Russia – September 29, 2010

NOTE:  Tyler’s birthday is October 3rd– you can wish him a happy one at
Hey– things are going great. I’m adding this part of the email last– I just had some bullet point-like things to say, so here they are
General Conference:
We will watch General Conference on the 16th and 17th.  That being said– I’d appreciate little comments like “oh man, the second talk of the second session was AMAZING! take good notes on THAT ONE!” or “my favorite talk was elder ________’s, it was about the general topic of __________”
But overall, as a missionary, General Conference is like Christmas, and it’s kind of tantalizing when we have to wait two weeks extra, so keep that in mind when you write me. Comments that would prepare me in a positive way for it, and direct my attention to things that will  be of really great help to me so that I can take good notes would be great.  But don’t write about it as if I already saw it– that’s just frustrating.
Dear Grandpa/Grandma Froelich,
When I show people my photo album, the second picture is my family standing in front of the Nauvoo temple with you two.  I explain that my grandparents served in this temple for a period of time as missionaries.
Our last baptism was a woman named Lena.  She has a daughter who is about 18 who is still investigating, waiting for an answer, and Lena is divorced from her husband.  Something that I thought would be really incredible for you to hear (being temple workers) is the key aspect to her conversion.  She had been investigating for a while and the sister missionaries were working towards setting a baptismal date with her.  The Sunday church meeting was different that day: district council– when all the branches met together for some exciting news about the combining of the 1st and 2nd branches, and the leadership changes for that to happen.  During this meeting were also announced the 3 baptisms that we had had the day before.  And also announced in this meeting was the Kiev Temple Dedication.  The mission president himself made this announcement, and encouraged members to get a temporary recommend if possible to attend the dedication.  Lena, sitting in the meeting, suddenly became very interested.  After that meeting, she met with the sister missionaries, where she told them that she had recently had a dream that she was to serve in a temple in the future, and that while President Trejo was announcing this temple, she knew that she was meant to someday work and serve at that temple.  She set a baptismal date, and was baptized two weeks later.  The best part is that no one ever explained to her the concept of Mormon temples, or even that members could have callings to serve full time as a temple worker.  All the missionaries agree that she definitely looks like a Latter-Day Saint, even before she was baptized. She has light colored hair and a very nice, sweet face; she’s about 40 years old, I’d say.  She speaks limited English.
So a request to you, grandma and grandpa– I think it would mean a lot to her if you were to write a short letter congradulating her and testifiying of the blessings that come from temple work (keep in mind that she is a very recent convert and doesn’t know much about temples yet, and that if you write simply enough she should be able to read it without a translator.  Also, her daughter will also probably be interested in reading it– you could write a little to her, too.  Her daughter is all ready for baptism– she’s just waiting for a confirmation that it’s all true.)  I just got the idea that it would be a very significant thing for her to have– almost like a physical representation of this dream/goal of hers to serve in the House of the Lord.  You can send it through pouch mail, or even email and I can just print it out– whatever works best for you (time is probably not a HUGE problem. I imagine I’ll be in Novosibirsk for quite a while still)
Grandma Harlan and Great Grandma Sara–My Mom told me that you sent me a birthday card/gift– thank you so much.  Great Grandma Sara– I really appreciate the letters I’ve gotten from you the past few months.  I’m so blessed to have your care and support.  It means a lot to me that you both have remembered my birthday– even when I’m so far away.
I feel especially guilty about birthdays right now because I know I’ve forgotten/will forget a TON of birthdays that have recently been/will recently be.  It’s harder than you’d think to remember birthdays when you’re living in this other missionary-world.  Facebook doesn’t exist, friends and family only exist in “paper” and “package” form (you can never really know if they’re all not just something you thought up, as part of this “past life” that “once was”), and we’re not on a 4 week/month calendar, but rather the 6 weeks/transfer calendar, not to mention the missionaries’ birthdays that are hard enough to remember, and the members’ birthdays and the investigators’ birthdays.  So to everyone who recently modified or will modify their answer to the question “how old are you?” I would like to officially apologize for forgetting/sending a letter too late/remembering except for on wednesday when you have to write some silly email to lots of people.
I’m hesitant to make this list, but just from the resources that I do have, I’d like to officially note the following:
Whether I managed to get something to you or not for your birthday: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
And for those who would be interested to know things about my birthday– I have no idea how it may be celebrated.
I got an AMAZING package from home with a WEEZER the dog book in it (it’s my new favorite book) (I’ve opened a few of the presents due to impatience) and I just got ANOTHER package from home that’s longer and less square than the first one, and I got a letter from Zoe and a postcard from Caitlin, and one addressed “Harlan” those will all add to my birthday-ness :).  What are we allowed to do for birthdays for missionaries?  Well we wouldn’t want to do anything that makes us feel guilty about how we used valuable time.  I’ll be going to church like regular on Sunday, and if there are any secretly planned birthday cake/singing/festivities planned for me it would probably be no more than an hour.  But– not super important.  Birthdays are weird things on a mission– you can never decided if you want to celebrate it or not.  I’ve gotten enough packages lately and books about dogs named Weezer that I’m pretty happy with how things are– even if there are no other surprises.
Anyway, I’ve rambled on a lot now, and I think I’m pretty out-of-time….
a quick note on the weather for those who are interested– it’s getting a bit colder. today it rained and yellow leaves are everywhere! It’s beautiful and the grey cloudy skies, rain, and leaves on the sidewalks make me really happy.  Next week will very possibly get really cold– no one knows.  A city in the mission has already reported having seen snow.
–Elder Froelich
PS Someone get me Spencer Leake’s mission address ASAP!!!!!!!  I can’t believe he’s in the MTC!!!!!!!!! 😀  (mission and mtc address, please, and email, and get me on the writing list if he sends out bulk emails, and so forth)

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