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