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 mormon.org.  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 alexhllnd@myldsmail.net.  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