Monday, December 2, 2013

Week 32:

Happy thanksgiving errybody, hope you all had a good one.  We did. Started off rough, that morning we got a text saying that all elders now have to wear suits every day.  That was a slap to the face.  Nobody hates suits like elder holland hates suits.  It is the inverse of my nature to wear them.  But really it's not that huge of a deal, problem is I only got one left, that's a funny story.  Today I was running for the bus and I slipped on some ice and ripped my pants and messed up my knees. Some I'm sitting here in some revealing pants. Learned my lesson, gonna start wearing boots and stop running for any reason.  Anywho, we had a thanksgiving feast of chicken and other foods at the old people missionaries' house.  Was pretty fun, but besides that we did our usual running around trying to bring people some Jesus.  Yup.  I got called a spy more this week than usual.  Pretty funny chatting with those old russian men with the really thick glasses that are still pretty bummed about the ussr falling.  Antropov is still having a rough go of it.  This is going to be my last week with him no matter what, pres made that pretty clear.  Going to be a sad goodbye but I'm ready for a change.  I'm pooped.  I love the guy to death but too much drama for me to handle.  Also it will be nice to speak english sometimes.  Week was pretty dry as far as missionary work, except for at the end we got a referral from a member and had a sweet lesson.  Was pretty out of nowhere, but it was awesome.  Felt really good to have someone honestly listen to us.  Missions are pretty cool when you get to teach, just when there is a dry spell you start to forget what it's all about.  Anyway can't really remember that much from this week, kind of a blur.  Oh, saw my armenian brother.  Dang I love that guy.  He's doing work down in his city, done baptized 8 armenians down there in the past 2 months.  All kinds of cool.  Anyway, I'll let you guys know next week what I've got in the way of transfers, I don't think I'm aloud to name the area directly via email so I'll have to do it in binary code or something.  Gotta love them rules.  Til next week friends.  
Week 31:

Things are still pretty chilly out here.  Still not freezing but pretty nippy.  The russian darkness has settled.  Its about 9:15 here and the sun still isn't up yet.  It Gets dark around 5, and that is just the beginning, will be getting darker and darker.  People seem to be peaved at the weather and darkness making them less likely to talk to us.  It's funny because nobody lives in the cold like russians, but nobody hates the cold like russians.  They are babies about it sometimes, and if you don't dress right you are going to get yelled at by somebody.  This week was pretty decent, last monday had a lesson with a guy who we already knew was weird but now we are pretty sure he is in love with the taliban.  Which is bad.  Then the next day we met with a super cool guy who was awesome.  Young guy that dresses fresh as heck, builds furniture with his bare hands, likes camping, has a great understanding of God and stuff already; and most importantly... He's not crazy!!!  Cool guy, hope we can meet up with him again.  After that the lessons stopped, which was a bummer.  Happens though.  Antropov is doing aight, still not peachy.  This week the branch put on a sweet activity that was like a show  overview of the 50's through 80's and everyone dressed up accordingly.  My boy Вася cut his hair especially to look like the beatles and showed up in a velvet suit.  That man is too cool.  He then later sang hey jude with the branch pres. After the little program ended there was food and dancing, and I got to dance with my favorite russian gypsy бабушка.  She's like 70 something but she's still got some fire left.  Was cool to hang out with the members and get to know them better, unfortunately none of our investigators came, bumma.   We have an awesome branch here, will be sad to leave them.  Russian party food can be kinda scary, they had beet salad and bread with pickles and anchoves on them.  The bread anchoves thing was actually pretty good.  Man I wish I could send you guys pictures and videos, had some funny ones from this week.  I can't really think of anything else that happened super eventful.  Yeah that's about it I think.  Our area is doing awesome, well Me and Antropov's part is dead but our ward is doing great.  Our sisters are doing work and the other elders have got a solid guy who seems to be progressing well.  Cool when missionaries find people who are ready and need what we've got.  It's cool because I think the wards seen more new people coming to church than they have in a while.  We love new people, especially missionaries.  Sorry if sometimes I get on here and make life seem dark and depressing, sometimes russia just kinda gets to ya.  Missions is good, just got ups and downs is all.  Kind of a bipolar lifestyle.  Anyway that was  my week, can't think of anything else.  Oh its gonna be thanksgiving this week, they don't really have that here.  Everyone eat a lot of food for me, happy turkey day.  Send letters friends, they keep me alive, or emails, because then I can actually respond.  That is all.  Good day.  
Week 30:

It is starting to actually feel like Russia here.  It is getting cold, we had our first snow.  It still isn't russia cold, but in Moscow there is a lot of humidity so when it gets a little bit cold it feels really cold.  I started wearing a scarf.  If any of you back home just called me a hipster fruitcake under your breath, go put on one and then tell me how you feel.  Its super cozy. Plus I already had a man purse so I've pretty much given up on maintaining my dignity.  My child is determined to give me a heart attack every week it seems.  Antropov was getting way bummed this week and was starting to talk about going home.  It's rough being a 25 year old russian man living with a bunch of american 20 year olds whilst being hated on by your own countrymen.  People are pretty mean to antropov when they find out he is russian and mormon.  So yeah, my boy is having a rough go of it, but we talked it over throughout the week and met with pres, he has decided to stay and we are gonna do some things to make it better for us.  Problem is pres said we are only aloud to contact for 2 hours a day now and it is my job to plan the rest of our day.  We don't do anything else in our area.  We've already visited pretty much every member, called every number, looked for opportunities to do service everywhere.  Nothin.  I guess we can figure something out.  This week they told me I had to start making the arrangements to end our contract for our appartment and moving out, then after I started to get things moving I called the office to tell them and they were like, o never mind; you are going to keep living there.  So then we had to reverse all the work we had already done. FUN.  We took antropov to the doctor, he's going to hold off on surgery until he goes home or until it gets really really bad.  Also he got sick at the beginning of the week so we had to sit at home for a day.  I hate sitting at home.  It's boring and guilty.  Missions are like a mindfield of guilt, no matter what you do you can feel icky about something.  This week we went and played soccer with a would-be investigator and a bunch of other russian childrens, it was freezing.  Anyway after we had a really good lesson with this one guy and he gave us his soccerball as a gift.  Then later when we called him it became very apparent he was crazy.  One thing I've learned about crazy people, they can seem pretty normal at first, and then something snaps every once in a while and they go nuts.  Meeting with him again would be danger so we are gonna steer clear of that one.  It would be really really refreshing to meet with someone who isn't crazy and doesn't want money from us.  They are out there somewhere.  I still continue to be half asleep, I talk to people and they are all like, dude go home and go to bed.  Heh. This week I have fallen asleep on every modem of public transportation more than once.  Cool story, yesterday I fell asleep on a bus heading to Elena's, then I left my umbrella on it and I was super bummed.  That was gonna be the cherry on top of another rough week.  Then when we were going home we got on the same bus and I totally found my umbrella. YEAH.  That was a much needed nice little turn of events. So that is whats happening out here, thanks gma for the mail, made my week.  If any of you ever want to talk just drop me an email, that I can write back to you.  Talk to ya next week friends.   

