This week has been pretty crazy. Just getting settled into things has been a challenge– me getting back late in the week, having a lot of things new responsibilities to take care of and get used to, a lack of weekly planning, a sick companion, etc made the beginning of the week rather challenging. Sunday night things were pretty tough– all our meetings were falling through and it didn’t seem like we’d have anyone to meet with for a while. Plus, we just got home and realized that we left the fax machine that we were supposed to take to our apartment at the branch building. So we knew we had to go back that night. Before going back we mentioned that we should probably try to talk to as many people on the way back to invite them to hear our message. In discussing how and what we would talk about with people I became concerned with being able to understand better and be able to skillfully share the “Family: a proclamation to the world.” We talked about ways that we could approach families on buses in a not-awkward way. We focused our discussion on “what if we ran into a father on the bus” and we discussed things that a father would be open to hearing and what he’d be interested in knowing more of, as far as what we as missionaries could teach him. After a very productive companionship discussion/brainstorm we headed out to the bus stop. When the bus slid to a stop and we walked on, I immediately saw a young father with his small daughter sitting next to him. He had bag on the seat next to him, which he moved as we got onto the bus. I decided to go for it. I sat down next to him and started talking with him and his daughter. I showed them a picture of my family and started having a very positive conversation with them about families and how they are the most important thing that we have. The conversation went exactly as Elder Brightwell and I had imagined that a “perfect family conversation” could go.
Hopefully we’ll be able to meet with this great guy and his family soon, but even if we don’t– the experience was a very important one for me after having a long discouraging day. After that things have turned around and we were able to somehow find several people that were excited to meet with us. Plus, members have been more enthusiastic about missionary work– just coming up to us and telling us “I’ll be here at the branch building every tuesday for two hours and I’ll be happy to help you with any meetings you may want to schedule for that time.” I think sometimes in life it’s just a matter of endurance. Sometimes we just need to hold on to what we know is right and continue to do our best, despite how things are working out, and just hold on. Life always has a way of turning around and getting better.
Thanks for the emails. Yes, people here are talking about the Moscow bombings too, although I know very little about it since we can’t watch tv. Things are going great. The weather is getting warmer.
Justin Geldzahler– a “Happy Birthday” was missed in the letter last week, yes? Also, I sent you some pieces of paper with writing on it today.
Sean– send me some pics of your DC pad 🙂
Justin Trapp– Yeah! I heard about your sisters wedding from…. who was it, Taegan, probably. Wild! I still feel very left out details-wise. And my Russian is getting to some sort of a comfortable point. Sometimes I understand everything and can speak awesomely and feel great. Other times I find myself in situations where I feel like I still have a long ways to go. It’s a tricky language sometimes. But things are great! I’m loving the mission, and was excited to get an email from you. After the mission thus far I plan on going back to New York for the rest of my schooling– 4 years and then I have no clue. It’ll be great to see eachother when I get back. My spanish is so slaughtered right now. Sometimes I try to remember how to say things in spanish and it takes me forever to piece toether a cohearant sentence.
Bradley Weber: Roman Diev started coming back to church on his own, about a week after you sent me that email. I hadn’t gotten in touch with him yet, and I wasnt at church that first Sunday that he came, but I told the other Elders about how I needed to meet the guy and they told me when I got back from Kemerovo that he showed up on his own to church. He split up with his wife at least temporarily and he says that his wife was holding him back from coming to church each week. He’s meeting with us missionaires and he’s staying active. He’s already come to church 3 times in a row! Also, Brat Boris and I have been talking about you a bit– he says hi and something about not being able to get in touch with you on facebook. Anyway, you are very loved here and I just wanted to let you know how things were going with Roman.
Alright, well i’m out of time.
love you guys! maybe next week i’ll have a more coherant email.
