Monday, December 26, 2011


Hello all! For the family this is interesting since I just talked to you yesterday! In regards to that I am happy I got to talk to you. I know that often I am not the best at showing my excitement but I was looking forward to yesterday all week. I'll admit I was surprised by how natural it was talking to you, as if it hadn't been 6 months since we last talked. 

Our investigator got baptized on Christmas Eve! I'll admit that I was really happy that everything went well. I'll admit at times I got very stressed especially when it was 15 minutes before the baptism was supposed to start and she was not there. There were actually three baptisms that day and we combined them. All went well and Valeria felt great. Then on Sunday (yesterday) she received the Gift of the Holy Ghost and she was beaming.

I'll admit that Christmas did not really feel like Christmas since Russians celebrate New Years like Christmas. But it was still a special day. 

Our sink should be fixed today so we can have cold water in our kitchen. We came home on Thursday after a great meeting to find that our sink was leaking and we had a good layer of water on the floor. Quickly we turned off the water and called our landlord. He said he would be there at 11pm but was almost an hour late. He didn't fix it because he did not have a new pipe so he said he would return on Monday. Surprisingly I made it through all the phonecalls and dealing with cranky Russian neighbors just fine. I only cried from relief when it was all over and I realized how stressful and nerve-wracking the situation really was. I'll admit I opened one of my Christmas presents from Sarah that night and it happened to be the scripture Proverbs 3:4 "Trust in theLord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." That scripture was a great comfort to me.  

I am excited for the new year and for the chance to rededicate myself and evaluate where I am and where I want to be. In some ways it works out nicely that the New Year corresponds roughly to my hump day (9 months on a mission!) because I realize how fast time is fleeting and how precious and sacred this opportunity is. Now is the time for me to express my love to God through my actions and how Him my gratitude and appreciation. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wonder of wonders, Miracle of miracles

This week I am very excited to write you all and tell you about all the miracles I have seen this week. First off, I have a new companion Sister Workman. She is different from most of my other companions and we have a lot of similar interests in movies and tv shows. But it will be interesting to see how our working relationship will be. One thing I have learned is that it is one thing to be friends with your companions but being friends does not always guarantee a good working relationship. I'll admit that out of necessity I need to be more proactive in speaking Russian, which is scary because I can't use the excuse that my companion should know because she has been out longer. Sister Workman has been in Russia one transfer less than I have.

Thursday we had our transfer meeting and we got to meet the new missionaries and exchange companions. We had our stake Christmas concert and it was fabulous. The sister missionaries sang "What Child Is This?" and afterwords several people said that we sounded like angels. Most importantly, a lot of people came! Members, inactives, people from english club. It was great to see the hall so filled. And some people stood in the back for the entire program. 

The rest of the week we have been hunting inactives and trying to make contact with as many as possible. We have also starting carolling as a district and it is a lot of fun. Sometimes people give us strange or dirty looks but occasionally some people will stop and listen. But lately we have had some success with inactives. We dropped by one lady and she let us in! We explained that we were new in the area and trying to get to know everyone. We were only able to drop off our chocolate bar but she said she would come to church and see off there. 

Sunday was a day full of miracles. I was so nervous for Sunday because there was a lot to get done to prepare Valeria for baptism. I poured my heart out in prayer that everyone would work out and that I would have the language abilities to communicate everything.

First off, we attended International ward and Maria was confirmed! She was even able to be confirmed in Tagalog, her native language. I was so happy. Then we had a lesson and talked about her ancestors. She is becoming worried for their salvation and has been thinking of them and wants to do their work for them. She pointed out that since she is the only member in her family doing their work really is her responsibility. 

Then Russian church! Valeria AND Anna came! Anna is a lady who came a few weeks ago and no one knew that she wasn't a member. So when our ward mission leader asked if we got her number we were shocked to find out she was not a member. Since then I got her number and have called her a few times. When I asked if she wanted to learn more about the Church she mentioned that she had some questions and said we could meet after the holidays. I found out later from Sister Sorenson (President and Sister Sorenson came to our church) that Anna told Sister Sorenson that she appreciated the calls us sisters made. Really, the phone calls were very short and I had hoped that I was not bothering her.

I'll admit I have been very stressed out about Valeria. She has not been able to meet for two weeks and wants to be baptized. Everytime we tried to meet with her outside of church our meeting would be cancelled for one reason or another. So I was beginning to get worried and our lesson on Sunday would determine how things would work out.

After Sacrament meeting we had our lesson with Valeria and we were able to have a member on the lesson. That member really made all the difference because we had a lot of commandments to talk about with her. But Valeria wants to be baptized and that desire has helped motivate her. We discussed prophets, law of Chastity, Word of Wisdom, Tithing, and the Sabbath Day. We managed to get through all of them and it she really enjoyed learning about them. Afterwards she said that she felt really encouraged and comforted. Valentina, the member, was great. Since she is a convert she had several stories to back up her testimonies and made sure that we did not forget to cover anything. Really, she was inspired by the spirit because as we talked about Word of Wisdom Valentina shared her struggle with giving up coffee and pointed out that it was hard at first. Later in the lesson Valeria said that she will give up coffee and said it would be hard but when we taught her she seemed to accept it and she was willing to give it up. Valentina was also very encouraging and pointed that that at her baptism she did not have a strong testimony about prophets but a few weeks later her branch president assigned her to give a talk prophets. She said as she learned more and grew in the gospel that strong testimony came. All in all I think that Valeria is ready for baptism. 

The miracles don't stop there. Two inactives came to church! And one of them was an older lady with whom we meet with about every other week. She has a cane and does not walk well so she would need a ride to come to church. So imagine my surprise when I got to Relief Society and I saw her sitting there. I was ecstatic. Then the lady who said she would see us at church came! 

Today we went ice skating as a zone on Red Square. It was a lot of fun and I didn't fall! Afterwards we went to Chili's. While I was at Chilis the phone rang and I answered. Last week we went inactive hunting and stopped by one lady's house. She was not home but we were able to get into her building and left her some chocolate and a liahona. Well, she called us and when I asked if we could meet she said yes! The Lord is richly pouring out more miracles and blessing than I could ever hope for. Truly, the Christmas season is a time of miracles and is perhaps softening some hearts. 

That was my week. All in all my weekend was pretty incredible. As I already said Christmas truly is a magical time and a time of miracles. All of this reminds me that this truly is the Lord's work and it comes in His timing. This has also reminded me that God truly hears our prayers and answers them. The answer does not come immediately but it comes. Also, I know that those things that worry us or are of great importance to us are very important to our Heavenly Father.

About the weather! There is more snow now which only started to stick yesterday. I still have not pulled out my winter jacket but it has started to get colder and I wear my boots more often. As to the new native sisters, I would love to serve with any of them. They are all great and full of faith. 

