April 21, 2010
Dear Fam,

Well, actually, first: Привет всем, кто читают мой блог из России. (Люда) Тепер мне надо быть аккуратно когда Я пишу домой, чтобы Я не писал что-то слышком секретный. 🙂
And second: “oh.”!? “Oh.”!? you just sort of, by the way, may have happened to get into the art program you’ve been waiting to get into all year?! Hadley!!!! That’s AWESOME!  I think I actually freaked my companion out a few minutes ago reading that b/c I was smiling so hard I started to laugh a little bit! I’m so happy for you!!!! Oh man! You’re so amazing! 😀  By the way– I don’t know if i’ve already told you tons of times, but I’ve got your sketches of mr. darci and jane in my photo album and so when people look through my pictures I get to tell them “and my sister is an artist.  She drew those” and they always get kind of quite and pull the photographs a little bit closer to their eyes and they go “man…… she’s like…. really good! Hey, [insert name of family member in the room]! Look at this! His little sister drew these! How old is she?!”And then I go ahead and tell them “yeah, like… this was a while ago– she does art a ton, i need to get some new pictures of her art to show you…” (HINT, HINT) 😉
So this week I pulled off my first Zone Conference as a Zone Leader! 🙂  It was a great zone conference– I got a lot of much needed revelation and comfort and direction from it; it came just in time.  Along with the zone conference came mail.  Andrew– you’re the best. man, I was brushing my teeth reading that comic “complexion” and I started laughing violently/trying not to choke on my tooth paste. my companion in the bathroom immediately started asking me if i was ok.  Man, what a great web comic :).  I also got some mail from Erica Larsen– Happy Birthday– I know I’m quite a few days late, but I hope you had a great day 🙂
We’ve got an Elder Lambson here leaving in a matter of days to go back home.  Today is his last P-Day.  It’s scary to think how fast time is flying by.
I guess my little spiritual thought this week has to do about natural lows and highs in life.  I recently was going through one of those natural lows and even more recently crossed the peak of that mountain; things finally feel like they are all great and taking care of themselves again.  I’ve been thinking a lot about what caused the days that were lows and what got me to the peak or change when things turned around.  It’s such a beautiful part about life that we must fall before we can become more perfect.  Everyone has hard times in life– they are necessary.  Mistakes, moments of doubt, things beyond our control going horribly wrong, bad luck– they bring us down so that we can climb higher; and sometimes that’s just how it has to be.  I don’t know what changed for me to bring me out of my little “low”– maybe the world changed, maybe I changed and started doing things differently, or maybe I just changed my outlook on things. I was reading in 2 Nephi 4 when Lehi, Nephi’s dad, dies.  It doesn’t flat out say it, but I think from context that we can imply that Nephi was having a bit of a rough time right then.  His brothers were being difficult and without the guidance of his father, Nephi may have felt like life had kind of slipped out of his control a little bit.  But he starts to remember all of the great simple things that he knows to be true.  He looks back at the times when God answered his prayers and when he felt God’s love.  He looked back on all the things that his father had taught him. Then he asked himself, if i’ve had all these great happy things in my life then why do I feel so sad right now?  Then he returned to the basics: prayer and faith.  He decided anew that he would pray with unceasing faith– and that he would have the faith to continue with a good attitude to the future.  And he remembered what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for him: a rock.  Even when we forget that that rock is there– it’s always there.  It’s always the same.  It’s familiar to us; it never changes.
I know that that rock is true. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is real.  He sacrificed his life for us so that we can be happy.  In fact, we are here on Earth to be happy– and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most effective way to do that.  I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to be a prophet and to restore the Church of Jesus Christ.  I know that those moments in life of challenge and doubt are natural, supposed to come every once and a while, and they are for our good.  I also know that they are meant to pass and they will pass as we cling to that rock– Jesus Christ, his Gospel, the scriptures– especially the Book of Mormon– and the words of prophets.
Thanks for all your love and support.  I miss you all so much and I think and pray about you often.
Elder Froelich
Ps: Taegan, Amber, Chris, Sam, Zoe and others who I won’t mention to avoid going out too far on a limb because I haven’t gotten very many, if any, letters from you: You’re slackin’.  I’ve been trying to keep the habbit alive here to write as many letters as possible every Wednesday. Sometimes I don’t know who to write– if you want some sweet mail from Siberia, all it takes is a little bit of bugging me for it. 😀


