Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Week 10:

Hey guys,
I wanted to say sorry if last weeks letter was super depressing.  I wasn't myself, I was really hungry last week because we didn't really have food, and any of you who know me know that one of the only times that I am sad in this world is when I am hungry.  I'm not gonna lie, things aren't all peaches and cream out here, but they are getting better.  My district is really funny, we have only one native Russian and it's a sister.  We have one tall white kid who was in a rap group before the mission, but he doesn't seem like all thug or anything.  Anyway they are nice.  We did a lot of stuff this week, and it all seemed still pretty weird.  Last week I forgot to tell you, we had our first "lesson"  with a taxi driver we met who didn't speak very good Russian, so we met up with him to talk about the Church but he thought we called him because we wanted a cab, took us about 15 minutes to find out what each party thought was happening.  Heh.  Anyway so that was one thing that was pretty demoralizing last week.  This week we had a lesson with a guy from the area book and we were like, so what do you know about our church, and he said a bunch of stuff and we were like, dang you know a lot.  And he was like yeah I read the Book of Mormon twice.  Then we were like oh, alright.  Then at the end elder beals extended a baptismal commitment, and he was like, no I've already been baptized.  And we were like no into our church.  And he was like, yeah, I was already baptized into your church.  We got confused, apparently he was baptized in America when he was young or something, I dunno, but we aren't quites certain if that's true.  So that was weird.  Had a really sweet lesson with Slova last week, he's a super good kid, just trying to figure out life, I can relate.  Unfortunately he doesn't live in our area so we won't be meeting with him anymore, he's getting passed on to some other elders.  Yeah so that's a bummer.  The ward here is sweet, all really cool people, all happy to help with the missionary work. Russian kids are freaking adorable.  Somehow the language goes from cute and loveable to terrifying in the teenage years. One girl RM Natasha came for a lesson and the guy didn't show, and so she was like, can I go contacting with you? And we were like um YES.  She is a boss, she went around talking to every person in existence, and one guy stopped and talked to us for a while, he was agnostic, and at the end she was like hey, you should try praying, right here right now.  And he was like alright why not.  So we taught him how and he said a really simple prayer and it was sweet.  He called us like a half hour later and was like hey I'm gonna be out of town, but I want to meet you guys on August 6th at 2 o clock where we just met. So we were like, cool we'll be there.  Anyway, we get stood up a lot, people always say they want to meet with us then don't.  My fear of rejection is being destroyed by the means of rejection.  I think it is like getting over a fear of heights by falling off a series of small to medium cliffs.  In Russian it sounds funny though because when people get angry at you they sound like bad guys from movies.  Most the time I just laugh now.  People just don't get why we are here though, and in the beginning it was starting to make me doubt a little bit too.  But what we do is important, still not seeing the affects of it quite yet, but I still believe that it's important.  I talked to a guy in the park who had a little kid for like an hour and a half the other day, he was a cool guy and it was fun talking to him about what he believed and what we believed, but at the end he didn't want to meet with us again.  When something like that happens all we can do is hope that something good will come out of the time we spent, that maybe something we did or said will benefit them.  Dunno, still just trying to stay positive.  This is hard.  Oh we went to a hospital and gave an old lady a blessing and we were in a room with like 5 other ladies and she was like, hey who else wants one, and some other old lady said she wanted one.  So we gave here one and then after I didn't really catch everything she said but I'm pretty sure she was trying to bless us, and we were just kind of like, lady this isn't usually how this goes down. It was funny.  Also Russian hospitals are super sketch, like I have never been more scared in Russia than I have been in their hospitals.  Going to try really hard not to get sick or hurt so I don't have to spend more time in there.  Hope everything is going good at home, don't know if you guys are trying to send me stuff, I think it just takes a long time to get here.  I love you guys, stay happy my friends. 
-старейшина холланд
ps-they are playing the ghostbusters themesong in this internet cafe.  Don't know why I had to mention that but it seemed relevant.

Week 9:

