Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Week: 81
Surprise.  Elder Holland move again.  This transfer was only a month long cuz of christmas times, and I am getting booted out of moscow.  I'm going to the magical land of smolensk, a pretty far outer city that is the envy of all missionaries everywhere.  I'm pretty pumped, christmas came early this year.  I'm sad to leave my brothers, but I missed my people a lot, and russian.  I have been humbled this last transfer, it was kind of like starting over again in the mission, it is a totally different place.  The people are so good though.  So, my dreams have been realized, I get to go somewhere on a train.  It will be the first time I get to serve in an outer city with a whole district of missionaries and a senior couple.  We are going to do so much work.  I've only got 2 transfers left so we are going to have too.  My new companion just finished getting trained so I get to be the weird uncle for the 3rd time.  Woo.  This week was pretty good, we had stake conference which was fun, got to see all the members from my old areas before I left, and also yesterday was the cherry on top.  I had to go on a split with university elders to get an investigator passed to us so I got to go see my favorite babooshka in the universe.  Thats right I got to hear those beautiful words one more time "Старейшины, свет мой, приходите!".  She's getting pretty old, but still the same old elena.  I said goodbye to my brothas, that was a bummer.  It's easier getting transfered when you've only been around a month though and stake conference is happening.  During conference I just sat around with these riddiculous children from zgrad and read books with them about sharks and space.  It was a good time.  Hope all is well at home, its starting to feel like christmas time with the snow in such, I bet you guys are starting to get into the spirit back home as well.  I'll check in next week with more news.  See ya.
-Elder Holland
Week: 82
Hey everybody, sorry I missed writing home.  I just got a call from the mission office that mom is about ready to go all liam nieson and fly to russia to find out where I've been taken.  I'm fine, we just had a zone conference yesterday and we didn't have access to the internet on pday, we were on a train.  Smolensk is AWEESOME. I love outer cities a ton.  All nice and quiet, the people are friendly and calm, the branch is strange.  Good stuff, I am in my element.  I get to do a lot of branch work too now cuz I'm the first counselor and it's really fun.  Especially in our branch, we got some vietnamese guys that work in a shoe factory, we call them our nam boys, a bunch of young girls that cause drama, an old lady who tries to run the relief society like a totalitarian, and a riddiciulous short new convert that apparently started doing backstroke after he got baptized.  Man I feel at home.  We have a lot of work to do here because they have just hit a little bit of a dry spell after a lot of success, we are going to try to find through the members a lot and help famillies to accept the gospel.  Lets see, anything else interesting to report... Oh I finally got to ride a train, but my new companion left his passport at the office elders say they had bust it over to the station and hand it off, we got in the doors with 30 seconds left, muracle.  Our district is really cool, there is going to be a lot of work getting done around here, I only have about 3 months left to do it.  Scary.  Yeah, so that's what's new.  I think trav just went home so I am the last living missionary of my friends.  The last samurai.  Ok gotta go, merry christmas errybudy, my comp has visa trip on christmas so I will be on a train that day. Yar.  Ok bye.  O also on the train ride to moscow the other day at 7 in the morning this lady beat her husband till she broke her thumb, killed 3/4 of a bottle of vodka and took a lovely nap the rest of the way.  To be young and in love.  Ok now bye. 
Week: 80
This was a good week, very tiring.  We had a lot of splits this week, had to go twice.  We had a bunch of other random stuff too and I'm pooped.  We helped a bunch of philipino ladies move the other day, that was fun.  A law of nature as a missionary in russia is if you ever help people move, they will always live on the top floor of their new building, and there will be no elevator.  And so it was.  Luckily it was only 4 stories, but I'm still pretty sore and it was like 2 days ago.  In other news we had a brotha invite his vietnamese roommate to church and he is really cool, reminds me of ninh.  Unfortunately ninh is in vietnam until sunday so they weren't able to talk, but he is just stoked that people talk about religion here, because he has had a lot of questions and they don't really talk about it in his home country.  It's really fun to teach someone the Gospel that has never really even heard about God before, it's amazing how simple it is.  Other than that we moved buildings, and so this sunday we spent a lot of church running around outside finding our freezing brothers from the continent who had gotten lost.  They do not take kindly to the cold.  No sir.  When we were helping this one guy find the building I thought he was gonna cry, or die, or any combination of the 2.  So yeah we've got some new referals, new building, things are pretty good.  We will be finding out about transfers this week, two of our district members are going home, so things are going to shake up here a little bit.  I hope everyone had a thanksgiving, mine was pretty good, I'll try to send some pictures.  Bye now.  
Week: 79
Hey everybody,
This week was... interesting.  Full of good stuff too.  First, africans again are very fun.  We met with boochi who is a recentish convert and he is hillarious.  We were going over the first lesson with him and he stops us when we were talking about Jesus Christ's earthly ministry and says, Hey, you guys heard of this guy named Moses?  What you tink of him?  Then we went on talking about him for a while and then he said, Ok keep going.  Hard to convey the hillarity of that lesson through writing.  Also we got Mnocha, a guy we are trying... to teach in french. (also new member). We tried to talk to him about the Law of Chastity, and he dodges it like a ninja. I think he believes if he doesn't get caught saying what the law of chastity is, he won't have to live it.  Example.  Mnocha, what is the law of chastity? A: It is a principle of Faith. Q: What does that mean? A: It means to respect that commandment. Q: How do we respect that commandment. A: With faith. Q: More concretely dude. A: Follow it.  O dear, he is a special one.  After explaining it painfully bluntly about 7 times we told him to read the pamphlet and he would teach us next time.  haha.  We got to teach russian people this week too, someone's throwing me a bone on that one.  I'm still having a heard time living all my russian bros alone, I keep seeing all my friends from old areas here and its nice but it's also kind of a bummer.  Cool story of the week I will copy from the letter to pres cuz I'm out of time. It's about to get spiritual up in hur.  Awesome story this week. Elder Christensen and I were eating on the third floor of the central building after the family history thing, then this older lady walked in and said hey, I was wondering if I could pray with you guys, I really need to pray. We went and found a place to talk and she explained that she had come into contact with the church a while ago and felt a peace there that she didn't feel other places. We talked about the nature of God and our relationship with him and also the Holy Ghost a little bit, she expressed that she was going through some really hard stuff right now. At first she wanted us to pray, but we told her that it would be a lot better if she offered the prayer. She said what I think was the most sincere prayer I've ever heard. After she closed it we all just kind of sat there in silence for what seemed like a long time, and then she looked up and said that she feels peace. We promised her that it was the Holy Ghost testifying that this is where she needed to be. I tried to commit her to meeting the missionaries again but she said she needed some time to herself to think, so we gave her our number and the sisters from the ward where she used to visit and she promised to call. That's an experience I'm not going to forget, and I realized it wouldn't have happened had I not been transfered to this place. Pretty cool.

