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.