Last Monday was pretty fun. We rented bikes with the district and went bike riding in Sokolniki Park. It's a huge park with some nice manicured lawns and then forest areas to explore. Well, we took our bikes and went riding around. At one point we rode around some of the forest area and there were some hills that the elders had fun riding up and down. I tried going up one hill but did not go fast enough and I fell backwards. The best was later I went on a hill that was not too big but I managed to fall off. I was fine and nothing hurt. But the next day I had bruises all over my legs. I showed Sister Gish and her response was, "It looks like someone beat you with a stick!" I had 5 bruises on my knee alone. It was a lot of fun despite the embarassing falls and the mosquitos.
Tuesday we went contacting with the district. Two elders sang with us sisters while two elders passed out invitations to church and talked to people. The two elders who were passing out invitations had completely opposite experiences. Aftterwards I talked to Elder Knight who mentioned that he was repeatedly told to return to America. One older lady even spit at him. Two Russian Orthodox men tried to contact him but could not agree on their doctrine. Meanwhile, the other elder did not have a lot of success but he talked to some people who thanked us for the music or talked about how nice we were. There is such a wide variety of people that you met everyday and it was such an interesting polar opposite experience for these two elders.
Amidst all the groggy sickness we did manage to have some good meetings. On Wednesday we met with Zhun Zhun. Zhun Zhun told us that she is starting to really believe that the Book of Mormon is true. Last week when we met we shared some scriptures that we liked. When we met this week she asked if we could share scriptures from the Book of Mormon. We told her we would but we asked her question first. We asked her what she thought about Jesus Christ. Months ago we ask her this question but her response now was completely different. She talked about how much He loved her and how she feels His love. She has grown a lot since we first starting meeting with her and she likes to meet with us. She has come a long ways but still has some ways to go but if she keeps progressing like she is I know that her life will only change for the better.
But our meeting with Zhun Zhun was not the best part. We got her to come to church! She didn't manage to come to our ward on time but she came a little later and thankfully another ward began their sacrament meeting so I went on a split with a member so Zhun Zhun could go to Sacrament Meeting. I was so happy because we have been trying so hard to get her to come and when I called her Sunday morning she told me that she couldn't because she had gone to bed at 5am (for her work she has to talk to people in China). I was disappointed at first but then I called her back and asked if she could come for one hour. She said she couldn't but then she said she would come at 2pm rather than noon and she came despite the huge downpour of rain.
I am still with Sister Gish. Trainers now train new missionaries for two transfers so right now we are in the second half of her training. So far she is doing great. She is bright and happy all the time and bolder than I am. Russian is still hard so we are working hard together to help her learn and set up a pattern of learning that will continue throughout her mission.
Lately I have been doing a spiritual check up on myself. With the new mission at the end of this month I have been spending time to evaluate myself and where I want to be by the end of my mission. I have also been cracking down and tightening any bolts that have gotten a little loose since the beginning of the mission. Doing this has helped me appreciate all the time and preparation the Lord took to prepare me. I have also been so grateful to all of my church leaders and friends who provided me with great advice. As I look back on the start of my mission the Lord really had prepared me.
Of course I continue to learn and am not perfect. Lately I have been getting a little frustrated by the weaknesses, particularly my shyness. Some days are easier than others but sometimes it is frustrating to see that I have been out over a year and still struggle with talking with everyone. Ugh. But it has been teaching me a lot about humility and how to work on achieving this goal and overcoming this weakness. Particularly since we have a goal to find new investigators and I feel like that is an area I have to improve in. Overcoming weaknesses and fears is not easy but I know it is possible with the Lord's help.
Fun thought for the day: We were walking to the metro this morning when I noticed an interesting billboard. Russians call Russian Orthodox churches "xpam (hram)" which translates literally to "temple". The billboard showed a married couple and a Russian Orthodox church. Written was "Road to the temple - road of love." Sure it was an advertisement for the Russian Orthodox church but I thought about how true the statement is. Going to the temple really is the road to love and enhances our love. I am so grateful for the Restored Gospel and the priesthood because I know that my family relationship will endure after this life. By making and keeping covenants I draw closer to my Savior and my Heavenly Father and strengthen my relationships with them. I love the priesthood and I am so glad to have it in my life.