CHRIS, THAT’S SO AMAZING! I’M SO EXCITED THAT YOU’RE SPEAKING RUSSIAN!!! AW MAN, THAT’S GOING TO BE SO AMAZING FOR US!! WE’LL BE ABLE TO SPEAK RUSSIAN TO US FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES!! 😀 THAT’S SO COOL!
and you’ll probably be able to see my MTC teacher and everything! you’ll be like 4 classrooms down from where I was! Oh man, that’s so incredible! When, though!? WHEN?! when do you head into the MTC? I’m dying to know! All I have now as far as advice goes is to spend enough time with friends and family before you leave. I felt really rushed and i didn’t get to see a lot of people as much as i wanted. And for learning Russian– print out the alphabet and start learning it right away. That’ll put you way ahead of everyone else in the mtc if you know the alphabet well. You can learn words and phrases and everything there, but if you can start to kind of read before you get to the mtc it’ll be really great. A little heads up about why Russian is so different: the endings of the words change. If you say “The cat eats” or “I ate a cat” or “I helped a cat” or “that’s the cat’s food” — the word cat in each of those sentences will have a different ending. So if you start looking at Russian words, and things don’t look like they’re matching up– it’s probably because of that. But don’t worry– they’ll explain it all in the MTC. Man, you get three months in there, just like me. good luck!
Oh man, I can’t wait to talk to you– i hope you’re not going to the MTC before May 9th when I get to call again!
Wow, that is so exciting.
K, well this week has been CRAZY! Finally everything has slowed down by now– transfers are over with and I just got back from ZLC (which is why i didn’t email yesterday). Zone Leaders’ Council was amazing. It was one of the most spiritually encouraging meetings I’ve ever had on my mission. It was exactly when I needed it too– before ZLC I was feeling pretty stressed and confused about a lot of things, but now I’m really excited and confident that this transfer is going to be great, despite the difficulties of me figuring out all this Zone Leader stuff.
I’d like to share one thing that I learned from ZLC that has really been on my mind and made a big impression on me. Elder Simmons said that what we as humans are not afraid of failing– we are afraid of being great. If we become great, then we seperate ourselves from others and we become fulnerable to other great things. He said “look around– we’re sitting in a room full of people who are afraid to be great.”
No matter where we’re at in life– look at yourself! Look at how much you are holding back your potential just because you are afraid to be great. One of the amazing things that we find out in this life is that when we start running faster than we thought that we ever could, we still somehow manage to get by. Finding the end of our greatness is an impossible task. And thanks to the atonement of Jesus Christ, if we rely on the right sources we will always have a constant, ever increasing source of strenth that will always be enough to keep us on our feet.
Thanks for all the emails this week. Needless to say it was one of the most exciting email reading session yet. Also, I got mail– a letter from you, mom, and conference talks/cd from erica. thanks.
Thank you all for your continued prayers.
Lyric, Justin, Amber, and Chelsea– it was great to hear from you. thanks for remembering me 🙂
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!! (no, they don’t celebrate st. patrick’s day in Russia)
Well, this week I don’t have any special thoughts or messages to individuals b/c my head is still spinning from transfers!
I will be the zone leader of Tomsk and will be companions, again, with Elder Brightwell.
All of our native Russian/Ukrainians left this transfer (Sister Kuhta, Elder Zabrodin, and Elder Sargsyan).
In their places will be a brand new elder, Elder Eborn, an Elder who will be dying this transfer (finishing his mission and going back to the states this tranfer) Elder Lambson, and Sister Boggs.
So, amidst the getting people out and getting people in, not to mention the fact that my companion will have a visa trip tomorrow and then I have to go to Novo for Zone Leaders Conference on Monday, things are pretty crazy. Hopefully by next Wednesday everything will be settling down.
This week I got to go to Kemerovo for my last time (Kemerovo as of this transfer is not a part of our zone anymore) in the near future and I was able to see some of the members there who are very dear to me. It’s scary– there is such low attendance at church meetings and a lot of the members seem to be dodging the missionaries. Hopefully during this next transfer Kemerovo will see some success– they President is trying a little bit different game plan there now. We’ll see.
As for here in Tomsk: We’ve just had a lot of big, sad goodbyes. The members here really loved Sister Kuhta and Elder Zabrodin and it’s a shame that they’re leaving. It’s going to be a major challenge for me to keep the relationships up, keep the morale around here up, and see that missionary work continues to happened. I’d appreciate prayers, thoughts, and letters of encouragement– I have no idea how difficult this transfer is going to be for me with this new leadership responsibility.