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Week 29:

Another week. woo.  I'm sleepy.  Happy late halloween errybody, hope it was fun.  It's funny because I don't realize that holidays are holidays until I write down the date in my journal.  Well I started this letter like an hour ago but I've been talking with friends and family via the internet and haven't been paying attention to the time, so lets get down to the nitty gritties.  We finally got Andre the blind guy to start progressing which is awesome, but now he doesn't live in our area so we have to figure out how to pass him.  I met with Slova one more time, he has decided to take a break from the missionaries after 8 months of meeting with them.  Hoping he comes around later on.  We had culture night on tuesday, It was like an american idol show but with opera singers.  Things got weird again.  Had some guys in suits come out at one point and sing an accapella rendition of the Maroon 5 hit, Goodbye.  We were probably the only people in there that understood it.  Another part that was my favorite, a bunch of 10 year olds dressed as hobos came out singing about saving the planet, at least that's what I understood.  Then after they got done singing a weird looking witch jumped on to the stage and started the remix.  They went all techno and the hobo children started doing cartwheels and junk and then they gave them all brooms to dance with the witch lady.  Weird, but a crowd pleaser none the less. So that was culture night.  Got our new district, complete with a greenie fresh from murrica.  She set baptismal dates with 2 different investigators on sunday.  That my friends is a good-jobber.  Unfortunately neither of them live in our area.  Well that's what is new, me and antropov are still living it up, doing work, people love us, heh (sarcasm).  Oh also my armenian friend knitted me gloves and a hat, I love that weird foreigner.  This week I fly to Latvia.  Peace.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Week 28:

I'm back sitting in my favorite sketchy internet cafe.  Feels like yesterday I was here. Got that same great smell of drunk people who haven't bathed in a week, cigarets, and assorted energy drinks.  When we get here all the people who came to play call of duty all night have just barely run out of steam and everyone is asleep on their computers.  So we get to listen to a very sleepy and short tempered host walk around and yell at them to wake up and leave.  There is not really any concept of costumer service in Russia.  Antropov and I had a pretty rough week towards the beginning of it, but the end was aight.  People still don't want to meet with us cuz we are fat and ugly, but hey, what ya gonna do.  This week we called every human being on the planet, noone was having it.  So yup as usual, things are slow.  We are trying to think of new ways to meet people because all we do is walk around all day and stop people on the street.  It's taking a toll; we are pooped, angry, and bored.  Once it gets cold we are gonna go play hockey and meet people that way, but other than that we are still brain storming.  Still haven't tried the thing where I fall down in the park in front of famillies and then when they are helping me up try to start a conversation somehow.  Maybe I'll give that a shot this week.  Just so tired of having the same conversation 100 times a day, it would be bearable if it worked but we aren't seeing too much results from it.  Plus people are not as happy here in the winter, people have said some pretty interesting things to us this past week.  Heh.  I feel bad for my boy though, because I know what it's like to be trained when no lessons are happening, it is brutal.  Lots of stress because I'm responsible for getting good learning  opportunities for him, and they aren't really coming.  We talk about it a lot though and we feel like we are doing absoloutely everything we can, of course there is always room for improvement.  Anyway towards the end of the week we sat in a kfc with a 16 year old russian boy who plays club baseball and had a good talk with him.  Russians playing baseball are super rare.  Then we met with a guy known to the missionaries as Crazy Сергей, he's got some interesting ideas.  Then we went and visited my favorite bab (old lady) in the hospital, and she had us sit down with here hospital roommate and have a lesson with her.  Man I love that lady.  She is at that age where she doesn't really care what anyone thinks about her so she talks to every living thing about the church.  We could use a little bit of that.  Still trying to figure out this whole senior comp thing.  I don't know if I used this analogy before, but it feels like they potty trained a 2 year old and then asked him to teach quantum mechanics.  The man next to me is snoring riddiculously loud.  Anyway, russian aint no thang anymore.  I still don't speak amazingly or anything, but it is helping a ton to live with a russian guy. I am sorry if all these letters seem a tad depressing, things are rough but I probably make them worse than they sound.  I do a little bit of venting here every week, keeps me sane.  Things are actually pretty great, love my comp, got sweet members here, we have food.  Getting to live in Russia is awesome, I recommend it.  I'm totally coming back to visit after this whole gig, maybe live here for a while, we'll see. Just being a missionary here can get rough.  Anywhere really.  Thanks for the letters all, you keep me going.  There is something I am forgetting to mention here but I can't remember it.  Oh well.  Happy Birthday to Rachael, don't worry, you're not old.  Miss you all, send some love if you have time.  I think that's everything.   

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Week 27:

Hey errybody.  This week was a pretty weird one.  I feel like that's what I say every week.  We had 2 splits, one with the dl and one with the zls.  Splits are basically sleepovers on the mish and then we get to work with someone else for a day.    Was really fun, but I missed my special boy.  Plus when we go on splits with our bros we end up laying in bed talking till like 3 am, and then we have to wake up at 6:30 still, and work till 9 on three and a half hours of sleep.  Had splitsies with Beauchemin which is always a fun time, and then after that with Elder Steel, a Canadian guy who dresses fresh as heck.  When he contacts people he turns on so much swag it almost seems like he's drunk, which Russians respond well to.  When I was with Steel though I got crazy sick, which didn't make sense because I hadn't eaten anything sketchy all week.  Suffice it to say I was fighting a war on two fronts while we were together, and losing.  When we have such symptoms in Russia, only one thing comes to mind... WORM.  After a day of my body being completely emptied of all nutrients however, it seemed to stop, so I don't think there is anything taking residence inside me at the moment.  I'll investigate further if I have more problems.  Anyway that made things more complicated, but we still did work.  Found 8 peeps in like 2 hours who are interested in meeting up or coming to church. YA.  Also we meet with one of the only stake presidents in Russia, super funny guy.  I asked him where a good banya was and he was telling me and then I was like hey, could you write the name of that down for me.  He looked at me and he was just like, brother, lets just go together.  So hopefully sometime soon I'll get to chill nakies with the stake pres and all his russian buddies.  Super expensive there though, we'll see.  Anyway works been alright, still slow, elder Antropov is starting to get bummed, we've been facing a lot of heartbreakers; he's hanging in there though.  Hard to counsel greenie problems all in Russian, kinda fun though.  It's easy for me to relate to because I'm still going through the same kind of stuff.  General Conference was this week and it was just as great as everyone said.  I sat with my boy for the first sesh and watched in Russian, but after that I was like, peace antropov, papa needs some english.  So I got to see a bunch of sessions in my native tongue and chill with the other missionaries.  General Conference is better than christmas out here, which is pretty sad, but not really.  I really liked Uchtdorf's and Holland's talks. The talks about women were really good, but I fear they will have consequences here. I sometimes feel like I'm already getting bossed around by the sisters.  Now they have permission to do so by general authorities.  Danger.  Funny how it is a break to us to sit and watch church talks for 2 days straight.  Really fun though.  A korean dude I met came and loved it, too bad I gotta pass him along to the international elders, one being my favorite white rapper elda Kelly, that makes it a little more bearable.  Yup so that was this week, really fun, a lot of work, no new investigators.  Mission life is growing on me though.  Life is so easy when you and your comp are on the same page.  Even the crappy times can be alright.  Happiest news I recieved this week is that Amy's tumor has shrunk by a whopping 50%. YEAH.  So glad to hear that.  Always thinking about you and the family Amy, keep pushing.  Not to be cheesy but we are all praying for ya, well I'm probably the only one in Russia who is, but who knows.  Miss all you people in Murrica, send me some love via mail if you have time.  But you know, whatever.      

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Week 26:

This week was awesome but I am pooped.  Me and my child are getting along swimmingly, I love this guy.  I was scared about him being 25 but turns out he is essentialy an 8 year old.  When we are in the appartment he walks around in his underwear dancing and making fart noises.  I can dig it.  Unlike some russian missionaries that come out here, this one came to work, and that is awesome.  He hates contacting though, but hey who doesn't.  It's been rough because with our lack of lessons thats most of what we do.  Bytuesday we had mostly just been inviting for our english club, so that night I was like ok, that's it man, tomorrow we are going to a park, we are gonna sit with someone on a bench, and drop some gospel on them.  The next day it was freezing, first snow this year, but we decided to go to the park anyway.  We got there and there were like no people, but we were already there so we decided to look around.  Then we found a guy huddled up sitting on a bench, so we asked to talk with him.  Ended up having an hour long lesson.  YEAH.  Then that Sunday he came to church and pretty much taught Sunday School, and when they asked him to introduce himself in the 3rd hour (we were combined so the whole ward was there) he told the story of how we met and then he started talking about how much he loved our church and in the middle of his talking Babooshka Elena said, "Look alecksay, I can tell you right now that you are ready to get baptized". Sorry for the run on sentence there. Everyone busted up laughing it was hillarious.  Classic Elena.  Anyway because of that we got much respect from the members, and I think that will help a lot.  It's crazy awesome working with a native, but like I said, I'm pooped.  My brain hurts all the time, but russian is getting better.  People actually listen to us sometimes now because we aren't just two weird american kids, now it's just one.  We spent a lot of time visiting member famillies this week which was super cool.  Good to see how the gospel helps out famillies, there was one we dropped by that was just the coolest family in the universe.  And that's nice to see here in Russia, because a lot of times famillies here struggle to stay together.  This week was really really great, when comps get along everything is so much better.  Tired though.  Very very tired.  New rules about sending pictures, I can only print them out and send them in mail.  Also I am not aloud to tell you about specifics of where I am or use peoples full names.  We are gonna have to make a coded system or something because if we follow all these new rules they gave us pretty much every week is gonna be; hey whatsup everyone, I'm still alive, see ya later.  Anyway that's all I can remember from this week, I'm pretty sure other stuff happened I wanted to talk about but I straight up can't think.  My brain hurts, but hey I asked for this, and super glad I did.  I'll try to fill in the blanks next week.  Love you all, miss ya, stay happy.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Week 25:

