Good morning to you all back at home!
Man those were a lot of fun letters I was able to get from all of you this week, sorry I wasn't able to get too many replies back, but I will definitely take care of those the next couple weeks. But just so you know I really appreciate those. Also, just so you know, I got the nice Christmas cards and envelope. Thanks so much! Those were some sick cards and good to hear from Megan. It sounds like your all doin’ well, just keep on keepin on! And thanks for the pictures, it gave me a good guilt trip to get some sent to you. :) So here you go. This is in front of some cool graffiti we found last night, so I couldn't resist. We also got me and Elder Taylor and Broekhuijsen and Langston, they are my buddies out here. And then we got us chillin’ on Christmas morning! And last we had to take a picture of our streets here in Samara! Right behind that is a big walking street and we live on the right and the office is down the hill to the left. Anyways just thought you might want an idea. Enjoy!
As far as things go here, it is just all good. We had a fun visa trip week with keepin’ track of groups coming in and out and then flyin’ out myself. There really isn't too much with that, we had some good time in the airport, just kinda chillin’ and goin’ to the next flight. We can't go to the temple anymore, the winter flights just don't line up right and plus some missionaries were dumb in Kiev and so the Area Presidency said no to the temple for now. But it's all good, it's pretty much getting up at two in the morning and then there are 4 flights to Moscow, Kiev, and then back at about midnight. It's a good time.
As far as other things go, we are just workin’ round here. We are actually going to get there with Ryslan and he is just a miracle man that's for sure. They had him stand in priesthood and say why he was getting baptized and he stood and just said, "well I have found answers here that I couldn't find anywhere else. In the name of Jesus Christ amen." It was a pretty cool thing. I'm super excited for him. Tatyana, we will see what goes down with her. She loves the missionaries that served here with her and we are honestly just trying to just push for her to be baptized in a regular font when we have Ryslan's service. Pretty lame details, but there will be a better report next week on that!
We had an interesting experience this past week with an investigator, her name is Anya. We actually met with her in McDonalds (there is one in the center of the city here and it is probably the nicest thing in the city). That is the place that just all the young people just flood and love to just hang there. It wasn't my favorite atmosphere, but we met with her and she just started rattling off all these problems she had because of...well sin. She just kept talking circles around herself and just didn't want anything that the Gospel had to offer and then would just start talking again about how she could make herself feel better. Anyways, in the end she wouldn't take a Book of Mormon and just wouldn't hear anything from us, just wanted to come up with some solution on her own. It was a really weird feeling walking out of there, my testimony was very strengthened by the effects that I could see the gospel has had in life and how perfect of an example that was of somebody that doesn't keep the commandments. We are just sad when we don't. She was a young, smiley girl, but was really so sad and wouldn't take what would really cure her problems. And the whole place was just full of that kind of those people, we were able to talk to one of them. Everybody trying to find happiness in some kind of healing by spending whatever little rubles they have at pleasure island. I was brought back to many times that perhaps I wasn't deeply sinning, but how immersed in that kind of nonsense in life. It was almost a joke how sad of a scene that was going on. We were a couple of flys on the wall of the great and spacious building. I am so grateful for the perspective the Gospel gives to us because I think of how much I have been saved from that down spiraling path to nowhere. I hope that we can all recognize that because as we read in the Book of Mormon, there really is no other way. I really want our family to remember that and it sounds like you are doing a good job of that. Anyways, just one of those good mission experiences.
Well besides that, I would like to close out with dad's questions! I think those were really fun, and a good way to end up on a higher note!
1) What "fun" stuff do you do on P-Day? Do you ever play any ball? Do you get to see much of the Russian sites?
P day is a little more different than I thought we usually have spent the rest of my mission searching for somewhere to write home, then the last hour or so to chill or cook up something in mass size. It saves the rest of the week. People here in Russia just aren't ballers, so that has been a dark part of my heart. As far as sites go, there isn't too much at least in Samara. We have the scenic area, so as we go we see some cool stuff.
2) What do you do for personal study time? Do you focus mainly on the Book of Mormon or something else? In English or Russian?
Personal Study is pretty much Book of Mormon and PMG. I have been reading through the Book of Mormon in Russian, and sometimes get switched up depending on what lessons we have and things. It's a good time, I'm in Mosiah right now. :)
3) Do you do "service" as missionaries? Like are there many opportunities to do community or personal or church service projects?
We don't have a ton of opportunities in the community to do service. The Russian community doesn't quite have the organization, so any service we do is random helping a member with this or that. I haven't been able to do any for a while....
4) Besides your family, of course, who else faithfully writes you?
Writing other people hasn't exactly been a forte of mine. I've gotten a few letters from friends, but we are only able to write on p day and I honestly just haven't had time to write much. So, it's a two lane road. I've gotten a couple from Tanner J, Brayden, Megan, Natalie, and lil’ Jess. I haven't helped myself out with that too much and time goes so fast, I honestly forget about that.
5) How are your clothes, shoes, supplies holding up?
All my stuff is holding up really well. I have a real good coat and bear hat and other jacket. My other clothes are doing well. Garments are going to need some looking over by the end. If you sent another package, another set of black suit pants wouldn't be the worst thing ever.
6) You don't say much about getting down or frustrated. Yet in the MTC, it seems like you mentioned you experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Do you ever get down or frustrated or discouraged?
To be honest, there is honestly some hard stuff, but I haven't had too hard a time for a while. My last cycle down in Saratov got a little tough because I started understanding what people were saying and I think the rejection gets a little old sometimes. And having the ability to reply back and understand doesn't help. I think everyone goes through that, but to be honest there hasn't been too much.
7) I get better looking each day. How is that working out for you?
That must be hereditary.
9) Are the Russians superstitious too? See how I skipped #8? In Spain, it seemed like none of the elevators went to floor 13 or something like that.
Yes they are outta control superstitious. That to them is their religion. They don't whistle, shake hands through the door way, drink cold beverages, eat "chemicals" (anything that's not natural) and just have a bunch of other funny things. It is a crack up.
10) Can I get rid of Charley yet? Ok, ok, just a joke.....taking good care of the crazy dog.
Thank you I appreciate it. I gotta have at least one girl when I get home.
Anyways, hope those are answered well, those were fun for me. Hope you all have a fun week! Love you all! Have fun at the dance Sarah!