Well, fam, I love you all. I miss you. Chris, I am just as anxiously awaiting your mission call. If you can somehow get some sort of a video sent my way I would really appreiciate it. and email me as soon as you get the call, regardless of if it’s close to my P day or not.
The weather is great here now. It’s between -5 and 0, lots of people are out on the streets– everything is great. It’s an exciting time because we can now expect English club and church attendance to really grow during this time of year. Mom– I’m warm, well fed, brushing my teeth… everything is great 🙂 And Chris, you can tell everyone that I’m really loving it here in Russia. I still from time to time just step back and go “Whoa…. I’m on my mission in Siberia…. this is so crazy…”
I miss you all!
P.S. the photo: for those of you who know the Youtube video– and especially Nick Pericle, who introduced me to it by naming our Sunday School team this every week. In Russia you can buy ice cream in stands on almost any street. (The ice cream in Russia is ridiculously good.) This particular ice cream bar is called Шоколадный Дождь, which literally translates out to “Chocolate Rain.” 🙂
Thank you for the pictures, emails, band updates, etc! There were some very “trunky” moments reading the emails this week 🙂
A lot of things happened this past week.
For starters, our washing machine broke one morning and we didn’t find out about it until our downstairs neighbor came banging on our door. He marched us downstairs where he showed us the water dripping from his ceiling. So we’ve had quite the ordeal with him lately. He can be a very angry man, and there were some very scary, overwhelming moments for me when he started yelling at us, demanding money and using a lot of words that I don’t understand– which only made him more mad. But we cleared the problem up– everything’s ok, and the last time we went to see him about the problem he was in a pretty good mood, so he didn’t yell at us that time. 🙂
On a more positive note, we just got back a couple days ago from Novosibirsk where we had possibly the largest Zone Conference that I’ll ever see on my mission. Let’s see if i can remember the cities that were there… Tomsk, Novosibirsk, Kemerovo, Novokuznetsk, Barnaul… I think that’s it. So: lots of missionaries (see the picture that my dad should post on my blog). It was so big because President Schwietzer (sp?), a member of the Europe East Area Presidency came to speak to us. He gave two amazing talks that were very inspiring about conversion and sanctification and understanding where we are personally in life and what are goals are.
It was such a great couple of days for me– I saw, noticed, learned, felt, understood so much. Plus, it was very refreshing to be able to sit down and be taught rather than to always worry about those who you are supposed to teach.
And because of Zone Conference our week has become shorter– and it’ll be even shorter: we just found out that we’re going to go to Kemerovo for a couple of days to help those elders out. We leave on Friday and get back Sunday night. It’s been great to look at the limited amount of time taht we have and decide who is most important to meet with.
We’ll also get transfer calls on Friday/Saturday, so i’ll let you know what’s happening for the next 6 weeks of my life in my next email.
Along with the Zone Conference, we also got mail. Mom, I got the after christmas package. I’ve worn the pajamas the past two nights; they are very comfy. (and it came right in time. we’re waiting on a new washing machine and I had no more clean pajamas) I also got letters from Erica, Karla (thanks so much for those recipes and the instructions! EXACTLY what i’ve been wanting for the past few months!), and Brandon Stewart (i have a feeling I’m spelling your name wrong) and Karim from Cooper (wow– you don’t know how much I appreciated the update of what you guys have been doing this year. I think about you guys and all the great work from cooper often. thanks so much, I was SO excited to see a letter addressed from New York).
I’d like to share a quick spiritual thought about studying scriptures. There’s an amazing sister here from Alaska named Sister Calderwood. Scripture study is her specialty. She wrote me a note before she left Tomsk and at the end: “remember: don’t just read your scriptures– study them.” My companion and I are planning a lesson this evening about studying scriptures and we’re excited to share a really cool verse from the bible: Ezra 7:10. Look it up. We should study the scriptures every day– not just read them. We can gain so much insight, knowledge, and peace when we put time into trying to understand words of the prophets. Dad, thanks for your email to me today, it was very powerful. I especially enjoyed the emphasis you gave on studying the scriptures and the feelings that we get when we truly immerse ourselves in searching for truth.
