Monday, March 16, 2015

Week: 92
This is really hard to write.  Man, I can't believe they are kicking my butt out of here.  Friends, these past two years have been amazing.  At times they have been awful, but they were amazing.  I have nothing but gratitude and love for my mission, only appreciation.  I'm so lucky to have been able to serve here and do the things I've been able to, most importantly meet the people I've met.  Just fifteen minutes or so ago my friend andrey from moscow called me, he is leaving for his mission in an hour.  That was a sucker punch to the heart.  These people are so good, it's so awesome that I got to be around them for a while and try to serve them as much as I can.  I love my mission so much.  I've spent a good amount of time in the fetal position, but at the end you have nothing but good memories, only happy things.  I guess it's kind of like giving birth, I don't know I've never tried it.  God is so awesome.  This is probably a pretty scattered email, it's hard for me to get my thoughts together right now.  I guess I should go ahead and finish it off her.  It's been quite a doozy everybody, we've laughed, we've cried, we did other stuff, but it's been good.  Yesterday at church I had the opportunity to give a little 12 year old chunky russian boy the priesthood, and watch his face light up when I gave him my ties because he didn't have any.  That's a side note.  Man this is hard to put together.  To avoid sounding crazy I'm going to end here with my testimony.  I know that God lives.  I knew that before my mission but I've come to know it more certainly every single day I've been here.  I know he's looking after every one of us, whether we realize it or not, and he is doing everything that there is to be done so that we can be happy.  He sent his Son Jesus Christ to atone for our sins, and it is in and through him that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father.  People, God's plan is so great, I've seen it change people 100%, it's definitely changed me big time.  The thing I'm most grateful for in his plan is that we can be with our loved ones forever.  I don't know when or if I'm going to see these friends here again in this life, but I know that I'll see them again.  It's sad but it's happy at the same time.  Anyway, that's all I've got.  I love  you all and thank you so much for your support and your letters and your prayers.  I can't wait to see all you guys. Peace out
(for the last time) Elder Holland

Week: 91

Hey, so my internet pooped out earlier before I could write you guys a letter, sorry.  Sorry if last weeks letter made me seem like I was losing my mind, ok maybe I was a little bit, but I've mellowed out and accepted my fate.  I guess I can't play foreigner forever, and I know that I can't play missionary forever, I'm pooped.  Doing better though, leaving from your mission is a lot like leaving on your mission, just full of goodbyes and they get all drawn out and at a certain point you are just ready to peace out.  Still not excited about leaving my people, but I am excited to see you all and do all that life stuff.  This week was good, we got to go to bransk, the church isn't out there, just one member and his little family, he his wife and new baby all in one little tiny room.  Really nice family, mom wants to hear the lessons and possibly get baptized, the sisters will be teaching her over skype.  It was pretty interesting to feel the difference of a city where the church absolutely does not exist.  We feel very strongly however that it will soon be opened for missionary work and that place will be overflowing with mo's. Oh, I've added another modem of transportation to my between city travel, it's called ghetto old soviet bus that looks like it was built for gypsies.  That was a good time, except not really.  Oh but we did get to stay in a hotel which was quite the treat.  I slept on a bed for the first time in many months,  I woke up feeling good to say the least.  I think I might start using an air matress instead of the couch I've been crashing on.  anyway, things are good, just trying to finish strong.  This will be my last full week of missionary work.  Strange times, good ones though.  Alright guys, I'll be back next week to do my last letter, I love all you guys.  AND HAPPY BIRFDAY CONNOR.  
Week: 90
Strange times indeed.  The countdown is getting real and I'm FREAKING OUT.  Just kidding I'm fine,  I'm excited to come home and see all you guys, but leaving is going to destroy me a little bit.  I especially love the people in this area.  Anywho this week we did a LOT of member work, and o do they need it.  The young ladies and the old priesthood holders still be running wild, and we are trying really hard to lift them up and keep them happy.  Good news, faisal is going to st petersburg, which is much better, and he doesn't leave til april.  Um what else.  We had zls come in, was my last zl splits I'll have, and yesterday the last fast and testimony meeting.  I got up at the end and was like, well friends, this is the last one, so I'm going to go ahead and drop one on ya here.  It was hard, much like when they kicked me out of rechnoy over to international and I thought that would be the last time I bear my testimony in a setting like that.  Man I'm so thankful that I've been able to do this,  I wish I could have been more grateful throughout the process, but missions weren't meant to be a cake walk.  Blessings outweigh the hard stuff big time though.  Anywho I'm out of time, but I'll be back in a week to write home.  Two more pdays after this.  AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.  Alright I'm fine.  Calming down.  I'm ok.  Alright bye.
-elder holland

Week 89:
This week was alright.  Still most of our meetings aren't working out, but hey, that's life. NEWS.  Our schedule has changed so that when we wake up at 630 we just put on our suits hit the streets and start talking to people til 9.  It helps me cuz I hate waking up and sitting inside all day, I fall asleep all over the place.  But now I can get up and go and then when i come back i actuallly exercise instead of laying on the ground and pretending to do sit ups.  So yeah, we haven't seen a ton of success from it, turns out people don't like talking about religion at 7 in the morning on their way to work, but we are still working on it, and in general I like it.  We started meeting with a former investigator who used to date one of the members here.  She dumped him after 5 years and it destroyed his life so he started drinking smoking drugs all that danger.  He's trying to get rid of all of it and so we are trying to help him, but his biggest problem is he can't get over that girl.  She's a real heart breaker.  A lot of our former investigators are her ex boyfriends. haha.  More drama, one of the members started dating her best friends (also a member) brother.  BAM.  And you know who has to jump in the middle of the drama and calm everybody down.  That's right, the emotionally retarded elder holland.  I think one of the biggest lessons I've learned on my mission is that God has an awesome sense of humor.  I'm sure there has been a laugh or two from trying to serve in my different areas.  We are trying though.  Well, I think that's about it for this week,  Not a whole lot to tell. We've got the zone leaders coming in this week so that will be cool.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAM.  You are the greatest mom in the history of moms. fact. And you are not old.  Miss you all, but I'll be seeing you pretty soon here.  It's making me really sad sometimes that I'm leaving my people, but I will be really happy to see all of you guys.  Alright, take it easy, will write you next week.
-elder Holalnd
Week 88 (BRENT BURNS):

