Russia February 23, 2011 — Happy Man Day!

February 23, 2011

Happy Man Day!

Today Russia celebrates Man Day– a day devoted to men- the defenders of the country.  On this day girls give stuff to guys and say “thanks for being a guy” and everywhere women (like in the grocery store today, after we bought stuff) say to men “happy holiday!” and guys hit the bars hard in the evening.  It’s a good idea for a holiday.

My most exciting news from this last week happened yesterday.
It’s been hard coming from the English clubs in Novo, which I tediously reconstructed, to the English clubs here that are kind of just barely holding on.  Somehow, for some reason, we’ve been getting a crowd of newcommers lately– and they keep inviting their friends, and they keep inviting their friends. It’s magical.  And so, with the beginning of the transfer I decided to take English into my own hands again and we (the 4 of us Elders in charge of the English club on the Right Bank of the city) met together to plan out how we can change English club to make it an exciting, uplifting, happy, and spiritual experience for everyone who comes.  Yesterday was the first implementation of the plan.  The lessons all went better than we had expected (we planned really hard for them and were very happy for such a good result) and I stood up and announced the purpose and how we organize english club, including an explanation of why we share spiritual thoughts and the option to not listen to them.  Then I shared a spiritual thought about (since there were lots of new comers) “what’s up with the Mormon church?” (that’s a translation of how the question would be phrased in Russian) I talked briefly about the membership of the church, the growth of the church, the core beliefs of the church (including, i threw in, how most of the world knows us for our standards– for example: we don’t smoke or drink alcohol, coffee or tea), and then I talked for the rest of the time about what the church means for me personally: that through this church I know how to turn to my Heavenly Father for answers to my prayers, and how the teachings of the church have helped increase my love towards my family.  After the spiritual thought we invited people to stay and talk, and more than ever before people came up to missionaries, mostly asking the question “why don’t you drink tea?!” and “what do you drink, just water??” and “well, do you eat dairy?” 🙂  I talked to 3 curious (and super awesome) university age kids and my companion talked a lot and answered other peoples questions– it was really really cool.  I realized as we walked out of the building that night that this was one of my most favorite feelings on the mission: leaving English club knowing that you nailed it– you made people laugh, helped them speak and learn english, showed them something new about life, raised questions in their heads, and made them leave feeling uplifted and happy.

I spent a little too much time on that stuff, maybe, but I felt really great about that experience.

Other than that– we’re continuing to look for an apartment, work with investigators, talk to people about the church, and– like Ryan Edmunds recommended to me– having fun.

Thanks for emails and mail (I should get mail in a week or so, fyi). I got letters last week from Caitlin, Zoe, Grandpa, Bishop, and Hadley. Thanks guys!

A note from Babooshka (the awesome, crazy old lady in the branch who adopts every missionary who serves in Krasno) that she says ‘hi’ to my fam– and isn’t going to let me leave Russia, because now I’ve got a Russian grandmother, so I can stay here. (I read the Book of Mormon with her every morning over the phone to work on my reading skills)

Alright, that’s all,

–elder froelich

Photo Comments from Tyler (double-click to enlarge):

Here’s my friend: pig. I could have bought him for 250 rubles, and probably less than that with bargaining.
And this is my castle.  I decided to try to compete with Chris’s photos from Estonia.
And last but not least– a pretty good dichotomy of foxes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Russia Feb 16th

February 16, 2011

Dear All,

This last week was a pretty amazing one. I can’t remember for sure, but I’m pretty confident that I can say that I’ve never achieved “Standards of Excellence” before on the mission (largely due to the fact that for the majority of the mission I’ve been a zone leader, taking care of lots of things throughout the week that get in the way of missionary work) until last week. My companion and I set some really high goals and had an amazing planning session on Monday where we figured out how we were going to get everything done– get all the meetings in place and the amount of people we wanted to talk to and find to hear about the Gospel. On Wednesday we saw the first miracle– we just happened to be at the branch building that night when a guy named Roman came by behind us. It seemed at first that he was just a guy who was trying to sneak in behind us to get warm, but after talking to him for a while it turns out he came to the English club years ago. He decided to walk by the branch building that evening to see if there was any way we could help him find a job for a few months. Since the last time he came to English, he has gotten married, had a daughter (and one more child on the way) and has quit smoking. We talked for a while and I immediately felt a great connection with him. He’s a humble guy and he’s very honest and real. We talked for a while about God and prayer and invited him to meet with the branch president about work and then to come to our church service on Sunday. He since then has called us several times– we haven’t met again yet, but we will soon to talk more about prayer and how he can find more spirituality in his life.

