Russia Week 1

August 26, 2009

All,

First I must say: I am only allowed to write one email/week. So, to all of my friends and family members, etc that i told that I would definitely email– you’ll have to settle for this one weekly email that i can send out to my family (who can they forward it to you) and then letters written with the pouch system and regular international mail. (the pouch system DOES work.)

So I left the MTC on Monday, the 17th, arrived in Novosibirsk on the 19th, and then I arrived in my assigned city: Kemerovo a couple days later. My companion is Elder Kolpakov– from the Rostov Mission of Russia.  He’s really cool- He’s served in the army as well as gone to school for a mathematics degree.  He’s known for being able to ‘fix anything’ so we get along alright.

The city of Kemerovo is the second newest city in the Novosibirsk mission. it was opened in 2006.  There are two companionships of Elders in the city, including ours.  The church had a few rough times here– we used to have a building, but there were some issues with the government, etc, so now we meet in our apartment.  There were about 8 people that attended church last Sunday, including the four missionaries.  One of the biggest challenges right now is this limitation with not having a building to meet at. The church is working on it, but apparently it’s hard to get people to let a church rent a space because the government kind of frowns upon it.  Once we get a building we can start leading English club, which is apparently a really good way to get investigators.

We went and did some service for a member of the branch yesterday– sister Tamara, our branch’s babushka.  It was wild to see her house– i could not even guess how long ago it was first built or how many additions were added on over the years.  We fixed a hole in her roof and sharpened some tools for her and did some other work around the house/yard before she fed us a HUGE meal.

It’s being ridiculously frustrating not being able to speak russian.  I have to just try to pick out words i know when my companion is having conversations and it’s hard b/c I can say something to a Russian, but there’s a 80 percent chance I won’t be able to understand their response.  But It’s way exciting to be in Russia. The other day there was a gorgeous sunset that we watched as we rode back to our apartment in a marshutka ( a really small, sketchy bus).

I love you all.  Write back to me with your responses or questions or whatnot, and next wednesday I will send another email.  I’ll be checking both my tyler.j.froelich.rnm@myldsmail.net address and this one for a while, but I hope to be able to switch over to this gmail account permanently (our mission president allows gmail! :D).  K. I dropped my memory card behind the computer. I going to see if i can fish it out to upload some photographs to this email.  This one picture that i’ve included are the 13 missionaries who were with me on the way to Novosibirsk– now we’re all spread out over the mission, the Mission President, his wife, and the two Assistants to the President (missionaries).

Also, post this stuff on my blog and Chris, will you put something up on my facebook asking people who want to hear from me to tell you their emaill addresses and then get them to dad?  Thanks.

–Elder Tyler Froelich

ps. i can read emails– i have an hour to read emails and write one to my fam. but ify ou want to write me something long, then maybe pouch system would be better, although i’ll only get mail about once every 6 weeks.

Also, i’ll send a lot of pictures next week. i won’t be able to get my card back for this session.


August 24, 2009

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Elder Tyler Froelich– Letters from Mission Training Center

August 24, 2009
All,  For some reason I can’t get the Return key to work… don’t know why.  Anyways.  Here is what i’m going to be up to come monday morning:  Flight 2039 SLC to Atlanta GA.  Depart 7:00 AM, arrive 12:48 PM.  Delta 46 Atlanta GA to Moscow Russia Depart 4:15 PM, arrive 11:00 AM. Aeroflot Russian Intl flight 809 Moscow Russia to Novisibirsk Russia. Depart 10:35 PM, arrive 5:30 AM on the 19th of August. \\ Well, the MTC has been quite an experience, although my companion and I have definitely come to the conclusion that we are ready to go to Russia.  I just wanted to bare my testimony in this last MTC-email.  I know that Christ is our Savior. I know that He know’s us all personally–personally enough that he suffered for each one of us individually, so that he could know how to comfort us.  I know that He is our brother.  I know that Joseph Smith was called a prophet to restore Christ’s church upon the Earth, just as it was established when he lived on the earth.  I know that The Book of Mormon was absolutely translated through the power of God by Joseph Smith, prophet.  I know that The Book of Mormon was written specifically for us and because of this, we can always look to the Book of Mormon for answers to our problems that we have in this life.  I know that God is our Heavenly Father and that he knows us all personally. I know that if we look for them, God will give us gifts in this life– small little miracles, specific to each one of us that will testify to us that God IS our Father and that he does care for us personally. He know’s us personally enough to give us gifts that are individual.\\  Thank you all for all of your letters, emails, dear elders, packages and support.  I deeply appreciate it.  I love you all.\\  –Elder Froelich, Novosibirsk Bound

