Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Week 40:

This week was normal.  Really nothing super eventful happened.  People around the center here are getting tired of us, and everyone we try to talk to is like "Stop trying to talk to me about ya church; you've already stopped me like ten times!"  Heh.  So me and Stoddard decided to go do some explorin.  Went out more into the boonies to see if people would want to chat and be our friends.  Kinda sorta worked.  Outside the center it's pretty unpopulated, so not a ton of people to talk to, but the people are nicer.  Talked to a lot of cool people, but noone wanted to give us their numbers so we could meet up later.  They took ours and said they would call, that means no usually though (or always).  We'll see what happens.  So yeah, me and stoddard just walking around a lot, trying to make friends.  We had one meeting with this guy who is without home right now and when we met him on the street he had the fattest black eye in the world.  He was ok, had a decent lesson.  President found out about our building dweller and told us it's illegal for us to let people sleep in the branch building so we had to get him out.  That was not a fun time, but the guy isn't homeless he just doesn't like his place so it wasn't that huge a deal.  Now our church building is way more clean which is nice.  Um.  Yes.  Kind of out of other things to write.  Sorry these letters home have lost their pazaz, I guess I'm just used to all the weird things that happen in this gypsy country.  Still pretty chilly, but they turned the heating back on in our house so now I am at least warm at night.  No other news I think, we are going to moscow tomorrow for a meeting thing which is nice.  That's about all I got.  Yup.
Week 39:

Well I was incorrect.  Pear is not warm.  The day I sent that email it got pretty chilly, and the next day it really dropped.  Yesterday was around -25 celsius which I think is around -5F or something.  Anyway, week was pretty good besides that, days are getting longer which is nice, our heating system in our appartment is out though so it is really really hard to wake up in the morning, and then while studying we have to wear blankets so it is super easy to fall asleep.  Week was pretty good, we've been trying to train up a crazy old member who lives in the branch building so he can at least help us out on lessons.  He's funny because he lives in a church building but he thinks he is the coolest person in the universe.  Keeps telling us stories about how back in the day he was a millionaire and has a bunch of followers that he spends most of his time cutting up newspapers and shaving his l he taught the ways of economics and now are the richest people in Russia.  Hard to believe him because he spends most of his time cutting up newspapers and shaving his legs in the branch building sink.  So this week we decided he was finally ready to sit on a real lesson with us... big mistake.  It was our first lesson with this one guy we met on the street and Юрий came in and just started telling him his "life story" for 45 minutes, and whenever we would try to cut in he would be like, hey be quite I'm trying to tell him my story.  Poor kid.  But the guy was a champ, after our building dweller got finished and left we were like sorry dude, you probably don't want to listen to us now huh.  And he was like, no I'm still good I've got some time.  So we had an awesome lesson, taught him about the restoration and the Book of Mormon and stuff and it went really well.  At the end we told him that when we finish a lesson we usually pray and asked if he would like to say it, and he was like yeah for sure.  So he put his head down closed his eyes and me and stoddard waited for him to say something, but then after about 30 seconds we realized he didn't understand we meant outloud.  So we just sat there in uncomfortable silence for what seemed like forever trying not to laugh, and after a while he just looks up and says, amen.  I said, how was it man, he said, I don't know, this is all really new, but I like it.  WOO.  Said he would read and pray.  Hawt dawg.  Hope he's not a spy or something.  Our old investigator is still not answering us, something definitely happened and he doesn't want to talk to us.  Hope he comes around though.  Oh, transfers came around and nothing is happening to our area, so it's just gonna be me and stoddard partying in this city for another six weeks.  Fun times, fun times indeed.  Well.  That's all the news, figured out how to secretely send pictures, so maybe those will show up wherever these emails are going if my family can figure it out.  Happy Birthday to me seester.  Ok.  Thats everything. 
Week 38:

This week I straight up ran out of time, like more than usual, so I'm just gonna get down to the nitty gritties.  Not a ton happened this week, we contacted a lot.  Our investigator has gone MIA so that was a bummer, he did send us one short text message though so we know he's not in prison.  Unless they let you have cell phones in prison now.  We met with a lot of members this week and two of them who usually don't come to church actually came so that was cool. A senior missionary couple came to the branch and taught a lesson.  They were teaching and old crazy lady in our branch started a battle royale, the old missionaries didn't know what to do, all they heard was a bunch of angry russian arguing and it was impossible to translate everything for them in real time.  Fun.  Cool family that lives 2 hours away came to church though, mom dad and a kid, all super nice, just hard for them to make it all the time.  Well thats all the news, no cool stories from the week, just same old same old, trying to keep the spirits up.  Oh it's really warm here, at least was this last week, it has been raining.  Pear be crazy.  See ya next week friends.
Week 37:

Hey friends,
This week will be slightly more interesting then the past few so that's good news.  This week was new years, the most celebrated holiday in russia, woo.  Me and stoddard had to be home by 6 on the 31st unfortunately, but everyone sounded like they were having a lot of fun.  Somehow every russian civillian finds a way to get their hands on profressional grade fireworks and they fire them off pretty much all week.  I was asleep when the 12 o clock festivities started and was awakened by screaming and explosions, was kind of annoying. I had heard rumors about how no people are outside here on new year's day, but I thought people were exadurating.  They weren't.  For 2 days there was absolutely noone outside, made our job a little bit difficult/impossible.  Other than that the holiday was a nice time.  Also this week I was able to head back to my land of birth for a missionary christmas shindig.  They were having a christmas party thing in moscow for only those serving in the city of moscow, but they took pity on us who are serving all by ourselves and brought us in to partake in the festivities.  Was fun times, the best part was I got to see all my buddies back in moscow.  My special russian child was there and they dressed him up as santa clause for something.  Also went by my favorite бабушка's before we left, was awesome to see her.  Now I well tell you about the wonderful modem of transportation that is the electrishka.  They are short distance trains which leave every hour out of pear and moscow which are the furthest stops between each other.  First you get to the trainstation and wait with a mob of people for the thing to pull in, then when it comes it's a fight to the death to get on first and get the small 2 person benches at the front and back, so you don't get stuck on the 2.5 personed sized benches with three people.  The benches are in the most uncomfortable shape known to man and they are hard plastic.  So basically once you get on and find your spot between what are usually giant smelly old ladies, people start coming through trying to sell you stuff, and no matter what it is the old ladies all get super impressed and buy everything. There are a lot of stops in the 3 hour ride between pear and moscow, on the way home i fell asleep and woke up to a giant dirty old lady pretty much sitting in my lap... worst case scenario. So then I sat there just watching the time crawl and after about an hour her and her old lady friend got up and I thought they were leaving, I was about to stand on my chair and sing praises when I realized they had just slipped into the corridor to smoke and then come back.  Not pleasing to me.  Anyway thats the electrishka, fun stuff.  Funny story:  at the train station some guy came up to us and asked us when a train was leaving, when we said we didn't know he got all mad. We were like, dude why are you mad, he said while pointing at our nametags, well I'm here talking to the elders of the train station and they don't even know when my train is leaving.  Heh.  Apparently Russia has train elders.  Weird.  Anyway that's all for this week, except that batman was at church yesterday, ok that's it. bye.  
Week 36:

Hey everyone.  This time I literally have only 9 minutes to write this thing.  Christmas here was cool, we went out trying to find those christmas miracles, but people wouldn't talk to us. Guess nobody told them it was christmas in murrica.  Then we had english club and then we skyped home, it was AWESOME.  And really weird.  After though me and stoddard were like, dag we should do that all the time.  Only 5 or so more months til the next one though.  My family seemed pretty surprised to see that I was alive and had all my appendages intact.  Apparrently my letters are pretty dark and depressing, sorry friends don't mean to do that.  I think it's partially because I am not able to use sarcasm throughout the week in russian and it builds up and I let it all out in my letters, things are actually really good though.  I heard that the Giffords and some other parents be praying for my survival.  Thanks everybody, I really really appreciate it, honestly.  Means when missionaries hear they are not forgotten.  News for this week, makseem has a b-date.  WOO.  He is progressing a long really well and heres just a really sincere solid guy.  Right now we are working with him to try to help him quit smoking, man is a champ.  He came to church on sunday and the members love him, they were really good about welcoming him.  Hoping for good things there, love that guy.  Anywho. that's all I can think of now, hope you all had a merry christmas, and have fun on the new years.  Bye errybody, I'll be back in a week.
Week 35:

Greetings friends.  Almost christmas now, that's pretty crazy.  Looks like I've been on the mish for almost a year now, just a couple more months.  This week was a pretty interesting one.  We had some of the higher up missionaries come out and do some work with us.  Me and this one guy went out and taught some young fellow for like an hour on the street, it was awesome, turns out he doesn't have a phone though, pretty common in russia actually.  Give him everything we could with all our numbers and stuff on it told him about everything we do and what times it's at so now just got wait and see.  Big news, got an actual investigator! Other news, he is not on parol anymore! Yeah he's a pretty interesting guy, got a crazy past. Just met him on the street and we were like, hey, we have a message about Jesus Christ, you wanna hear about it?  He was like, OH YEAH.  Last night we had a lesson with him and he told me some stories for like an hour and a half and afterwards I just wanted to go take a shower with my clothes on, cry deeply, and then call my mother and tell her I love her.  Dude has had a pretty messed up past, but we taught him about repentance and the atonement and everything and he was all over it.  Can't explain to you all how good it feels to sit down with someone who's hurting about something and explain to them that they can get rid of it.  Makes all the poo worth it.  Thats what it's all about, can't say we get those moments a ton, but enough to keep us going.  As always I'm short on time here, and this is going to be short, but in the spirit of christmas things are going to get a touch more spiritual than usual.  Christmas is a really cool time that we get to remember what's really important, especially out here in the mish field.  Doing this stuff hasn't been exactly what I expected, and even not really what I wanted, but there is one thing that I understand perfectly well from it and that is that God loves us.  I'm not the smartest guy and definitely not the most spiritual, but I do know that much.  And what's cool is that everyone can know that, just gotta go ask.  Gonna throw in the cliches now that christmas should really be about family and most importantly about Jesus Christ.  That is what we should be most excited about, it's awesome.  Better than stuff for sure. Love you all and miss you, hope you have a good christmas, mines gonna be legit.  I'll see you all later.  MURRY CHRISTMAS.
Week 34:

Greetings from pear.  I am now sitting in a ritzy library which does not at all resemble my last place of email.  Nobody is screeming at their computers because they are losing at world of war craft, it doesn't smell like cigarettes, and everybody is awake.  Nice change of pace.  Pear is great, the city is way cool.  It feels like Russia which is what I have been waiting for, people are way nicer too.   All the roads are frozen over so I've fallen down like 3 times already since I've gotten here.  As far as missionary stuff goes, president was right, this is going to be a project.  The branch consists of the 2 old guys who are the bp and 1st counselor, the 2nd counselor is an invalid, meaning he his arms are small and don't work and he has a hard time walking, two old ladies, and 2 missionaries.  They asked me to speak on sunday and I was a little scared at first but then when I got there I realized I was going to be speaking to two gmas and my comp.  No big.  Pres doesn't really like missionaries a ton and is kind of new at the whole branch president thing.  One of the babs teaches gospel doctrine and just talks about crazy weird stuff and apparently when missionaries bring new people to church she tells them they are going to hell.  Not an ideal situation, so there are going to have to be some changes made.  My new comp is a cool guy, weird living with an american though.  I have spoken more english this past week than I did in my 3 months with antropov.  Thanks for all the emails errybody, they were much appreciated, but in answering all of them I have used all my time so I can't write a lot here. So, merry christmas errybody, hope the holidays are treating you well.  I miss you all and will send more next week, hopefully one day they will lift this gypsy rule that I can't send pictures by the internet.  Stay happy everyone. 
Week 33:

What was seemingly impossible has finally happened.  I have been transfered.  My special boy is all grown up and is now going to have to take over our area.  It's ironic because we just started to pick up some cool new investigators this week.  Basically I've been banished to the nether-regions.  I'm not aloud to say the name of the city for legal purposes but it rhymes with pear, so we'll just call it pear.  It's apparently a little ghetto city around 3 hours by train outside of Moscow.  President called me and started off by saying, well elder not gonna lie, this a rough transfer you're getting; while I explain it to you, you are probably gonna be thinking "why me?".  Heh.  He then continued to explain that they are not aloud to have sister missionaries and elders in outer cities together anymore if there are no old people missionaries.  In pear there are no old people missionaries.  So they are pulling out the sisters and sending me to take the place of our other russian elder. Apparently the ward there are not very fond of missionaries and the work there has been pretty dead for a long time.  So yeah, going over there and it's gonna be me, some other american guy named stoddard, and a ghetto city full of critical russian people. That is what I'm talking about.  I'm pumped.  Gonna be rough being on our own but I think it'll be pretty sweet, plus it's my first companion that is american, young, speaks english, and doesn't have vericose in his leg besides beals.  People keep asking me if I'm going to be the district leader... there is no district.  I'm really excited though, gonna be nuts over there.  If we are going to be completely honest I've had enough of moscow, this place is like New York, but it's been fun.  It's definitely the coolest city I've ever been to, but I wouldn't want to live here.  I am pretty sad to be leaving Antropov.  He's doing like 1000 times better now, he turned things around last week, so he's pretty much through the adaptation stages I'd say.  Feels like I'm leaving family, kinda sucks.  O we saw the president of russia drive by the other day, that was pretty cool.  Hardest moment of the week- saying goodbye to my number 1 girl in russia, бабушка Елена.  Had my last dinner at her place last night, she was upset.  Gonna miss the people in our ward, they are all kinds of cool.  Well yeah, that's the biggest news, I'm getting exiled.  So ends the Elder Holland emails from the sketchy russian internet cafe.  It's been real.  Christmas comes up in a few weeks.  Good luck to all my friends back home dealing with finals, I've been out school for almost a year now and they still haunt me.  Enjoy the holidays friends, send me christmas cards.  Oh and I don't have a lot of time to write out letters and get them mailed, but if anyone wants to talk I'm happy to send stuff via email.  Just gotta send me something first so I know yours.  Ok Bye.  MURRY CHRISTMAS