Come Saturday night we had seen lots of miracles, but when we called our investigator Michael and found that he couldn’t come on Sunday we looked at the number of meetings that we’d had during the week and things just didn’t add up– there was no way we were going to make our goal– to make standards of excellence. Feeling a little defeated, but feeling like we had done all that we could (we worked very hard and non-stop all week), we just decided to face our Sunday and we’d take what we could get.

On Sunday we got to church to find that a man named Denis had showed up (he’s not a member, but his wife is). He stayed for the Sunday School part of the meeting and since he was the only investigator there, we had a one-on-one meeting with him with a really cool member of the branch. Denis has met with missionaries before but nothing really clicked– he never had the desire to take it seriously. Somehow something has changed with him. During that meeting we talked abouth is serious concerns of his and he decided that he’d like to try it out again and to seriously consider baptism. After church we then had 2 other out-of-the-blue meetings that suddenly made it look possible for us to reach the goals that we had set. After getting home we had one more thing to do to reach these standards– we had to contact 3 more people whose phone numbers we had received. One of the three didn’t pick up his phone. Since he didn’t pick up I looked farther up on the list of people we hadn’t called yet and my finger landed on this guy who we talked to several weeks ago about English club. He’s got a family– a wife and a 1 yr son and I decided to give him a ring. He answered and was very happy that we called and he “of course” remembered us. It turns out that it was his 25th birthday. My companion and I sang him “Happy Birthday” over the phone and he was elated. He told us he’d really like to meet with us, and we set up a meeting for this next Saturday.

Sunday night my companion and I sat in awe not quite understanding how everythign worked out this last week. We felt on top of the world that we had reached this awesome goal, and we ate a lot of ice cream.

I can’t even start to count the miracles on the way to that night that added up. It was a really amazing time for me on my mission– I’d probably say I worked harder last week than ever before, and things worked out last week better than ever before.

———————————–

*ahem*

transfers:
I’m staying with Elder Sage Petersen! We didn’t move into that apartment, so we’re still living out of packed boxes and bags– it’s awful. Hopefully we’ll find an apartment soon. (?)
Also, I haven’t gottn mail yet– that should be tomorrow.
also, nothing really interesting happened with transfers other than that. other than Sister Clark is coming here– my companion was friends with her before his mission, so that’ll be interesting 🙂

I’m overwhelmed with what you guys have all helped me realize more than I have before– that yeah, this is my last transfer… that’s really weird… I still don’t quite grasp that. Thanks for all the encouragement to work harder than ever before– I need it a lot.

I’ve had lots of desire to write letters lately, but really, I guess it doesn’t really matter. If I wrote you guys letters you probably wouldn’t have time to write me back even.

Wish me luck– pray for me to keep going strong until the end!

happy weezer day (feb 14th)

–Elder T Froelich


Russia – February 9, 2011

February 10, 2011

This week I’ve continued my study of the Savior’s life (Jesus the Christ, The Living Christ, the Gospel from John).  I had the opportunity to bear my testimony in Sacrament meeting about the reality of the Savior’s life; especially the way that studying his life seems to illuminate my life.  It’s been amazing for me as I’ve read and studied more indept the miracles and teachings of Christ– I’ve found myself trying to visualize what it would have been like to be there when those things happened.

Our zone has set a big goal together, which is requiring a tough working schedule for my companion and I.  We’re trying this week to leave the house before studies to be able to talk to fathers who are on their way to work, to hopefully get their phone number or address to return later in the evening and teach them with their families.  So far we’ve had some really interesting conversations, including us being told an incorrect address which in turn lead to us walking into a pretty shocking apartment building (shocking because of how dirty and dark it was, the amount of young kids sitting around doing nothing, the amount of activity of furnature going in and out of the place, and the number of girls walking around the place wearing not very much clothing), discussions about why you don’t need to baptize your cat, friendly people who were scared to meet with us but loved talking to us in the cold, and some promising contacts that we’ll go and try to meet with later this week.

We had a short meeting last night with an amazing man named Valentine.  He is very smart, calm, and — he’s just the kind of guy that you’d love to have a civilized meaningful conversation with.  We discussed that we lived with God before this life, and that God created a plan that was perfect enough, with enough rewards at the end that we would agree to come down to this crazy world– fully knowing the kind of suffering and the chances that we would have to return and “make it”.  I love imagining being part of the group of God’s children that realized the risk of the situation and that decided that there was enough hope that our older brother could atone for all the rest of us to go to Earth and follow the plan.