I would like to start this letter home with a few excerpts from my journal this past week. September 18, 2013- "Well tomorrow I'm having a baby and it should be awesome.  Can't wait to train and to serve with a Russian guy.  These next 2 transfers are going to be legit.  Super excited."  September 19, 2013- "Well I'm screwed."  Heh.   So yeah this week has been straight up nuts.  Me and Elder Beals said our teary goodbyes and then I got my new comp on Thursday.  He's super cool and ready to work, but that night we got home and I was like, o dag, I'm in charge now.  That night I called in to elder Beauchemin like we do every night and he was like, man you must be super stressed. Yup.  But you know whateva.  His name is Elder Антроповь and he's a funny guy.  If any of you every watched the Jimmy Neutron series, he kind of reminds me of the foreign kid that always says, slap slap slap; clap clap clap.  The situation that first night was, o dag, we have no investigators, this man doesn't speak english, and I have to call a bunch of people right now that elder Beals contacted who I don't know.  My boy is doing great though, he's got a great attitude and is a lot of fun, also he has a lot of good ideas he took from the Novasabirsk mission which is quite frankly doing better than ours.  I have had a headache for 4 days straight now just from speaking Russian all the time and trying to understand everything he says.  We were in church yesterday and I went up to the other elders and said, say something in english, anything, please.  I love russian, but man, my brain.  He uses a lot of slang, and it is a completely different language.  They have like 10 words for to eat.  It's nuts.  Learning a lot though, and makes working easier because we don't have to make the mental switch to russian when we hit the streets, already in the zone.  Oh also he is already engaged, his wife to be is also gonna serve a mission and then they are gonna get murred when he they both come home.  Pretty pumped for these next two transfers, work is gonna get done but it is going to be crazy hard.  But hard in a good way, this kind of hard I can handle.  Russia be gettin cold, and babs (grannies) are starting to yell at us all the time for not wearing enough clothes.  Don't worry mom, we are wearing enough clothes, they just yell at everyone.  Yup, so that's what is new.  My life gets progressively weirder it seems, sorry if this letter doesn't make sense, my brain is kind of scattered right now.  Thanks for the letters gma, mom, holls, dad, rach, and will.  You guys are my радость.  Oh and if any of you my buddies back in murrica are using dearelder, continue, but also drop me an email so I can send you some love.  It is just near impossible out here to get letters written, with travel in Moscow pday becomes very short.  Well everyone, until next time.  Much love, enjoy life, stay happy.  I'll see you all in about a year and a half.  покой

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Week 24:

Sorry to leave with a cliffhanger last week everyone.  I'm sure you all lost a lot of sleep over it. Sarcasm.  Anyway I was correct, our district got obliterated, but in the best of ways.  So Elder Beals, Elder Kelly, and Sister corn are moving out.  Elder Beals is going to another area in Moscow, Elder Kelly, everyone's favorite white rapper from provo, is heading for the international where all the fresh African members and some Americans meet, and Sister Koocherook our Russian sister is going to Zgrad.  I don't know if any of you remember elder kreiger from the MTC, but he is coming to be companions with Beauchemin, which I am crazy excited about.  Sister Hunter, another Sister who was in the MTC one group ahead of me is coming to be with sister Gail.  I'm staying here too, but I'm going to be training a russian guy, woo.  When  president told me that it was like christmas.  When people have been asking me my ideal transfer that's what I've been telling them, couldn't be more perfect.  I kind of helped it along though, been dropping hints like a ninja whenever I'm around zoneleaders, AP's, and the president.  Never directly relating to what I wanted, but just to plant the seed.  When president called me he was like, "well we are going to ask you to train the new Russian, and we want you and him to establish an environment of speaking good Russian in the area so the members trust you, and I know your Russian is good, at least I've heard it's good... blah blah other president stuff."  But when I heard that I was like dag, thank goodness for rumors because that aint the truth.  It's about to get better though because this man don't speak no English, YES.  So excited to have to speak russian all the time, native companions is good.  Gonna be crazy hard though, plus he's probably gonna think I'm a дурак (idiot), also he's 25.  But I'm his father and he best recognize.  I think the president gets his kicks on making me live with old men who don't speak english, cuz this is the second time in a month.  Anyway that's the biggest news, I'm pregnant, I haven't slept for a week thinking about it, kinda scurred.  This past week they shipped the Armenian to Lipitsk and out of my life, and he took my heart with him, not to be dramatic.  We miss that guy, me and elder Beals both.  But we hear that he is doing really well down in Lipitsk and we are really happy about that.  This week our changed focus didn't turn out in a lot of lessons, but the way we worked was so much better, we actually felt like missionaries.  We tried swinging by inactive members for a certain amount of time one day, turns out in Moscow it's kind of impossible.  Took us like 3 hours to visit two people, and one dom we couldn't even get into and the other the guy had moved.  But now at least we know what not to do.   Had a cool lesson with a Japanese guy, we went to his place and he had tea all set up for us (herbal cuz he knows about mormons), and classical music playing and it was awesome.  First lesson at someones place.  He is a cool guy, got a lot of friends back in Japan who are in the church, seems pretty lonely here in Russia. Oh, we had culture night round 2, but this one was more of a shotgun culture night, since we didn't have time to plan we just bought russian cartoons and slept over at the other elders' place and watched them.  It was crazy fun, russian cartoons are weird, but I highly recommend Маша и Медведь,  excellent program that teaches children to be friends with dangerous animals like bears.  Good times this week, looking forward to next week.  Things are about to get crazy here, should have some stories next time, stay tuned.  Thanks for the letters mom and Gma, they keep me alive.  Hope all is well in 'Murrica, I'll catch you guys next week.   

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Week 23:

Well Russia is starting to feel more like Russia, and I love it.  This last week it got pretty chilly, it's still not winter cold, but it was cold.  The ladies are bustin out the fur coats. I want one.  Unfortunately they are crazy expensive and men don't really wear the full fur ones.  It rained pretty much all week, which makes our job pretty hard.  We aren't aloud to knock doors in Moscow and people aren't really keen on stopping in the street when it is freezing and rainy, but yet again we got a butt-ton of contacts and no lessons (well 3).  We are trying to find ways to still be effective in sucky weather, we were gonna try to go to a certain hipster cafe and play board games together and invite the russian hipsters to play with us.  Unfortunately we couldn't find it and we just got wet and sad and went back to stopping people on the street.  But I really like that we are trying to do new things, this whole stop people on the street all day every day is not working out.  It's good to do it sometimes, but when it is all you do you get stuck in a rut.  Elder Beauchemin, Elder Kelly, and I are trying to come up with some new ideas, need some freshness.  This week though we are doing away with contacting all together.  I'm tired of getting 5 numbers a day and no lessons, so this week we are just going for teaching.  During weekly planning we decided we are either going to be teaching, calling people, swinging by people's houses, or teaching randoms on benches and stuff.  Pretty excited about this week, even if it fails miserably at least we are trying something new.  Biggest news from this week is we are losing our Armenian.  Sad.  But it is good because he's been having a rough time here, we haven't been able to find him any armenians to teach here and russian isn't quite there yet for him.  He always says, man I'm just a thing that sits around, I can't do anything.  Well I'm paraphrazing because he says it in Russian and pantomimes.  But we are pumped because he is going to Lipitsk where they got tons of Armenians.  I am sad because now I will starve (he has been cooking for us), but I'm happy because it's what is best.  When president was having me translate to him last night over the phone he let me know a little bit what I'm gonna be doing next transfer, a little sneak preview.  I can't tell because we aren't supposed to really know what's happening til this next weekend, but suffice it to say it's gonna be super crazy awesome.  When I got off the phone elder Beals was like, what he didn't want to tell me anything, when I said no he went nuts, especially cuz president told me to tell him he has something planned for Elder Beals, but he will tell him in a week.  This president is super mysterious about transfers, it's funny. It's weird to know that I won't be with Elder Beals anymore, he's all I've known on my mission, besides this armenian guy.  My time with Elder Beals has been kind of like middleschool in that it was stressful and confusing, we had some fun, but now that it is over we are ready for it to be over and go to highschool.  Hopefully bigger better things on the way.  Don't know exactly what's going to happen to this district.  Will be sad to see it's destruction, we had a really cool group.  So yeah, feel like a chapter of my life is winding down which is weird, learned a lot though, missions are jam packed with life lessons.  Almost to much to handle.  Love you guys, fill me in on your lives, I'll catch ya next week.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Week 22:

Hey friends, this week was alright, no super crazy stories for all of you.  We went out contacting a lot, still trying to get the Armenian going, people won't meet with us because we are fat and ugly; same old same old.  This week me and Elder Beals got to go on splits with the zone leaders, which was sort of unkoscher because usually the zone leaders only do splits with district leader companionships.  The missionary social pyramid is confusing, but they wanted to do splits with us so we did.  I went with elder Naylor, super cool guy.  He used to be in our appartment and serve in our area so he was really excited.  Surprisingly we spent a lot of our time on the split in doors talking about what the Moscow Mission needs and how we can revamp things.  Then that gypsy witch man crawled his way into my soul and found out everything that had made me sad about my mission.  Things got real in there, I'm talking like hold each other and cry deeply real.  Just kidding, but it did get pretty intense.  It helped a lot though, I am trying to change my attitude about the mish because up till now it's been pretty bad.  I have felt like a really crappy salesman up until now, and it's got to be more than that.  Plus I decided I'm done being a boring sack of sad all the time.  Anyway, that was splits, left me some things to think about.  He also said they were probably gonna leave me alone with the Armenian, that will be funny.  This past Sunday was sick and legit.  The other elders in our district had a mom with two kids, and some other guy come to church.  I talked with them and they are all golden awesome and perfect.  And they all set baptismal dates for the near future.  I am so happy that some normal people are coming to church here and that something is happening in our district.  So good.  I'm sorry but I don't have any crazy Russian or Missionary stories this week.  Things were pretty mellow.  Things are starting to turn to winter though and I'm pumped.  It's getting cold and dark way earlier now.  When Elder Naylor was over he showed me all the secret places where missionaries leave their old stuff so now I have a sweet new winter coat.  yeah baby.  Today we are going shopping for a shoulder bag for elder Beals, which we have done several times before but he can't pick one.  I told him if he doesn't buy one today next pday we are going to the баня, a russian steam house where old Russian men sit around naked and whip eachother with tree branches.  I want to go super bad but Elder Beals hates it more than anything in the world.  And if he doesn't buy a bag and refuses to go to the banya, I'm just gonna turn our appartment into one.  Hey friends, question, where are all the ladies at, everyone else is getting letters from women but me, these other elders are putting me to shame.  I don't care about your age, maridal status, or number of children; if you're reading this and have more than one x chromosome your next step is to send me a letter.  Letters from dudes are cool too.  Not to sound desperate or anything.  Well that's pretty much everything.  Hope all is well on the homefront.  Love y'alls, I'll catch ya next week. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Week 21:

This week was funny.  Every week here is pretty strange, but this one was super interesting.  So me and the Armenian are super good buds now.  It's kind of funny because we can't really talk to eachother but we get along way better than me and Elder Beals ever have.  The sisters saw me and him talking to each other cracking up and they came over and asked, what language do you guys speak to each other? We don't really know. The man can dance, got some sweet arab moves, he promised to teach me.  Also something I learned about Armenians is they've got some crazy swag, he's got a kord suit that his mom made for him, pretty fresh.  Life in a tripanionship is pretty funny, we contact both sides of the street, two people on one side and one person on the other, which is tricky because we need to be able to see each other at all times, so when on side of the street starts having a long conversation the other side just has to walk back and forth until the other person is done.  I don't know if that made sense.  Working with elder Arshakyan has made me realize how fun training would be though, it kind feels like I am right now.  I am gonna ask the president if we can keep him.  He can say a couple things, like hey, can I ask you a question, or hey can I talk to you.  Sometimes I'll be trying to talk to people and I'll hear someone nervously cry "Elder!".  Then I turn around and see elder Arshakayan looking scared standing next to a confused Russian he just stopped.  Mans a champ though.  This week someone invited us to an AA meeting with him, because one of the things we do here as missionaries is help people out with addictions, and so he asked us to come check out his program.  We went thinking it would be a small group where people sit in a circle and share their experiences, but it turned out to be their annual all day shabang where people come from all over the Russia.  heh.  So we were sitting in there awkwardly wearing things that say hello, my name is Elder Holland, and I am an alcoholic, with a bunch of Russian recovering alcoholics from all over.  There were some interesting people in there to say the least.  We were just chilling in there trying to look natural and some lady came up to us and was like hey, you guys aren't alcoholics are you?  I said, nope you caught us, we be mormons.  She started laughing and was like hah, I knew it, nobody here wears ties.  So yeah that was funny, we had to leave early but it was interesting to see.  We had a couple of interesting meetings this week.  One Muslim guy I met on the street started getting pretty intense with me, he was a fiery one.  We were talking about God, but then he started asking me whether I use toilet paper or a bude (french toilet that shoots water) when I take my twosies.  I was asking him how that related to our conversation and he was like, look we are both men here, we can be honest, how do you do it.  That was awkward.  We had a meeting with one guy that was telling us about an out of body experience he had when he was 10 and there was an explosion.  He was dead for a little bit and they brought him back.  Pretty crazy story.  He's a cool guy, going to be moving to New York in a couple months to teach dance with his wife for 5 years.  Then we met with the guy who has been developing a new game of chess for the past 3-4 years.  He is a pretty interesting man, we asked him if he had a chance to read the Book of Mormon since we had met him and he was like, sorry I only read a tiny bit.  We asked him how much and he was like, eh only about 30-40 pages.  We said, well, that's not bad brother.  He wants to meet again and so we are happy about that.  Also guess who's back in town, Андрей, the sexy blind Russian chef and soon to be masseuse.  He was in church yesterday which we were super happy about.  Thanks for the letters Holly and Mom, they keep me going.  Holly about to go to college, weird.  Good luck to you young lady, don't get engaged.  That's all for this week everybody, hope all is well, thinking about you.  Stay golden.