Missionary Training Center, August 11, 2009

Last Week MTC

All, For some reason I can’t get the Return key to work… don’t know why. Anyways. Here is what i’m going to be up to come monday morning: Flight 2039 SLC to Atlanta GA. Depart 7:00 AM, arrive 12:48 PM. Delta 46 Atlanta GA to Moscow Russia Depart 4:15 PM, arrive 11:00 AM. Aeroflot Russian Intl flight 809 Moscow Russia to Novisibirsk Russia. Depart 10:35 PM, arrive 5:30 AM on the 19th of August. \\ Well, the MTC has been quite an experience, although my companion and I have definitely come to the conclusion that we are ready to go to Russia. I just wanted to bare my testimony in this last MTC-email. I know that Christ is our Savior. I know that He knows us all personally–personally enough that he suffered for each one of us individually, so that he could know how to comfort us. I know that He is our brother. I know that Joseph Smith was called a prophet to restore Christ’s church upon the Earth, just as it was established when he lived on the earth. I know that The Book of Mormon was absolutely translated through the power of God by Joseph Smith, prophet. I know that The Book of Mormon was written specifically for us and because of this, we can always look to the Book of Mormon for answers to our problems that we have in this life. I know that God is our Heavenly Father and that he knows us all personally. I know that if we look for them, God will give us gifts in this life– small little miracles, specific to each one of us that will testify to us that God IS our Father and that he does care for us personally. He knows us personally enough to give us gifts that are individual.\\ Thank you all for all of your letters, emails, dear elders, packages and support. I deeply appreciate it. I love you all.\\ –Elder Froelich, Novosibirsk Bound

Missionary Training Center, August 4, 2009

All,

Things are starting to wrap up here at the MTC. There are less than two weeks before I leave. We’re all starting to realize how little Russian we actually know, how much we’ll miss going to the temple, that we’ll have to start packing in about a week, and how ready we all are to leave the MTC.

Things have been going quite well, we’re all making big strides in learning the language and in teaching effectively in Russian. I can’t think of anything really specific to share for this week.

Here are some things that I was studying this week. I read Omni for no apparent reason and ran across a verse that I really have grown to love. Omni 1:26, i think. It talks about how we should come unto Christ, and offer our whole souls as an offering unto him. I spent about an hour studying what that might mean and I came across some scriptures about sacrifice that were impactful to me.

I don’t have the scripture references right now, but here are a few things that I gathered. We sacrifice things that we love. The Russian verb “to sacrifice” is zhertvovat. In talking with the native Russian speakers here I’ve foun that you can’t say that you would sacrifice drinking alcohol for the gospel as we might say. It’s not a sacrifice to stop drinking alcohol because that’s not a good thing. We sacrifice things that we love and things that are great. When we make sacrifices we are making something sacred.

This was especially meaningful to me as it’s been hard for me to be separated from my music and other media. But it gave me comfort to realize that I’m sacrificing these things because they’re important to me. Sometimes missionaries feel like they’re having to give up all of these things b/c of the rules– and it almost feels like it’s because they shouldn’t be important to us. But it’s the opposite. We sacrifice things because they’re so important that we want to make them sacred to us. My passion for music is something that I love and is so great in my life, but through leaving it for two years it’s a chance I have to make it more sacred and more important to me.

I also found a passage in the Doctrine and Covenants that explained how the Lord values our sacrifices more than our increase. Sometimes we find that we’re asked to sacrifice things that in so doing would seem to hinder us from progressing. Why would we pay tithing if the money could help us support our family? But it was great for me to learn that what is more holy to the Lord is our sacrifice.

I love you all so much. i’ve spent too much time on this email, i’m almost out of email time.

-Elder Tyer Froelich

Missionary Training Center, July 28, 2009

Family,

So yesterday was the official start to “SYL” (speak your language), meaning that we now are expected to speak 100 percent Russian. So, needless to say, yesterday was a pretty rough day for most of our district.

