Friday, June 14, 2013

Last P-Day went super well. Once we got to the church i was able to send a bunch of pictures that i was behind on and email everyone. After that we went shopping and got some good food. I was excited when i found some kind of pear juice. I actually really like it and it tastes like pears. I also realized that sparkling cider tastes like carbonated pear juice.
We rode the bus somewhere into town. It was my first time on the bus but it wasn't anything too crazy unless a car would pull in front of the bus and we almost hit a few so the bus driver slammed on the horn. We arrived at the train station where a woman who was previously interested in the gospel was working.
The woman's name is yelyena and she had attended english group at age 17 and was super interested in the gospel but her parents wouldn't sign the paper so when she was 18 the elders called back and she said she was super busy but to call back. Nobody had called back since and she is now around 20 and works as a hairdresser. Elder Barney had called and talked to her and she told him that she was a hairdresser which was funny because elder barney was going to get a haircut on the same day so he told her that and he got a haircut. She was really nice and said she would come to english class the next day.
Family night was good. I gave the spiritual thought and shared the scriptures D&C 46:11-14 and 82:10 and talked about spiritual gifts and some will know of christ and others will believe on others which will be enough then i talked about the other scripture and how we need to next do as the lord says and he will hold his promises. Afterwards we played this popular game where someone hides a pen in the room then everyone comes in and sits down when they see the pen. We also played a game where there is someone in the middle with their eyes closed and they have a tube in their hand. Everyone has a number and the person in the middle calls out two numbers and those two people have to switch spots before the person in the middle can hit them with their eyes closed. It was a very good Preparation day and i hope we get some new investigators from it.
On Tuesday after studies we went to district meeting. We talked about being positive and only saying good things about loving the gospel and the members of the church to set a good example. We had some great conversations and it was good for district bonding. Afterwards we called some people before dinner then headed over to English practice.
At English practice we had several new people whom had somehow found out about the group. They came in and one said that he was recommended for the advanced speaking group. I said that if he could say that then he was welcome into that group. Elder Barney and I were in charge of the easier group today. We played the game psychiatrist and they thought that was pretty fun. Unfortunately, two of our potential investigators didn't show up for good reasons but they said they wanted to come and will try for next week. We are super excited. I was able to invite some of the new people to the picnic that was on Saturday.
On wednesday we went to Baba's again and helped her with her garden. I have some pictures this time to show. We also met with a man named Vladimir and he was super nice. He said that he respects all religions but he doesn't really have one he is leaning towards. We are going to try and help him find the gospel with a lot of inviting.
Thursday was a very interesting day. We made it to the other elders' apartment at 730 then our companions left to Vladivostok for a training meeting and i was left with Elder Ostler for the day. Elder Barney is now the new zone leader here. Elder Ostler did our studies together and after lunch we left to our first appointment. We couldn't figure out what bus to ride so we asked someone and he said any of them so we hopped on a random bus.
On our way to meet a member for our lesson, the man called and cancelled our lesson. Eventually we made it to the right location for meeting the member but we weren't sure we were on the right bus still. The member, Sister Perfiliva, invited us to her house so we could give her family a lesson instead. We practiced our lesson for our next investigator, Lev, but we applied it to her and talked to her about her questions.
Afterwards, we went and had a lesson with our investigator Lev. The lesson went as planned and we taught the first half of the third lesson, the gospel of Jesus Christ. We split it in half so next lesson we can focus more on baptism. During this lesson Lev said that he wants to read the whole Book of Mormon before he is baptized. Next time when Elder Barney will be there to explain more clearly, we will try and get a baptismal date set.
We called a taxi after our lesson and right after we called, our next lesson was cancelled too. We went around looking for people we could find to meet and invite to the picnic activity on Saturday so we might find some more potential investigators. We weren't too successful but I have given out lots of invitations to members, to members to give to their friends, to nonmembers, less actives, etc.
I thanked Sister Perfiliva for helping us and asked her what we could do to help her. She thought about it and said she would have to think and then i asked her for a referral. She said that her friends are tricky and i asked her to keep thinking and she said that she would have to do that. I then offered some invitations to her to give to her friends to come to the picnic and she accepted them. I think a lot of the time that we don't think to ask people about service opportunities because we can make assumptions a lot.