Time is just about up. Thank you for your prayers. They are always needed and always greeted with great love from me. Thank you for all you are doing to help me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Transfers, Kiev, and a Baptism oh my!

First off, I will answer questions about the protest: I have no idea what happened. We got a phone call from our district leader on Friday telling us to stay away from the Center of Moscow and not to wear name tags. As for Saturday (the day of the protest) I have no idea what went on or what the protests were about. I wasn't even in Moscow. I was in Kiev. But more on that later.

It has been an interesting week. First, Maria was baptized yesterday! It turned out to be a great baptism. The only day off she had was Sunday so it happened yesterday after church. She was so excited and although not a lot of people were able to come a good number showed up. A few of her Filipino friends came, a few American members, and some of the Africans. The baptism started on time and her friend, the one that introduced her to the church, gave a talk on baptism. I gave a talk on the Holy Ghost and I think it went well. I'll admit I prepared for the talk but I had no time during the week to write anything down. But I just looked at Maria as I spoke and the words seemed to flow. After she was baptized she could not stop crying because she was happy. It was a really good day. 

Afterwards we practiced for the stake Christmas concert which will be this Thursday. As a stake we are singing O Holy Night in Russia. It's a shame none of you will be there because it is going to sound great.

On Friday we found out about transfers. I am staying in Sokolniki but Sister Rasmussen is leaving and I will be senior companion. I am pretty nervous but now the phone will be my responsibility. I am not training but my trainer, Sister Bullough is training again and this time a native. She is pretty scared and nervous so I told she would be alright. After all, I am still alive. Her response was, "You were easy to train! I didn't really have to do anything!" Sister Rasmussen will actually be serving with Sister Thrall, my MTC companion, and Sister Horspool, who was in my ward at BYU. I will be getting Sister Workman, Sister Horspool's companion right now. Although I have only been in my area for 8 weeks after this transfer I will be the second oldest missionary in the area. 

On Saturday we went to Kiev for our visa trip. Because Ukraine changed for day light savings and Russia did not we did not have a lot of time in Kiev. But at least we had time to do baptisms and we were allowed to sit in the Celestial Room. I'll admit that I am very nervous for next transfer for a lot of reasons so it was good to be out of the world and just feel peace for a little while. It was also fun to talk to the elders I arrived in Moscow with. It was also interesting to see how the dynamics and people have changed in the past 3 months. 

I'll admit it does not feel like Christmas is about 2 weeks away. Honestly, these next two weeks are going to be very stressful with transfers, the concert, and trying to get Valeria ready for baptism. We have not meet with her in two weeks. First she got sick and then work has kept her pretty busy. Luckily, President told Sister Rasmussen that she can come on splits with me to help with Valeria because there is still a work that needs to be done and if we can't meet this week we are going to have to move her baptism. In my experience, moving baptisms makes baptisms harder. We had a training this past week too and we discussed baptism dates and President pointed out that as soon as you set a date it is like painting a target for Satan. Ever since we set the date all sorts of obstacles have been thrown at us. 

So between training, transfers, Kiev, and the baptism not a whole lot has happened. We are continuing to meet with some less actives and trying to track down inactives. I'll admit the beginning of the week had some very hard moments which seem like a dream and I would rather keep them in the past. So essentially that has been our week, crazy and all over the place. 

Mission life is going well. There are definitely challenges but so far I am surviving and my President tells me that I am thriving. I know I have changed and progressed but sometimes it is hard to see the daily progress. But long term progress begins with daily decisions. I am doing good and excited to see how things will go. Now is a time where I need to have faith and really trust the Lord. In other news I am two books away from finishing the Book of Mormon and it really has blessed my life. More importantly I have learned more about the Atonement and been working to apply it in my life. 

I love you all and I am thankful that the Lord is watching over you in my stead. I know that this is the Lord's work and that He loves all of us and has so many blessing in store for us. 

-Sister Daniel

PS:It is official that missionary are going to Turkey. In January one of our senior couples, an Emeritus Seventy, are moving to Turkey to begin preparing the area to receive full time missionaries. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Just another week

This past week I'll admit that not a whole lot happened. 

Last Tuesday was exciting. We got 2 meeting on a day that was not Sunday! It was pretty great although there was a lot of running around because we have district meeting on that day as well. Our last lesson for the night is that it was with an inactive member and her investigator husband. I'll admit we did not have a lot of time to plan so the lesson went all over the place. But a good thing came from it. We ended up gearing the lesson more towards the inactive wife and talked about the blessing of going to church. As we talked I told our families inexperience in Hong Kong and how long it took to get to churchand what an influence that had on my wife. At the end we asked if she would come to church, expecting that she would refuse. Instead she said, "Probably." And she said after listening to my story the 40 minutes on the train didn't seem so bad. In the end she did not end up coming to church yesterday but for that brief moment the Holy Ghost touched her and made her consider how important coming to church and taking the sacrament really is. 

The rest of the week I was sick. Despite being sick we still tried to find inactive members and try to make contact with them. Friday was probably the day I felt the worse so I ended up sleeping a lot but on the plus side by Saturday I felt a whole lot better and had more energy to work. Being sick is the worst. You want to work harder because you are sick and don't want to waste time but at the same time you get tired a lot easier. One night in particular I felt weak and then all these negative thoughts popped into my mind. All my weaknesses hit me full force. Thankfully, I recalled a talk from General Conference that I read that day and I analyzed those thoughts and to discover their source. Had I dwelled on them I would have felt discouragement so I tried my best to cast them out and come up with a plan to be better. 

The week had a lot of potential but a lot of the people we planned to meet with got sick as well so we continued to try to find and contact inactives. On Saturday I had the opportunity to help someone with their French. A member from Perovo is taking a French class and asked if I could help her. She did really well but I forgot how hard French pronounciation is at first. She would say a word and then she would have me say it. After she heard me she would look at the word and asked, "How do all those letters make that sound?!" She began to get frustrated so I told her about my experiences with French and helped her feel hope. I'll admit helping her gave me flashbacks to the MTC and my first year French class. 

Church yesterday was pretty exciting! We went to International in the morning and had a great fast and testimony meeting. During the meeting I looked at our investigator, Maria and she looked a little restless. When there was a break between testimonies she stood up and bore her testimony! She bore testimony about the power of prayer, the Book of Mormon, Jospesh Smith, and President Monson. I was so impressed and so happy because she was glowing. Afterwards we met with her briefly to plan her baptism. Everything is ready to go and she can't wait. I count myself as lucky to have been able to see and be a small part of her conversion process. She is someone I admire because her faith has led her to action. When her friends told her about the Word of Wisdom she gave up coffee and tried the commandment and the Lord has blessed her. Our district leader told us that when he was interviewing her he felt like he was interviewing the Brother of Jared.

