. Friday we met a kid that I found with the Elder I was working with in Ulyanovsk that lived here in Kazan, so we met and he's way cool! Miracle there. We had some other great meetings, but our solids are kind of dying. If that makes sense. I am rushed on time, so this is kinda a mess. On Saturday we met with a family that is from Kyrgistan. Pretty crazy again. I want to take a picture of the house we were in. It is crazy. This little pieced together shack...it was pretty humbling. But it was nice and warm on the inside, the outside was something I have only seen in pictures. We will see where they go. They are staunch Muslims, and gave us the whole singing prayer at the end which was really cool. I got quite the culture experience this week.
The others were a little disappointing. We went yesterday to find our progressing couple drunk as can be for the third time. Needless to say, I don't think we'll be back there for a while. We have also not been able to get a hold of the brothers. We have been a little panicky about that. We asked about their family and hadn't heard anything since. We have been very down about that. However, we just had nothing go good yesterday. Everything fell through and nobody would even say hi it felt like. We stopped and both had the strongest impression to go to them. We already had several times this week. We got there and rang the doorbell. One came to the door! We were so excited and praying someone would come. He apologized and said they had been in Moscow this week trying to get visas renewed. We were so relieved. However, this is where it gets juicy. He started telling us how he has so much problems. They got a bunch of money stolen and don't have the money to renew a visa, or just live. So, they are going to be forced to go back to their country. He started crying a bit. This legitimately broke my heart. He is just this big teddy bear. He said we don't understand what's going on, and they have no idea what to do. He's right- I can't even fathom the situation they are in. We both had the impression to give him a blessing. We went in and talked and explained what a blessing is. Elder Christensen did a beautiful job telling him how everything we have taught is true. He replied by saying, " you believe me, I know everything is true. I know the book is true." Holy cow if that isn't some power. They blow me away. I was able to give the blessing, both of us had the impression that everything will be ok. so basically, they gotta find work today or else go back. I have not quite prayed as hard before as I did last night. If I could ask a favor at home, please pray for these friends. I feel so at peace about the situation, but we are definitely trying our faith. We feel so strong that Heavenly Father has prepared them for something great. As they said, "we will meet in a couple days. I just want it to be like how it was." I firmly believe it will. What a blessing we have had of knowing these two.
Having had it be the end of the cycle, I've had some time to think about what I've learned. What an appreciation I have gained of what we have. I am truly humbled to recognize this. I am sure if anybody saw our home, they would be blown away. To have a car, a big kitchen, a personal swing set for their kids-the temporal blessings we have would blow them away. However, if they could only be there. This would really blow them away-to feel the spirit of our home. To be happy and have a happy family. To have the Rios's walk by and say hello and Kim Jensen saying hi. The love and happiness which we have is truly what's the difference. And that's because we have the gospel. Our picture seems to glow when I show it to people. I am so grateful for the blessings which we have to enjoy. I love each of you and hope you can remember to remember our loving Father in Heaven. Love you!
(Elder Nielson spoke of pictures in his email, but there weren't any attached. :( We will hope for next week!)