Elder Ostler and i lead the discussion in english group on Thursday and it went well. We had some more new people and talked about going places, what we wanted to do and some of our favorite things at the places. It was fun and i think Elder Ostler really enjoyed leading it.
Elder Barney and I had a really good planning session on Friday. We have filled the whole week up with things we will be doing and want to work better with our goals. It is really good to not only plan every day but to know what your goals are for the week and what you want to get done so that the shorter plans and goals can be clearer to achieve.
Saturday was a great day. We had a picnic and played several games with everyone. We had a good turn out and 4 of our investigators were there. Some games we played were tug-o-war, guess what flavor of baby food we were tasting, and a game where your team mates toss balloons and you have to pop them to fill a container. It was a really good activity for members and investigators.
We had a few lessons after the picnic. I had a very spiritual experience in one of the lessons and i was able to guide and teach the lesson with the help of elder barney. I have never taught so much in a lesson so well.
In another lesson we taught lev and his wife. They both are really great people and i can see them becoming better and better. They said that we are helping them become better. I can really see their desire grow as they continue doing what we tell them too. I am so grateful for the investigators and members here and the experiences i have had.
Sunday was great. We had more people show up at sacrament meeting than we have had the last few weeks. One of our investigators, Lev, stayed for Sunday school again but this time we didn't even have to ask him to come, he told us. Elder Bryson and the Branch President, President Shadrohen, passed the sacrament to show that any of the priesthood holders could pass the sacrament. I think that it brought a reverance to sacrament meeting.
We also talked to Sergei on Sunday for a while that night. We had a good conversation about why he wasn't sure about baptism. Elder Barney and I shared several experiences. I feel like he really needed it. We have taught several lessons and shared a lot of spiritual things but those experiences felt like they did something extra.
Elder Barney and I are getting along great still and he is going to help me tell someone how to cut my hair today (finger length on the top and 8 mm on the side) hopefully it goes well. We are making good progress with our investigators and they are great, amazing people. I wish everyone well. -Elder Elwood

The pictures below are as follows:  a temple of another church in russia - he was disappointed that the car drove through his picture.  A ward picnic with investigators.  the next two are of a bridge with locks where couples put a lock after they are married representing staying together forever.  A sister in the ward and her son that is being taught the discussions.  jacob playing ping pong with his companion and investigator.  The couple missionary that is serving there.  next two Baba's garden that they help with.  and the last is a picture of the missionaries and investigators and members.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

June 2, 2013 weekly letter

Everything has gone well in the last week. Not everything was easy but we were successful in working hard. Last pday was pretty good. We had the opportunity to give both of the sister missionaries blessings because sister braithwait's eye was all swollen and you couldn't see her eye and the other sister asked for one when we got there because she was having an allergic reaction. The next time we saw them, they were almost all better and now they are back to normal.
I spent some time writing a response to a few emails i printed off so i can type them faster today. It is hard for me to get myself to take a nap because i always feel i have something to do which is nice because i get things done.
We went and bought a dvd player with a screen. They are super hard to find in Russia because who would really want one anywhere when you can get a tablet, laptop, etc. We found one and it was kind of expensive but it was the last one and the only one we can find anywhere.
We had family night at the Bryson's even though they were gone. We had a song, a thought and then some dessert. We played mafia and i don't really know how to play but it was also in Russian so i was super confused. It makes me wonder if the game was made by the Russians.
I didn't understand the game very well so it kind of messed with it a little bit because i wasn't understanding. I would say things in Russian and everyone was dying with laughter by the end of the game. I really don't know why people think i am so funny. It blows my mind sometimes. In fact, we had to resing the last verse of the hymn we ended with because it was super fast and hard even for the elders who have been here a long time and i kept slaughtering the words and making everyone laugh again.
While reading the Book of Mormon this week, i have gone back to the start several times while continuing with my daily chapter because i understand more and want to mark things i've missed. I take the time to look up deeper meanings to words and phrases and use resources like preach my gospel to explain things better.
I have been working on grammar and going through a grammar book this last week. I am finally understanding things and elder barney is very helpful at explaining things and that is one of his strengths, grammar.