Sadly, our other investigator is sick so we could not meet with her yesterday. We are trying to get her all ready for baptism on the 24th (which might end up being the busiest day of my life) of December and we are getting a little bit stressed because there are some things we still need to teach her and she still needs her interview. But this is the time to exercise our faith and continue to pray and do our best to do all we can. 

This next week will be a little crazy. We find out about transfers, we have a training on Wednesday, visa trip to Kiev, and culture night. Oh, and our baptism on Sunday! But I have a lot of high hopes for this next week.

I'll admit it is now December but it does not yet feel like winter. It is warmer today so most of the snow has melted. There will be snow on the grass but only on Tuesday did we trudge through slush. It gets cold at night but so far my fall jacket is still carrying me through. I imagine in a month's time I will look back on today as a happy dream of warmth.

Well, that was my week. I am better now and determined to serve the Lord with all my might, mind, and strength. And don't worry, I love the mission but the mission has made me more excited for real life and to see what else the Lord has in store for me. He has a much greater image of what I can become. I know that it is better to look up and to look to the Lord. He really does want to help us and most times all we need to do is ask in prayer. I love you all and am so grateful that you are in my life and I am so happy to know that the Lord is taking care of you. I love you all.

-Sister Daniel

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunrise, sunset

Well, another week and passed and Thanksgiving is now gone and it is hard to believe that November is almost over. This week Sister Rasmussen hits her year mark. 

Now for our investigators: Maria, our Filipino, passed her baptism interview and will be baptized on December 11! I am pretty excited for her. Her baptism will be on a Sunday so we will see how many people will come just because we only have one baptismal fount and it is a little ways away.

Valeria is doing great and wants to be baptized. We set a date for the 24th of December (News Years is a bigger holiday than Christmas. There are giant Christmas trees but they are New Year's trees) but that might get changed due to other mission plans. But Valeria is great and the more I teach her the more excited I am for her and the more I grow to love her. In our area we have been blessed with some investigators who had been prepared by their member friends. I am lucky that I get to be apart of their preparation for baptism. 

Thanksgiving was great. Sister Rasmussen and I went over earlier in the morning to help Sister Hatch get cooking. I'll admit I had a lot of fun just preparing the food and spending time preparing a big dinner. Since we only have an hour for lunch and dinner I need to think up quick meals that are also nutrious. At noon we were all gathered together and ate. It was good. The star was the stuffing (but I'm biased because that's my favorite part). After eating we had dessert and then cleared the table and pulled out the pool table. The Hatch's dinner table is actually a pool table. We played while the elders rearranged some furniture and everyone weighed themselves. Then we got permission from President to watch Cars 2. Since it was the first movie I have seen in almost 8 months it was great. It also reminded me a lot of Elliott and his love for Cars. 

Thanksgiving was great but I'll admit that I did not like the days leading up to it because everyone kept talking about it and getting so excited. Anytime we talked to other missionaries all they could talk about was Thanksgiving. It was fine but I did not want to focus so much on Thanksgiving that I got distracted. And of course, Thanksgiving went so fast and then it was back to work as normal. It was very nice

As for other things that have happened this week... we had a zone conference. It was good and I felt more committed to doing better. Afterwards my companion had a slight breakdown so we worked through that and there were a few rough days but things are better now. We are also working on finding and making contact with less active members. One answered the door and let us in and she ended up talking to us for 40 minutes by her door. Thankfully, we know a lot more about her and all in all it was one of the most successful finding less actives has been. 

Oh! I almost forgot! I have a nickname. There is an old lady in our ward who is wheelchair bound. She is known for giving everyone nicknames and we went by with the elders and took her shopping. She saw my hair and immediately deemed me "Goldilocks". Then she kept asking where things were and I helped her find them so she changed my name to "Goldibrains". Later on she looked at my companion and decided her name would be "Huck Finn" and then wondered if she should change it to Tom Sawyer but then decided that I would be Tom Sawyer and Sister Rasmussen would be Huck Finn. Later on during our trip Sister Rasmussen became Jane Eyre. 

It has snowed a few times but it hasn't stuck for more than a day. It is pretty dark in the morning and we don't see light until about 9 or 10am. But we have pulled out our winter boots, mainly because it is muddy and you get strange looks from the Russians. But the metro is pretty hot and all the Russians keep their coats on even in the sweltering metro. 

That has been about it for the past week. It is hard to describe everything. Time is flying by. I am loving my time here and still trying to make every minute count. Time goes by so quickly and is so precious. We also got the General Conference Liahona issues yesterday and Elder Holland's talk was very interesting and made me want to recommit to being better and opening my mouth more. 

Thank you for all the emails, letters, and packages. They mean a lot and always have a special place in my heart. Thank you for all your support and prayers. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here but more importantly I am so thankful for Jesus Christ and his Atonement. Without Him none of this would be possible. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

And out of a worthless lump of clay God has made a man today!

This week has again been another week full of revelations and getting myself back into shape. We have wasted more time than we should. Granted, we have filled our time with important tasks but reflecting we have concluded that perhaps those were not the best ways we could have spent our time. We have been talking, like always, and starting putting into action plans to overcome our shortcomings. Most of all I keep asking myself, "If I saw myself from another person's eyes would I recognize myself as a servant of the Lord or trust me." Honestly can be hard and I realize how far I still need to go. But I don't let it discourage me. Instead I try the approach the angel used with Alma when he reminded him that he has already come a long ways from the time the angel first appeared to him. 

Despite realizing that I have a lot more of myself that I can put into the mission we are stilling seeing quite a few miracles. Of our three investigators, two of them are baptismal dates. Both are progressing and it has been inspiring to see these people change, even after two weeks. Maria, our Filipino, has been talking to her member friends and finding out about the commandments. Before we taught the Word of Wisdom she had heard about it and had already stopped drinking coffee. We never had to ask her to make these changes, she made them herself. When we asked her about this she said something to the effect of if she wants all the blessing of the church she needs to accept all of the Lord's requirements. 

We talked about baptism with our Russian investigator and again, she has been prepared by her member friends. Although her friends did not come to church she did and she brought her cousin. We planned to talk about baptism and confirmation and enduring to the end. In the room we taught her there is a picture of Christ being baptized. She asked about baptism by immersion and before the lesson began she asked, "When I am baptized how long will I stay under water?" Notice, she said when and not if. We were much better prepared this week and she asked thoughtful questions. She talked about having a desire to be baptized and she said that you need to have a desire and that having that desire makes you want to change your life. And she made the comment that if you aren't committted to enduring to the end there is not a point in being baptized. All and all I have been so impressed and reminded that the Lord is preparing these people and in case of our investigators it happened because they had member friends who didn't push but also did not shy away from telling why they were different. We just helped her fuel her desire. She said she wanted to be baptized before she started meeting with us and that thanks to our lessons her desire has grown.