Interesting week, there was probably more in there I just can't remember it all.  Anyway, happy thanksgiving people, Thes americans are weirding me out big time, gonna be weird to live there again (america).  Alright later,
Elder Holland
Week: 78
HEy everyone, so this week was probably the weirdest and most culturaly shocking since I came to russia.  Basically I feel like I'm in america again.  It's strange, and I feel uncomfortable.  Also I have black friends now, I don't know if it is making me cool yet, probably not.  Our brothas from the continent are hillarious, this one guy named vincent is a riddiculous human being.  He speaks some russian and used to be married to a russian lady.  We had a coordination meeting with the wml and all the ward missionaries (which I didn't know was a thing) and even when our brothas weren't saying anything hillarious I couldn't stop laughing, it was hard to control myself.  Also, I don't speak french, even though it is a lot easier than russian.  I'm starting to pick it back up but I feel almost like I was better at russian when I came here than I am at french now.  I miss russian, it has become the break for me when I can speak that.  The ward is full of americans, and a french family, and all kinds of other nationalities, but they are mostly from africa.  Really humble cool people, easy to love, but their situation is pretty hard.  It's difficult living here as an african, it's hard to get work, when you have it you only work, people here are super racist, and the police are always busting you for not having a passport.  Really cool people.  NOt teaching people in russian is throwing me off big time, but I'll get used to it eventually.  We've got a couple of people progressing towards baptism right now, but nobody is coming to church, we are going to have to get creative about that problem.  Anyway I'm kind of out of time, but i'm still alive, my companion is a silly little man.  He is quite the chatterbox.  Good kid, we will have some fun here.  Take it easy everyone, merry thanksgiving, wait no that's next week.  bye.
Elder HOlland
Week: 77
Well transfers have come, and I got straight up blindsided.  The story begins when this transfer on a split we might a nice african man who only spoke french.  I thought it would be a good idea to attempt to speak with him in my crappy broken highschool french that I have almost completely forgotten.  We got his number, the guy I was with told president about it, and now I'm going to international ward.  Fun.  So yeah, international ward is a strange wonderland of americans in oil companies, funny african dudes, vietnamese guys, and pakistanian famillies.  Should be interesting.  When he first told me I was frankly pretty upset, I really love russian people.  It is going to be really hard to not focus on them anymore and help build up the church for russia.  But even though it's the last place besides the office I would have picked I'm going there for some kind of reason I'm sure.  Have to keep reminding myself that my plans and wants aren't always the best ideas.  So we will see what happens, I'll still be in moscow but it's a completely different world.  This week I had to say goodbye to the ward and #1 that was really hard, and then #2 I realized it might be the last time I bear testimony in russian.  I went and sat down and had to man up to not cry.  And then that didn't work so I started drawing turtles to distract myself.  Don't judge.  Trying really hard to have a good attitude, and now I have to change gears and try to learn french, so when I come home I will speak three languages very poorly.  I think I could still finish somewhere in a russian branch, but time is running out.  Congrats to my mom, sister, and aaron for the halfmarathon, you guys are champs.  And aaron, don't worry that your wife totally destroyed you. SLAM.  I'm not about to do that with you guys when I get back so don't even think about it.  This week was good, taught nikolai again and he is awesome, just scared of making promises he can't keep.  Also we found an inactive lady from Ukraine that wants to come back to church. WOO.  Alright I think that's all for me, I'll talk to you guys next week with what will most likely be an interesting letter. Peace out my lovelies.  
-Elder Holland
Week: 76

The week keep on rolling by.  We had a pretty good week here.  We got my Krishni brotha passed over to my homeland of university area. It was weird to go back there.  I miss that place.  He's struggling, but there is still hope.  Other lesson of the week was Nickolai knives, the one that lives super far away.  We had an awesome lesson with him where we established that he believes what we have is true, he has a strong desire to follow Christ, but he feels unworthy to do so.  Pretty common feeling we have since we are all pretty dumb.  It's too bad that we get so down on ourselves.  We talked about the atonement and hit home pretty hard that God loves all of us even when we are stupid.  In the end he commited to prepare for baptism, and he is still reading and praying.  Really sincere guy, man I love teaching people.  You, so that's about all the big news.  Transfers are coming up, and for the third time I feel like I will probably be getting the boot, nothing is set in stone though.  President throws a lot of curveballs, keeps you on your toes.  I'm hoping to head to the land of the armenians and learn some of their language, I feel like that would be pretty fun.  Coming down to the wire here, only got three transfers after this, that's not a lot really.  Strange to see things wind down, we aren't about to slow down though.  I'll let you guys know what happens with transfers.  Love you my people, thanks for not forgetting my existence, two years is quite a while.  Alright, I'm out, take it easy.
-Elder Holland
Week: 75
Hey Everyone.
Apparently everone has remembered that I exist so I'm running out of time because I have too many people to answer.  Basically this week I went to riga for the last time and we had our open door day at our branch.  The members handled it like champs and we had like 20 people come.  YEAH.  Also I got permission from president to go tracting, and we are doing it now.  Last night we got to a door that had 3 doors behind it, we rang all of them one after another and then a shirtless man with large manboobs came to the door confused and behind him was standing a crowd of other confused russians from all three appartments.  Ha.  Anyway no success there but I'll let you know if something cool happens.  Kostya has been struggling lately with his love for the krishnies and is doubting the possibility of God having one path for us.  He is praying right now every night to find that out. Like a champ.  Also unfortunately he moved, so we are going to pass him to university, the land of my birth.  It looks like he won't be getting baptized when we planned, but there is still hope!  Anyway that was about all my week, nothing super super exciting.  Was super happy to hear that holly made it safely to the czech republic and is doing awesome out there, get it gurl. Well, I can't really think of much else.  Happy birthday again rachael, I sent your card almost on time.  Hope all is well back in the americas.  Talk to ya next week.  
_Elder Holland
Week: 74

Hey everybody, good week.  First and foremost, Kostya is totally getting baptized! Maybe!  He has a date for the 8th and is moving a long like a champ.  He is reading and praying about the Book of Mormon and has already recieved an answer that it's true.  He's been coming to church and is stoked about changing his life for the better.  We taught him word of wisdom the other day and he was like, ah man, no black tea?  We said nope, and he said, all right lets do this thing.  Favorite quote of the week. "Stop drinking black tea, change your destiny"(kostya).  Missions are so good when you see people accepting the gospel and recieving blessings from it, this guy has grown a lot just in the past couple of weeks.  Anyway other than that we had a session of sneaking into appartment buildings and dropping flyers for our open door day in everyones' mailboxes.  We got to be ninjas.  Not really I just called every appartment and asked them to let me in until somebody did.  It was really fun though, and the closest thing I've done to tracting, I'm gonna ask pres if we can tract, would be a good experience.  Also we've been trying to talk to 10 more random situation people a day and we keep track, and if we fail then we have to bring snacks to district meeting.  So we've been stopping people on bikes, chasing people down, talking to people on railroad tracks.  Pretty weird.  What else.  Oh we got to the sad Bab Dina and found out her sad life story, but I think we cheered her up.  She has had a rough go of it.  Nice to make people happier when they are bummed.  Holly made it to the Czech republic, that's awesome!  You go seester, teach those люди!  Also happy birthday coming up to my other seester.  Ok that's for my time on her, have a good week everyone, love you all.
_elder Holland

Saturday, October 11, 2014

week: 73

Hey there friends.  This week was a great one.  Our church got one 9 year old bigger this week, wooooo.  She is the daughter of an indian looking guy named felix who got baptized not too long ago.  I got to go over and interview her the other night, we got into their house and her and her little sister went nuts.  They were like, awe yeah missionaries came over, let me show you every toy and book that is currently in this residence.  That went on for about 45 minutes and then the dad finally got home we did a quick follow up and I went and talked to her.  It's amazing how simple everything is when you are a kid.  She knows a lot more about life in a lot of ways than some of the geniuses I've met out here.  Good kid.  Her mom doesn't really believe in God but she loves the church, and their family is super happy right now.  All good stuff.  Baptism number 3 I have witnessed in Russia! Oh, yeah to explain the title, transfers came and went and we are all staying here accept elder anderson, sad that he's heading out.  I'm glad, and the members were glad, which made me more glad.  It is nice to feel loved.  Camping out in areas for long periods is hard but pretty cool, you start to feel like you actually live here.  Other stories:  Taught a guy on a freshly painted bench and we all ended up with blue butts.  Had zone conference.  Wrote a song about sister missionaries running around sprinkling fairy dust on our efforts and making everything pretty in the end.  Ukrainian guy told me he thought some gay russian guy was calling him the other night when I called.  Taught people on the street about Jesus. YEAH.  Well, that seems like everything, I'll try to get pictures over soon but my dropbox is full so it has become complicated.  Bye, love you people.
_Elder Holland  
Week: 72