This week was... difficult.  One of those ones where absolutely nothing goes as planned.  But hey, those have got to happen every once in a while.  The biggest thing was that nobody would talk with us all week and we didn't know what was going on.  I'm starting to think that I've already talked to most the people in our area place, had a couple of people tell me that I've already bothered them, haha.  So yeah, the whole district struggled big time this week with lessons, plans, contacting, basically everything.  Sunday, church was pretty rough, president hansen was gone and basically none of the plans for the meetings went through, made me realize how nice it is to have the senior couple here.  I never got to be a branch president in my mission, and I'm not too upset about that, it's a lot to worry about.  Well, not really sure what else to write especially, things are normal.  I'm beginning to understand why missions don't go longer than two years, my body is starting to shut down and I don't think she can take much more, but there's no time to slow down now, only got so long left.  I think this will be the first actual pday I've had in smolensk, every single other one had something come up that we had to do so I haven't been able to relax much for the past two months or so. This will be nice. Anyway good to hear that everyone is alive and well back home.  The sun is out here, seems like the first time that there have been colors for 4 months or so.  Pretty nice, hopefully it will make these russians a little more cheery.  Happy valentines day everyone, I didn't realize that it was happening until the sisters called me asking me if they could go around giving heart shaped balloons to strangers and tell them that God loves them.  O sisters.  Take it easy friends, write me letters. Bye.
-elder holland
Week 87:
Hey everybody,
Good week this week, first monday.  So much stuff.  I'll not go into too much detail but getting Faisal's baptism together was not an easy task.  BUT, we did it and it was absolutely awesome.  It seems like a long time ago that it happened, weird that it was just a week ago.  We took him down to the sauna where we do the baptisms here, and had a nice little meeting.  Going into the water with him I didn't expect it to be freezing cold, but it was.  Haha.  He said it was the first time he was going into water at all, he'd never swam before.  He was so ready though.  I said the words, put him down, pulled him out, and he had tears in his eyes.  I asked him how he felt, and he said in his little indian accent "Awesome".  When we were getting dressed he just kept saying, finally I'm baptized!  Good kid.  My whole mission was already worth it and an amazing experience in itself, but just that one experience made the whole two years totally worth it.  It was one of the best days of my life.  Other than that this week we just spent a lot of time in moscow.  I was staying over with elder gleason and cutler my mtc comp, we had some good times, did a lot of work.  Didn't sleep very much though, chatterboxs they are.  Oh also the police came by for a visit the other night, they just checked our passports and said they would come to church.  They didn't show though.  So yeah, we've got a whole new district here and six weeks to get work done.  Gotta sprint to the finish.  Everyone keeps making jokes about me dying and it's starting to get very very real.  But I'm not sure my organism has realized it yet.  I just got through the days like I usually do.  Sometimes I get hit with a wave of dread that I'm not going to be with me people anymore, that's pretty sad.  Man I love these guys.  However, I am excited to see you guys back in america.  Just not sure how exactly to live there.  Whatever I'll get used to it.  Anyway that was my week, really good one.  You all take it easy, see ya soon.  
Elder Holland
Week: 86

Hey everyone.  Things are getting pretty weird up in here.  We've gotten transfer calls, the last one I'll ever have.  It seems as though I'll be sticking around here to the end and elder kunzler will be killing me.  We had a couple of missionaries leave the district which is a bummer, but the next one should be good.  Strange going into the last transfer, it's starting to get real.  Trying to keep it out of my brain though.  Good News Bad News.  Faisal got gypped pretty hard by his medical school, because he was in the hospital he failed one of his tests and there was supposed to be a retake on the 31st but the teacher on a whim decided not to give it so now he's getting booted out of russia.  Silent tear.  Good news, he is getting baptized today.  Woo.  He is going to be an awesome member and it has been amazing to see him learn and grow over the past 2 months.  Some people just get things, Faisal was one of them.  Teaching him was a piece of cake.  He's asked me to baptize him and it's pretty humbling.  Really glad that he would trust me to do that.  So today is a good day, but I have been running a round like a chicken with it's head cut off getting all of this stuff together.  Everything that could have happened to stop faisal from getting baptized has happened, but he stuck it out, he never gave up, and now he is going to get blessed out the wazoo.  Also this week we taught a guy about repentance and stuff on the street.  He was like guys, you come to the wrong guy, I'm game over.  He then listed off all the bad stuff he's done.  It was another one of those want to go home and take a shower with all my clothes on and cry deeply moments.  When he was done we were like, uh, I think that means we've come to the right guy dude, you need this stuff more than anybody.  We prayed with him at the end, was cool to see how he changed just throughout the course of the meeting.  After the prayer his expression was totally different and he asked us for our number and when we could meet.  Other than that we have two new investigators this week.  One of them is ARMENIAN.  I love me some armenians.  I think that's about all of the news.  Good week, lots of good things, pretty tired though.  Once again we will be heading into moscow for a visa trip.  I swear they won't let me stay in my city.  LAME.  Well, I'll be seeing you guys in a couple of weeks here.  Things are getting weird. So strange.  I don't know how to live in america anymore.  I don't think I can drive a car.  Ah.  Danger.  Ok bye.