In case you are wondering we will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week. P-Day is ending at 3pm today because on Thursday we still celebrate Thanksgiving at our Senior couple's apartment from noon until five at night. We can't wait.

And now for your Russian culture tidbit: Proper Escalator Ediquette (sp?). When exiting a metro or crossing to another metro requires the use of an escalator there is a procedure to follow. If you want to stand on the escalator you must stand on the right hand side of the step. Have a friend you want to talk to? They stand behind you. Also, respect personal space and leave a step in front and behind you empty. When you want to walk up you can walk up the left side of the escalator with ease. Rush hour? Russians will still follow this pattern, so the escalator line can get very backed up. Occasionally, metro workers at the bottom of the escalators will tell people to stand on both sides.

In other exciting news I am almost through Alma! I have come to really love the war chapters. There is a lot of evil but you see a lot of faith and desire for liberty. I also got a hold of the book, "Daughters in my Kindgom" which talks about the history of the Relief Society. Sister Rasmussen laughed at how excited I was and she said I kept looking at it like I wanted to devour it. There are just too many good and inspiring books that I want to read. 

Also, I thought I would share my P-Day language study routine. In our apartment we found a Russian Beauty and the Beauty cd (the soundtrack of the musical). I have been listening to it and writing down all the lyrics and translating them. It is good practice because I have to listen and write what I listen and then disect it to make sure the cases agree and make sense. Russian is still coming along and taking Sister Lawrence's advice Sister Rasmussen and I are trying to memorize 2 Nephi 31 in Russian. 

Well, that has been my week. Thank you for your emails and letters. Let's see what the Lord has in store for me this next week!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Well, this week I had my birthday! And thank you everyone for your birthday wishes. I'll admit for the most part it did not feel too out of the ordinary. Sister Rasmussen did make me buttermilk pancakes and syrup which was very tasty and I really appreciated it. Then it was off to district meeting and I got a pack of m&ms and it was all good. After district meeting we were supposed to go on a split with Sister Bullough (we called a lady from an old contact sheet and she agreed to meet but we found out she lives in Sister Bullough's area) so we hurried to meet her at the Central Building. On the way there she called and rescheduled for later that night. So while we waited we sat down and began mapping out how we are going to make a baptism for our Filipino investigator work. Then Sister Bullough arrived with her district and they sang happy birthday and I received a wine colored scarf from my former companion. Sadly, our meeting rescheduled again but for Thursday. To end the day we got a call from two elders in our district and for my birthday we all had dinner together and then handed out English Club flyers. All in all it was a good day. President Sorenson also called me as well as our legal advisor, Luba, which was pleasantly unexpected. 

Another interesting thing about my birthday: it snowed. The first snow fell on my birthday but thankfully it did not stick. It is getting colder and most of the sisters have pulled out their winter boots. Sister Rasmussen and I are stubbornly holding out until we really need our winter boots and jackets. Don't worry, we keep warm. 

Wednesday was a great night. Every month we have the opportunity of hearing from Sister Lawrence. Elder Lawrence is in the Area Presidency and gave a talk in General Conference a year ago, I believe. So far she has talked to us about the role of angels and zion. Everytime we come away with our minds blown, in a good way. She knows her stuff and this past week she talked to us about scripture study and I came away dedicated to having a better scripture study everyday. She compared studying the scriptures to feeding our body because when we read we are feeding our spirits knowledge. She also gave helpful advice on family study and studying the scriptures in pairs. We found out that she and her husband play, "Stump the spouse" where one give a chapter reference and the other has to tell either the theme or what happens. She even gave marriage advice: "Marry someone who loves the scriptures."

Our weeks in Sokolniki are interesting because we have a unique problem. We have a hard time, at least at the moment, meeting with people but on Sunday investigators come to church so our Sundays end up completely full. Most missionaries get meeting but it is hard for their investigators to come to church. We have been blessed lately with investigators who really are prepared for the Gospel.

Church yesterday was really good. Fast Sundays are always special but yesterday the testimonies shared were particularly uplifting. We went to international first and I love the Africans so much. They are so humble and remind me of the Lamanities who, once converted to the Gospel, grasp on to the Gospel and remain faithful. One man, Festis, was baptized this summer and he bore his testimony and I got teary-eyed. He mentioned that he is happy to be in Moscow (most of the Africans here are in tough situations) because he found the Gospel of Jesus Christ and will forever treasure his baptism in his heart. And he said he could not wait to tell his children and grandchildren about how he found the Church.

Then during our Russian meeting all of the testimonies were great. Nothing crazy happened. After church we had a meeting with two members referrals. The lesson went fine and they said they look forward to coming to church on Sunday each week. They like all that we teach them and made comments that it all sounds familiar and feels right in their hearts. The elders in our district also had a great meeting and were called "beacons of light" several times. 

I'll admit I have become a little rusty and I have a lot of teaching skills I need to review. Sister Rasmussen agrees and we talked about all the things we have learned in the MTC and which areas we were really good at and how far she have come and all that we have forgotten. So we are using this transfer to whip ourselves back into shape. We recommitted to being 100% obedient and we talk a lot about potential and how to reach our potential. 

There is never enough time to write everything. And I know I did not include as many details about life in Russia. The streets are getting colder and the metros and houses are roasting hot. We are starting to see more fur coats and fur hats. So far I have survived but winter has not really begun yet. 

Thank you again for all our your prayers. I know that this is the Lord's work and I am grateful for this opportunity to participate in it. The Lord truly does prepare people and I have seen how much happiness this Gospel and this work can bring to others. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Without our traditions ours lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof!

This week was a little bit of a crazy week. I got spent four days in my actual area. Sister Rasmussen had her visa trip and then the day after we had a split with the newly assigned Training Sisters, one of them including my former companion Sister Carlson. 

First to answer some questions: Russia recently decided not to follow daylight savings time. The last time they moved their clocks was this past spring and then they decided not to. Some Russians really don't like it. Also, it is starting to get a lot colder here. As we walked home from buying our groceries this afternoon we could see our breath. It has not snowed yet but we are already seeing ice patches on the ground. Next week we plan to go tie shopping and buy some warmer clothes.

Wednesday my companion went to Kiev and to the temple. I was pretty nervous on Wednesday. I was on a split with Sister Workman and I was the senior companion. In the mission age wise only Sister Workman is younger than me so I was not only senior companion but I was also senior language wise too so I was nervous. Thankfully, I said a prayer and the day went just fine.

Friday night we went out and did service for an older member of our church. She was funny and quizzed my Russian. At one point she turned to my companion and said, "Your companion speaks better than you do." Thankfully, Sister Rasmussen just laughed about it and thought it was funny. Then we helped her clean her apartment for two hours. As we left she insisted we take some food. Her food was a little sketchy looking so we tried to decline. Then we insisted we take some cabbage and we accepted only to realize she wanted us to take a cabbage dish she prepared. We took it home but the next day she called and asked if we tried it. That night we heated it up and man, it smelled a little rancid and strongly of vinegar. We each ate a bite. Sister Rasmussen had to spit it out and I was able to get the bite down. We took out our garbage shortly after. 