Week 20:

Hold on to your pants people because there is news this week.  Middle of the week we get a call from one of the AP's and he says hey, do you guys like Armenians?  We said sure we love Armenians, then he said cool, we've got a new companion for you.  So now I am in a tripanionship, woo.  Our new comp served in Armenia for 6 months, decided he couldn't serve there anymore because it was pretty much his hometown, and then got reassigned to Moscow.  He had to leave because his family kept trying to visit him all the time and it was killing him.  Homesickness on the mission kills.  Friends and family, I love you, I want you to send me letters, but you stay the hecks out of my country.  Just kidding, kind of.  Just hard for missionaries because we are already missing home a lot and then if we get a little taste of our old life it just makes us want to go home.  Anyway they sent him to the MTC in England, over the course of 20 days taught him a spot of english, and then shipped him out to Russia.  So he speaks essentially no English or Russian. That's like me serving for 6 months in California, sending me somewhere to learn Spanish, and then making me serve in Korea.  Not gonna lie, the day we picked him up I was thinking wow, as if my life wasn't strange enough.  But I love this Armenian guy. He has an amazing attitude about all of this, he can't say much but everything we do he says, yeah no problem, I am happy.  He likes to cook and knit, so that's nice.  He already served in the army so now he is 25, and he just had some kind of surgery on his leg.  Still trying to figure out how this whole missionary thing works with 3 people, but we'll get it.  We had zone conference this last week, was good to see everybody.  They made a new program where we track our obedience for points and if we achieve a certain amount in a transfer we get a culture night, so basically if we do everything we are supposed to be doing we get twice the culture nights.  I like it, gives some extra motivation.  This week we had like 0 meetings with people, but we found a lot of new people.  This is  дача season in Russia, so pretty much everyone is out in the countryside.  They will come back eventually, but for now we are struggling.  Still trying to keep chugging a long, but at the same time changing stuff cuz clearly things are not working.  I met a guy yesterday who has been spending the last 3-4 years developing a new game of chess where the board is like twice the size and it's got a ton of other pieces. Also met a dude in medical school that also just happens to be on the Russian version of The Voice, he wants to meet up.  I'ma teach a celebrity.  Kind of random but I thought I'd mention it.   Thanks for the letters Mom Holly and GMa, you guys are the best.  Well that's about all I can think of from this week.  Miss ya everybody, hope life is still going good back in the states. Will be coming up on my 6 month mark in a couple weeks here, that's pretty weird.  Yup, I think that's everything.  Bye. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Week 19:

This week was straight crazy, a lot of weird stuff happened.  First on Tuesday, our district was passing out BoMs on some sidewalk, two drunk guys staggered over who the district chose to have deal with them, that's right, Elder Holland and Elder Kelly, the dream team of people who don't really speak Russian.  Luckily one of them was pretty good with english, even whilst shmammered.  Anyway they were just talking to us being ridiculous and we were trying to get them to leave.  Then one was like hey, let me help you guys out, so he grabbed a BoM and started trying to pass it out to  people, so I was like woah buddy, that books a special present, just for you.  He got all excited and was like, a present for me!  Then he walked away happy.  I don't know what happened to his buddy, but they made me sad.  Pretty depressing what alcohol does to people out here, it's still a pretty big problem.  Anyway the rest of the week was pretty much us waiting by the phone, transfer week is the worst.  Basically we can expect to know where we are going between Thursday and Saturday, and like I said we were pretty sure something was going to happen to us.  Nothing happened to us.  So I get a third transfer here, cool.  I was pretty excited for a change, but that's just the way things go sometimes.  Just get a little more time to get something going here is all.  Elder Beals was super bummed, and before transfers he said that he wanted to stay in this area, so that means there can only be one factor making him sad. я.  But hopefully we can turn that frown upside down and get some work done out here.  In church this Sunday some lady came in and sat down that we hadn't seen before and we were like sweet, new person at church.  Then while they were doing the sacrament, which is the most quiet and reverent part of our service, lady just starts yelling.  She was like, your church is crazy, it's totally made up, you are all ridiculous for coming here, I'm from the Russian Orthodox church and I'm here to set you all straight.  Then the branch president went and tried to ask her to go talk to him out in the hall so we could do our thing, and then two of the lady members went out and talked to her while we finished the sacrament.  While she was leaving she was like, I'll be outside casting out demons if any of you are interested.  Tempting.  So that was interesting.  Yesterday we had fast Sunday so after not eating 24 hours our district went crazy on some homemade burritos.  Then us and the sisters went over to our gypsy бабушка's place and she was like hey, why is there only 4 of you, I cooked for 6.  Elder Beals ate a little bit and then said he felt sick so he went and sat in the other room, leaving me with two sisters, an old lady, and food for 6.  So basically I ate food for 6 for second dinner.  I never thought my ability to over eat would ever come in handy. Anyway, weird week.  Sorry it's not more spiritual.  Love you guys.  Sorry, out of time.  
Week 18:

So it finally happened.  I finally found her.  I got me a бабушка  (babooshka- grandma/old lady).  The most popular old member came back from the доча (that's spelled wrong but it just means summer home in the country that Russians go on vacation to for extended periods of time).  She loves missionaries more than is probably healthy.  She called us up and invited us and the other companionship of elders over for a spiritual thought, she picked the theme.  We asked her if she wanted us to invite the sisters and she said no, I have another program for the them.  She is making them pull weeds today, heh.  Anyway we get over there and she opens the door and says "Старейшины, свет мой, приходите!" Which means, elders, my light, get on in here.  Apparently she says that every time.  Anyway we shared our spiritual thought and then she said, ok I'm going to feed you now and I'm gonna tell you how I found the church.  She made us like 100 pounds of плов which is a rice dish that's not really from Russia, but is crazy good.  She also has a cat that's shaved super funny.  So yeah, I love that lady, she's also like 4.5 feet tall.  Work has been super slow this week.  Seems that all of Russia is on vacation at the moment, so we can't meet with anyone.  Also we had our first english club in three weeks.  We have been spending a lot of time inviting for english these last couple of weeks, but only like 4 new people showed up, that was a slap to the face.  I'm so ready to be done talking to people about english, time to learn these people about church again.  Would love to find some people to teach, we keep trying but just something isn't clicking.  Transfers coming up, and our district is ripe for destruction.  I'm almost done with training so me and my comp will probably get split up.  Our Russian sister has been here since training for 3 transfers, so she might get moved, and I don't know what will happen to the other elders.  Had a funny week with Elder Beals.  One night he was talking to me about all the things he was worried about and just life in general, and I was like dude you gotta relax.  And he said, I don't know how, I've never known how.  Then he said, maybe that's why we are companions, you are supposed to teach me how to relax.  I said ok, but if you wanna go down this path you gotta commit.  He agreed and I said step one, you can't wear pants around the house.  I'm a strong believer that there is nothing that says "I'm mellow" more than walking around in one's undies.  He is super против (against it), I've have never caught glimpse of him in less than basketball shorts and a tshirt.  He refuses to cooperate, so we will try to work another angle.  Funny Elder Beals moment of the week, this was after this whole ordeal.  He looked me dead in the face, and without the slightest hint of sarcasm said "Elder Holland *dramatic pause*, I want to love you to the moon and back".  Usually when a man says this sincerely to another man, it means someone is about to get punched in the face.  But then punching elder Beals in the face would be like punching an entire litter of puppies in the face.  Plus I'm not really about punching people so I just laughed.  So yeah, that was my week, none too exciting.  It's hard to think of my whole week this early in the morning, whenever I leave the internet cafe I'm like dag, I forgot to tell them about that.  But I think thats basically what happened.  Well, love you guys, miss you all, send me mail.  всё
Week 17:

So sorry if I bummed you guys out last week with my pity party, I whine a lot. This week we had some awesome stuff happen and it was a lot of fun.  First bonus, I bought one of the sisters harmonica off her for the hefty price of 300 рубs, so worth it.  It is so nice to have something to practice at the end of every day to distract your mind a little bit.  I don't want to say I'm getting awesome at it, but yeah kind of.  So that was a huge help, little mini чудо.  Next awesome thing that happened this week was on wednesday.  So our district tried to start up an FHE kind of thing,which is a little get together where we play games and eat snacks, where people who we are meeting with can come hang out with church members just to get to know the people.  Gonna be honest, up until now it has been pretty lame, usually have 1 or 2 random people, no members, and 6 missionaries.  This week's was awesome, we had 12 people not including missionaries come, which is crazy good for our area.  The branch president walked in and just looked super confused. Heh.  So that was good.  I went on splits with Elder Kelly this week, the white rapstar of Provo, neither of us speak a ton of Russian and we didn't have any meetings the whole day so we just walked around talking to people, super funny.  It was tons of fun cuz I had to do alot of the talking.  This one super russian guy with thick glasses that looked like a nuclear engineer we stopped and asked where we could find some good борщ, he then unloaded words on us we didn't understand for about a half hour at a rate uncommon to most humans.  At the end he was like, how long you been in Russia, and so I was like I've only been here 2 months so sorry I don't understand a ton. And he was like "Sorry?! I've been here for 54 years and this language is still riddiculous to me".  We met with слова a couple times this week, guy I had my first lesson with that we passed to the other elders.  He said he wanted to help us with our Russian and also talk about religion because things weren't working out super well with the other elders.  I love that guy.  Had some really cool meetings with him.  People like him I don't worry about at all, I really believe that people who are honestly looking for answers to questions are going to find them if they go to the right places, and слова fits into that category.  I told him that and then he said, that's cool, but I worry about you guys a lot.  We asked him why and he said he's worried that Russia is going to spoil us.  Heh.  I was like dude, look at elder Beals, he's been here for a year and he still got sunshine and rainbows flying out of his face.  Yeah so that was good.  Then the cherry on top was yesterday, one guy we contacted came to church and brought his buddy.  They liked sacrament meeting and then we had a 2 hour lesson with them with a member named илена.  We just watched her drop духовные bombs of knowledge on them, it was legit.  Our ward is awesome, our members are the greatest.  Transfers coming up and there is a pretty decent chance I could get moved, if I do I'm really gonna miss these people here, even though I haven't really gotten to know them super well because of the language barrier.  The kids like me at least.  Oh, another important purchase of the week, sweet spiderman notebook that I write words I don't understand in.  25 рубs, that's a steal. Sister кукуруза always asks me "сколько тебе лет?" (how old are you?). пять.  Another funny thing, turned around in church and who do I see but Richard Portwood, one of Rachael's past gentleman callers.  That was surprising, but awesome.  Was super good to see him, he says he wants to hang out next pday, I'm down.    Thanks for the Dear Elders Mom and Paps, good to hear from you guys.  Keep em coming, all you people are my only connection to the outside world, except billboards but they are in Russian.  Saw there is going to be another Wolverine movie, at what point will Hugh Jackman stop looking good in wifebeaters? Dude doesn't age.  Anyway That's my week, don't be afraid to send some love people. покой

After weeks of cold showers, the pipes got a little rusty.

Week 16:

Another week in Russia, this one was pretty uneventful as far as weeks in Russia go.  Last pday was sweet, we took an hour and a half metro ride and a ghetto free bus to the outside of Moscow where lies the largest ринок (that is spelled incorrectly but it means sketchy Russian market) in all of the planet, maybe.  Anyway we get there and we are looking for a suit for Elder Kelly, the white rapper from Utah.  So we walk around in the market thing and then find stores with suits and then we walk in looking all nonchalant and like we don't really want to buy anything the bad.  Then an Armenian guy comes up and goes friend, what do you want.  Then elder Kelly says he wants a light beige suit, so the Armenian dude starts whipping out coats and slapping them with the back of his hand as if to say, are you not impressed?  And since the suits here are pretty suit, we are indeed impressed, but try not to act like it.  Then he starts putting them on Elder Kelly and Elder Kelly looks in the mirror, he likes what he sees, but if he expresses that then it's game over.  He asks how much it costs, the Armenian guy says 7500 рубs. We then laugh as if it is a joke, and it is.  Then the Armenian guy will respond with, how much do you want it to be.  Elder Kelly will respond with an equally riddiculous number such as 1000.  The Armenian guy acts all insulted and then goes down to around 4500.  Then Elder Kelly says, man I can do 1500 but that's really all I got, then the Armenian guy takes the coat and says get out of my store.  Then we leave the store go to another one and the process repeats itself. Pretty much we spent all of pday in the ринок and bought absolutely nothing,  but it was fun to haggle. Super exhausting though, gonna mostly relax today.  Me and Elder Beals had a little bit of a week.  It was a figapalooza, a fig is what we call it here when someone says they are gonna show up to meet and they don't.  We had 5 out of 6 lessons fall through, and one guy said he wasn't interested in seeing us ever again.  That one stung a little bit.  But hey that's what we do, invite people to what we got and if they aren't having it we can't make them.  I will admit though it is not easy to day in day out dump out your most personal thoughts and feelings on people and have them reject you.  I have told things to people I don't know all that well that I've never told to my family or closest friends, and then they say пока ни удачники (solong losers).  They don't actually say that though, well usually.  So yeah, not the easiest week I've ever had, but hey, thats how the mish goes sometimes, and thats how we get all manly.  While we didn't meet a whole lot of people that want to meet up or are interested in what we do, we did meet some cool people.  Sister Gale who is notorious for contacting dudes was talking to a bald guy in a flowing robe during a district contacting activity and I was like sorry lady, I'm jumping in on this one.  The guy was an orthodox budhist from st petersburg, guy was awesome.  Says he's got a mormon friend but not really interested, super cool guy though.  One guy we met with this week had gotten kicked out of his appartment and couldn't find a place for him and his family and the other 10 people that lived with him.  I felt super helpless because all we could do was ask around and refer him to a good shelter place where he could stay until he found a new appartment.  That one was a heartbreaker. Tough because we are here to help people, but when we finally find someone who actually needs it we can't always help.  But we do what we can.  Hoping this week will be better and I'll have more to tell you guys about.  Thanks for the letters Mom and Grandma, my most faithful writers, you guys are the best.  Hope everything is going good back home and you are all staying happy.  Say hi to America for me.  Catch you guys next week.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Week 15:

Whatsup everybody.  Happy 4th of July, I didn't realize it had happened until that night I was writing in my journal.  Anyway not a whole ton happened this week, pretty mellow as far as the mish goes.  We got our new mission president and he came and talked to us.  He's a pretty cool guy, didn't get a lot of time to talk with him 1 on 1, but I think he will be good for the mission, really open to new ideas, asks us to tell him what we need to change to improve around here.  When we met he said, well Elder Holland, would you be ready to train next transfer if need be. I was like, I'm down let's do this thing.  He said I probably won't have to, but there are going to be a lot of people that are going to have to step up and take on more responsibility than they are prepared for because most the mission is green (new people) right now.  I think it would be pretty fun to get put with an inexperienced person, when you kick out the crutch of having someone to rely on you learn a lot faster.  This week we got figged a lot, that means people said they would meet with us then they didn't show.  And we have come to learn that the people we have been meeting with us have been meeting only for english, and they aren't really interested in church things.  So we have come to the accord that it is time to find some new people to teach.  Oh, I'm the proud owner of classy manpurse now.  In Europe it's not fruity, people were looking at me funny when I'd be wearing a classy suit with a dakine backpack, so it was time to step it up.  Also they changed the dress code so i didn't really have a choice.  It is the family bag passed down by Beauchemin, he tried to hand it down to his real son, but that ungrateful little boy didn't accept it.  So he is letting me use it until he trains again.  Me and elder Beauchemin went on a split lesson with this guy who has a cool beard and he took us to a hipster cafe where it's just an appartment they turned into a cafe, and coffee and tea is free and you pay by the hour.  He read about us on wikkipedia and came over and brought us 2 coffees and said here ya go, then we were like yikes, sorry buddy we don't drink coffee.  Then he snapped his fingers and said o dang I completely forgot about that, we weren't convinced, we were pretty sure he was just testing us.  Nice  try beardy guy. Had some pretty good mint tea though.  During the lesson Elder Beauchemin was dropping knowledge but then got stuck on a question and it was awkward so I jumped in for a minute, then the guy got up to go get so more coffee and Elder Beauchemin was like man, nobody ever helps me on lessons when there is an awkward silence, I love you! I was like woah take it easy buddy, but I appreciated it at the same time.  I got the mother of all packages, thank you so much family for all the food and letters, peanut butter is like diamonds here, so now I'm the richest missionary in Russia.  I feel like that guy in prison that knows how to get people things.  Oh and false alarm by the way on the hot water, they turned it back on, and when we ran it there was so much rust that it looked like blood was coming out of the shower for a good 20 minutes, I'll send pictures when I can, these computers won't let me.  Thank you also Grandma for the box, and letter, it was also amazing, I'm glad you guys know exactly what food I like.   I will not be going hungry anytime soon.  Me and Elder Beals had another heart to heart, every weekly planning is interesting.  I've been pretty cold to him, he was like man, I don't even know who you are, you are so mysterious.  It's just hard to be myself around him for some reason, probably because we are not in agreement on anything.  But I feel bad for how I've acted thus far.  We were both laying everything on the table so I explained to him that when I came I was expecting my trainor to be a big strong man hardened by post communist Russia who has been stabbed and kidnapped and speaks good Russian.  And then I saw him for the first time holding some icecream and he screamed at the top of his lungs ELDER HOLLAND and started hugging me and jumping up and down, and then I was like wait, what?  He thought that was pretty funny.  We are gonna try to be better friends, but it is just hard being with some 24/7 that you don't see eye to eye with and bugs you on so many levels. But he is still one of the nicest people I've ever met and a good missionary.  So that's what is new. Nothing super interesting.  Hope all is well at home, I'll try to get more cool stories this week to share so that I don't bore you with my emails.  Stay happy everybody, enjoy America for me.  Later. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Week 14:

Hey everybody, so this week was hillarious.  The work was fine, we had a couple of good meetings with what seem like pretty sincere people, but we still haven't really gotten past a first lesson despite all our efforts.  Good news though, андрей (blind guy) came to church and said he really liked it.  Bad news, he leaves in 3 weeks to go to Massage School in another part of Russia.  Every time we find someone cool somehow the universe finds a way to take them away.  So we will try to teach him as much as we can while he's here and then pass along his info to whatever Mission he will be in so that some other lucky missionaries can work with him.  So that is the most significant mission thing that happened this week, aside from that we talked to a ton of people.  It finally happened, they turned off our hot water for the rest of the summer.  In Russia they decide in your building that it is hot enough they turn off the hot water, and then when it starts to get winterish they will turn it back on.  Cold showers aren't so bad, the trick is to remember to breath for the first 30 seconds, and then you kind of sort of get used to it.  But this week it has been so hot and muggy that I was actually kind of glad.  I feel what can only be described as sticky 24/7, and our fan broke so that was great.  Anyway the biggest thing I wanted to talk about was culture night, which is probably the greatest thing that ever happened to me.  So going there, I am going to be honest, I was not super excited besides the fact we were going to the baby большой, cuz I'm not really into opera music, and this was going to be german translated into Russian so I was going to have no idea what was going on. I was prepared to draw doodles and to sleep.   Oh deary me was I wrong.  The scene opened on a wall of graffitti and the first thing that happened was a dude in naught but his undies busted through the wall.  He belted a couple of opera lines in german then passed out.  Then some lady cops came on the stage, from the look of their costumes somehow I knew that things were going to turn inappropriate.  I was correct, the ripped off their costumes in like 45 seconds, it was probably the most awkward thing that has happened in my life, but in the greatest way.  8 missionaries in a play where in the first five minutes there was already a hunky guy in booty shorts and 3 strippers. They were wearing what were essentially one peice swimsuits underneath, but it was still definitely not missionary apropro.  The senior couple was there too so that made it all the better, some old classy folks from bountiful Utah.  Elder Beals was devistated, because he picked out this opera and conviced us all to go, and he is the kind of person that I think has never done a bad thing in his life. The rest of the opera was great, complete with giant rubber ducks and clowns that yelled Fart (not sure what that means in german but I quickly learned that I am not mature enough to not laugh at the word fart). But wait, it get's better, not only was this an edgy modern presentation of the Mozart classic The Magic Flute, but one of the members from our ward was in the choir.  The second act did not let us down.  The curtain opened with a bunch of out of shape Russian dudes in speedos laying under tanning lamps with guys walking around in lab coats singing in German. Then we spotted васия, our member, he has a video on  He was standing to the side in a robe, and every 30 seconds those in robes would strip down and lay under the lamps.  I got to see one of our famous russian members in a speedo that day, and oh how glorious it was. I could not have asked for a more culturaly enlightening experience, I don't even have time to explain every amazing point of this opera.  I still have no idea what happened, but that doesn't take away from it's majesty.  I felt bad for Elder Beals, he was absoloutely distraught, I thought it was a masterpiece though.  So yeah, that was culture night, could not have been better.  Anyway good to hear from all of you.  Thanks for the letters Will, sounds like summer back in LG is pretty mellow, thanks for the updates though and all the love.  You need to surf more though, this is bigger than you, you have the sacred obligation to surf for the both of us.  Hitchhike if you have to.  Just kidding, sort of.  Thanks to Mom as well, love me some Momma mail.  Hope all you guys are enjoying the summer back home.  I still have haunting dreams about being in the pacific ocean.  Miss that beautiful body of salt water.  Continue to fill me in on your lives, love to hear from you.  Stay fresh.  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Week 13:

Hi guys,
So this week was pretty cool.  Start off last pday, we went to a chinese restaurant with some chinese (well he is from Taiwan) guy from our ward who is hillarious, his name is Mike and he speaks Russian, English, and Mandarin.  We are pretty sure the place is owned by the chinese mafia, we had to go through like metal detectors and stuff to get in.  It was all you can eat, so I loaded up my plate with a bunch of stuff and sat down. Turns out if you don't finish everything you take you owe them 1000 рубs which is like 30 bucks.  It was only after I had filled my plate with a bunch of liver that I found this out.  By the time I finished all my food my tongue felt numb and I didn't know why.  So that was funny and painful, but mostly funny.  The week was pretty cool, did a lot of work.  We got a referall from a member for a blind guy who wanted to meet with us.  This guy is legit, we had a lesson with him and he is awesome.  We were talking to him and he was like man, I really want to come to church, I'll call ирина (the member) and see if she can walk me there this week.  He also asked if we had the BoM in brail, we don't know if we have it Russian or not, but if not we are just going to get an audio one for him.  Turns out he couldn't come to church this week cuz his brother came to town, but it I think he arranged with the member to come next week. Yeah so that guy is cool.  The rest of the week was pretty much contacting, a lot.  This week we had a little fun with it too which was good.  One day we got together as a district and did a chalk drawing, where we draw out what we call the "plan of salvation" which is a very basic overview of what we believe this whole life thing is about.  Then people come up and talk to us.  We picked a bad spot, under an advertisement for a beauty school, so people at first thought we were advertising for that.  Heh.  But we still had some good conversations.  One super serious Russian Orthodox guy came and was yelling at the sisters for like a half hour, so I went over there and since I don't know a ton of Russian I just murdered him with kindness.  After a while he was slapping me on the back saying "он спасен!"  Meaning something like "this one is saved!".  I don't think he calls the shots on that one but it was a nice thought.  He wouldn't take anything from us at the end and he doesn't want to meet again, but at least he thinks we are less crazy.  Then the next day it was going to be english club, and we wanted a ton of people there, so we got together as a district, picked routes, and just went around inviting everyone on the streets to come by and practice their english.  This was my favorite part of the week because me and Elder Beals would work opposite sides of the street so I got to fly solo.  So fun to talk to people in Russian on my own, and a couple of them were really cool.  One guy even showed up that day, most of the others said they could probably come the next week.  But we ended up having the best turn out we've ever had at english club, it was awesome.  I love Russians because they aren't afraid to tell you if they are not interested in something, which is way better than having them be polite and not actually know if they are or not.  Oh I cut all my hair off, I let the comp do it, we just slapped a 3 on the razor and shaved my whole head to that length to eliminate human error.  I'm almost bald but not completely.  This saturday we have culture night which is where we get to go do something cultural, at night. We are going to hit an opera at the большой, I'm not super into operas, but you can't live in Moscow and not go to something at the Bolshoy. We might hit the ринок (don't know how that's spelled but means russian outdoor indoor market) where they sell ties for 100 рубs each, thats like 3 bucks and they are sweet.  That way we can look fresh for the Bolshoy, I want to buy a real bowtie and learn how to tie it. Anyway things are going good out here, still working hard and not seeing a whole lot of progress, but that's Moscow, and while we aren't seeing a lot of progress we are seeing potential.  Still looking for other ways to serve people out here but it's hard in Russia, they don't really like having people do service, it's weird.  Love and miss you guys, fill me in on your lives. Friends within the sound of my blog, we are now aloud to email eachother, if dearelder is not your cup of tea, drop me an email, you all know how the internet machine works.  My email is  много любвы все. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Week 12:

Hey everybody,
So this week was a good one, pretty crazy, lot of stuff going on, kind of a blur.  Last pday we played lasertag for pday which was sweet, it was our last pday with elder Brown as our fearless leader, fun times.  Anyway we met with a kid named Pasha, he's a cool guy, but we had a hard time getting our message accross at first cuz neither of us speak the best Russian.  Then a member named Denice showed up to sit in on the lesson, he was awesome, he just dropped knowledge on the guy for like an hour straight, Pasha had to go out of town after that but it was a good lesson and I'm excited to maybe meet up with him again, would be sweet to get a second lesson, never got past number 1.  I love it when we get to talk to people or have lessons in Russian, I love being confused.  A lot of the time people just talk to us because they want to speak english with us, that is a bother. We had a mission conference last friday which was sweet, Elder Nelson was supposed to come but he couldn't make it, but we still had a good speaker, and I got to see all my buddies from all over the mission so that was fun.  Not a whole lot else happened for a while, we worked a lot, spent forever contacting, doing what we can.  Last comp inventory was funny, thats where we talk in our companionships about our strengths and weaknesses and what we need to change.  After we had taken care of business elder Beals looked at me and was like, Elder Holland, can you teach me how to be manly?  It took every fiber of will power I posessed to not laugh histerically.  At first I was just like, look brother, you've come to the wrong place for that.  I've never had muscles, I never get girls, and I still watch cartoons.  Then I told him we can like work out more if he wants and maybe change some habits but he shouldn't try to change his personality just cuz of others.  I told him he would probably get along better with other elders if he mellowed out a little bit though.  He's a funny guy, probably one of the most interesting I've ever met.  Anyway that was funny.  Mom, I got the package you sent, and it is like the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, thanks so much. I also got  a bunch of letters, thanks Rach and Mom, your letters were super nice.  Also big thanks to Stacy for dropping a note, the people here are awesome, was good to hear from you about how things are going.  Oh and thanks to the Hegstroms too for your letter.  I know that more happened this week than I can remember, but its hard to put everything together at the end of the week.  Oh we went on splits with the AP's, that was fun, me and the one I went with just contacted like all day.  A topless old man in the park sang us a song and we got the number of another old man who had a sweet mustache and a black sabbath t shirt.  the AP's are funny.  Last night was super cool, we met up with a guy named Max, he's a muslim guy from Tajekistan and he is my new best friend.  He's got a wife and daughter over in Tajekistan (don't know if that's how it's actually spelled) and he works here and sends them money.  We had a lesson with him and he's a super sincere guy, but he doesn't want to meet about religion anymore because he feels like that would be moving to far away from Islam.  We told him we got that and we invited him to come to english club if he could, and he was like yeah I'm down, I love hanging out with you guys.  After we were talking for a while he was like, I gotta tell you guys something, I have a problem in my life right now, not a huge problem, but a problem; and I am always thinking about that problem, but when I am with you guys that problem is gone, I don't even think about it, is that bad?  It's actually pretty cool cuz that is exactly what I needed to hear, because these past couple of weeks I have kind of felt like, man, am I actually doing anything good out here, am I helping anyone or just wasting my breath.  Because we have something so awesome to give to people, but nobody wants it.  But because Max said that, I realized even if things don't appear to be working out and I can't really see the effects, we do have an impact out here.  It's not always huge but if we can at least brighten a persons day then we are doing something.  Even if its just getting a smile and a hello from two weird American kids.  Oh other funny story, I was sitting on the metro reading a book about russian grammar trying to figure out how to talk to the lady next to me, and at one stop some kid in a vans tank top came up to me and showed me his phone and what looked like had been written by a  year old said "God Bless You" in english.  Then he smiled at me shook my hand and bolted before I could talk to him, all I could say was thank you.  Little things like that keep you going out here.  That kid made my day.  Things are going to get better around here, the people are so cool, just really genuine people.  я скучаю по вас. вас очень люблю. покой все.
Week 11:

So I don't know what week we are on now, I stopped counting.  It has been another week in Russia and this one went by pretty quick.  This week we made the goal as a district of getting 60 contacts, which seemed doable, and we were all pumped.  We only got half of that, these Russians are tough. We pretty much just went conctacting all week, stopping people on the street and what not.  Tracting is frowned upon by the police here so we have to just go around talking to people outside or on the metro.  I keep thinking all the time, man, there has got to be a better way to do this.  Because the way we try to get people to talk to us isn't really working out so great, and I don't blame them.  If I was in their shoes I probably wouldn't stop for me.  We are going to figure out better ways to do this, and when we do we are gonna revolutionize the sport of missionary work.  I'm tired of not having anyone to teach.  I came up with an idea that I am going to try to test run this week, I call it pain contacting.  It is where we "accidentally"  fall down or something in front of people in the park or on the street, and if they help us up or stop to say are you ok maybe we can start a conversation, I'll let you know how that one goes.  Anyway not to much going on around here, University area is kind of infamous for that, but there are really cool people.  I went on my first split the other day with our dl, Elder Brown.  It was so fun, life is so good when you get along with your comp.  It was so fun, we talked to so many people, and he's a cool guy.  Unfortunately he's leaving our area next week to go be a zone leader somewhere else, so we will be getting a new district leader.  Sad day, but I hear the new guy we are getting is pretty cool, and he likes adventure time so that's a plus.  I got your dear elders Holly and Mom, thanks so much, they were much needed, and they were from like a month ago I think so I understand the time table of letters now.  Oh congrats by the way Holly, sorry I couldn't be there for your graduation.  You done good child. I am having a hard time sleeping lately,  dunno why.  Some days on the mish, you will find yourself exhausted beyond all belief, but unable to sleep, then you will stand at the window of your communist era дом in your underwear and sip juice out of a tea cup until 12:30 and then be sad because you realize you will be waking up in 6 hours.  Juice here is pretty good though so it's not all bad.  We gotta do something to pick things up around here, but I don't know what.  Elder Brown said that he has never seen this much of a dry spell before, and I believe it.  Met with a guy named Ali yesterday, we accidentaly called him when we were trying to call the other Ali, but it turned out he wanted to talk so we were like cool.  He is also a really good guy, he is from Pakistan and spent most of the time trying to convice us that not all Muslims or Pakistanis are terrorists.  And we were like dude we know that, we love Muslims, but he still kept working on us.  He is really cool though, Muslims are awesome, they think a lot of the same things we do, and this guy Ali is super cool.  He took a BOM and said he would read it, even though we didn't really bet a chance to explain it to him, because he spent most of the time talking.  Really nice guy though.  Oh and then сергей, the one who claims he has been baptized in our church, came to church and this week we had fast and testimony meeting, that means it is the sunday in the month where the whole hour people can go up and say whatever they want.  So сергей went up and started preaching about making sure that we were all eating organic products.  That was funny.  Then we had a meeting with him and the sister missionaries and he just went off on us.  He was talking about how we don't know enough, and how we need to study more, and how the missionary program has gone down hill.  He kept looking at me, making eye contact with me, and then just talking for like 15 minute intervals about things I didn't understand at all.  I was like man, I know your trying to tell me something but I've only been here a month, slow it down a smidgen.  Anyway he's a weird one, but a nice guy.  Sorry I don't have any really cool stories this week.  Love you guys and miss you.  Also miss the ocean.  I spend most my time on the metro so sometimes I stand in the middle of it and don't hold on to anything and pretend I'm surfing.  Don't judge me.
See ya