Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Has it really been six weeks already?

Well, new missionaries just arrived today which means that I am no longer among the newest missionaries. Crazy and yet I feel like I have been here for a lot longer... except when people talk to me. Then I remember just how long I have been here.

Not too much of note happened this week and then, finially, I will have time to tell you all the details and respond to the questions I have been asked. 

On Saturday we went to a baptism. Missionaries can only go to baptisms if we have an investigator to go with us. Originally four people were going to be baptized. But then Margaret decided to wait and then the night before the baptism another called and said she did not want to anymore. Two of our investigators came to the baptism, Karina and Margaret. I think it was a good experience for both of them. Afterwards, Margaret told me she wanted to be baptized and Karina told Sister Bullough that she wanted to but she does not feel ready. We are working with both of them to help them see that they are ready. Oh yeah, and I was asked to give the opening prayer. I was so nervous and butchered it but everyone was nice and told me I did a good job.

The other thing to note is that yesterday we had an interesting day. We were on our way to visit Irina when Karina called us in tears. Phone conversations are already hard but with sobbing it is hard to understand. Sister Bullough turned to me after talking to her and told me, "I think her friend just fell out the window from the seventh floor of her apartment. She said she is on the way to the hospital but she thinks her friend will die." As you can imagine she rescheduled with Irina and booked it to the train station. Meanwhile, Sister Bullough called one of the natives serving in Moscow to call Karina and find out all the details. She made it to the train station when Sister Trunova called us back. Turns out it was not a friend but Karina's cat. Nonetheless, we made our way to the vet and stayed with her. We waited with her about 4 hours and talked with her to help keep her distracted and not to focus on her worries. The cat had surgery since she broke her hip, shoulder, 3 legs, and most of her toes but will be all right. I know our presence helped her a lot and she was really grateful, especially since when she called her son his response was, "Well, what do you want me to do about it?"

Now on to the details you have been asking me about. First off, food. We are allowed to have an hour lunch and dinner break. However, I'll admit we usually only take one of them. Occasionally, our appointments will feed us. Otherwise, we'll grab a snack for dinner from a supermarket since coming back to the apartment would take a long time, in additional to preparation and eating. We are not allowed to eat street food due to lack of sanitation. Shopping for food is also a pain. We had a grocery store nearby but it just closed down. There is another small one close to our house but the people who work there are always in a foul mood. I am working on improving our meals but in our apartment we have two stove burners, a microwave, a water boiler, and a fridge. If we want an oven we have to go to the Branch building about 10 minutes away. We make a lot of ramen, belini (like crepes), salads, and soup.

Foods people eat... I have had a lot of pelmeni (dumpling) with mayonnaise or ketchup. Russians love mayonnaise and ketchup. When you are given condiments those are typically the two you are given. They also like Sweetened condensed milk. And kvas but I hate kvas. It is a drink and Russians always compare it to root beer. It tastes nothing like root beer. The only similarity is that only Russians like it whereas only Americans like root beer. The lady we typically serve and for whom we do gardening will bring us "juice" which means kvas. The first few sips weren't bad but then I had a hard time downing the mug. They sell it everywhere on the street and when I see it and remember how it tastes I literally want to be sick. But the cookies and ice cream are very good.

We take all forms of transportation. We live close to the Branch building and the trains but not the metro. We either walk to the metro (30-40 minutes) or take a Matshutka, a big van that is like a mini private bus. We travel a lot since very few of our members or investigators live close. When we plan we have to factor about an hour for travel between appointments. 

Well, I need to end this email. I love you all and am so happy to hear how you are doing. I know my letters are short but I am working on longer written ones. Send your questions and I will answer... eventually :) I love you and pray for you always.

The pictures are from a palace built for Katherine the Second, Tamara is with me in the first.

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