On Saturday I spent the day with Sister Carlson back in Perovo. We were able to catch up and discussed our theories for next transfer. (Three native sisters are coming and we have been trying to guess who will be training them). I'll admit that my heart was a little tender. Just before I left the area started to explode and now Perovo is enjoying a lot of success. I know that I was a large part of it and when I consider who is there I know that they are who that area needs. But as I thought through it I was glad for the time I had in Perovo because when I was there was not a lot coming on so with Sister Bullough and Carlson we did our best and I am proud with my work I did there. It was a good reminder that success comes from the Lord and it helped to humble me.

With Sister Carlson we also had an absolutely wild lesson. We were supposed to have a meeting at 1pm and we were supposed to meet a potential investigator at the train station. We waited and waited and an hour later she showed up with a friend. Her friend brought his guitar and wanted to give a concert. We said we needed to start our lesson in 5 minutes. He played for 25 minutes and while he played our investigator fell asleep. Finally we started our lesson and as we were talking about families the friend interrupted and asked me, "Do you two study Russian together?" I answered yes and then he turned to Sister Carlson, "Then why is her Russian so much worse than yours?" Sister Carlson afterwards told me how upset she got at him for that and how hard she had to try not to explode. Thankfully, I did not get offended and took it as a chance to remind myself I still need to practice my Russian. After the lesson he continued to play more guitar music and gypsy music. It was a circus and I think Sister Carlson was a little frustrated so I reminded her how absolutely ridiculously funny the entire situation was.

Sunday was Stake Conference and it was actually stake conference for the entire Europe East Area. It was a broadcast from Salt Lake City and we had the opportunity to hear from Sister Barbara Thompson, Elder Oaks, and President Uchtdorf. They really knew the area well and gave some great advice. Elder Oaks made an interesting comment about tithing. He told the members that by paying tithing we are calling down blessings from Heaven upon the countries in which we live. There was also a huge empathsis on befriending less active members and attending Church on Sundays. Last of all President Uchtdorf spoke and gave three steps for rekindling and deeping our faith. 1: Have a current temple recommend. 2: Study the word of God daily. 3: Communicate with our Father in Heaven daily.

In terms of our investigators small successes are happening. Our Filipino investigator came to Stake Conference on Sunday and brought a friend! We only had ten minutes before we needed to be in our seats and she wanted a lesson. We sat down and she was anxious to hear what new things we had to teach her. Because we did not have time for a long lesson we briefly reviewed the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what she will need to do in this life to able to return to our Heavenly Father. Then she asked us about baptism and told us that she wants to make a change and told us she would like to be baptized by the end of the year. We still need to sit down and plan everything out and due to her work schedule all might be a little tough. But I am excited for her and to help her prepare. 

Sister Rasmussen and I are still getting along just fine. We still talk a lot but more of our talks have turned to helping our district or trying to come up with ways to serve members or fellow missionaries. We also have developped a slight obsession for the Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack. We have set lots of goals together and are working towards making them happen. Some of them are silly (trying to see how many metro stops we can get to during our transfer together) but most of them are productive to the Lord's work. 

Times are still sometimes hard but I just keep in mind that everything will be for my good. I have learned a lot of lessons and have enjoyed seeing some of the ways I have changed already. My testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has grown deeper. I have learned a lot about me and what the Lord expects of me. I still have weaknesses but I have started to exercise my faith in small ways and things that were hard are becoming a little easier. I have learned to dream big and work towards that big by small steps and lots of help from my Heavenly Father. 

I know that our Heavenly Father lives, loves us, and answers our prayers. I know that change is always possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ so long as we work our hardest. I love you all and am so grateful for your prayers. Thank you.

-Sister Daniel

Monday, October 31, 2011

First full week in a new area

Well, I have now spent a week in my new area. This was an interesting week. Sister Rasmussen and I still get distracted and we talk a lot but we are improving every day! For lessons total we only taught two but it was a week full of service. 

On Wednesday we had a Halloween Party at English Club. It had been announced the week before and really the sister I replaced had been in charge of the party. But now she is in Rechoy so that left Sister Rasmussen and I to plan and carry out this party, neither of which is our forte. So we made sugar cookies (mom's recipe of course). However, we had no cookie cutters so we took knives and handcut them ourselves. The cookies tasted just like home but Sister Ramussen's frosting tasted a little off. She blames Russian powdered sugar. 

The party overall went well. There were some awkward moments and we learned a lot what we would do differently. For activities we explained the origin of Halloween and then we did donuts on a string. No one jumped up volunteering to go first so I swallowed pride and went first. At least I got a donut and I think the English clubbers got a kick out of watching us missionaries look funny. At the end we had them go trick or treating and they were so cute. The elders would take them to a room and then tell them what to do. Right before they knocked they would get so nervous and ask, "Wait, what do I say again?" Sister Rasmussen and I were behind the door and overexaggerated, "Oh! What a cute costume you have! Here, you can have three pieces!"

The next day we were not able to get any meetings but it worked out. The Rechnoy sisters (Sister Peterson and Thrall) called us and asked what we were doing. Their landlord decided she wanted to see their apartment and that last time she checked the place was ten years ago. Sadly, former sisters did not always take a best care of that apartment and those sisters had already been cleaning for the past week. They enlisted our help to clean and clean we did. What a difference after a few hours of cleaning! Sister Rasmussen spent 3 hours alone cleaning their bathroom.  I know the sisters really appreciated the help because they had started to get really nervous for the landlord to see the place. 

Friday we had a meeting with an old lady and the elders came with us. She has been less active for a while and is a nice lady but man did she talk fast. At the end she insisted that my companion try on this bright pink dress that looked like it came out of the 80s. She did not want to but the elders insisted she try it on and it gave the lady such great pleasure to see her wear it. She even insisted that we take it home. We are still laughing about the dress and I am sad I cannot do the story justice because we were bursting out laughing. Especially, when this lady put on a fashion show for us.

Saturday was... interesting. We had a ward activity. Originally we weren't planning on going but the ward wanted to fill up the bus so we went for support. We drove on a bus an hour and a half outside of Moscow to see buffalo. Sadly, we did not understand a lot because none of us thought to brush up on our zoology vocabulary. But we did have a fun time and the members brought apples and carrots to feed the buffalo. On the bus we played card games with the kids so I'm sure the parents appreciated that we kept the children occupied. 

Church was good on Sunday. We went to the international ward and then our Russian ward. We had a lesson with our Filipino investigators after Sacrament meeting and it went really well! She is loving the Book of Mormon and starting to recognize how important it is and she says that even if she has a hard day she reads because she finds comfort. I'll admit teaching in English felt strange and hearing talks in English felt so surreal. 