Hey everyone, sorry I couldn't write a ton last week, I'll try to make up for it this week.  So, this week was one I had been dreading for a while, the day of our ward activity that I've been planning for over a month.  All of you know I'm bad at organizing, planning, and throwing parties.  Which is why it is funny that I got put in charge of all of this.  The point of it was to help our members here learn simple ways they can invite their friends to learn more about the church and especially get them to this big shindig Rechnoy is putting on called open door night.  After a week of frantically planning, making programs, finding props pojectors and instruments; the day finally came.  We had called literally everyone in the area to come, and had a pretty good idea how few would be there, most of them cancelled on us write before, especially the ones that were supposed to take part.  So we got there and only the Bishop, ward mission leader, first counselor and his daughter, and some other lady showed.  It started off a little awkward because nobody was there but in the end we had a good time.  Pres wanted us to show off for them, so there were some people playing music, and then those of us with less gifts recited russion poems, they love that junk in russia.  At the last minute I signed myself up to accompany elder Anderson with a guitar and I haven't played in almost two years, it was pretty horendous, but at the end he whipped out his trumpet mouthpiece (he wasn't aloud to have a trumpet) and played the last verse of called to serve, they dug it.  I won't go into more detail about what went down, but the people that were there love us now, and Bishop told everyone on sunday that they can trust us with their friends and family and that we are sick and legit (paraphrasing).  I'm just glad that business is over though.  As far as the work goes, we have one new investigator who is a goofy kid from ukraine that moved here with his family cuz it's safer.  When I was talking to him after english club on wednesday he freaked out and said "Holland, why you so close man, you trying to kiss me or something".  Then he talked about how he thought another elder was gay. (that was fair he is a little lady like).  And then last night when we were teaching him about Jesus and repentance and forgiveness, he was like "Holland, I love what you're saying man but stop staring into my soul it's freaking me out".  So we have a new young homophobic investigator from the ukraine who doesn't like to be looked in the eyes.  I've been pretty fortunate to meet the people I have here, I know that nobody has been able to accept fully what we have to offer, but I count myself lucky for just being able to tell people about it.  Also I can say I've seen how people who act upon what we teach find out that it's true.  It's not easy to become a member out here, you give up a lot, I have a ton of respect for the people here that are willing to put everything on the line to do what they know is right, I don't think I could.  We get transfers next week, I think I might actually be staying for one more round here. Game on.  Miss you guys, thanks for all the love, see you later. 
Elder Holland.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Week 70:

Hey there friends.  This week was an interesting one.  Elder Ortega's back was hurting pretty bad so we had to sit inside our appartment a lot.  After him being sick in the appartment, then the hospital, then back to the appartment I wasn't super pumped about the confinement.  I might have gone a little bit insane at one point there, but I'm pretty sure I'm back in my right mind now.  I'm getting really good at waiting now, also trying to find things to do when it seems like there aren't any.  Called a lot of peoplem, did some planning, etc.  When we were out on the street though things were awesome.  We got 2 new investigators this week and both of them are fly young guys that are very interested in learning more about God and trying to find some direction in their lives.  It's so awesome when all the questions people ask are exactly the questions that get answered by the gospel, and what's more is it's super simple.  One of them, Radion, came to church and really liked it, stayed for all 3 hours like a champ.  We had to go teach Gospel Doctrine while he went to the class for guests and new converts and apparently they dropped the law of chastity on him.  Heh.  Handled it well though, or so I heard.  Between all the doctor stuff and trying to figure out what was wrong with Ortega it was actually a good week.  In the end they decided to put him in the office for now and I got a companion named Elder Grover.  He's half Thai and likes to cook.  This will work.  Also we got a call to go help a girl across town that had fallen out of a 2 story window and had no place to stay.  Russia is weird.  Her friend (16 year old boy) talked my ear off on the way, much of which he explained why adventure time is brainwashing children to believe that russia is evil.  That's actually pretty possible.  Anyway that was my week.  Fun times. Miss you guys, take it easy.   

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Week 69:

I'm beardier than I have ever been on my mission.  Which is still not that much since my beard growing abilities are weak and I'm starting to be convinced I'll never hit puberty.  I've been camping out in this hospital for about 30 hours or so, don't worry all I'm not sick.  They passed me a diseased companion, he got sick on his visa trip to riga and then we went home and kept him inside for a day or two, then he was like, game over, it's hospital time.  We got here and they've done tests and he's got a mix of a virus and a bacterial infection.  Fun stuff, dude is очень sick right now.  He's getting a little better though.  I've had some fun trying to translate for doctors.  They always start out dignified saying to me, we need to collect a fecal sample of which we may run an analysis of pathogens.  Then I tell them I have no idea what they just said and then they say, we need him to poop in this tiny little plastic cup.  I'm all over that, pooping was one of the first words I learned.  Anyway it's a little difficult, I've realized how hard it would be to be a doctor in a foreign country, but it's kinda fun and I learned some cool stuff.  Last night I was settling in to sleep on these two plastic chairs in my comp's hospital room because they told us that if i sleep in the other patient bed we get charged a billion dollars. This nice nurse named Lilly that I made friends with came in and was like, what are you doing, you can't sleep there!  She left and came back and said, hey dude, all the doctors are gone and I talked to the other nurses, we are going to let you sleep in the bed and just wake you up earlier before all of those penny pinchers get here.  I love that woman.  Like a mother.  She is old, it was all very appropriate.  So I slept like a baby.  Ortega is already getting better and we should be back to full power soon.  I'm pumped that I got to stay for another transfer,  goodbyes are lame.  My love goes out to my brother back home that is apparently puking all day erry day.  Don't let any nurses give you more shots in your butt.  As far as the week goes not a lot got done, with transfers and visa trips and sickness.  We did find an armenian guy who is AWESOME.  Hoping to teach him this week.  I love armenians.  Also this week I got to house a greeny (new guy) from america while his trainer flew to riga.  I realized how fun it would have been to train an american as well as a russian, totally different story.  Would never have traded Antropov (who has now gotten super skinny) for anyone, but was really fun hitting the streets with that new kid, he was a champ too.  First guy we talked to scolded us and told us to be russian and the new kid kept chugging like it was nothing.  A lot of cool people left the mission this last go around, sad.  Anyway things are good, just gotta get this mexican kid back to normal and then we can go do work. Also Holly be doin work. K Bye. 
Week 68:

Transfers have come, and I have been left.  Which is good.  I like it here.  Got 6 more weeks to make things happen.  It does mean I have to put together a fireside thing for the ward which I'm not pumped about.  They are stealing elder Mckibben from me and sending him to Voronezh (I kind of wanted to go there), but hey, maybe later.  I will be getting a missionary of mexican origins, well his ancestors, his name is ortega and he is just finishing his training.  I have become the secondary trainer here, I'm that weird uncle you move in with when your parents kick you out I guess. So yeah that's the biggest news.  The work was rough this week, This time in russia nobody is in the area, people just up and leave for around 2 months and show up again in the fall.  Silly russians.  The weather has been a mixture of hot and pouring rain, which makes talking to people on the street a little difficult.  Big news at home with Rachael getting murred, Connor starting highschool, and Holly hitting the MTC.  The world now has to deal with 2 of us.  Heh.  Sounds like you are killing it in there sister. keep it up.  Funny story of the week.  Some crazy old lady stopped us when we were going through a tunnel, asked us for money.  We said we couldn't and then she was like alright whatever I'll walk you to the metro.  So we were like, ok crazy lady lets go.  On the way she started sweet talking us, mentioning that she wasn't married, and that she was old but still has the looks of a fine young lass.  Then she mentioned to mckib that she didn't have real teeth, he didn't really understand so he said, What you talking about lady? So she popped her teeth out to show him and he exclaimed WOAH.  Me and her started laughing and then mid laugh she ever so tenderly grabbed mckib by the hand.  Elder Mckibben then started to panic.  He gave me a look of absolute fear.  So I said, o are you trying to see what time it is on his watch there?  So she played off like that and let go.  Then we bolted.  Fun times.  Crazy old people.  Well, that's all for this week, I wish you all the best with your current endeavors and all those going back to school I wish you luck.  I guess my friends are finishing college this year, that's pretty nuts.  Love you all (not directed to only friends going back to college), don't forget me.  Later.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Week 67:

Well, this is the week of the marraige of rachael holland to an Aaron whose last name I honestly don't know.  Good luck my sister, sorry I can't be there, the motherland still has a hold on me.  I send my love.  Anyway this week was an awesome one.  Busy.  We have too many things to worry about now which is so much better than having nothing.  I don't have a lot of time to go into details, but basically people have been coming up to us lately and asking to get taught.  YEAH.  God is throwing us and these other guys a bone.  Good people popping up out of nowhere.  One guy investigated the church when he was like 14 but his parents got weirded out by it and shut him down.  Now he and his wife are interested.  Woo.  Really sincere solid guy.  He came to church and really seemed to like it.  Bach a riddiculous muslim rower popped up out of nowhere as well, he is a little bit inappropriate but a good guy.  Then there is alexander america, guy who speaks pretty good english and has been to church a couple times, he's been reading the Book of Mormon and praying and feels pretty good but doesn't know why.  So good we get to see the gospel help people, gets us through all the garbage that comes with the job.  Totally worth it.  So yeah, also it's hot as junk here, super humid and I'm getting destroyed by mosquitos every night because we have to leave all the windows open.  Fun times. Russians solve this by wearing almost no clothes everywhere, but we aren't aloud to do that.  Well.  I miss and love all of you, good luck sister and other wedding planners, send pictures, wish I could be there.  Goodbye
Week 66:

Hey everybody,
So, big news.  Found out last week that two awesome strong Ukranian families just moved into tver, in order to help them out pres has decided to reopen the city.  YEAHHH.  He is sending the zl's that are in my district down there to go and make sure the members that are already there don't try anything funny.  There is hope for my city, there is hope.  Obviously Eelya was on the verge of tears when I told him missionaries were coming back.  That kid likes americans too much.  We don't know how long they are going to be there, but if the next three weeks go ok, then they will probably stay for good.  This however means that we are inheriting their area for a time, so we know have way too much to worry about.  We will be staying in our area half the week and then in theirs the other half.  Soooo much to do.  It's become pretty clear that I'm getting the boot in three weeks and will be heading off to somewhere else, so the stress will only last so long.  We had a couple meetings this week, last night's was hillarious.  We invited our two time karate champion of the world member on a lesson with us and aleksay, basically towards the middle our member took us into some uncharted waters of crazy deep doctrine that took us on a wild ride.  That was one of the most uncomfortable hours of my life as I watched one russian man confuse another.  But, we cleaned things up in the end, and he wants to meet again.  Said he felt like he got punched in the head though.  Yikes.  I think that was the most interesting part of the week.  Peter claims to have been put in jail again, but I'm not convinced, think some of this might be "exadurated".  Or completely fake, but we'll see.  Sky diving man has been out of town.  Russia is still Russia.  Yes.  Perhaps that is all.  Take it easy my friends.  Later
Week 65:

Hey guys,
This week was pretty good.  We met with Dima on tuesday, kind of had a throw down lesson with him where we said, alright dude, how serious are you about all this stuff.  He is still all in it, just having a hard time sticking to the homework we give him.  We've decided to push his b date back some, and we really have to get him in with the other elders soon.  Then we got a meeting with the sky diver guy, kind of did the same thing.  He is also on board, really on the search for what's true, but having a hard time keeping commitments as well.  We read with him out of the Book of Mormon and talked about it.  At the end of the lesson he prayed for the first time, sounded a little like this.  "Hey God, Please bless everything so that it will be good... Amen".  We were pumped.  Awesome to see a guy pray for the first time, pretty cool moment.  O also we got lost in this city outside of moscow looking for this old lady and then when we finally found her house by sheer luck she just barely showed up while we were dropping something off.  So she invited us in and was about to make jam out of a fat stack of blueberries, she has to do it with a wooden stick.  So we were like, not today lady, you gonna relax.  So we beat the crap out of those berries for her, which was good.  She is the one who is on her own and taking care of her husband who has severe dimmensia or something.  She was pretty grateful.  Old ladies out here are pretty hardcore, they do everything themselves.  Anyway that's all for this week i think, I'm short on time.  Oh also we had an interesting meeting with a cool muslim guy, really sincere dude.  Don't have time to talk about it, remind me later, it was pretty nuts.  Well that's about it.  Sooo.  yes.  Ok bye.
Week 64:

Hey everyone,
biggest news this week is we've got a new district, yeah.  Looks like I'll be camping out in this area for another 6 weeks, I'm pretty sure after that I'm out of here though.  There is more peace in the land now, before we had some dramas that were causing me to lose some sleep, but now everything is hunky dory.  Tatyana is chugging along like a champ, but now that we have her on track she has asked to get taught by sisters.  Happens.  Anyway we are passing all of our investigators to other happy missionaries and then we will be back to square 2.  The square where we have a lot of people just floating around and we don't really know what they want.  Better than square 1.  This week also we got to travel out of moscow to go do service for a family in our ward.  The worked us like dogs.  We built them a lovely path in their backyard, a bench, moved a bunch of bricks, disturbed a whasp's nest, hauled some lumber, moved an old bath tub, and other fun activities.  Their family has the cutest children in the universe by the way.  Russian kids are adorable.  Then scary.  Anyway that was the best day of this year, it's funny how much I love manual labor now.  Just really nice to have a concrete task and be able to finish it.  Plus just really good to be with russian people not at church doing something not to do with church, just befriend them and stuff.  Man that was awesome.  Way better than any holiday that has happened out here.  Besides calling home of course.  Anyway.  That's about all for this week.  Peter is still not in prison, he is just confused and scared about what is going to happen to him.  Any, I'm out of time, take it easy everyone, enjoy life.  Oh, and I'm probably coming back in march now, not february, we don't really know yet.  Bye.  
Week 63:

Hey there friends,
Well once again I'm in the predicament of a week full of hillarity and random junk with a little dash of deep stuff and no time to describe all of it.  I copied this from my letter to president, pretty funny story. This weeks story is a pretty good one so I hope you get to read it. We went out to visit one of our new converts who is having a rough time and lives pretty far away. When we came into his yard (they live in a house) he came and met us and told us in quite english that his step-dad wants to know about Jesus going to America and why we are here. Then he told us it was going to be difficult. We went in, started talking with him, and found out that he was right, it was going to be difficult. His step dad is a funny old guy that just accepted Islam only two weeks ago on a whim and believes a lot of weird stuff, but first is that we are wasting are time and doing a bad thing as missionaries. It was a really weird lesson, just answering a lot of strange questions, and we tried to work in the gospel where we could. Before this meeting he was pretty against his wife (the new convert's mother) investigating the church, which she has been doing for several months. In the end of our meeting he accepted a Book of Mormon and commited to read, invited us back for another lesson, told us we should do a Banya session with him in his backyard, and told us if he had daughters he would offer them to us to marry. The next day his wife who has been investigating came to church and was so excited that we had gotten to know him, but said the next time we come by we have to when she is home so we can have a lesson with her too. This is one of the strangest famillies I have ever met, but I love them to death. That guy was pretty funny.  Also we saw a russian wedding.  Greatest thing ever.  Basically we go to a dreary looking government building which on the inside is actually pretty decked out.  Then when it is their turn at 10:30 sharp, we all walk into a room with nothing but a string ensemble, a piano, a fancy table with two chairs, and fancy documents.  They stroll on up in front of the table and some lady talks about how love is the sun or some crap.  Then they sit down, sign the marraige documents while the photographer takes a thousand pictures.  Then once that is over they put on each other's rings and we follow them into another room, where we watch the film they just took of the whole process.  So the whole thing was over in about 20 minutes I'd say, and that includes watching it over again.  I liked it.  Seemed a lot easier to plan than american weddings, you might want to consider coming here to get married sister.  Anyway that was all, also some girl on the street took a picture of the missionaries, put it in a magnet, and sold it to us for 300 рубs.  That's a steal.  Well I am way over my time. SIN.  Gotta go.  Oh, Peter isn't in jail yet.  YA. Talk to you next week.  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Week 62:

Good week.  Alas, I am out of time for writing, for my sister has become engaged and I spent all my time talking about that with people.  Sorry.  But congrats to sister.  Sister's man friend, you have my blessing, even though you didn't ask for it.  We will talk about that later.  Anywho, this week was good.  Finally got into meet with our bishop here who we have frankly been afraid of for a long time.  But when we went over to his house he opened the door and was wearing a shirt that said "Don't Mess With Texas".  Turns out he is a boss.  And now he loves us.  I love seeing super solid famillies in the church, reminds us why we do this stuff.  Other than that not a ton of news.  Meeting with people.  Dima is still on track to get baptized, but he has a lot of questions he has to work out.  Good guy.  Other stuff happened too but I can't remember it.  Long week, stressful.  Oh, we had to teach gospel doctrine this sunday, and when we came in to teach all the members got confused and started asking where they had to go to get to the right class.  We rebuked their sass and dropped a bomb of knowledge on them and now we have tons of respect up in thur.  That's all.  See you guys later.  One more props to my sister, super happy for you. Later. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Week 61:

Normal week.  Peter is officially out of prison.  YEAH.  And he still likes us.  YEAH.  That was good news.  We got a couple new people to work with this week.  This one guy who has had a rough time with the ladies in the past and been through a couple of famillies, some women have done him wrong and now he doesn't trust anybody.  That's rough.  He's out here by himself looking for a place to find good people.  We got that locked down.  He figged us on sunday and didn't come to church though.  Darn old people.  We had another cool guy come to church too.  He came up to the missionaries in some other area and told him he was interested.  Always better when they come up to us.  He is really cool, just looking for truth and stuff, love those people.  Also Dima is planning to get baptized in august now, but unfortunately he has moved out of our area so we won't be able to get him all ready to go anymore.  Now we have to do the awkward thing we say, ok you are gonna talk to these other weird americans in suits that you don't know and we will see you around.  That's always interesting.  So yeah.  That's about all the fun from this week.  Met a lot of crazies.  Love me the crazies.  Heard the US is doing well in the world cup.  That's pretty neat.  Yup.  Well, that's about all I got.  People reading these emails, I'm sorry I bore you every week with my endless babblings.  Your patience is appreciated.  If people reading these do indeed exist.  Alright, I'll check in next week, later family and friends. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Week 60:

Hey everybody, good week.  I'm out of time and not a ton happened in our area so I'm just gonna tell you about my trip back to Tver.  So me and Elder Anderson got down there on tuesday night and when we stepped off my favorite modem of transportation I realized something.  Tver in winter = dark sad and cold.  Tver in summer=  crazy beautiful and fresh smelling.  It was great, especially coming from moscow breathing all that fresh air and seeing all the vegetation.  Awesome.  We went to see my russian momma to get the key to the appartment here and when she came out she busted out the door of her appartment building and snuck a hug on me.  I was like Tamara what the stuff, we can't hug, she was just like, aw who cares I'm old.  It was great seeing all the members, pretty sad though too.  That place is falling apart without missionaries, and they were all like, hey this means your coming back right Holland, and you are going to be branch pres or first counselor or something?  Pretty hard to say, no guys, just here for the day, probably not coming back.  They've got it rough as of now.  Hopefully president will open her up again soon.  Besides the members I also got to see Eelya, my brudda over there.  He was pretty peaved that we only had an hour to hang out.  He called it "a drop of water in the desert".  He's a drama queen.  Oh, also Roma another guy there is reading the Book of Mormon I gave him.  Awe yeah.  Well that's Tver.  Me and elder mckibben are still doing work out here in rechnoy, but everyone was gone this week because of some russian holiday, bumma.  Well, that's about it.  Happy fathers day all dads reading this, I just found out like an hour ago that that is happening.  My dad is still the best though, sorry other dads.  Take it easy everyone, send emails.  Later. 
Week 59:

Hey friends, this week was pretty good.  Started off pretty normal, nothing exciting, got a bad haircut.  Then on wednesday I got pretty sick, nothing super bad just a cough and cold kind of thing but enough to not be able to do anything.  So I got told by the mish presidents wife to stay home that day, which I thought would be kinda nice.  NOT..  So boring awful bad.  Just kinda sat around and waited for the day to end, getting sick on the mission is not cool.  After that I felt better, haven't fully shaken it yet but it was back to work.  We got to go visit that sad lady who has the sick husband, she really needs the company.  We keep telling her to let us do something for her like fix something or help her take care of her husband but she absoloutely refuses.  Then we visited our giant neanderthal looking new convert out in D-Prood.  He's doing really well, quite guy, hard to read, but really funny.  Had another lesson with the sky diving guy, he's still awesome.  Turns out his dad died last year and he got super depressed and then he let his appartment go to poo.  Since he started meeting with us he's been starting to clean things up and when he starts the remodel phase he promissed we could help out.  Also we just yesterday got a new guy who seems like the real deal. He's a genius scientist by education, but he decided he wanted to make bank so he dumped all that science junk and started winning at business things.  Moscow is a good place for that.  He's really got his head on straight and is just looking for what's right.  Other than those things just a lot of hitting the streets.  We got to see a baptism of some lady from Uzbekistan, she is awesome, but doesn't know a word of russian.  Really cool to see people join the church.  Me and Beauchemin were on splits that day (he's ap now), and after that baptism there was gonna be another one in an hour but we couldn't go because you can only go if you have someone with you who is not a member, so we walked around inviting strangers on the street.  It didn't work, it was pretty funny though.  Good news, I get to go visit Pear on wednesday. YEAH.  The zls have something to down there so I'm going with one of them for the day and we are gonna visit all the peoples out there.  That was the best news ever.  Congrats to my bro for graduating the middleschool.  Hey everybody, you should email me.  Not to sound desperate.  Ok, later friends, take it easy.
Week 58:

I done booted Elder Hawkes out of my country.  It was weird to see people I actually know well go home.  It was a lot of the missionaries I looked up to a lot and we seem to be losing all the mission leadership that has been the same for about a year.  So basically nobody is going to know what is going on after august when the next group leaves.  This week was really good, I got my new companion Elder Mckgiben.  He's only been out for three months but he knows a ton about the language already.  He is a machine when it comes to studies, he just doesn't stop. Still has a rough time speaking conversationaly, but already knows a bunch of random junk that I don't which is pretty cool.  He is starting to light the fire under my buns again, figuratively speaking of course.  This week we got dima to come to institute where they were talking about Moroni 10 and how to find a testimony of the Book of Mormon.  So basically it was the most perfect thing that could ever happen, he loved it.  He's heading home for a week to see his family in whatever strange country he came from that I can't pronounce, but he'll be back the 10th.  We also met with our skydiver camerman and he is still awesome, except drop zones in russia are only open saturday and sunday so he can't come to church yet.  Darn you rules of Russian airtraffic. Other than that we have just been trying to get on the members' good sides, show them we aren't annoying little dingles that just want stuff from them.  That's about all the super important events of the week.  Congrats to me sister for heading through the temple, thats big stuff.  Also my to my brud who is graduating middleschool.  Why to people have to get so old all the time.  Well.  That's about all I can think of.  Hope everyone is doing well back home, love hearing from you guys, take it easy. 
Week 57:

Well my comp is about to bite the dust.  We had a good last week. Had a couple lessons with dima, a guy we lost for a long time and then finally got in touch with him.  He wants to get baptized within the year, he's just trying to figure out by who.  Good guy, really sincere.  Just doesn't show up when he says he will.  Figgy. Then we have a new investigator who is a skydive camera man.  Another really nice guy, he used to believe in God but it's been hard for him lately, has had some rough times; like everyone in Russia.  Then there is Peter who got dumped in jail for saving a damsel in distress.  Guess what... he was in jail this whole month!  I've never been so excited to find out one of my friends is in jail.  He probably just got messed up in a court case that was supposed to go easy and now he had to sit for a month.  He's almost done so we'll see how he's doing when he gets out of the big house, hope he is ok.  Better than him hating us and never wanting to talk to us again though.  Also we got a media refferal from this guy who found out about us online.  I had my first lesson with an investigator in their own home.  It was a billion times better.  He got to learn in his own comfortable atmosphere, I would way rather do that just every time.  Problem is russians are scared of us and don't want us to come over.  Transfers came and I'm getting and elder Mckibben who just finished his training and apparently has a really big desire to learn the language.  Hopefully he can kick my butt back into gear with the russian.  Hate to say it but the fire kinda died now that everyone understands me and I can pretty much say whatever I need to. It will be good to light that fire again.  Coolest event of the week was Elder Bednar coming, that was awesome.  That guy is an apostle, no doubt.  How can some American guy who knows nothing about russia walk into a room full of several hundred russian people and change their lives in about 2 hours.  He's got help from upstairs for sure.  He came and had a meeting with us too, it was awesome.  They are more fun in person.  Yup, that was my week.  Keep sending letters people, only got a couple months left here, make it so that we aren't strangers when I get home.  Later.   
Week 56:

I have now been in this country one full calendar year.  Woo.  Feels all home-y now; the dirty streets, the ghetto appartments, the old drunk people.  Good stuff.  This week was our mission wide push for working with the members, we were working together to get 200 lessons with members on them.  Elder Hawkes and I went hard and called everybody in existence, we got about 4 or 5 set up but they all didn't show.  So we were up to the third hour at church sitting on a goose egg and feeling pretty lame when who should show up, none other than crazy sergei, our favorite beardy health nazzi.  I just gave Elder Hawkes a look and said, alright sergei lets go brotha.  We had a lesson, it was ok.  Pretty weird as usual.  He's a super good guy, just pretty confusing brain he has there.  Other than that we met with a really cool family, met the dad on the street and when we set up the meeting in the park we didn't know he was gonna bring his wife and 2 kids.  Fun.  The wife was super scared of us at first but after an hour they were in love with us.  Still not the most interested in church but we'll see what happens.  They are great people and they are trying to find a good environment to raise their kids in, kind of hard to come by in russia. Also we stopped by a lady who hadn't been to church for like 10 years, she let us in.  Turns out she didn't even remember being baptized, but she is super sad cuz her husband is sick to the point of lack of consciousness and she has to take care of him by herself and has nobody else.  We are gonna keep going over there and helping however we can, she's got it rough. Anywho that's about all the news for the week, nothing super crazy interesting to bring to your attention I think.  Um.  Yeah.  Oh, we have stake conference this week and Elder Bednar is coming out and he's gonna have a meeting with just the missionaries after.  Party on.  
Week 55:

This week was a good one.  Number one, got to call home, that was a good time.  Number two, we got to go to victory day festivities which was awesome.  In the morning we went early to a parade over near the center whith this one member.  We waited for like 50 years and the parade was only like 10 minutes long.  It was cool though, they flew a bunch of airplanes over and then drove through with giant tanks and missiles and stuff.  Befor the parade though everyone was fighting to get a good spot and there were these garbage trucks parked along the road so everyone started climbing into them.  The driver got mad at them but they wouldn't leave so the police had to come kick them out like 5 times.  After the parade we went to a huge park in my old area where there was a bunch of cool stuff.  On victory day all the veterans dress up in their uniforms and wear all their badges and stuff and stroll around the park.  Then russian women, who are not ugly by the way, walk around with a ton of flowers and walk up to all the old dudes and give them flowers and kiss them all over their faces.  Not a bad day to be an old man in russia.  People we are all singing songs and dancing and stuff it was super cool.  Then we went with two other guys from the ward to a different park where there turned out to be nothing, there was an old lady reciting poems on a stage there though. The two guys we went with, one of them is getting ready to go on a mission and the other just got baptized, is like 6'8", hasn't had a haircut or shaved in probably 5 years, and is possibly the most awkward human being on the planet.  But hillarious.  Anyway after we went to this russian food restaurant, it was pretty good actually. So V day was a good time, got more of a taste of russian culture.  As far as missionary work goes this week was just ok.  We met with a member out in an outer area who opened the door in a banana hammock and said "Forgive my nakedness, come on in".  He was pretty funny, weird though.  We also had a lesson yesterday with that awkward giant's mother.  She's great, just looking for answers.  We had a member on the lesson and we talked to him after and he said "O yeah, she's totally getting baptized".  Hope so.  Well, that's pretty much it for this week.  I'll try to get some pictures to you guys somehow. Talk to you guys next week, take it easy.  
Week 54:

Well I left the country again, escaped the mother land for a good like twenty minutes and then turned around and came back.   They almost locked us in a room in the airport and made us miss our flight.  Oh Riga.  That was pretty fun, well not super, but it was a change.  This week Peter fell off the grid and we freaked out, but we got in touch with him finally on like saturday and it's all good.  We don't know how serious he still is but he's alive.  We met with another guy named Roman this week and taught him about the Plan of Salvation.  He loved it and we gave him a b date for the first week of June. Yeah!  He's a solid guy, he's really funny, he read stuff on the internet after our first meeting and then texted us saying he loves Joseph Smith and Mormons.  That's not usually what comes of the internet.  Anyway we are pretty excited about that.  Nobody got their lazy buns to church though.  We also met this weird kid in ikea when we were getting 15 rouble ice cream (50 cents) and it turned out he was homeless and what he does is he hides in one of the cubboards in the display kitchen until they close the store, and then when everyone leaves he sneaks out and sleeps on the couches.  Smart homeless guy.  This week is gonna be victory day so russians have been drunk for the past 3 or so days straight and it will probably continue until saturday.  We got permission to go to all the parades and picnics and stuff on victory day though in normal clothes and junk so we are super pumped about that, it's gonna be awesome.  Just gonna chill with the members and take pictures with old mustached russian men in there army uniforms.  That's about it for this week I suppose, things are going pretty good, summer makes russians happier and they want to talk to us more.  It's funny, I know no other people who have to live in the cold like russians, but I also know no other people who hate the cold like russians. See ya guys later, send some love.  Bye
Week 53:

Hey friends.  Well I had my first full week back in the big city, and it actually went really weell, We had a lot of really cool stuff happen.  Our district this week decided we were gonna invite more people to get baptized, so we just kind of went around asking errybuddy.  Some of them were pretty ridiculous but we actually saw good stuff come out of it.  That guy who got gyped hard and went to jail when he tried to save a lady is getting ready to get baptized on the 17th, so that's pretty neat.  Also we met this one fresh 22 year old guy on the street and taught him about the law of chastity right there. Heh.  He was like guys, I felt like that my whole life, but I just couldn't take it anymore and I fell off the wagon like a month ago.  He's a pretty sincere dude and is looking to get his life going the right way.  Met some other cool people this week that I can't remember.  Had a great lesson with this one guy named Deema from some far away city I've never heard of and his lady friend.  Then a couple days later we sat down on the metro and elder hawkes realized he was sitting right next to a sleeping Deema.  We woke him up and said whats up.  I'm not calling the miracle card, but there's a lot of people in moscow and Deema doesn't live near us.  What else good been done.  Oh, yesterday we were just peacefuly talking to someone and this old crazy guy with no teeth jumps in front of us out of nowhere and screams at the top of his lungs "GO HOME YANKEES".  He was eating something so it got food all over me, I'm counting it as getting spit on.  Now people just gotta through rocks at me and I'll have missionary bingo.  Don't worry mom no one is throwing rocks at me.  People are actually pretty laid back in this area.  Oh a couple days ago we did a service project cleaning up some railroad tracks and hauling out some dead trees, that was pretty fun.  It was like an archaeological dig of drug paraphernalia.  Pretty gross.  Anywho yeah, things are going good, me and Elder Hawks are having a good time and looking to see what we can do before they kick his butt out of Russia.  Oh last cool experience, I was on splits and got on a lesson with Arsen, the swaggiest 60 year old man in the universe.  His 34 year old lady-friend who he has two kids with kicked him out and won't let him see the kids.  He's got it pretty rough right now but he's the most sincere guy in the universe.  Good people around, they are out there.  That's about all I think, hope everything is going well back home.  Congrats to my seester for graduating college, way to go dude.  Send some love people, in electronic or letter form.  Good day.   
Week 52:

Hey Everybody,
Well, I escaped Tver.  Back to my land of birth in the big city, it's actually really nice.  There are  other missionaries here and stuff, pretty weird.  Also the ward we have here is the absolute inverse of what I had.  Instead of a handful of old crazy people I have to keep track of we've got a bunch of fly mormon young people and super strong famillies.  YEAH.  That helps the hope factor and now it's awesome to take people to church, not scary.  For the first time I'm coming into an area that has a little bit going on, not that we've been able to meet with anyone yet but there are already some people here interested.  Elder Hawkes is an interesting guy, he's super solid and not at all what we like to call "trunky".  A term used to describe lazy missionaries about to head home.  We are gonna do some work in here before he dies.  Anyway the area is cool, a little more ghetto but not really.  Our appartment is ok, there are some floorboards coming up and stuff and you have to cross some train tracks to get there but other than that it is pretty luxurious.  And no bed bugs.  So yeah, things are pretty good, no stories about people yet because we have just been contacting really, been meeting some cool people  though.  Had some pretty weird stuff happen too but I don't really have time to write about that.  Ummmm.  Yeah.  Oh one of our investigators saw a girl struggling with a man attacking her so he went to save her and the man broke his hand on peter (investigator), turned out the guy was a cop and so he threw peter in jail and they held him for a day and didn't feed him.  Russia. Easter was fun times, like I said the members here are awesome.  People here are just happy and cool, not dirty and or angry.   So good.  We also get some areas outside of Moscow here that are on the way to tver, we went to one on saturday and found some kids playing basketball trying to figure out how to alle oop, and failing, we went over and talked to them and they took us over to another court where all their friends were and we played with them in our suits.  It's a good thing that russians are terrible at basketball because I suck and they still made me look good.  After blowing their minds with our skills we talked for a minute and now they want to come to english and other stuff.  That's pretty neat.  Anywho yeah, things are doing good, transfers are nice.  I miss tver but it was time.  Place can be a little rough.  Hope everybody had a good Easter.  ОН ВОСКРЕС.  You're darn right he is.  Oh also it's crazy hot here, we have to wear suits. NOO.  Later everyone. Send love.   
Week 51:

Well, transfers done come, and I'm going back from wenst I came.  Word had that I was headed to a far away land called Yaroslovl, but now I'm going to a place called Rechnoy in Moscow, not what I was expecting, but whateva.  I'll be heading out on wednesday.  Leaving Tver has been pretty tough, really made a lot of good friends out here.  One of our english clubbers said he was praying for the first time for me to not leave.  Was pretty awkward when the transfer came.  Anywho, I feel pretty neutral about heading back.  Moscow isn't my favorite place in the world but I hear the ward we've got there is super fun and solid.  We had General Conference this week, I liked it.  G Conf is like Christmas for missionaries, better in Moscow though cuz me and Elder Cox had to just watch it by ourselves.  We've got Easter coming up here this next week.  It's a pretty cool holiday in Russia, people go around to eachother on the street saying "He is resurected"  and then you answer it with "you're darn right he is". I am glad I get to be celebrating easter here, doing what I'm doing.  Every day is russian easter for us, all we do is tell people about how awesome a gift we have from Christ. It's a great job to have.  Be happy people, things are pretty good. 
Week 50:

Hey friends,
Greetings from Moscow. This week was interesting, well not really interesting per say, but ok.  So we got figged a lot this week, a lot of meetings fell through, but hey that's just missionary stuff.  One day we were contacting and a guy called me and was like, holland what up, lets meet.  I said ok cool, who is this?  He didn't tell me just told me when and where to be.  So we went on over, finally found the guy and he was like, woah hold up, you aren't Holland.  I said, yeah I am dude, read the badge.  He said no, I met some big guy named Jewkes and some other guy than you named Holland like two months ago, where's other Holland, did he die?  After 20 minutes of trying to convince him I was Holland I just told him old Holland died and they called me in to be new Holland.  He got all serious and was like, tell me, what happened to him.  I was just like o my, I'm joking you ding dong, there is no other Holland.  Anywho that was weird missionary experience of the week.  Other than that we had one sweet lesson with a  new guy and a member who happened to be in tver checking some stuff in the building when we had a meeting set up and we made him stay for it.  It was awesome, he didn't bring up the slightest bit of crazy and it was all understandable.  The guy accepted everything pretty well and seems interested, really solid believing guy, also he invited us to go take a boxing class with him.  I asked prez, got shot down.  Apparently he doesn't want missionaries fighting angry russians.  Makc is still doing pretty well, didn't get a chance to meet, he was gone for the week in order to "shoot things, fire fire fire"  as he explained it on the phone.  Danger. He came to church though, woo.  Eelya my brotha from english club has been meeting with us pretty seriously about religion too now and we are seeing some progress with him, Eelya is one of those guys that wants to believe and feels something but needs it to make sense before he can let himself.  Makes sense.  We can accomodate.  Thanks everybody for the birthday cards, they were much appreciated.  Hope all is well back home and everyone enjoyed conference, I haven't seen it yet.  Take it easy friends, send some love.
Week 49:

Well, I have successfuly left myself some more minutes to let you guys know a little bit of what's going on up in hur.  Finally.  Sorry that I've been so short lately.  So me and elder Cox are still taking on the illustrious metropolis that is pear all on our own.  2 weeks ago I bought a matress from j-dub.  I don't even know how to go about buying a matress in america so its a miracle that we pulled it off in russian.  Unfortunately there are still bed bugs and they are spreading, so now we are resorting to chemical warfare.  As far as missionary work goes, things are alright.  We have been going to a lot of members that haven't been to church in forever and one got mad when we came by, set up a meeting with us, and asked to not be a member anymore.  So that was awful.  Kind of like a negative baptism.  But hey, no amount of sad stuff can stop us anymore, we have become immune to it.  So we kept chugging along through the week and we ended up meeting with a guy who's in the army and who grew up in an orphanage because his parents got rid of him when he was 4.  Russian stuff.  Super happy guy, we had a couple of lessons with him this week, he came to church and liked it.  Takes special people to like our little branch out here, pretty weird place.  Also he's trying to quit smoking right now. Woo!  They just started a computer class for old people in our library and so they are trying to teach old russians how to use facebook and stuff right now, it's pretty funny.  Biggest news of the week is my seester is coming out to my side of the planet.  AIGHT!  Holly you got one sweet mission call, the czech/slovakians are gonna love you.  You go girl.  That's about all the news for now, can't think of anything else.  We start helping people with english again this week so that'll be nice.  Ok, bye everybody.  Send some love via the internet or mail if you can.  Bye. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Week 48:

Hey guys, times out but this week was the birthday of David Holland, happy birthday dad, you the best.  Less importantly mine was yesterday, but you know whatever.  Thanks everybody for the birthday wishes and for remembering.  Well I'm out of time and I drank like a gallon of tea (herbal) this morning so I've gotta go take care of business.  Sorry for the shortness but I'm already over.  Bye.
Week 47:

Well, there goes a year, time to do another one.  We had a pretty good week this week, nothing super special.  We had a guy who claims to be deaf come into tver and meet with us.  We thought he was an old investigator and he came in and started yelling about how they don't have people to translate for him in the temple.  And we were like woah dude hold on a sec, are you already mormon?  He was like yeah, I done been baptized in 1999 or some junk.  He claimed to be deaf and wanted american sign language translation but he could totally hear everything we were saying, had some other kind of mental illness I think.  Anyway that was weird. After that we went to Moscow for a mission tour, which is just where the head honchos come in and talk to us all day.  The conference went from like 9 to 6, so that was long.  Plus I got to sit down with our area pres for a couple seconds.  He seems pretty nice.  Was good to see some of my old friends and stuff.  OH, I forgot to tell you guys I saw my boy antropov at transfer meeting and he's doing awesome! He is leading the district now out in Ryzhan and he loves it there. YES.  It was so awesome to see him happy, that made my month.  So yeah, then we went home, and the next day met up with this guy we met on the street.  He was a little bit of a punk but he brought his friend, so we sat down and started talkin and it became clear pretty quick that they weren't interested in church at all.  But by the end he was offering himself as backup if we ever got in a fight.  I swear for like 10 minutes he was just like, hey, anyone tries to mess with you just call me, my buddies and I will be down there in three minutes and we will straight up murder whoever is up in your business.  I'm not planning on using his services but it was a nice though.  Russians are super loyal it's awesome.  So yeah, that was about all the interesting stuff from the week.  An old man came up to me last pday and was clearly drunk and looked a little nuts and started speaking poor english.  I just looked at him weird and he was like, what you guys aren't from america?  I was like, no man, we're from germany.  So then he started speaking german and I started making german sounding noises in response (I don't know a word of german, I'll pick a different country next time).  He got confused and apologized for his poor understanding of the german language.  Heh.  Church was really good this week, we had some inactives come out and one investigator so we had in all 11 people.  УРА(hooray).  We are going to be focusing on members this next couple of weeks and see what good can come of it.  Pretty rough being a mo in russia, especially in tver, the people need some uplifting.  I'll catch you guys next week, send birthday love.  Don't do it on facebook though, I won't see it.
Week 46:

Well friends, this wednesday marks one year on my mission.  Had some good times, some sad times, some normal times.  It has gone by pretty quick, at the same time it feels like forever.  No worries though, we just have to do that all over again.  Woo.  Out of time on the computer so I'll make this pretty quick.  Transfers went through and I said farewell to elder Stoddard and got elder Cox.  Elder Cox is a quite lad, much better at living not like a slob than me, so that will probably do me some good.  Really good guy though, I'm pretty excited about the next couple of weeks here.  It is really nice to have a change of pace.  In other news I have located the colony of bed bugs.  I lifted the mattress off the thing after many rounds of pesticides didn't work and wanted to check the underside.  They are prosperous under there.  The whole edge of the thing is black with them, I'm surprised they haven't spread, they have a whole empire.  So for now I've taken the pillow top mattress thing folded it over on itself and am sleeping on that on the hardwoods, not bad, and it also proves there are no bugs in there so I get to keep it.  You guys are probably tired about hearing about these bugs, but it is just about the most interesting thing we've got going on.  Actually a lot of funny stuff probably happens, I'm just really used to it by now.  Anyway miss you all, happy bday to my bro.  You old.
Week 45:

Well, another week.  If my calculations are correct I will be flying home to murrica exactly one year from today,  it's not for sure though.  Next week I will be celebrating my one year on a mission, and by celebrating I mean talking to strangers.  Biggest news here is transfers, it appears as though elder stoddard's days in pear are numbered, he will be leaving my life on friday and I will be getting a certain elder Cox in his place.  I hear he is a shy quite young man, this will be interesting.  My life could become very very quite for the next couple of weeks/months. Other than that had a pretty normal week, zl's came out for a split which was fun, we went to moscow because elder stoddard had to fly out of russia for a day, and i stayed in a city we call zgrad.  I didn't have a whole ton of time there but it was interesting.  There are still a lot of contacts, no investigators, except one crazy guy that came to our branch yesterday screamed about politics for a while and then gave elder stoddard a wooden elephant.  That's about all I can think of for the week.  Pretty bummed that I didn't gett any wooden animals, whatever.  Happy Birthday to my brudda, you old now.  Hope you have a good one connor, enjoy it.  Alright thats all for this week, I'll be back eventually.  Later.
Week 44:

I don't want to alarm anybody, but I am pretty sure my house is haunted.  There are very creepy sounds all the time and also I got figged now by the animal kingdom.  I am sleeping on the couch again because that new beautiful bed I got has bed bugs.  They did a number on me that first night, they are relentless.  Yeah other than that evil spirits and bed bugs we are living fancy now, it is pretty nice.  Um, what else.  This week we met with a couple of beardy guys that believe some interesting stuff, they told us we had to stop eating meat because when you kill animals the water in their bodies absorbs their fear and then you eat their fear and you have bad thoughts.  Pretty interesting, I'd probably rather eat meat and be afraid though than not eat meat and be unafraid.  Had some good contacting this week, met some cool people.  One guy had a really cool experience with who was talking about his brother that comitted suicide a while back, wasn't an earth shattering experience or anything but things got real for a second.  Good week, not bad, pretty good.  They might be closing down our area though because no new missionaries are going to be able to come in because of visas and they are going to have to close down two elder areas for a while.  Um.  Yes I know more happened but I'm out of time, a lot going on back home I had to catch up on.  Anyway things are going pretty good out hear, starting to get in the mode of just being happy to be a missionary even though people don't like us.  Sometimes we get to brighten peoples' day and that's nice.  A big Happy Birthday to the woman he gave me the birth.  You da best ma, happy bday.  Later everyone stoddard is telling me we have to leave.  Bye.
Week 43:

Hey everyone. I'm out of time, thanks everyone for sending me emails that I spent all my computer time answering.  This week wasn't super eventful anyway, we went contacting a lot.  We had a zone conference in Moscow though, that was good.  Love going to Moscow and seeing other missionaries, nice being in an outer city by yourself but the downside is your only friend is your companion.  Which is ok I guess.  Lets see anything else.  O big thank you to my little brotha for the best package and letter evur.  He has a way with words that I cannot even dream of obtaining.  I hear the olympics are going pretty well, I wouldn't know.  Funny, I am so close, but so far.  Well, times up my friends, I'll fill you in a little more next week.  Oh, also we are moving, turns out the appartment that the sisters were living in before they left is way nicer than ours, nice enough to go to the trouble of moving, thats pretty nice.  No more sleeping on spring box couches! Later.
Week 42:

Good news friends, it's back to freezing.  Weather has been hanging around 0 which is pretty nice, because we have been out on the street pretty much all day every day.  Had a little bit of a week.  Had a billion lessons not show, and people weren't really into talking to us while on da streets.  Worked our pants off though, starting to get a little bit menotenous,  living the same week over and over it seems.  Trying to keep the spirits up, me and stoddard are running out of things to talk about.  He has already explained Halo, Mass Effect, and other video games to me in extreme detail.  I have already gotten through all the Eragon books, some random movies, and am on the seventh Harry Potter book.  Once Harry Potter ends I don't know what we are gonna do.  Church this week was funny, we invited people to our second church meeting, and then before it this random old weird investigator we had came in and talked to us, we had a meeting in which he explained that it is not ok to ever let books close, then continued to scold us for not having candles, and then claimed he could read minds.  Then he asked us for money.  The he left.  That one's a keeper.  So at this point it was 3:15, we were supposed to start at 3 so we were like ok noone is coming, we then took down all the stuff we set up.  After taking down everything two dudes from english club walked in at like 330, russians are usually late we should have expected that.  Anyway we decided to just watch Mountain of the Lord with them, it's a cheesy old church movie about the building of the Salt Lake City Temple.  They enjoyed it.  Me and Stoddard find it extremely entertaining because of how dramatic B Young's voice is, don't judge, it is the only entertainment we get on the mission.  Anyway, yeah week was pretty dry, just one of those ones where you gotta keep chugging along, hope it gets better even though it doesn't seem to peachy. Is it to peachy or too peachy?  I don't really remember how to spell anymore.  Oh we told a guy we were americans and he didn't believe us, then a drunk guy came up and the guy we were talking to asked him, hey, these guys say they are americans, what do you think they are.  He looked at us real carefully for around 2 minutes and then screamed AUSTRALIANS!  Then once the drunk guy left I kept talking to the one guy, asked him if he wanted to meet up sometime, he said sure.  I asked him for his number, and then he sang me a song about how I couldn't have his number and walked a way.  It was something like " No you can't know my name, no you can't have my number, but I'll give you my adress: it's the USSR".  Funny old paranoid russians, he kept accusing us of recording the conversation.  But such is life in russia running around asking strangers weird questions in a language you barely understand.  Well friends, until next week.  For valentines day you are all required to send some love to elder holland, preferably in the form of mail, or telepathy if you have psychic abilities like that one homeless guy we were teaching.  Love you people, stay happy.  
Week 41:

This week was decently normal.  Went down to Moscow on Tuesday for a zone meeting thing and then to have a meeting with pres.  It was good stuff, really exhausting day though, it was all trains metro and meetings for about 16 hours straight, fun fun.  Got some kfc in moscow though, they don't have that out here.  Meeting with pres was ok, he was just like hey guys, what's the deal with tver.  We told him what was going on and he told us we have a pass to do pretty much anything we can think of to get people coming to anything, within reason of course.  Also he wants us to hold another church meeting after our normal one so that members don't chase away the people we bring.  Not really sure how that one is gonna work.  We will see what happens though, going to be pretty exhausting running two church meetings every week.  Presidents a good guy though, pretty open to new ideas, especially when whatever we are doing isn't working.  Also that poor old guy is tired, man needs a vacation more than us.  ZLs came in for splits which was fun, nice to have more than 2 of us down here for a day. Lets see what else is new.  Oh, happiest moment of the month, Makseem is coming back!  I texted him and was like, hey dude feels like you don't want to have anything to do with us anymore but just hope you know that we are always around if you need anything at all, also hope we can still be buds.  He texted me back and said, hey I'm in petersburg, I come back at 2 in the morning on sunday, we can meet up and I'll tell you everything.  HE'S BACK.  I missed that dirty russian man.  Anywho that's about all I've got for the week, will see you all later.  Next week i will have been on my mission for 11 months. Weird.  Ok bye friends.