We went to a place called Country Pizza on Tuesday with the district for lunch. It was good for Russia but any place in the USA would have better pizza and this was there best so it was interesting but fun. At least they didn't use mayonnaise (that is how most Russians make their pizzas and salads here). Afterwards we had our district meeting and talked about using the Book of Mormon. We also went to baba alovteena's house again to help her with her garden and chop wood.
On Tuesday's English group night i was supposed to give the story. Elder Barney said i should try to make it funny and i told him a few stories beforehand. I couldn't really think of anything else so i ended up telling a funny story about a friend and they thought it was super hilarious. They were slapping their heads about how oblivious i can be sometimes.
Sister rumnyatseeva brought me a bag of various delicious fruits this week. She had thought it was strange that i didn't eat much, didn't like eating, etc. She found out that i only like fruit so she brought me a bunch randomly one day. I thanked her a bunch but told her she doesn't have to get me gifts. She is very giving to everyone.
We had a few times this week where elder barney and i would study the same things during personal study without realizing it. We would study the same chapters of the book of mormon and preach my gospel because our purpose was the same. However, we tend to get different things out of it. I remember on wednesday we had studied the same things for the same purpose but i ended up planning a lesson for another investigator and we had two really good lessons planned by the end of companionship study.
Another miracle that happened was the lesson i had come up with during that study. I was planning for the same thing that elder barney was but then everything i was reading made me think of uri uta. We have taught him once since i've been here and nobody has really gotten anywhere with him. We called him and invited him to have a lesson at the church. When he showed up, we toured the church and he thought it was really nice and was surprised. Afterwards, we had a lesson and everything i had planned had been going well. The lesson also went well and we used the scripture i found in personal study. It was ezekiel 37:15-20 and i explained how the bible talks about the book of mormon and how they will work together. The lesson went well and we think we can get him to church soon. We also had a hole of time that day that we didn't know what to fill it with and we called him and he just happened to be available at that time.
The walk back to our apartment was very fun. When it rains here, it floods. There is no draining system so the water just goes all over the streets and everywhere you walk. The puddles are huge.
We went to the Shatilov's house on Friday and gave them a Book of Mormon challenge. We watched a video, talked to them about sharing the gospel and we all wrote our testimonies in a separate book of mormon to give to someone. We asked them whom they would like to share the gospel with and finally it came down to their son/brother. They will have to slowly work with him but they really want to develop a better relationship with him. Their family is very nice and they are also super giving. They didn't have much but they had something prepared for us to eat when we got there. The people here would give you anything if you asked for it.
During English on Thursday all of the people talked about me for about 20 minutes and then i finally found an opening to change the subject and they were kind of disappointed. They were so interested in how i was a manager of a restaurant. One woman couldn't believe how i could be 18 and manage a restaurant and know how so she kept asking questions, another wanted to know what i did there, another was interested in how much i made and if i would learn russian recipes and there were several other kinds of questions.
I went tracting for my first time this week. Basically, you find an apartment building and then start ringing numbers till someone answers their domaphone. When they answer, we talk to each one saying we are missionaries until someone lets you in. After that, we went in and started at the top by knocking on doors till someone answers then we offer them the gospel and see if someone will accept. We weren't in luck but maybe that will lead to something in the future and it was a good experience so i am glad elder barney was willing to take me.
We had a lesson with sergei and during weekly planning we had planned out a super spiritual week of events to keep him studying, praying, fasting, preparing, etc so that he might receive an answer. We don't know how well it will work but he will be reading and giving us a lesson. I am really glad for the inspiration i have received since i have been here. The ideas are fantastic.
Elder Barney and I called some people out of the area book last night and we found 3 people we are going to meet with and maybe get some new investigators. One just happens to be a hairdresser and elder barney was planning for a haircut today so that is convenient. She has been very interested in the gospel but was too young to learn because her parent wouldn't sign a paper and then when she was 18 they called but she was busy and there has been no contact since then. She has been super interested so hopefully everything goes well. I am super excited for our new potential investigators.
This week has been great. I have worked hard with elder barney and made new goals to improve. We play catch with a frisbee in the morning now to make exercise more effective. I hope everyone is doing great! -elder elwood