In our Russian ward I was asked to bear my testimony. For the third hour Relief Society and Elders Quorum was combined and we watch "On the Lord's Errand", the film about President Monson. Sister Rasmussen was asked to translate for our senior couple but she had never seen the film so at times I had to lean over and explain the story. My favorite was we missed a story and the only word we understand was "milk." So Sister Rasmussen said, "Something about milk." A second later we hear Sister Hatch (of the senior couple) start laughing. Half way through the film our district leader (who earlier said he did not want to translate) came up and asked, "Do you want me to translate? I have this movie pretty much memorized."

All in all it was a different week but a good week. We did have some success that is hard to measure in statistics but we have more lessons lined up this week and possibly a new investigator too!

I am learning more and more to follow the Lord's timetable. In the past I might have been frustrated by a week such as this. But although our stats were low and we did not have the typical missionary success I have received a lot of blessings and seen areas where I need to improve and I want to improve. Also, my companion and I get along really well and we have talked about areas we maybe have become lacksidaisical in and how we can improve. Still, our biggest problem is that we talk too much but now much of our conversations relate to the mission so progress!

I am so thankful for the chance to be on a mission and serve my God. I have so many tender mercies and realized how much I love Him and His son, Jesus Christ. Everyday I am so thankful for the chance to commune through prayer and to see that through prayer and the Atonement I can better something more than I ever thought I could be.

Monday, October 24, 2011

New transfer

Well, I am now in Sokolniki. If you look up a metro map of Moscow you will find Sokolniki on the red line in the Northeast and our apartment is found at the top of the orange line. 

The past week has been good. On Thursday we went to the central building (the stake building) on metro Novakoznyestskiya with all of my baggage. The elders from Perovo helped us get there which was very nice. I met up with my new companion, Sister Rasmassen and while the Sokolniki elders took care of my bags we ran to a meeting in an outer city with a less-active lady. The meeting was good and I was complimented on my Russian. 

Afterwards we returned home and unpacked and I found out more about the area. In Sokolniki we have a few investigators. The Sokolniki ward meets in the same building as the international ward. Because there are only elders serving in the international ward we, the Sokolniki sisters, double as the international sisters. So on Sunday we go to both wards. Sokolniki is the northeast of Moscow and considered "in the city", although we do sometimes head to outer cities. Before in Perovo most of the time we went to outer cities that are considered "part of Moscow" but are more like suburbs. 

Friday we met as a district and divided up the ward list and compiled all of our information. We then got a look at the ward building and stayed for a Relief Society activity where two women, other than the President, showed up. It was hilarious and so Russian. They argued for about 10 minutes about what they were going to do with this cloth and the measurements. Eventually they came to an agreement and made a pillow. 

So far Sister Rasmassen and I get along just fine. Actually, our biggest issue is that we get talking and sometimes get distracted. She is from Oregon and went to BYU, majoring in computer science so we have been able to talk about the Talmage building together. She went to the Jerusalem Center and knows one of my roommates from my sophmore year. So we have talked a lot about Israel and Saudi Arabia. All in all we get along and I think it will be a good transfer. She is not decisive and neither am I but I have been the decisive one, a shock right?

Saturday we finially got to our weekly planning. As we were planning we heard some noise out in the hallway. At one point the noise became louder and than we looked and saw the door handle jiggle (it was locked). Intrigued we went to the door and looked out the peep hole. There was a drunk man talking to himself loudly who was trying to open our door and the neighbors door. When he could not get in he tried again and then started pacing and talking to a light fixture. At one point he layed down in the hallway and talked to the ceiling. We were not scared but instead got a good laugh because we live on the fourth floor and it was so random. By the time we left the apartment he was gone. 

Because I did not get a chance to say goodbye to anyone in Perovo all of the sisters that moved for this mid-transfer transfer returned to their old companions so they could say goodbye at church. I somehow flew under the radar on bearing my testimony or giving a talk but I was able to tell most people that I was leaving and get some photos with a few of my friends in Perovo. I typically don't get attached to places and when I first heard about transfers I was excited to move to a new area. But as I said goodbye to some people it hit me how much I was going to miss these people and I realized how many people I truly love and care about and am going to miss. 

And the Perovo sisters had an investigator at church! She was a girl Sister Carlson and I contacted on the train a little over a week ago. She is amazing! The Perovo sisters met with her on Saturday and when they gave her a Book of Mormon she said, "You are the mormon church? [because our nametags say "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints"] I have been reading about you on the internet and was wondering if it existed in Russia!" Then she had the missionaries write their testimonies down. In Sunday School the lesson was the Word of Wisdom and she told us that she does not like black or green tea, coffee, alcohol, or tabacco. Wow! And she asked us about temples and why there was not one in Russia then she paused and said, "I know why. Russians drink and smoke too much." Talk about a miracle! I was so happy I was able to be at Church with her because Sister Carlson and I were the ones to find her and I am excited to see how she will progress. She is one of those people who Heavenly Father has been preparing for the Gospel and it was a huge spiritual boost. 

And that has been my week so far. I am excited for my new area and to progress. Lately, a lot of people have been complimenting me on my Russian especially after I tell them how long I have been out which has been an esteem boost so I feel like I want to talk even more and truly study diligently. I don't know how I have changed but I feel stronger and my testimony becomes more precious to me everyday. 

Thank you for all of your emails and words of support and letting me know how things are going. I am slowly getting caught up on my letter-writing and sent out my first batch of letters two weeks ago. I love you all and am so thankful for your prayers. I feel their power everyday.

PS. I am in an apartment with an oven! Yay! But our toilet is interesting. You have to turn on the water before you use it, flush, and then turn off the water when you are done. Thankfully, Sister Rasmassen took care of the cockroach problem during the summer. Her words: "I think the problem is gone. If not, that's what the flip flops in the kitchen are for."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mid transfer transfer

First things first! I have important news. Yesterday we had a mission conference and Preparation Day has been moved to Monday. This was done so that we focus more on Sunday. Everything leads up to Sunday and helping investigators come to church. Then once Sunday is over we had the next day to prepare and relax. 

Other news: Tomorrow I am moving to another area. I will be moving to Soloniki, which in "in the city". Some of you might be thinking that this is a little strange since this is a 7-week transfer and we just completed our 5th week. Well, yesterday President at Conference announced that we would have "AP" sisters. Recently a lot of sisters have been mentioning that as sisters we cannot go on training splits with the district leader or zone leaders (who are all elders) which really leaves sisters to their own devices. We have mentioned that we would like to receive training as well. Hence, we now have training sisters and my companion, Sister Carlson was asked to be one. Sister Fralova is the other one. Because of this decision Sister Carlson will now be companions with Sister Fralova and they will be in charge of Perovo. 