During class yesterday we had another opportunity to prepare a lesson for another single elder that we would be teaching, similar to the Elder Ku scenario. But for this situation we actually switched companions, so I was with an Elder Rudd from Idaho.

After praying we both decided that since the elder we would be teaching has also just started the syl thing, that anything that we feel that we are in need of at the time is similar to his needs. We started talking about how hard the day has been so far and how we’re both dealing with the new challenge. We looked up a scripture cited in Preach My Gospel, Docterine and Covenants 90:11. This scripture talks about how everyone in the world will have the opportunity to hear the gospel in their own language, but then it goes on to say that it will be taught by those who are ordained through the power of the Comforter.

What stood out to me was that it was the power of the Comforter– not the Holy Ghost, but specifically the comforting roll that the Holy Ghost plays. We then started thinking of times when we’ve received comfort while speaking the language. Elder Rudd told me about how earlier today when we were doing an excersice he understood every single word that was said and he told me that it was a major help and encouragement to him. I remember back a couple days earlier when Elder Player and I were having a conversation in Russian at the end of a language study session. We didn’t have to be speaking 100% Russian, but we tried anyways, and for some reason the conversation just flowed easily.

We asked this elder that we were teaching to look for times like these when the Comforter will help us learn the language through giving us peaceful and reassuring moments. We compared these moments to miracles when Moroni says in Moroni 10:24 that if the days of miracles cease it will be beacuse of the unbelief of man. We talked about how a way that we can show the Lord our belief in these miracles is to put forth all of the required effort to speak the language, so that he CAN bless us with those comforting moments. We also challenged the elder to consciously look for and to write down moments where the language suddenly feels easier and the pressure of having to speak Russian 100% of the time is lightened.

I encourage all of you to do this in your own lives. I’ve had my testimony or miracles strengthened over the past few weeks. I know that if we’re constantly looking for miracles throughout our day, the Lord will show them to us, and the more grateful we are for them, the more often they will occur. I’ve started trying to write down all the miracles that i’ve seen throughout the day before I go to bed and it has really helped me to have a more positive attitude and to see the hand of the Lord in my life more often.

I love you all so much and I miss you!

I’ll be getting my flight plans in the next week or two, so i’ll be sure to let you know ASAP.

Take Care,

Elder Froelich

Missionary Training Center, July 21, 2009

Family,

I miss you all. I hope you got the letters that I sent you last week in the mail. Things have been going great here at the MTC. A large group of new Russian-bound elders have arrived in our zone, so now we’re the older of the Russian-bound elders. And it’s getting a little scary– less than a month left before going to Russia. In the next week or two we’re going to start SYL (speak your language) where i’ll be allowed to speak only Russian.

Elder Player and I had an amazing experience a few days ago that I’d like to share. We were assigned to teach the Plan of Salvation to a missionary from another district. Elder Ku was the missionary we were to teach– he’s a great elder and we’ve become good friends. Elder Player prayed as we started to plan for what we would teach elder Ku. As he prayed I got the distinct impression that elder Ku was having a hard time missing his family. I wrote down on a scrap paper “misses family” and asked elder player if he had gotten any impressions. he said no, so I offered to pray and asked him to pay attention to any impressions he might have had. After my prayer he told me that he felt like elder Ku was homesick. I showed elder player my paper and said “I got the exact same thing.”

We proceded to plan the lesson using the Plan of Salvation to teach Elder Ku and to focus the lesson on a message that would help him be less homesick. We both had specific scriptures that we immediately thought of to teach him with, and we soon had a general plan for the lesson.

We started teaching elder ku by telling him how we have each been preordained for this mission that we are now serving. I told him that God knew he was up for the task long before he was even born on this Earth, and that more importantly he, Elder Ku, had the agency to come to Earth, and that he must have known for himself that he would be able to accomplish the task ahead. We then transitioned to families and we could both tell immediately that we had hit a softness in Elder Ku. (I had talked to him weeks before about his family. he apparently has a relationship with his younger sister like I have with Chris.) I told him that I’m having a tough time on this mission because I miss my brother Chris so much. But I testified that I knew that the task ahead was something that both I, myself, and God know that I can do.

Elder Player then bore his testimony on families and we asked Elder Ku to read D&C 100:1 and replace the names in that scripture with his name.