So that was weird.  I'm in Russia and it is very different than I
thought it would be.  I kind of feel like I am in Paris with a bunch
of people that just happen to speak Russian.  It is probably because I
am in Moscow though.  I am in the University area and its pretty
upity.  People are pretty well off here, not a ton of poverty.  I'm in
a pretty sketch internet cafe right now, kinda funny.  We got in on
Tuesday, chilled at the mission home for a night, had orientation the
next day, then got together wih our trainers the next day.  Turns out
I suck at Russian, but not as much as I expected to, so thats good.
There was one Korean guy I met who was just over the moon about how
much Russian I learned in 2 months.  I am not learning as quickly as I
thought I would here though, meh.  I was correct, the combination of
jet lag and extreme freedoms sent my body into shock.  Had something
of an emotional breakdown earlier this week.  I think it was because I
wasn't in love with what we were doing right away and then I was like,
o no, this is my life for 2 years.  It's gotten better, but it is
still pretty hard.  Me and my companion are kind of polar opposites,
when I first met him he started hugging me and jumping up and down and
talking about how excited he was in a register not common to most men,
and he wouldn't let go.  I was like, oh man, this is going to be an
interesting 2 transfers (3 months).  Anyway, he is an interesting guy,
very bubbly.  I don't think he has ever done a bad thing in his life,
he's like perfect.  Oh also, we are shotgunning the area, so the last
two elders got transfered and we are both new here, so we have no
people to teach and we don't really know the branch yet.  We taught a
grand total of 0 lessons this week, spent the majority of our time
contacting, which is not my strong suit.  I am not used to talking to
strangers, it's not really my jam, but I'm gonna lern here pretty
quick.  Food isn't completely agreeing with, my comp doesn't really
eat, his goal is to get to 133 pounds before the end of his mission,
like he makes me look big, thats how small he is.  So I haven't really
figured out how to shop here yet.  My comp speaks ok Russian, but not
super fantastic, he's been here for a year.  During language study he
mostly just reads the scriptures in Russian.  He's a really good guy,
but we are having a hard time getting work done I feel like.  There is
a guy we met at English club (where we help people with their english)
that we got to come to church, and then during sunday school we taught
a solid lesson.  He's a really cool guy, his name is Slova, don't know
how to change this keyboard to Russian but thats how you would spell
it in English.  Anyway I'm doing alright, still trying to get in the
swing of things out here, feel like I kind of got dropped into a rough
situation but thats understandable, we had a huge group of new
missionaries coming in and not a lot of people to train them.  So
yeah, everyday I wake up, put on my big boy pants, and keep going. The
ward is sick though, really cool people, some Americans going to
school here that also served Russian speaking missions.  One came up
to me and was like, hey, stay with it, we've all been there, it sucks.
I needed that so bad.  But yeah I'm good, we will see what we can't
get done this week.  Our district is good, the other elders in it are
nice and the sisters are super cool.  Thanks for the love Touchet's,
just got both your dear elders when I got here, guess you sent them to
Russia.  Hey, dear elder is still free here, so send me stuff.  I
don't know my address yet but when I figure that out I'll let you
know.  I haven't figured out how to send pictures yet but when I do
I'll send some over, the mission president should be sending some.
Hope you guys are all doing well, I think about you all the time.
Much love,
Elder Holland

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Update

Alex will be leaving for Russia on Monday, May 13. Dearelders to Russia are STILL FREE!

Here's a story on the new Moscow mission president!
http://latterdaysentinel.com/2013/05/03/borders-shifting-to-russia-spokane-couple-called-to-moscow-mission-presidency/


Week 8:

Hey friends,
Well, the time has come.  About to say bye to 'Murica for the next 22 months.  We got our travel plans last Friday, and they were beautiful.  We will be flying out of SLC on Monday around 9, then we have a 1 hour layover in New York, and then we go straight to Moscow.  Honestly it is hard to describe how excited I am.  It is getting real, and soon I get to do real missionary work, so pumped.  We have spent a lot of time talking about culture and the Russian people lately, and it's weird to say but I already love them.  Every time my teachers talk about experiences they had or things the people they knew in Russia did it makes me just want to be Russian.  We also learned a really famous russian folk song called Катюша (kaht -tue-sha) that is so awesome.  It was written during World War 2, and it just makes me happy, we walk around the MTC just belting it in the thickest accent and deepest voice that we can.  Oh and the way to say sick or awesome in Russia is круто (kroota) which literally means steep, I think we should bring that to America.  Like, hey bro, that shirt is steep.  I dunno, could catch on. Gonna be eating, breathing, and sleeping the culture soon, and I am super excited for that.  It is a little sad leaving the MTC, in that I've made a lot of friends here most of which I will probably never see again.  Our district is all St. Petersburg except for me and my comp, but I have made some friends that are going to Moscow.  One of them has three toes.  Funny story, his foot got run over by a lawn mower, and so they took his stomach skin and grafted it onto his foot, so his heel has a happy trail.  Heh. Anatomicaly speaking he should not be able to walk, he's got like half a foot, and not very much of an achilles tendon, but you can't even tell.  I found out like three days ago, and I've been playing soccer with him for a couple weeks now, and he is one of the fastest kids out there.  Pretty neat.  So yeah, I will miss some of these people, but I'm ready to make some more friends out in the field.  We don't know like any Russian, but we gonna learn pretty quick here.  I don't know how I will be handling all the freedom.  I have been confined to the same small campus for 2 months now, eating the same food, having the same schedule.  I wonder if my body will go into shock or something when I leave.  Really strange time.   Oh we had Chad Lewis (old player for the Eagles that jumps over people) come talk to us, and he was awesome.  Just got me super excited for the mish, he served in Taiwan and it is amazing how much his mission shaped his life.  He covered the Superbowl in Chinese but he only knew how to say church words so he, and I quote, "Testified that Tom Brady was throwing true passes".  We all thought that was pretty funny.  I don't really know what to say right now, my brains kind of everywhere cuz I'm leaving.  I guess I'm just really happy to be able to do this because not everyone gets to, and I want all you people back home to know that I love you and I'll miss you while I'm in the Motherland, sidenote they don't call it the motherland they call it the nativeland.  It's a funny job we have as missionaries, we go to places we aren't used to, in my case where they won't even be able to understand me, and we hand over to complete strangers the thing that is most important and personal to us, and then we just leave it up to them whether or not they want it.  But it is worth it when people who need it and are ready for it get it, that is what I've picked up during this whole thing.  It's a weird job, but it's also the most important one I've ever had.   Alright, I'll talk to you guys next week.  G2g 2 Russia, brb.#mission
-Старейшина холланд
 