April 15, 2010
Dear Family,

This week Elder Brightwell and I have been musing at our horrible luck.  We don’t know where we picked it up, but it’s been hanging on to us for quite a while now.  While we have had bright moments of hope, like when our washing machine came monday morning (we haven’t had a washing machine for six weeks since it broke).  The technicians set it up and then invited us into the kitchen so they could show us how it works.  They turned it on and said “This is the button to turn the machine on.”  Then they said “all you have to do is turn this dial and pick what mode you want.”  …  … they turn the dial a few times and nothing happens… … they turn it a little harder and try pressing a few more buttons… .. … they press every button they can find on the machine, unplug and plug it back in… .. “well, we’re going to uninstall this for you, take it back to the store and bring you one that works.”  They leave and Elder Brightwell and I go “man, we ALMOST got a washing machine!!”
They did come back however later that day and the machine is now functional in our apartment! Except that the next day the power went out on and off all morning so we couldn’t complete more that one load of wash… and then this morning the water to our apartment was off so we couldn’t do wash let alone take showers….
But despite all of the things that seem to go horribly wrong one after another, I’m in a pretty good mood the last couple of days.  Our zone as a whole is seeing a lot of exciting missionary work happening with 4 or 5 upcoming baptismal dates, the church members here beginning to trust us more and more and the weather! It’s beautiful weather today! To give you an update on the weather, snow is still piled up everywhere and it snows almost every single day still.  We’ve been told that the snow will last until sometime in May, probably.  What we’ve been dealing with the last week or so was the phenomenon of the temperature dancing around 0 C in Siberia.  It makes some days remarkably dirty and muddy and wet and gross (Elder Brightwell last week stepped into a puddle in the street that he was expecting not to be very deep.  He then found himself up to his knees in water :D) and then when it gets cold again you get to walk carefully over newly frozen ice.  But it’s great because it’s starting to warm up and people are beginning to walk around outside more, so they’re more open to talking with us, more open to coming to English club, and more open to coming to church on Sunday!
Sean– thanks for your email to me.  Как раз (it just so happens) that I was thinking a little bit about that myself this week– the idea of those great heroes of the world being nothing more than regular ordinary people who just manage to fake their way through being hero-like.  I was thinking a little about all of the responsibilities that are sometimes heaped on missionaries.  We have to find people to teach, be interesting, change their lives, be friendly and talk to people all the time, look professional, comfort members, always be ready with spiritual thoughts, be able to find scriptures you want to use in lessons, be able to speak russian well enough to answer people’s questions, deal with complicated questions and problems that no 20 year old should have to be in charge of, etc.  I was feeling slightly overwhelmed about it all for a few days.  I realized a few things– one of them being that a lot of times we feel like we can’t fill the shoes that we need to fill.  Sometimes we think that someone else who is more qualified or talented or smart should be taking care of this stuff.  But it’s amazing what we as humans can do if we can just tell ourselves that we are qualified for this work.  Most of the time we’re just scared of stepping out of our comfort zone.  Most of the time it’s just us being afraid of becoming great.  Many times, I think, the difference between those people who doubt their qualifications and those people who somehow become remarkable leaders and heroes is simply a conscious decision to have a positive point of view of “this is possible- and I’m going to do it.”
Another part of this problem that I realized was the problem of us relying too much on our own strength.  When we focus on our own abilities and strength we find ourselves sorely lacking.  A quote I loved from last General Conference: Two men can do anything as long as one of them is the Savior.  When we recognize the need for help from the Savior we can do things that are otherwise not possible.  For my friends who read my emails and are not so into the whole religion thing– it’s still a really interesting aspect of life and the role that faith and religion plays.  Think about the power that a person gains when he sees that he alone cannot complete some difficult task without relying on some unseen unlimited source of strength and ability.  Regardless of where you say this strength will come from, it will come, thus allowing us to be stronger and better than we were in the first place.
K, well i’ve spent enough time rambling on. I’ll just leave it at that and not worry how much sense that made. My time on this computer is almost out and i’m getting stressed out with these constant notifications telling me the computer will shut off soon.
I love you all! I’ll get mail this week for those of you who have sent me things several months or weeks ago! 🙂
–Elder Froelich
Parents/Friends/Family who want to send me packages:
some quick notes on things i’d like…hot chocolate is avaliable here– don’t bothersending it to me. apple cider is not though, so i’m always up for some of that.I want GAMES for english club, game night, and family nights.  Uno, Racko, Skip-bo, Gestures (I know it’s big and probably expensive but it would be SOOOO  amazing to have here in Russia) Taboo, Catchphrase (the electronic game), and any other non-face cards games, especially those that don’t have a limit on the ammount of players. oh! and Pick up sticks, PLEASE! 😀
also:any usa stuff to be a proud american in russiaVA IS FOR LOVERS SHIRTCD’s of music that are appropriate of bands that I love that I could give to russian youth to copy (a compilation of weezer, ben folds, architecture in helsinki, etc– just stuff you guys know i like.  no swear words or questionable themes in the songs please– i’m a missionary)and also….. i’m hesitant to ask for it incase it gets lost in the mail, but my chinese yo yo would be way fun to entertain people with
k, gtg love you!