Elder Ku started reading the scripture and started to cry. He almost didn’t make it through the entire thing. I was also crying at this point and I bore testimony to him that God loves and will protect and watch over our families while we’re gone. Elder Player, the only one not crying then finished off the lesson and ended in a prayer.

After the experience I felt that I have never before been so perfectly used as an instrument in the Lord’s hand. It wasn’t even Elder player and I teaching– the entire lesson, from planning to the end was simply the Lord needing to get a message across to Elder Ku.

This was definitely the highlight of my week and it really was a strength to me to know that the Lord is able to work through me and that he cares about us individually on a personal level– enough to give us messages of comfort when we are in need.

I love you all, and I hope things are going well for everyone.

I’ll write as much as I can today.

I miss you all!!!

-Elder Tyler Froelich

Missionary Training Center, July 15, 2009

Dear Family,

I’m just now wondering if you perhaps didn’t get the email I sent last week. I just realized that i separated email addresses with commas and i’m not sure if this program is ok with that or not.

Chris, Dad, forward this to Mom and others. Maybe Chris can post it on the blog too if he can figure it out.

We had a speaker this last week who was an emeritus member of the quorum of the 70. His name was Angel Abreas, I think, and he was possibly one of my favorite speakers at one of these devotionals so far. He was from Argentina and just had that way about him of an old, super-wise argentinian man. I adored the way he spoke– he was not especially comfortable speaking in English, but he was one of the more powerful speakers i’ve heard here.

He spoke to us about revelation. He contrasted revelation with logic. Logic is a process, while revelation is an experience. He described revelation as any time that something becomes clear in our minds– an “aha” moment. He then went on to teach that our testimonies should come from those “aha” moments. This was touching to me because I realized that even the small things that are suddenly clear in my mind whether it be in school or in a gospel setting are moments of revelation and even if I feel they are insignificant they can be things that I could stand up and say “I know…” just as I do my testimony.

The timer is blinnking now. I’ll write a longer letter to you all today if i can find the time.

I love you all

Thanks SOOO much for the package and all the pictures and the blanket and everything.

I miss you!!!

-elder tyler Froelich

Missionary Training Center, July 7, 2009

Hey!

Alright, so this will be my sort-of “overview”. Chris, feel free to post this one on my blog if you can figure out how.

Things are going great in the MTC. I’m just about to reach the half-way point of being here. Today, yesterday and the next two days the older group of russian elders are leaving to the field. It’s pretty exciting to see them all packing up after 12 weeks in the MTC to head out to different missions all over Russia. (Also, there are 9 missions in Russia, i believe. Novosibirsk is the second largest mission in the church– the largest one is the one to the east of it: Vladivostok. But Novosibirsk is the coldest mission.) One elder and one sister have just been sent to Novosibirsk (the first group in a very long time to be sent to Novosibisrk) and we will be the next group. I think we decided in my group that there will be 10-12 missionaries going to Novosibirsk. Rumor has it that it’s 46 hours of travel time to get there.

We will be teaching the first lesson in Russian for our 2nd or 3rd time tomorrow. The Russian is coming along well; it’s exciting b/c I feel like I’m finally getting to the point where it feels the same as learning Spanish. I can read through the Book of Mormon and figure out what is being said and it’s becoming MUCH easier to understand and speak the language. Also, it’s kind of scary, but in trying to speak to Spanish elders/sisters I’ve found that my Russian vocabulary is overpowering my Spanish vocabulary. Instead of saying things like “como se dice” I find myself asking the spanish elders/sisters “kak skazat?”

So now that the older Russian elders are leaving, we’ll be the oldest Russians at the MTC. A new batch will come in tomorrow, I think. In a few weeks we’ll be doing the whole “SYL” (speak your language– you can’t speak english except for in certain situations) thing.

The Mission President trainging period was about a week ago. We weren’t allowed to walk into certain buildings so that we wouldn’t all flock to all of the general authorities that were there. We had a “special fireside” one night where we watched as… ugh, i don’t think i can name them all: Elders Holland, Bednar, Cristofferson, Oaks, Perry, Anderson and Cook walked onto the stand. Elder Holland spoke– it was an amazing talk. I didn’t see Presidend Thomas S Monson, but many missionaries did at either a sacrement meeting or just walking around the campus.

Anyway, things are going great here– thanks for all of your letters/packages!

-Elder Tyler Froelich