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

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