So yesterday President asked to meet with the two of us and asked me to move to Sokolniki tomorrow with Sister Rasmussen. As a result of the new training sisters 3 pairs of sisters are changing companions mid-transfer. It has been crazy and I have spent most of today packing. I'll admit I am sad to be leaving Perovo. The other night I realized just how many friends I have made there. But I am excited to move to another area (and an apartment with an oven =) ) 

This past week we had two good lessons with our investigators Ninel and Karina. Karina, I'll admit, was an emotional roller coaster. Our last meeting with Karina was a little over 2 months ago and every week we have asked if she could meet. Last Wednesday we did not stay for English club because none of our investigators showed up. As we walked to the Metro we ran into Karina and we chit chatted in the rain and when Sister Carlson asked if she could meet she said that she was too busy. So busy that she did not have time for the Holy Ghost and next month she is going to Thailand for a karate tournament, I believe. My heart broke and I thought that she was dropping us. When she saw how upset we were she said that we could meet on Sunday. 

All throughout the next week I was so worried. Karina had made so much progress and would be such a strength to the church! I fasted and I prayed and cried for her. But we had a good conversation as we called to confirm the Sunday appointment. Karina asked why we loved and cared about her so much, to which she responded that we loved her because Christ loves her and we want to be happy. 

Sunday we had our lesson and she still wants to be baptized but she feels that she is not in a place where she can keep all the commandments. We had planned a short lesson but it turned into a long way. We explained why we are here on earth and what we can expect after this life. I think she is starting to see the importance or baptism and why it is important to come to church every week. I walked away from the lesson with great peace.

Our other meeting was with Ninel and with Sister Bullough we felt like we hit a wall everytime we tried to plan a lesson for her. At last we found out the problem: she didn't understand why her granddaughter (a new member) decided to be baptized again. We had a great lesson on Ephesians 4:5 and what is meant by "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." and talked about the Priesthood and apostasy. I think she understands now the importance of being baptized. Our concern is that she might think she is too old to change. As we talked about the Three Kingdoms and what we need to do to reach the Celestial Kingdom she looked down at the chart and said she would be content with the middle kingdom. But I'll admit I suprised myself. At one point she said that she was not a believing person and talked about how we had so much faith. I asked her if she wanted faith like ours and she said yes. "The reason our faith in strong is because we read the Book of Mormon." Then we started to talk about how she was old to which I responded, "If you really want this you can. We can be patient." During the closing prayer she asked us to bless her with patience. 

All in all it has been a good week. I even taught Gospel Doctrine on Sunday which was nerve-racking, but the elders were kind and willing to participate. 

I also learned an important lesson last night. As we were on the metro returning home from our senior couple's apartment I noticed that my companion's eyes were tearing up. She was not crying but I was observant enough to notice that she was going to start crying. I was right and soon she started to cry. As we waited for the bus she confided that she was so tired of everyone telling her that her Russian stinks. She said she knew she didn't speak perfect and it hurt that other missionaries were judging her intelligence on how she spoke Russian. It had been an emotional week already and hearing people telling what a great opportunity to learn Russian that she will have serving with a native speaker cut her deeply. I'm not the most physical comforter but I gave her a hug and told her that I saw how hard she worked. I'll admit I have been very humbled this past month. Sister Carlson is a much better missionary than me but she always looks up to me and is so grateful for my help with Russian grammar. She told me that I have been the companion that has helped her the most and made a real effort to help her with her Russian. Along with the responsibility of training sisters she was a little overwhelmed. I learned how important it is to help your companion and not judge their intelligence and capacity as a missionary by how well one speaks. I'll admit seeing her cry reminded me of the nights that I cried over learning French. Sometimes I loved the language and sometimes I hated it and often I wondered why on earth Heavenly Father wanted me to learn French. I never thought I had a gift for languages until recently and when I started learning Russian. I'm glad I did struggle now that I look back because I understand that second languages are hard.

Actually, as I look back on my hardships I am so glad I went through them. Now I can relate to many experiences others are going through because of all the hard time I have been through. I really am grateful for all the lessons I have already learned in this life. And again, I am glad for the trust the Lord shows in me when He gives me tough trials. But one verse I have come to love is Ether 2:25 which shows that the Lord prepares us for the trials that He gives us. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hope you enjoy the musings

This past week was a little interesting but in many ways much like the week before it. We had our first meeting with a member present this transfer! 

On Thursday I went on another split with Sister Fravola. Thursday morning as we were exercising the Assistants to the President gave us a call (this is about 6:40am). We were told that a few of the older sisters in the mission needed to come to a meeting at the President's house to discuss goals for next year. That meant my companion needed to be there. We called the other sisters and by chance I went on a split with Sister Bullough, my former companion. She had already planned to go on a split with Sister Fralova so I went along to their meeting. It was good to be with both Sister Bullough and see how she has changed in the past few weeks and to get to know Sister Fralova better. Plus, we had a great lesson with a member.

Saturday and Sunday was General Conference all day and I absolutely loved it. I had many insights into who I need to become and what I need to do in order to be that person. I also received many interesting revelations that I did not expect which are going to require a lot of faith and diligence on my part. As I have been thinking about all that I want to accomplish and need to accomplish in this life I am realizing how short this life really is and how much I cannot afford to procrastinate. 

Elder Hales' talk was amazing about trials. I liked his comment, "Too often we pray to have patience and we want it right now." and then he ended by saying, "Let us be kind to one another and even kinder to ourselves." Other gems were Elder Uchtdorf's talk and I could talk for hours about conference. 

Again, we have only been able to meet with one investigator. Thankfully, she is making some progress but it comes slowly. At least she is reading the Book of Mormon which makes my heart leap.

Sadly, none of our investigators came to General Conference although we told them about it days in advance and called them the night before. I was very disappointed because I saw other missionary's investigators come and receive answers to their prayers and I was so sad that none of our investigators got to experience that. It's hard to watch people you care about make choices that lead them farther and farther from the road of happiness. And then we tell them what they need to do to find those answers they say they have been looking for and they won't act on it. It is frustrating. But I'm at peace with what I am doing. I can always be better but I know that the Lord is satisfied with my work. I am pouring a lot of myself into our investigators and I always think of how I can help them. It's just hard to see so much potential in these people and to see them make choices that are causing them to regress rather than to progress. Watching people use their agency to make choices that will lead to unhappiness is so sad and I think that has been what has been frustrating me the past few weeks. It's not that we don't have investigators it's that we do and they are not using their agency in a way that will bring them closer to the Savior, Jesus Christ. But I remember how much the Gospel means to me and I try to show them how much the Church of Jesus Christ needs to me. Like President Packard said, until they gain their own testimonies they have to rely on mine.

