Tuesday, July 16, 2013

June 30th letter from Elder Jacob

Dear family and friends,
It has been another great week here in Ussurisk, Russia. On Monday we were able to go to family night one more time at the Bryson's house. Sister Braithwaite and Elder Lyman bore their testimonies since Elder Lyman is going home to Texas and Sister Braithwaite is going to another city for her transfer. Sister Bryson made the treats for family night and made brownies and cinnamon rolls. She really put a lot of work into making treats that day before they go to Nakhodka.
We headed to Razdolnaya (in Russian the city name means far-flung or carefree) on Tuesday to teach Dima. Dima is the son of Brother Popkov whom we went to visit last week in high hopes of teaching his son. We went and Dima was there. We taught a great lesson and he committed to everything we asked and said he wanted to be baptized. He is a very nice kid and well mannered. 
On the way to Dima's house our bus broke down. We had to wait for 40 minutes for another bus in the middle of nowhere and it was rather funny. The things that happen are always random but never unexpected. Welcome to Russia!
We met with the Shatilovs on Wednesday night. I had prepared a lesson to get them ready for the broadcast which they will view on Sunday. I used Preach My Gospel and we read a few selected paragraphs together from the sections The Importance of Members and Go About Doing Good. I committed them to look for service to give every day and to prepare to do the things the broadcast tells them about and think about why we are having the special broadcast. They committed to it and we told them to pray for opportunities to serve and share the gospel and the Lord would give them. 
Friday was a long but interesting day because we went to Vladivostok for a leadership meeting for Elder Barney. We woke up early and went to the bus station. Once we arrived, i was temporarily with Elder Jukes. We went contacting and during the first few hours nothing happened. We had lunch then went way far on the other side of the city. We had people take handouts and a few talk to us but that was about it. It was hard to find men that would even want to talk to us (19 year old men) so we were rejected a lot and i enjoyed it.
We met Sister Morgan whom will be the newly assigned sister here in Ussurisk. She is very nice and we helped her take her things onto a city bus. I have never seen a bus more stuffed. At each stop no one would get off the bus and more people would get on every time till the very end of the city. I would say there was probably at least 60+ people on a small city bus. 
After we made it onto the bus to take us from Vladivostok to Ussurisk, their was bad construction traffic so it took us 3 hours instead of 2 to get back. We helped the sisters take their suitcases to their apartment and we had a very nice taxi driver who was very helpful to us and we gave him a couple handouts. We arrived home a lot later than planned so we quickly planned, ate and went right to bed to be on time.
Saturday was also a great day. We had our studies but then had to leave to go do some service for Sister Demchenka. She works for a day care and needed us to fix up some rooms. We (our district) took everything out of the rooms and painted the walls then we cleaned the floors and organized everything back inside. We had a blast painting as best and fast as we could.
Before we made it to the service project we were waiting for the other missionaries so we could show them where to go. A man was walking his dog to take it to the bathroom. Elder Barney said, "That dog is retarded". I looked and couldn't stop laughing so i had to turn my head. At first i thought the dog was drunk but i couldn't figure out what was wrong with it. The dog kept swaying/shaking like a little kid that doesn't know how to use his legs and then one of the dogs legs would randomly come off the ground so it was doing a weird shaking and hopping walk and running into all sorts of things. It tried to poop but the dog fell over so it had to walk at the same time. It is really hard to explain how funny it was. The owner was completely oblivious to his dog's problems and then another man came up to us and tried to sell us some stray dogs that were running nearby.
After service we called a taxi so that we could get to lunch. When the taxi arrived, the driver just happened to be Volva (The most recent baptism in the area). I forgot that he drove taxis as his job but he drove us to Country Pizza. There we were able to see Elder Lyman (now brother Lyman) and his mother because they are spending some time in Russia before he goes home. Volva was able to see Brother Lyman one last time too which is nice because he was the one to baptize him so it was all meant to happen today. 
Country Pizza was too full at the one we were at so they made a reservation for us at the other one. We got in taxis again and headed over to the other one. We were in luck again because the owner was sitting outside of the restaurant waiting for the reservation. The owner speaks English, German, and Russian so it wasn't hard to communicate with him. His name is Alex and we were able to talk with him for a while. 
Brother Lyman had his mother bring a texas license plate to put in the restaurant (since there are different license plates but a lot are missing and the restaurant is American based). He was very pleased with the gift and he sat with all of us to talk. We invited him to come to English practice and he was super excited to know there was somewhere to go practice. We are hoping he will come and i decided he would make a great member. He was very nice to put American flags in our pizza, show us a few things, sit and talk with us, and he even invited us back for the 4the of July. Wish you all a good week! -Elder Elwood 

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