I tend to think a lot about things I’d like to do when I get home these days. It’s something that I really haven’t had to seriously deal with up until this point on my mission.  It’s not a bad thing, but it’s just another one of the millions of ridiculous mental games that serving a mission includes.

Thanks for emails, pictures, songs, talks, support, news about Architecture in Helsinki, wishes for me to have a happy Weezer day, and lists being created of things to do with Elder Froelich when he gets home!

–Elder Tyler Froelich

Hey, PS. Last week after I emailed you guys, my companion and I went to a moving dinosaur exhibit! IT WAS AMAZING! Maybe I’ll attach some photos– i don’t know how much time is left in this email session.  But I got to see moving plastic dinosaurs last week– that’s enough of an update for you, mom, about how i’m doing mentally, emotionally and physically lately. 🙂


February 2, 2011

February 6, 2011

Dear All,

I’ve had a really good last few days. It was a big downer for me to be out and be sick for so long, but something changed as I sat down and decided to find ways to use my time much more effectively as I recover and as my companion catches my sickness. I started to read more heavily from Jesus the Christ and I’m getting to parts that are really interesting to me. I also started working on my goal to memorize the Living Christ in Russian before the end of my mission. I memorized it in English several years back as a Sunday School challenge and I got a huge bag of M&M’s for it. In Russian I’ve been working on it for 2 days and I have the first 3 paragraphs done already– almost half way. Also, after listening to the talk that Ryan Edmunds sent me along with another talk called the Meaning of the Atonement, my time at home has been filled with meaningful thoughts about the Savior’s life and his Atonement. It’s amazing how much more colorful and meaningful and deep life gets when you increase your study about the Savior’s life. I find myself thinking about Him more than ever and my thoughts are more uplifting and positive. It has brought me a new burning desire to teach others about Christ and his Atonement, and it has given me a lot of strength through the frustrating times where I’m too sick to meet with our investigators. I’m getting over the sickness– probably just a couple more days, but my companion is hitting it hard now.

We had a meeting with Michael on Friday. It was interesting. I felt totally, as the slang termonology goes, pwnd, after that lesson. It went for 2 hours. That man has a remarkable gift of talking and not stopping. He told us about his job– which is very interesting. I don’t know what it is in English, but he uses zodiac signs and stuff to heal people. He knows tons of stuff, he had brought his wife again and this time was in a nice suit and tie. He’s a respectable guy and just has some really interesting quirks about him. We really paired him up with the right member because the branch president is VERY excited for this man’s progress. We have another meeting with him today, we’ll see how it goes. He knows his stuff about the Book of Mormon– he told us all about how Joseph Smith got the plates and everything. The branch president told him more about temples and how we can be sealed not only for this life but also for the life to come. I was overwhelmed by the end of the lesson– it was a lot of vocab that was new to me and he just talked so much. I read after that meeting in Jesus the Christ about the parable of the pearl of great price. The parable is about a man who collects pearls for a living, always searching for the best pearl. When he finds this pearl of great price, he sells all his other pearls and precious things to get this one pearl of great price. I think it’ll have to be the same way with Micheal. This man has lots of knowledge about spiritual things, but he realizes that he’s found something that is on a completely higher level. It’ll really just be a matter of if he’s willing to give away all of his other notions and previous beliefs for the Restored Gospel. He’s an interesting guy.

Another really cool event happened. Yesterday we went out to find a new apartment. The realators were these two girls– probably about 27 years old. The first thing they said to us was “do you have to be wearing those name tags? can you take them off when we go in?” They then went on to tell us how we should tell the landlady that we’re students in the city– we shouldn’t say anything about Jesus Christ. As we talked a lot with them about what we do in the city and how we’re not really interested in lying to the landlady upfront, it became aparent that it wasn’t so much that the land lady was afraid of “cultist” but it was these girls that thought we sacrifice animals in our apartment and do really weird things. We had a lot of time with these girls as we were waiting for the land lady to return to sign for the apartment– we ended up showing them our pictures, talking about our families, and about our church and our missions. I was able to teach several principles of the Gospel to them, including prayer, the word of wisdom, and, yes, the law of chastity. I think they’ll come to English club– they seemed intrigued about a lot of things about us. It was a really interesting evening. But it was great to see how they changed as they found out more about us and how normal we are.

anyway, i’m out of time. i love you all– i’ll get mail in two days, so hopefully i’ll get letters and packages that you guys have sent me in the past little bit.

–elder froelich