First, I want to say Happy Birthday to Hadley! 🙂 I’ve been thinking about you the last few days wondering how your birthday went– it sounds like it was lots of fun 🙂
Secondly, Dad and Mom, I think you both asked if there’s anything I need from you guys on the other end, and here’s a list I’ve been coming up with. I want to extend this to everyone who reads this email/blog also.
Anything easy to cook, cheap, fast, etc. We don’t have foods like peanut butter and… I can’t think of all of the other stuff right now, but some things aren’t available.
- Dad, your biscuit recipe– the one where the biscuits just look like crazy blobs
- Mom, your enchilada recipe
- Any crock pot recipes– we have one out of 4 or 5 crock pots in the entire Novosibirsk mission and we don’t have anything to cook in it.
- Maybe a rhubarb pie recipe? We found a member who grows rhubarb but doesn’t eat it.
- good cookies/desserts for family nights
- banana bread recipe/ other bread recipes
- mom, your cabbage soup recipe
We have to come up with activities for Family Home Evening games when many of the church members come over on Monday nights. We’re running low on activities to play when we’re all together and it’s hard to come up with ideas on the spot. My family: can you please send a list of your favorite FHE activities? and anyone else– any large group activities that preferably don’t rely on language, since that seems to be a bit of a problem considering the barrier for me and the other English speaking elder.
Third, I want to answer Parker’s question and say: yes, I do get dear elders. In fact, lol, i had asked Amber if she’s SURE she was sending the dear elders that i wasn’t receiving to the MTC. Amber, I got all of the Dear Elders you sent me as soon as I arrived in russia 🙂 Same with one from Sam and one from Zoe. And my companion recently went to Novosibirsk for Zone Leader Conference, so I also just received a Dear Elder from Erika Larsen– that being the first letter I’ve received in Russia that wasn’t sent to me before I arrived in Russia. So yes, dear elders work quite well. When I write home to friends i’ll use international postage. And I love receiving handwritten mail, but if friends out there don’t have time to handwrite me something and you want to write me something long, then send it dear elder (if you send it email it takes up some of the time i have to write you.)
Fourth, I want to give some explanation to these pictures that I’m hoping will all be attached… but it’s a long shot- there are lots that I’m trying to send.
K First the MTC pictures. The last week of the MTC was rough for me and i coped with it by drawing on hot chocolate cups and bananas (and then by putting the bananas back for other missionaries to happen upon.) Then there are pictures of me with each of my two teachers in the MTC, brother Merrill and brother Sunday. And a picture or two of me with elder player. Then the entire group of us leaving to Russia that week. Then the group of all the guys in our district minus two when we were up late at our “saying goodbye” get together before us Novosibirsk Elders left. Then a picture of the Novosibirsk Elders and sister at 4:00 am the morning of leaving to Russia.
I’m starting to forget what the other pictures were that I loaded. Siberian skies/sunsets are incredible. We did a service project at Sister Tamara’s, i think i told you about it. there’s a picture of me sharpening her axes/shovels for her using super sketchy equipment. Also in there is a picture of a members garden house which i’ll talk about later. And The last picture (again, if they all send) is of the bathroom in the other elder’s apartment. Our bathroom is nice b/c our apartment is also the meeting house for the church here in Kemerovo, but the other apartment, while being one of the nicer ones in the Novosibirsk Mission, is still a little shabby, with emphasis on the really bad bathroom (almost all the faucets in the apartment constantly drip) and the water pipes make funny noises.
Alright, so here’s my little report on the week:
We went bowling last P-day with Anton and Kristina and a couple of their friends. It was very fun; the bowling alley was hilarious. No wax on the floor, so the balls would basically be bouncing up and down at the end of the lane. After that we had a watermelon party– just ate watermelon and played cards. Kristina was baptized, but her husband, Anton, wasn’t. He had a date and his interview and everything but backed out last minute. So he’s one of our big focuses right now– we all feel that once he is baptized he’ll be a super strong member and a huge asset to the branch– its just a matter of figuring out what’s holding him back.
The next big task last week was to plan a branch activity. We decided we’d like to do a shishkabob cooking at the park (in russian they’re called shashleek) We bought a ridiculous amount of meat, invited many former investigators from the area that we had record of but had never before met, and most every member was going to come. We decided that it wouldn’t rain that day. And Saturday came and it rained all morning. We didn’t know what to do. Also another great aspect of this picnic is that we invited some Senior Missionaries to come and join us and to give spiritual thoughts. This couple had previously lived in Kemerovo, so they are close with many of the members and investigators. They arrived on a bus on Saturday and so we were very excited to have them. They helped us decide what to do with the shashleek problem. We decided to go somewhere else to cook the shashleek and then we’d bring it back to the church meeting house (our apartment) where we would all meet. We’d have a spiritual thought, sing some songs, have the picnic inside and just see how everything goes. In order to cook the shashleek we went to a member, Julia’s dacha. A Dacha is probably the most brilliant idea ever. It’s like a cabin, only not in the mountains. it’s a modest little building where one goes during the summer to work on their garden. so there’s’ a small house, a large garden with lots of flowers, vegetables, fruits, herbs, etc, and a vania– which is a really awesome, intense russian sauna.
So the picnic turned out to be a huge success, largely due to the amazing spiritual thought that Elder Bowdin, the senior missionary gave.
He talked about how in our lives we prepare, plan, and work our schedules around meals and other things that help us be physically nourished, but we never seem to do that with spiritual needs. He talked about how he finds a time, for him its watching the sunrise, each morning to just think about life, pray to God, and get answers to his prayers. He talked about how if we set apart a time each day to work on our relationship with our Father in Heaven, we will feel spiritually nourished and we will begin to better understand how God answers our prayers.
We later found out that a former investigator, Ksyousha went home that night, read the Ensign article that he recommended, along with the rest of the magazine and then started the Book of Mormon. We met with her and the Bowdin’s the next day and she told us about how she’s recently felt like she needs to have more spirituality in her life and that she feels like she’s now finding it.
It was amazing– hopefully everything will go well with her– she’s so excited to learn more about the Gospel.
Well I’m running very low on time and i don’t think these pictures will work. I’ll try more next week.
I love you all! Thanks for all of your support.
Parker, we ride on these little buses called Marshootka’s and they’re like really really, really old small buses. we don’t have cars or bikes here, but we ride those old buses, along with regular buses, electric buses, and taxis and stuff like that.