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.
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.