Most of our meeting have been with less or inactive members of the Church. I am happy to meet with the old women because most of the time they are lonely. And if we can be their light and link to the Gospel I am happy to do it. But there is always a little sad side because I ask myself, "Where are their home and visiting teachers?" I am happy to meet with them and I always feel uplifted but, sad as it is, I will not always be here and I worry about them.

We have also been trying to work with some of the younger inactive members and they are among the most frustrating because they are taking the Gospel for granted. The two excuses I have heard the most is, "Perovo is boring and there isn't any youth" and "I'm too busy and I don't have time for the Church." Sister Carlson and I had a day where we wanted to scream. I'll admit as I pondered what must be going through their minds and all the future consequences of this choice I felt pain in my soul. Overwhelmed with sadness, I got on my knees and prayed and thanked Heavenly Father for the Gospel and the opportunity to repent and asked for humility. Then I wrote about it in my journal so I could always remember this lesson. 

This was an interesting email, I'll admit, filled mostly with what has been running through my mind the past few days. All of my frustration and impatience seems to come out when I write home. I get it out and then focus back on the work. I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve the Lord and experience even a small part of what He must sometimes feel about me. Sister Carlson and I are working hard and having a good time doing it. I will try to be better to include those fun times more so that you all do not worry about me. Like on Monday, we had three meeting and all the ladies wanted to feed us. we ate so much and had to pray to be able to eat more. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I am coming to hate cats...

We have yet to see Conference here but we get to this weekend! Unfortunately, we do not get to watch the Relief Society session at all in English. But I did hear about the temples from the Senior Couples serving in our branch. Yay for France!

Friday turned out to be a very interesting day. My companion, Sister Carlson, went to Kiev on Saturday with her MTC companion, Sister Mordwinow so we had a third companion on Friday. We had district meeting and roleplayed what we would say to Karina when we next meet with her. Afterwards, the elders gave me a blessing and it was just what I needed. In the blessing the elders told me several times that my Heavenly Father loved me and was proud of my efforts her in Moscow. I'll admit I really needed to hear that. I know missions are rough but I always think that I can give more and always ask myself, "Am I give 100% of my effort?" It's hard when you can see what you can become and you are not yet there or can't see youself getting closer.

After the blessing Sister Carlson and I grabbed some lunch and waited for Sister Mordwinow to join us. As we were waiting one of our appointments cancelled. But then we noticed two strangers sitting in the lobby of the Central Building. We went up and introduced ourselves and found out they were British! The was a boy in his first year of university and an older woman. They had both been studying Russian in Russia and were stopping in Moscow for a few days before heading home. At the airport they ran into a member of the Arbatski Ward and he helped them with their bags and brought them to the Central Building. Because our meetings had cancelled we were able to show them around Red Square. It was cool to see because although the two Brits were not members of the Church their families were. If nothing else, I hope our time helped soften their opinions of the missionaries and we were able to do some unexpected service. 

Saturday while my companion was in Kiev I went on a split with Sister Thrall and her companion Sister Fralova, from Latvia. I had a great time. We had two meetings and it was nice to catch up with Sister Thrall and discuss our experiences and see how each other is doing language-wise. Plus, I was able to make some brownies since their apartment has an oven. Oh, the brownies were divine.

None of our investigators have met with us this past week which has been a little bit frustrating, as always. Karina's cat is getting another surgery and she was not able to meet yesterday, hence the title of my email. But at least our work with less actives has been going well. I hope home and visiting teaching was discussed in conference. If members all did their home and visiting teaching the work everywhere would explode. And some of the less actives, especially the older ladies, are just lonely. We helped Sister Menayeva buy watermelons and cut up 50 cloves of garlic (by hand) for a sauce she was making. As we had our spiritual thought she just loved to talk. These ladies are lonely and don't get many visits and I always ask myself, "Where are their teachers?"

Well, that was my past week. In other news as a mission we are reading the Book of Mormon together. We started last week and we will finish it by the end of the year. President encouraged us to read the books in reverse order, starting with Moroni. Wow. It was so sad to read about all the destruction and death and how all of that could have been avoided if they had repented and turned onto the love. Perhaps the most heartbreaking scripture is Mormon 6:17 "O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected Jesus who stood with open arms to receive you!" And I have thought of the importance of believing the Lord, not only in the scriptures but in blessing I receive as well. In short, I love the Book of Mormon and am so grateful for the knowledge I have gained. I wish I could include even a tenth part of all I have been learning. 

I love you all and thank you for all of your prayers and support. I am doing my best to be worthy of all you are doing for me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mixed week

As I look back on this week I have mixed feelings. We have definitely received major blessing and miracles but we have also had some struggles as we try to meet the mission standards and accomplish our goals.

First off, I might need a boyfriend. Appartently, the member family that we visited with last week wants me to marry their nephew. The mom pulled my companion aside on Sunday and asked her if I had a boyfriend in America. She proceeded to tell Sister Carlson that she wants me to meet her nephew that lives in America. Sister Carlson told me that she was pretty serious about it. And when we did service for Irina Victronovna she tried to hook us up with these two boys that worked at a local grocery store. I suppose that I should take it as a compliment.

I have mixed feeling about this past week. In terms of our investigators we were only able to meet with one when we have about 5 investigators in total. The meeting we did have with Lena was great. The last time Sister Carlson (she was passed to us from Arbatski where Sister Carlson just came from) met with her was two months and based on her last lesson we were not sure if she had read in the Book of Mormon. She surprised us by saying that she did read and bore her testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. She can't read everyday but she reads on the weekends and likes it. We do not think she is ready for baptism because there are still other trouble areas that we need to resolve but we have great hope for her and she wants to meet us regularly. But it was incredible to hear an investigator bear testimony of the Book of Mormon and say that it is the only thing that coudl unite the world. At one time she said, "It is very important. It is your history, my history, and the history of God." As we left the meeting Sister Carlson turned to me and said, "What just happened?"

I have been disappointed with our other investigators. Karina, who at one time had a baptismal date, has not been committing to meet with us. It has been a little frustrating since our last meeting was two months ago and it was a good meeting. When we try to set a specific time to meet she gives wishy-washy answers and then won't answer our phone calls. We know Satan is working hard on her and I am worried because I have noticed a dimness in her countenance and demeanor. We think that if we can meet with her things will be all right but the hard part is meeting with her. That is how I feel about most of our investigators, if we could meet everything would be all right. 

But our meeting with less-actives have been great! We meet with two on Monday and we were really impressed and have hope that they will come to Church in the Perovo Branch soon (they are both active in other wards). As we left our second meeting, Janna told us that we would like us to return next week when previously she said she could only meet with the missionaries about once a month. And she gave us some cake, which is always appreciated. 

Things are a little rough but we have been promised that a better time is approaching from our mission President. Interestingly, we can no longer chalk draw or sign board. Also, we have been encouraged to do more tracting. Finding new investigators is going to be an interesting ride.