Russia, April 7, 2010

April 9, 2010
(Click on photo to enlarge)
Dear Family,
This week was an interesting one.  Since last email thing were really great and then they came to a hault yesterday when Elder Brightwell and I just for some reason had a really slow day.  But going back to Thursday when everything was awesome…
I had this crazy idea a while back to make pancakes for english class.  Russian’s have their pancakes that are more like crepes, so for a couple weeks we advertised “American pancakes at English Club!!”  We spent lots of effort with logistics of how we’re going to get the food, how much we’re going to need, how we’re going to have each of the three english groups make their own batches of pancakes within the entire 45 minutes that we are allotted for English club.  After much deliberation we decided to invite everyone to bring their own toppings, plus we would make a vat of maple syrup (which is not a Russian thing).  We bought enough products to make 3 batches of pancakes per English group (9 batches total) and we came up with a time table of how we could somehow organize using the one stove top that we have to cook the pancakes.
Well, it was a success! lots of people we’d never seen before came, we made all the pancakes and even though we were kind of late for everything and we got way behind in our schedule, we did make enough pancakes for everyone, there were enough toppings for everyone and it was a lot of fun.  I’ll include some pictures of us all eating during story time when Elder Lambson did “Little bunny foo foo,” which was excellent.  There was a really good, funny translator that day (we tell a story in English and as practice, someone from the 3rd group translates into Russian for those who don’t understand everything).  And Elder Lambson ended it with “And THEN! She turned him into a GOON! POOF!!!  And that’s how, in America, we got the Easter bunny.              no, just kidding, but she did turn him into a goon.”
After that, we had the first test run of another idea I had– Russian club: help the missionaries speak amazing Russian.  We had a member from English club prepare a lesson for us and he taught us all about sports.  It was great. (the next russian club is tomorrow and we’re being taught about music)
Easter is big here in Russia.  Everyone goes around and says “Christ was resurrected!”  and you’re supposed to answer back “He definitely resurrected!”  They decorate Easter eggs, but don’t hide them.  Old grandmas just give them out on buses and stuff.  And there’s this special cake that you can buy at the store. They look like gigantic cup cakes.  But, like all Russian pastries, they don’t taste as sweet and delicious as they look.  It’s like a sweet bread with some lemony frosting on top with sprinkles.  Not bad.  People would then go to church and light a candle to an icon.  For us, we worked hard on gathering inactive members of our church, hoping that they’d come back for Easter Sunday.  We did have some success with this as we saw a couple inactive members return for the first time in years.  Easter for us ended in going to the other elders to do our laundry (b/c our washing machine broke and we’re waiting on the replacement).  On the bus ride there we saw tons of people out on streets on dates, with their families, or just totally drunk.
Well, that’s my little report for the last week.  I can’t believe you guys are in Puerto Rico…. dad was supposed to take me there like four years ago.
Sean– sounds awesome what you’re doing in DC– it sounds so surreal for me to hear about it.  A drunk guy gave us a message to tell Obama back in America… but I forgot what it was that he wanted us to say.
Well, I hope everyone is doing good. I should get mail on the 17th ish for those of your who have told me that I should be receiving something.  Thanks for the continuous emails and letters, I really appreciate them all.
Oh, also! I get to see general conference this weekend– it’s a week later than you guys, but I’m still very excited.
–Elder Froelich