Hey there family!
Wow man that was some such darn good reports to read from all of you. Man that is so good for me to hear. It is interesting how sometimes the mind wonders how things are going back at the ranch. First I gotta give a hollar to lil’ Tanner! Nice work man goin’ real big! Way to go I am so happy to hear your playin’ well and enjoying it. That’s how it should be. You'll probably be able to beat me up by the time I get back! It is also so fun to hear about the fun week that you got going on back at home with all the Arnett's. Gosh that brings back some way good memories and I would not object to also be there with you guys, I sure hope you enjoy the time together. It is interesting to hear about a big family getting together, people here are so proud to tell us that they have 2 kids and 3 grandkids. Their eyes get all big when they venture to tell me they have 4 grandkids even. Dad I'm sure you can imagine the dramatic European speech as these older ladies are so proud of their families. They can't fathom having all the little kiddos running around that I'm sure we have at home right now. So fun. And so good to have Scottie and the gang be able to make it! Man you will have such a good week.
It is funny some of the things that you had mentioned were some things that Elder Cowley and I had talked about just over the last week. For example, Mom I don't know if i'll come back a 6' 4" Ryan Jolley. Nastya (a member here) was looking through my camera and told me I was fat in the MTC! And then she said that I'm going to go home a rail from Russia. It was pretty funny, the nice humidity of Saratov and the lack of PB & J sandwiches is going to make me come home a little skinny guy. Good times. We also had some time the other night to just chat after we had got everything done and were waiting for bed to chat a lil’ bit. Elder Cowley asked a bit about SVU, and for the first time it seemed that I was finally able to talk about and look back at that whole crazy experience. What a weird 5 month dream that was. I haven't had too much time to think about that whole experience cause it's just been go go go ever since, but I was just dyin’ laughing telling Elder Cowley about that crazy place. So funny. I sure hope Collin has a good time. I am looking forward to getting some news from him, he's such a good guy I was lucky to be buds with him. Also, happy b day to big Tanner (Jensen) man I am so excited to get that guy out in the field. You'll have to watch for a letter, I sent a test run letter to him. Don't worry family, I am working on something better than a letter for you. :) Just to answer a couple of questions mama: for dinner I have to admit I have acquired the ketchup and noodles meal. I must say, it's pretty good. They have some fancy ketchup here. And you can throw it down in about 5 minutes. We also throw down a lot of pancakes and french toast, those always hit the spot.
Now for the update on the good Zavodskoy! Yes, Elder Cowley and I will be working together again here and are excited about it. He is from Logan, Utah and will be hitting his year mark. He was a mountain crest mustang, and just a good guy to get along with. We are definitely learning a lot together. I have a lot to learn still. Life in general is going very well here. We have the same Tatyana, Sasha, and Alyssa that we are working together with towards baptism. We have been very blessed with a couple younger guys that we found a couple weeks ago. Their names are Sergei and Ivan. They are our bros! Sergei is 20 and Ivan is 19. They ran into us when we were talking to a lady and it kinda chased her away so we though they were just a couple of punks. But anyways they asked us ‘bout the Book of Mormon and we ended up getting contact info and giving them the book. They actually read! That was about 2 weeks ago, but this past week was really good. They came with us to family night at the Williams' (the senior couple here, they will be going home to PG on Friday, you'll have to watch for them. Also, Dad, I gave them the suitcase which they needed so that worked out well) and they meshed in real well. They are younger, goofy guys, but when we talk about the gospel or pray, they get real serous. It's so darn cool. They came on Wednesday to sports night with us, and we found out that on Tuesday they had actually gone with Nactya (the member) clear up to the other side of the city to institute at the other senior couples' place. It's like 2 hours away! We were so pumped to hear that, and they studied 1 Nephi 8 there which is just da’ bomb for investigators. Anyways, they also came to an activity on Saturday with an art lady in one of the branches here that does the nesting dolls. Here is a picture of it :) (Sergei with black hair, Ivan is the blonde) Ivan then came to church yesterday, Sergei was a lil’ sick which was a bummer. For the week, those two are definitely the highlight. Ivan especially reminds me of those Syrian bros we had, he is just the man. Family died in a car wreck, if I understood correctly, and so he is very prepared for the message. I love that guy. We are so excited to work with them, and begin to actually make them progress towards baptism. They already love the branch and are just a fun couple of guys to have around. It's been so good, I love those guys.
There are so many good things going on around here. The work has been so enjoyable and has kept us so busy. It's been interesting how recently, we've been asked so many times why bad things happen to good people and good things to bad people. I guess, if anybody has some good input on that, it would be very interesting to have more in the arsenal to share with people here. We even talked with a lady last night who asked that, and it was interesting the way the Spirit directed the conversation. She told us of all these bad things and how she still trusts in God, but asked why she gets such "punishment". It was interesting to then tell her to recognize the trust and love which has grown in her in our Father in Heaven. She has the hope in Him that all will be made right. It was interesting, also to talk about how she is better off than the people that we talk to everywhere that refuse to acknowledge a God, or any truth. Anyways, it left me really thinking. I would love any input. :)
All in all, things are just good. It is the good work. It's not easy, but it's good. I love all of you and am so glad to hear of the good times you are all having. I sure hope you enjoy it and that all is good. I keep you in my prayers and am so blessed from each of your support. Love ya!
(also the other pic here is with a member Roman and his inactive bro down at their place outside the city. It is some legit taste of Russia there for ya!)