Russian word of the week:  калдун (kaldoon) - wizard




Saturday, May 4, 2013

Week 7:

I think it is week 7, not really sure.  Something like that.   I have like a week and a half till Russia, schweet. Had a funny week this week, a lot to talk about.  So, last week after TRC, which is when we just teach people who know Russian that come and volunteer to be taught, my comp was complaining of some serious stomach pain, so we went to the front desk and after talking to a doctor they sent us to the Hospital.  I ESCAPED THE MTC.  It was super weird, driving through town, seeing a bunch of people who weren't Missionaries, everyone was pretty much speaking English.  Weird.  We got to the Hospital and they had Adventure Time on the TV, had to dig deep for some will power to not watch it.  Those of you who don't know we aren't supposed to watch TV or anything as Missionaries, even if one is right next to us.  But it was ok because the one that was on was a stupid one anyway.  Anyway we go in and the doctor is like, yeah could be appendicitis, could be poop, we get missionaries all the time that just can't deal with the food.  He ordered a catscan.  It was poop.  My comp claims that another MTC doctor he met with thought it was an intestinal virus, but I'm not sure, he bounced back pretty quickly.  Anyway so yeah, I had a little field trip, which was sweet. More district drama this week, we had what is known by Czar Callens as a "Come to Jesus Meeting", yeah he's from Texas.  Pretty much means we laid everything on the table.   Pretty much what was decided is that speaking a lot of Russian wasn't all that important, because most people think that we aren't going to learn anything till we get to the field.  While that is kind of true, I was bummed, because we aren't going to get better here unless we practice, and everyone else was doing it except for us.  So that meeting didn't end up helping, everyone was still kinda mad at everyone, the MTC was getting to us.  Then just when everyone thought life could not become any bleaker, a majestic omen appeared telling us that we would in fact some day leave the MTC and go to Russia.  Our Russian name tags came, so pumped.  We get them like a week before we go, but we aren't aloud to wear them till we leave.  My name is spelled холланд, it looks awesome.  When those got handed out everything was ok again, and then brat Crawford came in and told everyone that the other district he is teaching is doing way better than us, and then all of a sudden everyone wanted to speak Russian again, ура (hooray).  So anyway things are back to normal, Oh except they changed our whole schedule, they are messing with my flow.  We've been doing the same thing thing for weeks and they just up and switch it on us right before we leave, mean.  But it's not so bad, kinda nice actually to have a change.  Oh I found some sick penny loafers in the free box (box where exiting missionaries leave all their crap they can't take with them), and they fit perfectly.  They sound like high heels when I walk around though, still they have become pretty popular among my peers. старейшины be jealous. Thanks for the letters everybody.  Will, I'm glad to hear that you were safe after everything and that your family was too, I liked your letter, keep em comin.  Becca, you keep chugging along, your a gem.  Anna, you are awesome and should just quit school and be a business lady (not really though). Holly, don't get senioritis, don't be like me, it's super boring, and I'm happy to hear you are surfing.  Gma, thanks for the letter, family info on Russia, it's super cool, and the pictures, and the moolah.  Mom, thanks for your letter, it brightened my day, always good to hear whats going on with you guys.  Thanks for all the love people, you are good jobbers.  Anyway I've got one more P-Day in here and then it is Russian fun times,  Teachers keep talking about their missions in Ukraine and Russia, and I'm just super pumped to get there, even though I'm going to be confused for about 3 months straight, and then slightly confused for about 2 or 3 more months, and then occasionally confused for the rest of my mission.  Russian be crazy.  Later.