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.

 

 

 

 

 


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


Russia 1/26/2011

January 27, 2011

Well, a lot has happened the past few days:

I got my visa renewed in Helsinki
I started getting sick
I was sick all day on Tuesday (with some sort of a cold– nothing to worry about, mom)
2 sister missionaries from the zone here in Krasnoyarsk die (go home to America) today
We changed apartments today (we may be moving again in just a week though… it’s complicated)

Also, later today we have a meeting with Michael– it’ll be our second meeting.

So, with the sickness and moving and sisters dying and all, I’m kind of overwhelmed.

Finland was a lot of fun– we met up with my friend Juha who I met last trip and he made us an authentic Finnish meal (a delicious salad, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, Finnish bread, and to top it all off, traditional Finnish licorice icecream).  It was awesome and probably the best meal I’ve had since…. in a long time.

We also got to go to the temple in Finland. I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever make it back to that country again– we’ll see. It’s pretty strange– I know the city of Helsinki better than I know Krasnoyarsk.

Thanks for the mp3s, Brother Edmunds and Justin!  and just a reminder that if you guys send me any mp3’s, i have a very very easy way of listening to them right now. So the best way to send any music to me for the next few months is via email.

–Elder Tyler Froelich  


Russia – January 19, 2010

January 20, 2011

(Double-click to enlarge photo)

 

Alright:

Some of you have been asking me about sending me music! Exciting news! We’ve got this super cool cd player here that has an input for flash drives. So– all you have to do to send me music is to email me the mp3’s and i’ll save them on this little guy here and I plug them in and we’re good to go.  So any mormon tabernacle choir, any classical music, any interesting conference talks or any other mp3 that you think i might enjoy– send it my way!  (worse comes to worse if it’s not “appropriate” music then I delete it and/or don’t listen to it). (this could also be voice recorded messages… just a thought i had…) (it plays WAV and MP3)

Also, I’m heading to Finland tomorrow! It’ll be my last visa trip– which is pretty wild.  I don’t have a “death date” yet, for those of you who have asked. But the last day I can legally be in the country is 90 days from tomorrow.  So either in exactly 90 days or even a few days before that (it’ll be close to 90 though).  I’ll let you all know when they give me my official date.

My new companion is so awesome.  Elder Petersen. He’s from Seattle, he listens to the same music that I do (except for we don’t have a ton of bands in common– we’re both striking gold by exchanging music recommendation lists), he has the most bizzare stories ever, he was in my zone in Novosibirsk, and we get along great.  I’m really excited to be serving with him.

This week while we were walking around outside, my companion stopped a certain moustached man and told him that we have a message about God’s plan.  We talked to this man for about 2 minutes.  Within those two minutes he was intrigued to hear about the Book of Mormon, clarified that “oh, so you guys are selling a book?”, found out that “no, we want to give this book to you as a gift if you’ll read it”, and then promised us that he would read the entire thing in two days.  Well, we called him back 2 days later and he apologized– he was only in the middle, but in his defense, it was a hard book that you had to read kind of slowly.  He asked us to call him back the next day.  So we did. This time he went on and on about how this was one of the best books he’s ever read, that it wasn’t a coincidence that we met on the street, and that he’s very very thankful to us.  He also told us that everyone in his apartment building also needs a copy– because now they’re really interested in this book, too.  We asked if we could meet and we could give him more copies. He agreed.

We arranged for the branch president to be there with us (the branch president is the first man baptized in Krasnoyarsk– 13 years ago) and we waited VERY NERVOUSLY as the clock ticked past the appointment time. I called him up, praying that he would still somehow show up and—- yep, he was just a little lost. He got to the building and had brought his wife with him.  We sat down and talked for about 30 minutes and he agreed to take the missionary lessons.  We’ll see where this goes from here, but so far it’s been pretty miraculous.  This experience has taught me that the Lord really does prepare people– even the people that we casually pass on the street.  I’ll of course keep you updated with his progress, but if you would pray for Michael (Mee ha eel in russian, but Michael is the translation) to have a soft heart, we would really appreciate it.

I’ll get mail in about 30 minutes if I had any for me in Novo…

and I think that’s about it….

i love you guys!

let’s see if photos will work….

–elder froelich



January 12, 2011 Krasnoyarsk!

January 12, 2011

Wow.

Transfers: I’m in Krasnoyarsk (not as a zone leader) with Elder Sage Petersen!  My zone leaders are Elder Byers and Elder Lilinquist.  There are also two companionships of sisters, Fronk and Fesenko; Reed and Filatova.  
For those of you who follow transfers (sister calderwood), here are the other highlights:
Rupper is AP with McConnaughey.  Wheeler is shotgunning Irkutsk with Prokopsevs.  Ryan Nelson is in Irkutsk with a newer missionary. Player is still in Irkutsk.  Whitchurch is in the office with Birther, all the sisters got moved out of small cities into the three big ones (omsk, krasno, novo)… so yeah… oh. Sister Vasilevskaya is training in Novo.

I got off my first train today at 2pm and walked out into the Krasnoyarsk air and was greeted by my zone– including the Senior Couple here– the Aleman’s.  It was an interesting train ride.  The authorities gave us lots of trouble with baggage and limits and this and that and it was mostly them being difficult.  But I made it to Krasno.  This city is amazing.  It’s so beautiful– the architecture is great, it’s colorful, filled with life, and everything just looks exciting.

I’ll be going to Finland next week and when I get my visa information I’ll be able to see clearly how much time I have left in Russia. I have decided to take the earlier date to come home, which means that have 90 days left after I get my visa (so the 100 day count down has already begun).  It makes me kind of dizzy and confused to think that I’ll be coming home in just 3 months– and that my time in Krasno will be just half of what I had in Novosibirsk (and that went by fast enough as it is).  So by all expectations I’ll by “dying” in Krasno, and this last move to a new area was my last on my mission (although something crazy could happen and I could still be assigned to another city from now until then).

It was rough leaving Novosibirsk.  A mission is such an incredible toll on the brain.  The amount of incredibly sincere handshakes accompanied by lengthy Russian “I wish you all the best”‘s and how often you’ve got to throw that painful notion that you’ll never see this person again in the back of your head leads to some pretty intense emotions and thoughts about life.  There were so many beautiful things that happened in Novosibirsk.  I can’t even begin to explain all of the moments the last week or so that are very dear to my heart.

And, well in line with an observation that I often make “life is so weird!”– now it’s time for me to sprint to the finish line.  I’ve got three more months to do everything else that I’ll ever do as a missionary in Russia.

Thanks for all the letters and emails.  I got several Christmas cards recently– thanks, and Dad, I got your letter…. and now I’m not in Novosibirsk, so I’ll get my letters in one big delivery every several weeks instead of every several days.  (But that shouldn’t stop you from writing– remember– you only have 3 more months to write letters to Elder Tyler Froelich.)

Well, I think that’s about it. I’ll try adding photos this time, but if it doesn’t work, I should have a bunch for next time of the city of Krasnoyarsk!

–Elder Froelich