(Note: We received permission from Derek's mission president for us to call him to tell him that my mom had passed away. So we called and talked to him late last night. He sounded great!)
good...morning, right? or are you still up? it is morning for me.
it was good to hear your voices, even if it was for bad news. made me excited for Christmas, that will be a good eight or twelve hours, ha ha. I'm really sorry about grandma, but i guess it was just time. all i can think to say is all the old cliche lines, but you seem to be doing well, so keep up that, i guess.
otherwise, I've already said to my parents a lot of what i planned on saying in this email, but i guess there is the rest of you who read these thingies.
i got the packages!!!! all four! and another from the Groesbecks, Serafines, and Davidsons!!!!!! having a huge family pays off. thanks so much for the stuff, namely: vanilla wafers!!! new socks!!! Christmas tree!!! silly little bands!!! those will come sure in handy? and the stocking!!!! and way too much chocolate!!! little kids are going to love me. also, sister lena said she was going to be my very best friend, as i said i got a bunch of American food. and thanks groesbecks davidsons and serafines for the CD (i love Christmas music!) and new tie and that awesome plan of salvation puzzle (I've been meaning to get one!) I have the best family ever! everyone here is pretty impressed.
Before i forget: that's awesome Katelyn (mission call), I'm so excited for you! i hope it comes this week, i want to know next week. as for advice, i don't think there is all too much you can do to prepare for something like this other than just doing it. one thing i would say is to just make an effort to be friends with those around you, companions, members, investigators. it isn't easy, especially comps. but it is worth the effort. also congrats Matt and Stacy, give Graham Stuart a big sloppy one from me. thanks for the note, Groesbecks, glad to hear things are somehow getting along without out me there. surprising.
kind of a strange week. Tuesday we had a lot of lessons, then Wednesday only one. Thursday we had a bunch again, then none on Friday, and one on Saturday. it snowed again, and therefore we had a lot of canceled appointments. the weather controls the people of Ukraine. there were lots of people missing from church. "there is snow on the ground! are you crazy?!" though i will say that one babooshka on her way to church yesterday slipped and broke her arm in like five places. I've almost died a few times as well. it is slippery.
our district is also a 'test district', (have i told you this already?) which means: we go out to work from 9 to 12 am, working only with nonmembers (lots of trying to find former investigators and tracting), then get the rest of our studies sometime else during the day. also one day a week we are dedicating to only nonmembers as well, so no meetings with members or less actives. it is an interesting idea that takes some planning, and it doesn't always work, like on Tuesday. we left at nine, worked, had lessons until about nine thirty at night. that was a really long day, and i really need my studies. it is interesting doing something a little different, there is good with bad, as always. we'll see how the rest of the transfer goes.
this has all been really vague. specifics... have i told you about our neighbors? they hate our guts for some reason. probably because a few years ago they knocked down my apartment's door and stole everything, then went to jail for a while for it. yeah that is probably why. But recently they have been all up in our faces. knocking on our door and ringing our doorbell, just trying to annoy us. we don't answer the door to anyone, let alone that creepy guy we can see through the door hole. this other lady also started yelling at us yesterday. we share a door with them, it is hard to explain. she said: dorageeye tavarishee, dear comrades, then yelled for a while. we said, OK, we are going to church. we have a really nice door now.
we had a good meeting with this guy roman, he is an English student, so i don't think he is too interested in the church (we meet him at his house, so it is allowed). but gosh him and his mom are so friendly. i mean, we are teaching him English for free, so he has good reason to be nice. but not everyone is. once in a while we meet nice, normal people and i realize there is this idea of 'hope' floating around even Ukraine. people have so much potential to be wonderful- kind, happy, Christlike, i guess sums it up. it seems so easy, and i wonder why more people aren't better to each other, until i look at myself and realize, no, it's not easy. but that potential makes people so worth the effort. i guess that's what missionaries try to do, help people realize their potential, realize that they are children of an all powerful God who hasn't forgotten about them. it is hard to see, to believe sometimes. I've been trying hard to keep that in mind as I've been here. sometimes (often) in busses the people are so crammed in, you can't move your arms, you are stuck and sweaty, and everyone just smells awful, and most of them are at least partly drunk, some all of the way, and you feel like an animal just being herded someplace. doesn't really seem too kingly, noble, but once in a while you see it. i don't know what 'it' is, and i don't know how or why i sometimes see it, but after our English/ spiritual lesson with roman, i just had that playing in my head- 'he is a son of God.' missions are interesting.
what else, shto yesho... did i mention I'm really excited to talk to you on Christmas? oh! i read my first skazka, or child story fairy tail thing. it was in my grammar book, about a little fox. it was short and simple, a story for little kids. i feel like it is a big milestone in my Russian learning. next in the grammar book is a full short story by Chekhov.
I've shown several people my pictures recently and every time, without fail, they specifically mention you, mom- 'kak krasiva!' 'how beautiful!' every time. 'znayoo', 'i know.'
hm, investigator news... yoolie was busy Sunday, so didn't come to church/ we haven't met with him since last week when he said he wanted to be baptized. i don't think he really understands it is a really big thing. 'the twenty fifth right? good, we still have time.' hopefully we can meet with him in the next week and explain to him what exactly baptism is going to mean. Alexander, I'm pretty sure we are going to drop. he is an eternal investigator. i think that phrase is funny. our last meeting he was fairly drunk. he is really smart, believes it all, understands it all, just doesn't DO anything. too bad, he is a really nice guy. did i talk about alla? she is a professional fencer, though she is paralyzed. we had a meeting with her a little while ago with her ex-j dub (Jehovah's Witness) friend. they both seemed somewhat interested. the ex-j dub said he sinned, so they kicked him out of the church. but they were cool, i really respect alla, she is amazing. so... i still hope for maxime. he is sooo legit. he is my one real hope. pray for these people.
yeah, I've learned some new Russian words, Nate. here is one: lavatchka. it means 'little bench in a peasant hut'. diminuatives are crazy in Russian, but fun to play around with. i guess you don't know what I'm talking about.
i think I've run out of things to write. I'm going to go buy a CD player, or maybe something else to play music on. ha ha, lady gaga just started playing in this club. i was really surprised when i found out that both her and Stephanie Meyer had made it to Ukraine. the elders quorum president keeps asking me if i can join him and get 'baptized' into the orthodox church with him on the seventh of January. everyone just jumps into some melted snow in the shape of a cross, and he does it every year apparently. i think i might. OK now I'm just rambling.
well have a good week all. ya boodoo. i will. merry Christmas! church is true! Christ was born and saved us all! i love christmas.
with respect, elder brimley