I’m running out of time, but thanks again for the emails, the love, and the support!
Sean: I recently talked to an elder who knew SO many bands. we talked a lot about some crazy bands, including the libertines! also, i told him plenty about the pixies, so when you told me about those pixies songs… man… i miss music 🙂
Justin– can you go into more details about what the flaming lips are doing? i didn’;t quite understand. and i’m expecting a review of alice in wonderland. the adds here are driving me nuts.
Hadley– what’s this about not mentioning the fact that you’ve got your PERMIT?!
Chris– YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW EXCITED I AM TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR MISSION CALL. YOU’D BETTER EMAIL ME LIKE… RIGHT AWAY. OR SEND ME A MOVIE OF YOU OPENING IT OR SOMETHING. MANNNNN I CAN’T WAIT.
Parker: it’s Luke 8:50, pretty sure. sweet email– thanks, it made me smile.
Happy Spring! from Siberia
So even though it’s spring…. it doesnt really mean anything. Like my companion said “Russian’s just celebrate spring coming earlier than americans because they want the cold to go away faster.” Lately we’ve been walking into people’s houses and they’ve been telling us “Such cold weather hasn’t been for the last 15 years! It’s usually not this cold this late through winter and into spring!”
So, needless to say, we still have to endure the excuses: “well it’s cold…. i’ll come to church when it’s warmer…”
But people are starting to come to English club in much higher numbers, or at least we had a really good crowd yesterday. I’m in charge of 2nd group (1st group are people who speak essentially 0 english, and 3 group is almost fluent speakers) and yesterday there was a very nice looking group of university age girls that showed up. Elder Zabrodin, my zone leader, said “uhm… Elder Froelich, I’m going to send another Elder in here with you” (looking around at the lack of guys and the not-lack of attractive girls). And they were all, for the most part, involved in the discussion. We talked about “Time” and next weed we’re going to talk about “The future.” I had a lot of fun, just with all of the fun phrases that we have in English about time, and because of the fact that there were enough people to call on that it was a fluid discussion. Last transfer was the first time I ever lead English club and I’m finally feeling like I’m getting the hang of it.
This week my companion and I have both been studying faith, coincidentally, and I’ve come to learn a few things about faith. I shared some of Elder Holland’s talk a letter or two ago about how we need to look to the future. Today Elder Brightwell shared a verse from the Bible when Christ told the father of a young girl who died before Jesus could reach her “Fear not: believe only.” There are tough times in our lives when we tend to doubt ourselves, our talents, our faith, our purpose in life. For me it’s comforting to think of how Christ comforted this father who had lost his daughter to sickness: fear not: believe only. We can’t understand why certain moments in life are hard, but we know through the scriptures that hard moments are only for our good. God created everything on this earth for our benefit– even things that are trials for us. Think back to hard times that you’ve had before– we look back on those hard times and see that they helped us and were beneficial to us in the long run. We just need to remember and to decide to push through our trials with faith, not fearing.
Thanks for emails again this week. I got three letters recently! From Chris, Parker, and Erica (mom, I still haven’t gotten any more packages from you guys… :-/) I love you so much, Chris– I’m SOOOO EXCITED to have you get your mission call. (sister kuhta here from Ukraine is convinced you’re going to serve in her mission b/c from my stories and pictures she wants to hang out with you after her mish) and parker– thanks for the letter. You always make me laugh in your letters– you’re such a cool brother. Erica– my new companion found the cd’s you sent me for christmas and he’s hooked on them. Sean, thanks for the only in dreams shout out, it’s been great to hear from you so much lately. best of luck with the school work (jealous of you hitting up DC. Hey, i’ve got a friend who did a similar thing and he knows tons of sweet restauraunts there– i’ll hook you up with his info if you remind me. or just ask my dad for Ryan Edmund’s email address) . Justin G- that article was hilarious. I was just talking about David Bowie with my companion today. Thanks. 🙂
Don’t worry about the whole new email address thing– if you send it to firstname.lastname@example.org it gets forwarded here, so either one works– i’m getting everything just fine (just don’t use my email@example.com).
k, out of time! I love you all